Copyblogger Content marketing tools and training. Thu, 26 Feb 2015 15:43:37 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Three Misconceptions About Modern SEO That Confuse Content Marketers Thu, 26 Feb 2015 14:00:00 +0000 What’s the reality of search engine optimization after the Google Hummingbird update? Can someone destroy your business with negative SEO? Did Google kill the concept of AuthorRank when it eliminated the Authorship initiative? For these types of questions, there’s no better person to ask than Danny Sullivan, founder of Search Engine Land and Marketing Land,


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Image of the Rainmaker.FM Logo

What’s the reality of search engine optimization after the Google Hummingbird update? Can someone destroy your business with negative SEO? Did Google kill the concept of AuthorRank when it eliminated the Authorship initiative?

For these types of questions, there’s no better person to ask than Danny Sullivan, founder of Search Engine Land and Marketing Land, CMO of Third Door Media (producers of the popular SMX conferences), and a veteran search engine expert of 20 years. Today’s show is just a warmup to Danny’s presentation at Authority Rainmaker 2015, May 13-15 in Denver, Colorado.

In this 32-minute episode Danny and I discuss:

  • His search expertise expertise dating back to 1995
  • What the next generation CMO will focus on
  • The biggest misconception about Google and SEO
  • What’s (really) working with SEO right now
  • The ongoing power of the humble hyperlink
  • The true nature of good SEO practices
  • Is Google “AuthorRank” really dead?

Click Here to Get Rainmaker.FM
Episode No. 30 on iTunes

About the author

Brian Clark

Brian Clark is founder and CEO of Copyblogger, host of Rainmaker.FM, and evangelist for the Rainmaker Platform. Get more from Brian on Twitter.

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A Brief Guide to Fixing Your Old, Neglected, and Broken Content Wed, 25 Feb 2015 14:00:00 +0000 One of the first steps to creating adaptive content is becoming aware of the content you already have. This is why we encourage you to audit your site. But before you dive into a full-blown comprehensive content audit, it might be possible to make your job a little easier by first dealing with all of


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10 pieces of content you need to improve, remove, or redirect

One of the first steps to creating adaptive content is becoming aware of the content you already have. This is why we encourage you to audit your site.

But before you dive into a full-blown comprehensive content audit, it might be possible to make your job a little easier by first dealing with all of the expired content.

What exactly is expired content?

It’s those old sales pages, obsolete product pages, and other outdated content. The pages you’ve forgotten about in your archives that desperately need some attention.

You’ll know where some of this content is off the top of your head. To properly attend to other pages, you may just have to walk through your archives.

Now, this might take an afternoon or longer, but as Sonia said in her article on content audits, there are a number of benefits to knowing what’s in your archives.

Why should you fix old, broken content?

There are a number of good reasons why you shouldn’t ignore old, broken, and neglected sections of your website.

Here are three benefits of attending to expired content:

  1. Keeps your site light. True, the more pages on your site, the wider your reach in search engine traffic. But search engine bots will also require more bandwidth to crawl your site. As Stephanie Chang writes, “You don’t want to risk wasting your crawl allowance having bots crawl pages that are thin in unique content and value.”
  2. Keeps your site fresh. Expired and old information communicates to search engines (and your audience) that your site is stale.
  3. Enhances the user experience. A well-groomed site enhances a user’s experience because he won’t stumble across inaccurate information or waste time reading two blog posts when one would suffice.

What exactly should you do with this content? You have four options for fixing each piece:

  1. Leave it alone. If it’s still accurate and necessary information, then you might find good reasons to leave it alone. Did it earn a lot of inbound links? Continues to drive traffic? Then it might be worth keeping. However, the big disadvantage with this option is that traffic to stale content often bounces — and bounces hard — which ruins the user experience. I would suggest you leave expired content alone if it can’t be fixed with one of the options below. But more than likely you can find a way to improve it.
  2. Redirect it (301). This is the most sophisticated option, but it has to be done right. Do not redirect to your home page. Google hates it, and it drives visitors nuts. The goal with redirects is to point the expired page to another page that is as close as possible in style, intent, and category. You want to match the original user intent as much as possible with the new page. A redirect preserves any link juice, too. This process, however, can be labor intensive.
  3. Delete it (404). This is the lazy man’s way to deal with expired content — and it’s a horrible idea. It wastes any incoming links, irritates the search engines, and upsets users (even if you do have a hip 404 page). Remember, 404 pages are appropriate for people who mistype a URL. They are not a way to deal with expired content.
  4. Improve it. This is hands down the hardest approach, but also the best. Look at a page and ask yourself, “How can I make this page better?” You might need to update a page if the information on the page is no longer accurate, or consolidate it with another page if you see an overlap in content between two pieces. Perhaps you need to update an outdated event or obsolete product page, instead of deleting them.

Now that we’ve explored why we should fix old, broken, and neglected content, and how to fix it, let’s look at what you should do with 10 specific types of content.

1. Past events

Imagine you held an event last year. It was your first live event, but you knew that you would hold the event again the following year. Instead of putting a year or date in the URL, just use the name of the event.


Not this:

So when it comes time for next year’s event, all you have to do is update the page.

Rework the content with a new introduction, list of speakers, and venue description. This allows the popularity of the URL to grow as the popularity of the event grows.

This also allows that one URL to grow in age and authority, never losing traffic along the way.

And don’t just delete the information from your last event. Take last year’s event information and create a new page. Then on the original URL, create an archive of past events, so people can go back and look at content from prior events.

Of course if it’s a one-time event, then you’ll want to redirect it. For example, say you promote a monthly seminar. After that event is over, evaluate the content and keywords people use to find that page, and then redirect it to a post that matches your message.

Or simply update the page with an announcement stating the event is over, and include a link to the replay.

2. Obsolete products

For one reason or another, products sometimes become obsolete. They exhaust their life cycles, better products come along and replace them, or they become part of larger products. This is equally true for discontinued services.

What should you do with these pages?

It depends.

If you have a near-identical product you can redirect traffic to — that will satisfy user intent — then you can redirect it. But in most circumstances, you’ll want to update the old page and explain what happened to the old product.

3. Product or company name changes

Sometimes companies change a product’s name. If that’s the case, update the old page like you would with an expired product. This holds true if a company changes their name, too.

The principle with expired content is to explain to people what is going on.

If they click on a link thinking they are going to a particular page and it simply redirects without explanation, then you distort and confuse their experience.

It’s better to match expectations and deliver the page they want to visit — even if they have to click on another link to get to their desired destination. Users want to be in control.

4. Sales that have ended

Every so often, we run flash sales or offer massive discounts over at StudioPress. For each sale, we create a unique page.

When the sale is over, we redirect the page to the corresponding, standard StudioPress landing page.

5. Expired job or house listings

In both cases, the best approach is simply to update the page, explain the house has been sold or the job has been filled — and then provide the option to search for similar jobs or houses.

If that sounds ridiculous to you, then redirect them to the closest category match. You want to give visitors an opportunity to continue to search on your site for different options.

6. Closed membership site registration

Some online producers, like James Chartrand and Jeff Goins, create limited-capacity training courses. They only allow a certain number of members in, and when they hit their ceiling, they close registration.

In this case, you would simply indicate on that landing page that membership is closed.

But that’s not all. You’ll also want to add a sign-up form, so people can enter their email addresses and get on a wait list to learn when registration re-opens.


7. Out-of-stock or seasonal products

The method above works equally well for temporarily out-of-stock physical products (think coffee mugs or books) or seasonal products, like swimsuits or thermal onesies.

And no, I don’t wear thermal onesies. Often.

8. Repetitive content

Let’s be honest: If you blog long enough, you start to repeat yourself. That’s okay, as long as you approach the topic from a new angle. This is because you will always have new readers, and even the more seasoned, sophisticated readers need to be reminded of the basics.

But over time that content may look so familiar that it provides no real value. In other words, it may not be duplicated, but it’s derivative.

Let’s say you run a blog about the horrors of tanning booths.

During your audit, you discover three articles that tackle the same topic three different ways. One of the posts is getting a heavy stream of traffic, but the other two are dried up. Can you merge those three into one article and cut the fluff?

Keep in mind, you’ll want to keep the most popular post alive and redirect the other two to it.

9. Outdated reviews

If you review a product or service, and that product or service is no longer available (or changed beyond recognition), you might want to consider keeping it and updating the content. Let me explain.

From an archive standpoint, you will probably have people down the road looking for information about the product. If you keep yours alive and well-groomed, it might turn into one of the only authoritative pieces out there — thus you might garner some links from stories by journalists on big media sites, as well as strong traffic.

And it’s always wise to update reviews on the fly.

For example, I have a review of my failed month on Medium on Copybot. Shortly after I published the post, I was contacted by one of Medium’s designers who asked for clarification so he could fix some of the problems I mentioned.

Within hours the changes were made, and I had to update my review.

