Your Employees aren’t Stupid, Let them Write

by Marcus Sheridan

Of course your employees don’t get social media and content marketing. Why should they? All you did was ask them to “like” your Facebook page and start writing blog posts without any real rhyme or reason other than, “Trust me, this will really help our business!”

I’ve seen it enough at this point, and it has got to stop. There is a better way.

Management and marketing departments are failing to succeed with social media and content marketing because they don’t take the time to teach their staff what this stuff is all about, how it works, and how it can not only help the business, but also change the lives of those that work therein.

Houston, We Have a Problem

About a year ago, as I began consulting with more and more businesses about proper content marketing principles, I noticed one common theme again and again and again with every company I dealt with:

Not everyone was on board the content marketing train.

In other words, not everyone was embracing this new way of thinking and doing business.

From what I gathered, there were two main reasons for this problem:

  1. Employee/management ignorance (lack of understanding)
  2. An unwillingness of management to delegate and believe in their staff (quite prolific with most companies)

And because there always seemed to be a lack of a team effort, especially between the “sales” and “marketing” departments, full potential was never reached with blogging, social media, etc.

Finally, after seeing what I thought was a flawed system, I stopped doing as much 1-on-1 consulting and shifted my efforts on what I feel is the most important step a company can make to take the leap into this digital age of social media and content marketing—the In-House Social Media Summit.

Building a Foundation

I first mentioned this phrase in my recent guest post at Social Media Examiner, but the gist of this meeting is as follows:

As many employees as possible–especially anyone in customer service, sales, and marketing—meet together to receive training to answer the following questions (to name a few):

  1. What is content and inbound marketing?
  2. What is a blog and how does it work?
  3. How does Google work and what makes some websites show up and others not?
  4. What makes for great content that not only makes Google (the search engines) happy but also real, live people?
  5. How can a single blog article be used to increase sales, profits, and revenues?
  6. How can content be used as a sales tool again and again and again?
  7. What can each employee do to help build the blog, the website, and its online social media presence?
  8. What is the general social media policy of the company?

These are just 8 of many questions that should be answered in a company’s social media summit, but be rest assured that when they are properly addressed, employee light bulbs start to come on and some serious magic can then occur, especially within sales and marketing departments.

Can “Old Dogs” Learn New Tricks?

I mention this subject today because earlier this week I was in Chicago giving a 2-day social media summit to US Waterproofing, Chicago’s premier basement waterproofing company.

Because the VP of the company was struggling to get his “old-school sales guys” to buy into this whole blogging/social media thing, I was called on to give a summit that would help “turn on the light bulbs” and inject a vision and understanding to the group as a whole.

To make a long story short, after hours of interactive discussion and activity, the results were profound. The 25 sales guys, almost all of which had been completely unclear as to the whole purpose of content marketing the day before, were now all discussing ways each could blog, add content to the website, and also implement this content into their pre and post sales strategies.

Even better, the large majority of this group (about 99%) were classic “non-techies”, blue-collar types that knew very little about social media and computers in the first place. Notwithstanding, each had now decided to overcome these “deficiencies” because they understood the difference it could make in their professional lives as well as the overall success of the company.

Elitist Attitudes Stink

I don’t mention these things to brag, but rather to make a very important point:

It’s practically impossible to get an entire company to buy into social media unless we take some serious time teaching them about this important subject.

And no, and company-wide email simply is NOT going to do the trick.

Furthermore, I’m frankly done with hearing “experts” tell me how only a “special” group of employees in any organization can assist in its social media efforts, especially in terms of content marketing.

Again, this is utter horse-dung.

Let’s take this sales staff that I was working with as an example. Most of these guys had been with the company for more than 5 years, some of them over 25 years. How many questions from customers do you think each had received over that time period?

In fact, I asked the group this very question and the answer was simple: Thousands

Teachers

These good men had spent a significant portion of their life explaining basement waterproofing in a way that a homeowner could understand it, thus making each a quintessential “teacher” in their industry.

And as I’ve mentioned time and time again, the best content marketers are the ones that know how to teach complex subjects in a way that anyone can understand them.

So what if these guys aren’t Victor Hugo?? So what if some aren’t college educated?? So what if they’ve never been “trained” in the field of writing??

They’re all communicators, each and every one of them.

Does this mean they’ll all now become prolific bloggers? No, clearly not.

  • Some will now be “idea think-tanks” and assist in coming up with blog article ideas for the future.
  • Some will be prolific with video, as they’re more comfortable talking rather than writing.
  • And some will find the writer within and make the company blog the premier teaching resource for their industry.

This is how the power of “team” can work in any organization when it comes to social media and internet marketing. This is also why we’ve got to stop convincing ourselves that blogging is only for the “intellectually elite.” which is a stupid phrase in and of itself.

If we’re but willing to take the time and effort to get all employees on the same starting page, and give them a foundation of knowledge and understanding—the difference will be astonishing.

In fact, this principle applies to company management as well.

Buy-In is a Must

We MUST get buy-in folks. Sometime it starts from the top and goes down. Sometimes it starts from the bottom and goes up.

Either way, we must have it to reach our potential on the web. We must have it to become the voice and leading brand of our industry.

No matter the niche, no matter the profession, and no matter the employee pool—I’m here to say this is possible when it comes to content and inbound marketing. I’ve now seen it occur too many times over these last 6 months to doubt the possibilities of any organization.

Yours is not the exception.

Nor are your employees.

So believe in them.

Then teach them.

And finally, allow their voice to be heard.

Your Turn:

I’d really be curious to hear your take on this. Am I naïve to say that most employees in an organization can help with the content marketing and social media efforts if they’re but trained and taught the right way? Or do you think that this “team” concept is unrealistic and unachievable for the majority of organizations?

Jump in folks, I know many of you have been dealing with this subject for some time now.

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{ 93 comments… read them below or add one }

Justin Mazza February 24, 2012 at

So true Marcus and well laid out in your post. Old dogs don’t like to learn new tricks unless you can convince them that the “new tricks” will benefit them and their business in some way as you were able to do.

I remember reading some time back that the best way to teach someone something new is to relate it to something they already know about.

Rock On ! :)

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Marcus Sheridan February 28, 2012 at

Hey Justin, sorry for my late reply on this man but I appreciate your words. Yep, if they know the “why”, that old dog just might surprise us. ;-)

Thanks for all my man,

Marcus

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Laura Click February 24, 2012 at

Really love this thinking, Marcus. And, I’m right there with you. This encapsulates a number of conversations I’ve had about this very topic just this week.

I think employees can and SHOULD be engaged in this effort. While you certainly can outsource this stuff, I think it’s always better if you can teach and train the client to do the work themselves. They know the questions they get. They are there every day and know the pulse of the company. They are the ones who can be most authentic with the brand. The challenge is to help them understand why

I think the other key ingredient is passion. If people don’t buy into it or don’t WANT to get involved, their efforts will fall completely flat. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. That’s why training is so darn important. I love the idea of a social media summit and I think it takes that kind of effort to get folks on board.

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Carmen Sognonvi February 25, 2012 at

Well said, Laura. I also think an important point to make to employees is that this is a terrific professional development opportunity for them. If they learn how to blog and do content marketing effectively, it can only help them in their career down the road – whether that’s with the same company or elsewhere. It makes them more marketable.

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Marcus Sheridan February 26, 2012 at

What you’ve just described is quite astute Carmen, and we could literally spend an entire book talking about it.

Take sales for example– If someone is constantly writing and thinking about the benefits of their products and how they solve customer problems, their sales presentations will be much, much better…cleaner…more fluid.

I experience this every time I speak. People ask how it is that I can yap for hours about this stuff without notes. My answer: After thinking and writing about this stuff every single day for three years, it’s pretty easy by this point. ;-) (10,000 hour rule Mr. Godin!)

You rock Carmen, always love seeing your bright smile here.

Marcus

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Marcus Sheridan February 28, 2012 at

LOVE the way you put this Laura and your vision of an engaged staff. I’m always surprised how few people agree in this concept on involvement.

