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Earning and Holding Attention with Ian Brodie

March 28, 2022
The Recognized Authority Podcast Cover

The podcast that helps experts & consultants on the journey to becoming a recognized authority in your field, so you can increase your impact, command premium fees, work less hours, and never have to suffer a bad-fit client again!.

Attention is a currency, something we all spend on those who entertain us, and those who help solve our problems. In a cluttered, noise-filled world, getting your ideal client’s attention focused on your content is difficult, creating content that will hold their attention even more so.

In this episode, Ian Brodie and Alastair McDermott discuss how you can earn the attention of your ideal buyers, and how to incorporate humour in a way that is congruent with your personality and style.

They also discuss what makes an effective lead magnet, how to inspire curiosity, and how fun is just another form of value.

Show Notes

Guest Bio

Ian Brodie is the founder of the Course Builders Hub, an online company that helps course creators build, launch and grow online courses. He’s established a reputation as a leading expert in marketing for consultants, coaches and trainers and for online courses.


people, attention, bit, curiosity, marketing, email, clients, notice, called, stand, youtube video, build, immediate attention, read, big, authority, interesting, linkedin, mistakes, click

Alastair McDermott, Voiceover, Ian Brodie


Ian Brodie  00:00

Don’t do it – don’t do it – just to it – to try and stand out, do stuff that’s in keeping with your character. But don’t do it in abstract. Think about your actual clients what you like and what you think they would like and what they would think and do it in keeping with that.


Voiceover  00:13

Welcome to The Recognized Authority, a podcast that helps specialized consultants and domain experts on your journey to become known as an authority in your field. So you can increase your reach, have more impact, and work with great clients. Here’s your host, Alastair McDermott.


Alastair McDermott  00:29

Hey, if you are a regular listener, then you know that I’ve made a decision not to look for sponsorship for the podcast in a major part, because I don’t want you to have to listen to ads before during the podcast. But I do want to ask you a favor in return. If you are enjoying the podcast and listen on a regular basis, can I ask you to take a minute to leave a review, it’s really easy to do this, you can go to And it’ll give you options that are appropriate for your device in your listening app. So that’s at And that link is in the show notes. So thank you, I really appreciate it. Now on to the episode.  So today, my guest is Ian Brodie. And Ian has given me a bio to read. So I’m gonna, I’m gonna go with that first and say he’s the founder of the course builders hub. That’s an online company that helps creators build, launch and grow online courses. And he’s established reputation as leading expert in marketing for consultants, coaches, trainers, and for online courses. But I want to add my own bit to the, to the to the intro, because I’ve been following Ian online for probably 10 years now. And I’m really delighted that you were able to make some time to come on as a guest, I think you’re one of the most look forward to interviews that I’ve had so far in the 50 odd. So thank you for taking the time to come on.


Ian Brodie  01:46

Thank you.


Alastair McDermott  01:48

So okay, there’s there’s a bunch of things that we can talk about. But I’m really interested in this thing that you talked about harnessing the science of attention to become seen as an authority. So can you talk to me a little bit about the science of attention what you mean by that?


Ian Brodie  01:59

Well, I think I think attention is important to look at because you know, if you want to be seen as an authority, there’s an, there is an implication, I think in the word authority that people actually listened to you. So you can be an expert by yourself. You can go and study you can work, you can become a real expert on a topic. But if no one is paying attention to you, if no one notices what you do, if no one’s listening to you, then it’s not doing you any good. It’s not doing them any good either. Because they’re not benefiting from your expertise and your knowledge and your and your skills. So I think it’s just embedded in the word authority is that you can actually influence people and have an effect on people. And that doesn’t start until they you know, if they don’t pay you any attention. I mean, we could, you could get into all the marketing thing about persuasion and influence and clever tricks into valet to stick with simple stuff.  And the really simple stuff is if no one notices you, you can’t influence them or persuade them or, or anything. So I started getting really interested in attention. And the nice thing was probably about the last decade or so, there’s been a lot more work on the science of psychology of attention than previously. It’s still an emerging field, you know, there are still not, there’s not consensus on exactly how it works. But because we can now you know, monitor the brain and see, see what’s lighting up and what’s not lighting up and all that kind of stuff, we’ve got a much better idea of what gets and keeps people’s attention. Because attention is the first step towards being influential, being persuasive and becoming an authority.  So I guess that a really simple way of breaking down what what attention is, is to split it into three parts. And you’ve got kind of immediate attention, short attention and long attention. And there’s a really good by the way, I will mention this at the end, I guess. But there’s a really good book called “Captivology” by a guy called Ben Parr, which summarizes the kind of the current science on attention. It’s one of the books I started with, before delving into the research papers and stuff. But-but when this definition comes from there, so immediate attention is where your, you know, your attention is grabbed.  So for example, if you’re walking down the street, and there’s a really loud noise, you know, a gunshot or a shout or something like that, you’re emitting that you can’t help it, you’re immediately going to turn and try and see, you know, what’s making that noise, what’s making that commotion, then now, in fact, if you hear a shout, but then you turn in your look, and you know, it’s nothing to do with you, it’s a mom shouting at a kid or something like that, your attention is very fleeting, and you get focused on your life again, so that’s immediate.  The next level of attention is short attention. And that’s where you kind of voluntarily choose to pay to give a bit more attention to something. So in that case, we just mentioned you decided I’m not going to pay attention to that mum shouting at her child, but if someone shouted your name, then you might pay a bit more attention to that. And so that so you kind of go “What’s that?” and you you kind of listen or look or whatever.  Then the final type of attention is long attention and that’s where you you actually seek out something. So you give it your attention deliberately. So that might be you know, your favorite TV show you you tune into that every week or in the in the marketing case, or the expert case, someone sends out an email newsletter, and you think it’s really good, you look out for it every week, and you’re deliberately read it every week, it doesn’t have to force itself into your attention, you will seek it out.  So you’ve got these kinds of, you know, immediate, short and long attention. And they’re all essential, because that, you know, if you’re thinking about becoming an authority, it’s long attention, you really need, you really need people specifically paying attention to you and what you’re saying, because that’s going to increase your perceived expertise, it’s going to build a relationship with them, they’re going to see you as the kind of expert they want to work with. But you can’t get to long attention until people have noticed you in the first place with immediate attention. And then people have decided to get a bit more involved with you with short attention. So all three are necessary and they kind of happen in that order. You go backwards and forwards between them. But but it’s kind of a bit of a linear process like that.


