On episode #185 of The Author Factor Podcast, I am having a conversation with author, CEO, and referral marketing expert, Brandon Barnum.
Brandon is often referred to as the “King of Referrals.” He is a highly sought-after expert in referrals, marketing, sales, joint ventures, business development, and business growth strategies.
He serves as CEO of HOA.COM– the #1 Referral Network for Home Service Professionals.
Brandon is also the author of the book, Raving Referrals.
Learn more about Brandon by visiting BrandonBarnum.com.
For more details about our short, helpful book publishing program, visit BiteSizedBooks.com.
Mike Capuzzi [00:00:00]:
Welcome to another profitable episode of The Author Factor Podcast. I'm Mike Capuzzi, and I want to thank you for joining us. My guest today is Brandon Barnum. Brandon is often referred to as the king of referrals. He is a highly sought after expert in referrals marketing, sales, joint venture business development, and business growth strategies. He serves as CEO of Hoa.com, the number one referral network for home service professionals. He's the author of two books, including the one we're going to focus on today, raving Referrals. Brandon. Welcome to The Author Factor Podcast.
Brandon Barnum [00:00:35]:
Thank you, Mike. Appreciate the invitation.
Mike Capuzzi [00:00:37]:
Yeah, I'm looking forward to this because you are quite the marketer doing a lot of smart things. I've gone through your book. You were kind enough to send me a copy of it, and I love what you're doing. So the very first question I have to ask you is, how the heck did you get Hoa.com? Was that something that you got yourself, or is that something yeah, we started.
Brandon Barnum [00:00:59]:
This company as TheHomeownerAlliance.com, and I realized that URL was too long to fit on the side of a bus, and so I said, okay, if I could have my weight, my magic wand, and have any domain on the planet, what would it be? Homeowneralliance. HOA. So I reached out to the owner of Hoa.com and made him an offer he couldn't refuse.
Mike Capuzzi [00:01:19]:
I'm not going to ask you, but I can only imagine what that offer was, because a three-letter domain like that, it's not like ZBD or something like that, like Hoa.com. You've got some valuable real estate there, for sure.
Brandon Barnum [00:01:31]:
Let me just say that I'm still paying for it, Mike. I'll be paying for it for years to come. How about that?
Mike Capuzzi [00:01:36]:
Well, the good news is, if you ever decide to sell it, you'll get your money back and probably the some. So, Brandon, you've done a bunch of stuff. I was going through your bio and your book and all that, but I only barely touch on what you do and how you serve clients. So I'd love to hear more, Brandon, about who you are, who you serve, and how you serve them.
Brandon Barnum [00:01:57]:
Well, so primarily, I focus on professionals who serve email@example.com. What we're doing is we're creating an ecosystem for homeowners, essentially building like a NextDoor meets Angie's List meets Zillow. So for every neighborhood in America, we're creating an online community, and then we're connecting those homeowners with professionals they can trust. We're bringing news and events to the community, and then also community impact events. Like, just a couple of days ago, here in Chandler, Arizona, where I live, we had an ice cream social at one of our communities. One of the professionals that serves that community puts it on. We give them templates, and then we help them promote it within that community. So we're bringing neighbors together and helping them connect with the professionals that serve them.
Mike Capuzzi [00:02:45]:
Love it. I've never heard anything like that. As soon as you describe it that way, it makes complete sense. Is this a space that you created? Is it a crowded space?
Brandon Barnum [00:02:55]:
Well, there's nobody that's doing anything like what we're doing. There's certainly competitors in the space. I mentioned next door. I mentioned Angie's list. I mentioned Zillow. They're each doing different pieces. Nobody's doing what we're doing, which is really connecting the community in a meaningful way. And when you think about homeowner associations, there's 370,000 of them in the US. 53% of all homeowners live in an HOA. But most people don't love their HOA. And if I ask you what's the number one brand that you think of when it comes to HOAs, what comes to mind?
Mike Capuzzi [00:03:29]:
HOA. I don't know. I don't live in one. I don't know.
