Ethos: the distinguishing character, sentiment, moral nature, or guiding beliefs of a person, group or institution (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). In today’s world of corruption and greed, it has become of the utmost importance for businesses to create trust and make a positive impact on consumers. More and more people are taking an interest in products and services that are good for the planet and good for mankind. Jason Hartman interviews his long-time friend and Tethos founder, Jason Niedle about creating positive marketing and communication strategies combined with a healthy ethos to build trust and produce results that make a positive impact on the world. Listen at: www.SpeakingofWealth.com. The two Jason’s discuss high- and low-tech options to market businesses. Of course, the internet provides many high tech options, many practical and creative applications, to promote products and services to the world. Jason Niedle suggests ways to use low-tech options to market a business, such as good old-fashioned calendars, which he refers to as old school viral marketing. This approach can be tailored to specific niches, providing important dates or events for a specific market. He encourages being a giver versus a taker, with a win-win mindset. He also reminds us that, because of the internet, anything we do today will still be around 5 and 10 years down the road, emphasizing the importance of business and marketing integrity, having an ethos of goodwill.
In Jason Niedle’s over 20+ years helping clients visually communicate, he is responsible for several thousand book designs, hundreds of calendars, countless corporate brands and websites, and has earned over 50 design and photography awards. He is both creative and logical: from leading the design of a one million man-hour project that is intended to last more than 10,000 years; to leading large groups of highly successful entrepreneurs. Along the way, Jason has performed at Carnegie Hall, climbed Africa’s tallest mountain, and re-met a childhood friend … only to discover that she had been his soulmate the whole time, unknown. They recently married — in four culturally authentic ceremonies in four weeks on four continents in a “Wedding World Tour” — a simple idea that not only made him an official member of Kenya’s famed Maasai tribe, but also led to their upcoming book on how anyone can create better relationships. Jason is passionate about ideas that change the world, and recently founded Tethos Marketing in order to combine his love of visual communications with his passion for helping others. Their first client was Sir Richard Branson’s charity Virgin Unite, and Tethos helped Virgin raise nearly $500k in one night. Jason believes that the only types of arrangements that we should chose are those which are win/win/win: where we can forward our personal goals, serve the goals of his partners, and at the same time help someone else.
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Jason Hartman: My pleasure to welcome my long time friend Jason Niedle to the show. He is the founder of Tethos and several other businesses including the Calendar Factory, and will share many creative ideas for social entrepreneurship, marketing and promotion of your businesses, and I think you will get some very very creative ideas today. Jason welcome, how are you?
Jason Niedle: I am great, thank you Jason and it’s great to hear from you.
Jason Hartman: My pleasure, so Jason comes to us today. We have got two Jason so let’s not get confused here. From Southern California where I met him through the Young Entrepreneurs Association later becoming the Entrepreneurs Association and you may have heard of that organization, and what is your newest venture Tethos all about?
Jason Niedle: You know Jason for years I’ve been doing my work on the side with non-profits and then keeping it completely separate from my work as a marketer in marketing, and somewhere along the lone someone said to me Jason why don’t you keep everything segregated, and that made no sense to me until a few months later and I realize the light ball went on, and I thought why do I keep everything separate, why do I work really hard to make money, and then turn around and go give that money away, or we go do something around on the weekend when I could actually kind of merge the two, impair the two. And I actually end up with better business out of it so I’ve been holding under this name Tethos for quite a while, and I thought you know Ethos — combine with Ethos and character and soul and spirit with that I do in marketing and telling stories. And now I can actually tell stories that matter instead of just going out there and marketing the you know whatever the product visual is.
Jason Hartman: Right, and I know when you met Richard Branson, the Virgin companies there are so many of them. A few years back did that influence you in combining your entrepreneurship with your philanthropy?
Jason Niedle: Absolutely, Richard Branson is been a huge inspiration. The idea actually came immediately. I was working with Virgin Unite, his non-profit on a project called Rock the Kasbah which is a very fun event that they hold in Los Angles each year where they get some brand, you know amazing brand name musicians to come out and play and they raise a half a million dollars for charity, and they put a lot of people together, and so it’s helping them market at event. And I realized you know when I go to that event I am going to be talking to him, and all these amazing other people there. And I thought you know I really want to do something that matters. I want to do something bigger than what I am doing now. And so I came out with the idea Tethos, and then either ironically or appropriately when I got to the event I realized wow the event is launching his book which is called Screw Business As Usual, and the whole point of his book is that doing good is good business. And so this idea had been inspired to me prior to the event, and then I read his book, and his book essentially said you know when you get out there, and you do good things your business is going to improve because of it, and it’s absolutely true. Going out there and doing the right thing is a good business, it feels good, and it’s just really is my passion.
