The Lead Generation features conversations with today’s entrepreneurs willing to tell the truth about what it takes to be your own boss and the transformative impact you can have on your audience.
In this episode, we’re bringing you a conversation with Lou Bortone and the lessons he's learned growing his video marketing business.
Lou helps busy small business owners fully leverage and express themselves by using video marketing in authentic ways. A former marketing executive for radio and television, including with Fox Family (now ABC Family) and E! Entertainment, Lou's consulted entrepreneurs with their video strategies and action plans since 2002.
Lou shares how to get the right mindset for incorporating video into your campaigns, thoughts on the entrepreneurial life while being an active parent to teenagers, and the tools he uses to accelerate the projects he and his clients work on.
After enjoying this episode, what are your top takeaways from Lou?
And what's one lesson you learned in this episode that you'll take action on over the next week?
Get to know Lou
Bob: Lou, my friend, it is so great to have you on for this episode.
Lou: Thanks. It's good to catch up with you. I thought you said the gross story of Lou Bortone. That's a whole different one though, right?
Bob: Indeed, and we'll see if it fits that billing or not. As you are well aware from that opening sentence, Lou’s a pretty comical and fun dude. Before we get into some of the business stuff that you do, Lou, give us an idea of how your customers are impacted by the work that you do.
Lou: The main thing I think is that they are empowered. They feel like they have more control over their destiny. I help folks with video marketing, and I help them get comfortable on camera, and things like that. What I've seen and what I really like is when people really start to build and grow their business because they're starting to use video, and they're starting to get more reach and more visibility.
Bob: That's awesome. So yeah, let's get back to the beginning of the story a little bit. As members of The Lead Generation listening today, they're in the middle of growing their own success story in their business, and you weren't always an entrepreneur in the video world. You did some other stuff first. So how did you get started as a video marketing expert?
Lou: I actually came from the TV side of the business. I worked in television and cable for many, many years in Boston and Los Angeles. As the TV business was sort of converging with the internet, which is something that we talked about years ago, but it didn't really happen until much more recently. I just moved over into the online world and the virtual world. And I think the key for me was when one of my colleagues sold his $15,000 fancy, news gathering camera, and said, oh, I'm just going to use my iPhone from now on. I'm like, okay, well I guess that's it. So here we go.
Bob: So as you look back to that transition from being employed in a 9 to 5 slash/8 to 10 kind of job in the media world, what kind of frustrations did you see at the very beginning that you love to help people, maybe not get around entirely, but maybe shortcut a little bit towards their own?
"We now have access to the same tools that only a few years ago, only the big media companies had."
Lou: It was kind of bumpy because even I don't really like being on camera, having been on the other side of the camera. I had to get used to putting myself out there. And I think that's something that a lot of entrepreneurs struggle with. They can talk about other people, they can promote other people, but they can't do it as well for themselves.
What I was trying to do with both myself and my clients was really help them with video marketing and video branding and helping them realize that, hey, we now have access to the same tools that only a few years ago, only the big media companies had. And all of us now are sort of like our own little TV station. I'm trying to help folks help folks realize that they have a lot of power and influence right within their reach.
False personas non grata
Bob: One of the things I really love about the way that you do your marketing is you're A, not afraid to let people know that you're a small business, and B, you also let your personality and sense of humor really shine through. What kind of advice would you have for people who might be a little nervous, like letting themselves really step into the spotlight and let their personality really shine?
Lou: Yeah, it is funny because I'm an introvert that I sort of, my defense mechanism is if I can make fun of something, myself included, I do that. And a lot of people think that they have to take on a different persona to be on video. I just try and help people realize that like all you need to do is be you. You don't need to be loud, you don't need to be over the top, you don't need to be funny. You just have to be yourself and share yourself on camera, kind of let loose a little bit and just put yourself out there.
I think Facebook live is actually helped with that a lot. I sort of say that they've lowered the bar on video, but not in a bad way. It's they've made it just so much more accessible and so much more informal that people can kind of like, okay, if I just click the go-live button, here we go.
Bob: Yeah, that's absolutely true. I think it's fair to say that you would likely agree with me that video, the number one thing is the audio, and then secondly is content. Is there anything else that's a high priority when you're thinking about with your clients what do they need to get right?
Lou: Brevity is important in most cases unless you're doing teaching, or demo, or something like that. Just because people have such short attention spans. And I know, again, my kids, they're not kids anymore, they're 20 years old, but I keep an eye on what they're doing and I see a lot of them using second screens at the same time. They're watching TV, but they're also on YouTube on their phone, and they may even have a third screen going. So, we're in a really fragmented sort of ADHD society. So it's even harder to break through and be memorable with all that stuff going on.
Bob: That's really important. I think it's great that you're learning a little bit of the way that the younger folks are working it with your kids.
