Episode #53 - Your Student is the Hero - with Brad Alexander - Teacher Zone

Episode #53 – Your Student is the Hero – with Brad Alexander

When trying to create interest in your school, studio, or academy, it’s easy to slip into the deception that you need to talk more about yourself, than your students.

The reality is, the more you highlight the transformation of your students, and the problems they can overcome, the more you’ll actually create interest…AND see more students start to sign up.

Why? Because when it comes to your business, your student is the hero, not your business.

So we brought in StoryBrand Certified Guide, Brad Alexander, to give us some tips and tricks in how to make your student the hero.

This applies to your marketing AND how you operate your business.

Brad helps us do this with our own business. We hope this episode helps you do it with yours as well.


Watch it Here

Or Scan the Show Notes Below

0:00:05.4 Tyler Marolf: Welcome to the next episode of The Teacher Zone with Chris and Tyler. Today, I’m here with, obviously, co-host Chris Bates, but we have a special guest today and his name is Brad Alexander. He’s dear to our hearts. And he owns Clarity Creative, and just creative, clarityalwayswins.com is his website. Chris, tell us who’s here with us.

0:00:29.2 Chris Bates: So we have the Jedi, Brad. Welcome! It’s so exciting.


0:00:32.1 TM: Welcome, Brad.

0:00:32.2 Brad Alexander: What’s up, guys? [chuckle] I’ll put my hood on there. That’ll work fine right now.


0:00:38.8 CB: So for those of you that have been listening the last couple of episodes, Tyler and I have been sort of spit-balling about this whole idea of the characters we play in our story, in our life story and with our business. And we decided to bring on our guide, ’cause we’ve been playing with these characters, right? We got Tyler. We’ve been talking about victim. We’ve been talking about villain. We’ve been talking about hero and guide. Right? And so we’ve been trying to be a guide to you guys, but in truth, our guide is Brad. And Brad helps us get more clear on our story and our messaging and how we speak to our customers. And so we decided why re-invent the wheel? Let’s have our own Yoda on and have Brad help us better understand how we could have clarity. And so Brad’s company, if you check out his website, you’ll see that, basically, he uses story-based marketing to really help you tell that story to your heroes and to help your heroes thrive. So Brad, I’m not gonna butcher all the amazing stuff you do, I’m gonna let you take it from here. Welcome to the show. Glad to have you on, brother.

0:01:49.8 TM: Teach us. Teach us.

0:01:49.9 BA: Yeah man. It’s… I’ll do my best. Yeah. You guys are gonna be a tough crowd, but we’ll do our best. Yeah. [chuckle] Alright, no, thanks for real. This is great to come on and I know we talk so much offline in other ways, but at least just to kinda do this and really for the folks that listen to what you guys bring every week. And you guys offer so much just help and advice and value, and anybody trying to learn anything about the lessons business. And so that I get to come in and help with that too is awesome. And I’m fired up to be here. And so… Yeah, I know that you guys for the last couple of weeks have been talking through, based out of Donald Miller’s book, and some of the collateral and information that’s come from there, these four roles that people play. And if I’m right, the last couple of weeks, it’s been very much about the victim and the villain, and then this idea about heroes and guides and figuring out which one you are in there. Is that right? 

0:02:46.8 CB: Yeah. You know it’s…

0:02:46.9 TM: Yes. And when can we play that role? When do we have permission to… Do we even know that we can have permission to be one or the other? A lot of this is new to people like it was to us a few years ago, Chris.

0:03:00.9 BA: Yeah.

0:03:01.0 TM: We never looked at a customer as Luke Skywalker. We looked at us as like, “Here, let us build this thing so you could be amazing with our thing.” And so we really had a paradigm shift in the last five years. And then we met you and now it’s just even better.

0:03:18.0 CB: Well yeah, isn’t that the way we’ve all been taught to do business. Right? It’s like, “We’re your hero.” It doesn’t matter if you’re selling tacos. Right? It’s like, “We’re your hero. We’re the best taco you’ve ever had.” You know? 

0:03:30.8 TM: Sure, right.

0:03:31.8 BA: Yeah.

0:03:31.9 CB: And you really helped us understand that that is not the best way to appeal to someone.


0:03:39.2 BA: Right, you’re right.

0:03:39.6 CB: It’s all how great you are.

0:03:41.8 BA: Yeah, that’s right. Well, and so it’s tricky. And so I know the kind of thing that I know that we talked about talking about today, and then I’ll try to help unpack a little bit, I guess, is this idea of when you are a business owner or you’re running your own thing or you’re selling your own products, and you know it’s valuable and you believe in it, you know how much good you can do for somebody, you know how much better of a product or service that you have, it’s really hard to watch other people in the same space win or do better than you when you know, you have this gut feeling like, “Man, we do so much better than they do.” And so out of that gut response, you wanna come out and you wanna say, “We’re so much better than they are.” Right? That’s like the default, ’cause you just want everybody to know it. Right? You gotta be a…

0:04:34.9 CB: You wanna be a villain.


0:04:36.6 BA: Right, right, right. Well, and it’s natural ’cause you either feel like I’m a victim. Man, I can’t… Nobody’s gonna listen to me. I’m always behind. I’m always the forgotten one. Or, yeah, the temptation is to vilify the competition.

0:04:53.0 TM: Right.

0:04:54.2 BA: Or, and then by default, you end up becoming a villain of the marketplace, which isn’t… You’ll attract some people, but it’s not gonna be the kind of people you wanna have as long-term customers, for sure.

0:05:04.6 CB: I have a super important point, man, that is huge. Something that I always, well, that I shouldn’t say always. Something that I now believe is that when you come from abundance and you do your best, and it takes a lot of work but you do your best to get rid of fear, abundance creates so much more success. That mentality.

0:05:29.4 BA: Yeah, no, absolutely. But it just… I guess what I’m trying to lay out there is, it’s completely normal for us to… That everybody does this. It’s not like you’re some weird person who’s doing that. It’s like everybody starts there or it gets into that, and then you’re trying to ramp up what you’re doing. Tyler, do you got something? 

