Are You Just One Conversation Away from Massive Agency Success?

By Jason Swenk on January 26, 2022

Are you looking for opportunities to make more connections? You could be just one conversation away from your next big client success that leads to scaling faster. Tom Schwab started his agency Interview Valet in 2014 with the theory that targeted interviews on established podcasts could be used much like guest blogging. This podcast guest strategy has grown into a business that provides the fastest way for authors, speakers, coaches, consultants, and brands to maximize the benefits of podcasting. In his interview with Jason, Tom expands on how to start conversations that lead to success in your business, how to get the contacts that will lead to those conversations, and why you should look for a true connection to get people interested.

3 Golden Nuggets

  1. Conversations that lead to success. The idea behind Tom’s podcast marketing service is that everything great in his life has come from a conversation. He believes that in your personal or professional life you owe your most important connections to that initial conversation, it could be a customer you really wanted to work with, a business partner, a great employee, your best friend or spouse. “It wasn’t a funnel. It wasn’t a, you know, social media strategy. It was conversations.” Because of this, he wants to emphasize the importance of human connection as something that can’t be replaced by automation.
  2. How to get more conversations. Remember that more is not better, better is better. Tom tried to keep in mind that you can never say enough of the wrong things to the right people or the right things to the wrong people. So you should always make sure that you’re talking to the right people in the first place. Are they interested? Make sure they’re interested in having that conversation and then make sure it is a conversation by asking their thoughts on something, as opposed to just asking the same five questions and them just giving talking points.
  3. Look for a connection. How can you get the connections that will lead to the conversations you want to have? Try to figure out who you’re going after and who’s connected to them and see if they can connect you to them. You should look at putting together a targeted list and go over this with your sales team. But whatever you do, don’t just treat it like a spam list. Figure out what’s the connection? What’s that degree of connection? And then ask. Remember that people usually want to have their friends, their friends of friends and people they want to be their friends on their podcast. So figure out how to fit in one of those groups.

Sponsors and Resources

Verblio: Today’s episode of the Smart Agency Masterclass is sponsored by Verblio. Check out and get 50% off your first month of content creation. Our team loves using Verblio because of the ease in their process and their large pool of crowd-sourced writers.


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Being One Conversation Away from Scaling Your Agency Faster

{These transcripts have been auto-generated. While largely accurate, they may contain some errors.}

Jason: [00:00:00] What’s up, agency owners? Jason Swenk here and I’m excited to have another amazing guest. And we’re going to talk about how you can scale your agency faster through one conversation. You’re one conversation away from scaling faster.

So let’s go ahead and jump into the episode.

Hey, Tom. Welcome to the show.

Tom: [00:00:26] Hey, Jason. I am thrilled to be here.

Jason: [00:00:28] Yeah, I’m excited to have you on. So tell us who you are and what do you do? For the people that have not heard of you yet.

Tom: [00:00:34] I am Tom Schwab. I’m the founder of Interview Valet, a podcast interview marketing service. We help authors, coaches, speakers, brands, get their message out on targeted podcast interviews.

And I’m here in Kalamazoo, Michigan, which proves if you could do it from Kalamazoo, Michigan, you could do it from anywhere.

Jason: [00:00:54] Oh, that’s awesome. Well, let’s kind of jump into it. You talk about kind of you’re one conversation away from really hitting it out of the park. So I guess elaborate a little bit more for us.

Tom: [00:01:05] Yeah, as I look at it, everything great in my life has come from a conversation. And that could be that big customer that you acquire. It could be that partnership that you have. It could be that great employee. Heck, take it personally, right? Your spouse. It was probably a one conversation that connected you with them.

It wasn’t a funnel. It wasn’t a, you know, social media strategy. It was conversations. And I think one of the things, while I’m a big proponent of automation, I think it can’t replace human connection. And I think the bigger the sale, the bigger the relationship, the more trust is involved in it. We need to focus on conversation as opposed to just automation.