Staying on top of content like this is time-consuming, but worth it. You look like you are paying attention and not lazy.

10. Old guest post landing pages

A smart practice to get in the habit of is creating a landing page devoted to the traffic you will receive from a guest post you write on another site.

For example, say I write an article for Problogger. In my byline I would not send readers to a generic landing page asking them to download a book. I would create a special landing page with them in mind — with detailed copy that says something like, “Hey Problogger readers, thanks for coming over to my site.” And so on.

Over time, though, I may have 30 of these separate landing pages. In this case, it would be wise to use the same landing page for every guest post I write for Problogger, but update it with new information each time.

Some sites you write for might shut down, so any landing pages devoted to traffic coming from these sites could probably be deleted without any damage. However, I wouldn’t take the chance; simply redirect them to other relevant landing pages.

Your turn …

I could probably pinpoint a few more examples of expired pages, but I think you get the picture. If you don’t have good reasons to leave a piece of expired content alone, then remove, improve, or redirect any information you need to fix.

Within a short period of time, you’ll have a lean, well-groomed website — one that people adore and search engines love. And, of course, less content to audit when you sit down to check that off your list.

How often do you review your site’s expired content?

What are your tips for cleaning up your old work?

Let’s go over to LinkedIn and continue the discussion!

Image source: Pawel Kadysz via Unsplash.

About the author

Demian Farnworth

Demian Farnworth is Copyblogger Media's Chief Copywriter. Follow him on Twitter or Google+.

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]]> 0 A Brief Guide to Fixing Your Old, Neglected, and Broken Content courseclosed
Here’s How to Answer the Most Important Question in Life (and Make a Living from It) Tue, 24 Feb 2015 14:00:00 +0000 Why bother? Each and every morning you and I both wake up and ask ourselves that question. Some mornings we don’t even think about the question, but answer it deliberately by jumping out of bed and bolting for the office. In these cases, we bother because we care deeply about what we do. We feel


The post Here’s How to Answer the Most Important Question in Life (and Make a Living from It) appeared first on Copyblogger.


Authority Rainmaker 2015 speaker, Bernadette Jiwa

Why bother?

Each and every morning you and I both wake up and ask ourselves that question. Some mornings we don’t even think about the question, but answer it deliberately by jumping out of bed and bolting for the office.

In these cases, we bother because we care deeply about what we do. We feel like we matter. Then there are the other mornings …

Mornings where you roll over and eye the clock. The alarm will sound within minutes, but you have no desire to get out of bed. It has been a long week — and it’s only Tuesday.

On these days — which may turn into months or even years — you hate what you do and feel like you don’t matter. That’s a terrible feeling, and you need someone to come along and tell you it doesn’t have to be that way.

Fortunately, there is someone.

And that person is Bernadette Jiwa, a branding consultant based in Perth, Australia. She’s an Amazon bestselling author and just a plain, old-fashioned storyteller — who is, by the way, speaking at Authority Rainmaker this May in Denver, Colorado.

A few weeks ago, I got the opportunity to talk to her — about her books, her blog, and her unique approach to branding. And ultimately, about how a business can satisfy customers by answering that terribly important question about life.

In this 42-minute interview you’ll discover:

  • Bernadette’s insightful response when I confessed why Copyblogger’s editorial department has a crush on her name.
  • What it looked like growing up in the storytelling capital of the world.
  • Why copying the Mad Men style of marketing may be ruining your business.
  • How “tea kettle moments” could be the secret to having more customers than you can handle.
  • The interesting twist her book deal took with a traditional publisher (an important lesson for anyone who wants to publish).
  • Advice to people who think they are unoriginal — and think they can’t do anything about it.
  • What type of stories to tell if you want to be the center of attention.
  • Guidance to people who feel like their careers are going no where.
  • How to stop falling for the popular myth about scaling your business.

This is a down-to-earth discussion for people who want to grow a meaningful business by creating value, telling stories, and making people happy — whether that’s a business of one or 1,000.

Listen to The Lede …

To listen, you can either hit the flash audio player below, or browse the links to find your preferred format …

React to The Lede …

As always, we appreciate your reaction to episodes of The Lede and feedback about how we’re doing.

Send Jerod or me a tweet with your thoughts anytime: @JerodMorris and @DemianFarnworth.

And please tell us the most important point you took away from this episode. Do so by joining the discussion over on LinkedIn.

The Show Notes

The Transcript

Please note that this transcript has been lightly edited for clarity and grammar.

The Lede Podcast: Here’s How to Answer the Most Important Question in Life (and Make a Living from It)

Demian Farnworth: So Brian and Jerod, I promise to behave myself.

Welcome back, everybody, to The Lede, a podcast about content marketing by Copyblogger Media that is hosted by me, Demian Farnworth, and Jerod Morris, our VP of Marketing, who is actually off this evening.

The Lede is brought to you by Authority Rainmaker, which is our second live event that we are holding, in May of this year: May 13, 14, and 15, in beautiful Denver, Colorado at the stunning Ellie Caulkins Opera House.

And if last year’s event is any indication, it’s going to be a good conference. Last year was an electric, mind-expanding experience that I loved, and I should point out that it’s more of a single-track course than an actual conference, where every speaker has one purpose: To help you build an audience and a business online.

So you’ll accumulate all of this information in two speaker-packed days — information that you can actually put to use that very day. So it’s very, very practical

And the lineup of keynote speakers this year includes punk legend Henry Rollins, Sally Hogshead, Chris Brogan, Dan Pink, Sean D’Souza, Pamela Wilson, our very own Jerod, and of course, the lovely Bernadette Jiwa, who I have on the line right now.

So, Bernadette …

Bernadette Jiwa: Demian.

Demian: This is not scientific at all, but I was doing some research and you’re from Perth, Australia, right? So another one of our speakers, Sean D’Souza, is from Northcote, a suburb of Auckland in New Zealand, which is just a little bit east of you.

His flight to Denver is actually 17 hours and 40 minutes, and if I’m correct, and Google Maps is correct, your flight will be approximately one day and one hour, or 25 hours, giving you the distinction of having to travel the farthest.

So my question for you is: How do you actually prepare yourself for being in a plane for one day?

Bernadette: That’s not a great distinction to have, is it? Perth is one of the most isolated cities in the world, and we’re just used to it.

It’s three-and-a-half hours from, probably, one of the other major cities here in Australia. Perthites just accept travel. It’s part of our world.

Demian: Okay. So just get the books, and get the movies, and it’s just another day, right?

Bernadette: Exactly.

Demian: All right. So something about you, right? Amazon loves you because you have four bestsellers on marketing and brand storytelling.

You have books called Make Your Idea Matter, The Fortune Cookie Principle, Difference, and Marketing: A Love Story, which is your latest. But your blog is also pretty darn popular too, right?

In 2012, it was the best Australian business blog, and then it was chosen by SmartCompany as one of Australia’s top 20 business blogs in both 2013 and 2014. And you’ve also had the distinction of being one of the top 100 branding experts to follow on Twitter.

However, I have to say though, out of all those accolades, the one that stood out to me most was the recommendations from Seth Godin. How does that make you feel?

Bernadette: That’s just the best thing in the world to me. Seth is an amazing, generous person. I’ve followed his blog. I read his work every single day. I never miss it. I’ve been reading his blog for eight years.

Aspiring to make the kind of difference that he makes in the world is part of what I do. So I can’t tell you how much it means to me. It’s just priceless.

Bernadette’s insightful response when I confessed why Copyblogger’s editorial department has a crush on her name

Demian: I have to say, yeah it is. Seeing that, it’s like everything else sort of pales in comparison. Not that you have slacker credentials, but having Seth Godin back you … So he has a comment. He’s done a review — a five-star review — for each one of your books, which is just amazing.

So a little confession. We have an in-house admiration for your name, okay, because we love it. It’s a beautiful name. Bernadette. And am I pronouncing your last name right? Jiwa?

Bernadette: You are. You are.

Demian: Okay. Great. So we love it because of the poetic economy there. Your first name has ten letters and three syllables, and the last name is the two syllables, four words.

So there’s the beautiful economy about it. So we like saying it and just talking about it. But this kinds of leads into a sort of theme throughout your books. You read your books, and people make these comments all the time about your books.

It’s this beautiful prose that exists throughout your books. Is that something that was intentional?

Because I think that stands out when it comes to typical marketing business books where metaphors for sports and war get thrown about routinely.

Yet you sort of stand out in the sense that you want to introduce almost this artistic sort of essence to your books. Is that intentional?

Bernadette: It’s just how I speak. It’s how I am in the world. It’s who I am, and it’s also how I believe that marketing and business should be.

So with a lot more heart and a lot less babble, and a lot more attracting people to us by doing great work, as opposed to “Let’s fight the competitors, how can we beat the competitor?”

A far better thing to do is to say, “How can we make a difference for people,” and then the business, the money, and the success will follow.

