James Schramko – Found BIG Success & Learned to Provide Value at a Very Young Age
James L.: You know recently I heard it said that in the internet marketing world, when it comes
to building business online, there are two camps developing out there. The one group is
proposing to teach people to build their businesses using tactics like scarcity and hide. And
then, there's a second group, one that is honestly and successfully happy folks to build real,
sustainable businesses online. And Mr. James Schramko is considered by many to be the leader
of this ladder group. James is the owner of the website, superfastbusiness.com.
His website is the definition of big value. At superfastbusiness.com, there are so many free
training resources to help you to begin to learn how to grow as a successful business online.
You can also find James hanging out either one of his internet business coaching communities,
fastwebformula.com and silvercicle.com. Anyway, have a listen while I chat with James about
staff like landscaping, WalMart and the band, one direction. And find out what they all have to
do big value with great marketing. Check it out. We have James. I'm so honored to have you
with us today. How the heck are you sir?
James S.: Very good, thank you.
James L: Awesome. So I'm really eager to get your philosophy for creating successful value
proposition. You truly lead by example with the constant flow of valuable video content that
you circulate almost daily, and stuff that you're teaching, courses like on the Racecourse. Can
you give us just a little background about yourself and maybe talk about where you came from.
I knew you came from selling high end automobiles so you had the value in the message built in
at an early age. Could you touch on that and then bring us up to what it takes to provide value
and create a million dollar online company.
James S.: Sure. Well, even some of my earlier roles where all about value creation. I had a lawn
mowing round. So I would go and mow somebody's lawn, and it would start with this wild mess
of the yard and then would end up clean neat and tidy. That was so obvious. You could see
what work had been done. And it was easy for them to hand over the cash.
Then I worked with my grandfather who's a timber broker and he would buy and sell timber. He
would have build to who needed timber for a project. They would give him the order. And then
he would shop at around between timber yards and have them put together the best deal that
they could for all the bits and pieces. So he was providing a great service for the builders who
didn't have the time or the resource to be able to shop around. And he was also getting
business for the timber yards who didn't know how to market very well.
He would take a 3% cut for that. So that was a great, interesting arbitrage business model, the
brokerage model, and I think I am now becoming more aware of how valuable these early jobs
were. And then there was of course, debt collection which was asking people for their money
or to hand the car back when they weren't paying for it, and I used to go out in the road and do
that. Then this was before I was selling cars. Selling cars, it's a pretty tough job. First, because
most of the public have a perception about people who are in that industry and a lot of that is
probably fairly earned.
And the second thing is, you get a lot of people who do not value the salesperson at all. And
that they're more than happy to spend a lifetime driving things around, asking a thousand
questions, being rude, lying about their trade and evaluation, and it's pretty hard to earn the
sale. But we did have that philosophy from one of our mentors in the industry, and that was,
we basically buy the sale or you earn it. And you can buy it by discounting or you can earn it by
providing more value and that's where we started, coming with things like offering tea or
coffee, getting a glass of water, going for a proper test drive, doing a real demonstration on the
car, actually having product, knowledge, and being able to find the right car to somebody, and
to stay in touch with them after they took delivery and make repeat sales. So that was sort of a
more involved thing. But anyway, I'll skip forward.
I went all the way through that motor vehicle route of selling to sales management to general
sales management, to general management, and ended up running these dealerships. And one
of the things I was responsible for was website and the marketing department. And through
that website, I really found my energy, my interest level peaked. And I thought it would be
really good to learn how to build a website. And I set about doing that as a hobby in my spare
time, and I stumbled across all these online gurus, teaching online marketing tricks.
And I started applying them for the dealership. And we're getting great results. Then I started
applying it for myself. And it got my business, my home business to the point where I could
actually let go of the job.
James L.: That's incredible. I've followed you and I've listened to you on a few other podcasts,
and your story is fantastic. And it's definitely a template for anyone that's eager. And you're
probably going to appreciate it but dude, you put the work in. I know you have.