0:05:50.7 TM: I think part of that, the by-product of that natural reaction to compete, well, as an entrepreneur, if you’re building something outta nothing and it didn’t exist before and all of a sudden you have this fire like, “Why does everywhere else do it this way? That makes no sense.” Okay, well, now you’ve created and invented a solution. Right, Chris? And this thing is here to help others. So to go into villain mode right after that, you have a fork in the road. You can set your destiny at that point. How you respond with the messaging, whether you’re kinda that evil competitor or you’re that like, “Hey, we’ve got nothing to lose, we’re just here to help.” And people, that authenticity draws who your people will be from the beginning.

0:06:38.1 BA: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And so there’s this whole… The space I live most of the time in is very specifically with marketing. How does this apply to somebody’s website, how does this apply to your brochures, how does this apply to the packaging and the products that you’re trying to put out there for people? And it definitely is a part of it. Your marketing will be more effective, and we’re gonna get into that, if you can make this mental switch to instead of talking about yourself and how good you are, and how great you are, and how many awards you’ve won, or how many clients you have, or all of your stuff. Just me, me, me, me, I, I, I, I, I, we’re awesome, we’re awesome, we’re awesome, to making the switch and pivot to say, “Hey, client, customer, student, whatever. We are just here to help you win. And that’s our purpose is you as the customer, you as the client, you as the student,” whatever it is. When you can make that switch and make what you are talking about on anything people see, that’s truly saying, “We want to help you be awesome. We wanna help you win,” then that’s gonna differentiate and attract people to you because you don’t look like you’re insecure, you don’t look like you’re just trying to brag, it’s like, “Man, these people actually feel like they can help me solve a problem here.”

0:08:05.9 TM: Right. Right. Brad, I’ve got a question. When you’ve helped people and their messaging, just like us, you helped us. How often is their general mission tagline of their, “Hey, come use us,” how often is it me versus you on the very first time you meet a customer of yours? 

0:08:27.2 BA: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Usually when people come to me, there’s something broken. Like, “Our marketing’s not effective, and we’re trying to figure that out.” And so then I’ll look at their stuff, and I joke when I say it’s like, “Yes, it’s very obvious why that’s the problem.” Because, yeah, you’re positioning yourself, and again, this guide-hero concept is that you’re making yourself the hero of the story. You’re saying like, “I’m here. I’m awesome. I’m gonna solve your problems. I’m the savior.” As opposed to making them the hero, and so people just quickly, they respect it, but they bounce off of it pretty quickly. Yeah, what you got, Chris? 

0:09:06.2 CB: You made me remind, I don’t know where I heard this, but someone said you transition from, “Hey, look at me,” to, “Hey, there you are.” You’re acknowledging versus, “Hey, pay attention to me,” it’s, “Hey, I see you.” Is that accurate? 

0:09:28.1 BA: Yeah, absolutely, yeah. And you think about it like anything, any brand, anything, I mean literally anything that you love, that you buy from, that you currently right now that you’re drinking out of, that you’re consuming, that you just, if it’s something like, “Man, I love this brand of,” whatever it is, there’s something about that brand that makes you feel like they’re making you a better person, or they’re part of something that you value. That they are helping you do something that you really wanna do with your life, whatever that is. And so even though they may not be saying, you, you, you explicitly, there is that element of, “Hey, I see you. We want you, we wanna invite you to be a part of this.” And that’s really the biggest shift when it comes to, yes, you’re marketing, but just even how you operate your business, if you can view yourself as, somebody’s living out their journey, they’re on their path towards some things in life, and at some point you as a company or as a business get to be part of that person’s story and you get to guide them to this next step and help them do something, accomplish something and believe in something that they are not sure they are capable of but you know they are. And that is the shift.

0:10:42.6 CB: I love that. I’ve never heard that, Brad, I don’t know why, but I’ve never heard, “You get to be a part of their story.” I love that.

0:10:50.5 BA: Yeah, and that’s it. We talk about in the marketing world, you’re inviting them into a story, but really what you’re doing is you’re positioning yourself into their story for something that they’re already trying to go for. And so there’s just, again, these two characters, the hero and the guide. And so if you’re thinking about typical story structure, Karate Kid is one of my all time favorite franchises. Tyler and I have riffed on about Cobra Kai, I could sit here and nerd out about it. I’m unashamedly a big fan. And…

0:11:22.7 CB: Me too. Just started season four.


0:11:26.4 BA: Yeah. That’s right, well I’m on round two already. [chuckle] So you’re looking at this quintessential moment in Karate Kid where this kid Daniel is getting beat up. He’s moving in the city, he’s trying to figure out his life, and all of a sudden meets this guy, Mr. Miyagi. And Daniel wants to learn karate ’cause he wants to learn self-defence, he wants to stick up for himself, he wants to fight the bullies. Well, Mr. Miyagi reluctantly agrees to teach him, but he’s not teaching him just how to beat up the bullies, he’s teaching him so much more. He’s taken Daniel on this journey of, “Hey, man. You got what it takes. You don’t have to be like everybody else. There’s more inside of you than you think, that you probably don’t think you could pull it off.”

0:12:07.1 BA: There’s all these moments in the story of the hero where he is just fumbling and bumbling and getting mad and fighting obstacles and not sure he could pull it off. And Mr. Miyagi, every step is like, “No. Do this, do this, keep at it,” and he just stays consistent. And so these two people in this story… The reason we love these stories is because we can see ourselves in the hero. Like, “Yes, we know what that’s like. To want something, to feel like we’re not gonna get it, and we can’t pull it off,” and that’s why any story is relevant to anyone, ’cause you can see yourself through their experiences of things you’ve experienced. And so effectively, when you position yourself as the hero in your marketing and the way you do the business, when it’s all about you and your convenience and you making money and how great you are, you’re actually confusing the people who are trying to buy from you. Because they’re looking for help to solve a problem, not somebody else’s story to watch.

0:13:07.7 TM: Right.

0:13:08.3 CB: Ahhhh…

0:13:08.7 BA: You get…

0:13:11.5 CB: Wait. Say that again. Say that one more time.

0:13:13.2 BA: You are confusing your customer because they’re looking for someone to help them solve a problem, not another story to watch. And they might be like, “Man, that’s great for you, that you’ve won those many awards,” and they’re just gonna check out and be like, “Well, but I’m looking for somebody to help me with this problem.” And…

0:13:33.7 CB: Man, that’s big. ‘Cause we all want people to watch our story, especially something that we’re proud that we built, but it’s like, that’s not how they’re shopping. [laughter] They’re not looking for your story.

