Episode 11: Work with the Right Customers, with Mike Koenigs
Mike Koenigs’ passion and obsession as Chief Disruptasaurus of You Everywhere Now is helping entrepreneurs and business owners get attention, get found, seen, heard, watched and read on any device, anytime, anywhere and on demand so that they can start and grow profitable businesses, become bestselling authors, highly-paid coaches, consultants and advisors, in-demand speakers and information marketers.
Mike Koenigs is a 12-time #1 bestselling author, interactive online TV producer, “Marketer of the Year”, serial entrepreneur, angel investor, filmmaker, international speaker and patented inventor. Mike built and sold his last two businesses to publicly-traded companies, his most recent exit was selling Traffic Geyser and Instant Customer. Mike Koenigs first exit, Digital Cafe, was sold to the publicly-traded Interpublic Group in 1999.
Mike Koenigs knows what a pain in the ass really is – he’s a recent stage 3a colorectal cancer survivor! After completing 9 months of chemotherapy and 33 radiation treatments, his doctors say he’s healthy and cancer-free.
It’s not all about the money, an active philanthropist, Mike Koenigs has raised over $2.4mm for the “Just Like My Child” foundation.
Mike Koenigs has interviewed, consulted, and advised celebrity clients and bestselling authors including Tony Robbins, Paula Abdul, Richard Dreyfuss, JJ Virgin, John Assaraf, Brian Tracy, Xprize founder Peter Diamandis, Jorge Cruise, Harvey Mackay, Daniel Amen, and former publisher of Success Magazine, Darren Hardy.
Originally from Minnesota, Mike Koenigs lives in San Diego, CA with his wife Vivian and 15 year old son, Zak. Mike loves electric cars, the ocean, flying drones and playing the “didgeridoo.”
Hi, everyone. This is Colin Sprake and welcome to MYM Your Business, The Brutal Truth with myself, Colin Sprake. Today I am super excited. I have an amazing guest, somebody that I’ve followed for many, many years and only actually really got to meet quite recently. We’ve started to build a really great friendship from it. This gentleman’s name is Mike Koenigs. Mike Koenigs was the 2009 Marketer of the Year. He’s a filmmaker, speaker, author, and product creator. There are so many things this man has done. He’s absolutely incredible. Of course, his current company is You Everywhere Now, helping you get found, seen, heard, listened to, read, everything. He’s absolutely incredible so welcome today, Mike.
Hey, thanks for having me, Colin. Great to be here and good to hear your voice.
More on Mike Koenigs’ Background
Good to hear your voice as well, and Mike, as we dig deep today, we go into the brutal truth of where things have been for you and what have you. Tell me something just a little bit about yourself, maybe a little bit more of an intro, if you want, of things that you’re up to now so our listeners know exactly who’s on the line.
Sure. Well, the brief story is I grew up in a very small town called Eagle Lake, Minnesota, so I grew up in the Midwest. My dad was a barber and he worked all the time. I’m the oldest of four kids. There were three things that I lived with growing up that really impacted me. One of them is because my dad was a barber, he basically literally traded time for money. You don’t make a lot of money as a barber and with four kids and a family to feed, he worked four jobs at any given time. Not only was he a barber, he was a city clerk of our town. He also was the building inspector and then he also played guitar at rest homes and elsewhere so he was an entertainer.
Because of that, I had a great dad but I didn’t see him a lot. The number one thing I heard growing up, was, “We can’t afford it.” That plus growing up in Minnesota, it was cold. 35 below zero Fahrenheit was a typical February for a whole month. The last thing is, because my dad worked so much and we had four kids, we were last and late for everything.
Growing up, I wanted three things: to be rich, warm, and first. Now I live in San Diego, California. I have for 16 years. I’ve made it my home so I’m definitely warm. I’ve built and sold two businesses to publicly traded companies. I’ve been working full time since I was 16 years old. I never went to college. I was considered, like a lot of entrepreneurs, very ADHD, very OCD. I definitely would be considered learning disabled by today’s standards. I was sent to a Catholic school, which did not mingle well with my personality type. This was back when you could still hit kids.