Keep doing your thing Laura and maybe when we catch up face to face we can talk about this SM summit thing! :)

Thanks again,

Marcus

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Laura Click February 28, 2012 at

Sounds like a plan, Marcus! Looking forward to it!

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Rebecca Livermore February 24, 2012 at

Marcus,

You make some excellent points here. I really like the idea of effectively training people so they first off understand the value of this and therefore become enthusiastic about it, and then know what to do about it. People can be shut down if they feel insecure and aren’t sure about what they’re supposed to do, and training is a great way to help people overcome those feelings of insecurity and thus be empowered.

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Cheryl Pickett February 24, 2012 at

Hey Rebecca, we just connected in a group on LinkedIn, I thought I knew you from this community, I was right :-)

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Rebecca Livermore February 24, 2012 at

Hi Cheryl,

Nice seeing you both places! Looking forward to getting to know you better. :)

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Cheryl Pickett February 24, 2012 at

One of the concerns that I hear is about time. Business owners are afraid this is just another thing on the to-do list. While all staff members are busy, I think bringing everyone on board with content marketing virtually eliminates the “I don’t have time” excuse. I’ll bet most organizations can find a way for a lot of people to do a little bit, vs one person to do a lot. For those who are lucky enough to be able to share the responsibility, I think it’s a no brainer to do so.

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Marcus Sheridan February 28, 2012 at

That’s exactly it Cheryl. I agree that content marketing and social media can be overwhelming, especially if it’s a one-man-gang. The beauty behind this concept is delegation empowers everyone but also very much lessens the stress of “the one”.

Thanks for dropping by Cheryl!

Marcus

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Matthew Stock February 24, 2012 at

Hello TSL Community-

I am the VP (and owner) of the basement waterproofing company Marcus referenced in his article above. This might sound like a plug for Marcus, but it isn’t. He wouldn’t even allow me to give him a proper introduction before he spoke in front of our company. Why? Marcus is one of the few people I’ve met in life who just doesn’t need one.

For the past 55 years, we mainly did outbound marketing (TV, Radio, Billboards and Yellow Pages). I can’t say these mediums are dead (ok…maybe the Yellow Pages!), but I always felt there was something missing with our marketing. I wasn’t sure what it was until I stumbled upon the TSL Blog.

Marcus left just three days ago. Over the past 72 hours, I’ve seen more change throughout our company than I have in the prior 20+ years. I had one salesperson (the oldest dog on our salesforce!) tell me he had an “epiphany about sales”. My warehouse manager, who never thought twice about our marketing, told me “Marcus’ concepts completely changed my outlook on my career “. I now have another salesperson – who I once butted heads with on our advertising – email me on a daily basis with new inbound marketing ideas.

I can go on and on….and on…but here’s what caused the buy-in:

1. I recognized I couldn’t do it myself. I always thought I could sell ice to an eskimo, but over time I realized I ran out of ice. Check your ego at the door and bring in a pro. Marcus was the catalyst we needed.

2. Throw all your resources behind inbound marketing. For many of our guys, embracing technology was a challenge. We’ve invested insane amounts of time and money into training our reps and developing our software to make our content easy to share.

3. Employees like to feel they are part of something bigger. Tap into the knowledge and talents of your employees. The beauty of inbound marketing is it provides you with an easy platform. Be grateful of and acknowledge their contributions. And make sure to take a good hard look at those who don’t buy-in.

4. Someone needs to be responsible for establishing a publishing schedule, channel thoughts, make edits, etc. Marcus calls this a “Chief Content Officer”. For now, that’s me. Over time, I may transition that role once I really get things off the ground.

5. Don’t think your industry is “unique” and immune to inbound marketing. Oh…Marcus and I had some fun with my pops on that one!

I look forward to checking in and keeping everyone abreast of our continued progress.

If anyone has any questions, feel free to shoot me an email (mstock@seepage.com) or get in touch with Marcus for my contact info.

P.S. Marcus – you still aren’t as cool as Patrick Swazye :)

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Krista Kotrla February 24, 2012 at

Ridiculously awesome comment, Matthew!! Between Marcus’ post and you sharing your story, I am all fired up about company-wide-team-business-blogging and inbound-marketing ALL OVER AGAIN.

Marcus came to speak to our team too and the experience was not only fun, entertaining and energizing… the resulting culture change, team energy and synergizing benefits are mind blowing. I am SO excited for your team!

Can we PLEASE, PLEASE be friends?!? :-)

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Matthew Stock February 24, 2012 at

Nice to meet you Krista. Absolutely! I would love to hear what your team is doing and see if we can help each other out in any way. My email is mstock@seepage.com. Shoot me your contact info and let’s chat next week! Just be careful what you wish for :)

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Marcus Sheridan February 26, 2012 at

Have I ever told you that you’re the coolest gal ever KK? ;-)

Thanks lady,

Marcus

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Andrea Hypno February 25, 2012 at

I think employers like you are needed just like water in the desert especially in these hard times because it’s this way of thinking that has made society moving ahead. Kudos to you and your way of doing business. :)

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Marcus Sheridan February 26, 2012 at

I second that Andrea!

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Marcus Sheridan February 28, 2012 at

Matt, I didn’t want to jump right in with your comment, but please know I’m honored with your words here and it was a pleasure working with your company.

Can’t wait to watch this all unfold brother.

Marcus

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barbara February 24, 2012 at

Isn’t it amazing to realize some company owners and managers think of some employees as ‘less than’? In my various careers I’ve come across this so many times and it always repulsed me. My experience has always been that people will rise to the level of your expectations and when you treat them as equals they can be an invaluable resource.

It is human nature to hate change but, as I often say, change is the only constant in life. We all suffer a degree of fear of the unknown, as well as a fear of looking foolish, especially in the workplace. My experience has been the more you elevate your expectations of people the quicker they grow into the role you see for them.

If you aren’t creating a team you are missing out on a wealth of resources that make each and every person in your company succeed… including YOU.

Great post Marcus!
b

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Marcus Sheridan February 28, 2012 at

Absolutely Barbara! Employees will rise, or fall, to the expectations and vision placed on them….so why not set the bar high??

Love the way you think lady, and so appreciate your support here.

Marcus

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Adarsh Thampy February 24, 2012 at

Well said Marcus.

The idea of using your existing sales staff as a content idea generating machine is great. In fact it’s one of the best ways and even comes before keyword research :)

While the idea is sound, it might not work in some organizations. Why? Because in those organizations there are many people who simply don’t care what happens with their organization as long as they get their paychecks promptly. I have experienced it first hand, so I can very confidently say that.

But we are not necessarily talking about those people.

I was wondering. What happens when there are only very few sales/marketing type of people and majority of the employees are uber geeks who’d rather code day and night without food instead of writing a blog post or contributing a blog post idea?

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Marcus Sheridan February 26, 2012 at

I agree Adarsh that some folks never want to get involved in the blogging, marketing, teaching side of the business. With coders,there very well not be a good option in this case. For me, it’s really about those persons that deal with customers day in and day out, whether they be sales, or marketing, or customer service.

Thanks for dropping by my man,

Marcus

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Jeevanjacobjohn February 24, 2012 at

Hey Marcus,

I don’t do business (neither do I know much about it; but I do plan to do it in the future). I absolutely agree with you – if employees of a company are trained equally and effectively about inbound marketing, they help themselves and their company to achieve better results – with marketing).

I think that blogging itself can also “awaken” the creative minds – if used effectively- that are within us – most companies these days don’t really encourage their employees to be creative – it is more about getting things done within the time limit. I believe that because blogging can encourage us to think in a different way – like, what can we do better – in writing? in design? in conversion? marketing? Can we tweak “this setting” to get better results? I think it does that ;)

I plan to do business in the future. And I have already made a decision about my company (of course, if I can build up a company, which I believe I can :D) – I will encourage employees to be creative – focus on being creative, by experimenting, learning and analyzing – rather than being so focused on getting things done in time.

