Why Ignoring Feedback is Critical to Blogging Success

by Marcus Sheridan

I love Leon Noone. He’s an “old-curmudgeon” from Australia that has been a reader of mine here at TSL for almost two years now. His comments are often as witty and wisdom-filled as they come , and boy does he make people laugh. But after Leon watched the video version of my new “Mad Marketing with The Sales Lion” podcast this week, he had this to say in the comments section of the post:

G’Day Marcus,

A “talking head” is a “talking head”; even if the head is yours. If you really want people to learn, remember that TV is a visual medium. Even a good looking dude like you needs visual support.

Sorry mate. Somebody had to tell you. If you’d like some suggestions please contact me direct. Spontaneity and enthusiasm only take you so far.

And it aint much fun for your audience.

Best Wishes
Leon

In other words, Leon doesn’t like my video. :-)

But here is the thing—It’s OK. In fact, it doesn’t bother me at all that Leon hated the video.

Apples and Oranges

You see, a podcast is a different medium. Instead of reading and zipping through a 5-10 minute textual post, podcast listeners are willing to take 30, 45, or even 60 minutes and dedicate that to the person giving the message. Now granted, most folks do this while traveling, exercising, doing chores, etc.—but the point is the two means of communication and their users are vastly unique.

This is also why you have groups of people that never listen to podcasts and others that never read blog posts. Fact is, we’re all very different.

Personally, I like to talk, and for some time now I’ve been strongly prompted to get this podcast going. Furthermore, I wanted to offer the recording not just via audio, but through video as well, as there is another subset of my audience that would actually prefer that medium.

Will everyone like the video? No, not at all. But again, that’s OK. My goal isn’t to make everyone happy or get approval with everything I do. Rather, my goal is to reach and help as many people as possible to build my brand and share my message.

Death by Feedback

But this article isn’t about podcasting. It’s about the mistake we often times make of listening too closely to the feedback we get from blog readers, and then putting too much stock in their opinions and thoughts, even though they may not align with ours.

For example, I once got an email from someone who had downloaded my eBook which said, and I quote:

Marcus, I didn’t find any value in your eBook. You talk way too much about your family and I really don’t care about your personal experiences. I’m unsubscribing from your list.

Nicest email ever, huh? :-)

What’s even funnier is that over the past 3 years of writing here on TSL, the #1 compliment I’ve gotten from readers typically sounds just like this:

“I love the way you mix real life experiences into your blog.”

Hmm, so which one of the two pieces of feedback is the right one?

In another example, I’ve had readers tell me:

“Marcus, I like your message but your posts are too long. Could you make them shorter?”

Again, statements like these go in one ear and out the other. After almost 300 blog posts and 300,000 words, I’m not about to change the way I write to “please” a particular group of readers.

Some posts are long.

Some are short.

The ones that like the style will hang around and the ones that don’t will move on.

We’re Weird

Human beings are a funny and diverse group. None share the same fingerprints and the same can almost be said for their tastes in writers and communicators.

Most of my readers love my story-telling style. Some of them hate it.

And for the ones that hate it, I wish them well.

Again, it’s OK. I’m completely at peace with folks not agreeing with everything I do. Just like when I speak in public—about 95% are pretty enthralled while 5% hate my guts.

So to answer Leon’s comment, for now I’m not going to change my podcast videos. Other than not having the time, it just isn’t a goal at the moment. Heck, I’m just happy to have started a podcast, gotten it on iTunes, and offered to show it via video at the same time—all of which most bloggers never get around to.

Please understand this isn’t a knock on Leon at all. I love the fact that he cares enough to offer me honest feedback, after all, he has been teaching presentation and instructional design for 35 years, and he even thought it was a great idea that I post this article.

The fact is, I appreciate all feedback from readers.

But sometimes we listen and follow. And other times we hold the course.

Trusting in YOU

The bottom line is that you need to trust your gut. Whether it’s your business, your blog, or an existing project—be careful not to be too swayed from the vision that’s in your head. Be humble and teachable, but also be strong enough to follow your instincts when you feel it’s right. By so doing, your path to success will remain steady even though the winds of life keep blowing in diverse directions.

Your Turn:

Do you find it hard not to listen to everyone’s feedback? What is your method of filtering that which you follow, and that which you let go?

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts or answer your questions below!

Download your FREE copy of my 230 Page Inbound and Content Marketing Made Easy eBook now and start reading in 60 seconds!

Mad Marketing Podcast

If you like the articles, you'll love Marcus' podcast and insightful tips on business and life.

Click to listen

Subscribe to Future Articles

Read Marcus' future articles and stay on the cutting edge of business, marketing, and life success tips!

Click to subscribe

{ 83 comments… read them below or add one }

Brad E April 5, 2012 at

I agree with what you are saying, to an extent. Some people are criticizers and that’s that. People will complain about anything, be it the length of a post or including your personal experiences in your blog. This feedback is not helpful and can be easily ignored.

Two other forms of feedback, though, can NOT be ignored. First, if you’re regularly getting feedback on a particular problem/issue from multiple sources, it’s probably a good idea to take some time to deduce if there actually is a problem. If you have multiple comments a week saying “Marcus, you used to write such valuable material about sales and marketing, now all you talk about is your family,” then maybe it might be time to evaluate if you’ve gotten off topic. Readers were drawn to your blog originally for some reason…if you want to keep your readers, you do have some obligation to continue to give them what they want.

