Think about the last time somebody sent you a card and how you felt. How did that make you feel? That's what Kody Bateman is all about. Prompted by a sad family event, Kody, the Founder of the modern-day relationship marketing movement, shares how he created his company called SendOutCards. In this episode, Ben Baker interviews him about how his one of a kind card system works and where it is heading in the future. Kody also talks about the McCabe Foundation and why they collaborated with the Lieberman Foundation. Learn more about Kody’s advocacy in helping the world feel better in this episode.
I have Kody Bateman from SendOutCards on my show. Kody is the President and CEO of the company. It is an amazing organization. For anybody who hasn't taken a look at SendOutCards, it's an incredible thing. Think about the last time somebody sent you a card and how you felt. Think about how that made you feel, whether it was a Christmas card, whether it was a birthday card, whether somebody popped something in the mail to say thank you and the feeling that you got when you got that card. That's what Kody is all about. Kody, welcome to the show. Thanks for being a guest.
Thanks for having me. I'm honored. I love what you're doing, Ben. I'm glad to be a part of this show. Whatever I can do to help, I'm here.
Let's start off with SendOutCards because there are a lot of things I want to dig into, but let's start from the beginning. Start about what was the impetus of starting SendOutCards? What is it as an organization and what makes it so special?
It all started with a very personal story. It started with a great loss that we had in our family, which became my why. I like to share that story. Way back in the day, I graduated from college and got offered a job to work in New York City. I was in Utah and I was newly married at the time. I had a little baby girl. We accepted the offer and we gathered all of our belongings, strewed it in a U-Haul truck. We went over to mom and dad's house to say goodbye to the family. We said our goodbyes. We went to get our car. The U-Haul truck was being driven by somebody else behind us and we went to leave.
As I went to get in the car, I saw my older brother, Kris, who was moving some vehicles around in a lot adjacent to my parents' home. This was in 1989. At that moment that I saw my brother over there, I had what I call a prompting, an intuitive thought that I needed to go over to my brother, give him a hug, tell him I love him and say goodbye because we were moving away. I remember we were in a hurry. I ignored the prompting. We got in the car and we drove away. I remember honking and waving at my brother. He waved back at me and we drove off all the way across the country. We moved into our new home in New Jersey. About three months went by and everything was going great until I got a phone call in the middle of the night. My mother on the other side of the phone tearfully let me know that my brother Kris had been killed in an industrial accident.
He was 29 years old. He had three children, ages 7, 4 and 2. When I got the news that night that my brother had passed away, the only thing I could think of was this prompting I had to say goodbye to him and I ignored it. I made a promise to him that night. I made a promise to my brother, Kris, that when I had a prompting to reach out in kindness to somebody, I would act. I would do all I could to help as many people as I could do the same. That's where the idea or the why came to start a company like you see in SendOutCards. SendOutCards is a way for people to act on their promptings, to reach out in kindness to other people. That is the story. We've shared that story ever since. It's an important message. I've been on a journey for many years now to learn what promptings are and promptings will guide you in your life. They'll guide you in your personal life, in your business. If you act on your promptings, great things will happen in your life and we simply have a tool to help you do it.
First of all, I'm sorry for your loss. It's so important to understand our why. It's so important to sit there and say, “We do this because.” It doesn't matter what it is in our lives. It's understanding why do we do something and there's a reason. There's always something that's good that can come out of even the worst of situations and be able to sit there and say, “Because of this, we do this.” Be able to inspire people based on that why and get people to understand that we're not just in this to make money. We're not just in this to send out cards. We're in this for the prompting. It's building those relationships. That's what I want to get into. It’s your whole philosophy of relationship marketing because that's what that prompting is. It's building connections one at a time. I want to talk to you about what does relationship marketing means to you and how has it helped you build an organization where millions and millions of cards have been sent and have probably changed hundreds of thousands, if not millions of lives because of it. What that means to you, what that means to the organization, and what does that mean to the people that you have supported over all these years?