What it looked like growing up in the storytelling capital of the world

Demian: That’s good. So you grew up in Dublin, Ireland.

Bernadette: I did. Yes.

Demian: Legend has it it’s the capital of storytelling.

Bernadette: It is. Anyone will tell you that.

Demian: What did that look like growing up in that environment? I’m sure some of what you’re talking about comes from your origin story of being in Dublin like that. What did that look like growing up in the capital of storytelling?

Bernadette: You just referenced back to Seth’s comment again about the TV industrial complex. I was a child of the TV industrial complex, and we watched tons of TV and we loved the adverts, and we waited for those things. But we also had really great relationships in the neighborhoods with local communities and local businesses.

I remember going shopping with my mother to the butcher shop, and the guy knowing what she wanted before she walked in, and making her feel special even if she wasn’t his best, biggest-spending customer. He just knew how to make people feel good.

People who didn’t have a lot of money would go there and spend a little bit extra because it mattered to them that he made them feel good. And I guess all of that, you’re right — where you grow up, your experiences, and how you actually live — they can’t help but influence your work. So it has had a profound impact on my work for sure.

Demian: Were there any particular relatives who told a lot of stories, and are they true stories or the sort of fish stories that grow as they get told?

Bernadette: The island is an interesting place because there are stories everywhere, every minute of every day. I joke that we’re the biggest consumers of tea, maybe the second biggest now, in the world because every time you walk into somebody’s house they put the kettle on, and the kettle is just an excuse to sit down and chat and tell stories.

And we’ve got lots of stories to tell. People go away, and they come back from Ireland, they travel, they often don’t stay there. They’ve had to go for work, and they cling onto their heritage. So we pass that down by word of mouth, I think, traditionally. So yeah, I guess that’s it.

Demian: And we don’t typically have a culture that appreciates the putting-the-kettle-on-the-stove moment, where we need to slow down. Hey, let’s get to know each other, let’s talk, let’s tell stories. It’s more of the curse of immediate gratification.

Bernadette: Yeah. I guess the storytelling piece is also a way of being the center of attention in some ways. If we’re talking about origin stories, both my parents were from families of eleven children.

How do you get attention in that kind of an environment? It’s not easy. So I guess whoever tells the best story wins in that environment.

Demian: Absolutely. So you started off in a grocery warehouse inventory counter. Did I get that right?

Bernadette: Yeah. They would call it back in the day, a stock-control assistant. So I worked for the first Tesco supermarket in Ireland, actually, in the back of house on Saturday, counting tins of baked beans and tomato soup.

Demian: So you were a bean counter, right?

Bernadette: I was literally a bean counter. It was not a good job for me.

Demian: So would it be fair to say that you started at the bottom?

Bernadette: I did start at the very, very bottom.

Demian: Right. And I say that just to encourage people, because now we are speaking to someone who is, and you are a rock star, and like I mentioned, all those accolades of someone who Seth Godin recommends, we follow, and listen to.

So you’re now this branding consultant living in secluded Perth, Australia. And we’re flying you to Denver because we love your work and we love what you have to teach us.

But how did that evolution occur from the grocery warehouse inventory counter to where you are now?

Bernadette: It’s interesting because I guess what I wanted to do is be more front-of-house and making a difference with people. So from there I went to lots of different jobs. I think what I have had is what Mitch Joel would call a squiggly career.

I went from there to the front, to service, to restaurant management, working in hospitality. I’ve done a bunch of jobs. I was a nurse. So I’ve got a lot of people-facing experience, and I guess that’s where my difference is, is that I have learned to empathize with people because of all of those experiences.

This is not your typical MBA-kind of branding expertise you’re getting here. It’s just the people-to-people skills that I think have helped me.

Why copying the Mad Men style of marketing may be ruining your business

Demian: Which I think is important, and when I think of an occupation which deals and trades in empathy, I always think of nursing. So that’s interesting, that it’s what you’ve once done.

Okay. So let’s transition and talk about your actual books. Your latest book is called Marketing: A Love Story, and in the description it says:

Marketing has become a necessary evil for every business, but what if we adopted a different view of it?

And we’ve kind of alluded to that, what we’ve said before here, but what exactly is that different view that you’re talking about?

Bernadette: I’ll give you an example, Demian, one that I wrote about on the blog last week. Which was marketing seems to have evolved as this way of dressing up what we want to sell. I’m not dissing any brands, but I’m going to talk about a cake brand in the UK which I grew up with.

I mean, this Mr. Kipling, his French Fancies were a real treat in a home where home baking was an ordinary, everyday occurrence. But if you could afford these things, that was an extra-special treat.

We think about some of the big brands, and we’re now finding that what’s in the pack isn’t all that great for us, and they recognize that consumers are getting more savvy about what they eat and their choices.

So what they’ve done is they’ve repackaged the cakes, and they’re turning a different story with packaging, basically, and copy, and color.

And that’s what I think we’ve started believing marketing is. This Mad Men thing where we put some kind of shine on whatever it is we do, and my view is that we don’t need better marketing, we need better products.

We need more trustworthy leaders. We need people who want to make a difference to the people they serve. And those businesses are the ones that are thriving now.

Demian: So it’s not a love story about marketing, or falling in love with marketing. It’s a love story about falling in love with the customer?

Bernadette: For sure. That’s exactly it. You nailed it.

Demian: Awesome. Good. Good. So in another one of your books, Difference, you write:

You can’t begin to tell a story without understanding why that story should matter to the people you want to serve.

And I quote that because traditional storytelling is usually entertaining or moral in nature, and/or both. They want to entertain, or Aesop’s Fables is an example of that.

But can businesses actually use stories? Can they entertain and be moral? And what actually makes a meaningful business story?

Bernadette: I think what makes a meaningful business story is understanding. Going back to understanding the customer. In my books I talk about the distinction between storytelling as a narrative, and storytelling being something also that we do every day, in everything we do.

So our logo’s part of the story. Our staff are part of the story. Our uniforms. It’s all theater. So if you’re going to Starbucks, it’s not just the coffee that’s the story. It’s not just the music, or the seating, or the lighting. And their coffee, and their Instagram, and all of those great things.

It’s everything that goes together to make up that story and changes how the customer feels, creates meaning for the customer, and what they believe.

So if you think of traditional storytelling, it was all about creating, passing valuable lessons on, but it was also about making meaning and helping us to belong in a culture. So that’s the opportunity for brands in businesses: How do we make meaning for the people we want to serve for our tribe of people? (To reference some of Seth’s work.)

So you think about brands like Warby Parker who have managed to do that around a product that’s eyewear, a fashion accessory. But making meaning there — Airbnb is another example. Just incredible how they’ve made meaning with all of the things that they’ve done. So yeah, that’s the distinction.

Demian: So would is it fair to say that some people, though, come with a story and clearly they’re not on the same wave length with the customer? And if that’s true, what’s the mistake that people in businesses are making when they do that?

Bernadette: The mistake they’re making is they’re trying to change the customer instead of understanding the customer. So a classic example of that might be one that’s really recent: the Budweiser Superbowl commercial from this year.

People could go and Google that and check it out. But what they’re recognizing at Budweiser is they’re losing mind share and market share amongst milennials to the craft beer industry. So what they’ve done in the Superbowl advert is trying to tell the story of why we’re still relevant and trying to change the customer’s worldview, and that’s not how you create value.

You create value by recognizing the customer’s worldview, and then saying “Well, how does what we do intersect with that worldview, and how do we create value there?” Instead of saying, “How can we change?” You know, like Don Draper might have done, “How can we change what people believe about us?” That’s much harder.

Demian: It costs a lot more money to get that done too, right?

Bernadette: It’s a lot easier to find the people who believe what you believe and then to talk to those people, like you guys do at Copyblogger.

Demian: Right. Exactly. It’s a lot easier to find the parade and get in front of it than to go against it.

Bernadette: I like that.

How “tea kettle moments” could be the secret to having more customers than you can handle

Demian: So another quote out of your book Difference, and I think this is a great quote. This is probably one of the most fascinating quotes that I’ve read through your work, and I keep coming back to it. Let me read it here. You say:

As soon as we open our eyes in the morning, what we want most is to matter. To live a life and to do a work that has meaning. We have evolved to feel this way. Man’s first thought was, ‘I am.’

I love that quote, not only just for the Biblical reference to it, but it’s sort of like this summary of the human condition. We want to matter. We want to live a life and to do work that matters.

However, though, something is clearly not right. Is that correct? There is, because you wouldn’t make that statement unless there was an actual need that needs to be faced. In other words, people are not feeling like they matter or that they do work that has meaning.

Bernadette: I think I saw a fleeting statistic on LinkedIn the other day, I might be misquoting — but 61 percent of people want to leave their current position. They’re looking for something else.

Maybe not actively, but in the back of their minds. And of course that’s why we do everything. It drives us to do every single thing that we do. Otherwise, why would we bother? Why would we get up in the morning? Even though we’re not actively thinking that, why would we do anything?

