In this episode Josh talks with Kelly O’Neil. They discuss what it takes to create a profitable entrepreneurial enterprise.

Kelly O’Neil is a multi-award winning entrepreneur, profit strategist and brand-marketing expert for the next generation of innovative companies and thought leaders.

She is on a mission to disrupt the status quo and re-write the rules of entrepreneurship to help entrepreneurs just like you, create a high profit and high freedom businesses on your terms with the creation of innovative strategic scaling methodology called The Profit-ology Process™.

In today’s episode you will learn:

  • How to position yourself to make your competition irrelevant in the market?
  • What’s the best way to do market research?
  • Where to find affluent clients?
  • What is paid networking?
  • How to end up getting clients by going to a conference?


Narrator:          Welcome to The Sustainable Business Radio Show podcast where you’ll learn not only how to create a sustainable business but you’ll also learn the secrets of creating extraordinary value within your business and your life. In The Sustainable Business, we focus on what it’s going to take for you to take your successful business and make it economically and personally successful. Your host, Josh Patrick, is going to help us through finding great thought leaders as well as providing insights he’s learned through his 40 years of owning, running, planning and thinking about what it takes to make a successful business sustainable.

Josh:                  Hey, how are you today? This is Josh Patrick. You’re at The Sustainable Business. Today, our guest is Kelly O’Neil. She’s an international award winning brand marketing and profit strategist. The thing I found really interesting, she actually has a testimonial Seth Godin. I’m really curious about that. How did you get a testimonial? What did he say about you?

Kelly:                 So I applied for– Seth used to run something called the Purple Cow Awards. It was to honor the most innovative companies in America. So I applied for the award. I just kind of let them know my business philosophy. I let them know what I was up to in the world and how I saw what was going on in the entrepreneurial market and the way that I was solving it and I won. That is how I got the Purple Cow Award.

Josh:                  Okay, well that’s kind of cool. What is it that you were doing that was so innovative that you got the award?

Kelly:                 To be honest, I don’t remember specifically at the time, but the way that my brain works is I’ve always been about positioning yourself to make your competition irrelevant in the market. That has always been what I’ve been up to. That’s what I do for my clients. One of the things that I really look for is when everyone else is going left, we go right. So there’s definitely market trends, right? Then you start to see everyone jumped on the same bandwagon. Like as an example, if someone is in the accounting market and someone starts running a successful marketing campaign and then everyone copies that person, what they’re looking to do is everyone’s using this technique of modeling, right? Which is not necessarily a bad thing to a certain extent.

The problem is, is that when everyone’s copying everyone and everyone sounds the same, no one’s different. And so what I do is I help my clients look for the holes in the market. It’s like, yes, let’s look at what everyone else is doing, but then let’s look at what they’re not doing. Let’s look at the ways in which you can be in your zone of genius and you can serve the marketplace in a way that no one else is. That’s kind of how we do it.

Josh:                  That’s a good idea in general, I would say. How do you know that you’re saying is what the market actually wants?

Kelly:                 Because you do market research and my favorite market research is to ask. I think this is one of the most underutilized marketing tools that entrepreneurs use today is they’re guessing, they’re asking peers, but they’re actually not asking their ideal clients. Like, what is it that you really want? They’re not getting down and doing that belly to belly especially with the internet today. I think the internet has been both a blessing and a curse because it’s made things a lot easier for us, but it’s also made us really lazy. People think that they can just throw things out online and they’re going to get business. When I work with my clients, I’m having them get in front of their ideal clients and really do that market research and ask those questions of, what do you wish was out there? What are your biggest challenges? What are the things that you’re really struggling with? What are the things that are going to make the biggest difference in your world right now?

Josh:                  A lot of times when I ask those questions, I get a giant shrug. How do you overcome the giant shrug when you ask that question? If you go to a lot of business owners say, what’s your biggest problem? They’re going to tell you something that you’ve heard 9000 times already that really isn’t their biggest business problem.

Kelly:                 Yes.

Josh:                  I have to dig to get there. How do you go about doing that?

Kelly:                 I just get real curious. Tell me more. Tell me more about that. How does that show up? What does that feel like? What does that look like? I just keep digging.

Josh:                  And once you find out what that is and then how do you get the word out that you actually are different or your client is different?

Kelly:                 Me personally or my clients?

Josh:                  The clients that you’re working with. I assume that you probably do the same thing for yourself also so you could either choose either one.