I’ve built and sold businesses. I love making money. I love helping people. I love creating entrepreneurs. Right now, I spend a lot of my time manufacturing celebrity, helping people become best-selling authors and build and grow their audience so they can monetize them.
Beautiful, man. Thank you so much for that intro. I think I’d like our listeners to really understand that there’s a history behind you, where you’ve come from, and of course, maybe you can take us back to those early days of maybe 16, 17 as you got to building your first business and doing different things.
Mike Koenigs “Aha!” Moment
What was it like? Let’s have one of your biggest “aha!” moments. We have a lot of young people that are listeners to this show. What would you say would be one of the key things that you wish you would have learned younger and maybe would have helped you get ahead quicker.
I was up in Los Angeles yesterday with a friend of mine, who is a multi-billionaire. She’s also an immigrant that came here from South Korea when she was a kid with absolutely nothing and has since built and grown a couple of empires, owns a private bank, invests in a lot of art, and lives on the beach in Santa Monica. She called my wife and I up and said, “Hey, do you want to join me at the Hollywood Bowl?” We were at the Hollywood Bowl watching an amazing show.
One of the things that she told me is how, when she travels today, she really likes to travel and she does group travel with other billionaires. It’s like, “Well, why wouldn’t you want to travel with other billionaires?” It’s because money isn’t an object. There is a limitation of what you can spend money on. For her, if they want to rent a private jet to get from point A to point B, if they want to rent a helicopter, if they want to do anything, they can.
Why is that relevant to you if you’re just starting out? It’s because there’s a saying that Tony Robbins says, which is, “If you take the top five people you spend your time with, you add their incomes and divide by five, that is what you will make, too.” It just so happens that I have a few friends who are multi-billionaires. I have quite a few friends who are worth hundreds of millions and I’ve noticed that the more time I spend with them, it changes the way I think. It changes not only my psychology but also when I’m around them and I see the way they treat their bodies, it changes my physiology, too.
I think the big takeaway is this. Be extraordinarily careful about not only where you invest your energy but where you invest your physical, mental psychic energy. Psychic vampires steal the energy that you can use to increase your visibility, your power, your knowledge, your know-how and people of just bad mental and physical habits are going to affect you dramatically. Taking great care of that, I would say, is a big one.
Another grand lesson that I learned, if we go back a little bit, is I started working full time when I was 16 years old. The day I turned 16, I started working full time at a local gas station, which was a great experience because I learned how to make change and build rapport with people and talk and communicate and watch a lot of stuff. This was a full service gas station where we pumped gas and changed tires. I ended up starting a little arcade on the side in a separate room by buying a couple of arcade games and putting in my own coin exchangers. I did a split with the gas station.
That taught me a really, really important lesson that I wish I would practice more often, which is anytime you can find an opportunity to partner with someone who already has a business that’s successful, that has traffic, and find a way that they can benefit and you can too, it is a no-cost way to acquire customers and that is always, always the hardest thing to build and grow. Never take an audience for granted.
When you’re starting out, you and I talk about it all the time, Colin, it’s really the struggles we have getting customers just to come to our events. It’s a math problem and the cost of acquisition these days is freaking hard. It’s expensive. Facebook flat out, they screw you. They have figured out how to maximize the amount of money they make and they’re not doing us or anyone else any favors. You’ve always got to have some sort of an edge and the number one edge you can always get and have is that of the power of an audience.
Absolutely. I was just down in Indianapolis the last couple of days, and I got to chat with Mike on the line around executive action, actually doing stuff together around utilizing the different audiences we have. I want you to think about that. Who else is in your market space that has an audience that you’re both targeting but really has maybe a bigger audience than you do. I really want you to get that. What Mike’s saying is really leveraging and getting clients into a database and what have you takes a lot of work unless you can find someone you can really leverage and work with and just do stuff together.
Mike Koenigs’ Biggest Influence
Mike, go back to getting into your first business. I know maybe one of your first businesses, I remember that probably 15 or 16 years ago, you got into Traffic Geyser and you started building our software, of course it sounds so awesome, the gas station and starting to build out and do rev share with the owner of the gas station with the arcade games, but really, as you got into building software and going down the path that you’ve gone down right now, what was the biggest influence in your life? What would it have been in your early 20’s, maybe late teens, that maybe influenced you to get you on this path to realizing I’ve got to hang out with better people, well, not necessarily better people but the people I want to be like, I need to hang around with rather than hang out with the wrong kind of people that keep you back and hold you back like a concrete block?
