Leveraging Content To Propel Your Business With Olivier Roland
While there are many ways to expand your business, if you really want to propel your business upwards, you need to know how to leverage content. In this episode, Mitch Russo discusses content marketing with entrepreneur, author and keynote speaker Olivier Roland. Olivier shares how he got his start as an entrepreneur, and reminisces on his eureka moment that led to where he is now. He shares tips and tricks in content creation and marketing those entrepreneurs need to know. Listen in and learn how to leverage content and expand your profit.
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Leveraging Content To Propel Your Business With Olivier Roland
Onto our guest and his incredible story. He dropped out of high school to start a business and months later, you guessed it, it was almost bankrupt. What does he do? He borrowed some money, managed to survive, saved his business and runs a multimillion-Euro company teaching people how to grow their business using content marketing. Content marketing has always been a challenge for me. I’m looking forward to interviewing Olivier Roland. Welcome to the show.
Thank you, Mitch. Thank you for having me.
Olivier, this is an interesting topic. I would think for a lot of people, content marketing is a struggle. I’m not saying it because it’s a struggle for me. It’s a struggle for a lot of people because realistically, it’s time-consuming and a little bit tricky to get right. At some point in our conversation, I’m going to ask you to share how all this works. Before we do that, let’s go back to the beginning. Tell us how this all got started for you.
First, maybe let me address the elephant in the room. You can guess from my accent I’m French. I would try to be as understandable as possible. I will try to speak slowly. I dropped school at eighteen to start my first company. I did that because as a teenager, I was very shy. Like a lot of shy people, I was fascinated by the world of computers because the world of computers has two interesting things. The first one is, it’s super deep and you can learn many interesting things. Second, it doesn’t require a lot of human interactions so I developed my skills. With a friend, we realized that we could solve problems for other people very easily and problems that are very hard for them. We asked ourselves, “Is there a way we can make money with this?”
We were very smart or lucky because we didn’t want to stop our studies like these and go on a plan to conquer the world. We ask ourselves, “How can we do a small experiment in the real world to see if our idea is good or not?” Basically, we are doing lean startup without even knowing it. We bought a smaller ad in a local newspaper. It costs $10 equivalent back in the days and it made us $800 of revenue in one month.
We were eighteen years old and we had $8 a week of pocket money. For us, it was amazing. This gave me the confidence to drop school at eighteen. I don’t even have the basic diploma in France. It was a dream come true for me. I was the rebel, doing something that nobody was doing and quitting the school system where I was so bored.
Fast forward, six months later, I’m almost bankrupt. It was not easy to transition from high school to an entrepreneur. Of course, I didn’t know anything about life. I was normal, typical eighteen years old, teenager. The strategy we used to do our test in the field was not in realistic conditions because we then create a company for this. It was undeclared money, we didn’t pay any taxes on it and we didn’t even think about it.
We were like, “Let’s experiment.” Our price was really below the market. I worked one year on the project of making the company. I was alone by the way. My friend decided to first get the diploma and do the studies then maybe do a company later. When I was in the real situation with the company, taxes to pay and stuff, I realized I couldn’t use the same strategy to get customers.
Basically, during those six months, I was like a headless chicken running all over the place to find bankers. I was bad at it. I paid for some ads in the local newspaper and didn’t have a high budget. I had to pay to be close to the ads where they announce that people are dead. It was not the best place to be in the newspaper. Long story short, I didn’t know what I was doing.
A few months later, I almost had no money left in the bank. I had a few customers but it’s not enough. As you can imagine, I was devastated but then I learned a very interesting lesson that I then use for the rest of my entrepreneurial life. It is that it’s better, as an entrepreneur, to have tech problems. In French we say, it’s better to take the bull by the horns. Do you say that in English too? Instead of doing the ostrich that puts his head in the sand. You say the same in English. That’s what I did.The world of computers is super deep. You can learn so many interesting things and it doesn't require a lot of human interaction. Click To Tweet
Instead of hiding the problem for myself and to others, I reached out to all the people I knew who I think could help me with this problem. I told them exactly what happened, “The business model is good because my customers are happy. The word of mouth is starting. I was not good with sales strategy. I didn’t know how to find customers. Now that I have this experience, I think it’s good but I need a little bit of money to get through to keep going and it’s going to work.”
