Lori Saitz of Zen Rabbit talks about her transformation from being a shy entrepreneur to a powerful speaker and network strategist and shares her tips on how introverts can feel more comfortable starting conversations and connecting at networking events.
Lori Saitz, Founder of Zen Rabbit
Throughout her school years, Lori Saitz’s report cards said, “Lori is very bright, but she needs to speak up in class.” Fast forward to 2003, when she launched Zen Rabbit Baking Company and introduced the world to The Gratitude Cookie. In order to build that company, she had to learn how to “speak up” and talk to strangers so she could network effectively and find clients and strategic partners.
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Jesse Stoddard: 00:03 All right, I’ve got Lori Saitz on the line with me today. I’m really excited Lori to have you. I know that you’re a busy person. You’ve got a lot that’s going on. And thank you for being here today.
Lori Saitz: 00:15 My pleasure. Thanks for having me.
Speaker 2: 00:20 Excellent. I’ll have you fill in the gaps of the introduction I gave for you Lori if you could share what I call your hero’s journey or something like that, at least the cliff notes and tell us a little bit about how you got started and I’m sure you weren’t always successful. Maybe you could share a challenge and then how you overcame that. And I would love to hear more about it.
Lori Saitz: 00:43 I was always the shy kid in school like all my report cards would say “Lori is very bright but she needs to learn how to speak up in class.” So when I got out into the business world,
Lori Saitz: 00:59 I don’t want to say it was challenging, it was anxiety producing and to go and talk to people. I did business and once I actually started my first business in 2003 and I had to go find my own clients and strategic partners who could help me in building that business. That’s when I really had to learn how to be better at networking and starting conversations with people I didn’t know. And so it’s kind of a trial and error thing of going out there and leaving some networking events like, “oh, I didn’t talk to anybody” and leaving somewhere, “yeah I had some good conversations.” So, it was that overcoming the fear of talking to people you don’t know what to build.
Jesse Stoddard: 02:05 What were some of those challenges that you feel like – it sounds like everybody has those challenges, right? Networking is a tough thing.
Lori Saitz: 02:17 It doesn’t look like everybody has those challenges when you’re out at networking events. It looks like everyone else is doing fine talking to people except for, you. I think that’s some people are naturally more outgoing, gregarious, feel more comfortable in unfamiliar situations. And so I think for those of us who like myself, who are more I’d call them “quiet people”, it’s more difficult and so it’s a matter of figuring out where to go, how to do it better, because, and the reason this is so important in marketing is, yeah, sure, we live in a time now where you can do everything online, but I really believe that it’s so important to still have face to face conversations with people and to build interpersonal relationships that you can’t get any other way. Like humans are still wired to connect inter-personally. And that’s why this is so important.
Jesse Stoddard: 03:28 What was the one thing that made the difference for you related to marketing and networking? How did you overcome those issues?
Lori Saitz: 03:37 I think it was just a matter of building confidence, going out and doing and doing it more. And going back to some of the events, you know, you go once or twice, you don’t know anybody, you go three, four or five times. Now you’re seeing people that you met last time. And so now you become one of those people that the first time you were there and you were looking into the room and everybody’s hanging out with what looks like they’re best friends. Now they’re becoming your friends too because you’ve been there several times. It’s that. And it’s also preparing ahead of time, which I didn’t know in the beginning. Like there are things you can do before you get to an event to help you feel more comfortable once you’re there.
Jesse Stoddard: 04:20 Well, and who are your marketing mentors? I’m sure you learn from some others, right?
Lori Saitz: 04:32 Not so much the personal face to face networking part. That was kind of more trial and error, which is why I love helping people with that now. I’ve always loved direct marketing. Like that’s my thing. Came out of college wanting to be a copywriter and it didn’t happen exactly that way, but I do consider myself a copywriter then and even better now. So my direct marketing mentors are the greats like Dan Kennedy and Bill Glazer, Ali Brown. Actually, it was through Ali that I met Dan and Bill, Jeffrey Gitomer, I’m part of Frank Kern Inner Circle now. And then people that have worked with at previous jobs before I started my own company when I was working for other people like Steve Winter and Kenny Freed that owned a marketing communications agency where I worked and somebody I consider a mentor, Franz Birkins, just people who were my bosses or mentors throughout my career.
Jesse Stoddard: 05:43 What is marketing to you? You know, if you had to come up with a working definition?
Lori Saitz: 05:50 It’s everything that goes into presenting a product or a service. So it’s brand, it’s the image, it’s the packaging, it’s the words and the images that you use, the customer service. It’s the whole customer experience.