Alastair McDermott  06:02

Okay, where does that a YouTube video sorry to interrupt or does YouTube video come in there, if you have like a short or a social media video, maybe it’s two minutes long, is that in the short or the long?


Ian Brodie  06:12

You know what it could fit into all of them so and little bits of it. So for example, with a YouTube video, and this is a good job, if you think of any kind of video because one of the things about attention is, even though the science is fairly new, marketing people and filmmakers, video makers, writers, they’ve all learned how to, how to get this over time. You know, Otherwise, they wouldn’t. They wouldn’t be a business. I guess, classic one might be a street performer on the street, for example, you know, for street perform. I think Eddie Izzard said this years ago, because he started off as a street performer in Covent Garden.  And he said if you don’t get very good very quickly, you starve, so that you know the they’re forced forced to learn this. So if you think of a street performer, often they’ll bang something very loud, they’ll they’ll meet you with a metallic and they’ll bounce everything, get your attention. And then they’ll do something interesting. Like you know, I think it was pen, sorry, yeah, Penn out of Penn and Tellter used to juggle with fire, because then you go oh, so they make a loud noise to get your attention. And then they’ll do something curious and unusual, interesting to get your attention more.  So if you think about a YouTube video, it could have all the elements. So a YouTube video, if it wants to grab your attention, it has to look different, that’s the thing about immediate attention. It’s all about difference. And novelty. Sorry, you know, it’s about difference in contrast, rather. So it has to look different to the other videos, you might be seeing very quickly for you to give it any attention at all.  So the first time you might come across a YouTube video might be the thumbnail down on the right hand side of the video, because you know, you’re not going to you’ve got to get to it somehow. So one of the key things if you want someone to watch your YouTube video, you’ve got to have a contrasting and unusual thumbnail that looks different to all the other thumbnails that might, people might be seeing on the on their on their kind of YouTube feed. So that’s the first thing is a bit of


Alastair McDermott  08:02

Why we see all those shocked faces in the in the thumbnail image.