0:13:44.2 BA: Yeah, save that for your family dinners and your internal company celebrations and when you retire, right? But don’t tell me that when I’m check, kicking the tires and whether or not I should come take dance lessons from you. And so anyway…

0:14:01.7 CB: That’s good.

0:14:02.3 BA: So you kinda have these two characters, you have the hero and the guide. And the truth is that the hero is quite honestly the most, the weakest character in the story. They’re constantly self-doubting, they’re constantly insecure, they’re constantly…

0:14:17.4 TM: Identity crisis.

0:14:17.5 BA: Yeah. All the time.

0:14:18.6 TM: Identity crisis 101. And sometimes they don’t figure their identity out for five times in a row.

0:14:24.6 BA: Right.

0:14:27.3 TM: I mean Daniel’s just like, “Man and I just like this girl, leave me alone.”

0:14:27.6 BA: Right.


0:14:32.2 TM: And then he’s like [0:14:32.3] ____ karate.

0:14:36.8 CB: The warning is, story is without those challenges.

0:14:38.0 TM: Right.

0:14:38.4 BA: Right. Yeah, absolutely. But then you think of whoever the guide is, if it’s Mr. Miyagi, if it’s Mick from Rocky or if it’s Gandalf from Lord of the Rings…

0:14:49.2 TM: Ironman.

0:14:49.3 BA: If it’s, yeah, whoever it is, the person is stepping into like, “Hey, you got this,” they’ll have their own little character journeys, but really they’re the strongest character in story. They’re not trying to prove that they’re good to the person that needs to learn, they’re just saying, “Hey, you need to do this.” And so when we think of our business the same way, if I’m putting myself out there, as a hero, then really, what it actually comes out as is insecurity. And it accidentally communicates, “We’re not really sure about what we’re offering, so we’re gonna talk it up so much to try to convince you because we don’t want you to find out that we don’t know what we’re doing.” And that’s not what you wanna communicate to anybody that’s gonna buy from you.

0:15:38.3 TM: No.

0:15:38.4 CB: I love it when we’re so attracted to decisiveness. So attracted to someone that feels strong to us it’s like, “oh.”

0:15:51.5 BA: Yeah.

0:15:52.8 CB: Because like you said, in trying to be a hero, it’s really scary. You feel really vulnerable, you feel, especially in the learning business, any kind of lessons you’re taking or whatever? I mean, gosh, it doesn’t matter what you’re learning, discomfort is the seed to learning, so it sucks. It’s scary.

0:16:10.1 BA: Yeah. Yeah, and so what’s beautiful about the types of people who, I’m sure listening to this podcast, and people who are teachers own clients, is that, just by default, you are 100% in the business of transformation. Like you just are. You are helping people literally move from something they don’t know how to do, to doing it. And that’s just, that is that, I mean, for a lot of businesses and companies, they have to really think about, how am I actually helping people grow? How am I actually solving a problem in somebody’s life? 

0:16:45.4 TM: Right where the core of a lesson business is already that.

0:16:48.9 BA: That is literally what you’re doing. Like there’s no way around it. And so that is a big deal.

0:16:55.3 CB: How can I help them through those challenges? A lot of times…

0:17:00.6 TM: Go ahead, Chris. I’m so sorry.

0:17:00.6 CB: I was going to say, a lot of times when you’re teaching something, you immediately assume that someone will jump to the other side. And the reality that we all know is that there’s a lot of pitfalls before the other side’s reach.

0:17:15.4 BA: Yeah.

0:17:15.5 TM: Right. And I used to tell parents or other business owners or people wanting to start businesses or whatever, when Chris and I created Los Rios Rock School, I told people, I go, it’s kind of easy, I kinda… I would be the only one to mess it up because we have kids, we have music, the most powerful language on Earth and then we get the kids to play with each other and they make friends. Like you gotta have systems to make it run. But, like, how are you gonna lose? And here’s the deal, “Oh no, well, what if I run out of customers?” I don’t know, they’re being born right now. There’s customers being born as we speak. So there’s never gonna be a drought of customers because of the learning and the music aspect. So I always thought like, anybody could do this, you have the input, now go start a Subway sandwich franchise. I don’t know, that seems harder to me. You know what I mean? Like that it just seems like cooking with gas for a lesson business.

0:18:20.0 CB: Actually, you know, it’s funny to hear Tyler talk because actually, Tyler is talking like the hero that all of you out there listening know yourselves to be, in the sense that, you’ve mastered something that’s made you wanna have a lesson business. So Tyler’s confidence in our lesson business is because he and I know that side of skill and mastery as do you all, right? I mean, it doesn’t matter what, whether you’re martial arts, doesn’t matter what your studio is, you have a certain level of mastery that you wanna convey to someone. And that might even be harder maybe, Brad, in our business, to not wanna brag if… I know you don’t wanna call it bragging but it kind of is when you’re like, “Hey, guys. I’ve only been working 25 years at this. I think I could help you.”

0:19:05.6 BA: Right, right.


0:19:06.4 CB: Right? There’s almost more excuse in our business to present yourself that way.

0:19:15.2 BA: Right and that’s the flip that you have to make, I think, in this business is like we just assume… And not that I teach anything like this, but if I’m in that seat, if I’m running a martial arts academy, if I’m running the dance school, if I’m running a marksmanship place, or a language class, or English learning platform, or Spanish learning platform, or music lessons, or rock band-type… Whatever it is where there are skills that have to be developed and I’ve been doing this for years. It’s just an assumption I obviously know what I’m doing, so just pay me money and I’ll help you do that. That’s how we think, as if my expertise is going to do enough to convince you to pay me money where that is not going to attract customers. And that’s not gonna help you really get the results that you want.

0:20:05.9 BA: When you begin to think like a guide and you begin to apply that to your… As opposed to a hero, what a guide does is there’s the two key points that a guide’s gonna express is they’re gonna express empathy and they’re gonna… And then they are gonna express authority but it’s always gonna start with empathy in that they… The reason a guide is a guide is because they’ve been through the transformation that the hero is trying to accomplish. They know what it’s like to have there to practice my scales over and over and over again. They know what it’s like to try to work that jump and just not get it 20 times in a row.