Jesse Stoddard: 06:14 What’s the difference between marketing and sales to you?
Lori Saitz: 06:19 They’re really closely linked and people a lot of times think they’re interchangeable. I don’t necessarily think they’re interchangeable because I see sales as the kind of the transaction part, the exchange of the money and marketing is everything that comes before and after that.
Jesse Stoddard: 06:44 Now I want to talk about high-level subjects. So basically, what does it take to create a great marketing strategy and what I’m going to do just to make this simpler because I’m also going to ask you about planning, but when I say planning, I mean more specifics, right? So let’s stay broad for a second. What do you think it takes to create a really great marketing strategy?
Lori Saitz: 07:06 It takes a clear understanding of what problem you’re solving and for whom, what value are you bringing to the marketplace?
Jesse Stoddard: 07:21 Can you give an example of that?
Lori Saitz: 07:27 Well, anybody who is offering a product or service. So, so again, going back to the networking thing, one of the first questions you get when you’re out at a networking event is what, what do you do? It’s not the best question, but everybody’s been trained to ask it. So what somebody is asking when they’re asking that question essentially is, what problem do you solve? What, what are you, what are you, what’s the value you’re offering and for whom? So if you can say – so an example, I was at a networking event a few months ago and talking to a woman who sold skincare products and I asked her who her ideal client is and she said anyone with skin. So no, that’s not good – like that doesn’t tell me what problem you solve or really for whom, because everybody is not a market.
Lori Saitz: 08:33 It’s a matter of refining how you look at what you do. So if you have a restaurant, what problem are you solving? Are you serving lunch? Are you serving breakfast? Do you serve dinner? Is it specific? Do you serve people who liked Mexican food? What’s the problem? Well, people are hungry. So I give them a place to eat. It can be really simple, but you have to make it simple like it’s not necessarily easy to make it simple for people to understand what problem you solve. And when you talk about ideal – who your ideal customer is, that’s who needs a solution to this problem that you have a solution for.
Jesse Stoddard: 09:28 That’s good. I love that. Especially the target market that’s important and kind of blends into the unique selling proposition to write those concepts.
Lori Saitz: 09:39 And then it means taking it a step further. So after you figured out what the value is that you bring to the marketplace, then it takes putting your message into the right words to capture the attention of those people who can benefit from your offerings and in making sure you’re serving it up in the right places so that they can see it and find it. And you know, and then since I already mentioned that, I think marketing encompasses the entire customer experience that would go a step further and include delivering on your promise all the way through.
Jesse Stoddard: 10:11 You may have already answered it, but if you want to say anything else about this, I was going to ask you what you. What does it take to put together the ultimate marketing plan? So if someone, a client of yours came up, said, I need a really good plan, I want to grow my business, what would you tell them?
Lori Saitz: 10:27 It starts with what do you have to offer? Who needs it? Who has this problem that you can solve and why does solving this problem matter to them? Not why does it matter to you? Why does it matter to them and then how do you find them and what exactly do you say to them once you find them. What are the words they need to hear, not just what you want to say? What do they need to hear to be able to understand that you have a solution? Then it’s a matter of building trust, helping them see that you understand how they feel or what they’re struggling with or why they might be afraid to move forward. And how are you the best person or the right person or the right company? How are you trustworthy enough to provide that answer to their challenge to help them with their problem.
Jesse Stoddard: 11:25 So I would love to hear some examples, maybe your best or favorite examples of great marketing strategies that you’ve used.
Lori Saitz: 11:33 Yeah, well again, I love direct marketing so we’re seeing a lot more direct marketing being done electronically now. But I’m still a fan of the old school shows up in your mailbox. So I still love that and I think that works. Make them better now because so few companies and people are doing it. So you’re not competing with a whole lot of stuff in the mailbox. There may be some bills and some crappy newspaper clipper things. So something that’s more interesting. So when I was running my baking company The Zen Rabbit baking company, the first company I started, I sent out a monthly newsletter in the mail, not electronic, in the mail. And people love that newsletter because one because it was different. It was a hard copy and two because it was fun and it provided interesting articles and give people some insight into who I am and get me back to that building trust, allow people to get to know me and my company and I was able to share my personality a bit and, and I remember there was a column in there written by one of my cats each month that alternated between the two cats.