I launched this book, Power of Human Connection: How Relationship Marketing Is Transforming the Way People Succeed. I talk in here as well as in all my speeches about the subject of relationship marketing. There are two words there. There's a reason that relationship is the first word. It's not marketing relationship. It's relationship marketing. Relationship is what it's about. The challenge that most people have in the business world is they immediately focus on the second word, which is marketing. Most people focus on, “If I implement this thing, whatever it is, what will I get from it?” That's how we're wired to think. Relationship marketing is exactly the opposite. We implement this and the way to make it work, the 100% focus has to be, "What can I give with this?” It’s not, "What can I get from it?”
Relationship marketing is all about the first word, not the second. It's about creating a genuine connection, relationship with other human beings, not only in your business life but in your personal life. I am of the belief that we're all in this game called life together. At the end of the day, we're all human beings. Our occupation is nothing more than a tool to make a connection with other human beings. The society has that backward. You hear people say all the time, “You shouldn't do business with your friends or you shouldn't make your customers your friends.” Those are nonsense. I don't believe that, not for a second.
I don't believe you should draw any of those lines. We're human beings. This has to do with race. It has to do with religion. It has to do with business. It has to do with everything. We're all part of the same family. We all bleed red. We all have a desire to love and be loved. We all want to make a difference and help people because it makes us feel good. That's it. Your occupation is a way for you to make a connection with other human beings. That's what it is. If you can get that mindset, you'll become a lot better at your occupation. That to me is what relationship marketing is.If you act on your promptings, great things will happen in your life. Click To Tweet
In the end, we're all humans. We all need to understand that at the end of the day, we all have wants, needs, fears, desires, love and hate within us. The more we can understand the person at the other end of the phone, the other end of the conversation or the other end of the world, the better off this world is going to be. The more we define each other, the more we go us versus them, Millennial versus Gen X versus whatever within the workplace, the more of a disadvantage we're putting ourselves in. The more we can sit there and say, “We all want to be listened to. We all want to be understood. We all want to be valued,” life is so much better. I love that you said that. I was looking at your book. I loved the fact that Ivan Misner, the Founder of BNI, Business Networking International wrote your foreword on that because Ivan is all about givers gain.
As someone who's been loosely associated with BNI for many years, I've lots of friends who've have been through organizations. I've been to a number of meetings. I've been part of a couple of chapters. It's all about relationships. It's all about trust because if you know, like and trust people, real business happens. It happens because you liked each other as human beings first. You trust each other first and the money comes. The money is a byproduct, but it's these conversations that we have are the most important thing. Tell me about the SendOutCards system. How does it physically work? How has it changed? You've been doing this for a long time now. How has the technology changed to be able to enable you to provide what you provide in even a more meaningful way? Technology in the card system and being able to print on demand many years ago compared to where it is now allows you to do things that you never could have dreamed of many years ago.
I've been doing these speeches for many years now on the subject. We used to joke back in the early days, “If you want to send a card to somebody, what do you have to do?” Many years ago, people would say, “You have to drive to the store, go down the aisle, pick out a card, go to the post office, pick out a stamp.” You've got to do all this stuff. Most people don't do that because it's too big of a hassle to do it. Back in that day, 2003, ‘04 and ‘05, I created a system where you could go on your computer. At the time, it was those big computers that you'd get on there. You could access our system on the internet and be able to build a card, type a message and have it sent over the internet to our digital printers. Back in 2003, ‘04 and ‘05, that was unheard of. We had to educate people on how that worked. People didn't get it. Now, that conversation has completely changed.
Do you remember the day when you had to wait until you could go back home or to your office to get on a computer to send a card to somebody? What a pain in the butt that was that you had to do that. Now if I have a prompting, I'm driving down the road and I need to send a card to somebody, I’ll pull off the side of the road, pull out my smartphone and I send him a card. I don't even need to type it. I could voice it in, “Ben, thanks for having me on the show. I had a great time. I love what you're doing. I appreciate everything. Your friend, Kody.” Click the send button and it's gone. I take off in the car and drive again. That's the evolution of technology.
We're already working on the future. Think about Siri, “Siri, tell me this.” That's the technology we're working on. Wherever you're at, you can voice it and it will build the card for you. We're already working on that technology. Technology is changing things very rapidly. Everything we develop and launch has about an eighteen-month shelf life. It's only good for eighteen months and you already got to be working on the next piece to come out later. That's how fast technology changes. It's an exciting part of what we do.
