My podcast guest Phil Gerbyshak is the walking, talking definition of a social connection. Phil takes great delight and is a master at using all things social to help businesses gain that next great client by making authentic connections.
For Phil, it’s not that Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn are the end all and be all of social tools but instead Phil’s focus is on using the social tool of your choice to get to know and connect with your peers, clients and the world around you. By being valuable and by sharing what you know, you open up the door for opportunity.
We had a great conversation about social selling and what that can mean for agencies today:
- Social selling: getting people to convert for you
- Making a connection with someone online (this isn’t a follow or a like)
- Why keyword targeting isn’t necessarily the best path to success
- Why Phil actively connects people he thinks should know about each other
- How Phil uses LinkedIn as a powerful sales and research tool
- Why you have to share content that isn’t your own
- Why you should congratulate your competition — and why you need to be genuine about it
- Phil’s strategy for creating content people need and starting conversations
- Cultivating and leveraging testimonials
- How to use your pinned post wisely
- Things you can do right now to start putting into practice the ideas from this episode
- Phil’s podcast “Conversations with Phil”
Phil Gerbyshak is a speaker and a trainer, who delivers programs on the power of technology, social selling and connection. With a unique speaking style—part technology and sales expert, part entertainer—Phil keeps his audiences awake and engaged while providing micro-tactics to help you get more leads, earn referrals, and improve your business. When he’s not traveling, speaking, or making new connections, Phil writes. He’s published 5 books, including “10 Ways to Make It Great” and “#TwitterWorks,” more than 2,500 articles, and has been interviewed by the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Financial Times, and more.
To listen – you can visit the Build A Better Agency site (https://www.agencymanagementinstitute.com/phil-gerbyshak/) and grab either the iTunes or Stitcher files or just listen to it from the web.
If you’d rather just read the conversation, the transcript is below:
Table of Contents (Jump Straight to It!)
- Defining Social Selling and Connection
- LinkedIn and Other Social Selling Tools
- What an Engaging Content Strategy Looks Like
- How to Leverage Your Social Profile to Get Speaking Engagements
- How to Start Social Selling (Action Steps)
If you’re going to take the risk of running an agency, shouldn’t you get the benefits too? Welcome to Build a Better Agency, where we show you how to build an agency that can scale and grow with better clients, invested employees, and best of all, more money to the bottom line. Bringing his 25 plus years of expertise as both an agency owner and agency consultant to you, please welcome your host, Drew McLellan.
Drew: Hey there, everybody. Drew McLellan here with another episode of Build a Better Agency. So glad that you are with us today. If this is your first podcast, welcome. If you’ve been around for awhile, you’re gonna love this episode, hopefully as much as you have loved all the others. My guest today is a dear friend and someone I have known for, gosh, over a decade for sure. I met him back when blogging was very uncommon. Marketing and sales people, all those kinda people weren’t really blogging back in ’06,’07. And Phil’s one of the very first people that I met sort of in that genre, and I will tell you that his topic is one that I think is super important for agency owners and agency staff to understand. And he lives it and he breathes it, and that’ll come through, I think, throughout our conversation.
So let me tell you a little about him. Phil Gerbyshak believes in the power of social selling and connection with a unique speaking style, which I have enjoyed many times, part sales expert, part entertainer, Phil keeps his audiences awake and engaged while providing actionable steps to bring in more leads, more referrals, and more business. When he’s not traveling, speaking, or making a new connection, he writes. He’s published 5 books, including “10 Ways to Make It Great!”, “#TwitterWorks”, and more than 200…sorry, 2,500 articles, and has been interviewed by everybody: “Wall Street Journal”, “USA Today”, “Financial Times”, and more. So Phil, welcome to the podcast.
Phil: Hey, thanks, Drew. It’s great to be here, man. I can’t believe that it’s been over 10 years. Holy cow.
Drew: I know.
Phil: Seems like yesterday.
Drew: It does, doesn’t it? Well, I’ve always said that blogging years are sort of like dog years.
