Robert Maschio is an actor and comedian who’s most well known for his role as The Todd on the hit tv show “Scrubs”. Since Scrubs has come to an end, Rob has divided his time between auditioning for new gigs, appearing in a couple films, guest appearing on shows like “Cougar Town” and “Men At Work”, doing meet-and-greets at conventions, and releasing and promoting his new app, High Five. His journey has been fascinating, and this episode shows how he’s used tried and true marketing tactics (without knowing it) to ensure his career is evergreen.
A Quick Preview of the Podcast:
- One way to avoid risking the wasted use of your most valuable tools.
- How to find your specific voice and utilize that to achieve massive success in a crowded marketplace.
- Are you truly listening to what your audience is begging you for?
To See This Tactic In Action:Click Here To See The Strategic Funnel That Rob Used To Turn The Todd Into A Personal Brand
To See The Transcript:
Tim: What’s going on fellow marketer? Thanks for being here with me today. Now today we’ve got a bit of a special episode of Conversion Cast. Instead of our typical style of featuring business owners and marketers with a data driven case study from their experience, we’re going to discuss a side of marketing that few of us will ever get to be a part of and that’s what it’s like to market from a celebrity perspective. Our guest’s name is Robert Maschio. Rob is well known for his role as the Todd on my favorite TV show of all time Scrubs. If you haven’t seen the show, first off turn on Netflix and watch every episode. Well except for season 9. Sorry guys, the season finale of season 8 was flawless.
Anyway, the Todd is a total guy’s guy who thinks he’s god’s gift to women and who means well but usually comes off as a jerk. Rob on the other hand is a really, really nice guy who’s working his way through his post Scrubs career and discovering some insights that are not only crucial to his continued success but ultra valuable to us as marketers. One of the points of major interest here is how Rob parlayed his success in acting into a brand new app he’s recently launched called the High Five app, which features him giving his audience exactly what they continuously ask for, a bunch of high fives.
Now that’s a lesson in itself but we’ll get to that a bit later. Also take note of how he doesn’t immediately use his incredibly powerful traffic sources until he knows he’s prepared to handle the surge it will bring. Rob has basically created his own strategic funnel starting from scratch using the different tools he has available than most people do. There’s a visual guide to this funnel that you can only get at our website. So go to ConversionCast.com/robdownload to see it now. Again that’s ConversionCast.com/robdownload. Just a heads up, there are a few slightly adult references here so don’t listen to this episode around the kids. I’m Tim Paige, the Conversion Educator here at LeadPages. This is Conversion Cast and here is Rob Maschio, aka, the Todd.
All right, Rob, thanks so much for coming on the show. I am so excited to have you here today.
Robert: Great to be here Tim. How are you?
Tim: Never better. Never better. Pretty excited to talk with you.
Robert: Let’s make some magic.
Tim: I love it. So what have you been up to since Scrubs man? I’ve been keeping up on you but I love to hear kind of what you’ve been doing?
Robert: You know, its’ been an interesting time since the show has come to an end because for ensuing generations, they continue to discover it you know, in reruns and on Netflix.
Robert: And Hulu and wherever it may play.
Robert: It’s been fascinating to me to hear from people because you know, in my mind, I’ve kind of moved on and yet a part of me is not allowed to move on because people continually email me and tweet me and Facebook me and they say hey it’s my girlfriend’s birthday, can you send her a happy birthday five or it’s my first day at work can you wish me a good luck five.
Robert: So I find myself constantly sending out high fives to people even though the show has ended four years ago.
Tim: [Laughs] So is it frustrating that that’s still kind of a thing or is it flattering?
Robert: It’s a little of both but it’s also fascinating to me because if you –you know, this show was produced by ABC so it’s owned by Disney and they have tentacles that reach around the entire world.
Robert: So you know, this show airs in Dubai and in China and in all 17 countries of the Euro zone.
Robert: So it’s fascinating to see the reach of a show as it becomes a product and how it’s spread around the world.
Tim: Yeah is it going there? Like is it new there? Like is it kind of airing there for the first time?
Robert: It’s a couple of years behind.
Robert: So from what I understand, it’s recently come to an end.
