#39: Jay Baer shares how to create Talk Triggers that will turn your customers into volunteer marketers who will grow your business for you.
Jay is a Hall of Fame Speaker, a New York Times best-selling author, and the most inspirational expert on Marketing, Customer Experience, and Customer Service.
Jay is also the President of Convince & Convert, a consulting firm that works with the world’s most iconic brands — like The United Nations, 3M, and Hilton — to gain and keep more customers.
If you’re looking to clone your customers and create a customer experience that keeps them coming back for more, you’ll definitely want to give this episode a listen.
Podcast Episode Summary
In this episode, you’ll learn:
- how to build a word of mouth strategy for yourself and your business;
- the four requirements of a talk trigger;
- why a talk trigger, although important, shouldn’t be the star of ALL your marketing;
- why now, more than ever, is the most important time to pay attention to your existing customers;
- how coronavirus is impacting digital marketing.
The best way to grow any business, it doesn’t matter what kind of business it is, the best way to grow any business is for your customers to do that growing for you. (04:35)
If you want your customers to tell their friends about you and you do, you got to give them a story to tell. And that story is a talk trigger. (06:02)
A talk trigger is that is an operational choice that you make that is designed to create conversations. (06:13)
The talk trigger has to be something that people don’t expect because the more they expect it, the less talkable it is. (06:33)
If the premise of a talk trigger is to maximize the conversational power of your customers, and it is, then you want to make sure that all of your customers have access to it. (10:17)
When you give somebody an experience that is too grand, too grand, it actually doesn’t create conversation, it stops the conversation because it breeds suspicion. So your talk trigger needs to be something different enough to be Remarkable, but Realistic enough to be trusted. (11:23)
Where your content marketing comes in is your content then supports the talk trigger, right? So, so you use content to draw attention to it, to support it. (13:38)
Make your marketing as much as possible about people and two make your marketing as specific and relevant and useful as you possibly can. (21:19)
The people who succeed in the next two years are the people who have a greater understanding of customers and can create content, products, services that those customers truly need. (26:10)
If you can start with video, that will allow your content program to be much more efficient. It’s not always possible of course, and by no means am I suggesting that video per se is the only or in some cases even the best format. It’s just from a content production standpoint if you start with video that gives you the raw materials to do a lot of other things, it’s difficult to do it the other way around. (27:58)
Connect with Jay Baer
Ep. 39: How to Turn Your Customers into Volunteer Marketers with Jay Baer
People take it for granted. They just assume that competency will create conversation. They assume that if you just run a good business, people will notice that and talk about it. But that's not actually the way people behave. Make sense on paper, but it doesn't make sense in real world. Nobody ever says, Hey, let me tell you about this experience I just had. It was a perfectly adequate, right? Nobody ever says that. It's like it's not a good story, right? There's no story there. And so if you want your customers to tell their friends about you and you do, you got to give them a story to tell. And that story is a talk trigger. So how we define a talk trigger is that is an operational choice that you make that is designed to create conversations.
That was Jay Baer, and in this episode he shares how to create talk triggers that will turn your customers into volunteer marketers who will grow your business for you. Jay is a hall of fame speaker, a New York times bestselling author, and the most inspirational expert on marketing, customer experience and customer service. Jay is also the president of Convince and Convert, a consulting firm that works with the world's most iconic brands like the United nations, 3M and Hilton to gain and keep more customers. If you're looking to clone your customers and create a customer experience that keeps them coming back for more, you'll definitely want to stick around for the rest of this episode. So let's jump in.
You're listening to the Content Heroes podcast where entrepreneurs, marketers, and creatives share how they build profitable businesses on their own terms by creating content online. And now your host, Josiah Goff.
Welcome to Content Heroes, everyone. I'm here with Jay Baer who is the Founder of Convince and Convert, and author of six books including Talk Triggers and Hug Your Haters. Jay, I'm super pumped for our conversation today. Thanks so much for being on the show.
I'm fired up to be here. Thanks for being a hero.
Awesome. So I definitely want to dig into your most recent book Talk Triggers and how to turn your customers into volunteer marketers. But before we do that, can we dig into your origin story and share with us the journey that's taken you to where you are?