The balancing act
Bob: Speaking of kids, I was going to ask this later, but since you mentioned them, you've got twins that are off to college and you grew your business with these great kids growing up in high school and earlier. People in The Lead Generation that are doing that, they're balancing family life and they're growing their business. What kind of advice would you wish you had had when you first got started?
Lou: Build a soundproof room. I think it's, again, part of it is like, look, if I'm going to have, when the kids were younger, if they're going to run around in the background and be on my videos or my dog Rocco, the pug, is going to make his presence known, I'm just going to embrace that and make them part of the brand. So when the kids were younger I would put them in videos and if Rocco's running around I'd grab him and say, oh, here's Rocco, come and say hi. So, I think a lot of that is just including it. It's like, all right, there's not much of a difference or distinction between my business life and my personal life, so I just sort of mush it all together.
Bob: Yeah, I think that's very true. And for those of us in this world right now where there are either mega-corporations or there are just a gazillion individual people, I think helping embrace an authentic way of life seems to really be compelling to a lot of people.
Lou: Yeah, and even you look at the fancy big networks like CNN, NBC or whatever, and they're using Skype, and Zoom, and things like that. The video that went viral with the girl dancing behind the guy trying to be interviewed. So all that stuff is sort of accepted now and acceptable, which I think is a good thing. If CNN can get away with Skype then I can.
Who's in your corner?
Lou: Honestly, folks like you and Felicia Slattery, the people that we met at NAMS, which is a conference that we'd go to a few times a year in Atlanta, which actually didn't you make up the name for NAMS?
Bob: I'm sure that you didn't build your business all by yourself. I know that you likely had some cheerleaders, and mentors, and so forth. Who has been a really great cheerleader for you as you've grown your business.
Bob: I made the transition from niche affiliate marketing to Novice to Advanced Marketing Systems, but it's no longer in place as an event. But David Perdew, the gentleman who started it, still does run some workshops and still does a membership.
“I can’t be an expert at everything. I’d be better off to hire somebody that’s an expert at that”
Lou: Yeah, I mean those were really, really valuable because I made a lot of mistakes. And when I started going to conferences like that and hanging out with folks like you, and Felicia, and David Perdew, I sort of finally got it through my head that it's like, okay, online business is completely different than corporate and what I did at Fox, and E!, and things like that. I had to just kind of changed my whole mindset.
Bob: What was one of those mindset lessons that you learned that you're really happy that you did? Maybe it took a little longer than you might've wanted now, but you could impart upon our Lead Generation?
Lou: Well, some of it was just trying to do everything myself and realize that no, I can't be an expert at everything. So I'm trying to do Facebook ads. I can learn a little bit about it, but I'd be better off if I'm in a hurry to hire somebody that's an expert at that. And even with, honestly with the video production stuff, I had been more on the marketing side. If folks needed video production, I'd say, look, I can edit, I'm a great editor. But I don't shoot video and I don't want to go on locations, things like that.
Some of it was having to let certain things go and saying, okay, I'm not a video production person, I'm a video marketing person because my background is in marketing.
Bob: Yeah. Speaking of the video marketing side of things, I know that you are prolific at experimenting with the different software tools that are out there and seeing which ones really hold up for the longer term. Are there two or three favorites of yours that make the average individual solopreneur really start to stand out with their videos?
Lou: Yeah. It's funny cause I test a lot of different things and I usually come back to this core group of things like Zoom obviously, which we're using right now, and I use almost every day.
Another one that I used quite a bit is Loom at useloom.com, whichI use it for video email, video outreach, and things like that. And quite frankly Leadpages is something I use almost every day because rather than trying to expand my existing website, I can just do a specific Lead Page or a specific web page for the project that I'm working on.
There's been a few really core softwares that I keep coming back to over and over again. Even though I usually buy and test almost everything, which I've got a ridiculous amount of AppSumo deals and things like that, I find that I always come back to the same few core things.
"Chances are what you want to do has been done in some form or another before and you can sort of use what's come before as a guide or as a foundation."
Bob: And is there any place that you go to for some special effects for your intros or outros or any other kind of like flavor enhancers for your videos?
Lou: I used a whole series of sites call Envato Marketplace, Envato, and they have things like audiojungle.net, which is where I find a lot of audio stuff; videohive.net, which is where I do a lot of After Effects stuff. And people think, oh my God, you're a genius. I'm like, no, I just bought a template and customized it.
If I can start ahead of the game with a template or with a guide that saves a ton of time. And I think again, that's something else that entrepreneurs can realize is that they don't have to start from scratch. Chances are what you want to do has been done in some form or another before and you can sort of use what's come before as a guide or as a foundation.
Bob: Yeah. Those are really good tips.