James S.: Yes, it's no doubt I've worked very, very hard, and I've also tried to be smart about
what I've been doing. I like Peter Duckers’ quote that it's more about doing the right things. And
finding out at the right things to do is part of the struggle with this online journey, and then
doing them is the other part people tend to struggle with it, for whatever reason whether
they're lazy or they haven't got their mental framework they need to be able to apply
themselves. But if you can actually do things and then the right things, you can actually get
James L.: I totally agree. And I've gone that route myself, and listened to or been exposed to the
gurus. Not, a whole lot of value in that camp, they kind of allude to it. But I want to get back to
something you've mentioned earlier about earning the sale or buying the sale. And the latter
being focusing on or selling only on price. Can you expand on that? I think it's a loose when
you're battling on price alone. What are your thoughts on that?
James S.: Well, it really only works for few people. It might work for an Amazon or WalMart but
in the end, I think they loose anyway, especially people like WalMart It appears that they're
having some struggles with the way they treat employees and staff, and they're original
founders philosophy was all about value. Then it's changed to price at some point as its run
down through the generations. So I think the, I don't like hypey sales. I don't like manipulative
marketing tactics, trickery. It's not good for humans.
So I resist that sort of stuff. I actually like a long term high value relationship where price is not
really the most important focal point and it really never is. When someone buys something,
they might think it is and I know that everyone's got something sitting in their wardrobe or their
garage they bought because it's cheap. But I learned the expression with cars. That a good deal
in the wrong car is not a good deal. And we would constantly learn how to move people away
from this obsession on price, and really, the public is obsessed on price.
You could just go anywhere by anything. And usually, the sales assistant will jump to price
instantly. They'll tell you this one is on sale today. Or you can have two of these for $3. Like
prices drummed into the public. Manufacturers have caused this because they take out full
page ads saying, you know, we'll be any deal, in this sort of nonsense.
So prices out there are a smokescreen but it's not why people buy it. People buy emotionally.
They buy because they want to feel better. They buy because they want to look younger. They
buy because they want to spoil themselves, because they're depressed. There are so many
other reasons that people buy other than just the economics of it. That's probably like fifth of
sixth on the list of reasons why people actually buy.
James L.: I totally agree. I guess you’ve known early on when you started cutting lawns or
working with your grandfather to provide extra value, and you would be rewarded. But with
your online business, I guess while you were still working at the car dealership. You did a little
bit of affiliate marketing. When did you reach the point when you decided to go into business
for yourself, create your own products rather than selling someone else's products? When did
you cross the threshold and realize that the more value you gave upfront, the more rabid of
fanbase, not necessarily larger, but the more loyal your fanbase would be, and by practically,
anything you put in front of them without even asking. When did you get to that point?
James S.: Like there are kind of two questions, I'll answer the first one, the point that I realized
that I need to do my own thing was, it was combination of reading entrepreneurial books and
also having a customer of mine offer me half of his business. He had a motorcycle franchise.
And I went through the whole phase of due diligence, setting up a company in a family trust
structure, getting legal advice, it cost me a fortune at the time. I can't remember exactly how
much but it was at least $8000 or $9000 or it was even $18,000. I can't remember because it
was about six years ago.
But I ended up having this legal structure. I got good advice on the heads of agreement and
memorandum of understanding, and all this stuff. But I didn't go ahead with the deal because it
turned out this guy had a lot of debts for a building company that he owned, and some of them
was cross collateralize with his business. And there was a good chance that I joined the business
and he would suck me dry for everything I was worth. And like so many times I've seen in
business, he was coming to me desperate and he wanted my expertise to help him get him out
of. This just happens all the time.
I get a lot of desperate people out there who'd come to internet marketing with the mindset of,
everything else's is broken and they’ve made very bad decisions, I'm down up to the wire, and
you have to save me. That is the wrong attitude. That would generally results in failure. I tell
people to go and get a real job like you won't get an actual job that they guaranteed a profit.