Kelly:                 So the reason I answer that question that way is specifically, Josh because no business is the same so it really depends. One of the greatest flaws that’s going on in the business consulting market right now is that everyone is utilizing this kind of like one size fits all model. They’ve got a model that they specifically teach. They’re teaching whatever it is their area of expertise whether its internet marketing or webinars or whatever it is that they’re teaching, but they don’t take into account the fact that every single business owner and every single is clients different.

You got to actually get to the bottom of what your clients do best or what you do best to get your word out and cross [inaudible 00:05:25] with where your clients are listening. Like, as an example, if I have someone who is not good at public speaking, even though public speaking works great for me that’s one of my core lead generation strategies. I’m not going to put my clients in a position where they’re going to do public speaking. That may not be the best way for them at all. Maybe their clients are not even listening to that. I’ve got a client came free for life. They’re amazing. They are on a mission to eradicate people suffering from chronic pain. Their demographic is they’re not super online savvy. 

Their prime demographic right now are not super online savvy. They’re reaching them. The interesting thing is the number one way that they reach their clients as opposed to what everyone else is doing is email. Email is still the best way to reach their clients. What I’m looking for is I’m looking for the ways that not only the provider or the company owner, the entrepreneur is going to excel in, but also in cross referencing that with the ways where their clients are going to be listening. Again, you get that by market research, you start asking. Are you on Facebook? Are you on LinkedIn? Do you prefer to go to conferences? You’ve got to be able to find out— I specialize in marketing for clients. So statistically, we know where they’re hanging out more.

Josh:                  Okay, where do affluent clients hang out?

Kelly:                 Again, it depends on the specific client in a specific niche, but you can absolutely find more affluent clients. I’ll tell you a couple of my favorite places to meet more affluent clients. Number one is private social clubs. I was just up the other night actually having dinner with the former president of Zappos. How I did that is because I played tennis.

So I played tennis with his wife, his wife had me over for dinner and now I’m hanging out with them. Doing something that you love and putting yourself in that situation. Amazing way for you to be able to find affluent client. It’s not even that I try. It’s that I love to play tennis. I’m there and I start meeting people. Another great place to meet affluent clients is charity boards. If you are volunteering for different charities that’s an amazing place to be able to meet them.

Again, depending on your business niche, I start to look into different places. Though, if you’re going after entrepreneurs, if you’re going after business people, I’m going to put people into higher end conferences that require a pay for placement. Even with general networking, I am suggesting to my clients that they find paid networking opportunities because that’s going to weed out all the tire kickers and the people who are not serious.

Josh:                  When you say paid networking, what is that?

Kelly:                 You know how they have like Chamber of Commerce luncheons or they’ve got these like free business networking mixers you just go and it’s either free or very low cost like $20. I’m actually having them go more to things like I brought one of my clients to a workshop that one of my mentors was putting on that was $5,000 to attend. Then of course, it put her in the room with a bunch of business owners who could afford to attend a $5,000 conference. She got two clients out of it.

Josh:                  How did she end up getting two clients by going to a conference? I mean, I can see getting clients if I’m speaking at a conference, but just going in attending that seems to be a really hit and miss sort of thing.

Kelly:                 Not if you position yourself well and not if you choose the right conferences with the affluent. Again, that’s really my niche. So with the affluent, it’s all about building relationships. So it didn’t happen there. It’s not like she went and had to contract sign, but she started relationships with them and she followed up with them and then within 30 days or so that became clients first.

Josh:                  Let’s go back to differentiation between your client and the rest of the people in the crowd, do you have any methodology that helps your clients think about how they can differentiate themselves?

Kelly:                 I do actually. I mean I take them through a variety of different processes to really find and there’s a lot of different components that go into it. There’s everything from how you’re branding yourself. That’s my background. My background is in branding. I worked in the corporate field for many, many years helping to position and brand companies to either be acquired to sell them or for them to go public or to increase their business valuation. It’s really about finding that market hole, but it’s the whole package. It’s not just one thing. For some people, it could be the way that you are talking about your brand that’s different. It could be the service offerings that you’re providing.

It could be the niche that you’re providing it to. As an example of everyone’s providing stuff to kindergarten moms like what about going after older elementary school kid bombs. I mean there’s differences of those positioning. It could be going after celebrity clientele. It could be creating a proprietary process or propriety like the profit-ology process that no one else has that. It has absolutely distinguished me from every other business consultant and business coach in the marketplace. Just being able to have a solid process that is effective or a solid protocol.