0:20:43.0 BA: They know what it’s like to try to get the technique and the footwork together and to stumble over and fall down and stay up late hours to try to get it right before the recital in two weeks. And so they’re on the back side of that and they’re still doing it when they perform themselves. They understand that and they communicate that they get… That they get the drudge and the grind and the work that comes from it but what they’re offering is, “Hey, I know what it’s like to be there and you can trust me to help you get through it.” And so then that’s what they’re communicating. It’s not, “I’m awesome. Look how many awards I’ve won.” It’s like, “Man, I totally understand what it’s like to be a first-time student and to sit down and hold those drumsticks and feel really awkward in the hands and just to feel like if I get into something way over my head.” And if you say that…

0:21:35.7 CB: It’s sounds to me like… Yeah, you’re showing your awards, your vulnerability.

0:21:40.7 BA: 100% and you’re saying that as a business, “Hey, we get that you really wanna see this, you wanna have the picture on the wall, or the medal around your neck, and you feel like that’s impossible, and you feel like you’re way over here or that you wanna get all the confidence to sell discipline… Whatever comes out of this, but that’s something you want that you’re after but you’re just not sure that it’s possible. Maybe for other people.” And even if you say it that way, where it’s, “We get… I understand that you are experiencing, that you’re thinking this.” It sounds like you’re kind of manipulating people, you’re not. You’re just saying, “Hey, I know what you’re thinking ’cause I’ve been there,” and all that does is instead of making you seem weak, it makes you seem trustworthy because we’re thinking, “Man, this guy knows what I’m going through, and so I think I can actually trust him to help.

0:22:30.0 TM: It also makes you… It makes you think that that person has a map like they actually have a charted course that is tangible. They didn’t before, someone might have given them a map. Maybe they created the map. I think that is a different discussion. Did the guy create the map from scratch and he’s the first guy to ever, on planet earth, for this bank? 

0:22:51.7 BA: Right, right.

0:22:52.6 TM: Or did he get mentored and handed it down? But either way, the customer, the heroes out there waiting to be heroes, know that that guy has access.

0:23:02.0 BA: Yes.

0:23:02.4 CB: So how would a modern… You made me think, Tyler… You guys both made me just think about, I don’t know why, but a train. And so if a train company in today’s day and age weere to tell their story, they might speak… How would they do that? ‘Cause they might speak of the trouble they had to go through to get that line to be safe, to get that line from A to B.

0:23:25.3 TM: Correct.

0:23:26.6 CB: Letting you know that, “Yes, we know that’s a terrible track.” And so how would be… How would you frame that to the customer? 

0:23:42.4 BA: Right. Well… And that’s the part of it is everybody asks at some point so when does my story become part of this and the journey that I had become a part of this? And what I tell people is that your story only makes sense as long as it’s also your customer’s story. And so it… Or it’s your potential client’s story in that it’s totally appropriate to share parts of your story if it’s going to show empathy and show authority to get through the problems. You don’t just go off on this to make the case, “My grandpa started the company in 1975 and for the last 20 years, we’ve been experts at making tractors and building railroads and whatever else.” I don’t care, man. Do you got something… I need to bail hay tomorrow and I can’t afford a brand new tractor. I don’t have time to start on your website by reading Grandpa Joe’s story. Maybe that’s good to get there eventually after I’ve done business for you for a while and I’m curious to know more and I’m trying to build a deeper relationship with you. But right off the bat, people aren’t coming in, being like, “Man, I wonder how this company started?” Nobody cares, they just don’t and we…

0:24:52.3 CB: Yeah, that’s like page six. That’s… I’m not there, yet.

0:24:55.5 BA: Right, right. Right. And it’s… They care once they’ve been around like… Again, in a lessons business. If they’ve been your student for six months and the family’s been around and they’ve got a taste for the personalities in it, then at some point, whenever… And I don’t know when that comes up. I don’t know they’re gonna be on your website, but if you guys are having some sort of just client night or student night and then you kind of fold into the larger mythology of this place, and that they get to be a part of, then all that does is, again, it makes them realize that they’re part of a bigger story nd they get to participate in it. But they don’t care about… That doesn’t mean anything to them unless they’ve already been in the mix of it for a while.

0:25:35.8 TM: Right.

0:25:37.8 BA: And so…

0:25:37.9 CB: Trust has to be built.

0:25:39.0 BA: Anyway… Yeah, that’s right.

0:25:41.2 TM: Don’t put the cart ahead of the horse, in regards to that relationship-building and that trust-building.

0:25:46.1 BA: Right and so just this idea of in your front-facing marketing, if you… Maybe a quick check that you can do right now, whoever you are listening to this. Go to your website, go to your homepage, and ask, “Do these people… Is this… How many times does it refer to ‘us’ and ‘we?’ And how many times does it refer to ‘you’ and ‘you,’ like the person reading it?” Like literally using the words ‘you’ or the words ‘we.’ Those are just two pronouns that you can do a scan check and be like, “We do this and we offer this, and we have this, and we’ve been doing this.” Even just the way you say it, it’s like, “Us, us, us, us, us.” And if you just switch and be like, “I don’t read the words ‘you’ like you’re talking to me as the reader on here at all.” That’s a good indicator that you’re probably acting more like the hero instead of the guide.

0:26:39.7 TM: Oh.

0:26:40.9 CB: That’s… You guys hear that? 

0:26:42.0 TM: There’s your test.

0:26:43.9 CB: So if you’ve got ‘we’ and ‘us’ on your website and you’re not saying ‘you’ to the reader, then you’re doing it backwards.

0:26:55.5 BA: Right. And there’s gonna be some place where you have to say like, “We have classes,” right? I understand that, but if it’s…

0:27:00.1 CB: Right.

0:27:00.3 TM: “We have a staff.”

0:27:02.7 BA: Right, right. But the proportion of it, usually it’s kind of a 95%…

0:27:05.3 CB: Would it be, “We have classes designed for you.”? 

0:27:09.3 BA: Right, right, right, yeah. Yeah, “We offer classes that help you be an incredible dancer.” Right? Like that’s a different way than, “We have dance classes. They’re the best.”

0:27:19.3 TM: Or, “We have the best dance academy in west of the Mississippi,” whatever that is. There’s the re-statement. That’s the blanket.