Jason Hartman: Fantastic, well what specifically should businesses and entrepreneurs be doing that our audience on this show in this episode is geared toward speakers, publishers, authors, coaches, info marketers, you know that kind of specific entrepreneur. What ideas do you have or suggestions do you have for them, and I want to make sure we talk just a little about the Calendar Factory as well in our discussion today Jason because that’s a pretty creative way to do marketing as well, a real niche oriented. Tell us how people can combine this in their business?
Jason Niedle: Sure. I mean obviously you know reading this book Screw Business As Usual is a great start but there is a lot of ideas, and I think it’s simple as simple as what you are already doing, and what you are already passionate about in helping people, and helping the world, and helping you combine that with what you are doing. And a lot of speakers and a lot of publishers already have that mindset. A lot of speakers are talking what they are passionate about, and it’s not one single straightforward topic, a lot of times if they are passionate about helping people and doing things that comes through in their conversations, so I think it’s just being creative. I think there is a little bit of a miss number out there and that people think well, if I am going to have a social business or if I am going to help people it means I don’t have to make money. I don’t that there is any problem with making money and in making a positive difference in the world. In fact I think the two together actually become more win-win and you probably make more money and help more people and do something bigger on the planet.
Jason Hartman: Well, I mean it’s not exactly a new idea that businesses for either out of since your passion for the cause or out of marketing motivations and or just out of a good will, will take and do something like this. They will say we donate 5% of everything we sell to so and so charity or so and so foundation or such and such cause that’s a rather simplistic idea it’s been done a lot. I am not making a judgment whether it’s good or bad but are there some more creative ways to blend these two things together.
Jason Niedle: Sure. I mean for example in Tethos I will only take on people and projects that I believe that are making a positive difference in the world, and does that mean I only take on non-profits no. Does that mean that I can look at the products and see you know that has some positive difference so you know and take it on but as essentially for me it’s essentially just limiting my window of opportunities to things that I feel that are making a difference which means that we are both going to be more passionate about it. And that doesn’t mean I am going to charge to any less. I mean in most cases I am putting together a world-class team and it’s not a budget product just to help out the nearest non-profit. And there is a lot of good stories that are out there about social entrepreneurs, I mean one of the things I even do is I just follow on twitter you know the Hashtag social entrepreneur, and I see what people are doing. There is quite a few stories about people out there who have taken a traditional business and put a little bit of spin on it using slightly different materials. I just saw a company recently that is working on replacing Styrofoam with a product it’s grown essentially from mushrooms and which is very interesting, and the mushroom product essentially has some of the — most of the same characteristics as Styrofoam except obviously it’s eco-friendly but it looks like its cost of production is only slightly more than Styrofoam so he has a whole new niche. He can brand it and sell it. He can compete on some differentiation, and yet really in the end it’s still packaging products, so I think sometimes it’s a little bit of twisting going to the extra direction that’s going to appeal the people. And one of things I think about I am 41, and I realize all of a sudden while I am starting to be older than the new generations coming up. And I realize anyone that’s in their 20s is not going to buy from a company or maybe even a little bit younger. It’s not going to buy from companies that are just out there for the money. I realize like pretty soon in 5 or 10 years that if I am not doing something that is helping the planet then — or helping people are doing something positive in nature then I am going to end up by the wayside because that’s certainly the way the American public seems to be turning.
Jason Hartman: There definitely is more than ever before I would say a blending of entrepreneurship with social causes, and I talked to you about recently I just finished reading the book Abundance The Future Is Better Than You Think and interviewed one of the authors Steve Kotler who co-authored with Peter Diamandis on one of my shows, and wow you know when you look especially in the technology space the way philanthropist very, very wealthy philanthropist are approaching social causes and charitable causes nowadays it’s so different and so creative and forgive me I can’t think of any examples off the top of my head, but it’s very different than it was in the olden days, isn’t it?