The other time to consider negative feedback is if it comes from a reliable expert. I don’t know Leon, but if he were to be an expert in visual media, his critique should probably be noted (not ignored). A couple of weeks ago, a prominent blogger visited my recently-created site and offered a lot of pretty negative feedback on the layout, design, functionality, etc. Like Leon, she did it in a very respectful, trying-to-help way. The fact of the matter is, she was an expert and I was not…so instead of ignoring her feedback, I took it to heart and immediately made the changes.

If negative feedback is just petty…or mean…or really lacks true substance…then yes, ignore it. But when we make up our minds to simply ignore negative feedback as a rule, believing that we are the ultimate expert, don’t we run the risk of stagnation? Don’t we block the opportunity to grow and change through constructive criticism?

Reply

john Falchetto April 5, 2012 at

That’s the thing Brad, if Marcus is only writing about his family then he is changing his focus and will attract a different audience who enjoys reading about a Daddy blogger rather than an IM expert.

I don’t think we should let the readers dictate the content of our blog, last time I checked the SalesLion is written by Marcus Sheridan not by a committee of readers. If this was the case then it should changed to a forum format instead of a blog.

You are an expert at being you and this nobody can teach how to be you :)

Reply

Brad E April 5, 2012 at

Yes, unless a blog is called “The Sales Lion” and is focused on sales and marketing specifically. Don’t get me wrong, I think Marcus’ blogs are great. I absolutely was not criticizing his inclusion of family or personal experiences. I was just pointing out that if it ever happened that a large percentage of his readership was complaining about the same things, it might be worth considering.

Thanks for your response, John!

Reply

john Falchetto April 5, 2012 at

I don’t agree, readers come and go.
Some might enjoy more or less of Marcus family stories, if a large percentage of readers don’t like it, another portion will love it.

My point is that we shouldn’t sacrifice who we are and our values just to please an audience.

Reply

Brad E April 5, 2012 at

I think I’m not making my point very clear. This blog is a BUSINESS blog, right? If Marcus eventually decided he wanted to turn this into a “Marcus’ Family Stories” blog, he would probably still have a portion of his readers that would love it. The problem he would run into, though, is that his current blog is designed specifically to educate and inform people who may have an interest in the sales/marketing aspect of his business. Right? Again, I think it is 100% appropriate to include personal anecdotes in a business blog…but if the blog IS for business and IF a large portion of your readership ended up noticing (and pointing out) that the blog is no longer meeting those needs, not only would he lose those readers but also the potential revenue that they represent.

Personal blogs are a whole different story. You can literally write about anything you want at whatever intervals you want and if readers don’t like it, another portion will.

I guess my point is that maybe we shouldn’t sacrifice our BUSINESS values or goals just to please ourselves. Negative feedback can help us keep our companies on track.

Reply

John Falchetto April 5, 2012 at

Brad,

Every blog is a personal blog. Every business is personal.

As long as one human being writes a blog, then it’s personal.

I believe our business should reflect our personal values and goals.Trying to please the values or goals of the audience is a waste of time.

Our business values and goals should be aligned with who we are, not someone else.

Reply

Brad E April 5, 2012 at

So, you’re saying that our businesses should be aligned with what WE want and who WE are, not what the CUSTOMER wants or who the CUSTOMER is?

Reply

Rebecca Livermore April 5, 2012 at

Brad, the thing that came to my mind is that these two things do not have to be mutually exclusive. It is, of course possible to have customers who want what we want and what we are.

Isn’t it better to attract customers who align with your values rather than chase ones you’ll be miserable trying to please?

Do you want to live life doing what you hate as you try to please customers? Many people do live life that way, but the ones who do likely hate getting up every morning.

Reply

John Falchetto April 5, 2012 at

Rebecca, that’s exactly it
“attract customers who align with your values rather than chase ones you’ll be miserable trying to please?”

Reply

John Falchetto April 5, 2012 at

ABSOLUTELY!

If I align my business with what people want I should be selling drugs to kids and weapons to warlords in Africa, it’s a lot more profitable.

Align your business with who YOU are, customers will find you.

Reply

Brad E April 5, 2012 at

I think we’ll have to agree to disagree. I appreciate the debate!

Reply

Marcus Sheridan April 5, 2012 at

Wait, there is more profitable labor than blogging??? What?!@#@! ;-)

Reply

Danny @ Firepole Marketing April 8, 2012 at

LOL!

Cheryl Pickett April 5, 2012 at

I see what Brad is saying. There are different types of blogs. Blogs that are intended to be for personal use, more of a public journal. Those are entirely different than a business blog or a pro blog. These two are meant to support, or be the basis of a business. So in those cases, as Brad is saying, if you say your blog is about green widgets, people who read it want to know about green widgets. If suddenly you start talking about movies, with no relevance to green widgets, and people point it out, it’s probably time to pay attention.

If you’re using your blog as a marketing tool, there absolutely needs to be a part of you in it, otherwise you don’t stand out. But if it has particular business goals, understanding your audience’s response is going to be integral in how effective it is.

As Marcus says, do you sacrifice being “you”? Not if you are building and connecting with your “tribe” you don’t. But do you listen to understand what your tribe is interested in and offer that? Yes, along with what you believe they need as well.