0:27:29.2 BA: Right.

0:27:29.9 TM: And those are those excited business owners going, “But we are… “

0:27:33.3 BA: Right.

0:27:33.4 TM: And maybe it’s true. Just cause it doesn’t matter.

0:27:34.3 CB: So you know, Brad… Yeah, I know. You’re right, Tyler. And I’m wondering, philosophically, if this shift has come about more in the last 40 years as we shifted… You know we used to be a supply economy, and so basically whoever controlled supply controlled everything. So if you’re… I mean, I’m making it up, but if you’re a karate studio and you controlled the geez, like you’re the only one that could get them in town, you might be the only karate studio around. But supply and demand was a bigger factor. Then as things have changed, pretty much anybody can do anything nowadays, so it’s more of a demand-gen economy. It’s more, “We have to do what the customers want.” Do you think that that philosophically has changed how we tell the story to them? 

0:28:20.9 BA: Yeah, I think it has. And I think it’s also just a born out of… If we’re gonna get the business philosophical, in like the 40s and 50s and 60s, I’m even thinking about my parents like, “Well, so-and so said it on TV, so I just trust them.” Like the trust was originally… Well, they seem more…

0:28:37.9 CB: Oh.

0:28:38.5 TM: Yeah, we don’t do that anymore. That ship set sail.

0:28:40.1 BA: No, absolutely. They seem like they know what they’re talking about and so I guess they’re right. Versus now, that’s automatically like, “What’s the angle? What’s the sch… What’s the catch? I’m skeptical about this.”

0:28:50.2 S?: Not on that gift…

0:28:51.8 BA: Right? If somebody claims to know it all and tell you all some guru, and they talk that way, then now for the younger, you know anybody that’s not a boomer, kinda below that, there’s a lot of like, “Hmm, this seems shady,” and it incites skepticism. Even if it’s legit, like we just don’t trust it.

0:29:12.0 TM: That’s… Yeah, that’s big.

0:29:13.3 CB: It’s like with the Russians in the 80s, trust, but verify.

0:29:16.6 BA: Right.

0:29:17.0 CB: Well, you made me think about in public speaking that you talk about the hero’s journey a lot or a lot of speakers. Where… For those of you, if you haven’t done public speaking, you don’t notice… Think about everybody from like Tony Robbins to anybody that you’ve seen speak. They always do that hero’s journey. Rags to riches, right? It’s like, “Oh, I was in the dumps. Everything was terrible. I couldn’t see my way out of it. Then… ” And then there’s the turn around. Right? 

0:29:46.8 BA: Right.

0:29:47.4 CB: Is that sort of a similar way we’re doing this and looking at it? 

0:29:52.3 BA: Yeah, absolutely. As long as it’s valid and it’s real, then what you’re trying to do is you’re trying to help people see that’s possible for them. And the promises that you’re trying to assure them of are realistic. Not stupid outlandish stuff. Right? It’s like… And so I think that’s even a good exercise. If you’re trying to think through transformation. What does transformation look like if somebody that goes from a before and after in this business? So I’m gonna ask you, let’s think through some of these lessons businesses. So as a music… As a kid coming in to learn music for the first time to five years later they’ve been in your program, what are some things they’re gonna grow and change in that you are confident that’s gonna happen? What would you say? 

0:30:36.4 TM: That’s a good way to look at it. Well, there could be… And depending on your lesson business, if it’s really linear, it could be Suzuki method piano, you finish level 10, congratulations, good job. That’s it. Or…

0:30:51.1 CB: Well, but there’s a lot of skill and then you’d probably be better at math and there’s probably you… Clarity could be…

0:30:58.3 TM: Oh, no, there’s benefits, but the point is there one result. There is one result that you would promise them. Somewhere between this and the end, you would have these results. Where other schools are based more on project-based or live performance or theater, or all of a sudden… And now you’re putting yourself out there and confidence, you’re not in front of just your teacher. And so then the outcome is more confidence. Or the outcome is, “Yes, you shred guitar and maybe you will get a record deal. We won’t promise that, but maybe that’s a route you could take.” So, is that kind of what you’re looking at? Like what is the expectation? 

0:31:35.6 CB: No, I… Well, I… To interrupt, I think he’s talking about more specific. Right? 

0:31:39.1 BA: Well, it’s a blend of both.

0:31:42.0 TM: Okay.

0:31:42.1 BA: It is like, “Yes, you’re gonna master the Suzuki method and you’re also going… ” And what I’m saying is, you just know by default that like a kid who goes through this, or an adult who starts and five years later, there’s things about them that just change. That they come in less sheepish, less insecure. Maybe come out of their shell. There are some ways that just by interacting with them that you know, that transfer outside of the lesson room into their life that you have seen play out. And so…

0:32:18.8 TM: That’s all confidence [0:32:20.1] ____, right? 

0:32:20.1 BA: You’re gonna learn a skill, and here’s also outside peripheral benefit that we know you’re gonna experience. [0:32:26.2] ____.

0:32:26.2 CB: So confidence…

0:32:26.5 TM: So those two things are not outlandish expectations of goals.

0:32:32.3 BA: Right.

0:32:32.4 TM: Those are like, “These things happen all the time, we know how to make them happen.” And so on…

0:32:37.7 CB: Well, we’re seeing a lot of the marketing and I think a lot of the people are really starting to wake up to this fact that as parents, what do we want for our kids? And so if you’re in the lesson business and kids are a big part of the lesson business.

0:32:51.6 TM: They are.

0:32:52.4 CB: Because it creates more consistent revenue because you get a longer cycle with a kid typically.

0:32:58.4 BA: Sure.

0:32:58.6 CB: Adults are so busy. You only get a year or two. With a lot of kids, you can get six, seven, eight, nine years. And I think connection, right? We all want kids to be more social and have a greater connection. We all want kids to be more self-confident. Just learning a skill teaches you that you can overcome challenges to get better at something, so I don’t know how you quantify that, but that’s a thing, that you can overcome difficulty in life.

0:33:29.2 BA: Yeah.

0:33:29.6 CB: Tenacity, I guess.

0:33:32.5 BA: And so then kind of extract that a little bit and what’s fun about this is then now let’s think about the martial arts studio or a dance academy or a language school. What things would be almost the same? 