Yeah, it's a little bit meandering, perhaps. I started iin politics. I was a political campaign consultant. That was my first career. Did that for a little bit and then got into what we would now consider to be traditional marketing. In fact, I was the spokesman for a state agency when I was just 24 years old or something. I was the spokesperson for the Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections. So my job was to give tours of the juvenile prison among other things, which was super sweet and I decided I didn't want to do that any longer. I ended up joining an internet company that was owned by some friends of mine from college in 1993. So they did dial up internet access and very, very, very early web design. So early that when I started at this company, domain names were free. You could just get any domain name that you wanted because why would you even want a website? Like, why would you pay for that? And that same year, my partners and I in that company sold Budweiser.com to Anheuser-Busch Brewing for 50 cases of beer. And we were like, dude, we got a great deal. Like we totally killed it. And so it was a long time man. So since then, so that's 27 years ago, I've been involved in digital marketing and customer experience ever since. I've had a series of consulting firms over the years. My current firm Convince and Convert was founded in 2008. And we work with lots of big brands helping them get better at content marketing and social, and customer experience. And I spend a lot of my time or I did when we still did these things, traveling around and giving presentations at conferences and to corporate events. But that's a little bit on pause at least as we are recording this.
Awesome. So let's dig into your book Talk Triggers. What I love about this book is, you know, when most people are focusing on they're top of funnel and you know, setting up all this awareness campaigns and really focusing on their online presence, what this book focuses on is creating such compelling customer experiences that your customers actually market for you. Can you share with us big themes in the book?
The observation was that the best way to grow any business, it doesn't matter what kind of business it is, the best way to grow any business is for your customers to do that growing for you. And one of the things that we've also observed is that many of the most successful companies in the world advertise the least because their customers do that for them. The customers are the sales and marketing department, at least at some level. And I think everybody knows that word of mouth is important. It's pretty rare that a business person says, nah, Jay, we don't really care about word of mouth. That doesn't matter. Everybody knows it's important, but nobody actually organizes their business as if it was important. In fact the numbers show that fewer than 1% of all companies have an actual word of mouth strategy, which is amazing considering how important word of mouth is. And that's because people take it for granted. They just assume that competency will create conversation. They assume that if you just run a good business, people will notice that and talk about it. But that's not actually the way people behave. Makes sense on paper. But it doesn't make sense in real world. Nobody ever says, Hey, let me tell you about this experience I just had. It was a, perfectly adequate, right? Nobody ever says that. It's like it's not a good story. Right? There's no story there. And so if you want your customers to tell their friends about you and you do, you got to give them a story to tell. And that story is a talk trigger. So how we define a talk trigger is that is an operational choice that you make that is designed to create conversations. Right? So if you're a restaurant and the talk trigger isn't our food is good, cause guess what? Most restaurants food is good, which is why they're still in business. And good food is what they paid you to do. Right? The talk trigger has to be something that people don't expect because the more they expect it, the less talkable it is.
I love that. Can we dig into how to go about forming, like figuring out what these talk triggers are?
It's an important point because how most people want to do it, it's like, yeah, Jay's right. We need a differentiator. We need a talk trigger. So what we're going to do is we're going to get in the conference room and we're going to get some pizza and we're not leaving until we come up with a good idea. It's like, well, yeah, but if it was that easy, you'd already have one. Right? So there's a fairly significant methodology that we've developed that we use in our consulting firm and have in the book as well. If you go to TalkTriggers.com you can download the six step process. I won't get into the whole process here because it gets a little granular. But one of the keys to understand is that there are four requirements of a talk trigger. Four things that must be true for your differentiator to successfully create word of mouth every day, week, month, quarter and year. And that ongoing nature is really important because I'm not talking about viral marketing, I'm not talking about a PR stunt, I'm not talking about this thing that you did this one time that everybody talked about and then that was the end of it. When you have a talk trigger, it can work forever. So for example, have you ever been to a Cheesecake Factory restaurant?