The biggest thing that happened was that when I started to get into business in general, and let’s again frame this as I traded time for money. We all trade time for money at some level. Okay? That’s just the way life is, but you’re looking for leverage.
One of the first things that, I didn’t even know what it was, but when I grew up, magazines used to come with what were known as bingo cards. They were little postcards in them with a whole bunch of numbers on it. You’d circle the numbers and you’d mail that in. It was a prepaid postcard. Each number represented a vendor and then they would direct mail a package to you like a letter or a catalog or something like that.
When I was a kid, I used to get Popular Electronics, Popular Science Magazine, every computer magazine I could get my hands on. I would pull out those cards and circle every single one of those things and literally get boxes of mail and catalogs delivered to our mailbox every week. Sometimes, every day a box would show up. My mom used to say, “Mike, your junk mail showed up.” To me, it wasn’t junk mail. It was freedom. It was an opportunity. It was being able to see every kind of business and I was completely and totally obsessed with direct mail.
I didn’t know it at the time but what I was really obsessed with was great copywriting. I didn’t even know what marketing was back then. If you fast forward a little bit, in 1984 in the United States, Congress passed a law that stated that companies could buy time on television by the half-hour block and put long infomercials on them. Now at the time, they didn’t call them infomercials. They didn’t even know what it was, but a few people, one guy like Kevin Harrington, who eventually became one of the Shark Tank guys, started buying time on all sorts of, basically, extra time on television.
So did a guy named Joe Sugarman, who created something call the BluBlocker sunglasses. He made a half-hour show. In this case, it was Joe Sugarman walking around with a pair of sunglasses he called BluBlockers on the boardwalk in Venice, California, and asked people to just put on the sunglasses and describe what they saw. Of course, they would put them on and they were like, “Oh, my God. Everything is so much more beautiful and vivid.” He recorded that, bought time on TV. This was back when TV time was really, really, really cheap. Of course, TV meant movie stars. It meant Hollywood. It meant actors so it had a lot of built-in authority and status. If you were on TV, it meant you were a somebody.
Joe Sugarman started selling these sunglasses. He eventually sold a billion dollars worth of BluBlocker sunglasses on television.
Kevin Harrington built one of the biggest infomercial organizations in the world, doing this over and over again because time on media was so incredibly cheap and you put on an 800 number. Someone could call and order the product. Well, a lot of people became multi-multi-millionaires as a result of infomercials.
Fast forward a little bit. Here’s where the story becomes relevant to me but I at least want to back it up. It was the value of a new medium, a huge audience with a lot of built-in authority and they’re buying all this at a discount. No one had thought about using television as a direct marketing vehicle.
If you fast forward a little bit, I started, again, not really knowing what I was doing, I started getting interested in making information products. This was back in late 1999, and I was doing software that would rapidly create web pages, like 50,000 web pages a minute that was highly keyword loaded, which meant my software would build 50,000 web pages in a minute and I would make hundreds of thousands. Then I built a system that would upload these pages to the internet and then notify search engines that these pages existed.
Well, back then it was a thing called content spam. If you got your page on a search engine, it was good. It just meant a lot of people would see it. It was kind of like a broadcasting method except what happened is I would dominate and own all these search engines. Well, boom. I started selling a service to optimize search engine pages to big companies like Citrix, if you’re familiar with them, the GoToWeb and GoToMeeting people, advertising their services.
Well, I didn’t have the foresight at the time to create a software platform and sell my product. Instead, I was selling my time. I was making $10,000 or $20,000 or $30,000 to do this as a consultant but I didn’t see the possibility and potential until you fast forward a little bit later. I met a guy and I told him about this idea I had on how not only could I optimize for search engine pages but I figured out that if you uploaded a video and you renamed it multiple times and you re-uploaded it, it showed up in Google or Yahoo or the other search engines like in five to 20 minutes. I could dominate any concept, any idea.