Demian: I love that, because one of the reasons I got into marketing was because I recognized it was a discipline in which to sort of get at the human condition.

I’m actually an English literature major, and I have this sort of squiggly career path that you have, too. This is why psychology fascinates me, this is why history fascinates me — human condition, how we as humans try to live in this world, and of course now, business has sort of become the new philosophy for the modern world.

So we are now dealing with these sort of core issues with people. So not to get all philosophical, but how can a person or an organization, and particularly a for-profit where shareholder value is important — how do they answer some of these core problems that we’re talking about?

Bernadette: Let’s use an example of something like Airbnb versus the big hotel chains.

Demian: Okay.

Bernadette: So what Airbnb maybe stumbled upon by accident:

It’s something extraordinary, which is the opportunity to create value before people actually experience the product.

It’s the same with Uber. They’re creating value. They recognize something in people that they could short-circuit, if you like, and create value before.

So if I’m going to stay in a hotel in New York, or when I come to Denver, what typically happens is my experience maybe starts with a confirmation email. But that’s it. When I get to the hotel, that’s probably when my experience starts, and I see a different person every day.

When I’m booking accommodations on Airbnb, I’ve got a relationship with the host long before I’ve ever arrived at the destination. This is my personal experience with Airbnb. Already I’m thinking about that property in such a favorable light, not just because of the property, but because of the person who I’m interacting with.

It’s all about the relationship with that person. So lots of people, there’s lots of commentary around about Airbnb not being a sharing economy — it’s a for-profit, people are benefiting.

We don’t care about that. That’s not something we give a damn about. We care about the relationship and how it makes us feel. We’re quite happy. I’m thrilled that Jeff or Melvin is opening his home to me, and that he’s going to get something out of it. I like that reciprocal arrangement.

So I think there is an opportunity for businesses to recognize where they can create value in the experience before we encounter them, or the service, or the product, and that is something I think that people haven’t really, in terms of big business, haven’t really recognized up until very recently.

Demian: So how does the Airbnb experience add meaning to your life?

Bernadette: Well you know, this idea of wanting to matter. The fact that somebody sees you. An example again with Airbnb: I email a host and I say — Airbnb have it all set up to encourage you to share with the host — this is who I am, this is why I’m coming, this is who I’m traveling with.

You know, I’ve had conversations with Airbnb people about personal circumstances that I probably haven’t had with friends. We’re coming here, and this is why we’re coming, and we love your place.

With one guy we were talking about the fact that my son was waiting for his exam results and he was saying, “I’m sure your son’s really smart,” and I said, “Well, what about you? You’re a graduate of Cambridge University!” So we’ve seen each other, and that’s the magic of it. We actually see each other as human beings, not just people in a transaction.

Demian: So it’s actually those tea kettle kind of moments that are cropping up there.

Bernadette: Yeah. Yeah. If you want to go back to the psychology of it, which is fantastic. I’ve got a huge interest in behavioral economics as well and how we create this intangible value that isn’t just about the exchange of the thing.

Demian: I have a relationship with this mechanic in our neighborhood who I pay a lot of money, and I know I could go somewhere to get it really cheaper, but it’s like, if I go somewhere cheaper I know the experience is going to be awful and they’re going to try to upsell me for everything else.

I know if I talk to my buddy who’s the mechanic who works on my car, and he takes very good care of my car, and he takes the time to chat with me, and I love it for that reason. It’s intangible. I tell my wife, “Yeah, I could get it cheaper, but I don’t want to.”

Bernadette: Yeah, because it’s worth it to you.

Demian: It really is.

Bernadette: That is priceless. It’s like the Uber thing. Taxi companies didn’t realize — obviously digital enables this to happen — but taxi companies were slow to realize that what’s important to people is not just the ride to the airport.

What’s important is actually the certainty, the knowing that I’m going to get to the airport because the Uber ride will be there. So when I dial the cab I’m pacing up and down outside the hotel, going “Is he going to get here? Is he stuck in a traffic jam?”

And Uber for me, all of the value in Uber is knowing that I’m not going to be at the back of a taxi queue at the airport when I arrive — that my car is waiting, and I’ll get there.

Demian: And it’s like you said, we don’t mind paying for that additional sort of security and knowledge.

Bernadette: At all.

Demian: Your book, The Fortune Cookie Principle — great metaphor for a great concept — tell our listeners: What is The Fortune Cookie Principle?

Bernadette: Well, I use it as a metaphor to describe what happens when you have a fortune cookie. I mean, fortune cookies are the most disgusting things.

They taste awful, but we just love them. And so my view is that people don’t buy the cookie, they buy the fortune. So people don’t buy what you do, and to reference the amazing Simon Sinek’s work, people also buy why you do it. I feel that’s a step further.

Yes, they understand your purpose. They can sense your purpose in what you do. But people actually buy how it makes them feel.

Just like you described with your mechanic: You’re not actually buying the service, because you can get that physical work done by somebody else. You’re buying the feeling that you get from going to him and how he makes you feel when you walk out the door.

Demian: So that metaphor — it’s a brilliant metaphor — and I like it because I think it encapsulates the idea we talk about. Let your customer see a better version of herself, and so what is a fortune but just exactly that? Seeing a better version of herself in that statement.

Bernadette: Yeah.

The interesting twist Bernadette’s book deal took with a traditional publisher (an important lesson for anyone who wants to publish)

Demian: What you’ve done exceptionally well is build an audience with content and become a book author. So your blog, like I mentioned, has got a lot of popularity.

But you were sort of able to leverage that and become a book author, and like I mentioned earlier, a book author who has multiple comments by Seth Godin. But, when it comes to publishing, you didn’t go the traditional route, did you?

Bernadette: No. I’ll tell you a secret in a second.

Demian: Yeah. Go ahead. Tell me the secret.

Bernadette: I was offered a book deal for The Fortune Cookie Principle, and I started working with a publisher, and every day I opened my emails and I just got more and more depressed, because what they wanted to do, their vision for the book, wasn’t my vision for the book, and we mutually parted ways.

We parted ways, and I self-published it because what happened in that instance was they wanted me to fill it with more facts, and I wanted to fill it with more feeling, and there is a debate about the hard sticker price of books and padding and all of those things, and what I want most of all is for the work that I do to be useful to people and accessible.

I know so many people who, with the best of intentions, buy amazing business books by amazing authors, and they never get to the end of them. So my model is to write short books that deliver the most value in the shortest amount of space and help the people get to the end of them, and then take them and do meaningful work with them.

Demian: I think you’ve done an exceptional job of accomplishing that. So you are a prolific writer, and I believe you publish every day on your blog, right?

Bernadette: Three times a week. It feels like every day to most people. I find something every day.

Demian: Okay. So what keeps the ideas coming?

Bernadette: The real world around you. You get out there, and just whatever. Today I’ve got a post about being on hold with the insurance company switchboard, and what I learned from that. It’s real life. That’s it. That’s all.

Demian: And the stories that you can get out of there, right?

Bernadette: The stories and the lessons, and if there’s one thing Seth Godin has taught me, it’s just to notice things and then to think about what you notice. He makes no secret about that. He talks about that all the time.

I think that’s what you guys do brilliantly, too, at Copyblogger. Giving people practical lessons from real-life business scenarios, because you so understand where your readers, your audience, you customers are.

Advice to people who think they are unoriginal — and think they can’t do anything about it

Demian: It was Flannery O’Connor, a southern, American short-story writer, said “If you can survive to age 21, you have a lifetime of material.”

I always liked that quote. By being very observant, you have all the material that you need to come up with ideas. You just have to learn how to mine that and cultivate those ideas.

But a question, though, for you, because I think all writers sort of struggle with this, and particularly in that vein of just procrastination and not publishing at all, is a sense of, “I feel like I’ve said this before.” You come upon a topic and think, “I know I’ve said this before.” How do you deal with that?

Bernadette: I feel like I’m saying the same thing over and over again, every day. Because it is centrally the same message. It’s just repackaging it in a different way.

Seeing your customer and the shortcuts to getting there. A lot of your posts on Copyblogger are the same message repackaged in different ways. So I’m not sure why we need to get over that, because if you think about movies, for example, they use the same formulas all the time.

Demian: They do.

Bernadette: It’s like sci-fi on one side, the action-adventure movies that I never go to, big explosions. The great British films, like the two at the moment: The Theory of Everything and The Imitation Game, based on true stories. They use the same techniques over and over again. Why do we get hung up about being original every single day?

Demian: So your encouragement to the writers out there, the publishers, the would-be producers, is: Don’t worry about it. At Copyblogger, this is something we preach. There’s always going to be a new audience for that content.

And plus we always need to be reminded of those. So don’t be afraid to hit the same themes over and over again. Do it in a different way, but don’t be afraid to hit the same themes.