Phil: Absolutely. Well, they’re long and sometimes they’re lonely, but I can tell you that I’ve made some of the best friends in the world because of my blog. So I’m so grateful for it.
Defining Social Selling and Connection
Drew: Yeah, me too. So, let’s talk a little…let’s define first this idea of social selling and connection. You know, a lot of agencies sell social and a lot of agencies do social, but in many agencies it’s sort of relegated to an intern’s job or something like that. And they’re just sorta cranking out, you know, articles or things like that, but they’re not really engaging in the way that, I think, you talk about. So, let’s define first social selling and then we’ll talk about connection. Because in my mind, although they’re linked, they’re obviously pretty different.
Phil: Yeah, they’re definitely different, so that’s good. Yeah, let’s talk about social selling. So social selling really is about getting people to convert for you. So that could mean getting them on your newsletter list, that could mean scheduling a face-to-face phone call, that could mean actually responding to your email, that could be being okay with maybe going in with some sort of a demonstration of your work, could even be as simple as agreeing to have a cup of virtual coffee with you over Skype, or Zoom, or some other session.
But it’s about going beyond the typical, “Hey, look at me. Be aware of me, I’m really good.” And really gets to the point where you’re actually converting them and have an opportunity earn their business. Seldom does the actual conversion, the transaction of money, take place online. But often once they’ve seen enough of your information and touched you enough times, just like any other sales tool, social selling now offers the ability to really go deep, and to really make a difference, and to really convert people so they can make an informed decision about yes or no, are you the person that I want to do business with? Are you the agency that is going to do business with me?
So all of the social selling type stuff really penetrates to the heart of where the sale happens, and I think a lotta agencies end up signing clients by luck more than they do through any sorta process or any sort of deliberate social means online, right? Offline they have some great programs, they have some great tools. I bet they probably have amazing pitch decks, but they don’t really have that same philosophy when it comes to online tools and doing that social sale.
Drew: Okay, so let’s define connection and then we’ll go back and dig into social selling first.
Phil: Sure. So connection, really, that’s kind of the first step, and connection is more than just, you know, someone liked your fan page or someone is following you on Twitter. Connection is where they actually give you that first glimmer of starting that persona of a real email address and answer some real questions, and often the connection piece is where you now finally become a LinkedIn connection and now we have some more richness of information. And that connection will take place because there’s something in common. And when we think about a connection, if it’s you and I, Drew, we have some third thing that we’re both interested in either because we love it, or because we need it for our business, or because it is of interest to us in our world.
But there’s something else that connects us together typically. It’s not just you and me, it’s something else. And so that’s where a lot of the social tools make that very easy to make a connection because people don’t just share business stuff unless they’re really boring and put people to sleep. They’d share their passions, and that’s easier to connect with. Or they share their interests. Maybe they are interested in food, or beverage, or wine, or beer, or whatever it is that they’re interested in. And that then is the basis for which a connection is formed. It’s that third thing that’s out there between a relationship, between you and I, that starts because of something that we can connect to.
And in our case, many years ago, it was the blog. And as you become more and more connected to someone, you find that there’s more and more things that you have in common and small talk becomes more meaningful because we can get beyond the superficial, “Here’s one thing in common,” and we can find out what’s really important that’s in common and how that aligns with our values and our message.
Drew: So, I’m guessing that for some of our listeners, they’re hearing all of that and they’re going, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, but oh my god, that sounds like it takes forever. And I want to sell somebody something today.” So talk about the speed at which all of that can and does happen.
Phil: Sure. So it can be fairly rapid. It doesn’t happen in a day unless there is…unless you really do some digging and really find a need. Seldom do people directly say, “Hey, I really want an agency to do my work.” It’s not typically how it works, okay? Now if it…
Drew: Be awesome if they did.
Phil: Yeah, wouldn’t it?
Drew: Just a sign on their forehead.
Phil: Yeah, you know, if they put a help wanted sign on…
Drew: It could be like Pokémon Go where you just walked around looking for them and then you just, you know, threw something at ’em.
Phil: You know, yeah and that’s what people do though with social, Drew. It’s funny you say that because that’s often what we do, right? We key in on those keywords, that automation. I can tell you that I get automation targeted all the time on Twitter and it drives me nuts, you know? I gotta…I mention something about, “I hope that works out,” and I think I said “workout” instead of “works out”, so of course 12 gyms followed me and sent me messages that I should really check out their fitness gym because it’s clear that I’m passionate about fitness.
Drew: Ha, okay.
Phil: Hm, no, not so much, right? I hope that works out? Hm, no. So if a human being had read that, they would see that I was not talking about working out, but rather work out, right, works out, hope something gets better or has a positive outcome. And that seems obvious when I point that out, but so many times we keyword target and we think that’s the fastest path to success. We use some… There are tons of tools out there that help us better target our people and we create these great personas for our agencies of, “These are the things, and if people say these words, oh my gosh, let’s jump on ’em.” And we hope that’s going to convert to an immediate sale. And that’s really, that’s what people hope, but I can tell you it is seldom that somebody is that obvious about what they need.
So it does take a little more time, but it takes a lot less time than you think. I mean, it’s not a…you know, it doesn’t draw the sales cycle out to be a year or 10 years or anything like that, but it does require more attention to the right things, to actually what people are posting. What is the intention of their tweets, of their LinkedIn posts, of their information is. And paying attention, I mean, we do see clues that can lead to faster change. So if we’re watching the news stream of some of these companies, on LinkedIn let’s say, and we notice that they suddenly hired, you know, 20 or 50 people, or even 5 people in a small company, now might be an opportunity where they might need some help. So if we’re paying attention to that, and we’re connected to them, and we’re excited about their news, and we have some listening tools set it up, it does actually speed it up. This does not slow down the sales cycle at all. It makes it more meaningful and gets you to the point where people can say yes or no much faster than before.
Drew: You know, when I hear the word “connection”, especially when I hear it in relation to you, for me connection is about making connections. And I think one of the ways you’ve built your business is by being, as Disney calls it, aggressively friendly. You have gone out of your way many, many times to make connections between people, saying, “Hey Drew, I think you would love getting to know Babette,” and then making that connection, and then stepping out of it. So it’s not really about you but it’s about finding like-minded people and bringing them together. But I also have to think that being the connector, A, positions you in the marketplace, but B, creates opportunity for you because they’re, I’m guessing, that in the universe out there, when you connect me with someone else, I…and that’s a valuable connection for me, I sort of consciously or unconsciously sort of keep tally in my head that I sorta owe you, right, and that I want to return the favor someday. So again, it’s probably I’m not thinking about it every night before I go to sleep, but I am looking for and recognize pretty quickly the opportunity to introduce you to someone that I think would helpful to your business. Don’t you think?
Phil: I do think so. I think that does help. I think at first that was very unintentional. I really do…I light up watching people that I care about connect. It’s really amazing, whether I care about them personally or professionally, watching that connection get made is so much fun. I get a lot more joy from that then I get from a referral fee, you know? And some might say, “Well, dude, you don’t pay your mortgage with good will, but…”
Drew: With joy.
Phil: Right. But you do though. And I say that because here’s the thing, there are a lotta people that I can connect that even if I wanted them to do business with me, they likely wouldn’t, not because they don’t want to either, but because right now there might not be a fit. And so instead I go out of my way, as you said, to be aggressively friendly, aggressively connecting people. And absolutely that pays back because what happens is then when there is a need, people think about that. The other thing that happens is when the first thing that those people talk about is me when I make that connection, “So how do you know Phil?” “Well, I know Phil because of this.” “Well how do you know Phil?” “Well I know Phil about this.” And then, you know, often sparks a totally different conversation because they never…they know that I would not refer them business if it was something that I did, but now, as you said, you think, “Well, he referred that business away,” or “he connected that nice person to me. Boy, I wonder what Phil needs?”