Anyways, Marcus, thanks for sharing your experiences and lesson with us,

Jeevan Jacob John

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Jeevanjacobjohn February 24, 2012 at

By the way, Marcus, Did you notice that there is an error with comment date/time stamp? (Look over each comment and it reads, February 24 2012 at – the time is missing).

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Marcus Sheridan February 26, 2012 at

Thanks for pointing that out Jeevan, I missed that!

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Marcus Sheridan February 26, 2012 at

With an attitude like that Jeevan, I think you’ll be quite the business owner. :)

The concept of “awakening the creative mind” is such a powerful one, and have such a goal will get you far Jeevan.

Thanks again for dropping by,

Marcus

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Harriet February 24, 2012 at

I didn’t realise that social media was something that people were suspicious of. I guess its quite new so eventually people will come round to it!

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Marcus Sheridan February 26, 2012 at

I sure hope so Harriet. :)

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Bob Reed February 24, 2012 at

You are reading my mind, Marcus. Oh, jeez…. I’m beginning to sound like Gini.

This just isn’t about inbound marketing and letting employees write. It’s acknowledging that employees think. Everyone in an organization should be given the opportunity to communicate that they know. It could uncover rich veins of incredible, relevant content.

Too many firms have outmoded ideas about sales and marketing. Regrettably, over controlling marketing types in sales-centric companies will not talk to the very people who have the ear of the customer — the sale people. “You can’t talk to sales!”, they rail. “They can’t be interrupted from selling!” Trust me on the last sentence. I heard it first-hand.

That less-that-enlightened marketer believes that he and his staff can sit in a room and think of everything that needs to be communicated. I’ll be covering this in a post next week about “The Power of Dialogue”.

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Marcus Sheridan February 26, 2012 at

Amen x 5,000 Bob.Love these points, especially about “sitting in a room”…it’s crazy the way we put ourselves in positions to “lose touch” with the marketplace.

Really appreciate your thoughts my man,

Marcus

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Ryan Hanley February 24, 2012 at

So I did a webinar for Chubb Insurance two days ago on Social Media and it’s place in the Insurance Industry.

Immediately following the presentation I get an email from a woman and it’s her personal account. The title of the email is HELP…

She had been on the Webinar and was losing her mind because the Partners in her firm refused to embrace social media of any kind. They said that they were all about Relationships and that they didn’t need the Internet.

“They were about the Relationships”

See that? They are about relationships and are under the impression that anything that has to do with the Internet is NOT relationship based.

That is the mentality that needs to be broken… That is CRACK in the Internet Opposed Armor.

These business owners do not realize that the Internet is 100% based on relationship.

Sell that message. Drink that Kool-aid.

Oh and yes employees should be allowed to blog.

Great topic…

Ryan H.

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Carmen Sognonvi February 25, 2012 at

That’s fascinating, Ryan, and kind of infuriating at the same time. Sometimes we take it for granted that everyone understands social media is about building and nurturing relationships – but as your experience makes clear, that’s just not the case yet.

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Ryan Hanley February 25, 2012 at

Infuriating is a good way to describe it.

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Marcus Sheridan February 26, 2012 at

Agreed.

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Marcus Sheridan February 26, 2012 at

That’s the thing Carmen. We keep thinking people and employees understand this so much more than they do. That’s why it starts with education and the most simple of internet principles. But once that’s understood, that’s when the magic can happen.

Marcus

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Marcus Sheridan February 26, 2012 at

Dang Hanley…doesn’t you’re heart just break when you see this stuff man? Poor lady will just hate her job worse and worse until they get out of the stone ages.

Keep teaching the good word my man.

Marcus

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John Verba February 24, 2012 at

I like that Matthew Stock made the special effort to make clear that the contributions that one single individual, Marcus, brought to the company resulted in more change throughout the company in 72 hours than he, the owner, had seen in the prior 20 years.

He said, “I realized I couldn’t do it myself” and that he had to “check my ego at the door and bring in a pro.”

The fact that, in 20 years, no one on staff could have this same effect doesn’t make anyone “stupid,” and the fact that Matthew is generously acknowledging the fact that all the people he’s hired, given 20 years, couldn’t manage it doesn’t imply an “elitist” mentality. Using emotionally charged words that suggest a judgment that isn’t taking place will work, I suppose, but it’s also one reason that corporate communications and marketing people can be seen as people who tell us how to think and how to see things…in kind of slick ways.

I would definitely like to see quotes from anyone, aside from the one in today’s blog, that stated that ANY company staff members are stupid, and, as well, quotes from anyone that suggested that experts who return exceptional ROI in any capacity are somehow “elite.” And it might also be good to acknowledge that, sure, the nationally known consultant who’s now speaking to Fortune 500 marketing pros was once, “just a pool guy,” in the same manner that Thomas Edison was once a kid selling newspapers, and then a telegraph operator. We all start somewhere. If we become nationally known experts on execution and ROI, we don’t then say, “And I’m actually a guy who didn’t acquire all this additional knowledge that greatly enhanced my ability to help.” ; ) Sure you did. We were one thing once. And now we’re another.

The nationally known marketing guru brought about a total sea-change in a business, affecting much more than just its staffs’ understanding of in-bound marketing, in ways the founder and staff had not been able to do over 20 years. This prompts the owner to advise that we check our egos and admit what we can’t do on our own.

He didn’t say they weren’t smart. He didn’t say they needed a very “elite” consultant. Those words came from elsewhere. He only said Marcus did more, in a very short time, than anyone there had known to do in 20 years. That just means there’s no reason to have a Marcus on their staff…but it’s good that one is out there to consult with and meet their need. And it sounds like it means that Marcus got them looking out at their customers more than ever before.

Regarding writing “skills”: I think many people will tell you that they “can’t write.” I’d suggest they explain something to someone with a dictaphone running, and then have it typed up. They’ll find that they communicate using the written word just fine.

And whether they can say things about basement waterproofing that will have people reading a blog when they have that need…well…they’ll have to try it and see, right? But whether one person can get a lot of people thinking passionately about basement waterproofing by focusing them on the real people out there that they serve, and what those people really need and want when they call…well…I’d always say that that can do done…100% of the time. We can always care more about the people we serve and find ways to serve them better.

And to do that, first off, don’t think of anyone as stupid, and don’t resent people for their strengths, whatever they are. That always sounds like water-cooler talk to me…and I always wonder why people are so quick to promote divisiveness when none of us can do, alone, what we all need to do, all together, for ourselves and one another. ; ) I understand that some marketing people are always going to say, “Look at these people looking down on you, doubting you, saying you’re not good enough,” to get people to buy what they’re offering.

But why not just share the word-of-mouth of the actual satisfied users, who say things like: I always felt there was something missing with our marketing. I wasn’t sure what it was until I stumbled upon the TSL Blog.

That brings up a point of pain and presents a solution without suggesting any of that other…stuff…about stupidity and elitism. It basically says: Call Marcus and get really focused on what matters in your business…your customers, how you serve them, and how well you’re getting that across.

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joe February 24, 2012 at

Couple of quick things, @Mathew Stock, really glad to hear an owner grab on and hold to that idea. Proud that us older guys can figure out that there are only two types of marketing (stolen from Jim Connolly)..effective and ineffective marketing.

Been doing pictures and doing narrative over pictures as I learn more on editing video. As one guy told me a lot of people don’t want to do content marketing because it’s going to take some time. For example I’m trying to do two poems and one video each week. Nothing Steven Spielberg, some of them are pretty weak, but learn something and create something else…I love it.

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Matthew Stock February 24, 2012 at

Thanks Joe. Our old dogs caught on really quick once they realized how building trust PRE sale will help with their POST sales success. Neat poems!

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Joe February 26, 2012 at

Thanks Mathew, good luck, please keep us informed on how it goes..Be sure and try some videos, lot of people are more comfortable with that format.

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Marcus Sheridan February 26, 2012 at

You know Matt, I’m starting to think this should have been the adage:

“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks…unless they know why the tricks are awesome and will bless their life.”

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Matthew Stock February 26, 2012 at

Bingo. This young dog (me) needs to start workin’ on some video. Joe is right.