One of the people who listened to me said, “There is this new type of loan you can get. It’s very easy to get it. Let’s try it,” and I did. It was such a small loan. It was $6,000 or something like that. it’s very low. Anyone can get this loan to buy stupid stuff. It was enough for me to keep my head above the water for enough time to have a successful business.
In the story that you are telling, you are describing what I think a lot of us go through when we start a company. The most important thing that I heard was you were running around like a chicken without a head because you are trying to do everything yourself. You are super busy and your goal was to create this revenue but you didn’t have a model. You didn’t probably have a proper pricing structure and much of a delivery system or a delivery mechanism. Again, like we all are at the beginning, you were in chaos. Give us a timeline. You are running for about six months before you needed that loan. Is that right?
Now that you got the loan, what did you change about your behavior and your activity? What changed inside of you and outside of you? Who did you bring in to help you?
When I started the business, my vision was to do computer repairs for consumers who are at home. People will call me because they had a problem with their computers and I will go to their home and fix it. It was a personal consumer. I realized very quickly that there was more money to be made with small businesses. I started to have to get customers like this and one of them told me something that I will remember for the rest of my life.
He said, “A lot of people want to make money with a good one shot but the savvy entrepreneur knows that the real revenue comes from recurring revenue. Instead of being the plumber that people call if they have a problem, why don’t you offer a maintenance contract where your business is customers? You will tell your customers, ‘I’m going to come maybe every quarter or every month to your company and make sure your computer runs smoothly, your backups work and make sure everything is good so you avoid problems instead of having to fix them.’”
It made a huge difference in the business model very fast. I had enough customers who agreed to this contract so my expenses were paid every month. Everything else was a bonus. I was not in an urgency every month to find customers to pay the bills. It is simple but when you start and you don’t know anything about anything, that’s the advice.
It’s interesting how this one idea changed everything for you, which is to charge your customers a monthly fee and this way you are available to them when they need you. You increased the value of your services and your income all at the same time. That was with your computer repair business. How does this tie back to your content business?
This business was an amazing adventure but as I created it at nineteen, I was very young. A few years later, I’m 24. I still love to be an entrepreneur but I want to have more balance in my life because like most entrepreneurs, I was working 60-70 hours a week, which is fine in the first year. You don’t care because it’s your baby. You have the sacred fire inside your soul so you are going all in.The savvy entrepreneur knows that the real revenue comes from recurring revenue. Click To Tweet
After a few years, I was like, “I’m 24. I want to experiment with a bit of thing that 24 years old people do but it’s very hard with my business.” I realized that it was a big shock that this company I created to be free was a gel I created for myself. It was my only source of income. I couldn’t see at the time how to sell it. I couldn’t see how I could not be so much part of it. I had employees and stuff but I was in the middle of everything. I couldn’t see how to work less than 60 hours a week. I felt trapped and it was a big trap. I looked for a solution for years.
A few years later, I read a book that completely changed my life. It is The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. With this book and a few different things, I also discovered the world of blogging at that time and all the things that are motivating me to start an online business instead of having a brick-and-mortar so that’s what I did. I started with a blog and another blog, it didn’t work, then the said blog started to click.
I started to have an agent because it was a blog about books that can change your life. The biggest mistake I made in my life as an entrepreneur was the first eight years, I didn’t read any business book. It’s such a shame because I love to read actually. That’s also the thing that is so simple once you know it but you need to have the idea. I didn’t have the idea and nobody told me to do this. It’s only because I stumbled upon The 4-Hour Workweek, then I read the E-Myth by Michael Gerber.
In a few hours, these books completely changed my perspective of being an entrepreneur for a job I was doing for eight years. I was like, “If I made this mistake of not reading books for eight years, I’m sure thousands of people do the same mistake as me.” I had the idea of starting a blog to share great business books, not only business but also practical books about everything that could improve yourself and it worked.