I mean if you even think of I don’t know what market your listeners are falling into, but you think of J.J. Virgin and how she has like her seven foods to eliminate. Having that kind of signature either system or I hate this word because it’s so overused and most people aren’t doing it, but some type of signature system, some type of signature process that’s going to differentiate you from everyone else out there. Pricing that’s another one. If everyone in your market is charging $300 an hour for a service. If you can swing it, you can get the client results charged thousand, right? People are going to start to notice that and as long as you market it correctly, you’re going to have buyers at that level if you have the right market to message match.

Josh:                  One of the things I always tell our clients, encourage our clients is it come up with three ways that they are unique in whenever they do. The reason we use three is I give one way it’s unique. I sound like everybody else have I have two ways that are unique. I sound like a lot of other people, but that third reason that I’m unique usually is enough to differentiate myself significantly from other people that I’m competing with. Let’s move to Profit-ology. So you can tell me what that is because I hate jargon. I like to find out things when I don’t understand.

Kelly:                 So I left corporate America and started my own company in 2001. I started out primarily consulting and coaching around brand marketing and public relations. What I realized very quickly as I built my own business, I learned very quickly that a lot of people, great, great brand, but then they have no business foundation to be able to actually scale that brand and make it work. So I saw a lot of companies failing as a result of that. Then additionally, what I started to see is the market has become so saturated with so many different coaches just selling so many different things.

Quite frankly, quite a few of them are not qualified to be doing the work that they’re doing in the market. What I saw was, is that we’ve got a bunch of people now who are really great at marketing and their marketing their products or services. So the entrepreneurs go in and they’re like, “Oh, well, it sounds great.” Because like maybe someone’s marketing podcasting as an example. Podcasting sounds great and the person who created really convincing argument as to why someone should be podcasting.

Then the person goes and they invest in some podcasting program or service or whatever, but the challenges is that they haven’t actually laid the foundation to make podcasting effective. So as I started to see so many businesses failing and so many businesses investing in things where I’m like, “You’re step skipping. You’re step skipping.” There is an order to these things. What I did was I started right down the order in which these things need to and should occur and that’s what became the Profit-ology process. We actually call it the Profit- ology critical path where the very first thing in order to create a business and a life that you absolutely love, you have to have clarity.

Most of these programs out there, they’re tiptoeing over clarity or they’re getting what I call just enough clear. Like, “What’s your goal? What do you want? Oh, good. You want $100,000 a new contracts? Okay, great.” Well, that’s not enough clarity for me to actually design a business that’s going to not only be financially lucrative to someone but also is going to be joyful. Like really give them the life that they want. Because I don’t know about you, Josh, but for me and I’m sure this same with you, but for me I’m not in business just so I can be a business. I mean, I love what I do, but I have a life outside of my company. My business is designed to work to create the life that I desire.

Josh:                  Okay.

Kelly:                 But if you don’t know what you want, and you don’t know what you want your business to look like and you don’t know how much money that’s going to cost you then you can’t do that. That first step is clarity. The second step is cash infusion. If you don’t have enough cash to build that then you need to create a cash infusion strategy for your business. Again, cash infusion strategies are very different than a long term marketing strategy. Like podcasting is not a cash infusion strategy, writing a book is not a cash infusion strategy. There’s a more long term. Well, I mean you laugh but honestly–

Josh:                  The reason I’m laughing is writing a book is a cash depletion strategy.

Kelly:                 It is a cash depletion– I would agree with you. I would agree with you. And so then we look at how are you going to get cash quickly, very focused. The third step is the strategy. That’s where we start to look at the positioning strategy and the business strategy and how are you going to really differentiate yourself. Fourth step is creating that brand and all of the different components around building that sustainable brand that is really going to strategically. Do you want a corporate brand? Do you want a product brand? What’s the best architecture for you?

Once we’ve got their brand strategy nailed then we actually develop the brand strategy. Then we go into the marketing that’s going to help build the brand awareness so that their clients know who they are. That they’re solidifying their brand promise. That they’re putting out the same messaging and the reinforcing the messaging consistently in the marketplace. Then we move on to sales, optimization and automation. Then finally we get to [inaudible 00:15:59]. My clients just go around this profit-ology critical path over and over again. At the center of that is you as the leader, you as the CEO of your business and how you’re operating your company like a CEO and the business foundations that you’re lying in to create a sustainable growth company. That is the profit-ology process.