Ian Brodie  08:06

Exactly. See, Shadow, people will use bold, bold colors. So they’ll maybe you know do a green screen of just their their head and head and shoulders, but big bold colors in the background and the title in really big and bold, so you can read it. And it stands out and looks different. So it’s that difference. And it difference kind of comes from it kind of from from evolution really, if you if you imagine us kind of first emerging from caves and wandering the savanna Plains or whatever. And those of us those of our ancestors that noticed that that kind of black and orange striped creature with big teeth walking towards them look different to the nice to the leaves around in the nice of the friendly animals they’ve seen. Those who noticed that and ran away survived those that didn’t really notice the difference. They died and they’re not our ancestors. So that you know, noticing something picking up on something different and contrasting, has survival value, and it’s persisted. So you’ll notice, you know, what do we notice, you know, the going back to the example of someone shouting on the street, it’s because it was quiet or in general chatter and then there was a loud noise.  And we noticed that or if you’re scrolling your social media feed, what tends to be there is big bold images, for example, in particular images that look different to others on the feed. So a really good example of that, I’ll come back to YouTube in a second for the other types of attention but really good example of standing out and being different is a guy I bumped into on on LinkedIn called Dragos Balasoiu, and he’s the kind of branding guy but his LinkedIn posts the, he does a huge number of memes. So a meme being seen as something like a little video clip from a from Seinfeld or a you know, TV show, you know with a lien going in a surprise manner. And then he puts something kind of the text the first couple of line to use and might be something like, I don’t care about quality or something like that something unusual something contrasting to what else you might see.  And because it’s contrasting, because it’s really different to the other stuff you see in your LinkedIn view, which tends to be pretty boring. You pay attention to it. And then you click in it. And you because he said, going to the next step short attention, because he said, I don’t care about quality. But what does he mean by that? And you click and you read a little bit more. Now, obviously, yes, to deliver on that there has to be good quality content in the post, and there is, but it’s the mini bit. Yeah, otherwise, it’s clickbait. So some of the stuff I’ll talk about will feel a bit click baity, but but not if you deliver on it, if you deliver on it, if you promise something interesting, you’ve got to deliver on it not Not, not the kind of click baity, where you go and it’s just, it’s just rubbish. And if driver says cases posts are really insightful and useful, but he gets people’s attention by using a meme or something like that.  And of course, there’s plenty of people on LinkedIn, oh, no, LinkedIn is not Facebook, you’ve got to be professional, etc, etc. And drag us out, you know, maybe pays no attention. I suspect he just, you know, sits there like Blofeld? You know, grinning with, or Dr. Evil or whatever it might be go, yeah, you carry on telling everyone. They’ve got to be professional, and no one will notice them because it looks the same as everyone else. Yeah, well, I go to the bank with my unprofessional memes. So there’s that. And a YouTube video seems so many will be the thing for getting immediate attention. Just think through how do I make the first thing people might notice about my piece of marketing or the way they come into contact with me?  How do I make it stand out and be different to everyone else? And that even applies to face to face as well. You know, if you go to a networking event, you now that we can actually talk to people again, what’s the first thing this is probably how you’re dressed. So do you want to be a little bit bold and dress a little bit differently. These to be a famous guy I forgotten his name now used to talk about years ago, who was known as the I think was the name tag guy. And he used to wear his own name tag on his thing, you know, with a Hi, my name is one of those big red ones. It was different everyone else’s. And the funny thing was he, he insited, his, his thing was he was a consultant and a trainer and approachability in customer service and stuff like that. And he used to have this kind of name tag, and used to have this funny thing where if people got a bit sick of it, and they ripped it off, he would you know, open up his jacket and have another one underneath on his on his shirt.  And you know, if they rip that off, he would open a B shirt, and he had his, you know, my name is tattooed on his on his check on his chest. And that was different people notice that. And that’s the first thing. So you know, it just again think what’s the first thing people notice face to face? It’s probably how you’re dressed. So can you do something at least a little bit different to everyone else? And it’s how you introduce yourself? Can I introduce myself in a more of an interesting way. Otherwise, people are going to go ahead and just you know, completely, it just won’t even sink in. So that’s that’s immediate attention. YouTube video, it’s probably the thumbnail, maybe the first couple of seconds. But I think the first couple of seconds of a YouTube video is more an example of short attention.  The next thing, so how do you get people to go Oh, right. I’ll, I’ll get involved in that. So I guess with a YouTube video in short attention might be maybe the text on the thumbnail. So they’ve noticed it because it’s big and bold, they read the text or the title of the video. And if you want them to pay more, you know, pay a bit more attention to it. Curiosity tends to be the main driver of that. And again, this is just to do with the way the brain works. So the brain is attracted to notice contrast, because it’s survival value, or it’s different about a checkout, whether it’s dangerous. With short attention, it’s all about curiosity, because our brains can’t take in everything we see, obviously, this idea that somehow in our memories, we’ve got a photocopy of everything we’ve ever seen is just absolute nonsense. Our brains cannot store an awful lot, we filled their most of the stuff out and memories are reproductions, and recreated from little, little pieces of the jigsaw just by false memories, that kind of a bound and we can’t rely on on eyewitness testimony and stuff like that. So we, there’s tons of filtering goes on.  And one of the main filters that the brain uses is “have I seen this before? Is this new? Or is this not?” So you know, even if something is really useful, if you think you’ve seen it 100 times before, your brain is just not even going to let it in if you’re going to let it go past. So you’ve got to have something surprising and different, and kind of, with a bit of curiosity there. Otherwise, you’re not going to pay, you know, you’re not going to give it that short attention. I guess a class and there are lots of different ways of doing that. So when I send out my emails, I tend to like to use the power of schadenfreude er, which I hope I’m pronouncing correctly from the German, which is our kind of our love of of, of seeing others misfortune. So when I send out things like an email with a subject line of something like my worst sales meeting ever, I get a heck of a lot of click throughs to my email, because people Oh, I wonder what happened to me, you know, and it’s terrible sales meeting. And obviously in the email, they’re also a little bit of the thinking, well, how can I avoid the same mistake? But mainly there’s a lot of curiosity.  They’re all what terrible thing did he fell in. And then the email is useful because it tells them the mistake I made and how to avoid it. But the original bit of curiosity that drove the opening, it was about Schadenfreude. And there are other things unusual stuff works for curiosity. So there’s a great TEDx talk, I’m going to see if I can vaguely remember the name of the lady who who did that talk and gets into shatta do Solheim just looking at my notes there, and she did this TED talk that I clicked on exactly as you’re seeing, because I saw the little YouTube thumbnail. And the title of the talk was what working with psychopaths taught me about leadership. And you know that, um, I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen a million presentations about leadership lessons from Winston Churchill and Steve Jobs. And, you know, all these boring people that I’m sure exciting. But once you’ve seen 100 presentations about why Churchill was a great leader, you don’t want to see another one. But reading something, seeing what you know what you can learn about leadership from psychopaths, you go, Oh, I’m not even interested in leadership all that much.  But I’m going to click on that and watch it because, you know, just as engaged my curiosity, so that would be what I would try to do with a YouTube video saw the immediate attention with the thumbnail, bright, bold, contrasting the title, and include the title in some big writing on it. Possibly in kind of, you know, I would use something like a comic book font, again, to stand out and look different, really bright colors. But the title would have to engage curiosity, it would hopefully hindered value as well. So in that title of what working with psychopaths taught me about leadership, it hints that you’ll learn something useful about leadership. So if you want to learn about leadership, bit of value, but the thing that really drives it is the curiosity about working with psychopaths, that gets you clicking, usually the first few seconds of a YouTube video as well have got to engage you and make you think you’re going to get something useful and interesting from this, you know, and that again, if you think about a really, really good example, it’s not from YouTube video, but I think a perfect example of that is the first Deadpool film, which I don’t know if you’ve seen it’s not very highbrow.  But you know, when I say I always like to be…


Alastair McDermott  17:12

You gotta…


Ian Brodie  17:12

Yeah, and I have always loved superhero comics and all that. So used to read them when I was a kid. But what you typically found the first of the first 100 years of superhero movies, they would all begin with the origin story, they would all begin with Spider Man, he’s a little kid, you know, he’s college kid, he’s bullied learned editor is this is that and then, you know, 10 minutes, and he gets bitten by a radioactive spider, and then finally climbs up a wall. And the problem with that is to people who already liked the comics, we know that anyway. For people who don’t like you who are brand new to Spider Man, 10 minutes of a kid getting bullied, and it’s boring, it’s really not very interesting.  So modern films have learned to start in media res, as they say, which is in the middle of the action. So if Deadpool starts with that amazing kind of slow mo scene of him kind of track half half out of a car is it rules, flying over shooting, all sorts of stuff, all sorts of stuff going on. And it’s really in a way, it’s really confusing. What on earth is happening here. But it’s it builds your curiosity, you kind of you reached the end of that title sequence in your thinking, I have no idea what just happened, but I want to watch the rest of the film.


Alastair McDermott  18:21

So I mean, that’s the reason I use a cold open on this. So after we talk, when we record, I’m going to talk to the editor. And we’re going to go through the transcripts. And we’re going to find a clip of you saying something for between 10 and 20 seconds. That sounds interesting. And we’re going to take that clip out and put it on the top of the podcast episode. So the people listening to this will already have heard that. And hopefully, people who are not regular listeners will, will, will, will think that that’s interesting enough to give this episode a listen.