Reply

Brad E April 5, 2012 at

Thank you, Cheryl. That’s pretty much exactly what I was trying to say.

Brad

P.S. Will you just come translate every comment I ever make on any blog?

Reply

Marcus Sheridan April 5, 2012 at

Hahaha, yep, Cheryl is good like that Brad. ;-)

Reply

Rebecca Livermore April 5, 2012 at

Cheryl, you make some excellent points here. I think, however, if you reread Marcus’ post, he’s not saying that a green widget blog should all of a sudden start focusing on movies and then ignore feedback from the people who came to read about green widgets.

Remember that the initial illustration in this post was about a reader who felt that talking head videos are boring and that Marcus needs to do something different for the videos to be more compelling. But Marcus knows why he’s doing what he’s doing, and what he did fits with his overall plan for his podcast — which fits with his overall plan and goals for this blog. Because of that, he can ignore that specific bit of feedback, and in fact is wise to do so.

Reply

Marcus Sheridan April 5, 2012 at

I think what you’re saying is a very sound balance Cheryl, I do, and I get Brad as well. :) There is a reason I don’t go off on political or religious conversation in these parts ;-)

Reply

Marcus Sheridan April 5, 2012 at

This was actually really well said Brad, and I think both you and John have made extremely valid points. To put it in a nutshell:

When we blog for business, we listen to our gut….and listen to our customers…and bring the two together to maximize success, profits, and relationships.

Reply

Marcus Sheridan April 5, 2012 at

No criticism taken Brad at all….but what if the blog was called “The Sales Lion and his pack” ? ;-)

Reply

Marcus Sheridan April 5, 2012 at

Hey Brad, you’ve made really great points here and I actually agree with what you’re saying, especially about being receptive to experts and consistent feedback.

Understand though, as I said in the post, I’m not saying here we should ignore ALL feedback. No, not in the slightest. I’m simply saying that when we weigh our vision with another and then feel strongly we’re on the right track, we need to happily “ignore” the feedback at that point and move on. And btw, this doesn’t mean we might not change our mind later as well.

Reply

Becky Cortino April 5, 2012 at

Our message positively impacts those when it resonates personally with them — in delivery, message, content. Some will try to take it in, but maybe it isn’t a ‘fit,’ contains a message they can’t accept, or once consumed they prefer to submit a thought-provoking comment.

Even if the feedback is not what you might have expected, there is a message in there! I listen. I think. I write — based on what my audience wants to hear. Maybe not everyone will want to read my articles, consume my media, buy my books or eBooks — but my audience does.

Great piece Marcus! Look forward to seeing you later this month ;)

Reply

Marcus Sheridan April 5, 2012 at

Hey Becky! Love your approach to this and it sounds like you’ve really got a great perspective and balance on things.

See you soon!!! :-)

Marcus

Reply

John @ Married (with Debt) April 5, 2012 at

It’s an interesting criticism, especially since the video wasn’t even necessary. It was a bonus, an add-on.

I think nitpicking usually tells us more about the nitpicker than the nitpickee. They allow perfect to be the enemy of good.

Some people just like to offer unsolicited “advice.” We have to just accept that, and decide if we want them to be a part of our world.

Being able to take criticism in stride is a great skill.

Reply

Marcus Sheridan April 5, 2012 at

My take was very similar John. The video to my podcast is a throw-in. I don’t expect many people to watch it because it’s not meant to be a TV-like production, as the focus is me yapping about the questions of my readers.

Anyway, appreciate your thoughts bud and hope you have a great rest of your week!

Marcus

Reply

Ryan Hanley April 5, 2012 at

Marcus,

As always I couldn’t agree with you more on this topic… For a long time on my website I tried every trick, every tip to get MORE READERS… I thought that all of online success came from a bigger number in my Google Analytics account.

Then I realized that chasing readers sucked and wasn’t me and just made for crappy content because I didn’t enjoy writing about the things I was writing about in the way I was writing about them…

So I stopped tinkering with my web-design and just write me. If you like me, you like me and that’s awesome. If not… sorry I know there will be a good resource out there for you.

Blog For YOU homey…

Great stuff.

Ryan H.

Reply

Marcus Sheridan April 5, 2012 at

That’s one thing that has impressed me about you Ryan– you managed to find your voice, style, and identity very fast for your niche. After doing this now for 2.5 years, you’re way ahead of average in that area my man…and I’m being completely serious and complimentary about this bud.

Best,

Marcus

Reply

Ryan Hanley April 6, 2012 at

Thanks bro… That means a lot.

Reply

Courtney Petty April 5, 2012 at

Marcus, all your posts seem to hit home for me and this one is no different. I agree with your stance on ignoring yet appreciating feedback. What I really like, though, is your honesty in this issue. Most bloggers would never dream of telling their audience that they don’t aim to please everyone and that some feedback just “goes in one ear and out the other.” Being real is what your readers love, and we can always count on you to incorporate personal experience with business lessons.

Thanks for your transparency!

