relationship-marketingWhen it comes down to it, whether you consider yourself a marketer, a blogger, a teacher—whatever—we’re all after the same thing—We want to make connections. That’s right, connections. I want you to read this and every other article on TSL and feel something. That’s my goal with everything I write, and I know it’s yours as well (or at least it sure as heck should be). And this, my friends, is the essence of ‘Relationship Marketing’.

Non-Personal Bloggers

It never ceases to amaze me how hard-line so many bloggers are. And when I say ‘hard-line’, what I mean is that a writer sticks to one subject and never digresses from it, and certainly never delves into their personal lives when blogging about their niche. Folks, in this day and age of social media, this is dumb. That’s right. It makes no sense and is the antithesis of relationship marketing. In fact, if you’re a blogger and think you can be GREAT while remaining a closed book to the world you’re very likely sadly mistaken.

The Light Comes On

4 years ago, when I literally had no idea what a ‘blog’ was, I commenced writing a quarterly newsletter (paper) for my swimming pool company. In my mind, I saw this medium as an opportunity to teach our customer base all about swimming pools, and while so doing I’d also be able to better market our products and services. But as an additional component of the newsletter, I decided to include a small section called Marcus’ Musings, where I’d write a personal story/experience that included some type of life lesson.

Shortly after the first edition of the newsletter went out to our base of roughly 2,000 customers, I received many, many positive emails expressing their appreciation for such a resource. But what I found most interesting about these emails was the fact that the overwhelming majority wanted to talk about Marcus’ Musings, and not all the great information I’d taught about swimming pools.

Although I didn’t fully realize it at the time, this was the beginning of how I truly came to better understand the phenomena of relationship marketing.

Two Incredible Examples from Two Incredible People

I bring up this little story because today I was reminded by two excellent bloggers of the need we all have as writers to open up about ourselves and be personal—even if being personal takes us ‘off road’ and doesn’t necessarily focus on our niche.

My good friend Ingrid Abboud at NittyGriddy has become well known for her ‘Super Post Sunday’ articles. This is where she takes a look at the week before around the blogosphere and serves up to all her readers the ‘best of the best’ for said week. But with this week’s Sunday post, Ingrid started off in a most unique manner:

Seven years ago this coming Tuesday (March 22), I lost someone who was very dear to me; someone I owed a lot to, someone I loved with all my heart. It was unexpected and very sudden.

This statement, and its corresponding heart-wrenching story, were written simply to express Ingrid’s appreciation for Danny Brown’s exceptional article that posted this past week entitled ‘Precious Time’.

And just as Ingrid wrought incredibly strong emotions with her statements, Danny commenced his post stating:

Many years ago, I had a big falling out with my parents, and we didn’t speak for three years. It was a stupid argument, but being the pig-headed Scots that we all are, none of us wanted to be the first to say we were wrong.

During that time, my grandmother had a serious stroke and died within a few months of having it. Because of the argument with my parents, I never got to say goodbye to one of the most amazing women I’ve ever known.

To this day, I regret that immensely.

Hopefully, anyone who reads this will visit their blogs to experience what thousands of other readers already have, but the main question I want to bring up with these examples is this:

Why are two of the internet’s most well-known ‘Social Media and Marketing Experts’ telling personal stories about tragedies in their life that have really nothing to do at all with their niche??

As you already know, the answer is simple—They understand the power of relationships. They open themselves up so folks like you and I will think, “Wow, that guy Danny is as real as it gets….” and “Geez, that gal Ingrid has experienced some major hardships….just like me.”

Personally, I have experienced these types of comments again and again and again on this blog, none more so than when I wrote about my little boy’s cancer scare, which lead to many, many personal emails from readers to my inbox expressing their sincere feelings spawned by the article.

The Power of YOU

I’m sure by now you get my point. I don’t care what your niche is, you need to be personal, and there needs to be times when you open up to your audience about ‘YOU’. No, you needn’t give all of yourself, but just by showing a little vulnerability and opening up on occasion you can establish powerful relationships you never previously imagined possible.

Your Turn:

OK, it’s time we talk. What’s your take on getting personal? Do you do it? Why or why not? And if you do, what has been its effect on your blog and reader relationships? C’mon folks, jump on in, have your say. :-)

88 thoughts on “Relationship Marketing, Emotional Connections, and the Power of YOU

  1. Another great post, Marcus! A similar experience with your “Marcus Musings” my dad wrote a year in review/thank you note to his clients the past 3 years. Each year is not primarily about business but more personal/relational. He cannot contribute a lot business directly from that letter, but he got emails, calls and letters back to him thanking him for sending the letter. He got nothing but praise that they will not use anyone else. Sometimes just being yourself and being truly genuine and relational really works! He has now agreed to take over his company blog and make it personal: Mike’s Painting Blog. More to come on that! Can’t wait.

    • That, my friend David, is a very cool story….and real as it gets brother. :-)

      Some people might think that painting has nothing to do with ‘personal’. But just as I mentioned above, and just as you attempt to help contractors understand each and every day, relationships induce trust, and trust induces sales, and sales induce happy business owners and spouses. 😉

      Good stuff David, so glad to have your support sir!

  2. Hey Marcus – Forming connections is a beautiful gift. And getting personal is a liberating gift; to all parties. I’ve been personally impacted so many times by accident – simply because some one shared a deep, personal and highly emotional story with me. And, it strengthened my bond to that person – for I felt that much more connected by sharing something on an emotional level…something that I thought I had only shared with myself, prior.

    [Before I forget, I wasn’t aware of your son’s cancer scare. I guess because our connection ignited shortly after that post, I was clueless. After this comment, I’ll be heading over to check it out. I’m glad it was only a scare!]

    I have found that getting personal is my biggest way of connecting with people. My personal experience in life, which is full of all kinds of stuff (like everyone else) – is really the basis for all that I have to offer. Any value that resides within me is a direct result from experiencing something in my life. So, I think it’s highly important to share the wins and loses – for those experience can bring value to another person and strengthen the connection.

    My blog is growing. And, it’s my belief that it’s taken the route it’s on because people are stating to learn more about me; know who I am and what I’m about. I’ve opened up considerably this year and doing this has come with a growing community. This leads me to believe that what you share here, is 100% accurate.