Ian Brodie  18:50



Alastair McDermott  18:51

And that’s exactly why we call it a cold open. But that’s you know, that’s that’s what we do, just to try and make it a bit more interesting and capture audience.


Ian Brodie  18:58

That is perfect. There’s a perfect example. And you’ll see that called Open happen on TV shows, for example, so with a my wife is an addict, shows like CSI, etc. So, for example, they’ll often open with a scene right from the middle of from the end of like Horatio being arrested and having to put down his gun and you go, why is it, why is he arrested the hero what’s going on as he shot someone, and then 24 hours ago, and it’ll go back in time. So it doesn’t start with all the boring warm up. It starts with the interesting stuff gives you a preview to get you really interested in watching. And then it’ll take you back and lead you through to build that up. So that kind of called open or and they do it in novels nowadays.  So when you, you kind of you when people are riding, they’ll stop right in the middle of the action and then they’ll take you back because they know that if they do the long, slow intro that maybe worked 100 years ago in novels, they lose you, they lose you and you’ll move on to other things. So a short attention and it’s about curiosity. And it’s, as I said, maybe it’s the subject and again, just think what, what what are the first few things and to get people to want to delve more so on a on a video, it’s the it’s the text of the subject of the video. And the first few seconds. So cold open is great a podcast, it’s cold open on piano on an advert. It’s maybe the, or a blog post, it’s maybe the first paragraph or so it’s the the title and the first paragraph. So you’ve got, you’ve got someone to read your advert by having a, you know, an interesting image, your your headline on it is going to get built a bit of curiosity.  And maybe the first paragraph is going to enhance that a bit to get them to want to read more. And to make it interesting. A great example of that would be the advert, famous advert for that the show and call these language schools called, you know, do you make these mistakes in English? And I think that’s a, that’s a, I always forget the word, but I’m gonna remember now it’s called a demonstrative the word these is a demonstrative. So, instead of seeing, you know, do you make mistakes in English? Which is a yes or no answer in your brain is like, you know, either yes, I do, or No, I don’t, do you make these mistakes in English you got what mistakes, and you’re kind of almost forced to read on to see what those mistakes are. And then, you know, the opening paragraph, we’ll see, you know, there are seven mistakes that people commonly make in English, that really hurts their career or anything at all, I better read what these are, and to find out what they are. So there’s curiosity value in the in the opening part of it. So that’s all fun.


Alastair McDermott  21:28

Yeah. So there’s a couple of things I want to mention. And by the way, folks, listening to this, this is why I brought wanted to talk to Ian, because he can just talk about this stuff for hours. And in a very interesting, captivating way. So thank you. But just I want to call back to Episode 31, where I had Leo York on, and he discussed the primitive origins of marketing, how plants were the first marketers and how color impacts on that, because that’s a throwback to what you were talking about earlier. So he talks about that a bit. He was really interesting, I think you’d get on very well with Leo, but that’s his, something he’s really interested in. But I think that there’s a line that we have to be careful about here.  You know, the other side of that line is, is horrible clickbait and, and, and tricking people, and that’s going to piss people off. So we got to be careful about that. So I think it’s really important, you know, that attention grabbing and peeking people’s interest, also delivering on that, but I can understand where people are coming from when they say, oh, you know, this is, this is LinkedIn, that’s got to be professional, I don’t completely agree with them, but I see where they’re coming from with that, you know, I know people who don’t want to make those stupid faces for, for their photographer, so that they can put those thumbnails on on YouTube, you know, because they don’t want to, you know, they don’t want to kind of associate themselves with being confused or stupid, or basically looking like that. What’s your perspective on that?


Ian Brodie  22:53

I think it’s all down to who you want to attract as a customer. And you know, so I went, it’s interesting, I mentioned drag us earlier that will, I was doing some research on, on on attention and stuff like that. And I was mainly thinking of in terms of advertising, like a Facebook ad, where you’ve got to stand out in the in the Facebook feed for anyone to even click on your ad. And then I thought, well, you know, but largely, I would mainly do and many of my my folks were many do stuff on LinkedIn, let’s have a look at LinkedIn. And drag us was one of the guys who stood out, obviously, and I went through it. Yeah. And I noticed, for example, the Dragos did has a little bit of humor in his, in his headline, and he’s got a really bold color fact, he shows his face upside down on his profile image, as maybe a bit too far not because it’s unprofessional.  But I think because people click with a human face, and if it’s upside down, you can’t see it to human face. So I would try and do something bald and contrasting. But so they can still see your face. But then the thing as I went through it, I thought oh my god in your LinkedIn profile is so dull, it is so dull. And I thought about it through and I ended up making my LinkedIn profile like the the image on your profile, ended up making it bit like a cartoon. So I did a kind of a Looney Tunes one for a while and then I did one more comic book II because I love comic books. And I guess if people looked at my LinkedIn profile, I you know, a big bunch of them, Michael, you know, who does this idiot think he is? Doing a kind of, you know, doing it all comic books. This is LinkedIn, it’s professional.  But you know what, when those people met me in person or spoke to me, they would probably also think who’s this idiot? So you know, you if you are I mean, I’m not I’m not like a wacky kind of person. I’m sitting here wearing a black jumper, and a boring shirt and stuff. I am grinning a bit, but I’m not, you know, super wacky and out there. But I do like to have a little bit of fun. And I think if, in my case, I do think if someone is so put off by a funny image on LinkedIn, as being unprofessional, I don’t think we’re going to get on for working together anyway.  So if your client if you believe the, and really take a look at your clients, talk to your clients interact with them, and then think, what would you know what a picture of me with a funny face, put them off working with me, or damage my credibility with these people? Not in theory, I think we get into problems when we think in theory, or picture of me looking silly or scratching my head is going to damage my credibility with who, with who is it going to damage your credibility, don’t think theoretically, or abstract. Think about your clients, the people, you know, the people you work with day to day, and think John, who was my best client has been with me for five years, if see, he saw a picture of me scratching my head, sticking my tongue out without damage my credibility with John? Of course, it wouldn’t, then, you know, it’s only by putting it into real life context that you realize, now if you know, if you there might be some things you could do that would damage your credibility with John, don’t do those, but put it into real context. So that there will be I guess, would be my advices.  Generally, I don’t think it does anywhere near the harm that most people think it makes you stand out. And the people who click with you are more, you know, more attracted to you, the people who would hate that kind of thing. Go away, but you probably wouldn’t like working with them anyway, if it’s within the bounds of, I guess if it’s within the bounds of taste and stuff you like, you’re going to click better with people with similar with similar taste. You know, if you’re very buttoned up and you, you hate people sticking their tongues out and stuff like that, don’t do it, don’t do it. Just do it to try and stand out, do stuff that’s in keeping with your character. But don’t do it in abstract. Think about your actual clients what you like and what you think they would like and what they would think and do it in keeping with that.