Reply

Eric Pratum April 5, 2012 at

Well, that all being said, one thing I would like from your podcast – as a loyal fan of course ;) – is a theme. For example, this week is content creation questions, next week is tools questions, last week was skills development questions, etc. Then, you could put that into the title, eg. Mad Marketing #5 “What stinkin’ tools should I be using?!” I would think of it as the “tell em what you’re gonna tell em” portion of the progression 1) Tell em what you’re gonna tell em – the title, 2) Tell em – the meat of the podcast, 3) Tell em what you told em – your podcast wrap up.

Just my two cents, buddy ;)

Reply

Marcus Sheridan April 5, 2012 at

And this my friend is when I listen to feedback and say, “Hmmm, now that’s something I can clearly do at this time!”

Thanks EP, you’re a good man bud.

Marcus

Reply

Ari Herzog April 5, 2012 at

I disagree 100 percent, Marcus: and where is why:

***IF YOU DO NOT HAVE ANY CRITICS, YOU ARE NOT DOING A GOOD JOB!!***

Don’t ignore your critics. Accept them with open arms because they prove you are successful. If you didn’t have critics, I’d be worried.

Also, a critique can be both positive or negative — or neutral. You imply through the title and case study that you’re only writing about negation, when the feedback could also be praise.

Reply

Marcus Sheridan April 5, 2012 at

I agree that critics are a great thing Ari. That’s also why I write about stuff that tends to make people take a stand versus just saying, “Yeah, I agree!”

My semantical approach to the word “ignore” in this post is more geared towards putting all trust in our readers when in reality we should listen, judge, but also have the ability to walk our own path.

Thanks so much for stopping by,

Marcus

Reply

john Falchetto April 5, 2012 at

Amen Buddy,

Listening and trying to implement everyone’s idea is like playing a coach playing a game according to what the people in the bleachers are screaming out!

It’s your game, your platform, you call the shots. This isn’t a democracy, or some kind of decision by committee, it’s your blog, your business.

There is not better way to fail then to try to please everyone.

Reply

Marcus Sheridan April 5, 2012 at

And that was exactly the point of this post JF. I want others to know they don’t have to please everyone. The moment I stopped trying to please everyone on TSL was the moment it started to generate way more clients…and I don’t think this was an accident by any stretch of the imagination.

Sure, listening to feedback is good, but ultimately– we have our “gut” for a reason.

Thanks again bud,

Marcus

Reply

Ameena Falchetto April 5, 2012 at

People generally complain because you are doing something.

If you were sitting around doing nothing no one would bother.

You cannot please everyone, nor should you. (That’s called Business Sluttery in my world)

For every person that hates you there are 10 more who’ll love you. That’s why I never bother with being liked/disliked. Straight for love and hate. Every. Time.

Your site, your rules …

Reply

Marcus Sheridan April 5, 2012 at

You represent this mantra better than anyone I know online Ameena…which is why I think your readers are so very loyal. That frank nature is incredibly attractive in a thinker, writer, and leader in my opinion.

Reply

Ralph April 6, 2012 at

Bang on Ameena! If you don’t want feedback don’t DO anything. Fantastic.

Reply

Joe @ Not Your Average Joe April 5, 2012 at

While constructive criticism is important, I think the path the your own idea of success is to build your platform the way you want it. Whether it be written word or podcast. If you write for yourself first (and by that, I mean like you are the only one reading), you will experience success in the form that means the most to you.

You’ve cultivated a great base of fans with your writing style, and I’m sure you’ll win the majority over with any other medium you choose. Thanks for this Marcus.

Reply

Marcus Sheridan April 5, 2012 at

Joe, very sound comment my man, and one that seems to have a perfect balance….thanks for jumping in bud!

Marcus

Reply

Jack@TheJackB April 5, 2012 at

I agree with what Ari said. The time to be concerned is when no one complains about what you are saying because if you aren’t pushing the needle than you aren’t doing a thing.

Reply

Marcus Sheridan April 5, 2012 at

That’s actually a really legitimate point Jack. I know there have been times in the past when I was worried that my writings were never argued with….but now there seems to be a balance.

Thanks for dropping by man.

Marcus

Reply

Rebecca Livermore April 5, 2012 at

Marcus, I think one of the most important things you wrote here is, “My goal isn’t to make everyone happy or get approval with everything I do.”

I learned a long time ago that I can’t please everyone, and so while I listen to feedback from others, I have to ultimately do what I feel is best. This is particularly true in cases where I am not specifically working for the person offering the criticism. To some degree I have to work to please those I work for (and I try!), but in cases such as my blog that are completely mine, I have great freedom to follow my heart and to work the plan that I’ve devised to the best of my ability.

Reply

Phil April 5, 2012 at

How do I filter?

-Feedback lands in my inbox
-I go through it
-If it is something I have been thinking about, I go through it a second time
-I ask myself, ‘Will this help me achieve my blog mission or will it just confuse me?’
-I ask myself, ‘Is this in my blog’s/business’ short term or long term interest?’

When do I open the door when the door bell rings?
-When the feedback will help me stay focused
-When the feedback will help me to deal with excitement, ego and short-sightedness issues
-When the feedback helps me add more value

When do I wear my ear-muffs and refuse to implement a suggestion?
-When it will reduce my chances to achieve my blog mission significantly
-When implementing it will mean that I have to please some of my readers
-When I think a reader will get into the habit of throwing any sort of suggestion at me just because they know I’ll implement it
-When I start feeling like a poor politician who has to do everything my ‘bosses’ (the people who send feedback after feedback) suggests.

