The Magic of Telling Your Story Again and Again and Again

by Marcus Sheridan

storyI’m going to say a few things here that may appear as a form of self-aggrandizing, but such is clearly not my intent. In fact, if you stay with me over the next few paragraphs, I think you’ll see exactly what I’m trying to say…

In my little corner of the digital world, I’m known for a couple of things. In fact, if one was to describe the brand that is Marcus Sheridan/The Sales Lion, a few phrases would likely pop up:

“Pool guy”

“HubSpot”

“Content Marketing”

“Answer every customer question.”

“Talk about pricing.”

“Transparency”

“SEO/Web Traffic”

“Enthusiastic Speaker/Presenter”

There may be more some folks would mention, but those are a few of the core aspects to my brand.

I mention this because over the last 3.5 years since starting The Sales Lion, I’ve written over 400 blog posts, given over 75 presentations to audiences about “marketing,” and been interviewed well over 100 times—be it podcasts, video interviews, textual interviews, etc.—and in almost every single one of these events I’ve told a simple story—again and again—that essentially sounds like this:

A struggling pool guy discovers HubSpot and embraces the power of inbound and content marketing, mainly by answering every customer question he’d ever received—including pricing—on his company blog. This transparency ultimately saved River Pools and made it the most trafficked swimming pool website in the world, and further led to a teaching and speaking career as a highly sought-after business/marketing consultant.

I don’t care if you read an interview/talk/etc. I gave 2 years or 2 days ago, this is the basic theme and story you’ll read or hear each time, and it’s also the reason I’ve had the opportunities to contribute to amazing books like Youtility or be featured in the New York Times—two events that would not have taken place had I grown tired of telling my story and allowed it to be buried long ago after the first 50 times I said it.

I mention this because I think there is, at times, too much focus on originality in the world of marketing. We think if it’s already been said then we shouldn’t say or talk about it again.

This could not be further from the truth.

Studies show that the average “customer” needs 6-7 touches before they make a buying decision. Well, I submit the average customer also needs to hear your story 6-7 times before it truly sticks, almost as if they were watching a great movie again and again and again.

So my point here is a simple one:

Don’t run from who you are. Don’t hide what makes you unique. Rather, embrace your story. Tell it again and again, allowing for changes as they occur.

By so doing, people will remember you, relate to you, and the brand will eventually stick.

Your Turn:

A quick couple of questions my friends. In a few sentences, what’s your story? And what are you doing to make it an intricate part of your brand?

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{ 48 comments… read them below or add one }

Laura Click July 17, 2013 at 9:17 am

Totally agree, Marcus. One of the best ways to differentiate yourself is through your story. As you and I both know, there are thousands of marketers out there. What makes you different is YOUR story. It’s unique to you and you’re the only one who has it. Your services? Likely similar to dozens of other people. But, it’s your story and personality that creates the difference.

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Madeline July 18, 2013 at 12:53 pm

Laura, you could not have said it better. My story”wow” makes me think of what I am working on and what I truly want to become. My passion is Real Estate and I truly want to bring that out more this year. We all have something unique in us to share with the world. This post was an eye opening but most importantly inspiring.

Madeline

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Marcus Sheridan July 22, 2013 at 12:11 am

Yep, that’s exactly it Laura….our story is the ONE thing that will ALWAYS set us apart, especially if we can see it, appreciate it and tell it for what “it” is. :-)

Thanks so much for stopping by my friend,

Marcus

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Sheryl Kurland July 17, 2013 at 9:27 am

When my in-laws celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, there was a parade of high profiled celebrity divorces (isn’t there always?). I wondered, “What are the true ingredients to a loving and lasting relationship?”; it’s something we all want, but very hard to achieve. My research showed tons of books by relationship gurus with their own crazy “formula” but there wasn’t a single one written by a couple married 50+ years or interviewing them. I wrote the book!…featuring 75 couples, totaling over 4,000 years worth of relationship wisdom! I fast forwarded my own relationship/marriage success, and now, as The Relationship Insider, I pave the way for others to do the same….providing no-nonsense, practical and proven easy advice and tips in any way you prefer — YouTube channel, enewsletter, daily Twitter tips, Facebook posts, website, and speaking.

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Marcus Sheridan July 22, 2013 at 12:09 am

Beautifully said Sheryl, and I don’t know if there is a better mission than yours on earth…seriously!!

Marcus

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Jason Diller July 17, 2013 at 9:28 am

My story…

I was the VP of a mulch company in northern NJ in 2009. We had 300 visitors a month on our site, mostly branded searches…and we were spending around 200k a year in postcards, mailings, newspaper ads, etc. Our website grade was a 17.

I found hubspot in the fall of 2009. I set up a call with Marcus, as our verticals were similar. He re-enforced that hubspot and content marketing really do work. I was sold…

We signed up for hubspot and I spend 4 months re doing our site and learning ALOT…probably watched 100 webinars and read 200 ebooks on inbound marketing.

4 months after I signed up for hubspot, we had 14,000 visitors on our site and we were able to kill all of our traditional advertising. I made it into Marcus’ ebook and was mentioned in one of his Inbound 2012 presentations. (Thanks again Marcus)

After a year or so of crushing our competition, I was offered a job at The DSM Group, a full service marketing agency, as the Marketing Director. After reading Paul’s book from PR 20/20, we have transitioned into a hybrid agency that focuses on inbound and content with amazing creative.

I’ve been here for 9 months… We have 9 clients on inbound retainers and they are all killing it…all of our clients are on hubspot and we don’t take on clients unless they are willing to commit to content marketing and being helpful during all stages of the sales funnel.

So, in a nutshell, I went from selling dirt to Marketing Director in about 2 years… Pretty crazy stuff

Next goal: start speaking locally at marketing and advertising conferences

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Marcus Sheridan July 22, 2013 at 12:08 am

LOVE THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
:-)

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Christopher July 22, 2013 at 7:10 pm

Wow, Jason, you must indeed be thankful to Marcus. Yes he has been contaminating his excellent wits. I myself is likewise raising my hands up and toes too for him..hahaha that’s true Marcus. Thanks to you. keep blowing up your stuffs. :)

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Leah Rattray July 17, 2013 at 10:20 am

In the mid-1990s, Southwest Exteriors company steward (owner) Scott Barr grew uncomfortable with the transactional and deceptive reputation that the home improvement industry and his company had. He wanted SWE to be a relational, high-integrity company and to set an example for all other businesses in the industry. We now use the highest quality products, employ extremely skilled installers, and strive to exceed our clients’ expectations on every project by making them feel truly cared for. This mission of serving our clients with love and excellence has earned us a great reputation that is worth talking about, because our repeat and referral business makes up 42% of our annual revenue (an unheard of percentage in our line of work). We know that transparency, high integrity, great craftsmanship, and courtesy not only benefit our clients but also make us successful, which is a total win-win situation.

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Marcus Sheridan July 22, 2013 at 12:07 am

YAY!!!! I may be a little biased Leah, but this was awesome!!!

Appreciate you!

Marcus

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Michael July 17, 2013 at 12:03 pm

“Well, I submit the average customer also needs to hear your story 6-7 times before it truly sticks, almost as if they were watching a great moving again and again and again.”

*great movie again and again

Great article, Marcus. This article is all about how important your BRAND is. Your story is what separates you from that other company that offers the same products/services that you do. Too many businesses forget how much they can differentiate themselves by simply telling a story.

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Marcus Sheridan July 22, 2013 at 12:06 am

Hey Micael, thanks for the typo alert and appreciate the comment too. Yep, you’re dead on about branding…

Best!

Marcus

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Ryan Hanley July 17, 2013 at 1:10 pm

Marcus,

This is an enormous issue for me. Thanks for making me think about it. For some reason I’m predisposed to telling every story only once… and thus I have no consistent brand or messaging.

Appreciate it dude,

Hanley

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Don Stanley July 19, 2013 at 9:55 pm

I’m in the same boat with you Mr. Hanley. I often think everyone has heard a story like mine so it’s not worth (re)telling. So I have to strive for “originality”, “awesome” or “epic”.

Once again, my mane man reminds me to think like someone who is connecting with me for the first time. Or someone who doesn’t fully understand what I’m about. Appreciate the food for thought bro.

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Marcus Sheridan July 20, 2013 at 12:51 am

You’ve summed it up perfectly my friend….and I’m thrilled to help just a little.

Thanks for all you do Don, you’re simply one of the best,

Marcus

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Marcus Sheridan July 22, 2013 at 12:05 am

As always, thrilled to help…and just remember, your story is one of the best I’ve heard. I really mean that.

Marcus

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Kathleen Booth July 17, 2013 at 2:37 pm

Great post (as usual) and nice story. I tell our story a lot. We started Quintain 8 years ago as a promotional marketing distributorship – basically, we sold branded products (stuff with your logo on it, sway, tchotchkis, etc.). Things were going really well until 2009, when the bottom fell out. We were at a conference and attended a session on social media and I thought, “well, we’ve got no money and lots of time – lets give this a try!”. We jumped in with both feet and changed our website to focus around a blog, got on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Youtube and just started posting. We learned a lot and that year, clients and friends began asking us to help them with their own social media marketing.

That was the first pivot – when Quintain changed from being a promotional marketing company to a social media agency. Then, our social media clients started asking us to help them with ALL of their marketing. Fast forward another year and the second pivot occurred, when we became a full service marketing agency.

All off these developments were great, but the real “Aha” moment came when we discovered HubSpot and realized that, for the first time ever, we could demonstrate real results and ROI for clients across all of their marketing channels using ONE dashboard. That was the moment of the third (and hopefully final!) pivot when we became an inbound marketing agency.

In the 8 years I’ve been running this company, never have I felt more confident that our solution is one I can really stand behind. We use HubSpot for ourselves and for our clients, and we’re getting great results in every case. Its not the software (although that certainly helps) – its the methodology. It just works.

Congrats on your own story and wonderful accomplishments. Hopefully we’ll have a chance to meet up at Inbound and I can toast to your success!

Best,

Kathleen Booth
Quintain Marketing

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Marcus Sheridan July 22, 2013 at 12:04 am

Kathleen, this was AWESOME!!!! Seriously, I knew a little about you guys but boy did this fill in the gaps and add a clarity and “feel” to what you’re really all about.

Well done!!

Marcus

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Craig McBreen July 17, 2013 at 3:25 pm

Hi Marcus,

I’m certainly on board with this. Differentiating yourself through story is the content marketing message. When it comes to someone’s own online property, I honestly think many struggle. They work to offer value, but have a bit of a struggle with honesty … to me this is a huge component when it comes to story and really differentiating yourself online.

I think many fear they will lose business if they offer up this type of story, but I think it’s a good practice. Okay, some things we don’t need to know ;) but in general, transparency, not fearing giving out info to your competitors, writing like your speak … all good and all part of story done right. You just need to know your audience.

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Marcus Sheridan July 21, 2013 at 11:58 pm

You bring up a great point Craig. Many companies still think honesty and trasparency equate to weakness, which is a crying shame, because it’s just the opposite.

As always, thanks for the support my friend,

Marcus

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Michael Belk July 17, 2013 at 5:27 pm

Marcus, you have to keep telling your story because people have a short attention span and you can use things related to you as part of your brand.

I am still writing my story. I have a problem figuring out what I want to be identified by. Mainly because I feel like I am ever evolving.

I love the way you are doing it though.

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Marcus Sheridan July 21, 2013 at 11:55 pm

Great points Michael, and regarding your story, just remember, it’s OK to say it, evolve it, say it, evolve it, and on and on and on.

Get ‘er out there my friend. ;-)

Marcus

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Jeremy Abel July 18, 2013 at 6:40 am

Hi Marcus,

Love this topic as it has a huge impact on brand personality, at the personal and professional level. The more transparent we can be with who we are, the more opportunities we have to build points of similarity with our peers and customers alike.

My story is simply this: Fresh out of college, I was “the marketing guy” for a small technology start-up that had a limited to non-existent budget. Cold calls, trade shows, and other outbound techniques weren’t my cup of tea, but an archaic mind-set in the company leadership meant little possibility of getting buy-in for this new, education oriented approach to generating qualified leads. During the day, I was doing outbound marketing, but in my heart I knew that inbound was the way to go… it really was the Olympics of cognitive dissonance.

Night after night, I spent hours performing keyword research, optimizing our website, creating SlideShares, eBooks/Whitepapers and targeted email marketing campaigns. Our web analytics revealed the power of these efforts, as new leads showed a strong interest in the content I was putting out there.

Today, I work with businesses from multiple industries to show them the immense opportunities of inbound marketing. From CEOs to marketing directors to the people who actually manage the website, blog and social media channels, I’m getting buy-in for inbound marketing from larger groups of decision makers (at both the client and internal level). By taking a transparent, educational approach to inbound marketing (and thus, our services), getting buy-in has been easier than ever and sales are absolutely rocking!

LOVE this topic, and fully believe that a little part of your story needs to be injected into nearly every piece of content you create- from blog articles to speaking engagements. A great story builds credibility, commonality, and authenticity- all of which set YOU apart in this industry.

Keep changing lives Marcus.

Thanks,

Jeremy

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Marcus Sheridan July 21, 2013 at 11:52 pm

Jeremy, this was down-right awesome. As you know, I’m familiar w your story but boy, when you put it all together like this it just gave me a huge smile.

So the question is: When are you going to be sharing it from a stage??

It does need to be told sir… ;-)

Marcus

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Jeremy Abel July 22, 2013 at 4:22 am

Thanks Marcus!

Soon- very soon, and I think I’m on the right path: I was just asked to share my experiences on a local radio show put on by my alma mater (Siena College)! In the meantime, changing the direction of my blog to promote techniques that help earn buy-in for inbound marketing- this article was the guidance I was looking for which helped lead me to that decision.

Again, thanks for ALL you’ve done, and continue to do to lead and inspire.

Jeremy

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Douglas Burdett July 18, 2013 at 6:53 am

Marcus, you left off one important phrase I’ve heard you use many times which also describes you… “Stinkin’ Awesome!” (BTW, I’m going through TSL Podcast withdrawal.) See you at Inbound!

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Marcus Sheridan July 21, 2013 at 11:50 pm

Hahaha Douglas, this comment was stinkin awesome! :-)

Can’t wait to have a chat at Inbound my friend!

Marcus

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Mike Luque July 18, 2013 at 1:08 pm

Excellent post. I’ve never thought of creating a single paragraph that encompasses the entirety of my online work:

My keywords: “healthy lifestyle”, “healthy eating”, “healthy recipes”, “physical fitness”, “breathing exercises”, “meditation”

As a professional fitness instructor in several disciples since 1999, physical fitness is my professional passion. One of my favorite aspects of training are the breathing exercises I’ve been taught and I teach my clients. I’ve enjoyed writing about these two topics and as I continue to grow and explore how to guide people on the road to living a healthier life, I’ve expanded my focus to include healthy eating. I’ve started cooking at home and sharing these healthy recipes with on my site. I’ve also opened up to discussing the more personal practice of meditation. These 5 points complement each other and form the complete road to a healthy lifestyle.

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Marcus Sheridan July 21, 2013 at 11:49 pm

Mike, boy do I love this subject and it sounds like you’ve got a tremendous feel for “who” you are, so props to you for that my friend!

Marcus

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Dr. Nicki July 18, 2013 at 1:23 pm

This post was thought-provoking, thank y0u. While I didn’t think that telling my story of how I reversed Diabetes Type II 100% holistically in 12 months was the core of my business, now I do. I usually touch on it but haven’t really leaned into it to the extent that I could. I think the underlying thought was, “okay enough about me…” Now I am sensing that my story is actually the bridge between clients/customers and full engagement with me and my business. I am going to infuse a new angle and really dive into my compelling story. Thank you.

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Marcus Sheridan July 20, 2013 at 12:56 am

“…my story is actually the bridge…”

YES, YES, and YES!!!

Loved this Doc,

Marcus

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Mike Martel July 18, 2013 at 3:01 pm

I am a former US Army Special Forces Green Beret who has taken the many lessons I learned on getting things done, productivity, and teamwork to help both individuals and businesses get amazing results in whatever they set as their goals.

My story either intrigues a person or they are completely turned off. It’s rather funny how it has worked. One day I will do some analytics to see what the population groups are they don’t relate to it. The ones that do respond are very interested in both my stories and how my experience can help them get er done.

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Marcus Sheridan July 20, 2013 at 12:54 am

LOVED this one Mike! And thanks for sharing :-)

Marcus

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Jen July 18, 2013 at 4:36 pm

I almost wonder if people need to see your brand more like 20 or 30 times before buying in. We are so inundated with information and images that most of the time we check out. I suppose this is why too many people have resorted to shock value in marketing. I do think it’s about telling your story in a way that showcases how you can help your customer. I’ve been working on that both for myself and others.

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Marcus Sheridan July 20, 2013 at 12:54 am

“Shock Marketing”—-Yeah, I can certainly see that Jen, and good for you for seeing a spade for what it is.

Thanks so much for stopping by,

Marcus

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Andrea T.H.W. July 19, 2013 at 2:42 am

Good advice Marcus, persistency is the key to achieve 99 percent of times. I’m receiving almost no traffic from Google, probably because I don’t use AdWords, but I’ll go on anyway as I see fit, learning and trying to write better but I’ll definitely stop trying to please them.

Sooner or later things will roll well again, whatever the Tzar of the net thinks. :)

Have a great weekend!

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Marcus Sheridan July 20, 2013 at 12:52 am

Yep, that dang Tzar of the net gets us every time Andrea ;-)

Thanks for stopping by my friend,

Marcus

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Johnny Bravo July 20, 2013 at 8:33 pm

I would say it’s really all about defining your own personal/professional brand and sticking with it. Being consistent is key with anything in life. Besides if it’s a good story (rags to riches) people will enjoy hearing it. And no offense to you but you are not the only one who has told the same story so you’re right, it’s not about thinking up something unique, but rather about telling your OWN story.

My story. My entire professional career has been in sales. Selling myself (don’t take that the wrong way) to employers, selling my skills, selling products. I realized that I’ve spent a long time in the sales profession which is not easy. But I want to help make it easier for people who aren’t professional sales people but still understand the importance of selling. Because we are always selling something (our brand, our fit for a job, our partnership to a spouse, a dinner choice to a child).

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Marcus Sheridan July 21, 2013 at 11:47 pm

Johnny, really loved this comment, and hearing your story man. And yes, we’ve all got one, sometimes it just takes a little searching and pondering what ours is.

Appreciate you stopping by man,

Marcus

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Mitch Mitchell July 20, 2013 at 10:06 pm

Great stuff Marcus. What’s funny is that I was sitting here at the computer and thinking that maybe a good idea would be to highlight some article topics that I’ve touched upon in the past because, with over 1,400 articles over 5 years and a whole new audience, some of those things might be new if the content is still fairly evergreen. Then my mind said “let’s go see what Marcus is talking about first” and here it is.

Reinforcement isn’t rehashing old ideas, but reaffirming actuality, and then having people allow you to add new concepts once they’re comfortable with you. As I said, great stuff!

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Marcus Sheridan July 21, 2013 at 11:45 pm

Mitch, how are you my friend? Great hearing from you and an excellent idea too—it’s amazing how much audiences turn over, yet we are quick to forget that as bloggers.

Stay well brother,

Marcus

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Jenna Trethewey July 26, 2013 at 5:33 pm

I started my business in a down economy and it has grown exponentially ever since. Here’s my story:

My husband and I have had many experiences with boarding our dogs and having friends watch our dogs when we go on vacation and have never had an excellent experience. Our dogs have a hard time adjusting coming home, have loose stool and sleep for days. One year we decided to have my father in law stay at our house while we were on vacation to take care of our dogs. This was the FIRST time I had ever been able to go away and not worry about my dogs. This made our vacation the best one we had ever had. When we got home, I had to show the world (or a 10 mile radius from my house) that they too can go away and not worry about their pets. This is when Play Time Pet Care was born. In the middle of a down economy…growing every month/year since we’ve been in business.

I tell this story to every client that has even the slightest hesitation on hiring someone to come into their home to care for their fur babies (yes, I’m one of those). It’s even on my website…so people may read it once, and hear it again when they speak to me. It’s told over and over again, even by my staff when asked how the company started.

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Rajesh Magar August 1, 2013 at 2:51 am

Was truly awesome and I came to new thinking/strategy that if someone was already said something about something that does’t mean its all describe about that entity. We just have to make it even more better, engaging and share worthy.

Thanks!

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vikram August 6, 2013 at 8:02 am

Hey Marcus, Great motivational article. There is no way you can express yourself better than telling your story to the world. It feels very good to say something about yourself. Thanks for sharing this article.

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Marcus Sheridan August 13, 2013 at 10:12 pm

Glad you liked it Vikram, come back again soon. :-)

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Macmac August 15, 2013 at 3:47 am

This piece of writing is genuinely great. Reading such an informative post here really are big help. Hope i can read more insights in the future. Thanks!

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marty August 29, 2013 at 2:29 am

I think this is great advice not just for business but for life in general.When I started blogging I always thought there nothing about that anyone would want to know about. And opening up to people honestly freaks me out.I never know where to start and I feel that giving people a peek into the craziness that is me is like letting things out of a bottle that you can never put back.Plus I never know how to relate the most interesting about me back to my niche or focus. My story is that I am recent college grad who was going through a lot in life and I was tired of not having a walking around money.So I decided to learn how to make money online and other ways. Also since I was dealing with learning how to grow after dealing with being an adopted,disabled student I decided to share what I learned with world.Wow I talked alot….sorry

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Marcus Sheridan August 29, 2013 at 7:35 am

Thrilled you shared Marty, and thrilled too that you’re having online success.

Keep it up!

Marcus

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