When it started to grow, I asked my agents, “How can I help you better? How can we go further together?” They told me, “We want to create a business. We know you created your business a long time ago.” I was also part of a jury of an association that was loaning money to small businesses so I knew also a lot of what this world is. We also progress in it and want someone to help us overcome these to create our business. I basically created an online course about these and it sold like crazy.
It’s interesting about where you were going with this. You are learning as you were going. With this whole journey that you were talking about, did you say it took about eight years to get to this place?
For the first eight years, I was doing only my IT company. I was still growing it. In the end, we are also doing software. People teach it also a little bit. It’s because I started to be frustrated with the situation that I was looking for other solutions. I started to learn and be a bit more open. One of the reasons I didn’t reach for eight years was because I felt so smart to have created this business. At nineteen, I was like, “I don’t need to learn anything about it,” which was obviously a big mistake.
The reason I bring this up again is that this is the core lesson that I see in about so many people. If you were to have connected with a business coach at the time, you probably would have taken 6 of those 8 years off of your history and accelerated quickly. The thing is, and this is what books, mentors and coaches do, they get you quicker to where you are going because they can see clearly the things you can’t. Tell us about your business now. You are in the business of creating content for your clients. Is that right?
Not really. I teach them how they can do it themselves.
This is not a “done for you.” This is “I teach you how. I’m your content coach.” That’s the business you are in now. Is that right?The first question to ask yourself is what type of content are your customers interested in? What are they looking for on the internet? Click To Tweet
Yes. It was quite fast actually. This second business was a real business with a real income. I sold the first business to three different companies and I started to build the other one while I’m traveling the world. Since 2010, I have been traveling six months a year. A bit less in 2020 because of the situation. Now, I’m in Cancún. It’s awesome and I live in Dubai. I basically built my whole business with content marketing because back in the days, you had hard works and you had Facebook ads but it was not as sophisticated as now and as used also.
For me, I didn’t even think about it. It allowed me to create this expertise about content marketing. What I teach to entrepreneurs and will-be entrepreneurs is how to create this whole ecosystem of content. Having a blog is still important. Even now to have a blog, you have to have a YouTube channel, podcast, Instagram and Facebook Page. Of course, you can use ads if you want to. It’s not forbidden.
I see a lot of businesses that don’t use content marketing badly. It’s such a shame because not only it brings you free leads every day but it’s also a way to build a connection with your customers that you will never find and never have in any other way. If you create good content, your customers will have a special relationship because they will not see you as a company. They will see you as maybe a mentor. In any way, a company that is going further than the old one to help them.
We are talking to the amazing Olivier Roland, who’s basically teaching people how to create the content to drive revenue into their business. His story is incredibly interesting and we are about to go into the next segment of the show, where he’s going to teach us exactly how to do this. He’s going to share what he’s normally behind the paywall and expose to you everything he charges people for. Olivier, take the stage and tell us exactly what we need to do to start this process of rapidly creating and expanding business using content.
The first question to ask yourself is, “What type of content my customers be interested in? What are they looking for on Google? What are they looking for on YouTube? What kind of problem do they want to solve in their life?” Problems that are related to their business, obviously. You can also ask yourself, “What are they curious about? What do they want to know about what’s going on behind the stages?” Let’s take an example, a very traditional business like a bakery. You could think, “How could a baker create content to attract customers?”
It seems very hard. Some of the things are very easy. What you can do is record yourself doing what you do every day and share what is behind the stage. When he wakes up at 5:00 AM to do your bread, you can record yourself with a smartphone saying, “I woke up at 5:00 AM to do your bread. Let me show you how I do it,” then he shows you how he does it.
He published this on YouTube, Facebook and every platform available. It can very easily spread the word in his community by telling his customers, “You can scan this tag, go to my YouTube channel and see how I made these bread that you are buying.” Of course, people would want to see it. Very fast, they will talk about it because it’s so simple but how many bakers do that?