0:33:51.5 TM: Right.

0:33:51.6 CB: Yeah.

0:33:51.9 BA: Like a lot of it would be…

0:33:52.9 TM: Almost all those elements…

0:33:55.8 BA: It’s the same thing, right? ‘Cause learning…

0:33:58.0 TM: Everybody wants to get it.

0:34:00.1 BA: And pressing through a skill, there’s just natural growth and maturity that comes out of that.

0:34:02.9 TM: Chris, I like what you said earlier about the gray one.

0:34:07.3 CB: Oh, maturity is a great one, growth.

0:34:07.4 TM: The parents story that just… So now with a lesson business with adolescents involved, you technically have two stories coming to the table. Mom and dad’s story of trying to do the best they can ever do for their beloved Johnny. And then Johnny’s little story like. “Red guitar,” or whatever. And so, you’ve gotta translate. So you have two stories approaching. So mom and dad are trying to make him the hero, but might not know it. We’re trying to make him the hero. And we want mom and dad to feel like a hero, too, for choosing correctly.

0:34:45.7 BA: Right.

0:34:45.8 TM: So that’s one thing we’ve noticed over the years that we try to be sensitive to. Is that, “Hey, we are also very aware of his story. What’s his?” On an initial phone call or something. And they’ll just go…

0:34:58.2 BA: Right.

0:34:58.2 TM: “Oh well, well, oh, he’s this,” and then they’ll just go and they’ll tap into his story and get out of theirs of marming the check boxes of if your school is safe and right and whatever. And it takes them a completely different direction to their kiddos story, ’cause they have comfort.

0:35:15.1 BA: Right.

0:35:15.2 CB: Oh, you’re making me feel really uncomfortable right now, and I think… And I’m saying that because learning only takes place in discomfort. You’re making me really start to think about all this and it’s like… I’m wondering, are you saying that bigger truths, in other words, as far as an outcome, more like universal truths are what appeal to people? You know like confidence, like connection…

0:35:44.6 BA: Right.

0:35:47.5 CB: Like smarter, better in school, achieving all the things that they wanna aspire towards, now they’ll have a road map of knowing how to achieve? 

0:36:00.2 BA: Yes, I think it’s not an either or. It’s a, “How do you weave in… ” And this is where the artistry of messaging and marketing comes together is… Like I know Polymer Music is one of my clients who… Kinda how you guys found me, right? ‘Cause you’re their teacher’s own users, right? 

0:36:17.0 TM: Right.

0:36:17.1 BA: And one of the things that we had dialed in, specially for their kids lesson was this idea of pride in their eyes, smiles on their faces, and finally being excited about something other than video games.


0:36:29.0 BA: Like those were the things that he felt like our…

0:36:32.2 TM: Brilliant.

0:36:33.7 BA: Parents are coming in and they’re just asking for, trying to figure it out. This is the outcome we wanna see in these kids lives. Right? And so…

0:36:40.8 TM: That is… 70% of his area is market share.

0:36:47.7 CB: I love it.

0:36:48.0 TM: But everybody’s area’s market share. That’s either…

0:36:48.1 BA: Right, right.

0:36:48.2 CB: Say that again, because we all learn from that. That is… You guys have just told that beautifully.

0:36:56.2 BA: Yeah, so this idea of like you wanna see the pride their eyes, and the smiles on their faces, and then finally being excited about something other than video games. And so those are very much like big, dreamy…

0:37:08.6 CB: Every parent out there right now.

0:37:10.7 BA: Right. Their big dreamy aspiration, “Man, I want this for my kid and I also really want this for my kid.” And they’re kind of short-term, long-term, mixed. Right? And so it’s kind of figuring out what are you hearing people talk about? What do you have when every time you do a… Somebody comes in to see your martial arts studio, or they come in asking about dance or cheer classes or whatever. They’re gonna all have questions and things they’re worried about, stuff they’re trying to figure out. And those are the things you’re trying to figure out, “Okay, we feel like we can… We’re helping people with that stuff.” ‘Cause every parent that comes in, any of those, or even an adult comes in like…

0:37:46.4 BA: I mean, I’m even like… I’ve emailed a guy about joining a CrossFit gym, ’cause I’m like, “Man, I’ve been to sedentary for two years, and I need… I think I wanna jump into this.” And I’m already talking, even before I’ve talked to the guy, I’ve given him plenty to be like, “Okay, the guy is 40. He’s feeling out of shape. He wants to get back to confidence in this and feel more like himself.” Like I basically laid that out for them and they’re gonna help with it. It’s not like it’s a false sale, but you’re trying to use the things that people are already asking for help in, and what you’re teaching them is just a mechanism and an outlet for that transformation to happen. And they don’t realize that. It’s more of like, “I’m interested in a guy that’s gonna do martial arts versus a guy or a girl who’s gonna do clog dancing or something. I don’t know. They’re both ways of owning a skill, of mastering something and growing. They’re just vehicles to the same thing. And so if you’re talking to your customers, listening to these things they’re already telling you, you know they’re experiencing… And I’m gonna guess that if you’re still in business, you’re doing a great job at dealing with people. You’re just not doing a good job of telling them that on the front end before they show up.

0:39:04.4 CB: So are you… To put it back on the hero thing, are you basically almost like a superhero, in a sense of you’re letting them know what will happen after they defeat the villain, if you will.

0:39:19.6 BA: Like their customers, yeah, you’re gonna become this and transform into this, and…

0:39:24.6 CB: Yeah, once you defeat your nemesis, which might be distraction, this will happen.

0:39:28.3 BA: Right, right, right.

0:39:29.9 CB: Once you defeat this. Okay.

0:39:32.4 BA: Yeah. You’re trying to name that and call it out and just… And then speak to it. And speak to it. And I think the other thing that I will wanna… Especially in the line of business that most of the people listening to this are gonna be in, I think another real simple thing that I think you could think through that allows you to, again, you’re still being the guide but you’re, in a sense, it’s making the customer the hero, is how complicated is it to do business with you and get communication from you and talk to you. If it feels like a maze of what email address can I do, there’s 17 steps before I sign up, and three forms to fill out, and five places to put my address, and then once I do it, I don’t get any confirmation, I don’t ever get any emails, I’m always having to ask you if we have class today, I’m not being told, there’s this stuff and we still then make the customers continue to do all of the stinking work.