That was the birth of this product called Traffic Geyser we built and pretty soon one person heard about it. It started going viral and we had hundreds and soon thousands of subscribers giving us $97 a month for the product. Well, the little thing that I left out here. There is one common thing that threads this together. The first information product I ever created was a program called the Internet Infomercial Tool Kit. I made it in 2003 and 2004, one year before there was a YouTube, one year before there was a Traffic Geyser.
Here’s what happened. I contacted some of these infomercial guys who really inspired me and motivated me and taught me about direct response selling in video. I called them up and I said, “Hi, Mr. Infomercial Guy. I’m going to make a product called the Internet Infomercial Tool kit. Because you’re one of the greatest living infomercial pioneers, I’d like to interview you about the secret formula, how you manage to persuade and influence people with video. I’m going to adapt it to the internet and I’ll gladly give you a copy of the program when it’s ready, give you full credit, and also send leads your way if someone wants an infomercial someday.”
Every single one of them said yes, including my hero, Joe Sugarman, who invited me to visit him in Las Vegas and let me record and shoot him in his studio and gave me the rights for free to distribute it and show his top-selling infomercials he had ever produced as part of my product.
Suddenly, the generosity of a mentor made me immediately the most authoritative person probably in the world about using video to influence, persuade, and sell products and services on the internet.
Mike Koenigs: Video Strategy and How to Start
Some people say the tsunami is coming. Some people don’t know that it’s coming and it consumes them or it sounds like you’re the person who has been surfing on the top of the tsunami and always getting ahead. Our listeners out there, if they were just starting out in video content today or what have you, what would a key piece of advice be to say, “You know what? Is it really important to have video?” I think a lot of people think, “Yeah, maybe I don’t really need to do a video.” That’s one question.
The second one is where would you ask them to start? What would be a cheap way? I’m an entrepreneur at home now, a mom and pop company, waiting to get ahead. What would be your key piece of advice on how to get going and where do you start?
In a way, they’re kind of both the same. I think the best way of starting to do something is to just start doing it. What I tell everyone these days and again, I’ll give you a real-life example, and what I’m about to give you as the example isn’t something I recommend. I’m not an attorney. I don’t play one on the internet or on TV but I make Facebook Live videos all the time and I actually have a mount in my car, a magnetic mount for my phone. I put it on my dashboard and I drive while I’m doing Facebook Live. Let’s just say maybe or maybe not that’s legal. I don’t know. I have a Tesla and so it’s a very clean, quiet car that you can drive in. I was actually broadcasting live and talking to my audience, my customers. My wife was sitting next to me and we actually did a little show, talking about some of the stuff that we’ve got going on.
What’s important about this is your phone is a mobile television broadcast system. You have the ability right now to broadcast to the entire human race free of charge, everyone who is connected, anyway. The question is, with that kind of power in your hands, why aren’t we all multi-billionaires right now, right? Somehow we know that just about everyone you’d ever want to do business with or could do business with is online. Most of them are on Facebook and most of them, statistically speaking, watch videos on Facebook.
That means that practicing and understanding, first of all, who your market is and what to say to them, in other words, the message, is the grandest lesson you’ll ever learn in order to market and build a relationship and build an audience. The thing that I think is really important is the quantity of people and the quantity of customers isn’t what’s important. It’s having the right ones. In other words, if you thought about how much money would you like to make a year and if your goal was I want to make $100,000 a year, well, that’s roughly $10,000 per month. Well, what if you just got one $10,000 customer per month? That would be $100,000 a year. If your goal is a million dollars a year, it might be one million-dollar client or ten $100,000 clients or a hundred $10,000 clients. My point is you’re a lot better off focusing on high end, high-quality customers than getting a lot of cheap customers.
If your first place you go is well, what am I going to sell, the bottom line is the greatest skill you’ll ever learn is how to market and to sell and the hardest thing most businesses struggle with is selling stuff. It isn’t doing what they do. If you don’t have a product to sell, find someone who can afford to pay a lot per customer and help them get customers and don’t worry about the fulfillment and delivery. Just get them customers.