And I can tell you I have an amazing network with you, of course, Drew, and very near the center my friend, and who are always helping me and always willing to make a connection for me. So seldom do I have to ask, and if I do ask, here’s the other thing. By making valuable connections, even when sometimes they go awry, and I’ve had a couple times where people that I had mad respect for have forgotten the social part of sales and gone right for the, “Hey, you look like my perfect target, will you promote my blah-blah-blah?” And they copy me in and I’m like, “Oh my gosh, really, dude? Did you really do that to that person that I’m connecting you with?” And I don’t say that, but then I get the nice private message back from the person that just got yakked on that says, “Hey…”
Drew: “What the heck?” Right?
Phil: “…what happened here?” But they give me a little more grace than they would if this were the only connection or if every time I made a connection I thought it was because they could do business together. Sometimes I make that connection just because I think they’re great people or you have something in common, again, that third piece. Yes, on one side it’s me, but on the other side, once you get past that, I mean, I’m not, you know, I’m not an egotistical person. don’t expect that somebody’s gonna spend an hour talking about me, I expect there’s gonna be some value.
Drew: There could be some awkward stories if they’re talking about you for that long.
Phil: Yeah, well that was even with my mom. So if you’re connected to her on Facebook… No, I’m just kidding, Mom doesn’t post that embarrassing stuff. But yeah, I expect that there’s gonna be a third reason. You know, there could be a need that I saw because I do pay attention even if it’s not me. If I see someone, you know, needs PR help, or agency help, or design help, or whatever, I am not shy about making that recommendation if someone, I think, can best serve, and I think, absolutely, Drew, that definitely serves me well.
Drew: Well and you know what, in my opinion it works as well offline as online. One of the things I always recommend to agency owners is that they create some sort of an event where they…it’s sort of a private event where they have all of their clients come and are invited, and they also invite some of their best prospects. Because as you say, the one…the very first thing that they’re gonna say is, “Well, how is it that you’re here?” “Well, Agency ABC has been my agency for years and they do this.” “Oh, really, tell me more about that.” So it’s a great way to have other people sell for you without asking them to or without it being manipulative or feel yucky, you know? So when you’re making connections for other people, a lotta times when they’re saying, “Hey, how do you know Phil,” I suspect sometimes when the person says, “Oh, well he does XYZ for me,” the person goes, “Oh, I didn’t know he does XYZ,” right?
Phil: I was just gonna say. Yeah, absolutely, that’s often kinda the collateral benefit, is people don’t realize all the services that anyone provides. It’s really…it’s impossible that anyone does, and if nothing else, it serves as that proof of, “Oh yeah, Phil does do that. Oh yeah, that is a value,” and absolutely that collateral proof without asking for it. If I just said, “Hey Drew, will you go say three nice things to this person for me? Well, maybe two, but…not sure about three,” as opposed to, “Oh yeah, and Phil does this and that and this, and here is some of the results he got for me. What’s he doing for you?” And then somebody’s like, “Oh, well I’m thinking about…” “Well you should definitely use Phil because he’s a great pick for that.” Yeah, absolutely. Great collateral benefit for sure.
Drew: And it’s… You use the word “collateral benefit”, and I think that’s one of the keys to creating, being a connector is if you’re connecting simply to make a sale or to have people talk about you in their mutual introductions, that doesn’t work. You have to be connecting them because you genuinely want to help both of them and you think that there’s value for each of them in the connection, right?
Phil: Absolutely, absolutely. Even if they… I mean, really, I don’t know what their conversation is. I don’t care. I don’t monitor that. I do my best to remind people that once I make that connection, “I’m out unless you need me.” Absolutely, that’s never my goal, I would… That’s manipulative. That is shady, and frankly, if that was my intention, it would be a lot more forced and a lot less genuine. And then, frankly, it wouldn’t work.
Drew: And honestly, it wouldn’t be fun. I know you and I both love connecting people. And for me it’s fun to watch those connections sort of bloom and people to create new relationships. I like that, and typically I’m connecting people that I like and respect. So why wouldn’t I want two people that I like and respect to like and respect each other?
Phil: Absolutely, absolutely, that’s the key. That… When you think about connection, again, that’s that…the joy that I get from the connection, and I know that the joy you get as well, Drew, that’s so important because the last thing I want is more work that doesn’t pay, right? I don’t need more work that doesn’t pay, I have enough, thank you. So when I can get some joy instead and make a genuine, authentic, fun connection between people that I know will hit it off, man, there’s nothing better.
LinkedIn and Other Social Selling Tools
Drew: So I think in today’s world when people hear “connection”, they immediately…their brain flips over to LinkedIn. Is that a tool that you use a lot, and if so, how do you use it to serve your connections there and your business?
Phil: Yeah. So, absolutely. LinkedIn is one of the most powerful tools in my tool belt for sales. I am out there just about every day. I’m looking for things to comment on where I can add value to the conversation. A lotta times I get the best insights into things to write for a blog post because of things that I see on LinkedIn in the stream. I’m able to fill my social channels up with other people who have similar thoughts to what I do that either validate or maybe that challenge my way of thinking. And those are all great ways and those are sometimes a little bit passive ways to do it. And by passive, I don’t mean that they don’t require work. I mean, people have to be finding me to do that.
But then the other way is I’m intentional about those connections. So, if I see something that is valuable, or something that I can add great value to, if they are looking for something, if I do get that random, “Hey, what the heck? I need this,” or “I noticed this,” then absolutely I’ll send ’em a message. But often LinkedIn gives me the ability to research a company or an organization that I wanna work with so much more rich than anything else because I can get the whole organization view really quickly. I can tell you that in a sales organization, if the top dog in the sales organization is someone who is not very active on social, chances are the opportunity for me to go in and train them is nearly zero. So, that doesn’t work, it’s not worth my time. Doesn’t mean that I might not pay attention to that company if they’re in my target range, but it does mean that I’m not going to invest a lotta time now. But what I’ll do instead is I’ll use LinkedIn to make connections with others in the organization that I know could be my advocates and try to share articles with them.
I’ve got a financial adviser that I’ve worked with. I know that their office is not very social at all. The head of the office has been a financial adviser for 35 or 40 years, could give a crap about LinkedIn. But I’m connected to the junior partner in the group because eventually that junior partner is either gonna grow up and become a senior partner, or that junior partner’s gonna go somewhere else where I’m gonna be able to help them in another way. So actively cultivating that network, actively sharing my content on LinkedIn and actively being part of conversations is really important and really one of the biggest tools that I have in my tool belt that grows my business each and every day.
Drew: So as you’re saying that, agency owners across the land are going, “Crap, one more thing to do, and I don’t have time, bladda-bladda-blah.” Are there some… Can you give us A, a sense of how much time that takes you, and B, are there tools that you use to make that more efficient or effective?
Phil: So, you can add as much time to it as you have or you can just take 20 or 30 minutes a day. And that’s really what I do in a couple different chunks. I’ll typically take 5 minutes here, and 10 minutes there, and 15 minutes there and make it happen. And if you distribute that amongst your agency, you have a lot better chance of being successful. Because if every message comes from the president of the agency, you’re really missing out on a lot. So instead, distribute that to your team. Get others involved. Use some employee advocacy to share the message. And then from there it’s really important that you’re consistent more than that you do a lotta time. So what I mean by that is show up every day. Show up a little bit every day. Even if you have five minutes, pull out your phone, spend five minutes each and every day on it.
And as far as tools that work, frankly the LinkedIn mobile app and then the LinkedIn, you know, desktop app are the two you need. The mobile app does a great job of surfacing the popular things that show up in your network, and a lotta times I’m gonna see that. I’m gonna pay attention to that. It’s gonna show me that somebody just celebrated an anniversary, somebody just changed jobs, somebody just did something to their profile, somebody did something that pops up in my stream as the first thing, and I see all the people that I might wanna connect with. So on the front end, as you take some time, connecting your mobile app first to your calendar, really important because if I just had a meeting with Drew, I want then after the meeting, hopefully it was successful, to then connect on LinkedIn. So we can, you know, deepen that relationship and make a real connection on that. I typically do not do that before a meeting, not because people don’t accept those connections, seldom do people mark them as spam because I personalize them, but I do it after the meeting as a follow-up of a, “Hey Drew, I really had a great meeting. I thought we discussed some important topics and I’d love to connect with you on LinkedIn and see how we can help each other.” And now, by personalizing that, then that shows up, once you accept that, it shows up in my inbox.
So now on LinkedIn, now I might not talk to you for a week or a couple of weeks via LinkedIn, but I go back and I’m like, “Oh yeah, that’s when we had that meeting.” And because I connected LinkedIn to my calendar, LinkedIn mobile will prompt me. It says, the day before the meeting, if that…if you have that person in your meeting request, so use your email in the good way, actually invite people to meetings, it will come up and say “View Profile”, or if you’re not connected, it’ll say “Connect To Them”. And that is so valuable because now I can do that extra minute or two of research before the meeting that shows, “Oh yeah, maybe they did post something this morning that’s gonna give me something to talk about.” And I could say, “Hey Drew, I see you just posted a blog post about, you know, your travel woes. Man, I have some travel woes, too.” And now we start out on a common foot instead of starting out as strangers.
Drew: Right. And as you know, common woes is one of my favorite posts, so. And now I wanna shift it to social selling. So, Phil, I will tell you, and if you’ve watched most agencies, the way they use social is they use it as a broadcast medium. So they are, A, pumping out too much information about themselves: awards and stuff like that, but B, if they’re not talking about themselves they are pushing out third party content or potentially content they’ve created themselves. Is that good? Is that bad? How should they be using social if they actually wanna use social to sell?
Phil: Sure. So, first, you have to share content. I mean, absolutely that’s important. You wanna show up as a person of value. If you just go in and spearfish and try to sell, sell, sell, that’s not going to work. So content does matter. People do look for people that are of value. People do look at your profile to make sure that it’s up to date, to make sure that the picture of you, you know, matches who you are in person if they’ve met you, or…
Drew: Is not your high school photo.
Phil: Right, right. Yeah, quick sidebar here. I had someone who wanted to be my client really bad and we got together. We had the first meeting and, like I said, I don’t connect to people before we meet. So after we meet I sent a LinkedIn request, and right after I sent it I see, “Wow, this picture’s kinda old.” So our next meeting I said, “Hey, so when is that…” Meeting. “When’s that picture from?” And he says, very proudly, “Well Phil, that’s when I first became an insurance agent in 1973.” And I said, “You know, that’s the year I was born and I can tell you, you know, that doesn’t look anything like you.” He said, “Well I just…I never invested the money to ever get another picture taken.” And I can tell you he’s not my client for that very reason, because he refuses to change. He does not wanna invest the time or the money in order to do that, and that is ineffective social selling. So that’s something you also need to think about is, you know, how does your team look as an agency? Do you look similar? And by that I don’t mean are you all whitebread people from the Midwest, I mean do your pictures have the same energy? Do they have… Is everybody smiling?
So those are things that kinda…that precede the sharing of any content. So I would say people don’t pay you to get dressed in the morning, but I can tell you that if you showed up to a meeting naked, they would be like, “Dude, really? Put some clothes on. Like, get dressed. Be appropriate.” So it’s the same way on social. So those are kinda the first things. So you get dressed, then you share some content, and then when we think about, you know, what that’s better to do or what we can do that is more effective? It’s about making those connections and finding that to happen. So take the content that you have, look for a group that that might be valuable in, and try to start a conversation. Don’t be a link and leave person, right? Liz Strauss, a long time ago, said, “Don’t be a one link stand.” Don’t just post a link and run away from it. Instead, really genuinely try to start a conversation.
So what’s controversial about that great content that you just produced? If it’s only informative, that’s great and people might find that and that might be incredibly useful for clients or prospects interested in looking to make a decision. But remember, less than 3% to 7% of people are in a buying mood at any one time. So if there’s 100 people in a LinkedIn group, you realize that there’s less than 10 people that are gonna buy anything at this present time, right when you post that. And of those 10 people, probably only 2 of them are actually logged into LinkedIn to see what the heck you posted. So instead, you have to be a little bit more edgy, a little more controversial if when you’re posting content.
You have to think about, you know, how does this tug on an emotion? Maybe it makes people mad, or it makes them happy, or it makes ’em sad, or it makes ’em, you know, really feel something. And by controversial, I’m not insisting that you post anything about race, or sex, or politics, or anything like that, but I do mean take a controversial stand on something and have an opinion. Because there’s enough crappy content out there that, you know, if you’re not taking a stand, you know, you’re just informing people and that’s okay. I mean, my posts are not always controversial, but sometimes they are and I can tell you the ones that are get a lot more play than the ones that don’t. I just wrote an article about, you know, you can do better than, “Congrats on the new job, hope all is well,” because I got…when I put my podcast on my LinkedIn profile, I got 300 people that mobbed me with a generic default LinkedIn message.
Drew: Yeah, it takes three extra seconds to type out…type a personal message.
Phil: Yeah, yeah, if that.
Drew: Well and I think from an agency’s perspective it doesn’t necessarily have to be controversial in a social way, but it’s a take a stand on a marketing practice or a tool, or, you know, whatever it may be, but have a strong opinion. Because again, hopefully what you’re doing in social is you’re modeling how you would behave in a business relationship. And what clients want from agencies is they want somebody who has expertise and isn’t afraid to speak out and provide direction and counsel. So why wouldn’t you do that in a social setting as well?
Phil: Exactly. Yeah, that’s exactly right, Drew. And that’s where, you know, let your voice shine through. Have that opinion. To your point, it is not controversial for controversial sake, but do take that on. My friend, Stephen Shapiro, wrote a book called “Best Practices Are Stupid”. Well, you read the book and you realize he’s right on the money, but even having a title like that, Best Practices Are Stupid”? Holy cow, that’s controversial and worth talking about just on that. So if there’s something that you have like that, that can be not controversial for controversial sake, again, but controversial because it’s true but it’s just a little different way of looking at the agency…
Drew: Yeah, it’s about taking an edge, right?
Phil: That’s right, yeah. Pick an edge and go after it. Don’t be afraid.
What an Engaging Content Strategy Looks Like
Drew: Yeah. So, okay, so my agency is sharing content and, you know, were… Is it just about pushing out content? Is it also reaching out and engaging with other people’s content? What else does that look like?
Phil: Yeah, great question. So it is not just about pushing content, because if it’s just your stuff, you’re gonna do a lotta navel-gazing. And while you might attract some people to you and you’re being controversial can get you some results, you do need to engage with other people’s information. So if Drew makes a really good post, going out and commenting on that. Because here’s what happens. There are people that are considering Drew’s agency and that are considering my agency, and if I comment on that, they look at that and they say, “Hmm, I agree with Drew,” or “I agree with Phil,” or “You know, I agree with both of them, but I can’t afford Drew,” or “I can’t afford Phil.” Maybe that, you know, a third person comes in and they click around and they look and they’re like, “Oh yeah, you know what? That Phil, he’s all right, I should check him out now more.” So yeah, absolutely.
Engaging with your competition’s posts is a great way, even sharing them and offering them kudos that they did something fantastic. You know, “Congratulations to, you know, to Drew and his company for landing this big client, well done.” Well, really? Somebody’s gonna be excited about that? Well that client is already won. You’re not posting, “Hey Drew, I really hope you get this business for me.” No, no, you already got the business. “Congratulations, dude. I know you worked your butt off on that. Congrats. And, you know, will you share some secrets on what you did and maybe write that as a blog post?” And now, Drew shares “7 Insights Into How to Land the Client of Your Dreams”, and I see, look, there’s one thing there that really resonates with me, one thing I disagree with, and one thing I can add. And I can write a counter blog post and I can say, “You know what? I’m really excited for Drew that his agency won this, but now I’ve got something else.”