Josh:                  So when you are helping people figure out how to name their companies, do you recommend a name the company after them or name it after something else?

Kelly:                 Totally depends. That’s my answer really for everything because I’m a strategist. It depends. There’s no one size fits all answer. I’ve got [inaudible 00:16:40] as an example. They came to me and Dr. John Shea is world renowned in the work he does in the world, but they want this as a legacy company to live beyond them. John is getting up there in years and he’s not wanting to do the same things that he did before. So we went with more of a brand name that was going to be able to leave a legacy. I’ve got other people who really want this, they want to build a personal brand.

They want to be an influencer in their community. They want to be known as a thought leader could even be a doctor where they have a clinic that has a clinic name, but then we’re really putting the effort and energy and investment behind their name as a doctor and whatever methodology they’re creating. So just really depends on what they’re after.

Josh:                  It would seem to me that if somebody is building a brand around themselves that they’re really saying that, “Gee, I’m not really interested in having his brand move past me when I’m done.”

Kelly:                 Correct. That is correct.

Josh:                  So there’s a strategy they’re going to need to know for financial independence from their business that’s different than I sell my business.

Kelly:                 1,000%

Josh:                  In fact, we deal with people about that issue there. It sounds like you’re doing some pretty interesting stuff with your people. Are most of your client’s local or most of your clients have a national audience or is it a mix?

Kelly:                 Both. I’ve got clients that market more locally. And then I’ve got clients that are marketing nationally and internationally.

Josh:                  All the stuff you talked about today, I definitely see the local [inaudible 00:18:19] of that, like the tennis and joining charitable boards and things of that nature. That’s definitely a local strategy. Now, what kind of strategy and we’ll ended here would you have for somebody who doesn’t do local, who wants to be international or national?

Kelly:                 Again, I’m not trying to be vague, but it depends. It depends on who their audiences is. It depends so here’s a couple of them that I recommend for that. So if you are good on camera and you are good at internet marketing, the ability to be able to reach people all over the world and if that’s where your clients are, is profound.

We definitely use that in our business, which is why I have so many clients all over the world. Podcasting is an exceptional strategy, speaking is another one as long as you are good at it. Speaking is amazing. I mean, again, I say that and I don’t like because I’ve seen some people who have tried to build their business model based on speaking and quite frankly, they have no business doing that. It’s just not their bailiwick.

Josh:                  They can always get coach that. There’s a ton of really good people out there who are good at teaching you how to speak.

Kelly:                 Well, they can but see, that’s not the philosophy of what I teach in business. I teach people to work smart hard so I want them to go with their natural zones of genius.

Josh:                  Okay, cool. So Kelly, unfortunately, we are out of time, if people listening or watching today are interested in find you, how they go about doing that?

Kelly:                 Well, there’s a couple quick ways to be able to do that. Number one, you can jump on over and you can listen to my podcast. The Profit-ology podcast which is obviously on all of the stations that podcasts are on. And another one is I run a really fantastic group out on Facebook called the Profit-preneurs Circle.

You can join there. It’s absolutely free. I do training every Thursday that is free. We do different services. We’re doing a marketing millionaires intensive in there about every four to six weeks. That’s a great place to come and join and learn more about us.

Josh:                  Perfect. I also have an offer for you, too. One of the things that I obsess a lot about is because there were periods of my life where I didn’t have any and that’s called cash flow. So I developed this thing called Cracking the Cash Flow Code. I found that there’s basically five steps to going from having not enough cash to having total cash flow freedom.

We put together a success path to that and I’ve made an infographic out of it. It’s easy to get, you just go to our website, That’s You’ll get a chance to get the infographic. It’s free and easy. And every step along the way, I talked about the typical bottlenecks you might have and things you might want to be doing to get past that bottleneck. This is Josh Patrick. You’re with Kelly O’Neil. You’re at The Sustainable Business. Thanks a lot for stopping by. I hope to see you back here really soon.

Narrator:          You’ve been listening to The Sustainable Business podcast where we ask the question, “What would it take for your business to still be around a hundred years from now?” If you like what you’ve heard and want more information, please contact Josh Patrick at 802-846-1264 ext 2, or visit us on our website at, or you can send Josh an email at

Thanks for listening. We hope to see you at The Sustainable Business in the near future.

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