Jason Niedle: It’s very, very different, I mean two great examples and I don’t know that it would call this necessarily pure social causes but if you look at XHC and Kickstarter those are using technology to kind of take away from this massive monopolistic business that seems to be owning everything and giving some of that power back to the smaller businesses and I have seen cases of that where in fact I met an amazing entrepreneur on an airplane a few weeks ago, and her business she goes to India and she goes to places where women are traditionally have quite a hard time, and she finds out what products they can make, and she gives them small loans you know micro-loans a hundred bucks here and there. And then she starts taking the product, and she markets it on the website. And all of a sudden you know these little tiny villages with people who had absolutely no potential for selling their wares whatsoever are selling their products in America on the website. And it’s quite amazing the results that she could have with something like that, and again that’s not a non-profit business that’s a for-profit business and its leveraging technology to really change things.
Jason Hartman: It’s interesting when you look at a website like Kiva and you look at it’s the micro lending environment many people and this is — it’s almost funny think that their money in their 401(k) for example or their IRA would be safer with Kiva since they have a 98% repayment rate of the micro loans then it would be in the US stock market which is just a big fraud scandal or gambling casino scam not that I have an opinion about that or anything, but you know it’s really amazing. I think micro-lending I mean I remember when I first learned about micro-lending maybe it was 10 years ago can really change if not save the world I mean a phenomenal thing enabled by technology, and you mentioned Kickstarter another thing a different kind of thing than Kiva and micro-lending but at different thing than people being able to sell their wares to U.S. consumers, and other consumers in westernized wealthier countries but talk about Kickstarter a little bit if you would.
Jason Niedle: You know I am just amazed that I’ve seen friends gone there who just had an idea, and for example a friend of mine is making a pinball machine and it sounds ridiculous like who is going to get funded by some venture capitalist to have 10 or $15,000 to make a pinball machine and it’s amazing that he went on there, the money is coming. You know he is able to do something that wouldn’t have been possible before and I believe this — you know that’s not exactly a social cause necessarily however when you start empowering people to do things then these little ideas that come up you know as someone has a great idea and then there is a mechanism for empowering it just like you said with Kiva the technology is really fantastic and great ideas can bubble on the surface. You know even the — I believe it was called the Pepsi challenge is that what it was called. Pepsi was running a campaign where if you had a great idea they would give you 50, a 100,000 or $250,000 for your social entrepreneurial ideas, and simply by people voting on them. And they were giving away I believe a million dollars a month last year for causes like that so again technology empowering great ideas that have some social power behind them it’s pretty revolutionary.
Jason Hartman: Well, I think one of the things that is just so powerful beyond anybody’s belief about the internet is that it’s the network effect it’s what Robert Metcalfe popularized a long time ago, and he was one of co-inventors of the Ethernet. And how you can crowd source things on the internet, and for example with Kickstarter people can make these tiny donations but people go on there, and they just surf around, and look for things that they want to support, and they can donate 10 bucks, and you crowd source enough people doing that, and before you know you’re talking not real money in the sense of venture capital or even angel funding of a business but real money for someone to get a little project off the ground, the documentary film, a podcast, and get their message out to the world, and who knows where it might lead from there, right.
Jason Niedle: Absolutely, and there is quite a bit of money in there. Recently there was a project in there I believe it’s funded over a million dollars in its first week of launch and I believe there’s been several projects had reached over 3 million in funding.
Jason Hartman: I have no idea that they were that high. I thought we were talking you know big funding would be 80 a $100,000 on Kickstarter.
Jason Niedle: And you know probably it’s probably the 80-20 rule probably 80% of the people have funded something under $10,000 I would guess, and how were there are some things on there and it is an amazing platform.
Jason Hartman: So Jason when we get away from the internet and the network effect there are still some great low-tech ideas out there. One of the things that I am doing a project with you on for one of my businesses right now is a calendar and when we think of calendars most people in real life use electronic calendars nowadays although certainly not everybody, but you have another business called the Calendar Factory. Tell us about the way people are using good old-fashioned calendars in marketing their businesses.
Jason Niedle: Absolutely yeah you are right and people don’t use most people don’t use encounter to schedule out their day and [MCO 0:15:15] and I am going to look in the wall and see that at 9 o’clock today I have to do something. We are all too mobile for that and hey if you alarmed in the ring how we remember to do it. However, calendars is if you hit people in the right way are still fantastic ways to, to market and get the word out. Its almost like it’s a rotating posture, so every month you have a different picture, and the way I look at it, is if we hit somebody at two separate angles or two different angles so if I made a calendar for people who sailed its moderately interesting if you are a if I made a calendar for people who sail based in Orange County California and you are sailing on Orange County then it could be really interesting. It could have title charts. It could have locations. It could have typical weather patterns and you know chart in the back. It can have all sorts of information that’s actually relevant to that person or you know in your case if you happened to be a college student in a certain area than you could have information that’s really to that alliance, so generally with the calendar and I would guess it supplies to all marketing I don’t have to think that through a little bit, but almost to every piece of marketing if you can hit somebody on two separate angles that they are interested in then its going to be something that they’re going to want to hang on their wall, and if you know if I send you catalog you are going to look at it probably for a couple minutes and may be you know may be it will sit on your desk for a few days and then you are probably going to throw it away. If I throw you something that’s really interesting and intriguing to you, you might hang it on your wall and have it there for a year so as the marketing tool goes you have your website, you have your logo, you have your images you have information you could have dates cost action coupons if you had like an online store no in-store events you could have all that stuff all hanging with someone’s wall for you, which you know how also you are going to get them to hang out your advertisement on the wall.