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Marcus Sheridan February 26, 2012 at

But that’s the thing Joe– you’re actually doing something man. You’re pushing it. You’re growing. Nothing better than that.

Marcus

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Joe February 26, 2012 at

Thanks Marcus, I appreciate that…we shall see in a week or so..doing first step of proposal to my bosses on doing more content marketing for company.

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John Verba February 24, 2012 at

The best way I’d know to present/promote/increase visibility of the program and consulting without resorting to us-versus-them tactics or insisting, “Absolutely anyone and everyone can do this, and it’s SO EASY…and only a dummy would question that!” is to simply go out and talk to small business owners who are 6, 12, 18 and 24 months out from when they downloaded your book or initiated consulting…

…and identify the ones who’ve driven income using the newly learned methods…

…and list and prioritize the differences and changes that they feel the program brought about. That way, even just for your internal purposes, to start, you can then say, “OK, it’s really not everyone, and it’s really not effortless, but the business owners that it has met needs for (helped) have these traits in common, and the big differences it made for them in how they approached thing (as in…the actions it prompted them to make that they feel made the difference) were”:

And then list the Top 5 to 10 from most to least prevalent.

Now…maybe you already have all this info but you just haven’t had time to compile is yet and make it visible.

I do know this: If businesses, small and large, who still do a lot of outbound are just, you know, dumb, like HubSpot has tended to argue, then businesses that rely more on inbound must be very smart. (That seems to be the argument they’re making, correct?)

So if small and large businesses are doing a kind of marketing that’s very smart these days, then there must be piles of documentation of tangible results sitting around the HubSpot offices, or your office, or, at the least, plenty of undocumented results waiting to be documented. I’m not doubting that there are. I’m saying that once you have clear in your mind that 6, 12, 18 and 24 months out, IF one has the wherewithal to compete seriously using TSL and perhaps Hubspot tactics, one can reasonably expect, based on some past documented successes, certain real-world outcomes…

…then what anyone else is doing, and how “dumb” it is and how misguided or elitist they are will all cease to be important…because whatever they’re doing and however it’s working, you’ll KNOW your approach has helped business after business after business after business. Period.

Calling anything smart or dumb and thus implying that your prospect will either do the smart or dumb thing would normally be called a bullying tactic, right? While saying, “Well, I know how we’ve helped these businesses, over the course of 24 months, greatly increase leads and closes while reducing marketing costs,” is actually simply stating facts (even more than) showing confidence.

And in today’s economy, where results and efficiency mean so much, that focus on the client and on our actual abilities to help mean everything. And once you move from, “We can potentially help everyone to prosper SO EASILY,” to “We actually have a clear track record of helping this kind of user to carry out these actions to achieve this result…”

…then it’s no longer about lots of nice people saying how nice and smart we are, and us saying it back. Then it’s about saying: You know, I can really help you reach your business goals if you really want to/commit, and I’ve done it many times, and I’m ready to help you do it now…if you really want to be intentional.

I mean, it’s nice when people tell us how smart we are, and all that. But when you’re walking out of someone’s office and their offices were full of resumes for new hires and they were taking calls from their landlord about increasing their office space, that has a whole different feel to it. That’s kind of…not debatable. And it’s about lives and income and families and aspirations. Not ourselves. : )

So…I’m hoping that the waterproofing company is in that steady, healthy growth position 12 months down the road. And TSL tactics have driven their growth. And you’re on top of it all and sharing details of their increased success with us.

And we can all say, “Look what a difference you’re making, Marcus. Wow. Keep it up.”

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Matthew Stock February 24, 2012 at

Thanks for the encouragement John. I do plan on keeping the TSL community apprised of both our successes and even our failures.

All I can say to those businesses looking to for a catalyst is to set up a summit. You can read his blogs and watch his videos all day long. Soon you’ll realize
it’s not just 1000 island dressing.

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John Verba February 24, 2012 at

Matthew,

What you and Krista have said is, to me, the (extremely valuable) nuggets of gold in a stream that seems to have a lot of prospectors standing shoulder to shoulder.

I’m looking forward to hearing how it pans out, so to speak. : ) But, very seriously, your stories are the kind that someone could take to a national association that’s trying to get the hang of social marketing, or even to a large corporation, and point to the results (even just the immediate changes, really) and say, “This is how this stuff is used to drive purchases or to increase ‘member involvement.’”

There have also been, over the past year on here, two other commenters that I’ve taken note of, and then contacted, who have indicated that they’re overloaded with work because the blogging services they provide are driving their clients’ growth. So of course I wanted to get them in my database of folks I know.

The couple people who’ve acknowledged that to get results you’ve never gotten before you have to do what you’ve never done, which takes time and effort and vision and CHANGE, fit with what I’ve seen from small businesses over the past 27 years. So they’re the ones I want to keep my eye on.

I’m looking forward to your updates, and, just a heads-up, here…over my years in marketing, I’ve seen that if a business marketing to homeowners masters the art of using marketing to drive income, adding new profit centers is often the next logical step. Once you really know how to position and promote your offerings to dominate a local market, why not dominate a few other niches? ; ) (But…one step at a time, of course.)

John

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Marcus Sheridan February 26, 2012 at

Great stuff John. I’m very much watching and listening to Krista and Matt as well…their success story is very, very important to me, as you can imagine.

Thanks my friend.

Marcus

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Marcus Sheridan February 26, 2012 at

Hahahaha….no, it’s not bud. ;-)

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Marcus Sheridan February 26, 2012 at

I’ll be honest John, I found this comment to be confusing, mainly because I’m not making the blanket statements you’re implying from this post. The actual theme here is as follow:

1. If we want to be a successful social media/blogging company, our employees must understand “the why”, which is attained through education.
2. Our employees are more capable than we give them credit for.

This is not about what’s dumb or not dumb. It’s a fact that many people in this industry do not espouse the idea that almost every employee in a company can be a content producer. Also, many,many folks espouse the idea that blogging is too hard for average Joe and Jane employees.

I beg to differ with these sentiments.

As for showing data, as you saw from Matt, there are already results, all because we bothered approaching this in a very different manner.

Will there be more in the future, yes, of course, the data will come.

But no one has shown more actual data than me in terms of River Pools and Spas. The entire world practically knows my Google Analytics password at this point.

Notwithstanding, companies always like to say, “Well it worked for them, but we’re different. We’re B2B, we’re B2C, we’re a local biz, we’re a national biz, blah, blah”

Again, I’ve heard them all and it’s my job to speak passionately about this stuff.

It’s also my job to be direct in the way I communicate and write this stuff John. When you say it, it sounds like it’s coming from a marketer. When I say things, I don’t want to sound like a marketer.

Why? Because most people aren’t marketers and don’t share that language.

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Daniel Rose February 25, 2012 at

You know, I totally agree with this. People have too little faith in their employees, especially larger companies. Take a look at the flaming hoops involved in blogging for major organizations. Like you say, it’s not something that happens overnight – engagement is the key to success (as it is with everything..)

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Marcus Sheridan February 26, 2012 at

Daniel, what’s up my man? Love the phrase– “flaming hoops”. Yes, there are wayyyy too many of them. And this red tape is KILLING the magic and possibilities of social media and content marketing.

Good stuff Daniel, thanks again…

Marcus

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Jens P. Berget February 25, 2012 at

Hi Marcus,

You’re not naive. I believe you’re absolutely right. But from my experience in Norway, it seems that we’re a little early. And this is especially when it comes to management. It seems that most managers don’t understand that close to 100% of their employees are already using social media, and are getting used to writing every single day (many times a day).

Many managers are afraid of what can happen if they let their employees create content. For instance, the politicians in the town where I live has made Facebook illegal at work for public employees who are working for the town. The reason is that they don’t want people spending so much time on Facebook all day. To me, this is close to insanity. If they did a completely different approach, they would have more than 1,000 employees that would have been advocates online for the town.

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Marcus Sheridan February 26, 2012 at

Jens, you’re right. We are early on this. But that’s also why we need to keep screaming it from the rooftops and not allow antiquated thought to rule the day. Keep doing what you’re doing man. As I’ve told you before, and I really mean this– you’re a pioneer my man.