So the Cheesecake Factory restaurant makes all the food. Their menu is almost 7,000 words long. Now, the book Talk Triggers is like 45,000 words long. Right? So it's like 20% of a whole book. They make a chicken. This is true. I actually looked this up. They make chicken, I think it's 65 different ways. Right? That's absurd. Like that's, they're like inventing ways to make chicken. And if you go on social Twitter, Instagram, what have you, and do a search for Cheesecake Factory plus menu, you will see dozens, hundreds, maybe even thousands of online word of mouth mentions of the size of the menu. That is an operational choice. That is their talk trigger and it works for them every day, right? That's one of the things that people know to be true about Cheesecake Factory. And that's kind of the story that people tell. And that's the first of the R, the first of the four R is that you have to be remarkable. And that's in the true definition of that word, which is worthy of remark, a story worth telling. Right? If it's something that everybody expects or they've seen it all before, then I can tell a story about it. Right. I would never say, Hey, guess what? I went in the corner and there's a light switch there. Right? And I flicked the switch and the lights went off. Right? I wouldn't tell that story cause that's how electricity works. And everybody knows that. So there is no story there. So the first thing that your talk trigger has to be is Remarkable, a story worth telling. The second thing that you have to have is a differentiator that is Repeatable. And what we mean by that is the tendency amongst a lot of marketers is to say, oh, we're trying to create conversation, we're going to do a thing. So what we're going to do is set up something where our best customers or our biggest customers or our newest customers get this special deal and then they'll talk about it and it'll go viral or whatever that, this is like when somebody checks into a hotel and there's like a koala bear in their room right now. Like, Oh my God, there's a koala bear here. That guy like puts it on Instagram and then like goes on Reddit and then you know, NBC calls or whatever like that might work, right? Or you might just have like an invoice for koala rental and that's it. If the premise of a talk trigger is to maximize the conversational power of your customers, and it is, then you want to make sure that all of your customers have access to it, right? So it's not like if you go to Cheesecake Factory only some people get a giant menu. Everybody gets a giant menu. If you go to DoubleTree hotels, everybody gets a chocolate chip cookie when they check in. Not only if you're in the Hilton honors rewards program, everybody every time, right? So repeatability is a big part of the talk triggers formula. That's the second R - Remarkable, Repeatable. The third one is that it needs to be or really should be Reasonable. And what I mean by that is, again, the tendency for a lot of marketers if they're trying to create conversation, is to shock and awe people is to say, all right, look, here's what we're going to do guys. Everybody's going to put their name in a fishbowl. We're gonna draw one out, and somebody's going to win a Caribbean Island or some crap like that, right? And you're like, wait a second. These guys don't have an Island to give away. As it turns out, and this is a little bit counterintuitive, when you give somebody an experience that is too grand, too grand, it actually doesn't create conversation, it stops the conversation because it breeds suspicion. So your talk trigger needs to be something different enough to be Remarkable, but Realistic enough to be trusted. Yeah. Thread that needle. DoubleTree is a good example, right? They give out 75,000 cookies a day. The cookie is, their Talk Trigger, it's incredibly successful. They did it for 30 years. It's a lot of cookies, but it's just a cookie, right? It's not, we're going to give you the hotel. We're going to buy you a Bentley, right? It's a cookie. It doesn't have to be giant. And the fourth thing is that the talk trigger needs to be Relevant wherever possible. It should make sense in the context of who you are and what you're about. So there's a locksmith in New York city. He's the number one rated locksmith in New York. Highest Yelp reviews, tons of word of mouth, crushing it. When he goes to your apartment, your business, whatever, and re-keys it, or does locksmith things, before he leaves he does a complete security audit of the premises, checks every door, every window and says, you know, you might think about changing this. This could be forced entry, etc. Does all of that for free, right? Locksmith security audit. Okay. DoubleTree Hotels. It has a chocolate chip cookie, which may not make sense on the surface, but their brand positioning is the warm welcome. They want to be really, really good at the checking process of the hotel and sort of warm cookie. Warm welcome. Makes sense. But if you reverse those, it wouldn't make sense. Right? So what if the locksmith comes to your house and he's like, Hey, yeah, thanks for having me. You know, I finished the locks before I go. Would you like a warm chocolate chip cookie that I baked in my locksmith van? Like, no, dude, I don't want that at all. And it's totally freaking me out. Right? So a talk trigger isn't about creating conversations because it's shocking or bizarre or wacky or weird. It's about being unexpected but still being Relevant. And that's the fourth R. So it's Remarkable, Repeatable, Reasonable, and Relevant. Those are the four things that must be true. And in the book we've got dozens and dozens of case studies in different industries of of how to make that work. And then where your content marketing comes in is your content then supports the talk trigger, right? So you use content to draw attention to it, to support it. DoubleTree, for example, has an annual cookbook of cookie recipes that are created by their executive chefs, that kind of thing.