Robert: So for example like in the last couple of years, I’ve done some of these – I’ve never – it was never on my radar before but I appeared at some of these Comicons. Like I went to the London Film and Comicon and I did a Comicon in Germany and in a couple of weeks I’m going to Australia to do an Australia Comicon because the show is huge in those countries. It’s crazy right Tim?
Robert: They email and they say will you come? We’ll fly you there. We’ll put you in a hotel. We’ll split and here’s the fee. You’ll sign autographs. You’ll take pictures. You’ll high five people. I thought to myself you know, first I feel like well I’m an actor, this is not really –you know, I don’t want to be like the Fonz 20 years after the show is over.
Robert: You know, high fiving people like hey.
Robert: Not that I was ever as popular as the Fonz but I don’t want it to be the thing that defined me for the rest of my life. On the other hand, I’m still relatively young and for somebody to say to me we’re going to fly you to Australia and you could hang out here for ten days and come home with a bucket load of money. It’s hard for me to say no to that. It’s a great life experience.
Tim: Yeah, absolutely.
Robert: So it’s allowed me to travel. I mean really to travel more than I ever had expected and to meet fans you know, who are now like 16 years old and 18 years old and I guess it’s been fascinating to me, although yes it is frustrating. I would like to move on and do some other things.
Tim: Yeah. I believe that yeah. For sure. 2009 was the finale, isn’t that right?
Robert: Season 8 was and then they did 13 episodes, they, we did 13 episodes of season 9 and the last airing was January 2010. So it’s been a solid four years.
Tim: Yeah. Yeah.
Robert: Since the show has come to an end.
Tim: But cool though that you’ve been able to you know, really kind of make you know, make something of something that ended so long ago. That’s got to be pretty awesome knowing that you’ve been a part of and really created a character that was so lasting. So now what’s going on is high five. Can you tell us kind of what’s the deal with the High Five app and what was kind of the – what made you want to make it?
Robert: Well the High Five app was really just an outgrowth of these fans reaching out to me. Every day I would log on on Facebook or Twitter and again less on email and people would literally be asking me for a high five. Like I’m a diligent guy and I was responding to everyone. It was exhausting.
Robert: You know, when you start the day by sending out 20 emails high give, congratulations five, good luck five, get better soon five. So at some point I thought I should really just have an app or something. You know, it wasn’t an app because that wasn’t –you know, I didn’t know what that really was at first but I thought I should have some way where I could send High Fives or people could send High fives from me to someone else.
Robert: Because there is something positive and funny about the whole thing like sending a high five, there’s something affirmational about that and you know, celebratory. I kind of like spreading positive energy in this world. So it really was an outgrowth of fans reaching out to me.
Tim: Got you. So it was really – I was wondering and you know a lot of the people here at LeadPages were just wondering if there was kind of a commercial intent at some point or if it was just purely something that you wanted to do and kind of carry on the Todd brand if you will?
Robert: Well at first there was really you know, some noble intention, to spread some laughter in the world and I got really into it and I got a nice camera and I set up a green screen and I really learned a lot about you know, writing, shooting, editing, you know, all those things. You know, the app was rejected three times from the Apple, the app store.
Robert: Because it was too inappropriate.
Robert: Some of the high gives were just like you know, if you have show girl in a bikini or a mid-riff or any kind of skin you know, there are a lot of that have some decency, they have some pretty strict regulations in terms of what they will allow at least for me and they rejected it three times.
Tim: That’s crazy.
Robert: It was crazy. So we’ve had a substitute you know, so my writing has gotten more and more subtle so the thirty high fives that are currently on that are available, you know, they’re pretty PG.
Robert: They’re PG but the plan was and it still is because on Google, on android, they don’t have such, these restrictions. I have like –you know, there’s like 50 videos that are just like –you know, they’re really on the nose Tim. They’re just like just the tip five and maybe some draft.
Robert: You know, there’s some really dirty –you know, I think the 16-year-old kid wherever you are in the world or that 16-year-old kid in all of us is going to love these things.