Marcus

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Spatch Merlin February 25, 2012 at

This is very true. Sometimes employers hire someone to do the job for them yet can’t trust them enough to do the job. I’ve encountered a lot of employees and I must say they work best when you trust their capabilities and don’t poke in around every minute (of course at the start you make sure they do their jobs well). You hire because you know they can do it, so why not let them do their jobs. :)

Spatch Merlin
from More Web Site Traffic Guide

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Marcus Sheridan February 26, 2012 at

“So why not let them do their jobs?”

That, my friend, is the ultimate question. Heck, I bet I’ve asked it to hundreds of managers at this point, and the question always makes them have a serious reality check and question why they’re doing what they’re doing (or not doing).

Thanks so much for dropping by Spatch, hope you’re well.

Marcus

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Marie Wiese February 25, 2012 at

These obversations are very astute Marcus but there is another key point holding people back which I think you will agree upon: good content comes from understanding your customers’ problems and how you solve them. A lot of business owners and the employees who work for them, don’t take the time to document how they work with or solve problems for customers. If more people listened to their customers and used that for content marketing, they would never fear using new tools to communicate. The underlying fear comes from lack of knowing what to say and how to connect with with someone you are solving a problem for. Too many business owners generate product-centric content and when that doesn’t fly in blog posts or social media, they blame the tools. I think you said it best yourself – start listening! Then communicate.

Marie

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Bob Reed February 25, 2012 at

Marie, you nailed the genesis of the problem. So many business don’t follow up on the sale and ongoing customer experience. All too often, a closed sale means the process worked. The more positive outcomes may lead to the odd case study, but it doesn’t steer the organization to reflect and mine insights than could fuel content to attract future customers.

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Marcus Sheridan February 26, 2012 at

Well said Bob! Hope you’re doing well my friend. :)

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Marcus Sheridan February 26, 2012 at

I can tell you’ve got a good feel for this “content vs sales” balance Marie, and I really like what you’ve said here.

This whole concept of simply listening to define our social media strategy is so powerful but also so little understood.

Really appreciate you stopping by Marie!

Marcus

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Andrea Hypno February 25, 2012 at

You’re right Marcus and I think that 90 percent of employees if shown the real benefit of change will change. They just have to touch with hands what’s in it for them. A percentage though will always sail against whatever you show them, but that’s human nature.

I think the biggest problem lies in the way business is done a lot these days which reflects on the kind of managers many firms have, I guess you know what I mean. And these managers aren’t so comfortable with employees talking ouside the firm with people without being checked first, who knows what they could say? You have to be honest in your business to be sure that one of your employees doesn’t open the Pandora box. And there aren’t so many ethical businesses around these days, or at least that’s what it seems.

But I think this comes easier with those few firms not owned by a board of administrators or shareholders but by a man, or a family. They usually are much more interested in long term goals and earnings so probably they are more flexible and eager to adopt new strategies. Just an opinion but that’s what I think.

Have a great weekend to everyone!

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Marcus Sheridan February 26, 2012 at

Hey Andrea! Yes, many employees will change and embrace. Others won’t. And those that don’t, in my opinion, need to be shown the door.

As for Pandora’s box, yes, we have to be careful. I strongly believe not matter the size of the company and number of bloggers, there needs to be a final “filter” through which the content flows. HubSpot and there massive blog is a good example of this.

Thanks so much as always Andrea, I really appreciate your thoughts!

Marcus

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Leon Noone February 25, 2012 at

G’Day Marcus,
Bloody Hell! Now you’re starting to sound like me. It must be time for another guest post from the curmudgeon from Down Unda about how to get staff more involved or something similar.

You are , of course, absolutely correct. One of the saddest things about small medium business is that the owners and managers don’t get anywhere near the contribution they’d like from employees because they simply don’t know how. Alternatively they get caught in the behavior trap and are misled by pop-psychology.

Then they complain to me about their time management problems. Did you see the post I wrote about this only last Thursday?

Are you familiar with the work of Ricardo Semler? This Brazilian entrepreneur has taken employee involvement to extraordinary levels. I wrote a post about him last year called “Staff Performance: Break The Rules And Win, Brazilian Style. ” He’s written two wonderful books that every manager should read. They’re mentioned in the post.

Summers drawing to a close here. Spring must be on your doorstep. A great feeling! You’re about to receive a great offer on my “7 Secrets ” ebook series. Keep an eye out for it.

Best Wishes
Leon

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Marcus Sheridan February 26, 2012 at

You always make me smile Leon,and yes, I know this is right up your alley….even if you are “an oldie” ;-)

I’m going to have to go back and look at that Brazilian post my man, sounds awesome.

Thank for everything mate,

Marcus

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Sally lawson February 26, 2012 at

I loved this article it is so on the button. I have started the social media summit at our offices, by taking on the role personally first and I am now teaching, and working with my senior team first to start creating content, blogging, social media involving and the like, and the results ( even in as short a time as 6 mo this, have been amazing)

I now have some of the junior team, doing a few bits and will be developing them further now. But your right, getting the “buy in” and their “willingness” to participate, is the most important hurdle.
Some just don’t want too, some you wouldn’t want them too, but those that do, work with them.
I am amazed at some of the great, videos, articles and blogs they have prepared to educate the customer (not sell) and this has inadvertently, brought customers to our door ( we sell franchises and rent properties for landlords) nationwide.
What more could we ask for.
We are all still on our voyage of discovery on this subject, so thank yo for your content and articles too, they are a greT help, to newbies like us.
Thanks

Sally Lawson
@Sally_Lawson
http://Www.Sallylawson.co.uk

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Christina Pappas February 26, 2012 at

The way I see it is simple. If you trust your employees to pick up the phone and answer questions, then why wouldnt you trust them to turn those questions into published responses? Gets ‘em every time ;)

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John Verba February 27, 2012 at

Marcus,

Just a couple fast observations. My training was in journalism, so when I think of non-marketing writing, I think this way: Any statement that in any way suggests an opinion or value judgment can’t come from the journalist, and must be attributed to a source. Opinion pieces, in theory, go on the editorial page, and when the writing is clearly trying to compel a business response, that crosses the line to PR or advertorials.

Your writing, to me, reads like a really good infomercial script. It has a nice, homey style and it uses the tried and true, “Are you as frustrated by this as I am?” approach. It “informs” me why seeing any company do most anything but inbound marketing makes you scratch your head and wonder. Don’t these people know the money they’re wasting? It’s just sad, really, that they’re denying themselves the clear advantages of developing and relying on a 100% inbound program. What in the world are they thinking?

I mean….you’re The Sales Lion. You sell. And you do it passionately and eloquently and well. If you were informing, your articles wouldn’t include a “fact” without an attribution. And they wouldn’t use emotion…which you use really well. : )

Anyway…one thing I’d be really interested in knowing about your River Pools and Spas experience is how many people on its staff are contributing to the blog at this point, are you still involved with it at all, and was there any drop-off in ROI when the other staff members took over the effort?

Those are the kinds of metrics that prove the “anyone can do this” assertion, and I’d be the first one to say it’s pretty validating if you can say, “There are now X number of staff members writing for the site, and I’m not anymore, and sales haven’t dropped off at all.”

And, again, I assume that’s what’s happened. I want to believe in blogging, because, you know, for me, it’s another way to use written communications to build and maintain visibility before your prospects and loyalty from your customers. I’m sure that can be done, and I’m eager to find the documented cases where companies are successfully using it, and the facts on where the content is coming from that’s driving their success.

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Rebecca Livermore February 27, 2012 at

John,

There were a few things that came to mind as I read your comment.

The first one is that traditional journalism is dying. There are many reasons that may contribute to that, one being that the medium often used by traditional journalists (print) isn’t cutting it any more. The other one is that the “rules” of traditional journalism such as “any statement that in any way suggests an opinion or value judgment can’t come from the journalist, and must be attributed to a source” kill passionate writing. And people have gotten sick of accurate but boring writing.