That's fantastic. I'm curious, the examples that you gave are more brick and mortar businesses. I'm curious what you've seen from online businesses, how they implement this.
There's tons actually. One of my favorites is Moosejaw. If you know that brand, they're an eCommerce company. They specialize in outdoor gear, so they're kind of like an REI, I guess would be their closest kind of product category competitor. But their talk trigger is actually one that's a little bit difficult to do for a lot of brands. It's talkable attitude and that's what you're a little bit where you are a little bit wacky, weird, funny, irreverent and they are amazing. The funniest website copy, the funniest email shipping confirmation emails. The funniest live chat. I mean it is hilarious. Every single thing they do is super duper funny and that is the talk trigger, right? So yeah, they'll sell you a sleeping bag but so a lot of other people, but no one else is going to sell you a sleeping bag and you're laughing the whole time. The other one that I love from an online business is UberConference. Do you know those guys?
Free phone calls over the internet, VOIP kind of stuff. There are so many companies that do that. The exact same product, like exactly the same - free call on the internet, whatever. Like you're not going to outprice them. It's already free. But their differentiator is the on-hold music. So if you show up to an UberConference call first, they have this hilarious on-hold music, which is actually a song written by their CEO and performed by the CEO about a guy who shows up for a conference call and then he's like, where's everybody? This sucks. And then he leaves and everyone else shows up. Like the thing that everybody's used to, it's such a good song that actually touring rock bands have covered it like in concert. Right. And that is they're talk trigger. And if you go to Twitter or G2 Crowd or any of those kinds of places and you need to do a search for UberConference plus on hold, you'll see massive word of mouth and like, and this happens like every day. I mean it's like, yeah, the service is fine, but the only reason I use UberConference is because the on hold music is so fun. Right. It just shows the power of word of mouth.
I think they can let you customize it too, because I've also been on calls where I got RickRoll'd...
So good. Yeah, they added that relatively recently. So yeah, you get, you get the standard song, which is hilarious from Alex Cornell. But then yeah, now you can upload your own, I've not heard anybody, RickRolling somebody at UberConference, but I love that idea and I'm going to put it into practice 10 minutes from now.
So once you've kind of got your talk triggers in place, you mentioned your content marketing supports that, it kind of amplifies that. I imagine that there's gotta be a balance there though, right? Like how do you go about that in a way that feels organic and doesn't feel like you're just, you know, you're forcing it.
Yeah, it's a really great point and I can't give you a specific answer on that because it is a balancing act for this reason. I've said that the talk trigger has to be unexpected to be talkable. And if you lay it on too thick with the content marketing, it's no longer unexpected. Right? If you make it the star of all of your marketing, then like, yeah, I knew that was going to happen cause I already read like the ebook about it or whatever. Right. So you want to do enough content where it's sort of a nudge, a reminder, an amplification of the differentiator. But you can't steal the thunder from the differentiator. So I'll give you an example again from DoubleTree. DoubleTree, every once in a while we'll do some social media about the cookie when they get the new cookbook out, or every once in a while they'll retweet somebody who was saying he has the best cookie in the world, whatever. But one of the things they do, which isn't really content marketing, but it gives you a sense of kind of this balancing act. Every single shuttle, airport shuttle that DoubleTree has in the world is vinyl wrapped. And it has a big cookie on the actual shuttle, right? So there's not even any copy. It's not even like, come here, get a free cookie. It just says DoubleTree suites, you know, Tulsa or wherever you are. But on the back it just has a cookie. It's just a little reminder, right? Just a little nudge like, Oh yeah, this is our thing. And you can experiment with it and see how far you can push it. But it really is a supporting mechanism to sort of connect the dots with customers and prospects psychologically without giving it away. Does that make sense?