Jason: [00:01:48] Yeah. You know, I just got off a sales mastermind call. So for our mastermind, we have our own little mastermind just for their salespeople that they can call. And one of the members was talking about, well, hey, I’m taking this course on doing videos to sell better. You know, selling through video and I told them, I said, let’s step back.

You shouldn’t use video to sell someone off the first conversation. You should use it as, how can I get a conversation in order to just say, yeah, that sounds kind of interesting, let me chat a little bit more. So I totally agree with you about one conversation.

Tom: [00:02:30] And the whole idea of people can see the sales pitch coming. And I think they want to know who they’re working with. You know, HubSpot years ago did a study and they found an about the founder page was highly indicative of a buying decision. And so, you know, the bigger, the decision, the more you want to know what this person is who their heart is. Why do they believe at this way?

And if you think about it, you know, from branding, you think of all the big brands today. If I say one, you know, you could probably say the person that goes along with that, and it doesn’t come from a 10-second social media ad. It probably comes from you hearing a conversation with them over the years.

Jason: [00:03:11] Well, how can, you know, because that’s a question I get a lot from our members and other agencies I chat with is, you know, how can I get more conversations?

Tom: [00:03:21] Well, I would say always remember more is not better, better is better. And then what is a conversation, right? So you want to have the conversation with the right people, a mutual friend, Shane Duffy, out there in Texas, I always remember something he told me. He’s like you can never say enough of the wrong things to the right people or the right things to the wrong people.

So make sure you’re having the conversation with the right people from the very beginning. Are they interested in this? Just because you can yell to 3 billion people through the internet, doesn’t mean they want to hear you. So first make sure that it’s focused in there that they’re interested in having that conversation and then make sure it is a conversation.

Like here, podcast interviews, I understand what the word comes from, but to me, the best interviews are more conversations, right? It’s not, you’re asking the same five questions and I’m giving the same talking points. So have that back and forth. You know, if you’ve got a client that asks you a question, well, instead of just answering one, jump off on a video and say, hey, you know, Jason just asked me this question. I thought it was great. I had to think about it myself here is my answer.

And then encourage people to say, what are your thoughts on it? You know, start that conversation. Sometimes people will say, well, that’s not scalable. I don’t know if it’s scalable or not, but it’s effective and I’d rather have effective than ineffective and scalable.

Jason: [00:04:56] Oh, I totally agree. And you’re really a great connector and you’re connecting a lot of these great people together to have these conversations and then people kind of go, oh man, I had a great conversation here. And then they relate that to you. Is that something that you’ve had to work on in order to do that better and to continue to do that?

You know, that’s something I always struggle with.

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Tom: [00:05:20] Well, first of all, thank you for saying that I’m honored by that. And I think it’s come with time also, because one of the things that I thought of is that the best gift you can ever give somebody is an introduction to a new idea or a new person. You remember that professor in college or the teacher in high school that really opened your mind to something, or once again, going back…

Jason: [00:05:43] Still waiting, still waiting on that one.

Tom: [00:05:47] How about the, the person that introduced you to your spouse, right? That’s not something that you could do for yourself, but it changed your entire life. And I’ve always loved that of getting introduced to people and getting introduced to ideas. And I think we’re blessed to be a blessing so trying to do that for other people too.

And that’s one of the biggest thrills I get is listening to podcasts right now and hearing a podcast host, you know, say, oh, this is my friend so and so, and that they build up a relationship there and going my company Interview Valet had a small portion in making that happen. Once again, uh, another mutual friend of ours, Morgan Wright, he pointed out to me years ago, well it was like a year ago, that remember we used to play that six degrees of separation with Kevin Bacon?

Jason: [00:06:36] Yep, Kevin Bacon. Yep.

Tom: [00:06:37] So Y2K. Right now it’s like 2.3. So with that you’re 2.3 degrees of separation from anybody in the world. So right? If you want to have a conversation with them, well, then you probably should go on LinkedIn or think who could introduce me to, to Jason Swenk? Who knows him? Right? Because you’ll get a lot further with that conversation than you will just with some spam email.

