Paul Faust wears a few hats, to say the least.
He’s an actor who has been on The Office, a firefighter, an entrepreneur, and a Partner at RingBoost.
In this interview with John Lincoln, he discusses advanced tracking, digital marketing and his philosophies on living life to the fullest.
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John Lincoln: All right, everybody. Welcome to another Ignite visibility University. Today I have Paul Faust with me. Paul, I’m really excited to have you here today. Why don’t you start just tell us a little bit about yourself? It looks like you do a ton of different things. So not only do you lead the charge at RingBoost, but you’ve got another company 1800 Prepare, Primary Wave Media, I see some stuff about being a firefighter and an actor. So you’ve got a lot of really exciting things going on. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Paul Faust: Thank you. I’m so excited to be here and I thank you for having me on. Oh yeah, look, I think I’m your prototypical entrepreneur and I have my core business that I’m the president of which is RingBoost, which is my core business. But like everyone out there, I’m not one dimensional. I like to experience life. So that means that I get involved in other businesses, whether they be starting new ventures or consulting on others, and I also love volunteer work. I’ve run lots of charities. One of the things I happen to love is being a firefighter, and working as a volunteer firefighter is one of the few things you can do where you could be a business owner, you can be a lawyer, a doctor, and you can still be a volunteer firefighter. So I try and keep my life very, very well rounded. I think that that’s what life is all about, not being one dimensional. I try and look at all the buckets of my life. Work is one. Things that interest me is another. Trying new things is another.
So the acting thing was something I’d done in high school and had an opportunity to be on the show The Office. Why not? If you’re out there looking for opportunities, you know, I got others on my list that I haven’t finished yet that I’m waiting for the opportunity to come by. And I’ll do those too.
So it just about, you know, you only get kind of one circle around this thing and I just want to experience as much as I can.
John Lincoln: I love that mindset. And The Office is mine, and many other people’s, probably favorite show. I was actually watching it the other night just laughing my head off. Even though it’s so old, you know, that’s really cool that you’re on that show.
Paul Faust: Go try go try and keep a straight face to appear on the show, when you think that they’re all really funny, and they don’t say the same thing every time you shoot the scene, and you have to keep a straight face. They try to make you laugh, it’s not easy.
John Lincoln: Yeah, I can see that. It’s so awkward and I love that kind of humor.
Well, today I really want to talk to you about, and I want everybody on this podcast to kind of get an idea about how they should be using tracking numbers and, with analytics being such a big thing nowadays, and with all these different sources and mediums and multi-channel marketing, it’s a big deal.
I know you’re a lot deeper than that. But we’ll talk a lot about that today on the on the RingBoost side. But before we get into the details of marketing, tell me what the entrepreneurial journey has been like with that business. How did it start, and what has it evolved to? It’s been over a decade that you’ve been running it. Is that correct?
Paul Faust: Yeah, over a decade.
The business itself started, really my partner, who was the CEO, started it. He was in the home care business, doing home health care and was always a marketing-centric person, and he was fortunate enough to get the number one 1800 Home Care. And started using it for his business in his marketing and he saw his response rates just skyrocket from people recognizing the number. It was easy to remember, it was easy to refer out, and his business started to grow by being marketing-centric.
Without sort of intelligent design, he sort of learned that you can break up a number and license it out by market. So he said, well, this is cool. So at a conference, someone in the industry said, Hey, can I use the number in Oklahoma? And he said, Sure. And they figure out how to route Oklahoma, and he charged them a monthly fee and all of a sudden he started understanding more about the power of numbers and what’s called shared use.
He started to acquire other numbers started to build the businesses, and then we met. And so when we started, it was really strictly in the vanity toll free shared usage industry, but then once you get into the industry and you start talking to clients and agencies, business owners say, “Well, I don’t want to share. I want a national, I don’t want a toll free. I want, or I don’t want to vanity, I want an easy dial. I don’t want that. I want to local, or in the case of many of our digital agencies we work with, hey I need lots of numbers to track.”
So the business evolved. And you’d like to think it’s all intelligent design. It’s not. Often your business evolves because you listen to the market. If you just want to listen to yourself and think, What’s perfect all the time, okay. But if you pay attention to the market and the markets’ needs and the reaction that you’re getting. The market tells you most of the data you need to sell to it. And so we just sort of evolved over time to add every single kind of number you can think of.
But ultimately, you know, I was thinking about this last night, the number is our “how” or our “what”. It’s not our “why”. Our “why” is all about the power of voice connection, and human connection via voice in an increasingly digital age.