Of course mistakes are made and lessons are learnt. Life goes on. Disagreements are solved and more feedback rolls in.

Liked the post Marcus.

Reply

Marcus Sheridan April 5, 2012 at

Dang Phil, the layout here was awesome man, just my style!

I think your steps are dead-on bud….keep it up! :-)

Thanks so much for stopping by,

Marcus

Reply

Michael Schechter April 5, 2012 at

So… you know how I love me my semantic points… right? I don’t really think it’s a matter of ignoring feedback as much as it is considering and disregarding it.

I’m just in the early stages of a podcast myself and I’ve found the feedback invaluable. Much of the feedback has been positive, some negative (like any cross section of feedback), but much of it has been this exceptionally useful in between. Positive feedback with suggestions for improvement. Not the “talk less about this” or “talk more about that type”, but the “turn off this filter to reduce echo”, “consider getting this type of mic if you’re on a budget”, one guy convinced me to try a slightly different seating arrangement to significantly reduce echo (it totally worked, btw). The end product sounds better and my confidence as a podcaster has increased. So has my interest as I learn what I’m doing and how to do it.

Here’s the thing about ignoring feedback, the minute it comes off that you’re just going to ignore it, you’ll get less of the useful stuff. I listened to the podcast, really enjoyed it, but had some feedback that may have helped the enjoyment of episode two. In all honestly, I intended on shooting you an email later today. It’s certainly advice you are as likely to ignore as you are to embrace it, but I’d be reticent to send it as I’m not sure you’d even want it.

Maybe I’m just letting semantics get in the way, but ignoring and disregarding are two very different things.

Reply

Marcus Sheridan April 5, 2012 at

Actually Michael, “considering and disregarding” are better verbs here than ignore, but I tried that in the title, and dang it got too long. ;-) Plus, I needed you to stop by and read it, then tell me I was semantically screwed up, at which point I would agree :-)

You’re points about feedback and its value are spot-on. I love feedback, as I mentioned in the post, and I hope people don’t forget that side of this post…the theme here was more about being able to listen, but also having the strength to follow your own vision at times.

Thanks again man, and nice job on your podcast. I’ve listened to 2 episodes so far. :)

Marcus

Reply

Gini Dietrich April 5, 2012 at

Two things. First, I agree with Leon. We recently added more for people to watch in our videos and not only has the feedback been extremely kind, the views have increased. That said, the talking head videos I did for two years were also well received. They’re just better received now. Something to consider.

Secondly, I agree that you can’t listen to everyone’s feedback (remember when you advised I add my face to the header of Spin Sucks, but our vision is the blog gets bigger than me so that advice doesn’t fit the strategy), but you do need to listen if you’re hearing the same thing over and over again. Just like you would advise a company to listen to detractors, bloggers need to do the same.

Reply

Rebecca Livermore April 5, 2012 at

Gini, some good feedback. The question I have for you, though, is how those videos that have stuff for people to watch would work as podcasts? Since I’m not familiar with the videos you referred to, I can’t say whether or not they would work for those who are able to hear but not see.

I have actually listened to podcasts that were a bit frustrating because it was quite obvious that the person I was listening to was doing something to illustrate points, but I couldn’t see what it was since I was in “listen only” mode — and that made the podcast not only frustrating, but kind of useless, or at least much less effective.

In this particular case, the video is an “add on” to a podcast, so I think the primary thing that has to be considered is how it will come across for those who are listening, rather than viewing.

It’s important to keep the big picture of how the recording is going to be used in mind. Definitely, if it’s going to be video only, then it makes sense to add more visual elements.

Reply

Gini Dietrich April 5, 2012 at

You’re totally right on the flip side of using video – meaning you have a video where you export the audio so people can just listen. If you have props or visuals in the video they won’t make it to the podcast and that is not only irritating, it’s unprofessional. But when you’re using video to support your podcast (or as a stand-alone), it’s helpful to have things, other than your face, to look at. Marcus is a good-looking guy, but we still need some sort of other engagement. I mean, I love Robert Downey Jr., but I’d get bored at just watching him talk. If he’s talking while flying around in his Iron Man costume, that’s a different story.

Reply

Marcus Sheridan April 5, 2012 at

I am Iron Man…and Iron Man is me. :-)

Well I’m now disappointed Gini. I was basically banking on the fact that the good look thing was going to get folks through this….well dang ;-)

Appreciate you stopping by lady,

Marcus

Reply

Gini Dietrich April 6, 2012 at

As long as you wear the costume…

Reply

Marcus Sheridan April 5, 2012 at

I second what she said ^^^^^^

Reply

Marcus Sheridan April 5, 2012 at

No question Gini, I think we should listen to feedback. And I think some needs to be followed…and others not so much. Take your header for example. That was certainly the right move on your part. Looking at Spin Sucks and what the business model is, it’s not meant to be so dependent on you, which is why you were clearly right, and I was just some dumb pool guy talking about headers. :-)

One thing I’ve learned in all this marketing stuff is my opinion can very well change hour by hour….depending on what Seth Godin is telling me to do, of course. ;-)

Reply

Reese April 5, 2012 at

People will always have varying opinions about any given topic of discussion. If you start listening to everyone, you will become less sure about yourself and you will lose that distinct factor that makes you YOU. No one ever became great because he/she was too compliant to others. While it’s good to get a second opinion about things, ultimately, you have to listen and be true to yourself.