Speaker 1: 13:14 It was fun, people look forward to getting it and people would always come up to me at events and stuff and be like, “I love your newsletter. I just got it. Or I shared it with my friend”. And so that was the other thing is it was something that they can hold in their hand and pass around to friends and to share or take it with them and read it while they’re sitting, wherever. I mean it was kind of – phones weren’t, you didn’t have everything on your phone at the time. But even then like it’s kind of nice to have a hard copy of something that you don’t have to read on your phone.
Jesse Stoddard: 13:54 Did you wrote it? Did you get help with the printing? I’m curious just to hear a little bit about the logistics of that if you don’t mind.
Lori Saitz: 14:01 So I would write the articles. In hindsight, it would’ve been a good idea to have like a virtual assistant or some kind of assistant to do the dropping them into the design. But I did that part myself too because I could, and then I would send it off to a print and mail company and they would print it and mail it for me.
Jesse Stoddard: 14:25 You make it sound easy. I’m sure there’s some work involved, but how does – it sound like it took you that long?
Lori Saitz: 14:44 It was four pages. An eight and a half or an eleven and a half. So it wasn’t a lot. And I would kind of be looking for articles, it’s a matter of optimizing the stuff you have. So maybe one of the articles would be modified if a blog post that I posted earlier because not everybody would see that or I would just go find like little interesting tidbits and stuff. I guess partly it was somewhat easy because I do love writing, but that’s another thing. I mean, you know, most writers don’t necessarily love the writing per se. They like having written. I have written this, I feel good about having done it. I don’t feel good when I’m in there doing it.
Jesse Stoddard: 15:28 Yesterday I interviewed Shaun Buck from The Newsletter Pro. They do newsletters for companies. So it’s interesting. A physical newsletter. Interesting that you’re bringing that up. It’s a great technique. Is there a technology that you recommend or any like tools or gadgets or software or apps that you like and recommend.
Lori Saitz: 15:50 Yeah, I was gonna I’m gonna throw out that I just kind of started using. Hopefully, I’ll be able to stick with it. And be a little more consistent, I’m sure you’ve heard. Have you heard of the Pomodoro Technique?
Jesse Stoddard: 16:03 I have, yeah. I don’t know much about it but I’ve heard of it.
Lori Saitz: 16:09 I found this one app site, whatever it is, it’s called to me, I think it’s called Tomato Timer and it’s just a really simple one and so you can set it for 25 minutes and you do your work for 25 minutes and alarm goes off. Then you can choose if you want to have five or 10 minutes of a break and then you go back. And so it kind of keeps me focused because I have an issue with that, staying focused. If I can just stay on track with that. But other than that, the bigger thing that I highly recommend is using a CRM system, if people aren’t familiar with CRM is a contact relationship management. I think that’s what it was called, a CRM, customer relationship, whatever it is. Contact relationship. Yeah. I don’t recommend a particular one or a ton of them out there, but just that you have one and that you use it because it makes it so much easier to keep track of contacts you meet and connections you make and it’s far more efficient than having a pile of business cards on your desk collecting dust.
Jesse Stoddard: 17:15 And I think I do have that little tomato timer. I have that on my phone.
Lori Saitz: 17:27 All right. So yeah, the CRM thing, if you set tasks it can remind you when to follow up with people because most business is lost by not following up more than anything else.
Jesse Stoddard: 17:45 I know you like copywriting, so I’m sure you’re a bit of a reader. Do you have books that you would recommend marketing books or business books that you’d recommend?
Lori Saitz: 17:52 So many books but to narrow it down I would go again with anything from Dan Kennedy or Jeffrey Gitomer. One of my all time favorites is by the late Chet Holmes and it’s actually called the Ultimate Sales Machine, which is funny because we were talking about the difference between marketing and sales. It’s the ultimate sales machine, but it’s a lot about marketing,
Jesse Stoddard: 18:24 Jeffrey Gitomer primarily is a sales mentor, a coach Guru, right?
Lori Saitz: 18:28 Yeah. He is his books talk -I mean, a lot of it, again, to me it’s about marketing. What are you, how are you developing the relationship?
Jesse Stoddard: 18:38 You’re further proving that marketing and sales go hand in hand. There’s an integration there that’s essential, right?
Lori Saitz: 18:48 I think sales tend to maybe not focus as much on, it’s still about the relationship, but I think marketing may have more of an emphasis on like the materials that – whether you’re talking about brochures or ads or the copywriting part of things. It starts getting really complicated.
Jesse Stoddard: 19:17 Tell me a little bit more about you and your business. What is your unique selling proposition and who is a good referral for you?