Jason Hartman: Right and so what you mean when you gave the example of sailors you do small run calendars so it doesn’t have to be a famous calendar, but you can localize it so it’s sailing it’s pretty pictures of the ocean and big spinnakers on a boat maybe, you know and that kind of stuff or maybe beautiful girls on the beach or on the boat you know on the yachts, and it’s got that element of sailors that’s the broad category and then it narrows down to in your example a specific geography with the charts of the tides the weather patterns maybe it’s various places to sail to an area now. I was a member of the sailing club and in Newport Beach for many years and owned a boat thereto when the two happiest days of a person’s life but I diverged okay.
Jason Niedle: Buying and selling.
Jason Hartman: Yeah exactly. The day you get it, and the day you get rid of it I found that it’s much better to have a friend with the boat than to have a boat.
Jason Niedle: Absolutely.
Jason Hartman: But we will just leave that one alone but there aren’t many places to sail to but in other markets you could do different ports of call like in Florida there are so much variety there so you can really localize and maybe pick up advertisers for a calendar that might want to co-opt the venture with you if you can sail into a little local bar and restaurant right.
Jason Niedle: And that’s a great point Jason. If you bring in people on related fields who are interested let if we are going to continue with the sailing example I mean you could have, you could definitely have places that they could go. You could have you know you could have the whole thing essentially sponsored by a boat maker if you chose to. You know service providers there is so only people that would be interested in having their information on there that you don’t even have to necessarily sell a calendar which is a tough road these days. It’s tough to get people to say yeah sure I will give you 10 or $20 for that calendar, and it’s tough to get into the major retail stores. However if you can get a pre-funded that it can essentially be up for the smart marketers out there it can be free marketing tool for a year, and you’re letting the sponsors also help you distribute because as you got to sponsor, let’s say you got the yacht club to sponsor you. You give the yacht a 100 of the calendars and then they are distributing them to your members and you are also promoting your cause whatever that may be as well.
Jason Hartman: So it’s got a viral component it’s really low-tech viral —
Jason Niedle: Old school viral yeah exactly.
Jason Hartman: Old school viral marketing, but let’s talk about a way, let’s talk about our audience you know we got off from that sailing tangent, but more to our actual audience if you’re a speaker for example and you want to market yourself to speakers bureaus you might do a calendar and gather up non-competitive but related topics or people or businesses things that are important also to speakers bureaus certain special unique holidays, a tradeshow calendar because these are these are the things they are booking speakers for, and send it to speakers bureaus instead of a postcard instead of your business card or in addition to your demo DVD showing you speaking of course you could include things like motivational quotes and things like that any other ideas along those lines that’s got staying power it’s a one-year thing you know something that they’re not likely to throw out at least not as likely as a postcard and you might actually get it paid for by other people.
Jason Niedle: Yeah this is why you are the brilliant speaking of wealth master here Jason. Absolutely if people wanted to go in on something like that and then get it out there, and if they could provide information that was really useful to that target audience so if I am the speakers bureau and I want to know certain dates, and I want to know things that are going on and I really want to know also that I can but great reliable people who are smart and who have great topics. If you hand me all that information at one package idea calendar I have a choice, right? I can put it on my desk with the rest of the stuff where I can go hey; those are actually handy useful dates. I am going to stick that up there. I am going to look at it once in a while and see if I am missing anything and oh by the way look there is an article a bio about this guy, and he sounds pretty interesting and maybe I should get him booked out. You know so absolutely if you hit someone with information they need that they need and they are passionate about then your marketing is going to work and it kind of comes from that theory of give first thing because I am sending you a postcard I am saying you know give me, give me your attention, speak to me —
Jason Hartman: Hire me, yeah right.