So talking about themes: One of the things that you keep coming back to it seems, through your books and on your blog, is this idea that differentiation is a myth.

So first, tell us what you mean by “differentiation.” And then tell us about the misconception that marketers and businesses seem to hold about that term.

What type of stories to tell if you want to be the center of attention

Bernadette: Well, we seem to be looking for some kind of tangible advantage, don’t we? I think you probably picked up on the post that I wrote about Starbucks.

If we were to do a blind taste-test on Starbucks Coffee would it be the best coffee in the world? Probably not. But that’s not what makes Starbucks succeed. Going back to: people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

We’re looking to differentiate on some kind of tangible advantage, so how can we be one percent or 10 percent more efficient than our competitor? How can we get things to people faster?

I mean, obviously if you’re on Amazon and you’ve got systems and processes, that is a massive advantage. Getting things to people faster and quicker and cheaper. But for most people, and most businesses, often our advantages are not that great. They’re not that tangible.

And people are making choices based on feelings and intuition as opposed to Starbucks being the best coffee in the blind taste test. No, I like going there because I feel good going there. So this idea that people buy the facts. They don’t. They buy the feelings.

So we don’t need to be differentiating in the ways we think we do with better innovation, perhaps, or cheaper products. We need to go beyond thinking about the facts and thinking about the customer, and how we’re going to differentiate there.

Demian: That’s good. So we have a lot of listeners who are sort of the one-man, one-woman shops, writers, freelance writers, web designers, developers, small business owners.

You’ve mentioned a lot of really good large brands who are modeling this customer-centered way of doing business and thinking about the feelings, not the facts.

What kind of advice can you give to these people who are not the big brands, but just people like me, people like you, who are trying to carve out a dent in the universe that we can own? Speaking about everything that we’ve talked about, what is your advice to them?

Guidance to people who feel like their careers are going no where

Bernadette: Well, you’re right. Let’s go back to small, one-man shops. I’m a small, one-man shop. I’m just me. Seth Godin is a small, one-man shop. You’re a small, one-man shop. So I know you work within Copyblogger, but it’s possible to do this. That’s the first thing.

It’s possible to do this and to make a difference, and to make an impact without owning a massive brand that’s going to impact billions of people or to be an Uber, or whatever. And let me tell you a story about a guy who was at our home last night. This is a really good story.

My husband had a driving test on his scooter today, and he was going to take it out and give it a run last night at about 7 p.m. And he found a nail in his tire. And the guy had just serviced his scooter about ten days ago. It was the first time he’d come to our place to do that. He actually comes on the job, brings his van and tools.

And my husband called him at 7 o’clock last night, and he came. He didn’t have to do it. He had no responsibility, no obligation to do it, but he came because he cared. And that makes him one in a million.

My husband said to him, “You know, how much is that?”

“Sixty bucks?” he said.

“I’m not paying you sixty bucks, I’m paying you three times that.”

And the guy said, “I’m not taking that.”

It’s just — and you know — that person is gold in the world. And he will never, ever have to advertise his services, and he will never go hungry. He’s a one-man shop. So it’s basic give-a-damn, is the answer, I think.

How to stop falling for the popular myth about scaling your business

Demian: So is that personal experience scaleable? I mean, is that something that you can expand? Not just horizontally, but vertically?

Bernadette: Give me an instance of what you’re thinking, Demian.

Demian: Like say in my field, for example, as a writer. One of the things that I ran into is that if I wanted to make more money, I either had the option of doing more work, like increasing volume. Or just charging more, but giving a way better experience?

And I chose the latter one, because it just seems like a way better way to do business. But I found myself thinking, “You can’t scale volume unless you start bringing people in. You actually want to build a business.” But when you provide some sort of service, I always wonder: Is it possible?

So here’s a story, like your story about the mechanic reminds me of my grandfather, my mom’s dad. He came from a family of 12 and he worked long shifts, but he also had a side business where he did these air conditioning units and heating.

And he did a lot of work for people who didn’t have a lot of money, so often he didn’t get paid for it, and he never was out of work. He was booked three, four months out.

So I guess in that sense that’s what I’m talking about. It was also he was doing all the work himself, so at some point does the business owner step out of that and say, “Here, I’m bringing somebody else to do this?” And that’s what I mean by scale. I guess it’s a decision; they can decide not to do it.

Bernadette: I think there’s an obsession online with scaling and growth, and scaling I guess for the sake of scaling’s sake, and not understanding what that will mean to your work and how you touch people, and how you impact people. It may be not for the better.

So the four-hour work week comes to mind, and this idea of outsourcing, and I think a lot of the time a lot of us go into these one-man bands because we want to touch people. We want to have an impact. We like doing the work. And if you don’t like doing that, then there are other options, I guess.

There are ways of creating a business around you, and we know plenty of people who have done that online with great content. The Marie Forleos of this world who have built amazing empires and have had massive impacts. But maybe it’s okay not to scale. Maybe it’s okay to reach 100 people, 1,000 people, and enjoy making an impact alongside making a living.

Demian: Yeah, I think that’s great advice. I know that’s the decision that I came to in my own personal experience. It was sort of a humbling thing, because I couldn’t call myself an entrepreneur because I was not interested in building anything. I just liked the work, and really what I wanted to do.

Back to my favorite quote of yours: I just wanted to put my weight behind a meaningful cause.

Like you said, it’s okay to embrace that and to live that way. And because we’re not filling up stadiums doesn’t mean that what we’re providing is any less important.

Bernadette: And how can you say that you haven’t scaled? When people talk about scaling they seem to be thinking about, “How can I earn more money for doing this work?”

Well actually, you’re scaling by making more impact in the world, and reaching more people, and helping more people, and creating meaning for more people. What’s better than that?

Demian: I agree. It couldn’t be any better. So that was great. So why don’t we end there, and why don’t you tell people how they can find you and your work?

Bernadette: My blog is, and they can find me on Twitter: @BernadetteJiwa.

Demian: Awesome. Thank you so much for your time. I appreciate it.

Bernadette: Thanks for having me. It’s just been great to talk to you, and I’m so looking forward to seeing you in Denver.

Demian: Me too. Looking forward to it, too. Take care. And everybody, thank you for listening. We’ll talk to you soon.

Jerod Morris: And we are looking forward to seeing you in Denver at Authority Rainmaker, as well.

Again, the dates are May 13–15. The event is being held at the stunning Ellie Caulkins Opera House. You will get to see and meet Bernadette Jiwa, along with Henry Rollins, and Sally Hogshead, and Dan Pink, and so many others.

So we do hope that you will join us, and as always, if you enjoy what you hear on these episodes of The Lede, we would definitely appreciate a rating or a review on iTunes.

They make a big difference and really help us out, so we’d appreciate that. And with that said, we will be back soon with another episode of The Lede. Thanks for tuning in, everybody.

About the author

Demian Farnworth

Demian Farnworth is Copyblogger Media's Chief Copywriter. Follow him on Twitter or Google+.

The post Here’s How to Answer the Most Important Question in Life (and Make a Living from It) appeared first on Copyblogger.

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Are You Overlooking Any (or All) of These 7 Ways to Build Online Authority with LinkedIn? Mon, 23 Feb 2015 14:00:00 +0000 Flash mobs. People are attracted to these spectacles. We drop what we’re doing and gather around to watch, but then we leave. We go back to what we were doing before we were interrupted. No one really knows who orchestrated the performance. The entire experience is short-lived and doesn’t make any profound impact. Now, imagine


The post Are You Overlooking Any (or All) of These 7 Ways to Build Online Authority with LinkedIn? appeared first on Copyblogger.


Image of Ellie Caulkins Opera House

Flash mobs.

People are attracted to these spectacles. We drop what we’re doing and gather around to watch, but then we leave.

We go back to what we were doing before we were interrupted. No one really knows who orchestrated the performance. The entire experience is short-lived and doesn’t make any profound impact.

Now, imagine performing at an opera house, such as the Ellie Caulkins Opera House pictured above — the venue for Authority Rainmaker 2015.

An attentive audience becomes fascinated by your performance and applauds you to show their appreciation. You know they’ll be back for more.

You can have that same type of interaction with your audience on LinkedIn when you properly position yourself on the platform.

LinkedIn is for content marketing professionals

While some may think of LinkedIn as only a job search or recruitment portal, it is evolving into a lead generation and publishing hub for content marketers.

Content pages on LinkedIn receive seven times more views and have six times more engagement than job-related activities.

And since Pulse and SlideShare are part of the LinkedIn ecosystem, it’s an ideal center for professional content sharing.

This is the LinkedIn Opera House, and you have an opportunity to take the content stage.

Here are seven ways to help you build authority on LinkedIn.

1. Complete your profile

Get stage-ready for your performance. Sloppiness won’t cut it.

You can’t command attention or earn trust if your LinkedIn profile is incomplete. It needs to thoroughly represent you and display a professional-quality headshot. Unless you’re participating in a masquerade ball, you won’t perform behind a mask.