If you really are desperate, you have the responsibility to put food on the table. So that was
step one, and I couldn't help but notice that all of the people buying Mercedes Benz which was
the franchise that I was working for, were business owners. They weren't really employees,
maybe some of the lower run ones, and occasionally, like the mega employee, the guy that ran
a news publishing arm for Murdock or something, would get a nice car. But most of them had
their own business, whether it's a pool company right through to stock broking firms. They
were business owners. So I got this idea that that was a way to go.
The second question about the value, my approach to affiliate marketing was a little bit
influenced by some of the material I was reading at the time. I was reading about adding value
complimenting the market rather than competing with the market. And I'm pretty sure it was
Steven Pierce, the material that I got access to. And he was talking about come up with
something that assists other things that are the market already so that people can recognize
more value in your offer. And I came up with this idea that I should add a bonus to the product
that I was affiliated with.
And there were also other people in the market doing it with other products, and one of those
was David Jennings doing it with Site Build It and I found his stuff and read his stuff from Steven
Pierce. And I thought, yeah, that makes sense. It makes sense to offer a bonus. So I went in
there, and created my own bonus for people who were buying the software that I was selling as
an affiliate. And the bonus became so valuable that people wanted to buy the bonus because
they already had the software that I was promoting.
And that was like a real light switch for me. I would literally come home and see emails from
people saying, hey, you know, I've already got the software but I've heard that I really need this
bonus, can I buy it from you?
James L.: That's fantastic. Are you still selling those products now or?
James S.: No. I don't the sell the product now because the product is, for the most part, dead.
And it was a pretty tough call because I had to basically turn the income off. It was around
$5000 a month when I switched it off. And I made that decision based on values and ethics. So I
don't, once I'm aware of a better solution, and I think the market just caught up and overtook
this product, I decided that it wasn't the right product for people to buy. And I stopped
And I think that separates me from a lot of other marketers who will pimp something because
they want value from it. But I want my customers to like me not now, that's a given. But I want
them to be able to come back. And that's another lesson I learned from the car industry. If you
sell a car to someone, or you let someone buy the wrong car, they're going to hate you for it,
and they will, not only not come back, they'll never go back to the dealership and they'll
badmouth you to everyone out there. If you set them up for a bad fall, they're not going to like
And the thing that has surprised me the most about the current crop of gurus, is how long
they've lasted in this market with the things that they do. And I suspect part of that is that there
must be a lot of new people coming into the market all the time. But eventually, it will catch
with them. And eventually, they'll be two very different types of marketers. There'll be the ones
in it for the long haul who look after customers, and there'll be the opportunist who fleese
customers, and those ones will be out. It's really, the difference between them, whether you
want to make woolen jumpers from the sheep or whether you want to cull the sheep and eat
the meat once.
Yeah, like that. I think people take way too short a view of their business. And it seems funny
now looking back to when I started online. It's kind of the timeline as built up. I started in 2005,
at the very end of 2005. And I thought I was probably late to the party. But now, I'm becoming
like more of longer termer in the market compared to a lot of the other people there.
James L.: Yeah, you touched on it too. There is a lot of turn but there are a lot of people
desperate to break out of the cube nation. And so that business of working from home, quit
your day job, that is stronger than ever especially with the economy as it is. So yeah, there's a
lot of sheep out there to be fleeced.
James S.: I do have one tip for those cubicle people, is be absolute very best in your cubicle. Like
don't see this is a parachute that you can escape from because you're incompetent or a bad
employee. You should be an amazing employee or like an outstanding high achiever. Because if
you are, then the pull of the online business won't have as much desperation for you, and
things will be easier for you in the short term because your income will go up, your job security
will increases, and your options are opened up.
James L.: I totally agree and I think you, again, you walked that talk you were the best in your
industry, numerous sales awards, year after year. They changed the criteria because you won it
too many times. You're the best and I'm sure they're really sorry to see you go. But you carry
that ethic into your own business, and that is so key. It's not an escape if you'll just lazy and you
don’t want to get it done where you are now. That's not going to change when you have even
less people looking down at you and watching you to keep you accountable. So you're so spot
on with that.
James S.: I was going to say like if you're not responsible when you don't have to be, you're not
going to be responsible when you do have to be, and it's lot about responsibility and
confidence. And you have to have both of those things to perform well as an entrepreneur.
James L.: Talking about present day, you put out a video almost every day. And what I really
love is you shoot them out to your email as then. You'll also say, don't want to get these videos
everyday, would you like to see all of them once a week? We have that option but tell me about
your mindset. How you keep that going and what motivates you to any mind hacks or
scheduling or editorial calendar? Just tell us how you work that discipline in giving so much
content not so often.
James S.: Well, I identified it as good return on investment of my time. It's one of the unique
things that I have that other people can't have. No one else could be me. So when I'm doing a
video or an audio, I'm really bonding on a more emotional level with my audience, and I'm
getting to know them through their comments, people identify themselves, and we're building
up, it's not a large fanbase but it's a customer-base of people who want to be involved. And the
way that I communicate with them, you're right, I do offer the preference you could subscribe
to get emails most days. You can get it once a week.
You could, in theory, just pick up an iTunes feed or YouTube feed or blog or RSS feed and not be
subscribed through the email channel. But the thing is I have a goal to provide more and more
reasons why people want to come back so 2/3 of the traffic to that website,
superfastbusiness.com is repeat traffic. So it continues to grow, I think it had about 300,000
views in the last year. It's pretty much the sole traffic source that I'm using now combing with
that iTunes syndication of the audios, but it's a very strong, very solid traffic source, and I enjoy
it, plus it's opening up doors for interviews.
And thus providing a platform that I owned that can’t be taken away, I can’t be shut down by
somebody else when it's on my own platform. It's one of the core things I teach with Own the
Racecourse because a lot of people are building up on someone else's platform, and I think
that's doomed for failure. In a very least, when the platform becomes less popular, like
MySpace and in the worst case, they might get shutdown because that platform might decide
that they don't want to have that topic anymore or someone complains or competitor reports
you on something which that sort of stuff happens all the time in SEO, in the Google world,
people get shut down from Google's results. But if you build on your own platform, and you
syndicate multiple platforms, then you have identified that's the best strategy from me, from
my business. And that's pretty much what I did f or the whole of 2013, was to just continue the
content stream and that's about it.
I really didn't do any paid traffic. I didn’t do anything tricky. And that traffic source fuels my
business and it did a splendid job of it. And I'm pretty flexible on when I can make the videos
and where I can make them. And sometimes, I might batch a few. Other times I'll not make
some for a while, and then other times, I'll make several a day, every single day, and it's pretty
flexible. That's what I like about it.
James L.: Yeah. It's totally awesome. I saw a few of you in the shopping mall over the season,
and the multicolored or the colored shirts to go along with the video skin, pretty cool stuff,
pretty awesome stuff. Even the short ones, I totally enjoyed it because it's just right to the
point. And you always have a great lesson.
Its great messaging. To that end, if you had a close family member, and you gave us some really
super gold nuggets already, especially about the one in the cubicle, the worker, current day,
just be the best that you can be there because that will transfer him to what you were in the
outside eventually. But if you had like a close family member, James, that was either struggling
to build a business online or just starting fresh… Saying James, I'm retiring or have this time on
my hands, what kind of advise would you give them in how to go about it, and as simply as you
can. Without going into too much detail but what would you do? What would you tell them?
James S.: Well, I don't think it's for everybody. That's for sure. Is it in the same market or
James L.: I wouldn't say it's not in internet marketing or let's put it that way. But if a close family
member was struggling to build their business online be it, even a flower shop or a retail, just to
get web traffic to their site for an existing business. If someone came to you for an advice,
what'd you advise them to do?
James S.: Well, usually we'll start with the website itself, like where will be sending people to?
What's the problem there? Because to get the website kicking, that anything you do will be
leverage. So you want it to be valuable, you want it to be original, you want it to be fast loading
and responsive, and you wanted to have something that you can give away what you need,
somewhere to send people. Because no matter where you are out there, where you in a coffee
shop or on a plane, if you have somewhere to send to people to, that opens up the machine.
Because it's now, you got something working for you when you're not there. So having an email
capture, for an example would be a good thing, and some free content, at least an hours of free
So on my about page is an hour long video from a conference. And a lot of people watch that
whole thing and then opt in. So it's tuning up the website, that's step one. And step two is really
starting to talk the language of their perfect customer who has problems that they can solve. So
for example, my mom is a marriage celebrant. She's got some pictures of venues that she likes
to marry people, like beaches and rotundas and foreshore areas around Sydney, and she starts
to rank for those things because she's listing those.
My sister is in yoga school so I got them a lovely mic, wide mic for their IPhone, and I've got my
brother-in-law Manu making videos from the yoga studio and putting them up there on a
regular basis. So they have to get the content machine started. And this is all sort of a slow
spinning fly wheel. It takes a while to get going but once you get it going, it's really, really
powerful. It just keeps performing and it gives you stability in the business. And beyond that,
there's a few sort of instant win strategies you could implement.
The First one is once your website started running, and once you have a good piece of content,
tell every single person that you already have access to, to go there. You get some comments,
get some sharing happening so that everyone on the data would say, hey, just made a video for
you. Here it is. Put a thumbnail in it put a video that people click through. Let them comment
on it. Let them share.
Let them give you feedback, and broadcast and email to your entire database with that sort of
information. And then you work on to your next referral level which is everyone who you know.
And start syndicating your website through at least through your Facebook, and your Google+,
your LinkedIn your twitter, and get the word out there that this is happening. And keep it going,
ask for questions and then answer them with videos or audios.
James L.: So Basically, what you're saying is find our audience where they're hanging out and
get that information in front of them.
James S.: Yeah, tell them how the stuff helps them. That's the most important thing.
James L.: That's awesome. What do you think the most effective way is to get inside my
customer's head or even a potential customer's head and find out what are they really looking
for so I can design my content to be more appealing to them?
James S.: Yeah, they'll tell you what they want help with, usually, especially if they have any
kind of support desk or sales process. You work with firstly the people that did buy. Why did
they buy? And make sure you cover off those things. And then you go for the ones who didn't
buy, and then cover off those things.
James L.: Yeah, especially when you have somebody that answers their own emails when you
reply to them, like James Schramko does. That's awesome.
James S.: Yeah, but I also have a support desk. And I have my team do send me, They say, Hey
boss, we keep getting asked with this question. Could you make a video about it? And that
would be one of those 3 to 5 minute videos.
James L.: Yeah, a little FAQ.
Yeah. You could just do FAQs for the rest of your life and never move past that. That's a good
James L.: Yeah. I love it. And you've given me so much James. Thank you very much. Just kind of
wrap in stuff up, you'd mentioned you read a few books. I was going to ask you about business
resources. I know you have your mastermind groups, you have Podcast but what does James
Schramko listen to? What does he read? What entrepreneurial authors and who do you
subscribe to as far as Podcast Mastermind and so on and so forth?
James S.: Oh, I don't subscribe to a Podcast or Mastermind. So I'm more interested in Amazon
Kindles. So my number one resource would be Kindle books. I've got a garage full of books.
Yeah, really, it's not just one author, I have read as many business books as I can devour. My
Kindle is absolutely jam-packed full of Kindles.
Every time I catch a plane, I’ll read several books, I read most days so it's just a process of going
through. I especially like watching documentaries as well movies like on actual people, stories
of what's gone before us because they tend to repeat themselves. It's always a lot of parallels.
You can learn so much from that, and then movies based on real life and events or real near life
events, like even modern day, theater stuff like Rush for example, or the One Direction movie,
or Justin Bieber movie, or 20 ft from Stardom documentary. These things are fantastic teachers.
I just devour them.
I've watched every single documentary on the airplane, and almost every current movie. So
that's how I like to learn stuff as to, it's always been played out in the past. Let's get access to it.
I like to read stuff.
James L.: When you look at something like the One Direction, can you trace that back to maybe
an older movie about the Beetles coming to America kind of thing?
James S.: One Direction were sort of creative because each one of them applied to a talent
show, and they were soloist but they all got knocked out and then got put back in as a group.
And they, basically with good marketing, and a bit of talent, they came like the fastest rabid
fanbase of anything. And obviously, they clicked their market. They dressed right. They
They worked hard. They tour like crazy and even just watching on how they deal with fame, and
how they've gone from poor, moderate upbringings to playing at Madison Square Gardens, and
then some of their parents are also, it's interesting watching the parents struggling with the
change in the journey, and the fact that the kids had just bought them a house, and this sort of
stuff. I find that really interesting. And it's a great story about change and it's a great story
about how there are opportunities now that where not around, when the Beetles were there,
you can't go on X-factor or whatever when the Beetles was on. If they had to play the night
clubs over and over and over and over and over and over again, to get good, that's interesting
for me because my son has got a band and he plays as many gigs as they can get to. And with
some clever marketing, they could be getting more gigs than a band that might even have more
talent but isn't good at the marketing side of it.
Then if you look at movies like, Rush, you'll see that's Niki Lauda, got himself into Formula One
by pretty much buying the team rather than being the most talented driver but then he was a
very good driver as well. And then there's other people who were great drivers but never get a
seat because they don't have money and they don't have the marketing or the strategic ability
to engineer the ride. So there so many lessons in all of these films that you can apply to your
James L.: And that's how you consume reading and video.
James S.: That's it.
James L.: Absolutely, that's totally cool. Listen, while we wrap up, and again, I so appreciate
your time James. How about any parting shots, I know you've got Fast Formula Five, and that
sounds like a movie title, I don't know why. But you got that coming up in March. Could you tell
us about that and anything else you'd like our listeners to know about coming up in the near
future? And how we can find you?
James S.: Right, so my main website is superfastbusiness.com. That were all those videos,
interviews like these are. But that fades a few services and a community. One of the best
communities I think for all your listeners is fast web formula, and that is internet marketing. I
actually call it internet business community because you get more high level thoughts than just
the marketing through that grubby, hypey tactics, we don't do that stuff. We're talking about
strategy and business models.
There's some very good people, there are hundreds of people in there who have stuck with me
for years, and each year, we ran an event, and the next one is the fifth one for Fast Web
Formula. But it's actually about the ninth or the tenth event in the series because they used to
be different name before. But that's once a year, the community come together and the power
in that room is amazing. We get special guests in, people like Andrea Chaperon and Keith Kranc
and some real legends who you may not have heard of come and share ideas. But it's kind of
like all meals paid for, lots of time with real good tactics, no pitching. I don't run the event to
I just break even. I run it to bring the community together and to get some good recordings and
to bring my friends to Manly which is I live here in Sydney. So that's in March in Sydney. That
will be well worth coming to. It will be nothing like a typical American event. It would be a 100
to 200 people somewhere on that region of really high quality people. And the experience is
amazing. The information that's exchanged there, the relationships that build go well past the
events. This is same sort of stuff we're talking about.
James L.: Absolutely and well-said sir. James Schramko, I do appreciate your time sir. Thank you
so much for coming on Big Value Big Business Podcast.
James S.: Okay, thanks James.
James L.: You're very welcome, sir. Talk to you soon.
James S.: Okay, bye.