The Lead Machine – Book Interview

Heidi Cohen Interviews Rich Brooks

New book: The Lead Machine: The Small Business Guide to Digital Marketing

The Lead Machine

Q: What’s your best piece of advice for readers looking to improve their marketing?

Once you’ve set up your website, your next—and most important task—is to start building your opt-in email list. Email marketing is the digital backbone to all your marketing.

Too many businesses get seduced by social media. Not that tools like Facebook and SnapChat can’t be important marketing channels, but it’s difficult to drive traffic and sales from those channels unless you’re willing to spend money. Social media is great for networking and building trust, but if you want to make sales and grow your business, build your email list with qualified prospects and customers.

A great quote comes from Bryan Eisenberg: Social is for reach, but email is for revenue.

Q: What was the inspiration for The Lead Machine?

I’ve been running a digital agency for 20 years and have worked with hundreds of different companies and organizations in that time. Each one says they’re unique, their industry is unique, and their challenges are unique.

And you know what? They’re right!

However, in that time, working with all these companies, I’ve recognized their individuality, but I’ve also seen the things that bind them together. Each one requires leads to survive. I’ve also seen a pattern, or framework, that can help each one reach their goals.

Q: What is the key concept behind The Lead Machine?

Writing the book really helped me solidify that framework I mentioned earlier. I call it The BARE Essentials of Digital Marketing. BARE is an acronym, and it stands for Build, Attract, Retain, and Evaluate. To succeed in digital marketing, you need to pay attention to each.

BAREBuild is all about building an effective website that turns visitors into customers. There’s so much that goes into this: the photos, using just one “action color”, writing persuasive copy, limiting choices and distractions…the list goes on.

Attract is about driving qualified traffic to the site in the first place. From a digital perspective, the best options are search, social media, and digital ads. My experience is that these days search and digital ads drive the most qualified traffic, while social media is best for brand recognition and building trust.

Retain is about staying in touch with people after they’ve left your site. Getting people to opt into your email list is the biggest priority here, followed by retargeting ads.

Evaluate is about answering the question: is any of this working? Using tools like Google Analytics, and the reports that come with most social media platforms and your email service provider. That should give you good insights into where you can improve your performance and get better results.

Q: What do you want readers to take away from your book

My goal is to have people feel more confident that digital marketing isn’t some sort of dark magic. That by approaching it with the BARE Essentials framework that people can take control over their online presence, drive more traffic to their website, convert more visitors into leads, and grow their business.

Q: How do you describe yourself professionally?

That’s a tough question, because the elevators in Maine don’t go very high.

My day job is as president of flyte new media, a digital agency I started 20 years ago. We design websites and offer digital marketing services to business and organizations across the US.

I’m also the founder of The Agents of Change, an organization dedicated to helping small business owners, entrepreneurs, and marketers reach more of their ideal customers through search, social, and mobile marketing. We have an annual conference each September in Maine that we also offer through a live stream and on demand video.

Q: What are 1-3 books that inspired your work/career?

  • Permission Marketing by Seth Godin. It completely changed the way I looked at marketing and how to reach and engage people.
  • Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Dr. Robert Cialdini. His “six weapons of influence” is an amazing framework to understand people and how you can get them to take action…for good or evil.

Q: What is the biggest challenge that you’ve had to overcome?

Delegation. For a long time I felt that I needed to do everything and be the best at everything at my company. Working with a business coach made me realize that I should be hiring people better than me for every task and then encouraging them to take ownership of what they do.

It’s still a struggle, because I have a vision of how I want things to look and work that come out of our offices, but I realize that I have hired an amazing team and I just need to get out of their way and let them work.

Q: What’s something unusual or fun that most people don’t know about you?

I’m a huge Spider-Man fan. HUGE. Ever since I was a little kid, I looked up to the friendly neighborhood wall-crawler and his alter ego, Peter Parker. “With great power comes great responsibility,” is one of my favorite quotes of all time.

I’ve got about 25 pieces of Spider-Man paraphernalia in my office, from Hot Wheels cars to lamps to wall hangings.

Q: Is there a piece of marketing content that you’re particularly proud of?

Actually, the one that springs to mind is one I did for the Agents of Change conference last year. Because of our “agents,” I wanted to do something around spies, cryptography, and puzzle solving.

To that end, I created a series of rebuses whose answers were related to digital marketing. We published them weekly with the puzzle only. We pushed them out through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn, mostly. However, we didn’t publish the answers.

To get the answers you had to click through to our website, at which point we were able to drop a retargeting cookie on you and follow you around the web with advertisements about the conference.


Contact information

Thanks, Rich.

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies.
You can find Heidi on , Facebook and .