Other users will check out your profile when they see your comments and posts. They’ll want to discover who you are and the solutions you offer.

Engage your audience with strong headlines and sharp copywriting.

2. Compose content for distribution

Business professionals invest time in consuming content on LinkedIn, so prepare and rehearse your work.

LinkedIn offers a media-rich platform, but you’ll still need to write the script, choreograph the movements, and perform to your audience.

Don’t worry if every topic you want to discuss has been covered already. Most fans don’t mind having different versions of the same music performed by different artists.

Different conductors interpret the pieces differently and musicians play with subtle nuances and delivery styles. Some artists add variations to the theme and change the arrangement to evoke something innovative and fresh.

Just make sure that you offer a unique angle with your own interpretation and insight. Using different media formats, such as infographics, can also inject a breath of freshness into your content.

3. Convene in relevant LinkedIn discussion groups

Join an existing performance troupe that already has an audience.

LinkedIn has 2.1 million industry and interest-specific groups. Like-minded people gather around topical discussions on LinkedIn, and you just need to search for niche groups with active discussions to locate your target audience.

Go where they gather.

And there’s room for you to shine because the LinkedIn content stage is not too crowded yet. Currently, you can join up to 50 LinkedIn groups, and there are benefits to joining multiple groups because LinkedIn searches are personalized.

For example, although you may not have a first-level connection with a certain contact, if you both are members of the same discussion groups, you become more closely connected on LinkedIn.

And people who are directly connected to you — as well as those in the same groups as you — are more likely to show up in searches performed on LinkedIn.

4. Connect with your peers

You don’t own LinkedIn’s content stage, and there are others who share the stage with you.

Band members harmonize with each other. Even soloists work closely with stage managers, crews, and other musicians.

In every group, you’ll find a few members who consistently add value to the discussions. These are your potential joint venture partners. Reach out and connect one-on-one to explore collaborative opportunities and form deeper relationships.

If you’re both members of the same group, you can send private messages to connect without using “InMails” or “introductions” — even if you don’t know them personally.

5. Communicate in a personalized way

Presenters, trainers, and coaches don’t speak to the masses; they make eye contact and speak to individuals.

Fortunately, LinkedIn offers features that allow personalized communication when you send invitations from your computer or mobile device.

Notes, reminders, and tags facilitate personalized conversations and are helpful for follow-up conversations.


6. Continue to improve

Your work is not done at the end of the show. Performers hold review sessions after their shows and consider how they can adapt to the audience’s preferences because they want to improve and sell more tickets to the next show.

Feedback from your audience may come in the form of engagement — or lack of engagement.

On LinkedIn, monitor responses to posts and listen to comments. Also, observe influencers, subscribe to industry channels, and continuously find ways to add value. Strive to become a resource for other users.

7. Commit to your production schedule

You don’t become a superstar after one brilliant performance.

Broadway shows run for months. Performers build their reputations over time.

To build a trustworthy brand name, you’ll need to consistently produce and stage great shows so you stay at the top of the chart.

However, discussions in open groups and long-form posts published on LinkedIn are indexed, so they may surface on LinkedIn searches, as well as Google searches.

Your efforts are not wasted. Every thoughtful post and comment has been recorded and they may still bring you viewers at a later time.

Anyone who searches for a topic on Google may see a relevant LinkedIn group discussion in the search results. If they click on the discussion link, they’ll be able to see the person who initiated the post — even if they’re not logged into LinkedIn.


If they scroll through the discussion thread, they’ll also see the entire conversation, including your comments if you’ve contributed to the conversation.

It is also worth noting that participating in a LinkedIn group discussion provides you with more visibility. Distracting advertisements and sponsored posts on the homepage can push your individual posts downstream if there is little or no engagement with them.

Comments you make in LinkedIn groups, however, will appear in both the discussion groups, as well as on homepage streams. In addition, LinkedIn will send emails with your comment to members who’ve contributed to the discussion thread (unless they choose not to receive these messages).

As you enter the spotlight on LinkedIn, remember to abide by a group’s rules when posting.

Once a post has been blocked and deleted in a group, comments you make in the group, and possibly other groups as well, will be marked for moderation.

Take the content stage on LinkedIn

All set? Ready to make LinkedIn a part of your content marketing?

How do you aim to add value and stand out on LinkedIn?

I’d love to continue this conversation over on LinkedIn right now …

Editor’s note: If you found this post useful, make sure to check out Sean Jackson’s article, 16 Smarter Ways to Use LinkedIn to Build Your Business.

About the Author: Louisa Chan is a marketing coach and content trainer. She conducts workshops to help businesses use new media effectively. Get her free LinkedIn eGuide to enhance your professional online presence and attract more ideal contacts.

The post Are You Overlooking Any (or All) of These 7 Ways to Build Online Authority with LinkedIn? appeared first on Copyblogger.

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How an Email Newsletter Publisher Built an Audience of 223,991 Subscribers Thu, 19 Feb 2015 14:00:00 +0000 Brian and I have been talking about his new curation-based email newsletter lately, and I thought it’d be interesting to have a similar conversation with someone in a completely different topical market. It’s about one person writing and curating a topic he knows and cares about, building a massive email audience over a period of


The post How an Email Newsletter Publisher Built an Audience of 223,991 Subscribers appeared first on Copyblogger.


Image of the Rainmaker.FM Logo

Brian and I have been talking about his new curation-based email newsletter lately, and I thought it’d be interesting to have a similar conversation with someone in a completely different topical market.

It’s about one person writing and curating a topic he knows and cares about, building a massive email audience over a period of four years, then turning all that work into a sustainable business.

And hang in there, even if you have no interest in (or understanding of) programming, Javascript, Ruby, or HTML5, you’ll be able to apply the lessons of this episode to your own business …

In this 39-minute episode Peter Cooper and I discuss:

  • How this programmer became a major content publisher
  • Why he switched from blogging to email newsletters
  • How he promoted his newsletters in the early days
  • What he learned from one of the world’s best Tetris players
  • Where the majority of Cooper Press’s revenue comes from
  • The only social network that really works (for him)
  • His approach to opt-in conversion optimization
  • His best two pieces of advice for starting a curated email newsletter

Click Here to Get Rainmaker.FM
Episode No. 29 on iTunes

About the author

Robert Bruce

By day, Robert Bruce is building a new podcast network (more on that soon). In his off hours, he files unusually short stories to the Internet.

The post How an Email Newsletter Publisher Built an Audience of 223,991 Subscribers appeared first on Copyblogger.

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13 Simple Questions to Help You Draft a Winning Content Strategy [Free Worksheet] Wed, 18 Feb 2015 14:00:00 +0000 Welcome to the year of adaptive content. The choose-your-own-adventure era of content marketing. The age of the customized customer experience. We’ve already tipped our hand by publishing two podcasts on the topic: Adaptive Content: A Trend to Pay Attention to in 2015 and Behind the Scenes: 2014 in Review and the Road Ahead. And 16


The post 13 Simple Questions to Help You Draft a Winning Content Strategy [Free Worksheet] appeared first on Copyblogger.


Free Worksheet: Draft a Winning Content Strategy

Welcome to the year of adaptive content. The choose-your-own-adventure era of content marketing. The age of the customized customer experience.

We’ve already tipped our hand by publishing two podcasts on the topic: Adaptive Content: A Trend to Pay Attention to in 2015 and Behind the Scenes: 2014 in Review and the Road Ahead.

And 16 Stats That Explain Why Adaptive Content Matters Right Now is a foundational blog post that briefs you on the subject.

At this point, it’s only natural that we jump right in to the heart of adaptive content.

But after reading two dozen articles and at least one white paper, flipping through two SlideShare presentations, listening to a few podcasts, and reading four books, I realized if I want to prepare you to implement adaptive content, we have to go back to the beginning …

And start with content strategy.

Can you really trust your content strategy?

Content strategy needs to be precise. See, before you even put pen to paper, you need to know the direction you are heading.

Most of us who work online, from freelance writers to small business owners, probably have a content strategy. But there’s just one problem: it’s up in our heads.

But if you say, “My business is not that complicated, and neither is my content strategy. I know where I want to take this business. I don’t need to commit it to paper,” then this stat should make you take pause:

Only 39 percent of B2B small business marketers have a documented content marketing strategy. The rest either have a strategy that they have only talked about (47 percent), have no strategy at all (12 percent), or are unsure (1 percent).

That’s from the 2015 benchmarks, budgets, and trends study by Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and MarketingProfs. So, let me explain the danger behind an undocumented content strategy.

First off, the difference between keeping that content strategy pinned to your mental wallpaper and taping it to the physical cinder blocks in your basement office is that your supposed strategy that you talk about may be no strategy at all.