Alastair McDermott  26:44

Yeah, I think that’s great advice. Take it away from the abstract and actually say, who specifically, you know, let’s make a list of who wouldn’t like this?


Ian Brodie  26:52



Alastair McDermott  26:53

Um, but by the way, I did it. Actually, last time I was in with my photographer, I did a session where I just made every I made a face for every emotion I could possibly think of, just for fun, we did it in front of the green screen.


Ian Brodie  27:06

And you know, you can use those quite a lot I do I again, just in terms of standing out, I should give away a secret here. I discovered that on LinkedIn, you can upload a GIF, an animated GIF as an image in messages when you message someone. So I’ve recorded a few animated GIFs of me on them, you have to shrink them and compress them. Like if someone connects with me. I have a little animated GIF of me just waving and smiling and say thanks for thank and with overlay texting, thanks for connecting to someone, it’s someone connect, I just send that a low blow the image. So it’s not the gift button because that’s standard gifts. It’s the image button, you upload that little animated GIF, you send it. And everyone replies and said whoa, I’ve not seen that before. That’s really funny or whatever. And it really, people really remember it.  But half the people go oh, can I do that? How do I do that? So people really remember you if you do that, and I’ve got other ones for you know, like wagging a finger or laughing or whatever. It’s just typing lol. I’ve got a little gif of me laughing with a sing lol. So it makes you stand out. It’s just a little often little things, just thinking how can I do something that’s a bit different to everyone else helps you stand out?  Yeah, and you know, in that same thing applies you you’re going to email someone, why not send them a video email instead of normal mail that’ll that’ll stand out? Going back to this immediate attention. Why not write them a letter? You know, handmade letter and send that instead of sending them email that’ll stand out. Now, obviously, there’s a cost involved in making a video, or handwriting a letter or sending a package. But for a really high potential, you know, high value client could be that’s worthwhile, you know, you know, with a client that could be worth, you know, 10,000 pounds of contract to you. Is it worth spending 2, 3, 4 or five pounds to try and win that client knowing that they’ll ignore an email. But then if you send them something funny through the post, they would probably open it and look at it. It could well be. It’s a client’s worth 10 pounds to you probably not 10,000 Probably yes. Like that kind of equation.


Alastair McDermott  29:05

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. One thing that I’m interested in just getting your perspective on is the value of attention because I see attention. It’s like a currency now. It trust it. It’s a bit like trust, trust. Trust is a currency in my mind. And attention is another different, slightly different type of currency. So everybody who’s listening to this is giving us their attention. And if somebody is subscribed to the podcast, they’re giving me specifically their attention. And I really, truly appreciate that. And that’s why I don’t let them down. That’s why I’m using a good microphone, why we’re recording on on on the recording service, because I want to try and make it as best as possible. Those people who have gifted me or gifted us their attention because it’s something truly valuable. So I’m just wondering what your take is on that.


Ian Brodie  29:51

Gosh, I think you’re absolutely right. I think in many ways, attention is the currency that’s in the you know, shorter supply The minute because there are so many competing demands for attention from it, you know, just in terms of the the diversification of media, that we now have the diversity rather of media now blasting at us. Every year, the number of marketing messages we get hit with seems to go up and up and up. And that’s, you know, and also, you know, our attention is being competed for by a husband and wives or dogs or children, often for TV show, the newspapers, it’s not just marketing, you have to think about, it’s all the other things demanding people’s attention. So it is an increasingly rare commodity.  But I guess it’s also in the interesting thing for me is I don’t quite believe all those this stuff that says people’s attention span is going down in that, yeah, perhaps when you measure it one way, but on the other hand, many films these days are longer than they’ve ever been. You if you look at some of the films in the cinematic Dune was one recently, there was, you know, hours and hours long all the all the people watching Zack Snyder’s Director’s Cut of Justice League film, there was about 17 hours or however long it was. So if something is valuable enough, people will devote a lot of attention to it. People binge watch TV shows, for example.  And the I mean, my wife and I have just done done this recently, with a few shows where you’ll, you’ll go through and you’ll watch an entire series over a few days. And you’ll give it a lot of attention. So yes, attention is incredibly rare currency. But it’s also one that and I think that brings us on to quite nicely to something you mentioned before, which is about delivering on the promise, which I think is the third element of attention. So we’ve talked about immediate and short, which is, you know, if you just focus on that can be a bit “clickbaity”, you know, you you can grab someone’s attention, you get them curious, and then you hit them with a sales pitch. That’s that’s just click bid. But it’s not the most valued, the most valuable form of attention is long attention, which is, as we said, right at the start, where people keep coming back for more voluntarily.  So they’ll tune in, they’ll read your email newsletter every week, because it’s got great stuff in it, they’ll binge watch a TV show. And that’s because a value its value that drives long attention. And results drives long attention. So, you know, if if thinking of the clickbait example, you know, if if something if you if you send me an email, for example, that has some emojis in the subject line stands out to I notice it. And then it says, you know, seven simple ways of doubling your income. And that’s quite interesting. I’m on and you click through. But if you read it, and it’s the same old crap you’ve read 100 times before, or it’s just a pitch for a product. And I remember once I this is one of the things that got me thinking about this years and years ago, there was a big product launch for some kind of social media program, the usual couple of $1,000 to buy this. And the email came out and it said, social media doesn’t work. Dot dot dot, and I went, Oh, what does it mean social media.  And so I clicked through, and the funnel was social media doesn’t work, unless you do it, right. And I’m like, What? What will cause it doesn’t work. If you do, what kind of insight is that something doesn’t work, if you don’t do it, right. Don’t be and you know, that pure clickbait just immediately instead of building credibility, they just lost all credibility, because they were clearly just seeing the doesn’t work to get someone’s attention. You know, if they’d said social media doesn’t work, and here are the five reasons why, but he has a one, you know, unique way you can make it work great. They didn’t, they just said, unless you do it, right. There’s no value in that. My kids would have said at the time, that’s weak sauce, it’s just poor, it’s clickbait. There’s no value in that. And the thing is, as we all know, it takes for this kind of stuff most of us sell, it takes time to build up a significant degree of credibility and trust before people are going to be ready to buy. So you know, just the initial email or YouTube video on its own is not going to be enough. In some cases, it may be it is etc.  But that’s usually not the market most of us are in. Usually, we’ve got to build a lot of credibility and trust before people will pay the big bucks to work with us. That means it’s got to happen over time, it’s got to be be more than one thing. So they need to find value in what we do in order that they come back for more. In fact, the you know, going back to the TV folks, they’ve really got it nailed down Netflix, a few years ago did a study. And what they did was they studied how long it took how many episodes it took for people to become addicted to assure to stop binge watching it, you know, so they would measure their shows, based on how many shows people had to watch before they would then go on and watch the whole series. And they found surprising, you know, not surprisingly, you know, some of the shows that they don’t I think it was they measured How I Met Your Mother, you’d need to watch about six or seven shows before you’d watch the whole series. Game of Thrones.  It was about two and I think the best one they had at the time was breaking badly we used to it took about one and a quarter episodes or something like that. And if anyone who works, or 70% of people who watch one and a quarter episodes, watch the whole series, they become hooked by then. So Netflix got really obsessed with bringing that point forward. And in the kind of startup world, the test was called stuff like timed value. So how long is it after someone first interact with you that they get real value from you, because the faster you can make that, the more they’re going to get hooked and want to keep staying for more. And the more they stay, the more value they get, the more they’re then going to, you know, buy something from you. So I’m a tech examples. If you look, and I don’t like Facebook, but Facebook, have studied this. And Facebook know that you only really get value from Facebook, when you connect with friends. I mean, everybody’s on Facebook nowadays. But when they were first starting, all they focused on when first Facebook, when people signed up for fit with Facebook was getting you to connect with your friends, because they knew if you were not connected with your friends, and you logged into Facebook, you just see random stuff that you’re not interested in.  But if you connected with your friends, and I think they infer 10 Friends, then you would see their posts, you would see what was going on in your friends lives. And you go, Oh, that’s really interesting. And you’d start interacting. So Facebook’s initial metric was they wanted you to get to connecting to 10 friends as fast as possible. And that’s what they focused all their onboarding on all their initial emails after you signed up. And little messages on Facebook, were all about getting into connected 10 Friends, time to value time to value in shrinking that time to value. Some people call it the aha moment. When even if you don’t get tangible value, you go, Oh, yeah, I see I get how this is going to be good for me to Dropbox. It’s all about uploading a file, or


Alastair McDermott  36:40

have you used that concept in your own in your own business, your own content,


Ian Brodie  36:44

I have I’ve tried to. And the the main method I will use it for is what I call a barnstorming first email. So you know, when I found that a lot of the training on email marketing would teach people they would do basically teach people to be a bit slow, I think in terms of giving value. So there’s a very common template that was around the time a few years ago. So when people sign up for your, for your emails, they you know, then you try and sell them or whatever, but you’re the first email come along and say, you know, thanks for signing up.  And he would try and introduce yourself personally and make a personal connection. So good thing, you want a personal connection. And then it would say something along the lines of You know, you’re in for a real treat, I’m going to send you some fantastic emails about x and y and Zed and you’ll get some great stuff. And I’m thinking, who don’t just tell me, I’m going to get grid stuff, give me some grid stuff. Because you’re they’re just prolonging the time devalue their you know, in an email that tells you about all the wonderful stuff you’re going to get in the future doesn’t actually give you any value that in there.  It’s it’s much better, I think, if you give them a whole dollop of value in your very first email, so I always try and have as I say, what I call a barnstorming first email, which is your first email when people sign up actually gives them one of your very best tips and ideas and insights. And it depends on the sort of business you’re in maybe you can give people something that gets an immediate gets them an immediate result. Or maybe, you know, you take them on a much longer journey. So maybe the goal of the first email is the give them an incredible insight and aha moment where they go, Oh, I see things differently now. Yeah, I get it, I get it. And then they continue on the rest, but you want to give them a lot of value in your first interaction with them. And that’s what things like lead magnets are about you know, when you give away a free report, etc, etc. Uh, you know, a lot of, you know, the tips you’ll hear about lead magnets are all about making it seem easy and quick, and people.  But what people don’t concentrate enough on it, yeah, great, but the the lead magnet has to actually give fantastic value, it’s not just sounding grid, it has to give fantastic value really quickly. And what if because if someone gets value, a lot of value really quickly, they’ll come back to the next one. And if they get good value in that, they’ll come back to the next one. And then they’re kind of hooked. It’s this Netflix thing. And again, oh, in a way a bit like your podcast, you know, if you open, the cold open is not, is not only about curiosity, it’s about giving some value really quickly. So if there’s a really good tip in there, that people go, then that can that can get people so there’s a you have to balance curiosity with value as well you can’t you shove it all up front and get give it to them.  So there it’s like you can’t take you can’t give away the punchline of a joke that the you know, the value of a job is not just the punch line, it’s the whole build of etc. So you have to think about it. But the faster you can get people to getting value from what you do, the more they’re likely to stick and then the other way the other place I think I’d recommend using I’ve tried to use it is if people start paying you for something. So very often on a training course if you do it on a night you know I do online course stuff. Very often an online course the way people are initially design it is if you want to achieve a goal there’s usually lots of boring prep you have to do early on do this and do this and do this and do this and do this. And then you’ll get a result. And the problem is people often disengage before they’ve done enough to get the result.  So if you want to get people through the full course, it’s usually an idea to give them some quick wins really early, just deliberately give them quick wins, that are going to make them feel all right. And when we get in, and for example, what I would do if I’m doing a marketing thing is I might say to people, You, you, here’s the here’s what the course is all going to be about. But right now, what I want you to do is to reconnect with five of your previous clients or something like that, and send them something useful. And then getting people email Oh, she said, under one client, I remember she emailed me about two days in the program and said, Oh, well, that was pretty good. I reconnected with my own clients. And I’ve already got a new customer that is, you know, is more than double paid for the course. And, you know, I’m in here for lifestyle kind of thing. And if that doesn’t always happen, of course. But if you, if you’re able to give value really early, like that in a paid course, as well, it means people will stick for the whole thing. And we used to do the same thing, when I did live consulting with people try and get some quick wins. Because it just then gives people when you go through the painful bit of having to change and make and all this is different and unusual or odd or like this. If you’ve had those quick wins early, it’ll give them the confidence to continue till they get the big results.