It’s such a good idea and as you said, it’s so simple. I will tell you a quick story. Back in the 1950s, there was a beer called Rheingold. It’s not around anymore. I remember the story because it was a cool marketing story. The people at Rheingold went to this huge marketing agency and says, “How can we differentiate ourselves from all these other beer companies because, after all, we all make beer?” The guy said, “Let me come down, take a look at your factory, your brewery, let me see what you are doing and we will sit down and talk.”
The guy shows up at the beer brewery. The owner meets him at the door and says, “Would you like a tour?” The guy says, “Sure, I would love a tour.” He’s walking through the brewer and says, “Here’s where we take the hops. These hops were imported from Germany and here’s the water. The water is three-staged filtered and is purified then we put this into the brewing system and the brewer must be exactly this temperature.”
The guy says, “Did you ever tell this story to your customers? Do your customers know that their hops are coming from Germany and that the water has three stages of purification?” The guy says, “No, why would I do that? Everybody does the same thing.” This guy said, “Not everybody tells what they do.” All of a sudden, Rheingold became one of the bestselling beers in New York at the time in the 1950s and ‘60s because of what you said. He simply told what they do every single day to create their product. You are onto something here, Olivier. I love what you are saying. What’s the next step? After you record yourself doing what you do every day and you start sharing on social media. What else can you do?You don't put as much energy to defend your time, but your time is more important than your properties. Click To Tweet
This is one example. The baker could also ask himself, “What is the problem that people want to solve by going to my business?” In this case, they want bread, pastries, something to do to celebrate and something to eat in a good way. He could start to teach that and show recipes. You could say maybe he’s going to shoot himself in the foot by doing that because if his customers learn how to do the stuff, maybe they will not buy from him anymore. It’s a risk for some customers but I will bet that in most cases, it will be more business than it will take away.
First, you will be on the internet and you will immediately have an audience that can be worldwide. You are a baker so you have a lot of authority already. You can show everyone that you are the real deal. You can add a new revenue stream by selling books, eBooks, online courses, even memberships or a site to teach people all around the world your recipe. Even if your customers have the recipe of what you do, maybe they don’t have the time. They want to go to your bakery and buy this cake with a famous recipe from the famous baker anyway.
It’s so funny you mentioned this. I remember, this goes back some time, I’m with my ex-partner, Chet Holmes. Chet Holmes passed away but we are in business together with Tony Robbins. Chet is standing in front of a big room of 200 people and he is explaining our entire internal operating system, which is highly proprietary and in fact, kind of a secret.
He’s out there and sharing the entire system with everybody. After he walks upstage, he comes to me and goes, “How did I do?” I said, “Chet, you did great but I’m baffled. Why would you disclose all of our secrets to this whole room of 200 people?” He says, “No one will ever take what I shared and do it but now they know we know how to do it, they will hire us to do it for them.” It’s the same basic thing you said. This is the essence of teaching. The essence of teaching is showing people your expertise and ultimately a tiny percent, as you said, will do it themselves.
By the way, I love Chet Holmes. I wrote the foreword for the French version of The Ultimate Sales Machine. I love his work. I recruited some superstars with the help of this book.
You probably don’t know this but my name was in that book four times. Chet and I have been friends since 1986. Were in each other’s lives all that time. I was a testimonial at one point. I was a client than another point. I was his President and CEO at another point. We were very close friends for many years. I’m thrilled to make the connection with you that you wrote the foreword for his French book. That’s fantastic. Go onto your story, the audience I’m sure as fascinating as I am. Now that you are teaching them what to do, you could probably sell that. That’s a course, right?
Yes. The business model is you want to create this content in all formats possible, text, video, audio, even graphics like Infographics, if possible and try to publish on a lot of platforms. First, you want to be in discovery mode and look at what platforms will work for you the best, then maybe you want to focus on a few ones or hire people to take care of the platforms that don’t do well for the moment.