Reply

Marcus Sheridan April 5, 2012 at

I think that’s exactly what my underlying message is here Reese—listening is good, but following may or may not be.

Hopefully everyone else understood it like you did ;-)

Marcus

Reply

DI April 5, 2012 at

I have a problem with people overly praising anything I do. I think it’s a deep rooted conspiracy against me. Why else would I get a comment like, ‘Why haven’t you got the Pulitzer prize yet?’ ;)

Reply

Marcus Sheridan April 5, 2012 at

Well I certainly haven’t gotten a compliment close to that Di! ;-)

Reply

Jon Loomer April 5, 2012 at

Good stuff, Marcus. I will say, though, that you currently have an advantage over the rest of us: You’re well established and have a comfort level for what works. For those of us getting rolling, feedback — particularly contradictory feedback — can be paralyzing.

Like you, I had someone email me about sharing stuff about my family. Not a friendly email. I ignored it. Don’t need them.

But the other stuff isn’t so easy. You can’t have thin skin. It’s easy to get into a routine and not realize you’re screwing up. So I try to hear everything people say. Even when things may feel right, sometimes it’s because it’s “just the way I do it.” But that can change.

I’ve allowed readers to dictate a lot of my changes. Maybe too many. They picked my new logo that will also apply to my redesign (second redesign in six months, but long overdue since I’ve outgrown my site). But I never would have done the first redesign if not for some constructive criticism that could have easily been ignored because it was a bit harsh. But it was true.

I know you don’t disagree with any of that. I just think that ignoring feedback is a bit easier done when you’ve already established what works. I’m still feeling that out!

Keep it up, my friend.

Reply

Marcus Sheridan April 5, 2012 at

I empathize with what you said here Jon, and in fact, in many ways I wrote this post for the beginners who do get paralyzed the minute someone tells them they don’t like their direction.

No question this business requires thick skin. I’ve seen many fold under the pressure of finding out that they won’t be liked by certain people.

And then there is the debate of when to listen, and when to continue with the opposite way.

Just keep trusting your gut Jon. You’re a pretty bright guy with a bright future in my opinion, and I very much appreciate your thoughts here.

Marcus

Reply

Ruth Zive April 5, 2012 at

I’m on the fence here.

A blog isn’t a popularity contest. Nonetheless, if you are blogging for your business, it’s important to take the needs and interests of your readers into consideration (to a reasonable extent). It’s why McDonald’s is offering healthier options. And why companies all over the world are going green. It’s why products are discontinued when consumers complain and why restaurants eliminate menu items that customers don’t like.

If you want to make money, you have to respond to your customers’ needs. And while I would never recommend that you overhaul your business model entirely as a knee jerk reaction to every whiner you encounter – you can’t ignore feedback, particularly from stakeholders whose opinions you value (like Leon).

Reply

Marcus Sheridan April 5, 2012 at

I don’t disagree with what you’ve said here Ruth, and part of this comes down to semantics. I didn’t “ignore” Leon per se, in the sense that I completely hear what he is saying and as for video, he is right, it’s not very exciting video. But the video is a second option for those not wanting to listen to the podcast. In other words, if I were doing a TV show, I’d need to make a change. But I’m doing a podcast that happens to be shown via video. For some, it will be boring, for others, it will fit what they’re looking for.

As I mentioned in the post, I do think it’s important we’re teachable, that we listen, and that we sometimes follow.

But I also think we have a clearer understanding of our priorities than do others.

Thanks so much for the comment Ruth,

Marcus

Reply

Danny @ Firepole Marketing April 8, 2012 at

Hey Ruth, you’re right, except that individual customers are pretty bad at predicting their own behavior, and terrible at predicting the behavior of your customer base as a whole.

Case in point: I regularly get emails telling me that I’m sending too many emails. But I also get emails from people who like it. And more importantly, when I measure business results, more email works better, both for me, and for the more engaged customers.

So should I be listening to the ones who want less email? No – because they don’t know what’s best for my customer base, and they may not even know what’s best for themselves – and if it’s really not a fit, then it’s better for everyone if they unsubscribe sooner rather than later.

Does that make sense? Or am I missing something here? :)

Reply

Ruth Zive April 8, 2012 at

Okay Danny – I would agree that we should take with a grain of salt unsolicited advice about how we should be DOING business. Not everybody is an expert in our best interests (or the best interests of our target market).

That said, perhaps what we are debating here has more to do with degree or context.

A small handful of complaints about email frequency within a larger context of overwhelmingly satisfied customers shouldn’t have much impact. But Danny, if you noticed a trend – if you were suddenly inundated with a barrage of email complaints – all noting that your autoresponder was driving your subscribers batty, and if that trend was accompanied by a corresponding wave of un-subscription – you would take that seriously.

You would respond.

And you would likely change your approach, even IF you had originally believed in your strategy and felt in your heart that your initial plan was best for your customer base.

Don’t deny it – I know you would :-)!

And in response to Marcus’ comment, above, I would say once again, we are debating context. Yes, Leon’s criticism, within the context of your podcast strategy and intention, doesn’t make much sense. But Marcus – if Leon’s critique had been one of 50 – if the response to your podcast had been overwhelmingly negative….would you not make changes? Would you not reconsider your strategy?