Robert: Eventually we’re going to roll them out on android for sure and I guess there’s a way to monetize that. You know you can have like the raunchy… the uncircumcised, the uncut version of the high fives, you know, we could have the seven-inch package, the ten-inch package. You know, we could have really inappropriate. But I don’t know how we’re going to do that. We’re still trying to figure out how to do that on the IOS on the Apple because I feel like they got to be strict the whole way.
Tim: Yeah. So it would be – I mean it would be awesome then if you could eventually monetize it. Is that kind of what you’re thinking?
Robert: I think that – I mean you know, like since I put a lot of work in this so yes, I think at some point like if somebody is really into it. First of all they’ll have the free app so they’ll have those first 50 high fives for free.
Robert: And then if they’re really into it, they can get the naughty package which is another 50 for like 99 cents or whatever. It still not will be a lot of money.
Robert: But for those fanatics, those true hard core fans who would love it, there will probably be a series of in app purchases so that they can download ten here, ten there. You know, we haven’t figured out how much we’re going to give away but something like that.
Then on IOS you know, one thing we were going to do is literally because I go to these ComicCons and people pay like $30 for an autograph which is you know, I would – I’m embarrassed to – I make sure I talk to them and give them a high five and a hug after. But I thought if I did like a personalized video high five and you can pay a fee for that like I would literally send you a video high five from me for whatever the occasion is.
Robert: Although it seems a little labor intensive at this point.
Tim: Yeah. You know, that’s exactly what I was thinking was that if you did a personalized one it wouldn’t have to be –you know, you wouldn’t have to worry too much about iTunes unless they were asking you to say something particularly fun. But —
Robert: Well they all are though, that’s the thing.
Robert: Sex with my girlfriend five you know.
Robert: Yeah they would all be those so I don’t – so we have to figure out what to do on Apple but that’s the plan for the Android. Most of it you know, throughout Europe, there’s a lot more sense on users and Android users than there are iPhones.
Tim: Wow, that’s interesting.
Robert: But this other thing in Europe where I’m pretty popular, which is the what’s app.
Robert: That’s a different way of so we don’t have a high five. We have the high five app on Google Play for android and we have it at the app store for IOS but we don’t have it for any other like windows phone or What’s app or you know. I’m sorry it’s also on Facebook as a Facebook app. So if you’re on Facebook you can just high five one another because there is a Facebook app version of it as well.
Tim: Yeah. We’ll definitely link to that as well. So what are the download numbers look like so far? Do you know?
Robert: I think as of this week I think there’s about 5000 downloads on IOS.
Tim: Nice and this is recent.
Robert: Yeah it’s been a month. So maybe you know, about six weeks or a month. We just started with ten videos and it was really almost – it was almost like a soft launch because I wanted to see how it would go if there are any glitches and trying to send those videos. There were some glitches along the way that we had to fix. Then once I thought that the glitches were kind of ironed out, you know, ten videos is not enough. You need more opportunities you know, more videos that are applicable during the course of a day.
Robert: So we added 20 more and then you know I just want to keep rolling them out and at some point though you know, I’m going to get all my friends who are on Scrubs like Zack and Donald and John C McGinley and Sarah. I’m going to get them all to tweet hey Rob Maschio has a high five, go check it out.
Robert: But I’ve been holding off on that because I feel like all the technical things have to be in place so that when a person does go to use it — you know, there’s nothing worse than going to use an app and like oh it didn’t send or I just got code or… So these are all things I’m learning and patience is the biggest thing.
Tim: Yeah. So this has probably taught you a lot about I mean you know, some technology stuff but also it seems like a lot of other elements of what goes into doing something like this, is that right?
Robert: I’m fascinated by it. It’s like coding for example is like a whole new language to me and —
Robert: You know, other actors are much more famous people than me. They might just like lend their name to something and stand back and let other people do it. But for me like I’ve kind of done all of the work and then there’s just one company code particle that’s doing you know, the app development and all that. So it’s a pretty small collaboration. There’s not a lot of people involved with this except me and two other people.
Robert: I’m learning so much and they’re very impatient with me because I don’t – I’m like can we just do this.
Robert: You know, like what’s wrong with you. Don’t you understand how much work that entails? Like I don’t know I did write the funny joke but..