There is a place for that type of writing, for sure, but to demand that all writing, or in this case a blog, fit within that narrow guideline simply because it’s how your world works isn’t necessarily appropriate.

As a journalist, though, you should be able to do the research and come up with the answers to your questions. I suppose it is possible that is what you are attempting to do here, but I think you’re going about it the wrong way.

None of us have the right to demand that someone else jump through the hoops we’ve created, or do what we want them to do. Actually, you could demand that of an employee, but to demand that of someone you don’t “own” really isn’t cool.

This isn’t to say that writing shouldn’t be accurate or that it’s cool for people to just make stuff up and present it as fact. But I don’t think that’s what’s happening here.

I don’t know what kind of writing you’re doing now, or how far your journalism training has taken you. If it’s working for you, that’s great. But if it isn’t, you might want to rethink some of the training you’ve received, and embrace a new way of doing things that brings better results.

By the way, I also write and do in many cases have to use proper attribution, but thankfully also have the freedom to be passionate and have pretty well ditched the companies that make me write like you seem to think it should be done. I’m just as accurate regardless of the company I do the work for because at the core of who I am, I’m honest and have no desire to give out false information or mislead people. But I do a better job at the places that allow me to write without wearing a straitjacket because truth mixed with passion is the most powerful writing you will ever come across. You seldom get that with traditional journalism.

Rebecca

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John Verba February 27, 2012 at

Rebecca,

Thanks for taking the time to write that. It’s passionate, and it’s cool that you’re taking on a certain status quo in your own way.

No, I never really had much use for the journalism training, and have often said that the one thing I got out of four years of it was that I always double-check the spelling of names. The folks I’ve known at major daily papers have to deal with doing incredibly wonderful work that, the next day, is lining the bottom of a bird cage. That can be tough for the idealistic to make sense of.

My approach on this very public blog, where people can respond or not, as they choose, is based on something that happened to me, early in my career, that’s been nothing but positive. I was the first writer ever hired right out of college by the second largest ad agency in Baltimore, and, after one meeting one day in which I’d had a lot to say to a large client about what I thought their customers would want to hear — in which every head was nodding and every face was smiling — the owner of the company stopped me in the hall and said…

“John, nobody cares what you think, they care what you KNOW.”

And he was right to say that, and it’s really made a difference through the years. Now my comments tend to have guardrail concepts like: Sources. Track record. “Tangible.” Essential value.

Now…maybe it’s just natural and right that a company only gets that kind of intense, mercenary commitment to what really works if they have, at that time, $300k or more to spend on advertising. But I don’t think it’s right…mostly because, you know, it really is the committed and visionary and expectant SMALL business guy — who puts his customers and staff before himself — who needs that quality and level of commitment most.

So…I mean, it’s fine if someone wants to say that we shouldn’t really demand of someone “is this what you think, or is this what you know?” at this level, because, it’s, you know, demanding. And jumping through hoops.

But I’ve seen how demanding the small business owners who really do help and serve and compete and put others first are, regarding themselves. For them, being asked, “Show me this will help, based on prior results regarding ROI” is playing right into their hands. : ) It’s the question they most want to hear.

Haven’t you found that, as well, in your interaction with self-made millionaires who’ve put systems in place that made all the difference for their fellow business owners and customers? A challenge is an opportunity to cite results.

[I thought there was a lot said in your statement: People have gotten sick of accurate...writing. (What we want to hear is definitely a lot more fun to read.) And I'd say there's quite an appeal to just writing what we want to write...especially since it's easy to get it out there, now. The thing I'll always fall back on, though, is the essential value of the ideas. I've been in places that have grown 2X to 6X their size in the short times I was providing the creative ideas, and I've written letters and direct response that brought in millions, etc. So that's why I tend to look past any creative person's love of their own work and freedom to simply ask, "Yes, but who are you helping, and how?" And then, of course: And how do you KNOW?]

I’ve liked my results. My main questions now, are, can what I can do change the inner city in tangible and then scalable ways? And can it help people with really good offerings and really good intentions to speed their progress toward helping others? And, like you, I wouldn’t want to not do that. So it’ll be fun to see what all comes out of the effort.

John

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Rebecca Livermore February 27, 2012 at

John,

Thanks so much for your response. You obviously put some thought into it, and I appreciate that.

Here’s the deal:

You can prove anything with facts, including things that are contradictory and just plain false. Many skillful journalists are very talented when it comes to presenting facts in such a way that the truth is distorted.

As an example, in your comment above, you “quoted me.” Sort of.

I wrote, “people have gotten sick of accurate but boring writing.”

And you quoted me as saying,

“People have gotten sick of accurate…writing.”

Did you use facts when you quoted me?

Yes.

But did you tell the truth when you quoted me?

No.

Because you see, you conveniently left out something that changed the meaning of what I wrote.

You used facts to make your point, but what you wrote wasn’t a true representation of what I said.

This is actually very common in journalism.

Now to quote you (without leaving anything out ;))

“nobody cares what you think, they care what you KNOW.”

That’s a nice sentiment, but equally valid is something that I’ve heard so many times and I really believe it’s true — people don’t care about how much you know, unless they know how much you care.

Using our minds is a great thing. But the thing that matters most when it comes to true and accurate (not just “factual”) writing is who someone is at the core of their being, because that will determine whether or not they use those facts to write the truth.

Rebecca

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John Verba February 27, 2012 at

Rebecca,

Well, I need to apologize, because I can see how what I said definitely looks like me misquoting you and then using that as a “gotcha” moment, and where my mind had rushed off to was that I thought there really was an essential truth to the idea that people had gotten sick of accurate but boring writing. (And that accurate is, by its very nature, more boring than enhanced for effect and emotion.)

And here’s where I went with it: Accurate is definitely more limited. An editor may have checked the facts. A publisher will choose to publish it or not with the awareness that publishing it reflects on them…that they’re putting their stamp on it. It’s not a solitary effort, and each participant filters and verifies and has their own career in mind.

And when a writer can reach the audience directly, then no editor or creative director or manager ever calls the writer in to say, “How are you backing up your assertions?”

And so it’s easy to get assertions that are very palatable out to people who want to be assured that much can be done with little effort and the like.

I’m not saying that you’re saying that, and I’m definitely not questioning anything about you as a person, because logic tells us that statements stand on their own. The source doesn’t prove or disprove anything, obviously.

But I am most definitely glad I ran across that statement, because it’s prompted me to think that, yes, there’s more and more writing out there now that’s a whole lot easier to like and accept the promise of since it only represents the view of the single writer…but it looks just like writing that someone has fact-checked and people have put their reputations behind.

Like, if I said, “Well, I don’t agree with Seth Godin that it takes 10,000 hours to master something. I think it takes 5,000.”

Well, you see where I’m going with this. But, yes…that’s interesting stuff. People can now say, “I think this is a total waste of money…” and if someone said, “But, based on what facts and experience?” the answer can be, “Passion…because you can’t trust ‘the truth’ or ‘facts’ anyway, right?”

I am NOT saying anyone on here is doing any of this. What I am saying is that we really are entering a time when the assertion that gets the most “likes” will be the accepted truth (until outcomes disprove it)…because what systems will be in place to prevent it?

Very interesting stuff. And it explains some recent trends in communications, the more I think about it.

John

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Rebecca Livermore February 27, 2012 at

John,

Thanks so much for the apology — I’m not sure it was necessary, but it was appreciated.

One thing I think you may be missing is that it’s not either/or, but both. Facts plus passion, not facts or passion. Believe it or not, they can coexist. ;)

And now it’s time for me to go spend more time doing the type of writing that actually pays me. :)

Rebecca

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Karen Perese February 27, 2012 at

Hi Marcus,

I’ve been following you for a few months now and I wanted to ask you a question. I’m from New Zealand, we are terribly behind online with a few things, yet innovative nonetheless. Do you believe HubSpot will work in a smaller overseas market example here in New Zealand? We are similar in many ways with our neighboring Australia just smaller in population at 4million. However we are thriving international work place. There is just so much stuff that it becomes completely overwhelming for business owners here and no doubt the rest of the world. Does HubSpot’s inbound marketing truly make it easier. I’m asking because I’m not completely familiar with HubSpot as yet. I know how big it is however, always impressive. And I enjoy reading your articles here. Actually anyone can feel free to reply. I believe the US leads the way with Online Marketing. But there’s some great stuff also coming out of Australia. I try and bring the best strategies from both to our tiny country. Thanks for your time.

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Marcus Sheridan February 28, 2012 at

Hi Karen, and thanks for your inquiry. Yes, inbound marketing can work for you. Essentially, it works well in any market that uses the internet.

As for HubSpot, yes, it’s a great tool, and typically a good fit for most businesses. But there are also some businesses by which it’s not a good fit. If you ever wanted to discuss it in more detail, feel free to contact me directly.

But the bottom line is you do need to embrace these principles. Because those folks in your country may be a little behind, that actually gives you a HUGE advantage. Time is of the essence with inbound and content marketing, so I suggest you take it and run.

Thanks again for asking,

Marcus

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Wendy February 27, 2012 at

You really have a good point there. And your right, sometimes the employers have the attitude of not trusting their employees. This post is really informative. Good job!

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Jimmy Hovey February 27, 2012 at

Marcus…you are spot on. I taught a 11 year Journeyman Electrician how to blog. I didn’t teach him all the ins and outs of the optimization process, I just asked him to write on specific topics that he knew about. Just did the same thing with a new hire that came in that has experience in safety. I spent about 15 minutes explaining what I was looking for and asked him to teach me something about safety. The content was awesome. Again I didn’t spend a ton of time on the technical parts, just asked him to provide me with the content. That has been a huge help. It gave each of these guys a huge boost of confidence knowing that they are now “authors”. Great post!

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Marcus Sheridan February 28, 2012 at

Jimmy, really, really digging your simplistic approach to helping others learn content marketing. Instead of making this out to be way more than it really is, you’re helping your clients do what they do best, without all the tech fluff, and I know it’s benefiting them greatly.

Well done man!

Marcus

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Frank February 27, 2012 at

Good article. I educate my clients and their employees on inbound marketing and ways to use social media for the good of the business. Intellectually and as team players I know they get it. But getting them to produce content, much less put it out on their sites is not easy. It will take time and patience.

I fear for the businesses that don’t have the time for their business model to come around.

Frank

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Marcus Sheridan February 28, 2012 at

Hey Frank, and thanks for you input here. Yes, it does take sometime. For some, it takes more than others. And in some cases, the content side of things just gets outsourced.

I really think it starts with a willingness to at least “try” and “learn”. If they’ll just take that approach, the magic can really happen.

Thanks again Frank,

Marcus

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Ryan Critchett February 27, 2012 at

Dude, I love this. It seems like the ever pervasive story of non evolution (as a result of non acceptance of new technology and communication tools, among other things) within business. What the heck!!!

But hey, at least we get it. Super insightful article. I like how you broke down the solution, instead of just blogging about the problem.

Lions are always cool.

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Marcus Sheridan February 28, 2012 at

“Ever pervasive story of non evolution”…Hahaha Ryan, I dig how you said that man, very cool. :)

Thanks for the kind words bud, always appreciate your witt,

Marcus

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newbajajpulsar February 28, 2012 at

That’s fascinating, Ryan, and kind of infuriating at the same time. Sometimes we take it for granted that everyone understands social media is about building and nurturing relationships – but as your experience makes clear, that’s just not the case yet.

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John Verba February 28, 2012 at

Let me throw a couple quick ideas out there for the folks who are trying, but nothing seems to be happening…or just to speed the “try” and “learn” process a bit.

Somewhere between years five and ten of communicating with folks to build relationships, or to help them solve their problems in the best way possible, and be happy, you run into some helpful statements like this:

1. No one goes into Home Depot because they need to buy a hammer. They go because they need to drive a nail.

2. Don’t tell me you just bought a PrintMaster 6000 (and how long it took to find it and how much you spent and how hard it was to install). Tell me I can get my job printed in three days instead of a week.

The bottom line will always be: What’s in it for them? (Which can also guide us in product design, coaching, teaching, parenting, relationships, and more, come to think of it.) Even if you were just trying to be a good friend or a team player, thinking of the other folks’ needs first will guide you to make the best use of their time.

Fast example: I sat down to watch a new River Pools and Spas video, and it was about mistakes they’d made along the way and what they learned (good, honest approach) and the first section was about learning that gravel was a better fill to use between the pool and ground than sand, which they’d used for the first 250 pools.

And it tells the story of how they came to figure this out.

But in my experience, if I had the buyers right in front of me and I’m talking about what we learned and how we learned it, I can picture the folks’ attention wandering by the second, so, in the shower this morning, I thought of this:

OK, so…the first thing we learned and changed: Gravel works better than sand as the fill around the pool. That one change cut leak problems by 60 percent.

Why? There’s two reasons, and we came up with easy ways to remember them.

[You could say here that you used to think the problem was that sand became a liquid when wet...but...then you thought: So? Why is a liquid, held in place, any worse than a granular solid? BUT...again...I'd think that's too much information about what's important to you...not them. A natural mistake that people make again and again.]

So, number one…when sand gets wet, say, from a rain or from pool splash leaking down, it can get saturated. The water is held in place, by the sand, against the side of the pool. And what’s that water going to want to do? Drain anyway it can.

If it can’t get down, it’ll go sideways, press against the pool, open seams. So you don’t want sand holding and retaining water against your pool sides. So write this down:

The RIGHT fill WON’T hold water.
After a RAIN, it’ll let it DRAIN.

Hey, it’s not Emily Dickenson, but..we’re pool guys here!

And the second thing about sand…when that water drains away, what’s probably going with it? Some of the sand, right? Sand erodes. Like on the beach. In the waves. And you get air pockets. And you get problems.

But gravel? It’ll let water flow right through and never move an inch. Twenty years from now, that gravel’s sitting where you want it, right? And your pool is solid and leak-free. So write this down, too…

GRAVEL doesn’t TRAVEL.

Easy, right? One change totally eliminates the problem of outside water pressing against your pool. And cuts the potential for future leaks 60 percent.

The second source of leaks we identified and did away with cut leaks another ___percent, and that was… ETC.

—————-

Now, this is written to be a script, not to appear in text, but even in text, the same rules apply. I honor my reader by staying on track and using his/her time in his/her best interest. Did they come to me to learn to build a blog or a solid community of satisfied and loyal customers? Do they want to know what I go through to help them, or what they’ll end up with that will be so helpful?

I’ve spent years hearing “marketers” in national associations ask, “How do we get our members to care about what we’re doing for them?” Well…do what they care about, for starters.

If you want to build a “community” of supporters, start by seeing it as a community with NEEDS that you are MEETING for them. Like…a chef doesn’t tell you what’s going on back in the sweltering kitchen, right? He tells you, with passion, about the deliciousness of what’s about to arrive on your plate. Who’s hungry, out there, and who on your staff can talk about your offerings so some mouths water?

: ) No matter how it’s being served up, I’m pretty sure that’s still how really effective communications works. It communicate a passion to be of service and of value to the folks who have the need.

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Leon Noone February 28, 2012 at

G’Day John,
Here’s something that I believe is the essence of effective communication. The purpose of communication is to convey meaning. Words are merely vehicles for meaning. Grammar and syntax and all that stuff are the oil that keep the wheels well lubricated.

And always bear in mind that passion without competence is merely heat. I think that it was Albert Einstein who said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

Make sure you have fun

Regards
Leon

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Matthew Stock February 28, 2012 at

John-

Would you mind sharing with us your profession and perhaps your own blog? I’m trying to follow your comments, but I’m always left a little puzzled. Perhaps revealing the man behind the mask would help put your thoughts in context for the rest of the TSL community.

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John Verba February 28, 2012 at

[Guys...this is in answer to Matthew's inquiry about background, and contains some thoughts meant to be helpful to a small business owner looking to build a business. It's lengthy...because it's thorough and covers a number of subjects. So if you're writing a self-expression blog or not looking to dominate a niche market, skip it. : ) ]

Matthew,

Sure…just click on my name and you’ll go to the website link, and you’ll find that I’m supposed to be building an ad agency…which isn’t the proper term these days. (Since there are now SO many ways to communicate with prospects and customers.)

The link is here, as well: http://www.aredpenguin.com

I don’t have a blog. The reason for that would be that, since I’ve written all the copy for the Consumer Electronics Show one year and written and designed all the marketing for 14 American Chemical Society journals for another several years and the like, I can do what they do at Deloitte…come up with a “named list” of 100 clients I want and call them, and things tend to go well.

So the A Red Penguin site is actually structured to pre-qualify prospects. It’s meant to appeal to an Inc. 500 owner who wants to know how to get over the hump from concentrating on doing the job extraordinarily well and getting great word of mouth to being able to get the story out themselves…and not to someone who needs a generic website and is not open to change.

And what I’m doing today is reading a book by a philanthropist who’s already devoted $40M to getting charities to “manage to outcomes” and thinks the Red Penguin approach fits in with that…we both share a tendency to ask, “but what are you really trying to accomplish here?”

And I get distracted by this blog, in particular, because of this reason: I respect what Marcus has done here, a lot. I like that he gets to speak at marketingsherpa events, because I know its founder, Anne Holland, and I don’t know anyone in marketing more focused on results.

So my main thought, here, is that there is incredible potential power in blogging. And my natural concerns are: If this works, and I believe it does, you don’t have to prove anyone can do it…easily. You don’t have to prove it can be done nearly cost free by your staff in its spare time. And you don’t have to prove that no other method of building visibility before an audience compares…creating an us-against-them mentality. That, to me, takes away from the bottom-line truth that this is a cost-efficient way to build relationships and loyalty among users and supporters.

And people who actually build companies know that maintaining strong relationships with their customers requires lots of thinking and effort over time. It’s a relationship, for goodness sake. As David Ogilvy or the like once said, “The customer is your wife.” (Or, of course, husband.)

So, Matthew, that’s my background. And I realize I’ll be disappearing completely from this site as other things take over my time, and I’m expecting Marcus will be influential for a long time, so that’s why I’ve been squeezing in a lot, all at once.

By the way…with basement waterproofing…do you have any sales guys with great records who’ve ever mentioned something like: You know, the best way I know to make an emotional connection with a prospect is to talk about the worries that will go away once their basement is dry, and the new possibilities the basement will have for them once they know it will be dry? For the customer, we’re the means to an end…and the only thing they want to know about the technical side is the special ways we go above and beyond to ensure them even greater peace of mind.

Or…since I’ve gotten the impression you’re larger than a lot of the competition, can you get to the job faster or in other ways deliver better service, and is that something prospects love to hear?

Also…your most popular blog posts might guide you in putting together a great sales letter that delivers ROI for years. Or it may not. That’s why we test. ; )

I hope that answers some of your questions, Matthew. I’m not surprised if I’ve left you a bit puzzled at times. After all, I’m fascinated by questions like this: Marcus keeps stressing that ANYONE can do this…because he wants the big hump in the middle of the bell-curve to all embrace his idea at once, like any new business builder and marketer. But my perception is that Matthew and Krista are first adopter/innovator types, who are comfortable being out in front (at least in this instance). Did you two want to know that anyone could do it, easily, or did you kind of look past that and look for the assurance that you, being you, could do it, successfully, by doing what most people wouldn’t do, and by making a strong commitment to it?

Did you want it to be easy and doable by everyone, or possible, and achievable by those willing to do more than most are willing to do? Sometimes business builders slow their growth by trying to appeal to everyone with an everyone can do it message, when they could speed it up by appealing to the innovators who are looking for the way to compete better by acting like they want it more.

That’s a niche marketing basic…but it points 180 degrees away from the “everyone could really use this, right now” approach. In my experience, if the marketer is offering a product no one should ever be unhappy with, it’s one no one can really get too thrilled about, either.

If you two follow through on the program and achieve great success with it and Marcus follows up and really thinks through who you are and how he helps you, and then markets specifically to people like you, the major sales point “anyone can do this” will go away, and be replaced by points that Matthew and Krista LOVE, and other folks might read and think, “That’s too hard…I like this other program that promises anyone can do the same thing with a lot less effort.”

So…I don’t have clear-cut answers because, even when it comes to Marcus’ own marketing of himself and his offerings, I’d have to say, “Two years out from now, if you’ve tracked the people who’ve benefited from your teachings, you’ll have a much different understanding of who you help and how you help them. You’ll have talked to ‘everyone’ for a while, and found that this certain 10% has an initial interest, this 5% will try it, and this 1 or 2% will follow through and succeed…and yet you’ll all be prospering and doing grandly…and that small-looking percentage will be a lot…and so you’ll be talking more directly to them, to much greater effect, from the start.”

Right now, with blogs, with TSL and with marketing and communications as a whole, things are swirling. It’s exactly like the first rise of the internet, with everyone talking about the “new paradigm,” in what I’ve come to now know is called a “speculative economy.” It’s the time when Anne Holland told me, “You know who made money in the gold rush after the first few who struck it rich? The people who provided the supplies for all the prospectors who followed.” ;)

I don’t see Marcus simply selling instructions to people with dreams. I think he’ll be a well-respected consultant (or consultancy owner) for years to come…valued in companies large and small and by people in multiple areas of media.

And with that, Matthew, I must focus elsewhere. But…again, see what your best sales people say are the triggers that really work for them. And…I was just thinking: What if I owned a waterproofing service and my neighbor had a wet basement and I sincerely liked him and knew he was dealing with problems he didn’t have to…and I had a chance to walk around his basement and have an honest heart-to-heart…what would I say? That would be a fun way to approach coming up with blog posts, I think. : )

Good luck, Matthew!

John

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John Verba February 28, 2012 at

Leon,

I do enjoy this quite a bit, even though I know I’m always writing to the 5% of the small business folks who’ll process and test all the stuff for themselves and use this new medium to break out of the pack in a big way, same as always.

But it’s more fun than just helping the already on-top increase their lead. The next generation of innovators are, themselves, more fun. And the potential to do stuff that’s really fulfilling is greater. But it’s never lost on me that, as with direct response, a 1% to 5% “response rate” is the goal, and what resonates with them won’t resonate with all the folks who will feel comfortable doing what most people would do.

:) But taking that route is most definitely the most fun, because it’s the most interesting.

John

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Arjun Rai March 5, 2012 at

Good thought Marcus, really enjoyed reading this informative post and shared this with my friends. Its always great to read your blog every time when i came to your URL. i came back to your blog after a few moths and really glad to read you again.

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Sarah Kolb March 9, 2012 at

This is such a great, inspiring post — it’s horrible to feel like your boss doesn’t think you’re capable of anything other than menial tasks.

I started with the company I work for as a receptionist. Then I moved to customer service, and honestly, I kind of dreaded it. Then, after I had been at the company for around 2 years, I was moved to an almost exclusively writing and editing role — I maintain our company blog, I write articles, and I’m pretty self-directed. And it’s obviously been going just fine, because I’ve been doing it for over two years.

If my employers wouldn’t have been able to trust me to do more, I would have either left, or stopped trying. Trusting your employees is the best way to show them they’re valued and get them enthusiastic about the job!

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Wake Up April 1, 2012 at

The employees are always the backbone of any company. Without positive and sincere participation of employees no company can flourish. The bosses who do not look after their employees eventually lose their confidence and end up with turnover ratios.

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Guy Manningham June 20, 2012 at

I agree that companies should have their employees assist them in blogging, but there needs to be an editing process implemented to prevent poor grammar or posts done in bad taste that might have negative impacts on the brand. Websites that are index 20x per month show an 80% boost in search engine rankings. It’s crucial to blog.

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Marcus Sheridan June 21, 2012 at

I’m a huge fan of hiring a chief content officer when possible Guy….Yes, absolutely.

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