Lori Saitz: 19:28 Yeah, my thing is networking strategies for quiet people. Simple everyone gets is like, OK, I get it. What I do, who I work with.
Jesse Stoddard: 19:44 Who’s a good referral for you? What would be a really a person that – your USP almost answers that it calls out dog whistle copy? Right? But could you elaborate a little bit for us?
Lori Saitz: 19:57 It would be anyone who needs – no, I’m kidding. Anyone with skin right now? A good referral for me is someone who is anywhere between terrified and hesitant to go to a networking event and start a conversation with someone they don’t know. So that could be a business owner who needs to find clients and strategic partners or it could be somebody who works for a company who isn’t technically in the sales department, but it’s still expected to go to networking events or it could be a university career center or department that wants to prepare their students to be able to have conversations with seasoned professionals when they’re looking for an internship or a job.
Jesse Stoddard: 20:56 How would our listeners find out more about you and perhaps if you have any special offers or anything else, how do we get ahold of you?
Lori Saitz: 21:13 They can go to http://zenrabbit.com/5mistakes/. So the number five and then the word mistakes, http://zenrabbit.com/5mistakes/ that’s where they can find the five networking mistakes quiet people make a checklist. It’s the five networking mistakes quiet people make and what to do instead. Oh, that’s great. I love the title. Yeah, thanks. And so if they download that, they’ll also get an email with a link to a free video on a three-part formula for feeling more comfortable in networking situations.
Jesse Stoddard: 21:42 That is fantastic. I have a couple of extra bonus questions for you, but before I get into that, do you have anybody else that you think that I should interview for The Marketing Strategy Show?
Lori Saitz: 21:54 I have two people I recommend you may already know them. One is Jim Palmer and Adam Homie.
Jesse Stoddard: 22:08 I don’t know them personally, so that’s great. I would love to hear more about what they do.
Lori Saitz: 22:20 Yeah, I will make an introduction for you.
Jesse Stoddard: 22:21 That’d be great. Now I got a bonus question for you because you were talking about your checklist for quiet people. You reminded me. I’ve been invited. I’ve been to many BNI and Le Tip. I’m sure you’ve heard of those organizations and Chamber of Commerce meetings in the past. I haven’t been in the last few years. I kinda got burned out on that for a while. Nothing against it. I think there are great organizations. They’ve got fantastic groups. I started some of my own groups and I think it all depends on the people. Right? But I’d love to hear what you have to say about those types of groups since you’re a networker.
Lori Saitz: 23:07 I’m just gonna say it, I’m not a fan of BNI.
Jesse Stoddard: 23:10 You have the right to an opinion. I want to hear your opinion and why?
Lori Saitz: 23:14 I’m not a fan because. I think it can be good for people who are really, really new to business because it gives you a structure and it requires you to be there every week and to be talking to people every week. So if you really need that structure then it can be a good thing for people who are very, very green in business. But I don’t necessarily think it’s the best place to find a business. Like everybody’s there because they want to get business. I know their thing is about givers gain, but my experience has been everybody just wants to know what you can give them
Jesse Stoddard: 24:06 It’s a whole bunch of sellers in the same room with no buyers.
Lori Saitz: 24:13 So my thing that I teach people is to create a better strategy for networking. So it’s a matter of what you’re offering and who your best audience is. Then it’s a matter of creating a strategy. So where do you find those people? Are they at the chamber? Are they at an industry like healthcare providers? I mean, again, it depends on who your audience is, but if you’re looking, if you have a product or service for let’s say elementary school teachers, then going to the chamber isn’t going to be the thing for you to do, even though every business and people go, “oh, you should go to the chamber, everybody’s, there.” Maybe not. So it’s really a matter of figuring out where are your people and where can you go to meet them.
Jesse Stoddard: 25:02 That is awesome. Any final words that you want to share with everybody before we go?
Lori Saitz: 25:16 My final words are I again, I think that it’s amazing all the virtual technology that we have to be able to reach people and network and connect with customers and strategic partners and it’s just as important to be able to find people to connect with face to face, finding groups that can support peer to peer groups. Even not necessarily like traditional networking but just peer groups, mastermind kind of things like just people that you can call on who is in your immediate vicinity. It’s a different level.
Jesse Stoddard: 26:01 That’s an excellent tip. That’s going to be like the highlight for this episode right there. So Lori, thank you so much for taking time to be with us today. I greatly appreciate it.
Lori Saitz: 26:11 My pleasure. Thank you, Jesse.