0:40:29.3 TM: Right, that’s in the delivery Chris. That’s the delivery.

0:40:33.4 CB: We call that… Yeah, you and I… Tyler and I call that proof. The deliver part is proving to them that you’re actually doing what you promised on the front.

0:40:42.8 BA: Yeah, yeah. And so we’ve all had those experiences where like you’re fired up and you sign up for something, and then it feels like all of a sudden you realize on the back side that, “Man, they promise some good stuff, and maybe they’re good teachers or maybe they’re good whatever, but on the back end, their communication is just terrible,” [chuckle] and that… All that does is, you may love the teacher, but it makes you distrust the company because it seems like they don’t have their crap together. And so… And again, it’s like you never saw Gandalf looking for his staff, right? “Where’s my staff?” He always had it. It wasn’t like he was… Right? Or Mr. Miyagi, it wasn’t like he…

0:41:22.6 CB: Everybody listening right now, by the way, all the listeners, regardless of where your company was at, has had this happened on the back end. Period. You’ve been in this spot.

0:41:31.4 BA: Yeah. No, absolutely, I mean, and some of it you just… You may realize you’re kinda making up as you go, but you need to realize, “Okay, we need to get this figured out, because the less consistent and professional your stuff is on the back side of it, it’s just consistent communication, whatever that is, or easy steps to sign up.” It’s so ridiculously easy, you need to do, whoever you are, you need to do all of the work to make that, and it’s gonna be hard for you so that it’s easy for your customers. And I feel like sometimes we’re like, we push back against that, like, “Well, this is just how it has to happen, ’cause I don’t have time to think about that.” Well, guess what, somebody has to, and it’s either gonna be the people paying you money and you’re making them pay for it, and they’re paying you money and having to figure it out or, you know what? What if you gotta figure it out because they’re paying you money, so that makes it really easy to keep paying you money.

0:42:29.8 CB: Right? 

0:42:30.9 BA: And the love that they’re with…

0:42:32.3 CB: Right, that’s the biggest thing is, taking away all the friction, because the biggest challenge in today’s day and age is when someone faces a challenge. Let’s say their laptop breaks or they lose their phone or something, there needs to be an easy way for people to always feel like they’re getting what they need from you. And so, if you’re sitting in archaic mechanisms like humans, like pen and paper, it’s not that those technologies can’t work, it’s that they don’t work when challenges arise in today’s day and age. People need access always. We learned that with COVID, didn’t we? 

0:43:07.6 BA: Yeah.

0:43:09.1 TM: Yep.

0:43:09.3 BA: Yeah. And I mean, there’s always sometimes we… Everybody has those clients and customers or whatever, their students that are just like, they’re just that guy or that girl or that family who’s just overwhelmingly annoying and in your face and hard to work with. Like, those people are just out there and that’s just ’cause we’re all humans, and we’re all broken messes [chuckle] interacting with each other. So that’s just true. But even from my own business, I’ve learned this, if I get an email from somebody that’s a client of mine, and they’re like, “Hey, where’s this or what’s the update on this or how come we don’t have that… ” Even if it’s not frustrated, they just don’t know, then immediately I’m like, “I didn’t do… ” I wanna anticipate that stuff, so they don’t… I don’t want anybody to ever be wondering from me, “Hey, when are we doing this?” Or, “When is this coming up?” I would rather over-communicate that. And every time that happens, it’s like another way to remind me that I haven’t done that scenario yet.

0:44:01.8 CB: We just had that even happen with our own school with regard to rehearsals. We have reminders, we have all these things, but we didn’t… There was a break a weekend before there was a break, we now know we have to remind the break.

0:44:16.9 TM: Right. [0:44:18.1] ____ Reminder, there is no rehearsal today. [laughter]

0:44:24.3 BA: And everybody’s showing up and then the place is closed, right? Yeah.

0:44:27.9 TM: About five families out of 120 did show up. That’s five. That’s a low percentage, but it’s not good. They drove all the way down, and they got frustrated. Right.

0:44:35.5 CB: You can always learn… You’re always learning how you could communicate better, you’re always learning how you can make the friction a little easier. We’ve obviously been blessed to be able to work with a lot of programs and teachers around the world that try and do that, but, you know, the journey never ends, I should say.

0:44:56.0 BA: Yeah, and so that’s… And to me, that’s still trying to think of like, “Okay, how can I make the customers the hero and how can I be the guide? Is that they never need to be questioning where are we going? What’s the plan? How is it supposed to be working out? What am I supposed to do next?” Or if they do, the answer’s readily available. And again, you’re never gonna get it perfect, there’s always gonna be room for improvement, but just having that mindset shift as opposed to, “Well, you should already know,” versus like, “Okay, how can we make sure they know before we do?”

0:45:27.0 CB: Tyler, that’s your extreme ownership, baby.

0:45:29.3 TM: It is, and we just… We put Phil Allen into a new overall school director and principal position and we came up and I’m like something… There has to be some thread sown from week to week besides newsletters. It’s gotta be. So we got him Loom. Brad, you turned us on to Loom.

0:45:47.5 CB: Sweet. Yeah.

0:45:48.5 TM: So Phil now creates a Loom with some sort of background and gives a two-minute weekly update, and we just did the first one this week, so that even… ‘Cause there’s new parents that are like, “Wait, is this thing… Do we come?” And it’s like, “Wow, we gave you a welcome packet that said no, but clearly you need to know again.” So now that will help from week to week and they can look forward to seeing his handsome face. And maybe there doesn’t need to be anything to go through that week.

0:46:18.2 CB: It’s just a little two-minute… It’s a two-minute update. And by the way, Tyler, I watched my wife Marcy, who… ‘Cause our son’s still in the school, I watched her watch it this morning.

0:46:28.2 TM: Okay, okay. How did it go? 

0:46:29.8 CB: She didn’t know. And she goes, “What’s this?” And then I watch our press play and then she’s like. And then when it was over, she looks at me and she goes, “That was cool.” [laughter] I was like, “Oh, alright.” So it was like watching a bomb. I was like, “Okay, cool.”