    And, let me share that my motive to share my personal experience isn’t about driving traffic. I think it just comes with the territory…which is a win/win. For me, it’s truly liberating. Through this venue, I’ve grown as a person and it’s carried over to my offline life as well…and I’ hope that I’ve helped some of my readers along the way. This is a win/win.

    Keep up the great work Marcus. You’re up to some great things. Thank you for all you do. PEACE.

    • You never disappoint JK. You’re like my Old Faithful 😉

      I’m really glad you shared this though. For me, as an onlooker to your blog and progress, it’s very cool to see the ‘real JK’ shine more and more and more over these past few months. Your blog is growing because you have an incredibly attractive mindset and attitude. You give to others freely. You’re humble yet strong. Your blog and the statements you make online reflect all these things.

      I also really appreciate your thoughts on the win/win mentality that comes with being personal at times. The therapeutic effect this type of thing it can have on a writer can me miraculous…as I know I’ve experienced many times as have you.

      Thanks again JK for all. You’re simply one of the best. :-)

  3. Hey Marcus

    It’s an interesting topic – and one that’s bound to generate a ton of comments again. (Hopefully, literally a ton – let’s aim for another 100 or more!).

    My take on this is slightly different – which doesn’t mean I’m right and you’re wrong (it probably means the opposite, that you’re right and I’M wrong – LOL). I include personal anecdotes into posts where they are appropriate to the post.

    For example I wrote on Writers Block and Rejection, and included a story of how I let my ego interpret a really positive rejection as a vast negative.

    But I DO believe that you have to be more than just a face on a picture or avatar, and more than just the character you express with your writing. For me, I find the comments section of my blogs – and others (like yours!) – is where I get to express some of the elements of my personality and character that will let my audience connect with me on a deeper level and view me in terms OUTSIDE of what I write about.

    In various blog posts around the ol’ blogosphere I’ve revealed all sorts of stuff – my favourite drinks (Guinness and Coffee), my favourite sports (Rugby and Cricket), that my favourite bass lines are mid 60s Motown tunes (and man THEY ARE AWESOME), that I’m partially colour blind, etc etc etc.

    So far I’ve not found the right vehicle to actually create a post or article that goes into these elements – so I’ve restricted myself to personal elements in comments.

    But I understand what you are saying – Ingrid’s story was moving and compelling in equal measures. Haven’t read Danny’s yet – will get to that later today.

    Good topic though. Be watching the comments with interesting. Fingers crossed for over 100 again for you!


    • Ha Paul, 50 comments or 100, I’m just happy to chat about stuff I’m passionate about….and I’m always happy when you stop by and create such great conversation.

      I don’t know if you and I disagree at all Paul, as I more see it as we both are saying it’s a good thing to ‘open up’ on a personal level here and there, as the more a reader can relate to us personally, the more they’re likely to become a stronger fan of our work.

      But my main point here was that Danny and Ingrid simply left their niche by the wayside for a minute to talk about something —time and family—-which is a subject I believe everyone can relate to and appreciate.

      Writers are too often afraid that if they digress just a little here or there they’ll lose their audience and readership, but the exact opposite is usually true.

      Again, so grateful for your constant support Paul. Keep up your tremendous work and momentum my friend. :-)


  4. Hey Marcus,

    I agree with you 100%. To be honest, I hate reading blogs where the authors continue to be so bland, so unfeeling, that they just fill their blog pages with facts after facts. There’s no emotion involved, I never get to know the author on a more personal level, and reading such posts just make me feel like I’m being recited the dictionary. I mean, if I wanted to read that mumbo jumbo, I would take out an encyclopedia and dive in.

    But I don’t. I want to feel as though the author on the other end is just as real as you and me. I want to connect with the author, share memories and experiences, celebrate accomplishments, reminisce over failures, cry when the sky falls down, and laugh when I simply can’t control myself. I want to feel what the author feels, live what the author lives, rejoice when everything goes well, and sulk when there are dark clouds ahead.

    And blogs should be personal anyway; that’s what a blog is. It’s a place where readers and the writer can come together and share stories, thoughts, ideas, and whathaveyou. A blogger shouldn’t be afraid to express his voice, even when he knows that his opinions will be countered with different opinions, will create controversy, or may even spark arguments. He should express it anyway because that’s just how he feels and what he thinks.

    I really enjoy bloggers that will share a little piece of them with their readers, just like you do Marcus. And wow, just by reading quotes from both Ingrid and Danny, my heart wrenches for them.

    You know, emotion is a powerful thing. People remember emotions. Do you think someone will remember your post 10 minutes later if all you do is drone on monotonously, without a care in the world and a thought of how your readers will find your beautifully written essay?

    Eh, nope. And if you think so, you should take a moment to reflect on why you even blog in the first place.


    • Christina, Christina, Christina….boy was this well said….heck, it was a blog post within itself….and much better than mine I’d argue! 😉

      I can really tell you ‘get this’ Christina. Your focus is on 3 words—- feel, lives, and thinks…….and that’s exactly the case.

      We’re here to open up, and like you said, if we’re not, then why are we doing this? What growth will be derived on our end?

      Yep, sure great to see you back Christina, I’ve missed your incredible and insightful thoughts!


  5. Hi Marcus!

    Thanks for the encouragement to open up more. I agree that it’s very important for the same reason that you suggest, which is to form relationships.

    Personally, an even more compelling reason for me to open up to people on my blog is because people can only “like” you if they “know” you on some level. So if you subscribe to the motto “people buy from those they know, like, and trust” (which I do), then it’s essential for you open up in an appropriate way.

    It’s hard to open up to the “world.” There are a lot of negative people out there and some known as “trolls” who are looking for vulnerability to pounce on. You have to accept that risk if you’re going to engage in relationship marketing – especially online.

    You’ve got ignore the haters, dust the dirt of your shoulder, and be proud to be you. Unless you’re an absolutely rotten evil minion, you’ll form relationships that will go a long way.

    • Ahhh yes Marlee, them good ‘ol trolls….you know, the persons in the blogosphere with no face and usually a fake name that are so unsatisfied with their own lives that they’ve elected to pick on others…alas.

      But, like you stately so perfectly Marlee, we’ve just got to ignore them and be proud of ourselves for following inspiration, however it may appear to others.

      And besides, if we’re not pushing people to think and question….and even argue….then are we really making a difference?

      You’re awesome Marlee, and it thrills me every time you come by. Thanks for all your support. :-)

  6. Yeah buddy!

    My most personal posts (the full time life of a blogger’s girlfriend, my birthday post) have been some of my favorite and most popular. People love them!

    This is something I thought a lot about over the weekend. Why do I read the blogs that I read? Well, a lot of the blogs I read are friends’ personal blogs. They might not be that great to some people, but I just like seeing what’s going on in their lives because they’re my friends!

    The same idea carries over when you get out of the personal blogging space. I know people come here to your blog because they like you and want to hear what you have to say and what’s going on with you.

    Can you be TOO personal? Sure. Don’t say anything that will embarass you, endanger you, or make your readers feel uncomfortable. But that’s just common sense. People aren’t personal enough with their blogging. This is even something I stray from and need to be reminded of, so thanks M-Dog!

    • You know Tristan, it’s funny you mentioned that ‘girlfriend’ post of yours, because I was actually thinking of that one and almost mentioned it but I didn’t want people to think this blog was going to be renamed Blogging Bookshelf II 😉

      But thrilled you stopped by man and a big congrats on your work at SLC Podcamp. Very cool and I’ll be stopping by your place soon to give more thoughts.


  7. You can tell what a great job you do reaching out to people at a personal level just from the length and detail of the comments, Marcus. There are no “Great post!” proclamations here without something substantial following it. You are obviously in it for more than the marketing aspect—connecting with people is important to you.

    As Tristan said, as long as you don’t go overboard, why not share and give your readers a little snapshot into your life? Frankly, I think the posts where I don’t make the content somewhat personal can be kind of boring. So I try not to write those. And if I do, I make them brief. And I don’t understand why other blogs don’t get personal. I mean, really, who wants to see another list post full of facts with no personal anecdote?

    Try to offer something of value to the reader, and add the personal touch. It’s probably the only way I’ll see sustained growth at my blog, so I think that’s a good plan to follow. Thanks for another fine post, and for the links to all the other terrific content you’ve been providing!

    • Thanks for your point here about the quality of the comments Joe. I’ll be quite honest in saying that it’s something I’m proud of– the fact that there aren’t a bunch of ‘awesome post!’ one line comments lying around these parts.

      But I agree entirely with what you’re saying. We’ve got to find a way to get personal, and we’ve got to realize that it’s OK to break away from our normal patterns and niches if we feel inspired to do so– just as Danny and Ingrid did so powerfully in their articles.

      And to tell you the truth Joe, it’s something you do quite well in your posts too— they’re personal. They’re real. And that’s what it’s all about.

      Thanks again for coming by Joe. :-)

  8. Jon


    What a great topic here. You used the perfect phrase, “relationship marketing.” People need transparency, they expect it, and they relate to the vendors behind the logos. We are all hard-wired to connect, learn and grow together. We can grow and benefit because of each other.

    I’ve tried to weave personal story into my own writing. In terms of anything in the same leagues as NG or Danny; nothing that emotionally charged. Maybe I’ve questioned the relevance? Most likely I just haven’t connected the dots, so to speak, between a moving personal story and actionable advice.

    Thanks for a deeper look into this…


    • You mentioned ‘transparency’ here Jon. Powerful word. Our government likes to talk about transparency, but I can’t remember the last time we really had any transparency from our elected officials. I say this because people in this world are dying for good, honest, and real relationships. And that’s what opening up can do for a blog.

      Regarding relevance, I say forget relevance sometimes. After all, if something in life taught you a lesson don’t you think it might be of benefit to others? In other words, it’s relevant.

      Let’s not focus so much on maintaining our themes and niches that we prevent ourselves from sharing the most impactful experiences and lessons of our lives.

      Very much appreciate your support Jon! Thanks for all you do. :-)

  9. I try to distill a bit of personality in each post which can sometimes be raw but it’s who I am – take it or leave it, ya know?

    There are millions of other bloggers out there that only want to send out information and hope to make money but the real value comes from the connections we make.

    Hell, my upcoming trip to Thailand involves meeting up with someone who frequents my blog – I’ve connected with him over Skype and emails. This would never had happen if I closed up and only shot out information. There’s a whole side of blogger that people rarely tap into.

    I hope to further progress the “personal” feel of my blog over the coming years. I try to keep things conversational and open so people WANT to contact me rather than leave a comment and move along.

    In fact, hearing myself say this (in my mind), I realize that I need to do this on my own terms as well – hrmmm. So many great people to connect with, so little time heh.

    • You’re on the right track Murray, I have no doubt. In fact, I think if you just constantly ask yourself the question “What experience has taught me something about business or life this week?”….and then write about said experience….you’ll be phenomenally successful. In fact, I have no doubt whatsoever.

      BTW, are you seeing Robert in Thailand?? If so, that’s awesome man. I’m sure you’ll have a tremendous experience….and I hope you talk all about it on your blog. 😉

      Thanks for all Murray, you’re going places my friend and I’m sincerely excited for you.


      • Hey Marcus,

        I like the approach to content creation you’ve given. The current direction may not see it as applicable (at this time) since I want to keep people within a series but I could see this being very valuable for the email list that I’ve finally begun to create. I do seem to get a lot of emails from people asking what I’ve been up to 😛

        As for Thailand, I will be swinging by Roberts :)

        We talk frequently on Skype and through the blog; it’s really awesome to reach out like this – never would I have imagined that I would build connections in far off lands such as I’ve done over the last few months of blogging on Murlu.

        Thanks for all the support – I hope we can find a few things we could align with (and work on) in the near future – would love to pick your mind about a few things (and make a great content piece :D).

  10. My dear Mufasa,
    I’m not even sure where to begin here.

    I loved this post – not just because you used me as an example (although that part was wow) but because Relationship Marketing is what’s all about today.

    But first – going back to your mention of me – I’m flattered that you thought to use my latest post and my style in general as an example. It truly means a lot to me and I’m happy that the post inspired you. I was inspired by Danny and the timing couldn’t have been better .I’m also am beyond honored to be mentioned alongside Danny. Although I have a long ways to go before I can play in his league – he truly has been like a mentor and inspiration to me during my blogging journey so far.

    In all honesty – I’m rather private as a person. I reveal what I think is relevant and appropriate. A while back I asked my readers how much of themselves do they reveal online. And I think most felt the same way as me – some more so than others.

    The SuperPost you mentioned here was more profound than what I generally write in my blog – but it was important to me and I believe it served as a reminder – for Danny’s post was what reminded me and what inspired me to get a little more personal. But again – the fact that I write the way I speak and that my true personality can be seen through my words is what I think allows my readers to connect with me . I share what I’m comfortable with without getting into the nitty-gritty details of my life or that of my friends and family. I wouldn’t reveal anything that could harm anyone I care about. But I did write a 17 things about me post on my bday :).

    As you said – we are human. We want to know that the person on the other side is too. That they feel what you do – that they have ups and downs – that they have good days and bad ones – that they’re not perfect – no matter how you may envision them.

    Relationships and connections is one of the biggest parts of blogging to me. What good does it do you if you were to read a blog that sounds like a robot wrote it right? You need to get a little bit personal every now and then but how far you go or how much you reveal probably depends on your level of comfort and your niche. If you share a personal story or experience – it makes it all the more pleasant to read and take-in – as long as it’s relevant of course.

    I think Danny Brown’s tagline on his blog says it quite well – “the human side of media and the social side of marketing”. It’s all it is plus a little knowledge and common sense.

    When I started blogging – I had no clue to what it entailed – and everyday I learnt the ropes a little more and everyday my blogs grows a little more – slowly but hopefully surely. Of course not as fast as yours here which is just awesome in every which way.

    It seems you knew right from the start how to build relationship marketing through your Marcus’s Musings section of your newsletter. People responded to you then because you were genuine and you were generous in sharing your human side – much like you do now. People relate to you Marcus and they respect you because you make it easy for them to like you. You have your own style, you take the time to engage with your audience, you talk with them and not at them – much like in your presentation that you shared here with us a couple weeks ago. You bring them into your writing and you do so tremendously well. Plus, you know your shit and you know it well! 😉

    As for your son Joseph – thank God he’s okay. I can’t imagine what you and your wife must have gone through during these 3 days. I was reading you article and all I wanted to do was get to the end to make sure everything was fine and that he was healthy. For as I said – time and health – two things that we unfortunately cannot buy or control and 2 things we would kill for (more time and the best health possible).

    Okay so I’ve written an entire novel here (shocker lol) – and I probably still neglected to mention a few things that I would have liked – but I simply wanted to express my gratitude to you for your wonderful mention of me. As for what you said regarding relationship marketing – I think it’s obvious that I couldn’t agree more!

    Hope the rest of your week is filled with laughter and productivity.

    • Ingrid, Ingrid, Ingrid….that was exceptional, and easily one of the most thoughtful comments I’ve ever had here on TSL. You made so many good points, but I wanted to reiterate this one:

      As you said – we are human. We want to know that the person on the other side is too. That they feel what you do – that they have ups and downs – that they have good days and bad ones – that they’re not perfect – no matter how you may envision them.

      That’s some dang good prose right there girl 😉 …But it really caught my eye because one thing that readers often say they appreciate about this blog is that I’m just as willing to talk about my downs as I am my ups when it comes to business. And honestly, I always scratch my head when I hear stuff like that because my thoughts are, “Doesn’t everyone talk about their screw-ups??”

      When it comes down to it, I want my communication—whether it’s verbal or written—to be an emotional roller coaster for the audience. I want people to laugh and cry, talk and listen, learn and teach…..and this all comes from the relationships that are able to be created in the process of that communication.

      Again, blown away by this epic comment Ingrid. Thank you.

    • Ah, Ingrid, how I love your comments – just ask Srina from @SkoolOfLife next time you speak. Or listen in to his show in a couple of weeks’ time… 😉

      Trust me, you are already “in my league” or whatever anyone wants to call it. Know why? Because there is no “league”. Every single one of us brings value to the table with everything we write.

      To me, it doesn’t matter if a blog has one reader, or one million readers. The minute that prose has been read and touched someone, that’s more than the next person has achieved – because that prose is by YOU.

      And no-one else is you quite like you are. Here’s to non-leagues and continued blogging adventures together. :)

      • Danny – you are WONDERFUL and THANK YOU for all that you are and do!

    • Love your novels Ingrid, that is all!

  11. Sharing personal stories, as mentioned in this article, creates connections between people. It’s a pretty amazing thing – the bond that can be created after someone’s personal life challenge or experience has complete resonance with something in your life creates an instant “connection”.

    It’s a part of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – the need to Belong. Everyone has a deeper desire to belong, to be a part of something, to be liked and to share similar experiences. When that Need (Belonging) is fulfilled or met the resulting feeling is Trust!

    Trust is the basis of relationships and that is why sharing personal your personal experiences with your market can have a good impact.

    I think I’ve shared a lot of personal experiences. In fact, the reason my blog exists is because of my discoveries I made through personal and financial experiences, many of which I’ve shared on my blog, but I don’t think I’ve shared as regularly as I would like.

    Thanks for the eye opener Marcus!

    • Ahhh yes, good ‘ol Maslow…..GREAT point Hector (you have a serious habit of doing that 😉 )….we all need to belong.

      I’m no different. I want a community with this blog. I want to feel there is a connection with my readers. Yeah, it can be tough to balance, but it’s incredibly fulfilling and rewarding.

      Very grateful for your support and comment Hector. Thanks bud.


  12. Marcus’s Musings. That makes me laugh! I would leave more, but Griddy beat me to the punch and NO ONE will scroll down past her to see who else commented.

    BTW. While I was walking Jack Bauer at 4:45 this morning, I cursed your name because I knew you were sleeping for at least three more hours.

    • Ha!! Well, being that you’re asleep as I’m writing this little reply Gini, I guess that makes us even! :-)

      And I’m also pleased ‘Marcus’ Musings’ could give you a little smile….anything I can do to make my readers happy is a good thing. :-)

      Happy dog-walking Gini 😉

    • Ummm…are you saying that my comment was on the “longish” side? Or that I put people to sleep already LOL 😉

  13. Marcus – Hey man! It feels good to be back in the blog world! Maybe no one noticed but I felt a pretty gaping void after taking some time off. :) Or my sabbath, I guess.

    I have to be honest – even in creating a personal dev blog – where you can still be pretty varied for the most part – I have somewhat regretted moving it from the personal blog I had started it out as years ago. I didn’t feel the need to narrow the niche then. If I wanted to blog about Nintendo, then by God, I blogged about Nintendo, darn it! I have since come to realize that niche blogging really doesn’t matter as much as we think it does. If readers like our writing, they will come back. Simple as that.

    And next in my blog, I will be talking about zucchini. Think people will come back for that? :) Yeah, me neither.

    • Bryan!! Was wondering about you today man as a matter of fact….and hope your little break was a most excellent one and you now return more rejuvenated than ever. :-)

      But you said a statement in here that I’d like to post on the computer monitor of every blogger in the world if I could:

      If our readers like our writing, they will come back. Simple as that.

      Yes, yes, yes my friend. They will, if we’ve built the relationship the right way.

      Thanks for all bud. Again, great to see you again B’.

  14. I used to do a lot more personal writing online to help me cope and understand with a lot of the pains and struggles I went through. I still go back through some of those posts today and think, “Man, was I ever hurting back then.” All that writing was happening before Facebook/MySpace, so it was still private unless someone happened to stumble upon it or I shared it with someone.

    I still share some parts of my life on my blog now, but it is far more muted than my previous blog. I always question how much people really want to hear about my daughter growing up, or some of the other personal struggles happening in my life. I tend to not mention much about me personally on the site, and keep it all locked up on Facebook (but even then I censor myself because of the amount of family on there).

    Ingrid’s message had a real impact on me to the point where I could only just click “Retweet” and share it. I didn’t know how to fully respond to what she shared, and felt silly making a comment about the links that were in the post but ignore what she said. Personal messages like she made have an even larger impact on an audience if they are out of the blue. If she had messages like that daily, it would kill her audience level of engagement with her, and probably her overall readership.

    The only way to truly connect with people (and this has always been true, in my opinion) is through personal stories. It is the only way to find out what drives a person, what challenges they face on a daily basis, and where they have come from. Attending University may not be a huge deal for a guy like me who has generations of University goers in the family, but to someone coming off of the streets, it could be the biggest achievement of their lives. Without knowing the full story, we would never come to appreciate it the way it should be.

    • The only way to truly connect with people (and this has always been true, in my opinion) is through personal stories. It is the only way to find out what drives a person, what challenges they face on a daily basis, and where they have come from.

      James, this was so well said, and I very much appreciate the sincerity behind the entire comment. But what I’d like to know is why do so many bloggers stay away from integrating personal experience in their writings? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again and again, we should have a personal experience of some shape or form in everything we ever write, as it only testifies further to whatever our point is that we’re trying to make.

      You’re awesome James and I very much appreciate your words here.


  15. Hey bud,
    First off, this goes back to our discussion about bloggers having a real experience to share, if you want to last online there has to be some depth to your writing and posts about going to the mall ain’t going to cut it.

    I think I would take this a step further, you can be personal but you also must be relevant and bring a depth of experience to the post. Some call this experience, others call it old age, I prefer to look at it as an understanding of the events we go through in life. Danny and Griddy both shared not only a personal event but what they learned from this event and this is what makes the post so real and captivating. We learn from each other.

    Great talking to you yesterday Marcus

    • an understanding of the events we go through in life.

      I think that says it all John. If someone can reach this skill….no matter what age or ‘experience’, it comes down to our ability to see the world and what it teaches us…and then relay that to others….It’s this skill that makes connections and allows blogs to survive over the long haul.

      Thanks for your support my friend.


    • “We learn from each other.”

      Can I just give that a HELL YEAH!!!? :)

      Learning a lot from getting to know you two guys – thanks for the continuing education. :)

  16. Hi Marcus,

    Somehow i feel very warm about this post. I fully understand the power of YOU. Bloggers tend to forget we are humans too. We don’t have to worry about getting out of niche and people will run away because of that.

    We should always be reminded that our readers are our friends. People relate to you because you are real. Sharing your personal experiences is always a good way to establish closer relationship. Your personal experiences may happen to others too. Your friends would always willing to lend their ears aren’t they?

    Thanks for the great post mate.


    • People relate to you because you are real.

      That’s exactly right Lye. We want to relate to real people. Stories, especially the tough or emotional ones, do just that. Powerful.

      Thanks for your support man.

  17. I truly believe that blogging should be personal. It’s great to share all the neat facts one comes across in their niche but without knowing WHO is sharing that info makes it flat and lifeless.

    Even with that said, I was a little hesitant to write about my son’s eye surgery a couple weeks ago. I felt it important to share something that was so paramount in my mind with my readers but wanted to protect my son’s privacy at the same time. I think I found a happy medium in my post.

    I think it will always be a struggle for bloggers to strike that happy medium between private and public but its a tightrope that needs to be walked!

    • Hey Monica! I’m so very glad you took the time to stop by and leave your thoughts here. Yes, it can be a tight-rope. In the case of your son, you saw the power behind the lesson, and that’s great, and I’m so glad you found a way to share it with others….as I’m sure your audience very much benefited.

      May we all have blogs full of life!

      Appreciate your comment Monica, thanks again.


  18. Marcus,

    I do think getting personal does make the blogger (you and me) more relevant to our readers. However, we need to remember this our blog, not the blog of our family or close friends so we must always make the window into our lives is properly sized.


    • Agreed Alex, there is a time and season for everything, ya know? You manage that very well on your blog. It’s personal but not over the top nor ‘uncomfortable’.

      Thanks for your support.


  19. Hey Marcus, great post, as per usual. 😉

    I agree with you, but up to a point. Blogging is a social medium – it’s about people, and it is about connections. But that being said, there aren’t many blogs that I read just for the personality – usually there has to be a subject matter connection, too (Penelope Trunk’s blog is one of the few that I’ve stuck with, even though she hasn’t been on topic in ages… and I’m losing patience there, too).

    I think both sides are important – it’s got to be relevant, and it’s got to be personable and connected; you can’t have one without the other (if it’s only relevant, but not personal, then there’s no reason to stick around, because it’s no fun… but if it’s personal, but not relevant, then you can only justify sticking around for so long…).

    Does that make sense to you, Marcus?

    • That actually makes a ton of sense Danny. You’re talking about balance—relevance combined with personality to form a powerful reading experience. Too much of anything can make the pendulum go in the wrong direction.

      But the blogger who consistently finds that balance, day after day, month after month, year after year— then they are the ones that make it to the top (i.e. Mr. Brogan 😉 )

      Thanks so much for stopping by Danny.

  20. Marcus,

    You are right, personal posts are important. They really let people know about YOU in a way that strait-forward 3rd person reporting style of blogging never does.

    I know I sometimes struggle with it. I am a little bit shy sometimes, and I do not like to talk to much about myself. I try to bring things up sometimes, because i do like to connect, but the fine line between how much people “want” to hear about me and how much is not pertinent to others sometimes mystifies me.

    I think it is a case of forest for trees. I know it is important because I know I love reading blogs that are deeply personal and moving, but I don’t always do enough of it myself.

    Anyhow, you make a great point. being personal on occasion is the very best way to really connect with others. It is all about making them your friends rather than just a name… and that is what it is really all about.

    • Yep Steve, you nailed it.— We can either have friends as our community….or names. I prefer friends. And I know you do to.

      Although you say you struggle with the personal side to blogging, I think the main thing is that you’re getting better and better at finding your voice, and being comfortable with it. Not everyone is going to be as open as others. Notwithstanding, we can all let a little light in.

      Continued success to you Steve. You’re a tremendous support and an even better asset to the blogging community.


  21. G’Day Marcus,
    Food for thought and all that. As I have a specific BTB blog, in a deliberately narrow niche, my readers have specific expectations of me. But I have ben thinking recently about ways to perhaps “soften” my blog while still “sticking to my knitting.”

    In December last I wrote my first “totally off topic” blog. I intend to do this every three months. There’ll be another at the end of March.

    I’ve also realized that I have a mountain of stories from my own experience. which are still “on topic” but reflect my personal view of my world. I’m trying to incorporate more of these into my blog.

    Personally, I’m well past the stage where I’m concerned about revealing too much of myself. It’s really a question of retaining context while revealing me.

    So there young Marcus. You can teach an old dog new tricks. Have I told you my favourite George Burns quote? Probably, but it’s worth repeating. “when I was young the Dead Sea was only sick.”

    Make ’em laugh. As Donald O’Connor taught us in “Singing In The Rain.” I’m showing my age but I love performing!

    Hang loose, Best Wishes,


    • Smiles….all smiles Leon :-)

      I tell ya buddy, you’ve got more experience than probably everyone else in this community put together (not saying you’re old 😉 ), and I think you should tap into that as much as heavenly possible. If you feel prompted….if it comes to your mind….then share it Leon. Shoot from the cuff. You’re a master of it on here and I know it would only create even stronger fans of your writings and business.

      Thanks, again, for being so freaking funny and awesome.


  22. Hi Marcus
    Looks as though you have been struggling for comments recently… so I came over to help. LOL

    I read Ingrid Abboud’s Super Post Sunday and was so touched by it… I didn’t leave a comment.
    Just couldn’t find the right words.
    And for me… that’s a first.

    As ever, great content, great examples and a killer message.

    • Keith, thanks for stopping by my friend. Yes, comments have been unusually high recently….but I’m grateful for it.

      Your support means a ton to me Keith. Thanks so much my friend. :-)


  23. This blog is a result of connecting in a meaningful way.

    If being influential, making a difference in people’s lives and building something with long term value is a desire, you need to let down the walls and give people a reason to share their heart with you.

    This blog is filled with passion. I can feel the energy flow from this blog man. It’s alive : )

    Cheers to everyone who’s part of it!

    • Mark, you’re just too dang kind my friend….but I tell ya, it sure is nice to have supporters like you out there….kinda helps me feel like I’m not a total idiot 😉

      So hopefully the passion will only continue….along with your readership and that of many others Mark.

      Have a good one my friend, and thanks again for your support.


  24. I love to read blogs that are personal because it makes me feel like someone is talking *with* me rather than *to* me. And therein lies the most important lesson. No one wants to be lectured to and as you pointed out, Marcus, relationships are key to building anything.

    As someone who has been in school for {way too long}, I had a lot of trouble in the beginning adapting to writing informally. You know, silly things like starting a sentence with “And”. Crazy right? But that’s what “being professional” seems to be all about these days. That’s not to say it’s wrong – just that sometimes there are things way more important than following rules just for the sake of following them. As we open up, as you did in your Marcus Musings, we learn that people want something more.

    Here’s where I’d love to hear your thoughts, Marcus. I love being personal but when do you think it’s “too much” meaning it’s become all about you and nothing about them? It’s all a balance. :)

    • Absolutely love your question Stella. Here’s my honest answer:

      I only write about my personal observations of my life and everything that surrounds it. I pick experiences that have taught me a lesson, and then I write about them. This style makes writing come naturally and easily…..and it’s very rewarding.

      Can there be too much personal? Sure, there can be. But everyone is different. But in most cases, writer fear leads to ‘too little’…and reader/writer relationships are ultimately hindered in such cases.

      We can’t write to please others. Our tribe will fall into place as it may. In many ways, if we’re following inspiration with writing, we simply have to come to the understanding that there will be people out there that like the way we think…and that appreciate our transparency, and therefore return again and again and again.

      Not sure if that makes any sense at all Stella, but it’s the way I feel.

      Thanks so much for the comment. :-)

      • Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, Marcus! I love your answer. Very insightful – especially the part about how we can’t write to please others. It’s often a delicate balance. On one hand we write and create for ourselves yet on the other we write with a fictitious reader in mind. Well, at least I always pretend I’m talking to someone when I’m writing.

        I love how your posts brings up so many nuances that all writers struggle with and that you give us a platform to bounce ideas off each other. :) Thanks Marcus!

        • Stella, Agreeing with you on the balance.. and your balance may not be Marcus’ or mine. It’s about writing to please you, YOUR audience and YOUR goals for your writing; those fictitious readers.. is the audience you have or the one you want, or both? That’s my balance struggle, FWIW.

  25. Marcus,

    I find it so interesting that those who read your news letter wanted to know more about you. It goes to show that branding your self is important.

    I like knowing that the person I am dealing with is real and I think that adding the personal stuff does that.

    I remember when my dad had us stuff envelopes and lick stamps for his newsletter. He always added a personal note to each person and signed it. I was too young to be aware of any results it created but I was so impressed that he cared enough.

    • Hey Sheila, so kind of you to stop by. I like you dad’s example quite a bit. Such a ‘personal touch’. It’s funny how that, in many ways, has been lost from business and society. You’d think with all these ways to connect our connections would be much stronger. And although that is certainly the case at times, I wonder also if we know of more people but do we really know more people?

      Thanks so much for the comment Sheila. :-)

  26. Marcus, my lad, I had no idea about your son. I’m happy and relieved that all is well now, and that you were able to move through those troublesome times.

    I haven’t had many troublesome times in my past, but I’m not sure whether you’d call that ‘lucky’ or not. I believe that the reason we experience troublesome times is because the universe, or whatever, wishes to test us, to help us grow. There’s no escaping the tough times, so we must grow, adapt, and change our thinking and beliefs to suit these new surroundings.

    Now, about relationship marketing. I’ve read Danny and Ingrid’s articles, and they touched on something inside me. You see, I fully understand the value of connecting with people; Leo Babauta and Steve Pavlina, amongst others, wouldn’t be as successful as they are without discussing themselves at length. Heck, why call yourself a personal development site if you aren’t going to talk about personal things? But the fact that I’ve seen blogging sites, income sites, even gardening sites, talking about themselves, sharing themselves, opening themselves up, there must be something of universal value in there.

    I realised then that this is the way to become a successful blogger. Not to talk about things that you want to talk about, but to talk about things that the readers want to read about, want to hear about. And there’s one thing that the readers want more than anything else, and that’s to feel that you are human. That you have doubts like them, rough times like them, fears like them. They want to know that you breathe, that you eat and drink and sleep, that you go to the toilet every so often. They need to know you’re real.

    Perhaps it’s all part of an insecurity on our parts, but I know that when I visit a new site, I want to know that this is the work of a human being, not a computer program. I want to not only read the words, but feel the words. I want to connect with someone on the other side of the world because I didn’t come to this site to be lectured, I came to gain a new companion. A new companion in the blogosphere, and for the journey.

    So now I believe that I need to be more personal with my writing, more open than before, more transparent. Not make it a sob-story, but show that what happens to me throughout my days, can be learning curves which I can share to the whole world.

    This is what the world is about, sharing. Letting others get the best of us :-)

    • Stuart, wow man, you’ve left some amazing comments on this blog before but I’m telling you this was one of the finest my friend. And this statement had me clapping my hands:

      Heck, why call yourself a personal development site if you aren’t going to talk about personal things?

      Can I get a heck yeah for that one?!!

      In reality, I think personal development is the one subject that crosses over to almost every niche on the internet. Why? I think it’s because we’re all trying to get better and we’re all real people…yeah, sounds kinda trite but I believe that’s simply how it is.

      You’ve actually done a great job with this in the past Stu, but if you open up even more I think that it will only benefit you, and your readers, along the way.

      Have a great day my friend and thanks for all your wonderful support.


    • “And there’s one thing that the readers want more than anything else, and that’s to feel that you are human. That you have doubts like them, rough times like them, fears like them. They want to know that you breathe, that you eat and drink and sleep, that you go to the toilet every so often. They need to know you’re real.”

      Perfectly stated, Stuart. Powerfully brilliant and so very true.

  27. You see Marcus you have this amazing ability to go beyond marketing to the real nub of life – connecting to each other at a deeper level, something in our genetics. Whether we are out socially or networking corporately we all want to understand and know about the real person inside. The one buying us a drink or telling us about their business. When we share something of ourselves – our story – we develop rapport, trust, and respect. And we know they can’t autentically be bought, traded, or sold. Awesome post Marcus, that has humaness and togetherness at his heart which, if we’re all honest, is what we all have in bucket loads and want to where they are too! Be well and loved my friend.

    • You always have such kind and thoughtful words John, and to be honest, you make me feel pretty good as you seem to ‘get’ my writing style. Some people don’t, and that’s OK. Not everyone will and some people are uncomfortable digging deep within and putting it out there. For me, that’s never been the case.

      Your words truly are appreciated John. Have a wonderful day across the pond. :-)


  28. I agree with you that you need a personal connection in order to connect with your viewers. Some blogs I read seem very impersonal and when I comment on them they don’t reply and it puts me off from reading them again. Your blog has always been very good for replying and being more personal!

    • That means a lot to me Harriet, and I’m so glad you keep coming back. Every little support here is appreciated and noticed…and hopefully you feel a sense of community.

      Like you, I’ll try a blog out one or two times to see if the author makes any ‘connection’ with me. If I don’t feel it after the first couple of contacts, I realize we’re not a good fit and I just move one. When all is said and done, it’s about relationships, ya know?

      Thanks again Harriet. :-)

  29. Yes indeed, Marcus. People will always be enamored with authenticity. It is natural for one to ask, “What qualifies rob white to write a book (or a blog) like this?” It’s simple – I’ve been fascinated with exploring the incredible truth about human nature and the nature of the human mind for over two decades. The knowledge I’ve gathered always points back to one simple fact: ‘If I’m to live my life as I want it to be, I must rely on me’. I have gone out into the world and proven to myself that this fact is true in many domains of my life. Folks who are looking to journey further into the “land of opportunity” naturally want to take advice from someone who has been there before.

    • ‘If I’m to live my life as I want it to be, I must rely on me’.

      And what a wonderful realization this is Rob. I’m curious, how many do you think actually reach this paradigm? Sadly, it’s likely the minority.

      You’ve lived a rich life. Reading you site it seems like you’ve done a little of everything, which truly speaks of the power of experience. Now it’s cool that you’re using this to benefit others.

      Well done my friend.

      And thanks for the comment. :-)


  30. We have to be genuine. We have to keep it authentic. We can’t fake emotions or empathy. We have to be there with the person. It’s not about being a brand but it’s also about being a person. Helping and doing what’s necessary to be there heart, heart and mouth! Great post!

    • Thanks Jonathan. Speaking of genuine, you do that as well as anyone I know.

      Appreciate your support man.


  31. Hey Marcus,

    It’s very interesting to read about your view on relationship marketing. When I started out with marketing, and blogging, I was almost looking in the opposite direction (about six years ago).

    It was all about various niches, and being the most professional whatever. I was looking for knowledge and skills in a partner, and that’s what I was looking for when I was going to hire someone to design or program or whatever.

    Today, the approach is almost completely different.

    I am still looking for professionals and high quality, but relations matter just as much (or sometimes even more).

    I want to work with people that I trust, and people that I feel comfortable with. I want to work with people who shares my worldview.

    The problem, if I can say that there is such a thing as a problem, is that although I understand exactly what you are saying, and I agree 100%, I find it difficult to be part of it. I am usually not a guy looking for relations and I am not one that want to be personal (not online or offline). Well, I am not anti-social, I am actually fairly social, but I don’t want to mix business with pleasure (if you know what I mean).

    Now, the good news.

    I am learning, and I am feeling a lot more comfortable doing it today than I have ever been before. I truly understand the value, but it’s still a fine line between what to share and what not to share :)

    • Jens, so sorry for my slow reply on this bud, but you said some great things here:

      I want to work with people that I trust, and people that I feel comfortable with. I want to work with people who shares my worldview.

      I think that’s a profoundly true statement Jens, and yes, there has been a shift in terms of the way we do business and how the web has put a focus on ‘relationships’ like never before.

      Continue learning my friend, I’m right there with you on that one 😉


  32. It is a beautifully written and even more beautifully expressed thought.

    As has been said umpteen times, human beings are social creatures – and that means we need to share our lives with other human beings. I may trust a rock to protect myself from rain or hide behind, but when it comes to enjoying life, I prefer the open fields and the vast sky. We trust people who open their fists and show us their palms. All things being equal, and sometimes all things not even being equal, we tend to do business with friends. We marry for love. We read books and watch movies that we identify with. We believe and look for relationships. We even build relationships with animals. And only when we have relationship do we give. Never before. And as you and many others here have said, one of the prerequisites for building a relationship is to open oneself up. Show your good, bad and ugly aspects to all. I say bad and ugly as well because a long lasting relationship can be created only if there are no surprises on trust front and most of them stem from the bad and the ugly. It is extremely difficult to do that and will depend on the kind of relationship you want to create and its objective, but having said that I still think that even in business dealing your positives and negative should be know – the old wisdom “a known devil is better than an unknown one” has stood the test of times.

    One last comment that I want to make is that I personally think that in a post such as this the title could have done without the word “marketing” and instead the word “building” might have been more appropriate – “Relationship Building, Emotional Connections, and the Power of YOU” – Marketing is the unsaid benefit of relationship building.

  33. I don’t blog for commercial purposes but we all want our blogs to be read and are competitive in the sense that we want to expand readership. And that means that I can’t just devote my time to writing good blogs but must learn seo and use marketing strategies that work in the blogging world. And if you want to be successful you have to be real. And to be real you have to be personal. That’s how trust is built and connection is made.

    • Hey Riley, great comment and so sorry for my slow response. I loved this little point you made:

      And if you want to be successful you have to be real. And to be real you have to be personal.

      Yes and Yes my friend. Readers at this point almost demand real, ya know? They want more than just logic and some general facts….they want the connection that comes with relationships, and that’s simply what we’ve got to give them if we want to break through in an internet and blogosphere that is more competitive than ever.

      Very much appreciate your support Riley, hope to see you again.


  34. Yes, I totally get it buddy!
    Folks on the other end of the computer screen want to know there’s a real human on the other end. They want to identify with us, connect with us, and know we are just like them…..and we are!
    This is one of your strengths…..connecting with your audience, in person and through the written word.
    Great topic, awesome post!

  35. How the heck did I miss this post? You must think I’m one of the most ignorant and rudest folks going – sorry mate!

    First, thanks for the incredibly kind shout-out, mate, and especially since you do it alongside the most brilliant Ingrid (who was a topic of conversation on Srini’s BlogCast FM chat today, hehe).

    Second, agree so much, mate. There are, what, 200 million blogs out there? And you want to “compete” against folks that have 100,000 subscribers and countless years behind them?

    Then use the one thing they can never have – YOU. Your life; your pen; your mind; your words. Only one person can get a handle on that, and only one person can do that justice. Yet you’d be surprised how many people want to read about you, and not Generic Blog Topic X.

    Personal is the blogger’s nuclear bunker. :)

    • Hey Mr. Brown, and so sorry for my slow reply to your great comment sir 😉

      First of all, I clearly don’t think you’re ignorant, nor rude…..but you are one bad dude with a pen :-)

      You mentioned here the power of ‘YOU’. I tell ya, this, to me, is the most perplexing thing about bloggers (a large majority) in general– their seeming unwillingness to use the greatest tool they have to reach a deep level of communication is one of the web’s greatest mysteries.

      Anyway, I guess I’ll just keep scratching my head on that one and maybe eventually bloggers and writers will realize the power of ‘you’ and just how much more enjoyable the personable writing style is for all parties involved.

      Oh, and thanks for the kind words regarding my boy Danny. That was an experience I won’t soon forget….and I know you can powerfully relate.

      Best to you Danny and have a wonderful Sunday my friend.


  36. And here’s to your son having the most amazing life ever with what must be an awesome family to be in. :)

  37. Best thing about being late to the party, I get to read all the excellent comments. Too many to single out Marcus, but wow. Switching gears to devil’s advocate: is there a difference between personal and personable? IMO, kinda yeah… IDK.

    I like to think I’m very human in my writing style, my tweets and posts and comments. I do tell ya what I think and how I feel, on certain topics. And yet I doubt I’d ever share such personal stories as you, Danny, Ingrid are amazing enough to do. I’m awed and inspired just the same, I assure you! :-)

    I really am an introverted, private person and there are things too personal/private that I don’t share w/ but limited family and/or friends (as my friends ARE my family too). FWIW my personal circle didn’t sign up to live their lives out loud, have it broadcast to the world; not sure it’s my place to do so. So when I write about looking at things from another side, yes I’m thinking about people I knew were having bad days, but I’d never disclose those details.

    Regarding my own life and experiences, maybe.. but there are still corners to be turned, lessons to be learned first. Even then I go back to the balance, what I want from all this networking and blogging which is an on-going and evolving process. I love it that way, but it does force some adjustments and a closer look at the strategy from both a ‘personal’ and ‘professional’ standpoint. FWIW.

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