I don’t know if that directly answered your question or not, Colin, but being a marketing consultant is one of the most lucrative businesses you can ever get in. If someone came to me and said, “Hey, Mike, I’ve got a whole bunch of people who would love to buy your stuff.” I’d be, “Have at it. How much do I pay you per sale?” You, too.
Exactly, man. Yeah, you hit dead on to the question. I think the key thing is, number one, for our listeners out there, number one, just get going on the video. I hear all the comments out there from people, “When I lose ten pounds or release ten pounds, I’ll finally do some video.” Well, guess what? People are seeing you right now today with your ten pounds so don’t make an excuse that a video is any different. What I might say is just get out there and just do the videos. Get going and get your business growing.
I agree with you. High-end clients man … I didn’t forget, Mike. I watched a video series on infopreneuring. It was video cassette. It went into a VHS recorder. It was Mark Victor Hansen and Robert Allen talking about launching, I think it was The Secret Millionaire or something like that, the book.
I’m sorry. It was The One Minute Millionaire. That’s one thing that really said it for me. Mike Koenigs said it beautifully for our listeners out there. They were talking about how do we pre-sell a million copies of the book and I think it was Joe Polish or maybe even Joe Sugarman that was in the room. They had a whole bunch of people sitting around and they were brainstorming about how to pre-sell a million copies of the book. I think it was Joe that got up and said, “Why don’t you just find one person to buy a million books?”
Yeah, that would be a whole lot easier.
Most of our listeners out there are thinking how do I find a million clients all to buy one book each. It’s not about that. It’s about really getting to that stage where, “Hey, if I want to make a million bucks a year, yeah, find a person who will pay you a million dollars.” Now some of you might be thinking, “No, that’s absurd.” Well, then like Mike Koenigs said, get ten people to pay you a hundred thousand dollars. At the end of the day, it’s really, really important to really think outside of the box on this.
Mike Koenigs’ Advice to Listeners
Mike Koenigs, where you’re at today, you’re very successful in so many areas of your life already and you’ve got a beautiful wife. If there was something you would have done, if you sat down today and said I really wish I’d just done this or learned this 15 years ago or ten years ago and you would maybe be even further ahead, maybe you would be living in Santa Monica on the beach next to the other billionaires, what would that piece of advice be for our listeners?
Okay, so I’m going to give you three mini ones. Okay. The first one is it is impossible to live in a state of fear or anxiety when you are in a state of gratitude. Gratitude is something in the world of HeartMath, which I know you’re familiar with. I know you’re part of TLC, where that is when you have heart and mind coherence. As crazy as that may sound for someone going, “I want to know the tactics.” No, if you get gratitude down, which is to spend a moment every day and if you say, “I don’t have time,” that means you need this more than anything.
Get yourself in a state of gratitude and give thanks to your creator or God or whomever or whatever you believe in and get in that state of and thank your Creator for what you have right now. Okay? That isn’t hard to do whether it’s ten seconds or ten minutes. That will transform your life. Period. End of story. I didn’t do enough of that growing up, okay? That’s number one.
Number two is every single thing you do follows your physiology. Five years ago, I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Colorectal Cancer. It wasn’t because I wasn’t successful. Look, I started making money early on. I’ve gone through some big ups and some big downs. I’ve lost it all. I’ve gained it back. I’ve made tens of millions of dollars and that doesn’t mean I got to keep it all. What’s important is if you’re not healthy, it doesn’t matter at all.
So true. So true.
Colin, look at the people that we know together whose bodies are in a wreck and they’re fighting, fighting, fighting. You get to 65 to finally get to whatever that finish line is and then they have a heart attack or they have a heart attack along the way and they’re still driving for it. It’s like, “Holy crap, man. Get your body in order.” My toxic emotions turned into toxin tumors that almost killed me and none of this matters if you don’t have your health. It starts with gratitude, it goes to health, and then the big tip, which is more of what you’re looking for, is this.
Focus. If I would have focused on selling fewer products to better customers for more money, I would have achieved a higher state of happiness, financial independence and success a lot sooner. The goal isn’t about a lot or most or much. It is fewer and simplify your business. Think about it.