Alastair McDermott  41:27

Yeah, that this reminds me and this is a totally different example. But this reminds me of a study where they they looked at which kids continue to do sports over time, and which kids gave up. And the kids who continue to play sports, as they went on through school and got older and older, were the ones who had fun, whether were playing sports, and the kids who gave up were the ones who didn’t have fun. It seems very, very obvious. But they think they got a quick win, you know, and obviously, their coaches, their trainers, the people they were working with, made made sport fun for them. And so they stick with it. And we’re and those who gave up, didn’t enjoy, it didn’t have good time, they weren’t brought into the fun, it didn’t work for them.


Ian Brodie  42:10

And I think it’s worth remembering that fun is a form of value. Entertainment is a form of value. Now, obviously, in our business lives, we think men in terms of results for our clients as being valued but but if you can’t give a you know, an immediate result, which you can’t always do, if there’s a bit of fun and entertainment in there, or a bit of insight and new ideas that so don’t always think value has to be hard, tangible, financial, what do your clients value think that through. And it can just be, for example, someone understanding them, someone talking about their problems in a way they’ve never heard before and going, Oh, God, they get it. There’s a there’s a great relief in diagnosis. You know, I remember reading a thing from a guy who was diagnosed with ADHD. And he just said it was such a tremendous relief when… because he was able to get all that explains why this and that explains this. And that explained. And that was valued to him just having the diagnosis. He felt much better as a result, and then continued to listen to when people were talking about what he might do to help improve things. So diagnosis can be value foot, you know, fun can be value, interest, aha moments, insight can be value. And of course results can be value as well.


Alastair McDermott  43:22

Absolutely. And thank you for the value that you’re giving us here on this podcast. Are you okay to answer a couple more questions?


Ian Brodie  43:30

I am yeah, no problem.


Alastair McDermott  43:32

Good stuff. Good stuff. Okay, so I’m interested in asking people about mistakes in their own business that they might have made or failures that they’ve experienced. Is there anything that you’ve experienced in the past that you’ve learned from in form of business mistake or failure, that you can tell us about?


Ian Brodie  43:49

I think, yeah, there’s there’s quite a quite a lot, actually. I’m probably, you know, the one I always remember the most was just early on. And it was, so I set up my own business in 2007. So I’d done a lot of consulting around the world, for big consulting firms, and proper job first, but then I spent most of my 12-13 years in international consulting, got really bored with the travel, wanted to stay home or set up my own business back in the day kind of pre internet a little bit. In 2007, the Internet was there, but we weren’t using it as much trying to get local clients.  And for about the first 18 months, I did incredibly well. But it was all through referrals and my existing contact network. And I think the thing, the thing that the big mistake for me was I kind of rested on my laurels. And despite the fact I’d been teaching big companies marketing and all sorts of stuff. Previously, I kind of assumed it didn’t apply to me, Oh, yeah, things are going well or these referrals are coming in and, of course, eventually they tailed off eventually all the people who I knew or who people knew me knew they wanted to work with me that kind of died down. And I just had not done I’ve gone off and learned golf. I’d gone off had a photo easier life. And I’ve not done enough to build up my own customer base of brand new people to fill that gap. So we had a little bit of a dip.  Thankfully, what I had done almost accidentally was that started blogging, and eventually started building an email list. And that had, that eventually led to me kind of doing an online course for those folks, and that they were able to buy that quite quickly. So it all sorted itself out.  But I think, you know, it’s almost like resting on your laurels and thinking because things are going, Okay, now that they will continue to go or key is a mistake, I think you’ve got to, you’ve got to stay aware of that. You’ve got to keep building and expanding your presence. And whether that’s face to face, or whether that’s online, whether that’s writing a book or whatever, you’ve got to be doing, you know, I mean, I know this is probably going to sound obvious to everyone but, the trap I see most people falling into more than any other is that really obvious one of things are doing things are most people I think don’t enjoy marketing all that much, you know, the, the, that’s again, one of the big problems about marketing advices it’s created by people who love marketing or big marketing teams, the rest of us don’t enjoy marketing, we don’t have big marketing teams. So the stuff they’re doing, yeah, just learn Facebook ads, what that’s really complicated and horrible.  So if you don’t like it, you’re going to avoid it if you can. And so what tends to happen is if things are all going well, and you’ve got plenty of clients, and you’re doing swimmingly, you tend to ramp down the marketing stuff, you don’t enjoy too much. And surprise, surprise, in six months time, you’ve got a big gap in your pipeline. So really just that blindingly obvious, but we seem incapable of addressing it issue, I had it of just taking things too easy on the marketing front, assuming things would continue wonderfully swimmingly, as they were, and they didn’t, and things change anywhere, things always changed. So So keeping that that was my, that’s probably my biggest mistake.


Alastair McDermott  47:03

Very interesting. And like, you’re, you’re speaking my language here, because this is precisely why I created this podcast. Because I was in that position where I was, I had a business based on referrals. And by the way, we both started in 2007. So it’s happy 15th birthday to us, for our businesses, as our 15th year in business. So yeah, so I created this for people who don’t want to continue to live off of referrals. And I want to go at want to go down the route of doing authority marketing, building their own authority. And I did this because this was something that I want to do myself. And I found it really difficult to do.  I was really frustrated that I was able to help people who had shops and E-commerce stores, and who had all these types of local businesses. And I was able to help them use all of these, this what we call back then we called it internet marketing. And I was able to use all of these internet marketing techniques for them. But those weren’t working for me as a consultant. And I was very frustrated by that. So that that’s what brought me down this route of, of getting into the concept of building authority. And, and I really understand that trap of referrals. I think referrals very dangerous to and because just because of what you talked about. So yeah, that’s definitely…


Ian Brodie  48:24

They’re, they’re kind of both they’re both wonderful and terrible at the same time out there. Because you hear so many referrals the best form of marketing, yes, they are. But it’s, and some people can survive on them. I used to know a lot of kind of lawyers and accountants and people like that back when things were more face to face. And back when we had fewer choices. When when people don’t have many choices, and they don’t have many sources of information. Referrals are even more powerful. But I think I think personally, referrals are still very powerful, but they are less powerful than they used to be. And for most people, they’re not enough. But there’s this trap is you, as you mentioned, a trap of just relying on them can be very dangerous.


Alastair McDermott  49:02

Yeah, we could do a whole other podcast episode. Better stop talking. Well, yeah, no, I 100% agree with you. Okay, so the final two questions. I mentioned this to you in the pre chat. Is there a favorite business book that you have?


Ian Brodie  49:17

I am awful at favorites. I cannot name my favorite piece of music or book or any single TV show because it changes so often. So I’m terrible like that. I would probably in lieu of a favorites, and my favorite right now since I’m thinking about attention is that book I mentioned earlier “Captivology” by Ben Parr, which is a really good summary of the kind of science behind attention and a little bit of the application towards things like mo its application towards everyday life but but but you can very easily see the application towards marketing you can. He doesn’t always jump into the specifics of marketing, but you can easily say well, how can I? You just need to look okay, short attention is about difference. How can I apply difference to the initial things people see. I’m sorry, that was immediate interest. Short attention is about curiosity. How can I build curiosity, then long attention is about value, and results? How can I build that into my ongoing marketing efforts that I do with with people who already know me? So it’s, you know, there’s lots of good ideas in that, you’ll have to do some thinking, but there’s some great ideas in there.


Alastair McDermott  50:19

Awesome. And we will link to that in the show notes as well. And then finally, is there a fiction book? Or if you’re not into books, is there a favorite movie or TV show?


Ian Brodie  50:28

Gosh, no, again, I really find it. It’s always it’s always. So it was the most recent so you know, if it’s books, and again, I’m going to be really boring. And just you know, for a good example of books that may teach you something about getting attention and keeping attention. You know, popular authors lately, Child, for example, are really good at that. That whole thing of the cold opening, you know, in media res of starting with something exciting that’s going to make you want to keep on reading. popular authors like that are really good. If you want to watch a fun TV show, I mean, I’ve loved Ted Lasso recently, I’ve loved “Big Shot” on the Disney Channel, which is similar about a basketball team thing. And I loved watching, we binge watch, my wife and I old episodes of “Rake”, which is an Australian show about a dodgy lawyer, who’s shorter scruples, I don’t think you’ll learn anything from Rick, other than a bit of swearing. But that’s,


Alastair McDermott  51:24

That’s the best way.


Ian Brodie  51:29

I have to say I just interviewed for my own show. A guy who teaches people has a course that teaches people Australian English. And that was the first of my recordings where there was quite a bit of swearing in it, because obviously, this is just full of it.


Alastair McDermott  51:44

Yeah, yeah. Okay, it has been an absolute pleasure to have you on. Can you tell people where they can learn more if they’re interested in learning about online courses, of course building and things like that, or anything else that you have?


Ian Brodie  51:57

Okay, so of course, for course building go to That’s And that’s where I do a guess a bit below, there’s regular interviews with people who successfully build their own online courses, and they kind of share their tips and secrets and mistakes and stuff like that. So it’s kind of fraught in for course, builders, by course builders kind of thing. And for more general marketing type stuff, just go to So I’ve got stuff on attention on giving value on you know, building authority a little bit more, but it’s more generally marketing and stuff for consultants, coaches, and people like that. So for that.


Alastair McDermott  52:38

Super. And I recommend following in on, well, everywhere on the socials. He’s got some great posts on there. So,


Ian Brodie  52:46

You know, I’m not so active on social as I used to be, to be honest. So I tried to get out useful posters. You see. I’m, I’ve not enjoyed places like Twitter, and even Facebook recently, just because of the amount of anger and vitriol around there. So…


Alastair McDermott  53:04

It has gone tougher, it has gotten tougher.


Ian Brodie  53:06



Alastair McDermott  53:06

Social media, and everybody’s going through a tough time. And a lot of people are lashing out.


Ian Brodie  53:11

Yeah, yeah. So I’m probably less on there than I used to be less on there than he used to be more on my own emails.


Alastair McDermott  53:18

Cool. Okay, well, I’m subscribed to those as well. So yeah, I recommend to go go check those at.  Ian, thank you so much for being with us.


Ian Brodie  53:25

Brilliant. Might be my pleasure. Great interview.


Alastair McDermott  53:30

Thanks for listening. I hope you found that interesting and useful. If you’re enjoying the podcast, can I ask you to take a moment to review it? It really helps us out. And it keeps it free from sponsor ads. You can review it by visiting And that will give you appropriate options for your device and for your listing app. That’s Thank you. I really appreciate it.


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