Brandon Barnum [00:03:33]:
You just got it. No, you just got it. That's the number one answer we get is I don't know. The number two answer is there isn't one. Okay, right. So it's this massive ecosystem representing 53% of all homeowners, and yet there's no leader in the space. So that's what we're building.
Mike Capuzzi [00:03:50]:
This is very cool, too. So, again, I don't live in An HOA, but my mother does. And I know she's on the board and all that kind of stuff, but how long has this existed?
Brandon Barnum [00:04:01]:
Brandon we started this about four years ago. I've been doing tech platforms. This is my 9th technology platform. My last was called refer. We built that up to 5 million members around the world, all people that love to work by referral. And so I've been in this game, really working by Referral for over 27 years now, and it's all about empowering people, taking what I know and putting it not only into the teaching, but also the technology to help them do it faster and with better results.
Mike Capuzzi [00:04:30]:
So you're kind of a slouch is what you're saying, right?
Brandon Barnum [00:04:33]:
I'm a slacker.
Mike Capuzzi [00:04:35]:
Yeah, lots of time on your hands. Very impressive. I did not even realize that. Well, you alluded to the book Raving Referrals, and now I'm seeing the connection with what you're doing today. But it's funny, I have a client we're working with. We publish books for entrepreneurs, business owners, corporate leaders. And this gentleman, he's got such opportunity for a referral program, and he's been in business for over 20 years, and he doesn't have one. So I'm definitely recommending your book to him. But let's talk about why you decided to go through the effort, brandon of writing and publishing Raving Referrals.
Brandon Barnum [00:05:10]:
Well, it only took me ten years. I started out back you probably heard that story a lot. I started back in 2011, and I had claimed the domain readingreferrals.com, started teaching. Some of the strategies in my previous tech platform at that time was called Trustedteam.com, helping professionals who serve the same perfect prospects create partnerships and cross promote cross market each other. So I've been doing that for twelve years now online. And I recognized during this pandemic, we all had some time on our hands. I'm like, there's no plan in place. People don't understand how to create referral partnerships. In fact, I've surveyed thousands of people, and 79% have zero, one or two active referral partnerships. So about half of this book is the process of how do you really partner with other professionals who are serving your same ideal clients every day and create that formalized referral process so that you're building each other's businesses simultaneously, and a client for one is a client for all.
Mike Capuzzi [00:06:15]:
Yeah, amen to that, for sure. And just for our listeners sake, we're talking B to B Referrals and B to C, right? Consumer and business, correct? Yeah.
Brandon Barnum [00:06:24]:
Raving referrals covers both So what we're doing now is that we're creating different titles. Here's the second title. Raving referrals for dentists. We have six titles in the works right now. Raving referrals for mortgage pros real estate agents, CPAs, financial advisors and insurance agents. And then there's a whole list of others that we'll do after that. But my mentor is Mark Victor Hansen, the number one best selling nonfiction author on the planet. He said, don't write a book, build a brand. And so we created the one book. And now I'm seeking partners as co authors that are really massively influential in their respective industries and the experts in those industries to help expand our leverage together.
Mike Capuzzi [00:07:09]:
Well, I got to say, Brandon, you're even encouraging me. So I wrote a book, it's been out for four or five years now. We just updated a few weeks ago called The Magic of Short Book. So we publish the short 100 page, 1 hour read books, but even in this book, I say, well, I could do the Magic of Short Book for Dentists, the Magic of Short Book for CPAs. I say it. I haven't done it because I'm a slacker, apparently. But I love this strategy. I love what you're doing here, and I want to just take a little tangent because this is really smart, what Mark shared with you. Again, with your background and all that you've done. Obviously you just couldn't be happy publishing one book. But what you're doing here is so smart. So you're taking the book that you wrote, asking a subject matter expert that's in this particular niche to then really what? Just give very specific strategies and ideas specific to that niche, correct?
Brandon Barnum [00:08:00]:
Yeah. So basically with this book, what I did is I attracted an expert in the dental space, and she took the first book and then customized it for the dental industry. So she essentially rewrote the book in the language that dentists would. We took out some of the content that didn't apply, like LinkedIn strategies. We took out a whole chapter that didn't apply to dentists, changed the terminology from clients to patients, and then we put in some dental specific campaigns and examples of different referral cards and referral campaigns and referral kits that was super specific for the dental industry. And the other thing that we did, and you're going to love this, Mike, so in the first Raving Referrals book and you got it. So, you know, I included a chapter called The Experts and Influencers. And those are my buddies, right? Those are people I've known for years, and I wanted to feature them. And you'll love the marketing behind this. The they're in the book. It's not quite a co author book because I wrote the whole thing, but I featured about 100 different experts and influencers, not only in the book, but on social media, with the Social Media Book Launch. So it's number one bestseller in the second book. What we did is I changed that instead of Experts and Influencers, I changed it to Recommended Resources. And now what we're doing is we're featuring the companies that are serving the dental industry, making them referral partners, book launch partners. And like, I had one dental compliance company, they bought a copy of the book for every one of their clients because they're in it. It's not my book, it's our book.
Mike Capuzzi [00:09:37]:
Yeah, super smart. I mean, this idea of building a brand and the other smart thing was, in the first book, Raving Referrals, you listed out probably 20 or 30 potential book titles. Where do you just out of curiosity, brennan and this is kind of, again, a left field question, obviously, building a brand is important. Is this about selling lots of copies of books? Is it about book licensing? Where do you see where's the big play here in your mind?
Brandon Barnum [00:10:04]:
They're all brochures. Ultimately, they're all brochures. I'm building. So you think about mortgage lenders, insurance agent, financial planners, attorneys, CPAs, HVAC, painter, plumber, all of those professionals fit in Hoa.com.
Mike Capuzzi [00:10:20]:
Brandon Barnum [00:10:20]:
So I'm providing the blueprint of exactly what they should be doing to build their business. And all roads lead to Rome. Inside the book, as you know, are QR codes and URLs that drive them into our lead capture systems. And I'm selling the market on why they should be a part of Hoa.com. And the beauty is, the Hoa.com platform delivers everything I'm teaching. I've just made it easy and automated for them.
Mike Capuzzi [00:10:48]:
Brandon Barnum [00:10:49]:
So it's like if like the book, you're going to love the tech.
Mike Capuzzi [00:10:51]:
Right. Well, the other cool thing you did now, since we're talking about neat things that you've done and I haven't read the book cover to cover, I skimmed through it, picked out a couple of chapters that I thought, wow, that's really a smart thing. The other thing I was very impressed with was that either most or all the chapters have a unique QR code, a unique URL that's driving readers to a video view. I feel Mike, I know you even before we got to on the interview, because I was watching some of your interviews again. What was the thought behind that? Because not too many. Maybe one will do one video, but you must have done 510, 15 videos.
Brandon Barnum [00:11:27]:
Not more, 17 chapters. So, Mike, here's the thing. I believe in having great mentors, and one of my mentors is Steve Rogers. He's the former Warren Buffett CEO of California Prudential Properties, and he's the one that's endorsed the book on the top. And when I was talking to Steve about the book, he was telling me about his book, The Iggy Principle, inviting God in, inviting good in. And so he had created that concept with somebody that had guided him through the process. And so when I was reading his book and scanning his QR codes and videos, I just modeled success so I can't claim it wasn't my brainchild. I just saw it done and went, that is so smart. I got to do that. Because now the reader really gets to know you. They get to hear you. They get to experience you. It's one thing to read the words on paper, it's another to hear the voice and feel the spirit.
Mike Capuzzi [00:12:21]:
So before you leave this just again, very smart. I think you're already motivating me to do some more of this, but was it a big effort? Brandon, did you go into a studio teleprompter that level, or is it just in your op? Did you keep it down and dirty?
Brandon Barnum [00:12:37]:
Well, so two different things. One is for the videos that you saw, I recorded those in Vegas. I happened to be in Las Vegas for a weekend at an event, and I'm like, oh my gosh, my book's coming out. I need to record these videos. So I hired a guy and I wrote all the scripts. I had it on a teleprompter. That's just the way I am. I don't freestyle. I need to know exactly what it is because I need to deliver the line. I grew up on stage in musical theater as a kid in middle school, and so I learned my lines and I delivered them. And so I spent about 4 hours recording those little videos, and that's how we did those. Now, that was the round one for the book. What I did after that is I created the Raving referrals course, and that's about 101 mini videos that are anywhere from one to three minutes. Every major teaching point is its own video. I then created a course that, quite frankly, we give away. We charge $499 for it if somebody buys it. But for our Hoa.com members, it's included in your membership. It's free. Why? I know that if they read the book, if they get this into their head, into their spirit, they'll be members for life. Mike, this is about lifetime clients. So with that, I just went into my wife's office when she was out of town for the weekend, and I spent the weekend on Zoom like this, doing one video at a time and it took the entire weekend, but it's worked.
Mike Capuzzi [00:14:07]:
The good news is, once it's done and done right, you have it for however long. Last question on the book videos, because again, I think you've inspired some folks that are listening. I watched them. I watched them for a couple of seconds. Listen to it. What's the average length of those book videos? Are they shorter videos?
Brandon Barnum [00:14:25]:
Oh, yeah, they're shorter. They're usually two to three minutes or a couple that are about five minutes. But really it's a call to action. It's here's. What's the important point to take away from this chapter? Here's the lesson to learn. And if you want to learn more, go here and find out. And then it's engagement, right? It's a lead capture, getting them into our system and getting them into relationship with me and with our community.
Mike Capuzzi [00:14:52]:
Love it. I love it. I tend to update my books every year, get them up out there, freshen them up with whatever, and that's one of my older ones. And I'm thinking, damn, I should have done that. That's a really good idea, using the videos as a lead captures. Anyway, we could go off about I want to get back to Raving referrals. And again, I believe every business owner, every corporate leader, the should be a systematized referral program. We all have such huge opportunities for referrals. Most people don't know what they're doing, they don't know how to do it, et cetera. Brandon, would you share a couple? Because we want people to get your book. But I'd love to hear some of your top tips that any business owner corporate leader could use just to start thinking about, hey, I need to go do this.
Brandon Barnum [00:15:44]:
Well, number one, create referral partnerships, invest in relationships. It takes time, but the payoff pays off for years. But one of the things that I find most interesting is that people feel uncomfortable asking for referrals. Now, we recommend and in the book you'll find all kinds of ways to automate the ask to build that into your client lifecycle so that when they come into contact with you and your business, your system is automating, your emails are asking, your letters, your onboarding activation process. We've built Virality into hoa.com. What happens is when a new member comes on board, we offer to do a network activation zoom call for them. What that is, is we do it together. We co host it. We give them a co host guide, they fill the audience and we do the educational point. Their job is to be the host to edify us, and then we edify them. We talk up to their people that they want to build those formalized referral partnerships with. So that's just one of the things that we do. People can go to Hoa.com Blueprint and they can download our referral partner Blueprint. That's a 17 page doc. It's kind of the mini encapsulation of the book but here's one thing that I would recommend that people do. You've got to ask for what you want. Mark victor Hansen taught me as K to GE t. Okay. And there's an art of the ask. We talk about this in the book. It's three simple steps. Number one, set the stage. Number two, listen for referral triggers. And then number three, ask to get. So it all starts with setting the stage. When you're working with a new client, before you let them leave your call, your zoom or your office, say, before I let you go, I'd like to ask you for a favor. Would that be okay? Now, Mike, if I ask you for a favor, what's your response going to be?
Mike Capuzzi [00:17:36]:
Typically or hopefully? Yes.
Brandon Barnum [00:17:38]:
Well, tell me more at the very least, right. You may not say yes right then, but okay, what did you have in mind? Right, something like that. The what you do is you say, I work primarily by referral, and I just want to wow you with our service. And once I do, once you're totally thrilled with the service that we provide, would it be okay to ask you for referrals at a later date? Now, Mike, if I say that to you, what are you thinking?
Mike Capuzzi [00:18:04]:
Well, I would be thinking, yeah, I mean, probably, is he ever going to do it? Would that ever happen?
Brandon Barnum [00:18:10]:
Right. So now I got to prove it, right?
Mike Capuzzi [00:18:12]:
Brandon Barnum [00:18:13]:
So I haven't made you uncomfortable at all? Because if I asked you for a referral right now in this moment no, I've set the stage. I've said, hey, I've got to deliver the goods now. Right. So you say yes. Everybody says yes. Okay, sure, that sounds great. Of course you do a great job for me. I'll be happy to refer you later on. Right now, you're listening for referral triggers. Now you got to wow them. It's your job to deliver the goods, to deliver the service, to create what we call a wow moment. Once you do, what they're going to say is wow or, oh, man, thank you so much. Right. It's an expression of appreciation. These are the referral triggers. There's a bunch of them outlined in the book, but basically it's, thank you so much, you've made me look so good. Save so much time, energy, money, whatever your solution is that you provide once you hear that referral trigger. Now it's time to do step three, which is ask to get. Mike, I'm so glad to hear that. I love helping people like you get that result, whatever it is. And remember early on, I said I was going to wow you? Well, it sounds like you're wowed. And so would it be okay if I asked you for introductions if there's others that you know that I can serve and provide that same wow experience? And you want to get really specific about the service that you provide because you need to paint in their mind. You want them thinking of a specific person, so they go, oh, John needs your service right now. Mary would use this. Absolutely. And it might be your clients, your customers, your coworkers, your friends, your family. But when you do that, you set the stage, listen for the referral triggers, and ask to GE t. Your clients will feel comfortable and you'll feel confident, and everybody wins.
Mike Capuzzi [00:19:59]:
Love it. Can I ask a question relative to something that's in the back of my mind? Because I'm actually discussing this with a client right now, and he even brought this up. At what point, Brandon, or in your experience, does someone, the person that you're asking for ask, well, what's in it for me? And I know you list a number of ways you can reward referrals.
Brandon Barnum [00:20:21]:
Mike Capuzzi [00:20:22]:
But at what point should a business owner who's setting up a referral program address that? Is it on the front end? Is it part of that front end, or is it just something they get surprised with? Any, just quick tips on that.
Brandon Barnum [00:20:33]:
Yeah, it's a great question, Mike. So I believe that a referral is the most valuable thing that you could have. I would rather have a referral than a lead. Every day I teach a lead as a four letter word. I don't want a referral or a lead. I want Mark Victor Hansen saying, you got to talk to Brandon. That's what I've got. Now, we recommend that the best way to motivate is to compensate. So you should build in an affiliate program what we call referral rewards. There's a whole chapter on the book. We give you all kinds of examples of how you can reward your clients, your customers, and your referral partners for sending you firstname.lastname@example.org. We do a two tier affiliate plan, so we pay 20% 1st level and 10% 2nd level on the lifetime revenue that that person brings, because we believe if you help us win a client, that's our client together, and we're going to pay you on that forever. Now, not everybody wants that, and so if they don't feel comfortable being paid, we say, would you like us to pay your charity of choice instead? And it's about 50 50. About half of the people really want to get paid, and the other half just want to do it to serve the people in their life. And when they find out that we'll make a charitable contribution for them, they're over the moon. And now we've got a passionate promoter that's our partner in success.
Mike Capuzzi [00:21:51]:
Boy, we could talk for hours. I know you don't have the time, and I would like to go a little bit long if I could, Brandon, just because this is so interesting to me. Is that okay? A couple of minutes?
Brandon Barnum [00:22:00]:
Mike Capuzzi [00:22:01]:
So obviously you're also because you built it into hoa.com, but again, we're talking business owners, people who might not be as sophisticated as to what you're doing. This really should be systematized correct and using technology, because if you're still using postit notes to remember to send out any just quick recommendations there, Brandon, about really formalizing and systematizing a referral program.
Brandon Barnum [00:22:26]:
Yeah, you need a CRM. You need a system. We've built our email@example.com it's called Engage. So we have our own lifetime client campaign and system that we help our members use. And we do the heavy lifting because most people are really good at accounting but not marketing. They're good at plumbing, but not marketing. Right. So we do all that work as much as possible on behalf of the pros so that they can focus on what they do best, because what they do best is they're a technician in a specific area or industry. So if you don't have a system, you need one. There's all kinds of CRMs out there. We recommend several in the book, but you've got to have a system to automate your follow up, the fortunes in the follow up. And I know you saw the book, so you know, that's one of the things that we teach, the fortunes in the follow up. If you're not following up and keeping your brand top of mind with somebody, there's your competitor who is.
Mike Capuzzi [00:23:23]:
Love it again, make sure you check out Raving Referrals, because it's just most in my opinion, I've been doing this for over 20 years. It's an untapped gold mike, and most people have it. If the do it, they do it slip shot at best. And those who do it, well, like you said, they don't ever want to have a lead. The lead generation is a bad concept. But, Brandon, as we get ready to wrap up here, I do want to go back to the book. Given all that you're doing, all that you've done, obviously, I'd love to hear just quickly, what's the best way you're using your book? I mean, obviously you're on podcast, but the book is relatively new. How are you getting the word out about it?
Brandon Barnum [00:24:02]:
Well, that's why we put in a lot of experts influencers, and then in the latest book, I mentioned the recommended resources. We've also added a chapter for dental podcasters. So in this book, Raving Referrals for Dentists, I'm speaking on stages. People are hiring me. I just got hired to come speak down in Dallas, Texas, to a group of about 100 dentists. And I have a dental consulting company called Champion Dentists. In addition to I'm the chairman. I have a business partner that runs that because my focus is hoa.com. But that was one of the reasons why we wrote the book, raving Referrals for Dentists. And so I've got these companies I was just in Las Vegas a couple of months ago when we launched the book, and I had one of the multibillion-dollar dental company. They rented out the Raiders football stadium for a private event, and they literally had me with two private sessions, and they fill the audience, and then I get to present. So in Dallas, they're paying my airfare, they're paying my hotel, and they're paying me a speaker fee to go present to a room full of 100 dentists that will become consulting clients that will probably end up paying us six figures each per year. Never would have happened without the book. Write your book if you haven't written your book. Write your book. If you need to get it out there. Find ways that you can partner with others that are already serving your perfect prospects. Maybe it's a podcast like this. Maybe you incorporate them into the book. They don't have to be a co author. You can have a recommended resources section. You can have a podcast section if you're industry specific, or you can do what I did and have experts and influencers any of those. The strategies lets people be a part of the process, and now they're passionately promoting your book when it launches.
Mike Capuzzi [00:25:50]:
Yeah, very good. And again, I saw all the expert testimonials from experts, recognized experts. I think just studying your book from a purely marketing angle as a book author wanting to see what are some smart things I should be doing in my nonfiction, business oriented book, check out Brandon's Raving referral. So, Brandon, this has been awesome. Can you share with our listeners? Where can they learn more about you? Where's the best place to get your books? Yes.
Brandon Barnum [00:26:19]:
So you can go to Brandandbarnum.com, and that has kind of samples of everything that I'm doing. You can see links. You can crack your bank code and find out your personality system. There's all kinds. You can get your referral score quiz and find out how you're doing. Currently, there's links to Hoa.com. There's even a link to schedule a call with me individually so that's at Brandonbarnum.com, go to Hoa.com. Check out what we're doing there. And then the book firstname.lastname@example.org which is really the subdomain or the domain that drives Brandonbarnum.com, and that's got my speaker packet and everything else that you might need to know. You can always connect with me on LinkedIn, and I would love to have a one on one and see how we can help you.
Mike Capuzzi [00:27:00]:
All right. And if any subject matter experts or niche marketers want to participate, participate in the customization of the book. They should definitely reach out to you. So definitely check that out, too. Well, Brandon, thank you very much. Again, I love what you're doing, love all that you've done and all the way you're serving people. So very nice job. Thank you very much.
Brandon Barnum [00:27:20]:
Thank you, Mike. My pleasure.