The CMI study also found:

  • 39 percent of companies who do have a documented strategy are “more effective in nearly all aspects of content marketing than their peers who either have a verbal-only strategy or no strategy at all.”
  • 60 percent of those with a documented content marketing strategy consider their organization to be “effective” at content marketing; only 33 percent of those with just a verbal strategy say the same.
  • 62 percent of those with a documented strategy say that their strategy closely guides their content marketing efforts; only 29 percent of those with just a verbal strategy say the same.
  • Companies with a documented strategy are more than twice as likely to be successful at charting the ROI of their content marketing efforts than those with only a verbal strategy.

Furthermore, this lack of a documented content strategy could be a factor behind one of the most surprising results of another study, Copyblogger’s very own 2015 Cost of Online Business Report, which revealed 51 percent of online business owners are struggling to make a living online.

So, that notion you call your content strategy may be causing you to leave money on the table, publish ineffective content, and aimlessly feel your way to your destination, which might end up being the wrong destination after all.

You need a clear and focused content strategy to produce optimal results.

Answer these 13 content strategy questions

We’ve already made the case for content. But if you need a little reminder, here are some words of wisdom from Authority Rainmaker 2015 speaker, Ann Handley.

She writes in Content Rules that content will “position your company not just as a seller of stuff, but as a reliable source of information.”

But it can be tricky. Especially if you target more than one audience. And CMI’s research reveals that 54 percent of small businesses say they target at least two or three audiences.

Only seven percent said they target just one audience.

Throw in the different tactics you can use, social media platforms, paid advertising methods, as well as a limited budget and resources, and it becomes clear that a defined content strategy is necessary if you want to have any hope of remaining focused.

Certainly having a content strategy is better than not having one. But a documented one is superior.

As Kristina Halvorson and Melissa Rach write in Content Strategy for the Web:

Your content strategy defines how an organization (or project) will use content to achieve its objectives and meet its users’ needs.

Your content strategy helps you see clearly, avoid excuses, and remove distractions. It’s there to keep you accountable.

But creating a content strategy doesn’t have to be a frighteningly massive affair. You can create your first draft in less than a day, just by answering a few questions.

So, square away an afternoon, ask yourself these questions, and document the answers in a notebook, on a whiteboard, in Evernote, or in the handy PDF we’ve created for you below. Have fun!

1. Who are your users?

Identify and specifically describe the members of your audience.

For example:

  • She is a working mother who would like to feed her family a healthy meal three times a day.
  • He is an African American who wants to become a lawyer so he can give back to his community.
  • She is retired, without any concerns for money, but simply wants to be productive and not bored.

As mentioned above, you may be speaking to more than one target audience. Define all of them. This may require you to delve pretty deeply into their heads.

2. Who are your competitors?

And I’m not just talking about your direct competitors. Who or what can take prospects away from you?

For example, a web designer is not only competing against other web designers, but also against tools that allow non-designers to design.

3. What do you bring to the table?

There is a reason I discussed your customers and competitors first. They give you an idea of the shape of the market and how you can fit into that market.

I say this all the time to people who are trying to build a business and a brand: Your mission and strategy will change over time. It will evolve as you learn about your customers and competitors.

With that research in your belt, you now can ask: How do you fit into the market? What do you bring to the table that no one else can? What makes you unique?

4. What do you hear?

Hopefully voices. But not the ones in your head.

I mean the voices from your customers and ideal target audience. What are they saying? What are the recurring themes, in regard to their dreams and challenges?

If you don’t know where to hear these voices, find the online water coolers where your prospects like to hang out. They could be on social media sites like Reddit, Facebook, Google+, or Twitter. Also consider LinkedIn discussion groups, forums like Quora, or membership sites like Authority.

5. What content do you already have?

You need to assess the content you already have on your website, blog, and social media platforms — and how far along you are into the content marketing game will determine how painful this will be. But it’s important it gets done.

Yes, this is a content audit.

Ultimately, you want to determine the type of content that would be the most beneficial to produce going forward.

6. What is the purpose of your content?

This is perhaps the most important question.

Is your content intended to drive sales? Generate leads? Build authority? Increase organic search traffic? Please your mother? All of the above? More than likely “all of the above” is the case, but each individual piece of content will accomplish a different task.

For instance, the purpose of an article you wrote on another blog may simply be to drive more traffic to your website. But not to just any page on your website — a landing page specifically designed for that guest article. A landing page designed to convert those visitors into email newsletter subscribers.

And that email newsletter is designed to strengthen your relationships with your readers and educate them on your products or services. For instance, one email you send may be crafted to drive those subscribers to another landing page designed to sell them your product or service.

It’s important to understand the purpose of your content. And the purpose of each piece of content can be determined during your content audit.

7. How often should you publish content?

Once a week? Daily? Answers to these questions boil down to your resources. How much time do you have? Who is going to create all of this content? Is the content converting?

Here’s some insightful research from Andy Crestodina to help you make that decision.

8. How will you distribute your content?

Content that isn’t shared is content that is ignored. No matter how great you think it is.

So, which social media platform(s) will you focus on? Where is your ideal audience? Who is going to share your content? Are you going to use scheduling tools?

9. Who is in charge of your content?

Is it you? Should it be you?

Like Michael Gerber said in his classic book, The E-Myth, a business owner should be in a position to work on his business — not in it. Otherwise, you may find it difficult to grow. You may need to hire someone to write new content and manage existing content.

10. Who will produce your content?

You may have a lot of wishes and desires. And no shortage of ambition. But allow human nature to teach you a lesson: We are all limited in what we can do.

If you want to create 12 infographics this year, who’s going to do the research? Write the content? Design it? Will these people always be available when you need them?

11. Who is going to maintain the content?

The content on your website is like a garden. It needs to be cultivated.

For every new blog post you publish, there are five rotting away with broken links, outdated facts, and topics that are now irrelevant.

Who is going to clean up this mess? Name that person, and create a schedule.

12. Who is responsible for the results?

If you’re the only content creator, easy enough. You are responsible for everything.

But if you have a small team, make each person responsible for some area of the content. As Patrick Lencioni explains in his book, 3 Signs of a Miserable Job, you will provide motivation to your team by measuring their performances.

Make sure these goals are measurable, achievable, and specific — and not ultimatums. In other words, don’t say, “You’re gone if you don’t meet this.” Allow room for mistakes, corrections, and growth.

In addition, you should be held responsible for an area of the content as well. Your people will respect that.

13. What’s your destination (core strategy)?

All the preceding questions build to this final one.

This is about stating what you need to accomplish, determining the type of content that will help you achieve this goal, and creating a plan to help you accomplish it.

Use these guidelines to create a core strategy:

  • Aspirational: Create a goal that gives you room to stretch, fail, get back up, and grow.
  • Flexible: Your core strategy should allow you to adjust as your environment changes around you, without having to make a drastic pivot.
  • Meaningful: Does your core strategy align with your values, and will you be able to sustain it and endure challenges over the long haul?

Here’s an example of a core strategy from Content Strategy for the Web:

Curate an entertaining, online reference guide that helps stressed-out law students become successful practicing lawyers.

This is similar to five things every good marketing story needs: it’s clear who the hero is, what her goal is, what the moral is, what the conflict is — and, of course, you are the mentor.

Your turn …

Once your draft is complete, your next job is to download (221 KB) and print this nine-page content strategy worksheet.


Fill it out, and pin it in a spot you will see every day.

In the end, your core strategy will guide you through the distractions and difficulties that accompany building an online audience with content. But the rest of the information you collect will tell you where you are now, where you need to go, how you are going to get there, and the resources you need.

And be sure to share your progress with our discussion group over on LinkedIn!

Editor’s note: Many thanks to Copyblogger’s Pamela Wilson for designing this worksheet!

Image source: Jeff Sheldon via Unsplash.

About the author

Demian Farnworth

Demian Farnworth is Copyblogger Media's Chief Copywriter. Follow him on Twitter or Google+.

The post 13 Simple Questions to Help You Draft a Winning Content Strategy [Free Worksheet] appeared first on Copyblogger.

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Sally Hogshead on How You Can Unlock Your Natural Ability to Fascinate Tue, 17 Feb 2015 14:00:00 +0000 You have a natural ability to fascinate others that you may or may not be taking full advantage of. And getting in touch with this “fascination advantage” can pay big dividends, both in business and in your personal relationships. Sally Hogshead is a copywriter-turned-Catalyst who teaches you how to tap into your natural ability to


The post Sally Hogshead on How You Can Unlock Your Natural Ability to Fascinate appeared first on Copyblogger.


The Lede Podcast logo

You have a natural ability to fascinate others that you may or may not be taking full advantage of.

And getting in touch with this “fascination advantage” can pay big dividends, both in business and in your personal relationships.

Sally Hogshead is a copywriter-turned-Catalyst who teaches you how to tap into your natural ability to fascinate by giving you a better understanding of how the world sees you at your best.

Those of you who are going to Authority Rainmaker this May will get to experience Sally’s passion, energy, and innovative ideas live and in person. She is one of the keynote speakers.