That is the first stage of the funnel. With this type of content, people will find you because people will type keywords, see related content on YouTube or on other platforms and you will attract qualified prospects because it’s the people who are looking for the stuff you are sharing. It might be a smaller audience but it’s a very qualified one.
A small trick you can have also is not only to think and try to find what people are typing but also trying to guess what is the buying intent behind the keywords. For example, let’s switch the business model. Let’s say you are into wines. You want to sell wine online and teach how to buy wine also. If someone typed red wine on Google, maybe their buying intent is not super high. He’s most curious about what is red wine and he wants to read the Wikipedia article. If someone typed a Bordeaux 2010 and a specific brand, his buying intent is high. He wants probably to buy these Bordeaux. You can also try to create content that will attract people who are in the buying mood. That’s one trick you can use and there are so many. That’s the first step.
The second step is to offer the opportunity to people who want to go deeper. How do we do that? You offer a lead magnet like a free bonus. It’s very common and it works. Of course, you want to offer a lead magnet that will qualify the prospect so you are sure that people will put their email to get the lead magnet will be qualified prospect.
In the example of, you want to create an online course to teach people how to buy wine. It’s going to be a bonus like, “Seven mistakes you want to avoid if you buy wine. Seven mistakes beginners do when they buy wine. Five simple criteria to choose your red wine right all the time” Something like that. It’s very simple and you know that the people who are subscribing are interested in red wine or something else but at least they are interested. Also, if you sell an online course, it can be a workshop, physical products or anything about this specific problem that the bonus servicing you know that people will want to buy.
The first step is to offer pet products for people who want to go even deeper. That’s the magic of this business model. What is magical about it? It’s magical and also a curse at the same time. It has a lot of inertia. It’s a bit slow to start at the beginning compared to ads because in ads, you put money in and you have an agency immediately.
The problem with ads is you don’t know what you are doing at the start. You don’t know exactly what would resonate with the audience and what products you will sell, etc. You start a bit slower to build your audience but at the same time, you get the knowledge, you interact with your audience and you are connected with the real deal, with the field.
Once you have this audience, the inertia works in your favor because even if for any reason you stop working, it’s going to take a long time before your profits reach zero because Google, YouTube and all these things will continue to bring you profit, prospect and customers for a long time. That’s a big advantage compared to ads. When you stop spending, you don’t have any more profit in it.
I want to tell you something. I sometimes feel a little bit jaded like I know a lot about business and a lot about building businesses. I do because that’s my job. I am a business coach but a lot of what you are explaining is so fundamentally simple and powerful that for me is a great reminder. Another reason why I do podcasting, is I get to learn from brilliant people like you. Selfishly, I have a show that is me going to university every time I bring someone with domain expertise, which is what you have onto my show and share it with you, who is reading.
Olivier, this has been fascinating and the ten steps that you mentioned are important. Let’s transition to a little bit different part of the show where we get to find out a little bit more about you. The way we do that is with a couple of very silly questions that sometimes can provide some incredibly deep and wonderful answers. Here’s the first one, who in all of space and time would you like to have one hour to enjoy a walk in the park, a quick lunch or an intense conversation with?
It’s a very interesting question and very hard because there are so many people in history who are amazing. I would say the Philosopher of Ancient Rome, Seneca. I was influenced by history and his book, like On the Shortness of Life. It’s one of the basics of my philosophy because Seneca is interesting compared to most philosophers. He was super-rich. He was the Bill Gates of Rome at his time. He was living in the first century AD. He wrote very practical advice on how to live a good life, especially in this book On the Shortness of Life, it’s amazing.
For example, one of the best pieces of advice he has given in this book is, “Everyone is defending his properties with all of his energy.” If someone wants to invade you in their house, you will defend yourself. You will maybe fight the guy or kill him but it’s very strange. Nobody defends his time as well. You don’t put as much energy to defend your time but your time is more important than your properties.
When I read that, I was strike by the truth of it. He said, “It’s so easy to say yes and to always be in a new venture.” You give the example of merchants, which is always going all the time. It’s a bit of a paradox that says that because I love to travel, too. It gives you this practical philosophy. It makes you have good questions about what is important in your life so I would love to have a conversation with him.