So…I suppose my point is that as business people, we need to have our finger on the pulse of our stakeholders. Not individually – but perhaps collectively. No matter how much we believe in our business pursuits, if we aren’t mindful of our stakeholders’ needs, and if we aren’t taking those into consideration (and evolving as we learn more about their needs and interests) we will be operating our businesses in a vacuum. Make sense?

I think we may all be on the same page here, but it’s an interesting debate nonetheless.

Reply

Danny @ Firepole Marketing April 8, 2012 at

Ruth, you’re right on the money, and yeah, we’re all on the same page.

As business people, we definitely do need to have our finger on the pulse of the stakeholders.

I’m just saying that getting that pulse doesn’t always come from listening to the criticisms that they share, which I think was Marcus’s point to begin with. :)

Fun debate! :-D

Reply

Harriet April 6, 2012 at

This is really interesting as I’ve always been told to hold a lot of value in feedback from people. I do see what you are saying though, plain nasty feedback should just be ignored because what use can you get out of reading about someone just being horrible? Great post Marcus. And don’t feel like you post about your family too much, I always find you have to say about them relevent!

Reply

Ralph April 6, 2012 at

Hey Marcus,
I personally love your writing style. I have to agree that posts are posts; long, short, one word or 10,000 words. It is your blog afterall.
Being a fledgling blogger I probably take comments too seriously when I get them. There is a ton of value in the discourse here and a ton of good points. I have to ask. If you are blogging in a niche then reader feedback should be taken as constructive criticism, no? Yes, I assume on the content alone but not on the way it’s delivered?

Reply

Glen Kohlenberg April 6, 2012 at

Marcus some like to read some like to watch and some like to listen. Lion man you have them covered!

The real question is did you leave time to go to the bank!!

Glen

Reply

Leon Noone April 6, 2012 at

G’Day Marcus,
Bloody Hell! It’s just a blog folks, not the New York Times editorial. At times like this I find it useful to turn to Mark Twain for comfort. He said, “It aint what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for certain that just aint so.”

Eons ago, I knew a trainer who had a large sign on the back wall of his training room. It said, “In the final analysis, what counts is not what people are told, but what they accept.” I asked him why it was on the back wall. He said, “Because it’s there for me.”

I know that some bloggers disagree with what I’m about to say next. But writing is about the reader. Old Sam Clements understood that perfectly.

Make sure you have fun.

Best Wishes

Leon

Reply

Susan Payton April 6, 2012 at

Great post as always, Marcus. You can’t be all things to all people, nor should you try. Going to your video/podcast example: we all ingest information differently. I’m a reader, so video and audio turn me off. If you had a podcast and I didn’t want to listen to it, I’d put it on my personal tastes, not your lack of appealing to them!

Reply

Murray Lunn April 6, 2012 at

Hey Marcus,

I too touched on this topic a while back with: http://www.murlu.com/your-comments-suck-and-destroy-good-blogs/

What I noticed, with many blogs (and my own), is that bloggers (and business owners) take feedback too seriously which results in the company (or blog) to divert from its direction to appease a minority group within their community.

You see this happen with even the best of businesses. The core community desires a company to release new products that have the same creativity but the mainstream market wants all the wizzes and bangs – the company, trying to be profitable, will generally cater to the mainstream market so they alienate their core community (the people that helped the business get started in the first place).

In blogging, comments can be extremely helpful for feedback and gauge our performance but when we take them word-for-word, we begin to stray from our goals.

Hell, even this comment is a bit too positive – I should realistically be more objective – but, alas, that’s just the nature of commenting – we’re trying not to come across as jerks.

Reply

Sarah Kolb April 6, 2012 at

Thank you, Marcus (and Leon!), for helping me put this in perspective. Our blog is not very well established yet (only recently have we decided we could allocate the resources to really look at the blog and its design and features and actually have a plan for it), so I don’t receive a great deal of comments yet. It’s going to be nice when we have that volume to really gain this kind of perspective.

Thank you!

Reply

Matthew Stock April 6, 2012 at

I’m not personally a pod-cast guy, but different strokes for different folks. One thing I’ve learned in business is sometimes the best customer is the one you walk away from. Your bold opinions and personal stories might not appeal to everyone, but you’re not marketing to everyone. Nor should you. The nice thing about your model is you can choose your own customers, not the other way around.

Reply

Andrea Hypno April 6, 2012 at

Well, given that sometimes we listen and sometimes not from friends and family it makes sense that it goes the same way with readers. I usually listen to advices then if I think they are right I follow them as sometimes those around me see things better than myself or know better than me. It’s normal. That’s the reason why if we have a problem we can’t solve by ourselves we have to talk with someone else. A different perspective sometimes makes wonders.

I’m not such a fan of either videos or podcasts, mainly because my knowledge of English is pretty good at reading and sometimes on writing but when it comes to listening or watching tv it’s another story. Not enough training and not enough holidays in Eanglish-speaking countries. Also I usually like more infographics or bulleted summaries and very seldomly mind maps, but this is just me. As you correctly say each medium has its own users so trying to reach everyone is a good business practice.