Again, Colin, you and I, we’ve been hustling. We bust our asses. We’ve got a whole bunch of products. We’ve got a whole bunch of services. We’re always like” how am I going to fill up my event? How am I going to…?” It’s like, “Hey, take a step back.” I’m sitting around now billionaires who are friends who are begging me to slow down so they can do deals with me. Why don’t I do a couple of deals with a few billionaires and build some massive wealth instead of worrying about the small transactions?
I’ve got to listen and take my own advice. Okay? Look, I love what I’m doing, dude. I really do. I really love what I’m doing. Yesterday, I’m sitting in the best section of the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles and the level and caliber of wealth in that space … I’m not saying that everyone that’s there is happy, right? They busted their butts but we’re amongst billionaires and billionaires and billionaires and it’s like those people are ordinary folks like you and me and they’re always looking for high quality people who can help them build and grow and make something happen.
It takes partnerships. Just remember that your customers can be some of the best partners and the best friends. Focus on higher quality fewer ones than a whole bunch of them. That’s basically my advice.
Great, man. As I sit here, there are a few light bulbs going off here for myself, too, because we’ve both been through a big transition here at our company and it really got down to that. In the early days, Mike, I was all about, yeah, let’s get as many clients as we can and then I really started focusing on those and I even trained this to people. You may hear this, Mike. Go out and get more clients. The one word they’re missing is go out and get more quality clients.
Mike Koenigs’ Final Thoughts and How to Get in Touch
I really agree with that. Mike, thank you so much, man. It’s been absolutely awesome having you with us on the show today and just some great small epiphanies for people, I’m sure, as you’ve been listening and I must be right up front, even for me. As I sit here I’m like, “I need to really get focused on the people that I really, really, really want to serve because those are the ones that want to really get ahead, do the work and do what’s needed to get ahead and don’t mind investing in themselves. It’s the ones that complain all the time that are the ones, most of the time, that will never make money because their whole life is just about complaining and spending time complaining rather than having that gratitude for what they have.
Mike, I know we’re coming to the end of the show here. I’m sure there are some listeners out there that would love to get in touch with you or connect with you in some way or form. What’s the easiest way? Maybe they don’t connect directly with you; I know you’re a super busy individual. What’s the easiest way to connect with you or learn more about you or just understand who Mike Koenigs is and how to really connect with you?
Sure. I’ll give you two easy ways and I do actually respond to emails. I genuinely do. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. My business website is www.youeverywherenow.com. The shortcut link it yen.tv. You just visit and learn a little bit more about me. More importantly, I love hearing success stories. If something that you heard or listened to and you were able to take it and implement it or go through Colin’s incredible programs or his events and implement it and say, “You know what? Listening to this inspired me to join one of Colin’s programs,” share your success story. That’s what I live for.
My vision, my goal in life is to create a million millionaire entrepreneurs before I pass. I believe that by creating wealth, first of all, for yourself and spreading that and being generous with other people and, in the end, in a state of gratitude, a whole bunch of entrepreneurs with that mindset can truly change the world. The world needs some good quality changing these days.
Yeah, you’re very, very right there, Mike. The world needs a lot of change and lot of people becoming more conscious and what have you. I really thank you for your time and I’m sure our listeners out there got lots of value there, lots of amazing nuggets from the show today. Like Mike Koenigs said, and he got there before I did, is that remember that the big part about me is make sure you take action with what you’ve learned. Remember, knowledge is only potential power. Action implementation is where the power is. You can listen to these shows, be running, in your bathtub or wherever you’re at and be listening to these amazing shows but if you don’t take action with these materials, it’s just a bunch a knowledge that goes on the shelf and becomes shelf help. I really want you to take action in this business.
Mike Koenigs, thank you so much for your time. Thanks for being so awesome. Thank you for the amazing friendship that you’ve given me over the last 12 months or so. It’s been so incredible just getting to know you deeper and realizing that people like you make this planet a better place. I think you so much, man.
Thanks a lot. I really appreciate you a lot. I’m looking forward to doing a lot more with you, too, Colin. Thank you.
Thank you, Mike.
Ways to contact Mike: