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Adjusting your Marketing Strategy During this Crisis with Mark Schaefer.

This week’s podcast is an interview with the amazing Mark Schaefer. Mark is a globally recognised author, speaker, podcaster and business consultant who blogs at Grow – one of the top FIVE marketing blogs in the world! At the time of the interview, Mark had actually been diagnosed with coronavirus 17 days prior. We are going to be talking about how it affected him, but also his content and how he is adjusting in this time we are in.

KEY TAKEAWAYS COVERED IN THE PODCAST
  • We have to reframe our business and our strategy based on what is going on right now.
  • Are you relevant in this moment?
  • Pivot your content – some content you may have had planned may now seem irrelevant.
  • The world needs you to teach something different right now.
  • Make sure your content is meaningful and helpful.
  • We constantly have to reassess what we are posting and read the room. Make sure you keep thinking about how your audience is feeling and what they are going through right now.
  • Ask yourself, what do your customers need RIGHT NOW.
  • Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – many of our customers are likely to be at the bottom level right now.
  • If your product or service is aspirational, this may not be the right time to be selling, but you can still keep marketing your brand.
  • At this time, your brand is more than the short-term sales.
  • People will remember what you do during this time.
  • It’s all about survival right now and what we can do to help.
  • People who are “known” means having the reputation, the authority and the presence to get your job done.
  • If you are “known”, you have a permanent and sustainable competitive advantage.
  • If you have some down time right now, you need to be working on this concept of being more “known” and building your personal brand.
  • Never take your audience for granted, you need to continue to be a leader.
  • Think about what your purpose is right now, be brave and use this as an opportunity.
  • Inspire your audience, and help them in a positive way.
  • Be gentle on yourself. Just because we have the time and the space, doesn’t mean we emotionally feel like doing it.
  • The biggest goal we can have right now is to arrive and be there in one piece when this is over.
  • We need to focus on the little things such as staying healthy, taking care of relationships and comforting and nurturing our children.
  • We don’t have to be remarkable right now.
  • This is a period in our life where it is not like it’s ever been before, so we can’t be hard on ourselves!
  • Reframe this time as a complete reset.
  • We are not that far away from the world exploding with joy! We will appreciate all those little things we once took for granted.
  • It takes time, work and patience to build your personal brand.
  • Manage your expectations, you can’t build a business overnight!
  • There is no magic button to success – consistency is key.
  • You need to become a habit in people’s lives so they look forward to what you produce.
  • Consistency is more important than genius.
  • We are all in industries where it is competitive, so we have to keep going!
  • Just because someone is doing it one way, doesn’t mean it’s a particular style that really works, they have just found what their ‘tribe’ likes to see. You will find what your ‘tribe’ likes too.
  • You don’t necessarily need to be an expert in something to be known.
  • Show your journey to your audience, no one starts out as an expert but we can all learn!
  • We have an opportunity right now to really work on our brand and become a legendary. We could do something in this crisis that people will never forget.
  • We have an opportunity to do something that can create loyalty that lasts forever.
THE ONE THING YOU NEED TO REMEMBER ABOVE ALL ELSE…

We can continue to show up during this time to our customers and our audience, by being helpful and relevant through our content. The best way is always to be authentic, although it may take longer, it is definitely the way to go.

HIGHLIGHTS YOU SIMPLY CAN'T MISS
  • An introduction to Mark – 01:58
  • Mark’s coronavirus experience – 05:58
  • Adjusting your marketing strategy – 10:35
  • Meeting the needs of your customer – 14:09
  • Your brand over sales – 16:39
  • Being in the public eye during this time – 21:09
  • Being gentle on yourself right now – 27:20
  • The positives of this situation – 31:06
  • Playing the long game – 33:38
  • Building your brand – 36:54
  • Your competition – 38:35
  • Becoming “known” – 41:35
  • Becoming a legend – 43:10
Transcript below

 

Hello and welcome to this week's episode of the podcast. How are you doing? Okay, I think I told you last week that it was going to be a solo-episode this week and to be honest, it feels a little bit like we're flying by the seat of our pants because basically what happens if you don't know how the podcast works or how I do it, I batch content, so especially with interviews because obviously I need to make sure I know we've got interviews coming, who we've got in. Sometimes if I've got someone amazing coming on, I have to wait awhile for them to find a space in their diary. So what I try and do is I'll say I plan out quite far ahead in advance, but the recent coronavirus thing has really kind of had an impact on the podcast because as I'm interviewing some people, they are talking a lot about it and therefore it doesn't make sense to put the podcast date later, sort of in the month or in the next few months.

So I've been moving things around, so I apologise if one week you listen and I say next week we're going to do this. And it changes because my poor team are literally having to tweak and change as I need them to. Because like I said, I just feel like some episodes are worth bringing closer to the front. Some can wait a little bit.

 

An introduction to Mark

 

So today's is an example of that and it's actually a really good example of why I needed to bring it so close, because today's interview is with the very amazing Mark Schaefer. So if you don't know Mark, let me just give you a little bit about who he is and what he does. So Mark is a globally recognised author, speaker, podcaster and business consultant who blogs at Grow. That's what his blogs called, which is one of the top five marketing blogs of the world.

He teaches graduate marketing classes to Rutgers University and has written no less than eight best selling books. Mark's new book Marketing Rebellion: The Most Human Company Wins is an essential new view of business and a manifesto, the human centred marketing and it hit number one in both the marketing and advertising categories on Amazon. He's worked with loads of global clients including the likes of Cisco and Dell and Adidas. He's also been a keynote speaker for a lot of huge events and I personally saw him speak a few times actually at Social Media Marketing World and he's also appeared as a guest on channels such as CNN, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, CBS. So to say this guy knows what he's talking about is a bit of an understatement. And some of the books that Mark has written are books that I have read and love.

So the one that I really kind of thinking about, which actually isn't his latest book, although that's wonderful as well, but the one that really stuck with me is Known and it's all about the power of becoming known and how that helps you. And not the power of becoming famous and not being Insta famous, but being known as an expert in your industry. It's a great book, I can highly recommend it and I've linked up to it in the show notes. But the reason I wanted to bring Mark on so soon, I literally interviewed him a day or two ago. Well, it won't be a day or two by the time you listen to it, it's probably like a week or two, but the reason I wanted to bring it on so quickly was because I interviewed Mark during a time where he has coronavirus.

Mark got diagnosed the coronavirus 17 days prior to when we did the interview and coming out of it, and he was obviously feeling much better by that point, but he'd been quite poorly and coming out of it, he was obviously talking about it quite a lot and I was very interested to hear how he'd got on and how that affected him, but also how it's affecting the content that he's putting out right now and how he is shifting and changing for this time we're in. So that's why I wanted to get this out to you because I think it'd be really valuable to hear what he has to say. And I was very honoured, I was his first interview since being diagnosed with coronavirus and as he was coming out of it, so I was very honoured that he gave me his time. We kept it short or kind of bang on the 45 minutes as much as possible, just so that we could not take up too much of his valuable time and his energy.

Because as you can understand, he was still quite weak. So I really hope you enjoy today's episode. Like I said, the interesting thing was when I initially wanted Mark on, it was very much to talk about his books and we didn't get a chance to talk about them a whole lot. So I do highly recommend you go check them out because they are amazing. Like I said, Known is one of my favourites and I do encourage you to look and read it, what he has to do because from a marketing standpoint he really resonates with me. He's very much about loving your audience, he's about the consistency and tenacity of creating regular content that isn't some quick magic button that we can press to become known. So I highly recommend you go check them out. But I hope you enjoy today's episode. Here's Mark.

So it's with my greatest pleasure and honour that today I get to introduce to you, the very lovely Mark Schaefer. Mark, welcome to the podcast.

Thank you. I'm glad you think I'm lovely.

I've seen you speak. I can clarify, that's exactly what I think.

Awesome, thank you.

 

Mark’s coronavirus experience

 

And I'm super honoured that you're here because we've just been discussing that Mark is coming out of the end hopefully soon of having the coronavirus, which I can't imagine, must have rocked your world.

Well, it did. And it's unnerving in a lot of ways as you can imagine. There's a 98% recovery rate for the people that get it. So the odds were in my favour for sure. However, I am in a vulnerable age group and I am in a vulnerable group because I have a history of respiratory ailments. So this was not a thing to take lightly and my wife had it before me and it took her three weeks to get through it. And as you and I are speaking here today, this is my day 17, so I'm starting to feel a little better, but it was a rough going. And it's amazing when you read the accounts, it hits people in so many different ways. Ranging from, I didn't even know I had it to of course the most serious things and I was probably somewhere in between.

Yeah. And I think it's funny because there's obviously this thing going on in the world that you're hearing about and it's constantly in our faces, but actually when we sit down and go, who do you know that's had it or who have you actually seen that's had it? So you're probably the first person I've spoken to that's actually experienced it and like you said, your wife had it. And whereas it can sometimes feel like, yes, this is scary, but it's still far enough away from me. Whereas being told that you've got it, because you went and got tested, didn't you?

Yes, yes. My wife picked it up on a ski trip and came home and was sick and we didn't even think that she had the virus at first because she didn't have some of the classic symptoms, but then she developed a fever and had a fever for four or five days in a row. And we said, okay, you need to be tested. So she tested positive and then thank goodness she recovered. It took her three weeks, but she recovered before I got sick, which is remarkable considering how highly contagious it is and I was in the highly contagious environment for three weeks and didn't get sick. And then I started getting a fever and I started getting pressure in my chest.

So where we live, we actually had drive through testing. So I never even got out of my car. And just a shout out to all the brave medical workers out there. I mean, there were five people standing out there under a tent testing highly contagious people. And so I got my results back in just 24 hours and basically the strategy is to let it roll through you. There's no cure, there's no vaccine. You just have to let it take its course and go through you. And I had 14 or 15 straight days of fever and there's just nothing you can do, but just let it roll and stay quiet and drink lots of fluids and rest and just let it take its course. So I think I'm toward the end of it now. Let's hope.

Yeah. Well I'm keeping my fingers very crossed for you. And like you said, it's not just the illness, it's the mental impact on it. It's the fear, because I think the getting that result going, I've got it, must have been pretty terrifying.

Well, I kind of waver. I mean, you have to have focus on what you know and focus on the moment. But there were a couple of times that were sort of scary where I thought wow, is this going the wrong way and am I going to end up being in a hospital and then you get a little bit better and then you get a little worse again. So it is both a physical and a mental roller coaster for sure.

 

Adjusting your marketing strategy

 

Yeah. I can imagine. The other thing that's interesting is, so obviously you've come on the podcast today because I want to talk to you about your books and the stuff that you normally talk about. And do you feel like sometimes it feels a bit frivolous? Does that make sense? Do you know what I mean? It's like when you're dealing with something so big it seems almost frivolous to go, oh, tell me about your marketing strategy. Do you know what I mean?

Well, in some ways. I mean, I think what we have to do right now is sort of reframe our business and our strategy based on what's going on right now. Are you relevant in this moment? And I've done that. I mean, I've pivoted my content five or six weeks ago, knowing that some of the things that I … Well, not some of my things, all of the content I had planned seemed irrelevant. And I sort of had to like take a couple of days to regroup and think, well, look, what do I do? I'm a writer and I'm a speaker and I'm a consultant, but the overarching thing in all I do is I'm a teacher and I'm still a teacher, but the world needed me to teach something different. And I do have a background in psychology and counselling and coaching. So I pivoted my content to explore topics like how do you deal with uncertainty and how do you sell in an environment where people are grieving?

And then I started a series of Facebook live videos where I would tackle some of these topics and then I would take questions to try to help people. And then these videos are also available on YouTube. So my content and my strategy certainly did seem frivolous, but I quickly pivoted to something that was meaningful and helpful. And I think we constantly have to re-establish that and kind of read the room and think where is the world right now? Where are our customers right now? They're suffering, they're scared and they're suffering, they're losing their jobs, they're losing their security. They're under tremendous strain. Maybe they're strains in their relationships. Maybe they don't even have enough food right now.

So we just have to look at everything in this moment and now that I'm starting to get better, my mind is starting to think about, okay, well what happens when this is over? How am I going to be relevant when this is over? What's the world going to look like? Are we still going to have conferences? Are people still going to buy my books. So it's a constant … Right now we have to be in constant reassessment and evaluation of where we all are in terms of our businesses.