John Lincoln: Yes.
Paul Faust: Vice plays an important part, and your voice matters. And that’s really our “why”. Our vehicle happens to be the number, which can do a lot of things, like you said, tracking analytics response rates. But our Why is that powerful human connection.
John Lincoln: Well, I really want to talk about that, and the reason I wass excited to chat about this is because, you know, with things like voice search, text messaging, podcasting. There’s so much going on with voice in particular right now and I kind of want to get into that kind of marketing in a minute.
But before we do, would you mind just giving us a brief overview of how these numbers work? You went over local, and then you went over national, and then vanity, and I feel like as marketers it would be really nice for them to know what the options are so that they can understand how to use them.
Paul Faust: Great. And I’ll try and break it down to sort of the 30,000 foot view.
So you have to have general types of numbers, right. You have local numbers and you can think of that as your local area code. Those numbers typically work anywhere in the world. Anyone can dial your local number, doesn’t matter where they are in the world, and it rings to you. You could use that number for your personal use, like your cell phone, in your house, or for your business. Most businesses keep a local number. Businesses that tend to operate in a very local area often feature a local number.
And then the other type of number are toll frees. People recognize those as 800, 888, 877, etc. They all operate the same, 800 being the original code. I don’t like to look at them or call them toll-free anymore, because nobody’s really dialing because of the toll-free aspect. They’re dialing for the other benefits and features. And you see business owners using those numbers. Business owners who operate maybe in more than one small market, they operate in statewide or multiple area codes, nationally, what have you.
Within each type of number, either local or toll-free, you have different types. You have your regular random seven digits. You know, what the phone company would hand you. Then you have sort of easy dial patterns. So if you’re an area code 310 or something, it could be 310-222-HURT, it could be 222-1000, it’s just an easier set of digits than the random seven, which is hard for people to remember. And you have that in toll-free and local. And you also have words, you know, 1-800-MATTRESS, 1-800-FLOWERS, 1-800-HOMECARE. Those are called vanity numbers. Vanity is typically words versus digits.
So local and toll-free, both have easy dial, both have vanity, local numbers that work if you have clients calling worldwide. Typically toll free numbers only work in the US and Canada, and some of the islands. But if you’re expecting client calls from around the world, the toll free numbers don’t work. You can’t dial them from, you know, China or Europe yet. There’s talk about opening them up.
What I was explaining before, which a lot of people don’t know about, is what’s called shared use, where you can take a number of a toll-free number and break it up by market. So like I was talking about, my partner used 1-800-HOMECARE. He used that in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. He allowed another home care agency to use it in Oklahoma, another one in Dallas, another one in Miami. So everyone’s using the same number, but the system can recognize where the calls are coming from and route appropriately.
So there’s a lot of cool things you can do with numbers, both in licensing them to lots of different people, or even if it’s licensed up one companies using it. They can route different calls at different call centers, based on geography, based on time of day. It’s not just a set of digits.
John Lincoln: That’s really great explanation. So if I wanted to get 1-800-MARKETING or something, whoever has that I could have them route stuff to me. That’s interesting, and the reason I wanted you to explain and hear that from you is because nowadays, for people in business and in digital, you’ve got like Facebook, you’ve got YouTube, you’ve got Google, you’ve got LinkedIn, you’ve got billboards, you’ve got TV. And then not only do you have that in certain areas, but you have that nationally, in some cases internationally. And so I would just wonder, you know, say you were working with a really sophisticated marketing campaign or company for marketing. How would you set all that up? And then taking that a step further with call tracking and monitoring sales teams, what does that look like for a bigger company?
Paul Faust: It’s very easy nowadays. We tend to be platform agnostic, because you know there are people who love their phone system. They love their tracking software. That’s not necessarily the hard part nowadays.
So we talked to companies. And if we’re talking specifically about this issue where somebody is doing lots of different marketing and really wants to drill down and track which piece of media drove that interaction. So what’s common is, you know, 50% of people’s marketing, works 50% doesn’t. They just don’t know which half. So that’s where tracking comes in. And by the way, it’s an argument. Do you use one good number, or do you use lots of tracking numbers? And there’s a time and a place for both. But if you’re doing a digital campaign or a mailing campaign and you want to track that landing page, you set up different numbers for each campaign. There are literally companies that accutally assign different numbers to every site visitor using dynamic number insertion. So they set the number up, route it to the appropriate location – you say, “hey, if someone does this number ring here”. And then within the different platforms that are out there, you could see time of day, length of call, city, state, did they call from a mobile phone, did they call from a landline phone, and then you can actually have the operator input things like know did it close? Was it an inquiry? So now I, as a manager, as a president, as a digital marketer, can go back and say, okay, this landing page got a lot more response.