One of my good friends, Janice Porter, who’s one of your distributors, we were having lunch and we were having a conversation. All of a sudden, she's grab her cell phone in a snit and have a selfie. The two of us had a picture together. Two days or three days later, there was a card in the mail, “Thank you for lunch. We had a good time.” This is what we talked about. That actual picture was part of the thing. The ability to reach out and touch people where and when it's convenient in a way that's meaningful. That card is still sitting in my office and we're talking months later. It's sitting there reminding me of “The next time I need something or I want to refer somebody, I refer them to Janice.” If somebody I know needs LinkedIn training, Janice is the person I send them to.
It's all about relationships. It's about creating those connections. The amazing thing is that your technology allows you to do that. I remember when I first started off direct mail many years ago and we started doing variable prints. All you can do is change somebody's name and maybe their phone number, their address, but you would choke up printers because you couldn't control the data. There was not enough bandwidth to run the data. Those days are gone. It's amazing when I was talking about megabytes and now people are talking about terabytes. It's amazing what can happen and how you can build a system that allows you to be able to meaningfully reach out anywhere in the world and send somebody a card to say thank you.
It could be, “Thank you for lunch or thank you for being you or I heard you were having a bad day.” Those meaningful things, you can send somebody an email. You can send somebody a text, but physically getting that card in the mail means so much more because somebody made a bit of an effort to do it. There's that physicality in that piece. It’s tangible and in your hand that people will keep and treasure far more than that email that they read once, hit reply, say thank you, delete and forget about. I love what you are doing.
The keyword you said there is tangible. I've got cards everywhere, greeting cards that people sent me. There was a Boss' Day and I got this card from all the employees here at SendOutCards, “Happy Boss’ Day.” What did they do? They put a picture of me on the front. Everybody claims, “I hate seeing pictures of myself.” That’s nonsense. Nobody hates seeing a picture of themselves. It's funny that we have to say this because it wasn't that long ago, but do you remember the day when you had your pictures printed and you went down to the store and picked up your pictures? You had these stacks of pictures. You would go home and sit down at your kitchen table with your family. You'd open up the pictures. You start thumbing through the pictures and everybody in the family gathers around. What are they looking for? They’re looking for pictures of themselves. If they say they're not, they're lying.
It's human nature. You look for a picture of you. It's the way it is. I don't know why it's that way but it is that way. When you see a picture, I pay attention. Look at this, you open up on the inside and everybody has signed it on the inside with a super nice message going out to me. It's the tangible aspect of what we're doing is imperative in this day and age because we live in a digital world now. Everything's email communications, everything's done off a CRM, it's all automated. People accept the fact that they're getting their communication done via digital means and it doesn't cost very much.
That's great, but you're also getting lost in the clutter of digital communications. This is a way to separate yourself from that. It's as crucial as relationship marketing is in general. You better be focusing on creating relationships because people already know about your business. They already know about you. They've already Googled or Yelped you. They've already done all this stuff. Not only did they know about you and what you've offered, they know what your customers are saying about you, good and bad. They know it all before you even talk to them. The business interaction is becoming more and more reliant upon relationship than it's ever been in the history of time. That's how important relationship marketing is.
It's how you differentiate yourself. If you have two companies that you deal with and one where you feel that you're getting human interaction, that people are listening to you, that they care about you. They empathize with you. They want to know about what your real problem is. The other one, you can't even find a phone number on their website or your email that you send them never gets responded to or the text or whatever, which is the one you want to deal with? Which is the one where there's some human connection, where there's somebody on the other end that cares about you or somewhere where you're just a number and a Visa card? You can buy things anywhere. Amazon has proven that. 50% of all online sales are done through Amazon.
Here's the thing. What makes Amazon amazing is that there are human beings that respond. If there's a problem, there are people that will sit there and help you take care of it. If there wasn't, I don't believe that the organization would have gotten as big and fast as it is because they're big. They're going to have problems. They're going to have challenges. Every company does. Every company makes mistakes. Every company fouls up. It's when you have human beings that can sit there and say, “We made a mistake. We're sorry. How can we help you fix this?”
The interesting thing about Amazon is they tackle it from both angles. They tackle it from a technology angle as well as a human connection angle. They have two approaches. I saw a quote from Jeff Bezos, the CEO and Founder of Amazon. He said, “The best form of customer service is your customer never happening to call you.” That hit me strong. I started thinking about the Amazon experience. They've made the Amazon experience so positive, easy and simple. It’s very rarely do you ever have to call them about anything. It's like you click it and it works and the next day it shows up. It's amazing. That is truly the best form of customer service. However, the other side of Amazon is if there are issues, they take care of their customers. The customer is right and they go above and beyond to make sure that you're taken care of and return policies and all this stuff they do. They hit it from both angles very well. It's a great example.
I want to switch gears a little bit and I want to talk about your days in Baltimore and the McCabe Foundation. Part of what you say, it’s the giver's gain. It's the relationship marketing. It all comes down to that because of the fact that you started a foundation. I want to find out why McCabe because obviously your name is Kody Bateman. Why the McCabe Foundation? Why Baltimore? I want to talk about the things that you're doing there because you're doing some neat stuff.
When I was twenty years old, I moved into an African-American neighborhood in Baltimore. There are very few white people there. I was one of them. I didn't live on McCabe Avenue. I lived across the street from McCabe. I remember the first day I walked down McCabe Avenue, Baltimore, Maryland. It’s an all-black neighborhood. I was the only white kid there. I was not accepted by people at first until I met this kid named Tony Watson, who instantly took me in and made me part of the neighborhood. I lived there for about a year and got to know so many people in the neighborhood. They took me in. They accepted me. Even though I was a white guy, they accepted me and I became part of many of the families there. It was a wonderful experience for me. It taught me some valuable lessons about what life is, about creating a human connection, about being part of one race, the human race. I learned that from my friends on McCabe Avenue. I love their culture. I loved everything about it. I was on the street corner doing rap music and hip-hop type stuff with those guys. I was dancing in the streets and doing freestyle rap and rhymes.
I hear you even had your own name. Was it Kody B, The Master MC?
Yeah. It was funny because I soaked it all in. It was a great thing and I cherish that. That was a long time ago. That was many years ago. Now that we are in a place where we can give back, I want to give back to the inner cities throughout the world because what I learned on McCabe Avenue, it's a low income, underprivileged neighborhood. A lot of these kids don't have the opportunities that many of us do, education-wise, learning wise, whatever. They're in an environment where they're not exposed to some of the positivity that's available in the world.
The whole idea behind the McCabe Foundation is to give back to those inner cities, create scholarships, create activities and places where people from those inner cities can go and be part of positivity. Come to a personal development seminar, learn about positivity, learn about affirmations and I am statements and reading good books and things of that nature. Learn about manifestation and use your talents. I met some of the most talented people I've ever known in my life who came from McCabe Avenue. They’re incredibly talented, creative people who never get the opportunity to share their talent with the world because of the environment that they're in. You are unquestionably a product of your environment and a lot of these kids become a product of that environment. We want to give an opportunity where they can get out of the environment and be able to expose their genius to the world. That's what the McCabe Foundation is all about. We're happy to be a part of that and put that together.
It comes down to your core things that people are people. The more we can give people, not a hand out, but a hand up, life is much better. There's a new initiative that you are doing with Lieberman Foundation to build basketball courts?Relationship marketing is about creating genuine connections and relationships with other human beings. Click To Tweet
Several months ago, one of our affiliates introduced me to a lady by the name of Nancy Lieberman. If you haven't heard of Nancy, you’ve got to look her up on Google. You'll be blown away at the accomplishments of this woman. She's had a very distinguished basketball career. She played the WNBA. She was the oldest player in the WNBA. She played at age 39 and again at age 50. She's been a coach of the women's league. She's been a coach in the NBA. She was one of the first female assistant coaches for an NBA team. She's a commentator. She's in the Hall of Fame. She was on the first Women's Olympic basketball team way back in the day. Her story is phenomenal. She has a very similar story as mine. That's why we wanted to make the connection is her story is she was growing up as a young white girl in New York. She lived in The Bronx. She loved basketball. She heard that the greatest basketball pickup games were taking place in Harlem. Harlem is all African-American neighborhood.
She's twelve years old. She's a girl. She gets on a bunch of different trains to get to Harlem, pulls off at Harlem and goes right onto the basketball courts with all these big African-American guys. She starts playing pickup games with these guys when she was twelve years old. That's how she learned to be a great basketball player. They didn't accept her at first, then they accepted her as she continued to show up. It’s a great story. After a very distinguished career, she started the Nancy Lieberman Foundation and they do a lot of stuff. One of the main things they do is they put together these outdoor basketball courts in underprivileged areas around the world.
It was very similar stories that we had and a very similar vision with what we wanted to do with our charities. We decided to team up with the Nancy Lieberman Foundation. McCabe Avenue Foundation has teamed up with Nancy Lieberman and right now our sole purpose at McCabe is to raise funds for the Nancy Lieberman Foundation. We're working right now on putting together the first McCabe Avenue Lieberman basketball court in Baltimore, Maryland and hopefully, we'll put that in place. They do all kinds of stuff. They give away basketballs. They work with the Metro Police Departments in these inner cities and they give out basketballs, backpacks and different stuff. The police go and they’re part of the distribution of this to these kids. It's incredible. I was so impressed with what they're doing and I was like, “I don't want to reinvent the wheel. I'm going to tag up and team with these guys and let's go make a difference.” That's what we're doing.
You said something that struck me. People accept you when you keep showing up. The first time you show up, people may not even recognize you. The second time you show up, they may pay attention to you, but they may not like you or they may not know you. It doesn't matter whether it's business, pleasure or whatever, when you keep showing up and it's not physically showing up, it's mentally showing up. A great lesson to teach everybody is that to dedicate yourself to be accepted, to excel at anything, you need to keep showing up. You need to dedicate yourself. People will accept and respect you when they see that you keep doing the same thing over and over again. You are what you say and you say what you do and you keep showing up. I love that. It glossed over in our conversation, but that's a great lesson that struck me.
It goes even deeper than that. It's keep showing up but at the same time, you can pretend to care. You cannot pretend to show up. That needs to sink in. People need to think about that for a second. People pretend to care all the time. You cannot pretend to show up. If somebody is in need, if somebody needs help, somebody needs service rendered, you cannot pretend to show up. If you show up and you're there to help, that is what it is. It doesn't get any more real than that.
There are people that roll up their sleeves, see a problem and get stuff done. There are people that sit there and say, “We send our thoughts and our prayers.” Thoughts and prayers are wonderful, but it's not the same as sitting there going, “Something needs to change. Something needs to happen. I'm going to do what I can to do that.” I love the fact that the McCabe Foundation realized that there was somebody out there already doing amazing things and you sit there going, “I want to be part of it. I don't need to have my name on everything. It doesn't need to be all about me. I want to see amazing things happen. How do I get to be part of this?” The people that do that are the true leaders. I call those people in any way, shape or form, true leaders. People that sit there and say, “It's not about me. It's about getting things done.” That's the leadership form that I see in you and in your organization is that you're a vessel to the people that work for you.
I appreciate it very much. I see that in you and what you're doing as well. I look at you and I see a humble servant. We need more humble servants. There are plenty of egocentric servants out there. I'm not sure that ego and service go together, but there's a lot of that out there. It's unique to find humble servants and you're one of them. I appreciate that about you.
I try. I truly do. We don't always succeed. We're not all perfect. We stumble and we fall. It’s how we pick ourselves up and we move forward that is probably the best part of it. The people that we associate ourselves with will make us better. The relationships that we form make us better versions of ourselves. I’ve got a question for you. It is to talk to you about your love for motorsport. Let's go into that. Tell me where that comes from.
It's a story. I remember when I was thirteen, fourteen years old, my dad was my hero. I come from a large family. My dad always did things that his kids were interested in. I always love motors. I always loved something that made you move. I thought that was cool. There was a neighbor up the street. He lived four or five doors up the street. He was an adult. He was a friend of my dad's who was into motorsports. This is back in the late ‘70s. We live here in Utah. In the wintertime, he was into snowmobiles. He had a double-decker snowmobile trailer. That was unheard of back in the day.
There were two decks of snowmobile and he could run eight snowmobiles on those trailers. I remember when I was fourteen years old, this adult, at the time, he was probably in his late ‘30s or whatever, he took me in. He accepted me. I'm this kid. He had me come to his shop and learn how to work on the machines, how to service the machines. He invited me to go snowmobiling with him. My dad ended up buying a couple of snowmobiles. We'd go snowmobiling with them. I watched this guy use these snow machines as a tool to create relationships with people. It caught on for me. I took my love for motorsports and realized that my dad always taught me because we had the boat, the motorcycles and snowmobiles. We had all that.
My dad used to always say, “Son, these aren't toys. They're tools.” That’s what my dad taught me, “They're not toys. They're tools that we use to invite other people to come and participate in an adventure to create connection with them.” I never forgot that. That's how it's always been. I don't buy one snowmobile. I have to buy four or five snowmobiles because I need to take four or five people with me when I go. I learned that when I was a kid. I don't own one Harley. I own three Harleys because I've got friends that want to ride Harleys and they’re experienced to riding bikes, but they don't own one. I go, “Jump on one of mine, let's go ride.” I learned that at an early age and it's a great excuse to go buy new toys all the time that are tools.
It's a lot easier to justify to your wife that it is a tool than it is a toy. One last question and this is a question I ask everybody as they walk out the door. When you leave a meeting, when you get in your car and you drive away, what's the one thing you want people to think about you and SendOutCards when you're not in the room?
The main thing is I want people to know that I care. It's that simple. I care about people's well-being, about your success, about your goals, where you want to go in life. Nothing brings me more joy than to see the light switch turned on in somebody's eyes to where they shift from a negative place to a positive place and start to be productive. If I can be a teeny part of that, that's what life is all about to me. I want people to know I do care. I am far from perfect. I'm a ding-dong sometimes. I make stupid mistakes all the time. There are times when I offend people. I don't mean to. There are times when I come across weird or the wrong way. There are times I do stuff maybe that people don't like, but make no mistake with all of my weaknesses, frailties and all that stuff, I do care about people. I hope that's how I can be remembered.
There are far worse things that could be on somebody's tombstone than I care about people. That’s an amazing thing. The more people that can care about other human beings and help make this world a better place, we're all better off. Kody, thank you for being on the show. It’s absolutely a pleasure. I enjoyed every minute of it. I hope this is the start of a long friendship between you and me because you're the type of person I want to hang out with and have these long conversations.
It’s the same back to you. I'm looking forward to great things that we can do together in the future and bless you for everything that you're doing. I am honored to be on your show. Thank you.
Kody Bateman is the founder of the modern-day relationship marketing movement, and Founder and Chief Visionary Officer of SendOutCards, the premier relationship marketing service in the world today. Nearly 1 million users have used his systems to send more than 160 million tangible greeting cards and 12 million gifts to over 100 countries throughout the world.
Kody’s newest company is Sendogo, an integration system to trigger the SendOutCards relationship marketing service to work within existing CRMs. Kody has trained hundreds of thousands of people in his relationship marketing and personal development courses, and is the author and trainer of the bestselling seminar series, Relationship Marketing Summit. He has interviewed hundreds of successful business people on his Relationship Marketing Podcast.
He has taught over 250 live courses around the world and numerous online courses that have reached over a million people. He has a passion for celebrating the diversity of humanity and a core mission to bring the human race together. For many years, Kody has taught that there is an art to creating bonds, trust and assurance.
When you take the time to build relationships, he says, the typical aspects of marketing become simplified and genuine. Relationships create an emotional one-on-one connection and a memorable experience. And that is where the real-life riches are made, internally and externally. Kody shares his personal development philosophy in his first book Promptings: Your Inner Guide to Making a Difference, where he uses stories to illustrate the significance of acting on your promptings to reach out in kindness.
Promptings guide you to your genius within, he explains, helping you make the difference only you can make in the world. Kody is a visionary leader who is living his dream and travels the country teaching others to do the same. He lives in Riverton, Utah, with his wife Jodi. They have three children and six grandchildren.
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