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I’m glad you mentioned that because that was something we did in the agency a lot. Especially when we wanted to reach into brands and I tell people to do this in the mastermind all the time, like, come up with your top a hundred hit list and then start going who’s the contact in that hit list? And then who do I know that knows them that can connect us and create that conversation that we’ve been looking for?

Because people think that… one of the excuses today, you know, on the mastermind call was like, well, I can’t send a strategic gift because no one’s working in the office. They’re all at home. But like we were talking about like, hey, what, if you figured out who you’re going after and who’s connected to them and seeing if they can connect you?

Cause that’s how we landed some big accounts.

Tom: [00:08:53] You look at that at one side, you know, it’s that account-based marketing. I would say that’s even more granular than that, right? Of the relationship at an account-based. Whereas you look at that and somebody else comes and says, well, you know, I can buy this list of, you know, 5,000 companies and, uh, I can scrape this database, so can everybody else, right?

And they’re probably doing it also. I, I laugh. You know, I get pitched to be on my podcast about four times. Jason, I don’t have a podcast, right? But everybody loves it and wants to be on it. And I wonder how many good clients are getting the same thing where it’s just another email that somebody is just spamming them wherever it’s an introduction from a friend.

Yeah. It’s almost like the mob, right? If Jason vouches for them, I’ll take a meeting with them.

Jason: [00:09:48] Yeah, exactly. I just think that’s some low-hanging fruit, for all of you listening, that you should look at of going do we have a targeted list that we’re going after? Or have this go over this with your sales team, which you should have a sales team. You should not be doing the sales, but that’s another story, and that’s another episode we can chat about.

But then identify what’s the connection? What’s that degree of connection? And then ask. And I think you’d be really surprised if we come back, if you look in two weeks, do this for two weeks, I think you’d never stopped doing it again.

Tom: [00:10:22] We teach the same thing in podcasting, right? People will spam list and I’ll always say, you know, come up with a target list of 10 podcasts and then think about it. What are the three types of people that people want to have on their podcast? Their friends, their friends of friends and people they want to be their friends.

So figure out how you can figure out to be in one of those groups.

Jason: [00:10:44] Exactly. Well, this has all been amazing, Tom, is there anything I didn’t ask you that you think would benefit the audience?

Tom: [00:10:51] The one thing that I would encourage people, you know, we’re blessed to be a blessing and a lot of times people will say, well, what I know everybody knows, right?

I, I’ve got nothing special in a conversation to add. That’s not true, right? You are an expert on something. You look at the legal definition of an expert, is somebody by their training, their experience, their life knows more than the average person. I guarantee you, you’re working 16 hours a day, sometimes in your business, you know more about your business. You know more about your industry.

GoldenNow, are you the one expert? No, there’s not one expert, but you are an expert. And what you know could really help people. What’s ordinary to you is amazing to others. So share that, you know, he’s there as a podcast guest, as a podcast, host doing blogs, videos, whatever it is. I think you’ll bless a lot of people, but you’ll also be amazed at how it comes back and helps your agency.

Jason: [00:11:53] Awesome. Well, Tom, I know you have a book that came out, so tell us where can the people listening get it?

Tom: [00:11:59] Uh, yeah, so, um, we got a book called One Conversation Away. It’s my second book, Podcast Guest Profits was the first one. Uh, you can get all of those. I’m not here to sell books. I sell some, but I give a lot more away.

If you come back to Interview Valet, with a, forward slash swenk ( We’ll put everything there. I’ll put my social media. Uh, if you’d like to talk about how your agency or your clients could use targeted podcasts or interviews, I’d be thrilled to talk with you about that also.

Jason: [00:12:28] I thought you were going to be like I’ll put my social security number there. I’m like, like don’t put your social security. I just mentally that my mind went there, but awesome. We’ll go check that out. Thanks so much, Tom, for coming on the show.

And if you guys want to be around amazing agency owners where they’re sharing, what’s working and then also have a mastermind specifically for your operations, for your sales team.

I want you all to go to, request an invite and start applying, and maybe you’ll be the right member for us and, uh, we will chat soon. So go there now. And until next time have a Swenk day.

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