But you got to feel your own way with that. Right? You got it. Grope around in the dark and kind of find your own balance depending on the company and what the talk trigger is. Some talk triggers are easier to illustrate from afar as well or explained and others are really have to be experienced. UberConference is a good example. Like they don't talk about it, hardly ever, if ever in their marketing because what are you going to say use us our on-hold music is funny. That just sounds stupid, right? Like until you hear how funny it is and you actually experience it, you're like, Oh that is genius. But if I told you, Hey, use our conference call service because our on hold music is funny. You're like, dude, shut up. That's stupid. Right? So sometimes you kind of have to experience it first and you can't tell them about it. Right. Cheesecake Factory, the same thing. They never talk about the size of the menu in their own promotions, but they probably should at some level because you can't find something you like a Cheesecake Factory, you don't like food. It's the best place ever for picky eaters. Cause it's like you'll be fine. There'll be something. Worst place ever to be a waiter because you're like, Hey you guys ready to order? No. Like totally not ready to order. Give me another hour.
Yeah. When you asked me earlier if I'd ever been there, I very hesitantly said yes. It was like a little too many trips to Cheesecake Factory.
It's good. It's good.
So Jay, I'm curious from your perspective where you feel like digital marketing and this whole conversation is headed into the future, especially given the current events. And I know there's a lot that's unknown right now with the, you know, coronavirus crisis and all that, but what should we be paying attention to over the next, you know, couple of years.
I don't know that anything virus related changes the existing trajectory of changes in what works in marketing. And I think it's kind of two things. One, relevancy is the killer app, right? People don't have time to waste. They don't want to go down a rabbit hole for something that doesn't actually benefit them. So the more that you can hyper-customize and personalize your content, whether that's through AI and machine learning or just by saying, Hey, we're going to make a podcast or any other type of content for a very specific audience and it's okay, we want it to be the best possible podcast for a thousand people instead of an okay podcast for 10,000 people, that sort of specificity and relevancy is very much the trend. And I don't think that's going to abate. And the second piece it is that we trust each other more than ever and we trust businesses and organizations less than ever, which again, really emphasizes the importance of word of mouth. If I tell you to go to a restaurant, you're more likely to go than if you see an ad for that restaurant period. That's just the truth. And that's also fueling the rise of influencer marketing and how real people, even if they are "influencers", have the ability to drive behavior change and change in thinking disproportionate to organizations themselves. And so we'll see more and more of that in the periods to come. So I would say two things. One, make your marketing as much as possible about people and two make your marketing as specific and relevant and useful as you possibly can.
That was fantastic. So Jay, I'm also really curious to get your thoughts on, as a customer experience expert, one of the things that that I've seen is because working with online content creators, I think that because there isn't that physical interaction...
...the customer experience, the customer interchange or exchange gets knocked down the priority list, it's not top of mind nearly as much. So there isn't nearly as much of a focus on the customer experience.
Yeah, it's totally true. When the, when the customer is not standing in front of you, it's easier to sort of ignore the customer, right? You're just sorta like, yeah, it's, it's out of sight, out of mind. It's hard to measure. It's incredible how little attention people pay to existing customers. I gotta tell you like we're in an economy right now and for who knows how long, that's probably not going to be the best. And I've been telling all of my clients like the number one thing you got to do right now is stop worrying about new clients and instead make sure you never lose a client because if you start getting into a churn situation where people are leaving and you gotta refill those people, man, it's going to be really hard to get ahead. And so I think just categorically there is way, way, way too little attention paid in businesses of all kinds online, offline to retention and probably disproportionately attention and resources devoted to acquisition. And that's just as true on the content side. Like if you think about your content creation and where that content creation is targeted in a funnel, it is almost entirely, you've got tons of stuff, top of funnel, some stuff, mid-funnel, a little bit of stuff, low funnel and like a microscopic amount of stuff post-purchase. There's so little content created to ratify the purchase decision of your existing clients and to convince them that they should keep buying from you and, or tell their friends about you. And so it's one of the things I really encourage folks to think about right now is what content can you create that convinces your current customers that they made a great decision when they hired you and then they should keep doing so. We actually do a lot of what we call customer marketing at Convince and Convert for our clients where we interview our clients, customers and then put together eBooks, webinars, and video series. You know, almost like a very complicated set of testimonials and case studies to continue to ratify and reiterate that their customers have made a good decision. It's something that is easy to overlook when times are good, you're like, ah, if we lose a customer, man, we'll just get another one so easily. We'll just run some more Facebook ads and we'll get some more customers. But yeah, man, it's not going to be as easy as it once was. So I would put some additional emphasis on making sure people aren't leaving the back door.
Man, that's great advice. Like how do you typically recommend people approach that content? I think because there's so little emphasis put on it, a lot of people when they go to start, they're like, I don't even know how to go about this because it is different than the top of funnel stuff.
Yeah, I think it's the same way that you would go about mid or low funnel content creation and it really should be based on customer questions. And maybe you actually have the actual questions written down or in your head, but if not, you can model this exercise fairly simply. Just grab a piece of paper and say, all right, if somebody has hired you or paid you or bought from you or whatever, what questions do they have right now about whether that was a good decision? What questions do they have about how easy would it be to cancel? Or maybe I should cancel? What questions would they need to have successfully answered in order to repurchase and just methodically create content that answers those questions. You just have to understand what is in people's heads. And then the best way to create content, and I talked about this a lot in my book, Hug Your Haters, is to create content that answers questions before people think to ask them. And so you just have to put yourself in their shoes and say, all right, if I had bought from me and I was trying to trim expenses and I was like, maybe I could stop pay on this person for this thing or whatever, what would I need to know to say, Nope, that is an essential expense. And then how do you create content to sort of drive that point home?
Oh that's great. I love that.
And one of the things you can do in that regard if you haven't just talk to your customers. Right. And it's one of the challenges I think with online businesses in particular is that, you know, the customer is just an email address, but there are a lot more than that, right? They've got fears and kids and challenges and worries just like everybody else. And so if you haven't spent time recently or ever on the telephone with your customers or a zoom call or whatever, now's the time to do it because the people who succeed in the next two years, and I believe this wholeheartedly are the people who have a greater understanding of customers and can create content, products, services that those customers truly need. And that's all about customer understanding and frankly, empathy for the customer. And so this is not the time to not know everything about your customers. And if you don't do this, I would say, look, I'm going to make a commitment starting today. Talk to three customers a day, right? Put it on your calendar, three customer calls a day, and you'll be amazed what you learn and you'll be amazed at what a better business person you are as a result.
Man, that's fantastic. So Jay, I'm also curious about where we should focus. Like what format should we be focusing on creating content?
It's interesting. Every time I see the new stats, I think, well there's no way that video consumption can get larger because so much of content is video already. And then every time the data comes out it's even more, which is truly remarkable. And now you see even things that didn't use to be video-driven are now video-driven and what we always tell our clients is, you might as well make a video because if you have a video, you have audio, you just take that audio track out. And if you have a video, you have texts, just transcribe it and clean it up. So if you can, if there's any reason that you possibly can, try to start with video and then down sample to other content formats. Because if you have, if you start with an ebook and then you gotta turn it into a video, how's that going to work? Exactly. You're going to do a video of somebody reading the ebook, although that would be kind of fun. Fireside chat of your CEO reading the ebook. I kinda like that idea actually.
Actually take a video of it printing off first and then.
Exactly. Exactly. Yeah, so I think ultimately if you can start with video that will allow your content program to be much more efficient. It's not always possible of course, and by no means am I suggesting that video per se is the only or in some cases even the best format. It's just from a content production standpoint, if you start with video that gives you the raw materials to do a lot of other things, it's difficult to do it the other way around.
Yeah, I totally agree with that. Well, Jay, this has been fantastic. I really appreciate you being on the show today. Before we hop off here, can you share with everybody where they can connect with you online?
You bet. Best place to find all of our stuff is at ConvinceandConvert.com - we have more than 3000 articles for content marketers, managers, business owners, etc. Also, my main podcast is Social Pros, all about big company, social media marketing. As I mentioned earlier in the show, the website for the book is TalkTriggers.com lots of stuff there about how to build a word of mouth strategy for yourself and your business.
Fantastic, and we'll make sure all of that's linked up in the show notes. Thanks again, Jay, and to everybody out there listening, go be a hero. Hey everyone, thank you for listening to the Content Heroes podcast. I just wanted to take a second and let you know that we have some amazing guests planned for the coming weeks, so if you haven't already, go ahead and hit subscribe so you can make sure to catch every episode. And if you enjoy today's episode, go ahead and leave a five star review to help make it easier for other content creators to find and enjoy the show. Lastly, I'd like to invite you to join our Content Heroes Facebook community where you can connect with other online content creators to share, learn, grow, and have fun. To join the group, just visit contentheroes.com/facebook. Once again, that is contentheroes.com/facebook.
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