And again, you don’t just want response. You want good response. So hey, this landing page got the most response. This one didn’t, but the responders were better clients. Now you could move more of your media into that and the software is out there and the tracking platforms that you can actually see which numbers work and track goes back to the campaign. And then you can dive even deeper and see that, hey, this landing page for this specific mailer with this radio ad worked better. Not only did it work better, but it really worked well during this time of day, right, it might not work great overnight. But because it was separate from a different number that you used, you now know which dollars you or your client are spending that are driving the best response. And then, you know, there is a difference between direct response and just general branding. But the tools are out there to be used. They’re not complicated. They’re not expensive.
John Lincoln: Are there any tools that you really like? Are there any types of tools that you like and what are they?
Paul Faust: Look, my general answer is because I worked with so many companies around the country and there are so many different platforms, I tend to defer to the systems that they know. Some people are using the Twilio platform. Some people are using Call Rails platform. Some people are using the Salesforce CRM. And if companies are really comfortable with the platform they’re currently using and it works for them and they’re trained on it, then there’s no reason to switch. So I might be able to give them our corporate platform which shows them A, B, and C and D. But we don’t want to lose any data by trying to integrate six systems that don’t talk to each other.
You’re a marketer. I’m giving your client a piece of data, but it doesn’t fit in your other stuff. There are programs like Lead Docket, which is a system that is great to drive calls and transactions in social media engagements. But if you’re not capturing the transaction or capturing information for the rest of the team, you know, you don’t know what you don’t know. Look, I don’t care if you’re a small local mom and pop business at least taking notes, but if I’m taking calls or chats or anything, and I’m not capturing all that data and passing it along, my team only knows what I told them, and you would be amazed. I find with lots of business owners, if you really get in there and dive, they don’t need more site visitors or more calls because they have so many opportunities that are just pouring out the bottom of the collindar because they’re missing the opportunities.
No matter what you’re doing, you know, we can hire a firm like yours to drive more traffic to my site or engagement from my emails or social media, but if I’m not prepared to take that properly, I’m just wasting money. We all want to grow our response rates and interactions, but make sure you’re capturing those and you’re not just leaving them on the floor because your systems are in place.
John Lincoln: Follow up is key. It really is so key. I mean, here we get probably 10 prospects a day, and you just think if you worked a little bit more and put in a little bit more time, you know, who needs to scale leads when you really have good opportunities already. So that’s really good information. So let me ask you, you’re obviously a lot deeper than just the numbers. We talked about that earlier. Really, I just want to ask you Michael Scott questions this whole time, but instead of doing that lets keep it spent in marketing. Maybe we’ll circle back on that.
But what you’re talking about marketing and marketing innovations, even outside of just the number side or maybe even on that side, what do you the most excited about now in marketing and in business? Is there anything that’s just like top of mind to you?Tools, strategies, where’s your head at now for growth and 2020?
Paul Faust: Believe it or not, I’m sort of the anti answer you’re going to get from most guests. What excites me most is the non-tech stuff, the tried and true stuff. Look, we’re both into voice. People were all about the power of human connection, but – and I want to be very clear about this – we spend a lot of money on digital marketing, on social media. We are huge proponents of all of those tools.
From the tech and digital side, I’m excited about all of it because I’m not smart enough to know if TikTok isn’t the new Facebook. So I pay attention to all of the latest and greatest because none of us are that smart. Look, at the end of the day, Google wasn’t the best search algorithm when it came out. It became the best. I pay attention to it all. But often it’s like watching a cat catch a laser pointer. You’re all over the board. You hope to get it right, and when you get it just about right, they sort of move it a little bit. So that’s the stuff that excites me the most. And I think we’re seeing a little bit of a reversion back to some of the tried and true stuff that doesn’t require, you know, big budgets or being degreed experts, which is where we fall in. It’s why we do voice human connection, but it’s old fashioned networking. You’re looking at someone in their eye and shaking hands. You know, I don’t want to be in a world where my boss talks to your bot, and then transact. And I think that no matter what we see in technology and the changes and how we all implement in our business, technology is at a great level. We could all use the same tools, the same websites, the same chat functions, the same pay per click platforms. We could all use that.