So it’s really kind of infusing more than sharing your content and making that, you know, making that shine in such a way that you don’t put other people down. I would never trash a competitor online. So that’s one thing that I would…that I just recommend you never ever ever do. Even if you think they’re being shady, it just makes you look bad to ever trash anybody else. So not just about sharing and creating your own content, you know, remarking on others, sharing other people’s content. You know, believe it or not, most people when you share content, even if they click through and read the article, which most people don’t do, even if they click through and read the article, they think you wrote it. They don’t even realize that anybody else could possibly be the author of that. So it indelves that in their brain that says, “Phil writes great articles,” even if Phil isn’t writing that article. So it is helpful to do. And then, again, go out there and look for people. Let’s not forget about the social piece of social media. Who are you trying to connect to? Which companies have employees that are using social? Connect to them, look at them, congratulate them, be part of their success. I can tell you some of the best results I get, some of the best clients I get, is as a result of genuinely, and this is important, be genuine in my congratulations of them. I am very excited for them. One of the first things I do every day is I wish people a happy birthday on social, or I pick up a phone and I call them because nobody calls anymore. Everybody is so, oh, they write “HBD” on somebody’s Facebook wall. Well “HBD” is no BFD, right? Who cares? So pick up the phone, call somebody. You know, or better yet…
Drew: I had to think for a minute to figure out what that… I’m embarrassed to admit, to go, “What the… Oh, I get it, happy birthday,” okay.
Phil: Right? And some people think that’s enough, Drew. I’ve seen that. In fact, some people are so lazy, they just put “HB”. Like, seriously? Why are you even doing that? Does anybody look at that and say, “Wow, man, you really impressed me with your use of two letters instead of taking the time to genuinely wish me happy birthday. That is killer.”
Drew: Right, right. Well I know you call people because we have a lotta people in common. And every once in awhile I’ll see on Facebook or somewhere, you know, on somebody’s birthday they’ll say, “Oh, my birthday started out great. Phil called me,” and bladda-bladda-blah. So I have observed the impact that that has. Obviously those are people you have a more personal connections with because you have their cell phone number, but still it’s a….your point is well taken. That if you’re gonna make the effort, go the extra half step and make it authentic, and genuine, and feel real as opposed to automated or without thought.
Phil: Yeah, absolutely. And Drew, they don’t have to be people that I know exceptionally well. I do pick up the phone and call business people as well. And I make it really short and sweet. “Hey Drew, it’s Phil. I know you’re really busy, but I recognize that today’s your birthday, buddy. I just wanna wish you a super happy day.” Now a lotta times I leave a voicemail on that, and still though that’s fine. Of course, the ones you see are mutual friends, but I can tell you I get business outta that, folks, because people, if they remark that I’m thoughtful enough to call them on their birthday, they know that I’m gonna be thoughtful enough to care and feed their business just like it were my own.
Drew: You know, I’m sure agency owners are listening and thinking, “This sounds like a lotta time.” How do you… Are there tools that you use or… So for example, let’s say there’s an agency out there and they specialize in Ag equipment: tractors and stuff like that. How would you recommend to them that they identify who they should be connected with in social? And are you talking about Facebook, are you talking about Twitter, are you talking about LinkedIn, are you talking about Instagram?
What tools are you suggesting that they use and how would you go about coaching them to find… Because it’s not about quantity right? It’s not about having eight bazillion people connected to you on LinkedIn or Twitter, it’s about the right people. So if I’m an agency that specializes in big equipment for Ag, what would you tell me to do to use my time most effectively in terms of connecting with people, finding and connecting with people?
Phil: So, first, really draw that out. So what…where do they work? Think of some companies. Come up with a list of 50, 100, you know, companies that they work at, even 5, doesn’t matter. Come up with a list. Then go out to each network and do some searching. Look for them. Be really slow and methodical in this though. So here’s why. Go to Twitter, you find someone. Twitter then says, “Well, you’re now following Drew McLellan. Here are six other people you might wanna follow.” Of them, three or four are people at that company. Often, one of them is the social media manager at that company. So