0:46:44.2 TM: Here’s the funny part, Chris, we’re probably gonna need 14 Looms a week soon because the parents still don’t get it. No, I’m just kidding.

0:46:52.1 CB: But that’s a good example of how we literally were thrown a new one, Brad, last week, and so we were like, “Listen, we’re all trying to figure out how to be better to our heroes to support them better.”

0:47:08.4 TM: But I love what Brad just said, he came in and gave us another nugget on the delivery systems of what you’re promising to help them in the relative expectations of their journey you wanna help them with, and say, “Cool. So wow, they liked it. Now, how is it easy for them to do it and keep doing it?” If you can put those two variables together…

0:47:30.1 CB: And how many times have you in your business had someone quit that said they quit, “Because… ” And you’re like, “But we do that”, right? Well, that’s not their fault, like you said, Brad. It’s your fault for not having systems in place to let him know you do that.

0:47:47.0 BA: Yeah, can you imagine if Tyler was like, “Well, we’re just looking for somebody that can give us… I mean, we’re glad we can do private lessons but we thought they could be like… If they have like an on-stage performance, that’d be great,” and you guys are like, “That’s the other half of what we do.” You’ve obviously made that clear. Yeah, absolutely. There’s just plenty of opportunity, we just… We make assumptions ’cause we’re so close to the details of what we do every day that we assume the 150 conversations we have every day, that person walking in the door has been a part of and they haven’t it. You have to re-train your brain to, like, every new person knows nothing about anything we do and it’s okay. They shouldn’t.

0:48:29.0 CB: Well that’s awesome. We talk about the leader’s role in a business, and leader’s role basically is reiterating that, reiterating the vision and mission, people and resources. And so the reiteration of that over and over and over in multiple ways always is your job that you’re never done, because people are forgetful and people are busy. And again, they’re in their own story. They’re not in your story. You gotta remind them in their terms.

0:48:57.5 TM: Brad, don’t you also help companies come up with their playbooks per se that help the clear messaging of what we just talked about, the two steps we just talked about today. They’re the hero, use “you” statements not “we” statements, get the message clear then back it up, get them in, keep them coming. But now you’ve got, like us, 13 teachers in a cup for ops people that now need to have that idea from the founders clear to them so that they can express it to the masses, ’cause the founders aren’t even the first people to see them anymore after a while.

0:49:34.3 BA: Right, yeah. Yeah. And it’s basically, from the marketing and what we do aspect of it, whoever you are as a business, yeah, the first step I’d take with anybody is we’re gonna figure out, “Okay, how do you talk about what you do? ‘Cause whether or not you want to or not, you have to use words to communicate about your business,” and the number one question that is always gonna come up in anything that has to do with marketing, “Yeah, well, how is it gonna look? What tool should we use?” But at some point, you’re gonna have to say, “What is this gonna say?” Like you have to feel that you have to answer that question. And so my job for businesses is to help them have answers to that question, “What’s this gonna say?”

0:50:16.2 BA: And then whatever we’re trying to say is gonna inform the tool, the tactic, the design, whatever. And then that’s gonna apply to, “Alright, let’s get that on your website, to your sales pages. I don’t know, let’s get that into some email sequences where your people can start to learn about the problem that you can help them solve and the things that you’re gonna help them do.” And then beyond that, there are so many businesses that literally are not emailing people on a regular basis that I’ve been convinced that if you are doing basically one email every couple of months, if you were able to start emailing your list with relative information once a week, you would double your revenue. I just don’t… Unless you have a terrible product and you’re a bunch of jerks, there’s nothing but upside. The return on email marketing is like 900%. It’s ridiculous.

0:51:18.1 CB: And so if they wanted help in getting clarity in their messaging, getting more emails and all that cued up and ready to go and all that, they can learn about your team at clarityalwayswins.com? 

0:51:30.6 BA: Yeah, you guys can go there and check it out and kick around and fish around and see what we do. And then there’s buttons to schedule calls and it’s gonna be you and I, whoever you are, talking on the phone and figuring out what you need if we could help.

0:51:43.4 TM: And if you want to see a direct example, go to teacherzone.com. And if you haven’t had a chance to read through it, scroll down once and see Brad’s work in action. And so our website was something we worked together, put our heads together, and Chris in my mission moving forward, Brad helped put it into a clear message the way we were just blown away by. So you can see that on the website as well. Since this podcast is brought to you by teacherzone.com, and… So we’ll plug that as well. Brad, you have been amazing. I’ve seen Chris’s head explode twice today and that is a big deal, so. It takes a lot for Chris to do that on a podcast.

0:52:25.5 BA: Mission accomplished.

0:52:25.6 TM: You’ve been an amazing, amazing guest. Mission accomplished.

0:52:30.3 CB: Yeah man, thank you.

0:52:30.5 TM: Man, we gotta have you again. So let this experience percolate and maybe we’ll have you on again for some other workshop because that was fantastic. What do you think, Chris? 

0:52:41.2 CB: I think that the hardest part in business is kind of knowing where to start and so, Brad, thanks for really helping us be a little bit more grounded on how we see ourselves in context.

0:52:52.7 BA: Absolutely, man. Yeah, yeah. I love it. Thanks for having me on.

0:52:54.5 TM: And thank you for your time today. We know you’re busy. We know that your Calendly is very strict, so thank you for allowing us to be on your schedule and being part of this with us. And again, everybody, thank you so much for tuning in and we’re so grateful Brad came in. We have another workshop coming up on the same topic with John from… Chris, tell them about John real quick.

0:53:19.6 CB: John Kozicki with Michigan Rock School. He is going to have some insight in a workshop for us to help work through some of the story stuff that Brad was just talking about. He used to be a writer, so he’s gonna help people understand how to write stories and so then now they can take what you’ve taught us, Brad, and then write the stories within that framework.

0:53:42.2 TM: Right.

0:53:42.5 BA: Perfect.

0:53:43.4 TM: And that goes for not just customer heroes, but your employees. Your employees are guides, they’re heroes. So we’re gonna touch on that next week and, again, thank you all for tuning in. Go to teacherzone.com to see the updated webinars and ebooks that are free for you. You can find those there. And again, Brad, thank you for coming in and thank you all for tuning in and we’ll see you on the next episode of the Teacher Zone with Chris and Tyler. See you guys.

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