 

Meeting the needs of your customer

 

And it's interesting, when this first started I was like great, this is going to be great for batching content for those people who can't go and do their day job, they can do all this. And the truth is I can't batch content right now because it's a moving feast every single day. So in terms of doing things like interviews and getting guests on, it's a case of literally trying to do it and put it out as quickly as possible because of the fact that we don't know where we are. But what I really love about this is what you're effectively doing is kind of along the lines of what you teach in terms of you are delivering something for the customer instead of sitting there going, but this is my message and I'm just going to keep throwing it out and throwing it out, and throwing it out.

You are looking at the person on the other end, then going, what do they need right now? And whether that sells you perks or whether that gets you speaking gigs or whether that sells someone's product. And this is funnily enough conversation I've been having a lot with lots of people where I've been talking to the business owners in my academy and I've been saying to them, but what do your customers need right now? And I know that might not be the thing that you currently sell or did sell or the thing that you currently serve, but what can you do to them?

Well, I think that's a vitally important point and it's so difficult to comprehend, especially for smaller business owners who might be facing insolvency even. But the way I've described this in my writing, on my blog, is really aligning yourself with the good old Maslow's hierarchy of needs that we learned in psych 101. So this was an idea that it was a pyramid. And at the bottom of the pyramid are your foundational human needs, like shelter and food and air and water. And then above that would be sort of things like money and relationships. Am I lonely? Am I loved? And at the very top of the pyramid are aspirational goals like, should I buy a boat?

 

Your brand over sales

 

Now, most of the world right now is at the bottom of the pyramid. So if your business is serving that bottom of the pyramid, you need to double down on your marketing, right? You need to just … You're relevant, you're in tune with the needs of the day. If you're delivering food, if you're in the medical industry, if you're delivering some sort of online entertainment, then that is certainly where people are today. But if you're selling something that's aspirational, then you need to think about how do we protect our brand in this environment? Because in the longterm, in this period that we're in right now, the brand is more important than the short term sales. And I know that is hard to understand. It's hard to think about. But let me give you a brief example.

So one of the industries that's hard hit right now is real estate. Some of the houses are closing that were under contract for the last couple of weeks, but people are locked in so they're not going to open houses. They may have financial insecurity and so in many respects, traditional real estate as an aspirational goal. We have a real estate agent in our community who has now pivoted her business and she's created this community group to make protective masks for our hospital workers. Okay. So you think, okay, what's that got to do with real estate? But in the short term, there's probably nothing she can do to sell more houses. Well, let me tell you something, people will not remember her for a house that she sold, but people will never forget her for creating this community effort to create these masks and help people in this crisis, because she's moved her message and her brand to the bottom of the pyramid, and that's what we all need to do right now.

You're so right, in terms of when you look at Maslow's hierarchy of needs that we've not had to worry about that bottom layer, for most people listening to this probably ever.

Ever.

We've not had to worry about is there enough food? Have I got shelter? Can I afford this? Can I afford to live? Can I look after myself? Is my health okay? We've not had to worry about that stuff. So this now is a very different place and I think it brings out all different reactions to things. So it's interesting that some people are like, they're really leaning into what's happening and they're working hard and they're doing things. And even myself, and I don't know whether you've done Enneagram, but I'm an Enneagram three, which basically means I am constantly kind of trying to achieve things. And when I see a problem, I want to fix it and I instantly jump to action. And that's what I did.

So I went online and I did some master classes about how they could … If they wanted to try and get their business online, you could and try to help in a way that I could help with a skill that I had got. But then you've got people who like you said, they're not like that and they don't want to do that and therefore they're not going to resonate well with necessarily still trying to ram traditional marketing down your throat. And just look at how all the … One thing I've noticed on the TV recently is the big companies, their adverts have changed, and they're talking about what they're doing to serve and what they're doing [inaudible 00:19:39].

Right, exactly.

And support.

Exactly. Yeah. And I think that's a good observation is watch what the biggest companies are doing right now. The best managed companies, watch what they're doing right now. I mean, we've got a local restaurant chain here that said, okay, here's the first thing that we're going to do. We have to make sure that our health care workers are fed. We have to make sure … And they just looked at, again, foundational community needs and they said, none of this other stuff really matters right now. We have to look at survival and making sure that these key organisations and these important people make it to the other side. And that's why we're here. That's what we're going to do in our community.

 

Being in the public eye during this time

 

And so let's just talk, obviously one of your books that I've read and I've gone through is Known, which is a great book, talks about how to get seen and known in your space. It's not about becoming famous or becoming an Instagrammer or whatever. It's about becoming an authority. And I think that sometimes when things like this are happening, people look for those people, don't they? I think they kind of look for the steadiness or they look for the kind of what are they doing and how are they reacting? And so do you feel that, and is this one of the reasons you changed your content, that as someone who is known, someone that is being watched. Again, I saw when you put your post up to say that actually you've got coronavirus, that the messages were immense. There was so many people and was so many well wishes. But do you think when you are in the more public eye that you really need to consider how you come across at a time like this?

Oh, absolutely. I mean, there's a lot of interesting layers to your question. So first let's talk about, you asked me early on about relevance and this particular book Known is incredibly relevant right now. And here's why. Because this is about building your personal brand in the digital age and in the longterm people who are known, and it doesn't mean being famous, being known means having the reputation, the authority, and the presence to get your job done, to give you the very best chances to get your job done. Whatever that is. You'll get more phone calls returned, raise more money for your charity, get a new job, right? If you're known and the other people aren't, you have a permanent and sustainable competitive advantage. So this is one of the things I've talked about is that if you've got some downtime right now, if you're a business leader or you own a small business, this is one thing that you need to be working on right now because you're going to need to stand out on the other side of this, right?

And small businesses and particularly I think are ideally suited to take advantage of this idea of the personal brand. So now let's bring it down to your question about me and this was really difficult to think about what is my role right now? I've been very, just absolutely blessed to be in a position where people pay attention to me. I have a big audience and they listen to me and they trust me and I do not take that for granted ever. I take this responsibility very, very seriously. I want to set a good example as a leader and I never ever want to take my audience for granted. So I had to think about what is my role now? What is my role, first of all, in this crisis? And second of all, as a sick person.

And so I really was thrown for a loop for a couple of days when this whole thing started rolling out, kind of just get my feet back on the ground and think about what is my purpose now? My speaking businesses dried up, my consulting business has dried up, what is my purpose right now? And so we talked about pivoting the content. And so then I got sick and it's like, okay, now what do you do and what do you say? I don't know if I'm going to get better.

That's a scary real fall.

I don't want to like probably document the death march.

No.

So what sort of resonated with me, one of my heroes is Brene Brown. And if you're not familiar with Brene, if your listeners haven't heard of Brene I highly recommend her books. She's a wonderful academic and just an amazing and generous person. And I thought, well, look, Brene is a leader who I admire, what would Brene do in a situation like this? And the words that came to me is be brave. Start there, just start with brave and see how the rest rolls. And so that's sort of the position I took to say well, look, what's going to happen is unknown. I know what's happening right now and just start with being brave and using this as an opportunity to de-stigmatise the disease. And I think I helped that because for many people, I'm the only person that they knew who had it. And I could kind of make it real and I think that was important.

But I also, whenever I talked about my disease, I also use that as an opportunity to dispense hope. To talk about focus on positive, the importance of not panicking and being calm, to be really gentle with yourselves and taking care of relationships. Because we've got people now who are locked, who have been locked in by themselves or with kids or with their spouse for weeks and weeks now. And we've got a world who's about ready to explode. And so, we have to fight to get to the other side, but we have to do it with our loved ones, they have to be standing with us on the other side. So what I've tried to do is, because I have so many people who care for me and so many people who listen to me, that I've tried to use this as an opportunity to teach and to inspire and to do whatever I can just to help people and touch people in a positive way.

 

Being gentle on yourself right now

 

And I think what you said there about teaching them to be gentle with themselves. I think this is what's really interesting at the moment, that there's a lot of guilt about everything going on at the moment. A lot of shame, a lot of … Especially if people are business owners and A, if their businesses anyway, but if they're business owners that work from home like me and suddenly you wake up in the morning and you don't feel like doing something and you don't know why you don't feel like doing something. And then there's the other side of where people are going, great, you can use this time for X, Y, Z and you can create this thing and you can do these things. And actually just because we've got the time and the space doesn't mean our head is in the right place. Doesn't mean emotionally we feel like doing that stuff. So actually being gentle on ourselves about that.

Well I'm actually working on a blog post about that exact idea is that there are a lot of people, a lot of gurus out there now saying, oh, this is the time to achieve and this is the time to write your book. And this is a time to create something extraordinary. And look, the biggest goal we can have right now is arrive. Is to be there in one piece when this is over. Seriously. Seriously. We have to pay attention to the little things, the little things like staying healthy in being locked up in a flat and taking care of relationships and comforting and nurturing our children who don't know what the heck is going on. They can't go to school and they can't go on the playground.

And it's these little things that are important right now. And I think there's a lot of undue pressure from the gurus right now to be remarkable. And forget it. Basically for the last two weeks I've just blocked everything out and just concentrating on sit in a chair and get well. Look, I kind of feel bad I could be achieving all these things. I could be doing all these things, but my goal is to arrive. I've got to arrive. And to do that, you got to take care of these little things. That's the most important thing right now, is get to the other side or you're never going to be able to accomplish those dreams.

I know. And it's just a period of our time, isn't it? It's just a period of our life where it's not like it's ever been before. So we can't be hard on ourselves for not going out there and absolutely killing it and doing these things. And if people want to do that, then great. Awesome. That's great for them, but doesn't mean just because someone else is going out there doing it, that you've got to be sitting there thinking, oh God, and I've got to do this too. But like you said, one thing, and I'm trying to take as many positives out of the situation as possible. And one thing that for me has been positive is those teeny tiny things, those teeny tiny moments, thinking of all the things I'm missing, that aren't the big massive things, they're not the fly in on a holiday summer, don't get me wrong, I'm missing that.

 

The positives of this situation

 

But it's things like on a weekend, we don't cook. We go out for dinner every weekend, we spend time in a bar or in a restaurant or relaxing and talking to each other. We do a Sunday lunch somewhere. We see our friends, we see our family popping to get a coffee somewhere. These things in a world of ours now are so taken for granted, but at this point it's suddenly like … And I think, like I said, not that I want us to be here, but I think it's almost like an amazing reset-

It is.

… that we should all be thankful for, that we've all gone, actually, we were doing all right.

It's one of the things I've talked about is that if you can imagine we're not that far away from the world literally exploding with joy because we're going to rediscover those simple joys of hugging who we want to hug. Just that, of going to a coffee shop or going to see somebody play music. Or going to a beach. So these are the little things that I think we won't take our generation, at least, won't take that for granted any longer. And the thing that's going to be fun to really watch is as we get closer and closer and closer and we start coming back to some sort of normal existence, how the world is literally going to just explode with joy.

You know what it's making me think, you know when it's like a playtime at school or young children, and you're like nicely now, nicely now and then suddenly it's like, no, they can't hold it any longer and they go running across the playground.

The bell rings, the doors fly open and the kids are screaming to get onto the swing set.

That is going to be all of us, all over the world the minute we're told we can go back to a normality.

It absolutely will.

The other thing I'm using this time for, which I'm very cautious. When this first started, I was like, come on then let's do this, let's do that. And then I've gone through a bit of a self discovery of looking at things and reading things and like I said, I pulled out the Enneagram thing again and suddenly realised that just because that's my character, it doesn't mean it's not right or it's not wrong and it's not the same as everybody else's. But one thing I have been doing is the fact that I like to read anyway. But of course that's a kind of luxury sometimes when you're busy and you're doing your thing.

 

Playing the long game

 

So I have actually been consuming so much content because I've wanted to and I've enjoyed it. And I was listening to Known again. So I listened to lots of books and one of the things I love about it is the fact that you read it yourself, which I actually, I don't know about you, but if I'm listening to a book, I actually really like it when it's the author saying it, because it's your words coming out of your mouth. And so that was lovely. But the other thing that actually, that I listened to, funnily enough, just this morning when I was re-listening to some chapters that you were talking about is this creation of content and this creation of longevity and people not wanting to necessarily put the … They don't have the tenacity to keep going.

And then I thought about the situation right now in terms of one of the things that I've seen is people coming to me who I have been telling for a very long time, you should be doing this, you should be doing this. And then suddenly this happens and they're like, I want it and I want it tomorrow. And it's like it doesn't quite work like that.

Right. And that kind of gets back to the point I made earlier that if you haven't really worked on your personal brand, this is a good time to do it. It's never too late to start, but it does take time. It does take time. It does take work. It does take patience. But other than maybe re-imagining your business for the current times, I think working on your personal brand is probably the most important thing most business owners can be working on right now.

Yeah, absolutely. And I think as long as their expectations are managed, as long as they're not … And I think this is sometimes a problem, which is what is so refreshing about how you speak and what you do is that I think sometimes in this world in particular, in digital life, they think it's just a case of, oh well, I just put that one thing up and suddenly, boom, there I am. I've got these people following me and I've got this kind of profile. And still to this day, I think people think we're hiding something under our desks that, well actually here's the magic button, but we're not sharing it with you, because there isn't one there. There isn't and-

 

Building your brand

 

Because there really isn't, there really … I think one of the most powerful things, most powerful illustrations of this is, I wrote a blog post and in the blog post I had this illustration and it showed the number of subscribers to my blog over time. And I've been blogging for, I guess it's maybe 11 years, maybe close to 12 years. And I've been consistent and I blog one or two times a week every week for 11 years, let's say. And I've never missed, and I've had lots of blog posts go viral. I mean, really huge posts that are shared thousands of times and commented on thousands of times. Now, if you look at this line of the number of people who have subscribed to my blog over these 11 years, it's just a nice, calm line going up. There's no bumps, not one. There's no spike. So whatever you hope for in terms of going viral, having that big hit, it doesn't matter.

The most important thing is consistency, is becoming a habit in people's lives. And they look forward to what you produce, whether it's a video or a podcast or whatever, and you say, okay, it's Monday, here it comes. Let's see what Mark does this week and you become part of people's lives. And slowly but surely you grow. I had an opportunity and I learned a great lesson. I got to hang out with these well known rock band called The Black Keys. They're one of the biggest rock bands in the world right now. And I got to hang out backstage with them and talk to them right when they were starting to have some huge success. And I asked, Patrick Carney, the drummer for the band. I said, “Was there a pivot? Was there a moment when it just took off and you knew, yep, this is it. I mean, we finally hit the big time.” He said, “No.”

He said, “There isn't one. You just keep working hard and you want each record to do a little bit better than the last one, a little bit better than the last one.” And I think that is the approach to content. That's the approach to the personal branding, that is irreplaceable. And make a comment in my book Known that consistency is more important than genius. I truly believe that, just becoming a habit in people's lives and outlasting your competitors is a big deal. But you got to start, you've got to take that step and you got to start.

 

Your competition

 

And you also talk about the fact of the most well known person in the space isn't the, necessarily the guru or the genius or the most smartest person. It's just the person who had the tenacity to just keep going and going and going and put that content out there and keep … Because at the end of the day, we're all in industries and you do lots of case studies of different industries, but we're all in industries where it's competitive because there probably isn't an industry on this earth that isn't got some competitor of some sort. And people's worry is that, well, how am I going to stand out? How am I going to be different? How am I going to do this thing?

But I guess, and you know better than I do, but I guess the truth is it's not a case of that. It's the case of just keep doing it and keep doing it and keep doing it. And then you'll find or the people will find you that like you. Just because someone else is doing it successfully and they're doing it their way doesn't mean it's because it's a particular style, it's just that they find their tribe that loved the way they do it. And hopefully if you're consistent and keep showing up, then you're going to find your tribe.

I also want to emphasise an important point that becoming known is a process. And you don't necessarily need to be an expert at something to be known and that's going to surprise a lot of people, but let me just give you one example. So I started blogging in 2009 and I guess that will suggest that I have been blogging for 11 years and I didn't know anything about blogging. I really was clueless. I hadn't studied it. I just, I wanted to learn and I was pretty terrible. And at first nobody was really reading it. Nobody was really commenting on it. But I kind of learned the ropes through trial and error. And I shared my journey. I said, here's what I did right. Here's what I did wrong. Here's what I would do next time.

 

Becoming “known”

 

And that is also a legitimate way to build an audience, to peel back the curtain and show, here's my journey. And a lot of the people who are featured in Known, in fact all the people featured in Known, they weren't born an expert. They didn't start out somehow with this golden glow around them. Now, I started blogging in 2009, I didn't know anything. In 2013, four years later, I wrote the bestselling book on blogging called Born to Blog. Okay? So I wasn't an expert in blogging, no one anointed me as an expert in blogging. But over four or five years, I learned a lot. And I became an expert. So for a lot of people, for everyone really being known, it's taking people along on your journey.

And interestingly enough, one of your case studies in the book is Joe Wicks, who's here in the UK.

Yes, that's exactly who I was thinking about. He was one of the good case studies.

And you know what's interesting at this time, so when all this happened, Joe now has a daughter who I think is probably one, two, something like that. But of course all the schools shut, so Joe immediately, and this is what I love about A, having that following but also being so flexible that you can twist and change and move because you are your business. So Joe immediately went out and said, “You know what? Every morning nine o'clock for the next,” I think it was two weeks, “I'm going to do a PE lesson for all the children because of the fact that obviously all the school closed and obviously he's very keen to make sure they're still moving.” So he live streamed on YouTube every morning at nine o'clock and millions upon millions of people came in their droves and he was on every TV programme and he was on every news thing, and he was being interviewed here, there, and everywhere.

And it was just, it's almost like if you had to do a full circle of writing that book, talking about him, this thing happening now and what he's just done. It's like there we go, handed on a plate. Perfect. He always like, he couldn't have done it better in the sense that he focused and he did it.

 

Becoming a legend

 

Well, and I love the way you're tying things together here because again, Joe, he's not directly, he's not going to make a dime from doing these free exercise videos, but think about what that's doing for his brand. In the long term he's becoming a beloved legend, he's becoming a legend. Okay? And that's the opportunity that we have is, to become legendary, to do something in this crisis that people will never forget. Let me tell you a small story. I think I shared this on one of my blogs, but it really connected to a lot of people.

Earlier in my career I was a sales manager and we had a customer who we were really disappointing. Our product was … We were having quality problems. We're shutting them down, but they kept buying from us. So I flew to Philadelphia, had lunch with the president of the company. I said, “I really appreciate your loyalty over the years, but I just have to ask you, why are you buying from us when we're destroying your company?” He said, “Well, let me tell you the answer to that.” He said, “This company was founded by my father and during World War two our company wasn't going to make it, because the products we were making were irrelevant. Right? We needed to pivot and start making stuff for the war effort, but we didn't have the money. We didn't have the equipment and we didn't have the technological know to do it.

Your company came in, helped us get the equipment, financed the equipment, and they brought in the technical resources to teach us how to pivot and make it. And on my father's death bed, he said, never leave this company. They brought us to the dance and we never will leave you.” And that's an opportunity, that's an idea that he chose, in this terrible, terrible crisis that we're in, we do have an opportunity to do something if not extraordinary, that will create loyalty forever. On the other side of this. And it doesn't have to be financing something. It doesn't have to be buying equipment, it can just be something like turning on a video camera like Joe Wicks. And realising this is how I am relevant in this moment. This is how I can help in this moment. And that's how you become a legend.

Honestly, that story just gave me goosebumps because it's just, like you said, they're never going to leave you. The company saw an opportunity to help, not necessarily thinking about their bottom line, not in thinking about how many am I going to sell, not thinking about how many more followers on Twitter am I going to get by doing this. By genuinely going out and doing something that could support them and that was it then, that loyalty and I think more in this world than ever, it's so important and yet people think that they can do the fly by, throw a lot of Facebook ads, get some money in, move on to the next lot and it's like no, it doesn't stand. It might stand for like five minutes, but to get loyalty like that, you're never going to get that off of Facebook kind of like you, that is just a phenomenal story.

Mark, thank you so much. I am so grateful for your time and so grateful that you continue to have this interview with me today even though you're still recovering. And I really, really appreciate it and I really look forward to the day when we are back released into the world, like new fresh animals and I get to see you speak again in person. I can't wait for that and thank you so much for being on.

Thanks for having me.

That was the amazing Mark Schaefer. Like I said, I was very honoured that he gave me his time, especially after being unwell. And I thought what he had to say in his take on things was really, really interesting in terms of how we can show up today and how we can show up for our customers and our audience. And I loved some of the case studies. I loved hearing what he had to say. And honestly for me it's the way it is. It's the way it should be and it's the way I am. It's about being authentic, it's about showing up, it's about serving before selling.

And I watch lots of sales tactics out there and I watch lots of people fly to fame and it's not necessarily real or as authentic as I'd like and I know that although it might take longer, it's definitely the way to go. So I hope you enjoyed it. Please do let us know and I'll see you next week. I was going to say for a solo, for an interview, I have no idea right at this moment, so let's just see what happens. Please have a wonderful week. Keep safe and well, and I will see you then.