Forgetting Labels: My Crazy Journey from ‘Pool Guy’ to Web App Developer

by Marcus Sheridan

journeyWe all label ourselves. I do. You do. It’s just what we do.

I used to be a ‘pool guy’. That’s what kids called me when they opened the door and screamed to their parents I had arrived. Yeah, they couldn’t wait for ‘pool guy’ to show up. Kids aren’t dumb. They know commerce from an early age, and the ‘pool guy’ at the door was a very, very good sign.

Heck, if I had a dollar for every time someone has called me ‘pool guy’ in the last 10 years I’d be able to write a book called ‘The 4 Minute Work Week’…but I digress, right Falchetto? ;-)

It Ain’t My Thing

Technology has never really been my thing. I spent hours and hours about 7 years ago trying to learn how to design a simple web page. But I stunk at it. In fact, computers have kicked my butt since day 1, even that stupid Commodore 64 over 25 years ago.

I don’t know why this has been the case, but that’s just the way it has been.

In late 2008, when I realized that the whole world of business and marketing would soon be strictly an online venture, I was desperate to understand web design, at least somewhat.

So I again gave it a go. Dreamweaver was the task this time.

But I failed, bad. It was like learning Chinese.

Thank You Captain CMS

About 6 months later, I stumbled upon Hubspot and their CMS and my whole world changed. For the first time, I started seeing that technology was catching up with dummies like me. Content Management Systems were the wave of the future. Average Jane and Joe, without being Techie/Coder types could finally be their own webmaster with just a little bit of practice.

It was one of the most exciting times of my life, without question.

In fact, it was like I had been an artist for years, with a canvas in front of me, yet no brush to work my magic.

With the advent of web design for dummies, I finally had my brush. I could now create.

And create I did.

Change Begins

Within a matter of 12 months, my swimming pool company’s website went from 20 pages to about 400. Our web marketing began to dominate its industry. Business boomed.

And as for me, I was like a kid in a candy shop. Looking at my analytics each day was thrilling. Watching that snowball grow from a small flake to a huge mass, rolling down a mountain and growing by the second, was simply exhilarating.

Despite my ‘technological deficiencies’,  I now saw myself differently, and this blog became an extension of that new found vision.

And with it, the ‘pool guy’ started become the ‘inbound marketing guy’.

In a matter of months, one label was shed, another was born.

The Magic of Content ‘Tipping Points’

Then came the beginning of 2011. One night, as I was happily sitting at my kitchen table and comparing all of my leads vs. leads-turned-customers from 2010, an epiphany hit me like a ton of bricks.

To make a long story short, I noticed a simple pattern, and it was this:

If I could get a lead (someone that filled out a form on my website) to view at least 30 pages of my website, I would close said lead about 80% of the time assuming I went out on a sales appointment.

Although these numbers may sound insignificant to most of you, to me it was groundbreaking, as the swimming pool industry average is around 15%.

Once I knew that 30 page views was a magic number, or content ‘tipping point’, I developed my whole sales process around this simple truth.

In other words, I worked doggedly to make sure prospects read 30 pages of our site before they had a sales appointment. And what were the results?

Well, to state it briefly, 2011 has been far and away our best year ever as a swimming pool company. We’ve broken all records in sales, closing rates, profits, etc. We even are booked-out until the beginning of 2012 with pools to install. It’s amazing. And it all came down to a simple ‘tipping point’.

A Simple Idea

When I realized the power of content tipping points, I started to teach this principle wherever I could. Soon, I found my hypothesis was correct—every industry, niche, and product has a content tipping point (Actually, there are multiple, but that’s for another day). Companies just need to figure theirs out and then they can be off to the races.

Once, when I was presenting this idea to a group of people at Hubspot, one of their great employees, Mark Kilens, made a simple yet forehead-slapping statement to me:

“You know Marcus, this would really make for a great App.”

And that’s when my brain started turning. “My goodness, I could create an app that would tell companies their content tipping points!”

Being a Hubspot client and coach, I decided to use their platform as my first testing ground. Within days, I hired a developer, gave him the vision, and we were off.

Weeks later, the Hubspot ‘Tipping Point App’ was born.

And then I gave it away to their 5000+ customers, for FREE.

Some folks thought I was nuts for not charging for such a tool, but I didn’t care.

This app for me was like Franklin’s lightning rod—a gift to society.

Now granted, my little app is in its initial phases. It will be further developed, added to, and then rolled out to other platforms (like WordPress hopefully).

But for now, I’ll just enjoy a new label:

Marcus Sheridan, Web App Developer :-)

Our Potential is Boundless

The older I get, the more I realize that we have no clue as to our potential. We think we’re not ‘meant’ to do certain things. We feel we weren’t dealt the right cards to be this or that.

What a bunch of poo. :-)

Not to be cliché, but I honestly believe our potential is boundless. Why do we self-impose limits? Why must we stop short of the gifts and talents that are deep within each and every one of us?

Fact is, there’s no reason why, none at all.

I’m done with the labels. I see my potential as unlimited. And I’m sure as heck not afraid to admit that to myself. It’s there, so why not embrace it, right?

But I’m not special. You and I were created by the same hands. We’ve all got magic within.

Now let’s go find it, shall we?


Your Turn:

I have one major question to ask of you today my friends: What is a talent that you have today that clearly was not a ‘talent’ you had earlier in your life? How did you develop it? And what are you doing presently to dig deeper and continue to find the greatness within?

As always, I’d love it if you’d share. I’ll answer, and you may just enjoy the ride. :-)

PS: If you haven’t gotten my 230 page FREE Inbound Marketing eBook yet, whatcha waiting for??!

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