What you can’t democratize is me. You can’t be Paul Faust. You can’t be John Lincoln. And so I find that when I can incorporate me, my passion, my personality, my why into my business, then all the marketing stuff that’s out there becomes interesting.
You know, I could put my life, my personality, my passion into TikTok, into LinkedIn, into the way I handle my chatbots, into the blog posts I do. And I don’t believe that’s ever going to change. Most business owners in their respective industries can’t compete against the biggest dollar. You’re not going to come in and outspend everybody and get to number one. Some people can’t do it.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to compete and differentiate yourself. And I think that what excites me most is that nothing that the technology or the way the world moves can remove that – you know, me – and being different, and being out there, and building my personal brand which no one else could have.
John Lincoln: You know Ignite Visibility University listeners, I hope you just took a note on that. Not only have I heard this from Paul, I have heard this sentiment from a couple other really, really smart people recently, about how people are sick of trying to be tricked, they’re sick of you know automation chat bots. Things like that are out there, but the power of a real person and face to face human interaction is really, it’s huge. And in this day and age, it’s probably the thing that’s gone away the most. So, you know, make sure that you’re really working on those skills, that you can talk to real people, that you can be a real good person.
And I think Paul, I couldn’t agree with you more. It’s a huge differentiator, and I think ome people have really lost those skills that really, at the end of the day, are the most valuable.
So I’m hearing a lot of people talking about the resurgence of just being a good human and networking and channel sales and handshake deals and stuff like that. And I love that idea. Because there’s a lot of that in me and I definitely feel that in you.
Paul Faust: And again, I am a huge supporter, user, and believer of technology. But to me, they are tools for me to use just like my voice is. Now I can’t go to every conference. I can’t have a coffee with every person. So I use those tools. But I don’t know if those tools will be here tomorrow. And I don’t know what the next tool is. But the constant is me, my passion, why I do what I do. I care about my clients. I’m there if they need me in an off hour.
Now, I get to take all these cool tools that are getting better and better and more advanced that allow me to do that and scale, right, and I could put them into me. But if all of me and all of my business, you know was, let’s just give you an example. If my entire business was built around being number one on Google, and I just threw all my money at just getting to be number one on Google, well, one’s not one anymore. Now we got three ads above it. Then we got a map. Then we got a three pack. One could be ten. Then all of a sudden they do an algorithm switch and instead of one, I’m back at 12. Google’s a tool. I use it. We do try and rank, but I also have the fact that people know me that I try and promote that I’m doing this podcast and that I’m also, by the way, people know that I’m a volunteer firefighter. People know that I do work for charities. People know that they can call me with questions that have nothing to do with phone numbers. And I think that that constant never changes. While the technology landscape always will, that the one thing that will not change is that the person you’re looking at is me. Or you. And so if we could build around that and you understand that that’s your gift, that’s your power. Use the other things to amplify your power, but don’t make them you because I don’t want to look for me. I want to be in that world. I want to talk to you. I’m out there. I want to sit down with you. I don’t want my bot to talk to your bot, or to tell my bot to call John and tell him this. No. I don’t want to be on that planet. And I see more and more people acting like that.
John Lincoln: I don’t either. I really don’t. And I think that if we can all get back to being a little bit more human, it’ll be a good place. And it’s certainly, certainly good for brands.
I have a couple other quick questions I want to ask you. I hear a lot of people talking about text messaging coming up as kind of like the new thing in marketing, you know, going back to marketing tactics. Does that play into what you guys do?
Paul Faust: Absolutely. Nowadays, all phone numbers, all local numbers have text-enabled on your mobile phone, now your home number. You could put it on a platform and our toll-free numbers can be text-enabled. Its because people are increasingly mobile that you want to have the ability. Again, for me, it’s just another path to the door. Some people want to call me, some people want to email, and you can text enable.
Now, I like to call BS. The text message people love to say, you know, the average open rate on an email is 1%, the average open on a text rate is 99% or 90. Of course, because it’s in its infancy. You know when I’m getting 500, 1,000 text messages a day, the open rates will change.
So yes, it’s another tool, but one of the nice things I like to say phone numbers is you can say call or text. If somebody wants to initiate a voice call because they want to speak, they can. But if they’re okay just texting, they can. So that tool that we use toll free numbers local can be used, in the old days, it was call us here. Email us here. Here’s my QR code. Here’s my shortcode. How many things do you need? Yes, texting is growing. There are platforms where you can manage decks, manage campaigns, send different texts out. So yes, and that is only growing as another method to communicate with people who want to communicate that way.