As a matter of fact I’m planning to add something visual like slides or something like that in the future but luckily for my readers I won’t talk, my Itanglish is more or less terrible. :)

Happy Easter to everyone!

Reply

Srinivas April 6, 2012 at

Hey Marcus,

First I have to admit that I didn’t watch the whole thing but I dug through it before I commented on your post. Now I actually have some tips that I think will improve your videos, but before I get to that, let me give you my thoughts on the actual subject at hand. I get the occasional email that basically says “your interview style sucks.” Thats the condensed version. Then it’s immediately followed by an email that says “your show is best thing since sliced bread.” Ok lousy analogy, since sliced bread is not that great. Now bare in mind this is after 200+ episodes. So, I’m less inclined to listen to somebody who hates my show. But, on the flip side of that I had a listener who emailed me in the early days and said “you need to be a better listener. please let your guest talk.” Three months later the same guy emailed me to tell me how much the show improved.

Now on to the feedback. I’ve seen you on stage, and you’re a natural, easily on of the best speakers I’ve seen. I think that if you imagine yourself as if you’re doing a speaking gig on stage you’ll get that same effect. The other piece of advice I have is ditch the paper, and use some editing software to display the questions on the screen. It hink it will have a stronger impact. Also if you haven’t checked out Mayi Carles at Heartmade Blog, the girl is a video queen. Also be sure to check out Amy Schmittauer. The best piece of advice I ever received on video was from Danielle Smith. She said record 10 videos in a week that are 3 minutes long. But don’t watch them until you’re done with the end of all 10.

My guess is this will improve dramatically with time. But I think 35 minutes for a video is going to be tough. In that medium I’m not sure you can keep people captivated with a talking head, unless there were two people. My two cents.

Reply

Jens P. Berget April 7, 2012 at

Hi Marcus,

I’m at the ferry from Denmark to Sweden, and I’ve been stuck reading the comments on your post. What an awesome discussion. This is one of the best examples of how much value comments can be on blog posts. It’s hey were almost as good as the post :)

I haven’t watched your video yet, so I won’t comment on that one, just yet. But I’d like to say that I agree with you, although I find it very hard to not pay attention. Once in a while I receive one negative comment that makes me want to adjust everything I’m doing, and that’s from just one comment. One negative comment gets more attention than hundred positive comments. I need to do something about that.

PS you’re a lucky man to have John Falchetto on your team :)

Reply

Amber Avines April 8, 2012 at

This is so true, Marcus. I’ve found in my case, however, that lots of that feedback comes from family. “You can’t keep doing your own business. What about benefits?” Who cares if I’m happy with what I’m doing or if I’m managing to pay my bills. In this instance, I do have to stay the course and keep doing what I know is best for me. Regardless of the incessant chirping in my ear saying I shouldn’t do it.

Reply

Marcus Sheridan April 9, 2012 at

Yes, Yes, YES Amber! If I listened to all the doubters over the years and friend/family that told me I was on the wrong path, I’d never managed any of the great triumphs I’ve experienced today.

Keep fighting and doing your thing girl!! :)

Marcus

Reply

Melissa M. Pryor April 9, 2012 at

This is very interesting post. It is has a good ideas and really big helps for those who searching this kind of post!

Reply

Sara April 16, 2012 at

When I saw the title for this post, I was prepared to be blasted by a person saying “Ignore your readers, they don’t know anything!” I was pleasantly surprised to see that was not the case. This post is exactly right, too many times amazing content becomes sub-par because the writer tries to please everyone.

Reply

Ryan Biddulph April 17, 2012 at

Hi Marcus,

Can’t begin to tell you how much I appreciate your topic because….damn…you think so much like me ;)

Feedback is good. Proves you’re doing something productive, speaking your mind. High energy feedback? Keep doing that. Negative feedback? OK, here is where you have to think. The type of comments I see above, clearly, the person has a PROBLEM with THEMSELVES, not you.

The are not the type of people you want to take advice from, but people with low self-esteem make the critical error of paying more attention to failures, or followers, than leaders.

Because really, what uber successful, high energy person leaves comments like that? Nope. None, really. Leaders are supportive, uplifting, and tactful, and if they believe their advice could help, they make a suggestion, and it would probably be in an email.

Gauge all of your feedback. If what you are doing ain’t broke, and don’t fix it. Getting awesome comments on your long posts, and your vids, and all that good stuff, means you’re spot on. If someone is impatient, or lacks the cajones to do what you do, it will usually manifest as a flippant comment.

Keep rocking it Marcus!

Ryan Biddulph

Reply

Marcus Sheridan April 19, 2012 at

You brought up a great point here Ryan that hasn’t really been mentioned— if someone is leaving a rude comment it likely directly correlates with where they are in life. Successful people don’t waste time dumping on others with negativity…they just don’t.

Again, I love your thoughtful stuff man. Much appreciated bud.

Marcus

Reply

Jason "J-Ryze" Fonceca May 14, 2012 at

Haha… Leon and I had some interesting comment-back-and-forth when I first showed up here.

I agree, he’s intelligent and articulate :)

As for haters, I have a saying I kinda live by: “If you aren’t turning people off, you aren’t turning people on.”

In fact, I wrote a post about why I swear, on this very topic: http://ryzeonline.com/swear-to-offend-you
:)

Reply

Leave a Comment

{ 2 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: