029 Stella Orange on Authentic Marketing

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Stella Orange talks about her strange path to marketing and copywriting via Japan, school teaching, bike riding, and writing copy to raise money for an arts nonprofit in Montana.

This includes the books she read to teach herself direct marketing, how she got her first clients (a great strategy for people who don’t have a sales engine when they start), and the mistakes business owners make in marketing.

[Extra props to Stella for taking time out of her vacation to record this episode, which I had to reschedule not once, but twice. This did leave her without whiskey, which was quite unfortunate. And then her dog threw up during the call, which she cleaned up on the fly. Thanks for being a trooper.]

Check out this episode to learn:

  • How working for a nonprofit and writing and performing plays gave Stella a great perspective on the performance of marketing. (Everyone has an interesting story about how they got into sales and marketing, and this might be one of the most interesting stories I’ve heard.)
  • How she turned her passion for writing into a “career”, despite being “unemployable”.
  • How she got her first clients, and how she taught herself sales. (And what her coach said to her when she said, “I’m a writer, I want my work to speak for itself.”)
  • Why she cried when she was starting her business, and why she cried after it took off.
  • Her stress over charging $450 for a 5 page website (she now charges much more, and has a great way of dealing with price objections).
  • “Old marketing”, focusing on pain, versus “new marketing”, focusing on desires, which can attract more qualified leads for many businesses. (Stella spent way too much time on unqualified leads early in her career.)
  • The biggest mistake people make in marketing (and of course, what you should do instead).

Books (if you don’t want to spend the money on the Amazon link, you can go to the public library like Stella did):

The wine whiskyOban 14 Year Old

Reuben had some Oban 14 year old Highland whisky. It’s got a little bit of sweetness to it, with hints of vanilla and caramel. Nice for people who don’t want all the peat, but also want a bit more flavor than the Macallan.

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Stella wished, for just this one moment that she wasn’t on vacation, and was at home with her bottles, preferably the Yoichi Japanese whisky.Yoichi Single Malt

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Where to find Stella:

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com.

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You can also  listen on Overcast, or Subscribe on AndroidPlayer.fm.


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028 Maurice Cherry on Content Marketing

Maurice Cherry

Maurice had always enjoyed using computers, even as far back as elementary school. He intended to get a computer science degree, but found that his degree program wasn’t very practical. He switched gears a little and became a math major. Maurice was named as one of GDUSA’s “People to Watch” in 2018, and was named one of Atlanta’s “Power 30 Under 30″ in the field of Science and Technology by the Apex Society. Maurice was also selected as one of HP’s “50 Tech Tastemakers” in conjunction with Black Web 2.0, and was also selected by Atlanta Tribune as one of 2014’s Young Professionals. He recently won the Steven Heller Prize for Cultural Commentary from AIGA. He’s the host of the RevisionPath podcast, highlighting black designers and developers.

How did he accidentally end up in sales? He needed a job and telemarketers were hiring. It was humbling and soul crushing. He ended up getting fired.

Got a job working in design, based on a portfolio he had built up over time. This felt like his first real job, where he had a door with an office.

He worked at WebMD and AT&T, which sounds like it was a strange “Office Space” kind of dystopia, like a weird Black Mirror episode.

When he quite and started on his own, he had a rough time because selling was hard. He started working on a political campaign, in the aftermath of Obama’s successful use of the internet, which at the time seemed very cutting edge for the political world. (This was back in the day when MySpace was bigger than Facebook.) This led to business opportunities with other people in the city. He also joined forces with 2 other people, using this extended network to help land clients.

He ended up running his own agency for 9 years, then joined Fog Creek Software, after feeling like so much of the design world got commoditized. There, he specializes in creating content, and he’s got some important tips:

  • Build trust with your audience. People are so inundated that they often don’t even believe the truth, let alone marketing B.S.
  • Test. Test. Test. Take away the subjectivity. Even if you don’t have a huge audience.
  • Personalize.
  • How to “cheat” at content marketing– Maurice uses Google Keep to track notes. He’s had over 200 guests on his Revision Path podcast. When he sees a news item on one of his past guests, he logs it in Keep, so he can quickly put together a newsletter without having to dig for information. (Maurice uses RSS to keep on top of the news.)
  • Maurice uses Buffer to schedule social media posts in a queue. He likes to prepare content weeks to months in advance, and schedule it to go later. (Mental note– I need to get better at this.)
  • How do you know if content will be good? You may not. But ask people in surveys where they can criticize you anonymously. And stay in touch with your audience. Have a conversation. If you’re not hearing anything back from your audience, you’re not really having a conversation. Understand your audience– not only the topics that they care about, but the depth and length and language that they care about.

“Talk to your audience, get to know them.”

—-

Social Media Scheduling Apps:
Buffer
MeetEdgar (and check out the Sales for Nerds episode with MeetEdgar founder Laura Roeder.)
SocialBee

Google Keep

Black Mirror (Netflix TV series– prepare to be disturbed, especially one of the episodes that seems a little too much like one of the jobs Maurice mentioned in the interview)

Fog Creek Software (and check out the Sales for Nerds episode with Fog Creek CEO Anil Dash— really interesting technical insights into the sales process)

 

The wine


Venue Vineyards 2015 stage coach syrahVenge Vineyards 2015 Stagecoach Syrah
–currently sold out at the vineyard– I was lucky enough to grab some at a local event– it’s a bit fancier than the wine I usually drink. 😉 Yummy, but very rich– you may want to have it with some food. (Goes nicely with BBQ, according to my research.)

Where to find Maurice:

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com.

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You can also  listen on Overcast, or Subscribe on AndroidPlayer.fm.


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027 Justin Foster goes from ranching to sales to spiritual branding– come on the journey

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No one on this podcast grows up aspiring to be in sales. I always enjoy hearing about the journey, and Justin Foster has had an amazing journey.

He grew up on a ranch– something we are more likely to experience through the mythology of the screen than in real life. While he loved ranch life, his home life was challenging.

He moved to Austin in 2014, and describes it as the first place that felt like home.

Justin started his marketing firm in 2003 with the notion that sales and marketing should get along. (Crazy talk, right?)

Justin got his first job in sales 10 years earlier, in 1993, because he and his wife had just had their first son, and he needed to make more money. He bugged an office supply company to give him a job on 100% commission, with no sales support, working a territory that no one else wanted. His sales training consisted of a product catalog. He became the top selling first-year sales rep in the company’s century-long history.

How did he do that? For one thing, ranching is hard work. He was used to doing that. So sales seemed much easier than ranching. Plus, he enjoyed talking to people, he always honest with people, and he had some charm.

He focused on small town governments and manufacturers, and a list of “maverick” accounts that other reps had tried to sell but without success.

Here’s the question he asked his buyer:

  • What do I need to do to make you look good? (For some people, it was about buying local, or maybe about saving money, or just avoiding running out of office supplies.)

Then he’s say, “what you need to do to make me happy is order just one thing, and I’ll hand deliver it.”

Why is it so important for sales and marketing to get along? Shouldn’t this be obvious? Yes, but the rise of social media has changed the playing field.

Here are Justin’s 3 Rules for marketing:

  1. Tell the truth.
  2. Find out what their needs are.
  3. Be a human being. (This is hopefully starting to sound familiar to long time listeners.)

Branding is no longer the candy wrapper around the product.

“A brand is how other people experience what you believe”, whether you have a solo firm or Coca-Cola. Great brands are therefore spiritual experiences– Justin cites Patagonia, Yeti, and Southwest as examples of these great brands that create a connection beyond even the emotional level.

You connect with your mission. (A mission statement is evidence you don’t have a mission.)

A mission has  few characteristics:

  1. It has to improve humanity.
  2. You can invite others to join your mission.
  3. It’s a bit terrifying. It can seem like heresy– because it goes beyond your role, for example, of making your quarterly numbers.

What do brands need these days:

  1. An authentic voice.
  2. Consistently memorable experience.
  3. Compelling story.

Unfortunately, brands usually miss some things along the way:

  1. Lacking the will to want to be a brand.
  2. Lacking the courage to be different– you can’t just be slightly better. (“Don’t be a karaoke singer– make your own music.”)
  3. You have to do the work and make it a daily habit (uh-oh, I’m in trouble).

The best thing you can do for your sales team is:

  1. Give them a product that doesn’t suck.
  2. Provide good branding.

But #2 can’t make up for #1.

How can people get started:

  • Go to your website, and remove the “plastic flowers” — the jargon and other crap on your site.
  • Look at “time on site” in Google Analytics– this shows how much interest people–  you already have a transaction with them– they are giving you their time.
  • Tell the stories of the people you are helping.

Most companies aren’t doing these things. Do them and see if your time-on-site goes up.

How do people find their spiritual mission and their roots?

  • Write down what you’ve always known to be true.
  • What would you be willing to commit civil disobedience over?

Justin notes that all industries are in chaos, and the only thing that cuts through the chaos is the truth. It can be hard for family businesses to brand because the older generation often ends up selling to their friends and can’t adjust.

You have to work on your personal brand, even if you’re not the founder of the company. It’s the one thing you can control. If you don’t like yourself, why would you expect others to like you? Self-worth is critical– confidence can be faked.

Books mentioned in the show:

The Go-Giver by Bob Burg.

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown (“the power of choice can neither be giving away or taken away, but it can be forgotten”)

 

 

The wine whiskey…

Ben Milam Bourbon

Justin’s enjoying some Ben Milam Texas Bourbon from down the road in Blanco.

Justin’s also using a giant ice cube for less melting and dilution.

Ardbeg 10YO blancReuben has some Ardbeg 10 year old Islay Whisky. (Note the lack of ‘e’.) If you like it peaty, this is a great whisky for you.

Where to find Justin:

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com.

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You can also  listen on Overcast, or Subscribe on AndroidPlayer.fm.


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Episode 23: Rohan Kale escapes the grind, starts a video marketing company, and travels the world

Rohan KaleRohan Kale is an international man of mystery. Ok, not so much mystery, but certainly adventure. He was on the typical track of a talented engineering student in India, grinding out 100 hour weeks for a big software company.

Wanting more, he made some bad choices, and got sucked into online gambling.

Needing to get away from that, he made his way to Germany. (He’ll explain why, and how we learned German and got a job at Daimler after arriving with no German language.)

Once again wanting more– to have the freedom to travel and explore the world– find out how he decided to start an online video marketing company (naturally, without knowing anything about video production).

In this episode, Rohan discusses:

  • How he got his first customers, before he even had a website, while he still had his day job.
  • The channels he used to get conversations and how he closed with no track record.
  • How he scaled his initial marketing efforts.

Plus, some tips from on a pro on how to craft your own videos, including:

  • Common pitfalls, especially the “Curse of Knowledge”.
  • The importance of a good script.
  • How to make different videos for your home page, for demos, and for support.
  • The simple setup you can use to get started.
  • When to use YouTube and when to use Wistia.
  • How to turn your videos into other forms of content.

Plus, get some travel inspiration from Rohan’s travel schedule and adventures at Oktoberfest.

Prost! (Or “cheers!” in German, as I learn.)

 

 

The wine…

Monchhof RieslingMönchhof Riesling, 2008. As I mentioned, if I think of it as “wine”, I find it way too sweet. But if I think of it as “dessert in a glass”, it’s pretty good.

Rohan was drinking a Helles beer from Munich. Helles (“helles” means “bright” in German— this beer was developed in response to the popularity of lighter Czech lagers in the 1800s).

 

Where to find Rohan:

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com.

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You can also  listen on Overcast, or Subscribe on AndroidPlayer.fm.


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