John Lincoln: Do you think I should set up a 1-800-JOHNLINCOLN texting community and send blog posts to people out through it?
Paul Faust: Yes. People who want to engage.. like my attitude is, I am not going to dictate the way my clients or potential clients want to talk to me.
John Lincoln: Yeah.
Paul Faust: There’s some that enjoy texting, especially the younger generation. Look, it could be that I’ll be Snapchating clients, depending on the age group, you know. If that’s the way they want to communicate with us, then we can have that ability to communicate with them. So yes, you’ll see a lot of businesses, you know, you know there are speakers out there who will say “I.m putting all my eggs in the text basket.” I’m not that guy. But I think it’s another tool customers are increasingly, you know, traveling with their mobile phones or mobile devices. And if you can text quickly either about, hey, check out my latest blog posts, you’re not going to text them the blog post. But you say, hey, check out my latest blog post. If we have a sale going on, I think texting is a huge platform to use, and the same phone number can be used to call or text, and we hope in the near future that phone numbers can be used to drive a web conversation.
Yes, I think you need to be looking at all of it because customers and potential customers like to communicate in different ways at different times. And if you don’t have one of them, you’re gonna isolate clients that do want to communicate.
John Lincoln: Really well said. You know, there are other marketers out there who currently don’t texting communities. I don’t have one. I was in a meeting with a client yesterday, and we were talking about creating a call to action where you click contact us now and then a pop up comes up and it gives them options to communicate with them via text or Snapchat or Facebook or whatever they want. There are so many different options out there, but thanks so much for going into that with us.
Last question I have for you today. I always like to ask people this. What are you most excited about in your life right now? Anything cool going on that you want to share? What’s big coming up for you?
Paul Faust: What I’m most excited about is, ultimately, endless possibilities. I remember being a kid and seeing my dad at this age – I just turned 50 – and thinking, you know, it’s time to plan for retirement. Thinking, dad’s old now. For me, I’m most excited that I feel like I’m just starting to figure stuff out. I’m not on the back nine yet. so I am most excited about, really, the endless possibilities. All of the limitations we place on ourselves, they’re all self-imposed. It’s all in our own head. So with the different technologies out there, the ability to reach people in new ways, I am most excited about exploring all of it and tapping into my own potential. Now I’m not held back by anything. To me, that excites me. I don’t have to be number one on this right now. I’m going to go explore the opportunity. So I’m really, really, really excited about that, where we are going collectively and the sort of the stranger we have which is building a brand. I’m really excited about and the fact that I also know that as good as we are as a company, I know that most people still don’t understand the power of voice from the power of what we do. So I have a huge audience to talk to and excite. And that really is what gets me up every day is a passion, the power of human connection via voice. so I couldn’t be more excited about it.
John Lincoln: So everybody, I would just say, just take a step back. Take a second just to get a feel for Paul’s mindset and be excited about the future. Aging. But still young at heart, full of energy, and you can just tell that when you have a mindset like that you’re going to be successful. And not only that, you’re going to enjoy life. I had coffee with somebody this week who had similar energy. I absolutely love your energy, Paul, but not everybody’s like that. I would say out of 100 people, you might meet one who’s got that. So that was a one reasons a pleasure to meet you today.
Paul Faust: Look, as opposed to me. I think everyone’s got it in them. It’s in their own head. They have to find the switch to realize what they have and to stop listening to other people. Stop listening to the naysayers. Stop trying to impress people. Start living and being well rounded.
Put the weight down. It’s still there, but no one said, I gotta carry it all day. You find so many more opportunities when you’re around that positive environment. That’s what excites me. And those are the people I want to be around. And that’s when real growth comes.
John Lincoln: Hey Paul, where can people find out more about you? Where’s the best place online?
Paul Faust: So, absolutely, they can look at our website at RingBoost.com, they could search for local and toll-free numbers. Obviously, they can call me.
I love phone calls; 914-200-0013. Thirteen my lucky number. So that’s why I picked that number because it means something to me.
Please call us. Reach out to us. I have a whole team here. You don’t have to want to buy anything. You could just ask questions about your number or just say hello and tell me about your business. So please, check us out at RingBoost.com, there is a lot of info there or reach out and talk to me if you like.
John Lincoln: Awesome. Thanks, Paul. We definitely got some people inspired today from your words. I appreciate you being on today and we’ll talk to you soon.
Paul Faust: Have a great day. Thank you so, so much.