Tim: [Laughs] That’s all that goes into it right? I write a joke and it happens yeah.
Robert: I know. It’s very naïve of me, very naïve.
Tim: [Laughs] So then at this point I mean you know, you’ve got this idea of promotion. Has the promotion for you just simply been through social media and stuff like that?
Robert: Yes. it’s definitely been me, my Twitter feed, Facebook and like maybe Instagram. Basically for the most part, that’s it. And then hopefully you know, word of mouth, people using it to one another.
Robert: Like I said, I haven’t engaged my more famous friends to promote it yet until I thought it was – so I think it’s ready. I think we’re getting to the point where it is. I mean there’s 30 high fives. That’s 30 opportunities to use it and like I said I have like probably I’ll have a hundred when all is said and done at least.
Robert: So there will be a lot of things that – but yeah I mean do you have any suggestions and how else I might market it without spending any money?
Tim: [Laughs] I’ll see what I can come up with. We’ve got a couple of friends that do marketing so. [Laughs]
Robert: I’ll bet. I’ll bet. Well I’ll plug it when I go to these Comicons and any time I make appearances from now on. I guess something for me that I have to promote.
Tim: Yeah. Yeah. It gives you something. Yes some additional for sure, something people can grab on to, definitely.
Robert: But one way I am going to promote is I guess starred on this – there’s a new show on NBC. It will premiere in I think about a month. It’s called Undatable.
Tim: Yeah, yeah. Bill Lawrence’s new show, right?
Robert: From Bill Lawrence.
Robert: Bill Lawrence created the show, he’s the guy who created Scrubs.
Robert: And these guys are undatable guys. You know, that’s the premise. They’re four kind of nerds and without giving too much of this. You know, the Todd on Scrubs was perhaps the most undatable character of all.
Robert: So I may in fact make a cameo on that show where I give a high five and we’ll probably use that episode to –you know, that’s a great way to reach seven million people hopefully.
Robert: And mention the high five, you know, as that show comes upon us. So I’ll do other things like that if I can tie my appearances to the high five.
Tim: Yeah definitely. So do you find that it’s easier then to get attention for high five just because of your fame from Scrubs? Like you feel like it would be a lot more difficult to get the attention that it’s gotten?
Robert: Absolutely. I mean there’s no way that if I were just a guy who created the high five app that anybody would care.
Tim: [Laughs] Right.
Robert: I mean there are actually other high five apps that are available and I’ve looked at them all and it just seems so random to me like —
Robert: Why do you want to high five from that guy.
Robert: Or why do you want the sound of two hands clapping as an app. It just seems so rudimentary.
Tim: [Laughs] Right. This is a kind of I guess you could say a catch phrase but a trademark of the Todd which make sense why somebody would want it.
Robert: I would say like the fact that I named the high five so that there is not simply a high five. There’s a high five for specific occasions.
Robert: That’s what so funny about it.
Tim: Right. Yeah. Absolutely. Yeah. Podcast five and things like that yeah.
Robert: Podcast five, congratulations five, innuendo five. What?
Tim: Yeah. [Laughs]
Robert: I wrote some really dirty high fives. I cannot wait for people to hear them and see them and use them.
Tim: Do people ever contribute? Do they ever go oh you should do a this high five?
Robert: Well yeah, yes, my answer to you is yes and I’ve gotten that feedback and I’ve started to shoot some of those.
Robert: So I definitely want it to be. I think that’s a good way to get people involved and interested is –
Robert: You know, it’s not just me stuffing it down their throats. It’s like hey what do you want to hear? What high fives do you want?
Robert: I’ve gotten some really good suggestions, things that I never would have thought about myself.
Tim: Yeah that’s great. So and then the other. This is purely in self-interest but is there ever going to be kind of will you record like all of the high fives you did on Scrubs? Because that could be a cool pack. You know, like you could do —
Robert: That could be a cool pack but there are like copywriters used to that.
Robert: Basically it’s like, basically Bill Lawrence wrote those jokes. So like if I were to take those high fives and use them that’s kind of like a comedian using another comedian’s joke.
Robert: So I can’t really use anything from the show in fact.
Tim: Got you.
Robert: I don’t use any script, any dialogue from the show. If you look at these, if you look at me visually in the app, I’m not wearing. I’m wearing blue scrubs, I’m wearing scrubs but they’re not scrubs from the show.
Robert: I don’t have that tattoo, I don’t have the flaming like I suggested who I might be, you know, how you might know me.
Robert: But there’s nothing related to Scrubs because I feel like there are potential copyright issues. So I’ve just steered clear of that completely.
Robert: It’s just Rob Maschio is giving you a high five and hopefully enough people know who I am.
Tim: Yeah, yeah definitely. Does Bill know that you’ve done this?
Robert: Yeah. He’s kind of into it. He actually thinks it’s a good idea.
Robert: But you know, all these things you know, Scrub ran from 2001 to 2010 and I always say like the Scrubs that ran from 2005 even to like 2015 the way Bill has promoted and we all get to promote things now it might have been a whole different experience.
Robert: You know, podcast, apps and that wasn’t really – in 2001 that was more in its infancy.
Tim: Yup, yup. Definitely.
Robert: Twitter was not you know, it was more MySpace.
Robert: I remember when I made my website in 2005 and Zack saw it and he said wow that’s really good. Of course a month later he had like one that was 10x better.
Tim: Yeah that’s funny. I love it. So I guess I just want to ask a couple of questions about kind of as an actor what it’s taken kind of to make – well first off to get you know, into Scrubs in the first place and what you’ve been doing since. So first off I’m sure that you kind of had to develop some self-marketing skills a little bit so if you could come up with something what’s one thing that being an actor has taught you about how to market yourself and if there’s any way that you’ve tied that to your app, what it will be?
Robert: Well I didn’t realize I was doing this all those years when I started out of New York as a theater actor and a standup in particular. But particularly as a standup, you know, I was trying to find my voice every night. My point of view as a comedic actor and that’s really what that whole process was of doing standup two and three times a night was trying to find my voice. Because ultimately that was in fact my brand. You know, that’s how I was going to get cast like I always thought about this quite clearly too like I’m a guy, I’m a heterosexual guy, I’m a straight guy single guy living in Manhattan and I’m not sexist but at times I’m just simple.
How do I present the male point of view in an inoffensive way?
Robert: And that was a lot of my standup like how do you present that. Maybe I’ve walked that line back and forth and eventually it did lead to this part on Scrubs where I played the ultimate guy’s guy.
Robert: I mean I play a character who thinks he’s god’s gift to women and has no idea that people do not see him that way.
Robert: So I think that that journey or that process of finding my voice was really about finding my brand and then being conscious of it like just to do you, do me in the room when I auditioned so that people knew what they were getting when they brought me into a room. So I wasn’t like I’m not a Daniel Day Lewis type chameleon type actor.
Robert: I’m good at three things, Tim. [Laughs]
Robert: And if I just really do them to nth degree and just do me in the room that’s my brand and I can really – there’s no limits to how much I can market that brand. Whether it’s a high five app or anything really, and I’ve seen other actors who are quite good at this and I really learned from them. You know, if you develop, if you become known for something and you have a brand, you just have to constantly deliver that brand and give people what they expect.
Robert: I’ll give you one for an example. You know, Rob Schneider the comedian and the actor from Deuce Bigalow Male Gigolo.
Robert: I went to a comedy club in Boston once my girlfriend and I at the time and we saw him do standup. He started the show with thirty minutes of political comedy. You know, democrats this, republicans that and the audience was so restless.
Robert: Myself included and I am a comedian. At one point I found myself heckling. I said they can copy, the copy guy.
Robert: And the audiences went nuts and everybody just started screaming out lines from movies that he had done and like catch phrases of his. I felt like that’s a really interesting lesson like nobody wants to go to see Rob Schneider do standup political comedy.
Robert: They just want to see him be the copy guy or Deuce Bigalow.
Robert: And he was not living up to his brand and that’s my point. I feel like that’s a lesson I learned about me like whatever my brand is right now, if it’s like a guy’s guy or a high five you know, or just like that guy, when I’m in the room and I’m in front of that audience that’s what I’m going to have to give them whether I like it or not.
Tim: And that’s how you achieve success as an actor and also with your app?
Robert: I think so. Definitely on Scrubs because that you know, Bill saw me do standup presenting when I was like I’m just a guy, I’m a simple man. You know, Showgirls was my Schindler’s list.
Robert: He would just see me tell these jokes and he’s like ah you’re just such ah –you know, it was clear that he was writing for me because he had seen some of my stuff that I had done.
Robert: And the high five is totally an outgrowth of that brand so I just got to continue to play that note.
Tim: Yeah, yeah. So what’s next for you? I mean besides continuing to build the app, what would you like to do in the coming year or two?
Robert: Well it’s interesting to me, you know, that because I am conscious of this and I am talking with you about it. But the truth is like today is like the first day in maybe like 18 days where I haven’t had an audition. So like since January I probably had you know, nine auditions times, I probably had about 50 auditions. Like I’m constantly auditioning to reinvent myself.
Robert: To play a dad on a sitcom or a kid’s show or in a movie and you know, I’m an older guy now so I physically look different than I did when I was on Scrubs.
Robert: So even though I’m trying to play this note when I’m not working, when I’m –you know, most of my time is spent auditioning quite honestly and occasionally getting a job which puts me ahead of a lot of people.
Tim: Yeah, definitely.
Robert: It’s very odd. I mean like if people really knew like sometimes on a Friday I’ll come home and I’ll talk to my brother, he’s like oh how’s your week and I was like well I had 12 auditions this week. Did you get anything? No. It’s like I might go on a 120 auditions this year which is basically 120 job interviews.
Robert: And I might get three jobs. But I also might get that one job that lasts for seven years where I will play you know, I don’t know just for example a dad on a sitcom so I don’t know what the next part is going to be for me but it’s going to be different than what I did on Scrubs because I’m older and physically look different and I think temperamentally I’m at a different place.
Robert: But in the meantime I can keep you know, this is my little business on the side doing the high five. It always keeps me creatively interested in life. It’s always good to have a little project on the side like this and I shouldn’t just abandon you know, like those nine years of work that I did on that show particularly when kids are reaching out to me all the time.
Tim: Yeah. Absolutely. And you know so I guess the good marketing lesson here to take away would be that you know, first off it does take a lot of numbers. You know you mentioned earlier when we were talking it’s a numbers game for sure and you know, as is marketing. But you continue to improve and you continue to focus on your game and you know, define your brand and that’s what I think a lot of marketers are trying to do. So I just got two more questions, one is self-serving and the other one is where we’ll end. So the self-serving question, what was your favorite part about being Scrubs?
Robert: Oh god.
Tim: Pick one, nine years, go. [Laughs]
Robert: I got to play a character I mean I got to play the greatest, any time they needed a joke to end the scene, it was like they just ran me in with like the greatest one liner to say.
Robert: So I got to play like the ultimate guy’s guy. Like a guy who gets to do and say whatever most guys in real life would like to do and say if they could get away with it.
Robert: So when guys recognized me they just let it all hang out. They just want to high five me, they want to spot me at the gym, they want to show me the end of the hood of their car. You know?
Robert: The gay gentleman want to show me under the hood of their car.
Robert: But the women all wanted to know one thing, you know, to this day they always want to know one thing like what’s Zack Braff really like? [Laughs]
Tim: [Laughs] Oh well you ruined my last question. I was going to ask what’s Zack Braff was really like. Just kidding.
Robert: No let me end, you know, I’ll tell you what he’s really like. Zack Braff his only concern is for his partners. He doesn’t care if he has more.
Tim: Oh man this has been a blast. Thanks so much for doing this and coming on the podcast. I’ve appreciated hearing about a little different side of marketing from a different angle and just getting to talk to somebody who I’ve spent nine years watching. So thanks again for coming on the podcast Rob.
Robert: It was great talking to you and nice talking to you Tim, it was fun. Thanks.
Tim: Before you go, remember the only place you can get the visual guide to Rob’s funnel is at our website. Head over to ConversionCast.com/Robdownload to get it now and we’ll see you next time on Conversion Cast.
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