As I said before, we asked this question to every single guest. I have done over 300 interviews and this is the first time anyone has ever said Seneca as the person they would like to meet. I love the fact that to this day, after all these people and all these interviews, I’m still getting new people and new names that people are coming up with.
As you can imagine, Jesus is a popular one that people would like to spend an hour with. Interestingly enough, everyone who says Jesus says so for a completely different reason, which is why it’s fascinating. It’s a great answer. Thanks for sharing that. Here’s what we call the grand finale that changed the world’s questions. This is a big one. Olivier, are you ready?
What is it that you were doing or would like to do that truly has the potential to literally change the world?
I love to help people to create their own adventures in life. I have been doing that for many years and I realize it’s not easy for a lot of people to change their behavior and to do what they want to do. It’s always a small percentage. We talked about it before of people who will implement what you are sharing. It’s so worthwhile for this small percentage to wake up in the morning and share what you have to share.
I love to meet my customers, my readers, the people who follow me and will tell me, “Olivier, I had this job. I was bored out. I had this burnout and because of what you shared, I decided to change my life. I now do these. I have this amazing project. You completely changed my perspective. Thanks for this.” I call my audience intelligence rebels because I’m not talking to everyone. It’s not possible. A lot of intelligence rebels are ambers. Ready to blossom and makes an amazing fire full of light and heat but they have been weighted down. They have people pour water on them all their life. I want to be the breeze that makes some of them stopped. That’s my life mission.
I think that you are on your way, you have done some great things and you inspire people. You will be inspiring thousands of people once this show is out there and published. I know you have a book out, what’s the name of your book?
The Way of the Intelligent Rebel: Succeed Outside the System, Teach Yourself Anything, and Achieve Ultimate Freedom. It’s quite a program and it is a translation of a book in French. I spent four years to write and it had amazing success. It sold more than 100,000 copies in French. I know in the US it maybe doesn’t sell too much, not by 100,000 but in the French-speaking world, it’s a lot. I’m very amazed by the success and I’m glad that it helped people to be intelligent rebels.
Truthfully, books that sell 100,000 copies that are not novels and by unknown authors like yourself, that’s an amazing success. Congratulations on writing an incredible book. For those of you who are reading, you can go to YourFirstThousandClients.com go to Olivier Roland’s show page. You will also see both the link to the book, Seneca On the Shortness of Life and the link to Olivier’s book, The Way of the Intelligent Rebel. Olivier, I know you have a giveaway. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about that?
It’s an extract of the book. The way it starts. It’s the three principles to succeed in life. It’s like what I shared in this interview. Simple, but effective principles that you can use to do anything. I start the book with a quote that says, “There are millions of methods but only a few principles.” The guy who chooses the method we thought like on principle is doomed for failure but the one who understands the principle and chooses a method based on principles will have a lot of success.
I try to do a summary of the principles you can use to choose an effective method in your life. It’s not only based on my experience or one of the thousands of people I met and interviewed from my life but also on science. There are more than 400 scientific references in my book. I tried to share stuff that is proven in the real world and by science. You can get these and make your own opinion.
Go to The-Way-Of-The-Intelligent-Rebel.com and you will be able to get Olivier’s book or the summary of his book for free, which I highly recommend. Olivier, this was a joy. I did not expect what we went through. I did not even consider that what you do is so powerful and meaningful to many other businesses. I’m so glad that I had you on the show and that you shared what I would think of as a very powerful and essential process to generating publicity and attention for your own brands, products and services. Thank you, Olivier. I can’t wait until we get a chance to talk again soon.
Thank you, Mitch.
- Olivier Roland
- The 4-Hour Workweek
- The Ultimate Sales Machine
- On the Shortness of Life
- The Way of the Intelligent Rebel: Succeed Outside the System, Teach Yourself Anything, and Achieve Ultimate Freedom
- The-Way-Of-The-Intelligent-Rebel.com – Giveaway
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