Instant gratification builds your list faster
Bob: You mentioned a moment ago that you're an active and prolific user of Leadpages. Of course, I see your pages on Linkedin a lot, and on Facebook, and so forth. Obviously you're using it to build your list as well as sell your programs. Do you have a favorite lead magnet or style of lead magnet that's really been really helpful for you that you know gets great conversions?
Lou: I have a couple of those. One that I did because people always say, I don't know what to talk about it on video. So I made a list, I think it was on a flight or something one time, of like, okay, here are 99 things you can do for videos. So I turned that into a lead magnet and like, okay, 99 video topics, 99 video ideas, and put up that Lead Page. That one does really well, it converts really well.
I think people like something that they can get immediate gratification with, and have a checklist or one sheet that they can just kind of use right away rather than having to wait. I mean you think that like, oh, you must do a lot of videos series and stuff like that, but people don't necessarily want to wait or watch a seven-part video series. So I try to do things that offer immediate gratification.
Bob: I think we find that in the rest of the Leadpages base too, something quick to consume, quick to make, and something just that you can test obviously with ease.
Mindset & growth
Bob: So as we're looking at people who have taught you in the past, you mentioned Felicia, myself, David Perdew, etc. What kind of learning are you doing now? What are you reading? What kind of podcasts are you listening to?
Lou: I'm part of a mastermind group with Peter Shankman, who is the founder of HARO (Help A Reporter Out). He's got a really good group of folks that meet fairly regularly. So what I try and do is just find these groups, and I did a lot of stuff as you know with Michael Port and his groups, and I called it like my clients for a while were like six degrees of Michael Port, cause I could trace their lineage back to a certain conference or event.
I'm reading a lot of different stuff. I've remembered my Beastie Boys book that I just got, which is very thick, but it's just fascinating that those guys were kind of like musical entrepreneurs. So I try and look outside of, not just the online world of the video world, but I try and find some other stuff that's interesting reading.
Bob: I think that's really, really cool. It gets the brain firing on a few different cylinders then what normally would be like. That's really cool. *
Sell 'em what they want, what they really, really want
Bob: My next question for you is something about marketing change for you. You mentioned the mindset shifted for you. You were doing work as a company guy and then you had to sell your own stuff. How has your perception of marketing evolved over that time? What was it like at the beginning and how do you think about selling right now? Cause a lot of people do have that sense that it's a four letter word.
“I struggled a lot in the first few years of my business. I was producing what I thought people would want instead of what they were asking for. It took me a while to really figure it out and get it right.”
Lou: Yeah. And I struggled a lot in the first few years of my business and people are like, oh my God, you must be killing it cause you're doing video. I'm like, well it took me a while to really figure it out and get it right.
Part of it was I was producing what I thought people would want instead of what they were actually asking for. I finally figured out, oh, you know what, I'm going to sell the course first and then create it if people buy it. So part of it's that.
Part of it is the old marketing lie, oh my God, I don't want to be too salesy, or I don't want to put myself out there. I got over that pretty quick and I did some of it, like you said, with humor and things like that. You have to be your own biggest cheerleader. So marketing for me has been a matter of studying like, okay I hate sales and marketing too. Now I embrace sales and marketing, but I'll put my own spin on it.
Bob: Yeah. Cause you definitely want to look at yourself in the mirror and feel really excited about what you're putting out there.
Don’t be afraid to fail
Bob: So as we come to the end to this episode, I'd love to ask you if you have a particular key to success that you love to share? I know that you have a lot of knowledge and there's a lot of different things that make a business really successful, but what do you think boils down to like one thing that's a key to success as people start and grow their own businesses?
Lou: I think it's really don't be afraid to fail. I mean, you're gonna miss a lot, and I kind of go back. My son played baseball for many years and I go back to the old analogy of like, look, if you get up to bat and you get a hit 3 times out of 10 you're an awesome baseball player. It's the same with entrepreneurship. It's like, I'm going to try 10 things and 3 or 4 of them might work. So I try and double down on those things that are working and not be afraid to miss 7 out of 10 times because you may.
Bob: Yeah, that's true. I think the rewards of those three hits can be doubles, triples, even home runs, and breakout in just a little bit of time. Hopefully, you don't make a longer-term mistake from what you've put together.
Bob: Very cool. Lou, thanks so much for joining me for this week's episode. Where can people go to find out more about your video marketing services and just connect for some humorous tips on getting themselves on camera better?
Lou: Sure. You can go to loubortone.com, which at the moment is a Lead Page, which is another fun thing about Leadpages. It's like, okay, I don't want to update my website yet, so I'm just going to put up a lead page, gateway page as my websites. So that's been a big help. And of course, @LouBortone on all the socials.
Bob: Excellent. Thanks so much, Lou.
Lou: Thank you.
Want to get notified about fresh episodes?
Ready to take action?
What are your top take-aways from Lou?
And what's one lesson you learned in this episode that you'll take action on over the next week?