Helping customers, standing out, being human and telling stories through blogging – Interview with Mark Schaefer

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Today’s interview is with Mark Schaefer, one of the most acclaimed and accomplished marketing consultants in America as well as being a best selling author. He agreed to talk to me about his new book that he co-authored with Stanford A. Smith (@pushingsocial): Born to Blog: Building Your Blog for Personal and Business Success One Post at a Time.

Born To BlogYou might recognise Mark’s name from the blog as I interviewed him last year about his last book: Return On Influence in Influence marketing, Klout, social scoring and why they are important. However, this time around we were able to organise a podcast interview :)

This interview follows on from my recent interview: Outstanding brands become part of their customers story – Interview with Bernadette Jiwa – and is number sixty-eight in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things and helping businesses innovate, become more social and deliver better service.

Here’s the highlights from the interview I did with Mark:

  • Mark thinks his co-author, Stanford A. Smith, is one of the most gifted writers and thinkers on the web.
  • They wanted to write a human-oriented book rather than a technology-oriented about blogging.
  • The book aims to reframe the idea about blogging and starts with different characteristics of bloggers and what sort of blogger you would like to be.
  • Can you answer questions?
  • Do you daydream about the future and how things will be?
  • They encourage people to tap into their innate ability to create content because that’s what they are doing in their minds every day.
  • Do what you already do naturally but put it on your blog.
  • So, if you are good at helping people or if you are good at answering questions etc then those are all good skills that are transferable to blogging.
  • Different types of bloggers include those that are storytellers, persuaders, dreamers, teachers, curators etc
  • Your characteristic and style may change over time as it has done with Mark as he has become more confident.
  • Mark started out as a ‘persuader’ but changed when he had an “Aha!” moment. That was when he brought his own personality and experience to the blog.
  • Mark figured that, on his blog, people didn’t want to hear a lesson but they did want to hear a story and he could teach a lesson through telling a story.
  • Blogging success and ‘finding your voice’ does not happen overnight. It may take months even years.
  • He tells a story about a doctor in London who ran out of steam with his own blogging efforts but when he switched topics, into medical technology, he found his passion.
  • If you have the courage, to bring more of yourself to your blogging and focus on that rather than your target audience then, in actual fact, your real target audience will find you.
  • You then attract your audience through your personality and your stories.
  • My (Adrian’s) blog is his public, digital, thinking notepad.
  • Mark blogs now for joy, particularly the joy he gets when he writes something that helps someone.
  • He hasn’t tried to monetize his blog with advertising or sponsored content and doesn’t think he ever will but it has opened up lots of other doors and opportunities.
  • Behind every social media success story you will find these three things: 1. Meaningful content; 2. A relevant audience; and 3. Authentic helpfulness.
  • Interestingly, nowhere in the three things does Mark mention Search Engine Optimisation. He believes that if you get the three things right then optimisation will come.
  • Over time quality will win out.
  • Recent changes by Google is backing this up.
  • Businesses before they get started should be asking themselves this question: What is your source of rich content.
  • Mark says that falls into three ‘big’ categories: 1. a blog; 2. a podcast; or 3. a video series.
  • To create a voice of authority that establishes business benefits in the long term you need to have a blog, a podcast or a video series.
  • Mark sees the most common barriers to getting started as time, sources of content and, then perhaps the biggest barrier of all, courage.
  • In terms of time, Mark advocates surveying what you currently do and taking time and resources away from things that are not working (or where people are in declining numbers, newspapers, say) and reallocating those to where they are ie. the social web.
  • In terms of content, the book covers all sorts of sources of content but many companies are already producing content when they answer customer questions, when they create videos, slide presentations, speeches or, even, financial presentations.
  • All of these are sources of content that can be reframed so that the story can be told in a different way.
  • It takes courage to put yourself out there and bring your personality to your business.
  • However, to stand out in the social web people don’t want logos or slogans they want businesses that are willing to be human, tell stories and be helpful.
  • It may be difficult to get started but you can only get better at it if you persist.
  • Write about your observations, your questions, what you are learning.
  • Just try it.

About Mark (taken from his blog)

Mark-SchaeferMark Schaefer is among the most acclaimed and accomplished marketing consultants in America, with a special emphasis in social media marketing. A few of his recent accomplishments include:

  • Forbes magazine “Power 50″ social media influencers of the world
  • AdAge magazine “Power 150″ marketing blogger
  • TweetSmarter 2011 Twitter User of the year
  • Peer-elected 2011 B2B Twitter User of the Year
  • B2B Magazine (UK) social media book of the year: Tao of Twitter
  • Author of two best-selling marketing books
  • Seven patents

Mark Schaefer has 30 years of global sales and marketing experience and two advanced degrees, in business and applied behavioral sciences. A career highlight was studying under Peter Drucker at Claremont Graduate University.

Mark is a globally-recognized business writer, university lecturer, and innovator, receiving seven international patents for new product ideas with Fortune 100 companies. He is a marketing faculty member at Rutgers University and has been a keynote speaker at major conferences around the nation. Mark is the author of the best-selling books The Tao of Twitter and Return on Influence and has appeared in the New York Times, CBS This Morning, Fox News, INC Magazine, MSNBC, Business Week, Entrepreneur magazine, and many other publications.

You should check out Mark’s blog at www.businessesGROW.com, connect with him on Twitter @markwschaefer and grab copies of his books:

Photo Credit: andyket via Compfight cc

Comments

  1. Love it. Great interview… thanks for sharing that!

    Annette :-)

  2. Interesting interview, made me wonder why I blog and what I hope to get out of it.

    For me it started as a marketing exercise (self employed consultant at the time) but now it is much more about being able to crystallise a single idea and put it out there to see what happens.

    A little like putting a message in a bottle.

    James

    • Hi James,
      Glad you liked it and it made you think :)

      I really like your approach of ‘putting a message in a bottle’.

      Personally, blogging helps me articulate my thoughts….think out loud, if you like. It’s a huge honour and bonus that some of my musings have proved to be useful and somewhat popular.

      Adrian

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