Jason Niedle: Hire me then I am kind of a taker where just I am giving you something of value and of use then you are going to be more sympathetic to me, and course you have my marketing materials which are useful to you so you are going to tend to, to keep them so you win on both fronts.
Jason Hartman: Yeah again low-tech, but yeah I think still tried and true. The other example you used is and I don’t know how much this applies to your audience, but I thought it was an interesting idea. The famous calendar I guess is the sports illustrated calendar right that the swimsuit calendar and then that’s probably a really famous one and if you have a calendar with models or with people who were famous in anyway might be calendar of 12 different authors you can use that as a — as an event piece. For example authors do book signings right. Well, why not if you are using models or authors you can do calendar signings and again its not something you have to sell, or you could sell it really cheap, but you know it could be a giveaway normally as a calendar it’s just a promotional product basically, but then if it’s at a signing event you could charge 5, 10, $15 for it. So there are various ways to use it.
Jason Niedle: Absolutely and it just depends. I would guess you know author signings depending you know on the notoriety so to speak of the author you could sell them as if there were a book especially if it was had fantastic information and quotes from the author and I could easily the see the [unintelligible 0:23:01] style calendar within signing it selling the 20 bucks a pop at least would be a fantastic seller or if you had a calendar with models, the models at one of your sponsors for example signing and bringing people into the sponsors so your sponsor wins the model who I assume would get a cut of this the calendar fee would win and you are not paying them to be there so all the way around it just definitely works out really well in that regard and then if its promotional item then you can say something like 50 attendees get free signed calendar with calendar with information xyz that’s relevant to that audience, so there is a lot of different ways.
Jason Hartman: Yeah I want to mention one other idea, and then we will kind of wrap things up here. But a lot of people listening, a lot of speakers infopreneurs, they’ve rushed out or they want to rush out and they want to publish a book it’s so inexpensive to self publish nowadays a book is basically become just a fancy business card nowadays. A lot of people listening haven’t found the time or the inspiration or they don’t have the idea for a book yet and they’d want to get in that league and have a book maybe. But think about it a calendar could be much easier to publish than a book if you have writers block. And you know and if you haven’t really decided on what your book should be, but it’s still a really fancy shelf life oriented business card isn’t it?
Jason Niedle: Well and here is my confession in that regard. I have four started and unfinished in my mind amazing books and yet I have made 600 calendars and yes its my business, but calendar making is far, far, far easier than the making a book, definitely doesn’t take as much content, and at least in our case we would a lot of the work for our people because I do understand that its hard to get these things done and when you turn over to someone, you just kind of wanted to get it finished and handled for you whereas a book you can necessarily just hand it over to someone and had it be done. So, yeah now you got my confession out of me. I haven’t finished my books. I have done a lot of calendars and absolutely something that can get out there relatively quick, quickly. It takes generally six to eight weeks and I do tell people that if they are planning on doing you kind of want to have it for nearly half the year get them in July, August, September if you can so that you have a longer pass out life because after the first of the year you know you generally don’t want to hand them out too much longer after that.
Jason Hartman: So Jason last question for you on the calendars just quickly give an idea as to quantity requirements and costs I mean can someone listening they want to send the mailing out to 500 speaker’s bureaus. Can they do 500 or 1000 calendars in a small run obviously they can do 5-10,000 of them, but what does that look like in terms of quantity and cost requirements?
Jason Niedle: Yeah Jason you could start as low as a 100 calendars. On 500 calendars for example you’re under five dollars a piece. At a 100, they are around 8 or 850 and when you get up in the 1000 quantities, in the higher quantities 2500 calendars here around a couple of dollars a piece. 5000 is too much and when you get up under 10,000 calendars you’re under a dollar a piece. And usually it’s just a relatively simple math problem. If I put out 10,000 calendars and I get a 2% response rate then I make my money back. And if I am talking to people and they say well, I am not sure if I am going to make my money back or I am not going more than three, four, five times my money back generally don’t recommend doing it. That should be something that when you do it you make your money. You get your branding out there. You get your product out there. You get your message out there. It should absolutely pay for itself many times over as with all marketing or why are you doing it.
Jason Hartman: Fantastic. Well, Jason give out your appropriate websites here and tell people where they can find out more.
Jason Niedle: Great. People can look us up at tethos.com and also at the calendarfactory.com.
Jason Hartman: Fantastic thanks so much for joining us today.
Jason Niedle: Thank you so much Jason.
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The Speaking of Wealth Team
Transcribed by: Renee’