And in today’s episode of The Lede, we bring you a little taste of what that will be like. (Plus a special offer to take Sally’s Fascination Advantage for free so that you can find out what your archetype is.)

In this episode, Sally Hogshead and I discuss:

  • How Sally went from copywriter to Catalyst.
  • The critical difference between being merely interesting and being fascinating.
  • The archenemies: distraction, competition, and commoditization (and why they damage your marketing).
  • What the results of the Fascination Advantage assessment really tell us about ourselves.
  • The importance of having an Anthem and how you construct one.
  • How Sally applies her own ideas at home, as a parent.

Oh, and I hope you like the new music. ;-)

Listen to The Lede …

To listen, you can either hit the flash audio player below, or browse the links to find your preferred format …

React to The Lede …

As always, we appreciate your reaction to episodes of The Lede and feedback about how we’re doing.

Send us a tweet with your thoughts anytime: @JerodMorris and @DemianFarnworth.

And please tell us the most important point you took away from this episode — and what your Fascination Advantage archetype is! Do so by joining the discussion over on LinkedIn.

The Show Notes

The Transcript

Please note that this transcript has been lightly edited for clarity and grammar.

Sally Hogshead on How You Can Unlock Your Natural Ability to Fascinate

Jerod Morris: Welcome back to The Lede, a podcast about content marketing by Copyblogger Media. I’m Jerod Morris, your Maverick Leader on today’s episode.

Demian Farnworth, this show’s Secret Weapon, my usual co-host, will not be joining us for this episode, and that is because we have a special guest on today’s episode who, I promise you, is going to be a Catalyst for one of the most energizing and empowering episodes of The Lede ever.

And that special guest is Sally Hogshead. She is the out-of-the-box thinker who applies her experience and her decades of research to help you become more of yourself, to celebrate and embrace your differences, to become more fascinating — basically to become your best and most valuable self, both to you and to others.

Sally is the bestselling author of How The World Sees You, and she developed the Fascination Advantage, which you will learn all about.

And you will actually get the opportunity to take the Fascination Advantage Assessment. It normally costs $37, but at the end of this episode, I will reveal how you can take it for free. And trust me, you’re going to want to take it. I took it, and you’re about to hear how much of an impact it’s made on me already.

Now before I share with you my conversation with Sally, I do want to remind you that she is going to be one of the keynote speakers, along with Dan Pink, Chris Brogan, and Henry Rollins at Authority Rainmaker.

Authority Rainmaker is our annual live event that combines inspiring ideas, practical strategy, and valuable networking opportunities into one fascinating two-day event.

You’re going to walk away from the experience ready and armed to take your content marketing to the next level. Plus, it’s in beautiful Denver, Colorado and held at the immaculate Ellie Caulkins Opera House.

And it’s a Copyblogger event, so you know there are going to be great parties, because that’s how we roll. Tickets are still available for now, but you really don’t want to hesitate.

Go to and get yourself signed up. I’m going to be there, and I want to meet you, so let’s make this happen.

And you know who else I want to meet and can’t wait to meet at Authority Rainmaker?

Sally Hogshead.

And you’re going to feel the same way after you listen to this conversation. I think what’s great about the conversation is that it’s not just going to provide you with valuable insights that you can use for your business or for your content marketing, it’s also wisdom you can use personally, even at home.

So it’s a really interesting conversation. I hope you enjoy it. Without further ado, here it is: My conversation with Sally Hogshead.

All right, Sally. Welcome to The Lede. It is an absolute pleasure to have you on here. Thank you so much for taking the time today.

Sally Hogshead: Hi! I’m excited to be able to be here. Thank you for having me.

Jerod: Absolutely. It’s going to be fun. Since we scheduled this interview, I’ve had the chance to read your book and take the Fascination Advantage, and I’ve just been so looking forward to this opportunity to talk with you, because you have such remarkable ideas about how to help people not just become better in terms of being an online business owner, but become their better selves.

And that’s what I’m excited to talk about, and I think we’ll split the conversation up in those two ways. Talk about how your ideas of fascination can help people become better online marketers, because that’s what a lot of our audience wants to know specifically.

But I also want to talk with you about the Fascination Advantage assessment, and how that can help us personally, as well as help build and construct the teams in our businesses.

How Sally went from copywriter to catalyst

Sally: That sounds great. Let’s do it.

Jerod: Okay. Let’s do it. So let’s start out. You started out as a copywriter, and I think that background makes you especially interesting to our audience, many of whom are copywriters themselves. So why don’t you take the audience through, really quickly, how you went from copywriter to becoming this Catalyst for helping people be more fascinating.

Sally: I had such a love affair with advertising and marketing. I loved being a copywriter. And my favorite part of being a copywriter was being able to look inside of a brand and distill exactly why people admired that brand, or loved that brand, or paid more for that brand.

I remember a piece of research that I did early on when I was first studying the science of fascination. I gave women two pairs of sunglasses that were exactly the same. So imagine two pairs of sunglasses. And I said to them, how much are you willing to pay? And women told me they were willing to pay four times more if the sunglasses had a Chanel logo.

In other words, that logo quadrupled the perceived value of the sunglasses, even though the utility of the sunglasses was the exact same. So we know that brands help a product charge more even if that product is the exact same as the competitor’s. The brand adds value. The brand makes people covet it, be captivated by it, be fascinated by it.

And I found that the same is true for individuals. I shifted my research away from brands and I began studying people. I found the same is true. You can charge more for your content. You can have higher fees, higher prices if people are fascinated by you.

The critical difference between being merely interesting and being fascinating

Jerod: And what is the difference between being fascinated and being interested? Because you make that distinction quite clear in the book.

Sally: Yeah. If people are interested by you, it means their interest is quickly going to fade. They’ll be checking their iPhone. They’re going to go pop over to Facebook and see what’s going on. They’re going to read their Twitter feed.

If you’re only interesting people, they’re going to be distracted. And if people are distracted, they’re not going to listen to, and remember, and take action on what you say. If you really want to create content that’s going to get people to share it, comment on it, save it, refer back to it, then you can’t just interest them. That’s not enough anymore. You need to fascinate them.

Fascination is an intense focus. It’s a neurological state. And when your brain is in a state of fascination, it opens up almost like you are in the flow with the object of your fascination. You know this feeling. It’s when you’re reading a book and you’re so immersed in the storyline that you lose track of time.

When people are fascinated by your content, they’re consumed by it. They want to re-read it. They want to talk about it and share it and live by it, and this is really the new standard for content marketing for any of us who have a message that we want to spread. It’s not enough to just interest people. That doesn’t last. Fascination creates an emotional hook that’s like witchcraft.

Jerod: And I’m sure right now, as people are listening, they’re nodding along with you, hopefully fascinated by this conversation. I think everyone would clearly agree and say yes, I want to do that.

So I guess the question is: How, if I’m an online content creator, do I start to strategically make my content more fascinating? What elements can I add to it that will make it more fascinating?

Sally: Well, in a minute we’re going to be talking about the actual system and talking about how there are seven different forms of communication. Seven different forms of communication for you as an individual, and also for your blog, or your website, or your content.

But for now, let me set up a couple of ways in which communication is different than it used to be. First of all, today, every time you communicate you’re doing one of two things: You’re either adding value, or you’re taking up space.

When you add value, people seek you out. They value your opinion. They want to be connected to you. They respond to you. They trust you. They admire you. On the other hand, if you’re just taking up space, then you’re cluttering their communication channel. It’s almost like you’re spam.

Now we all know that there are emails that we get that we put into the spam folder. There are tweets that we might unfollow. But the same is true in day-to-day communication. If you speak in meetings and you don’t add value, people begin to tune you out. It’s almost like you become human spam.

Before you put out a message, it’s better to avoid putting yourself in front of your customer than to waste their time with weak communication. Let me say that again, because this is really key:

It’s better to avoid putting yourself in front of somebody than to waste their time with weak communication.

If you waste people’s time with messages that just take up space, then you become human spam. People have no incentive to communicate with you. They begin to tune you out, and you get put into that mental spam filter. You’ve actually damaged your brand.

This is one of the key points about developing content. The world doesn’t need another tweet. The world doesn’t need another Facebook post. The world needs you. The world needs your authentic opinions, ideas, and to really get a sense of how are you different, and how are you going to add value?

Jerod: I so love that idea, and it’s so important. People understand how much content there is out there, and you’re so right. We don’t need another tweet. We don’t need another blog post. We need a great tweet. We need a useful blog post. Something that can be really helpful.

I think something that I find when I talk to people who are a little bit reticent, maybe, to put content out there is they think, “Okay, there is so much stuff out there. I don’t know if I want to say what I have to say because I don’t know that it’ll be heard,” and you had a quote. You say:

If you believe that you have a message worth listening to, then you have a responsibility to get your message out in the world.

And so I think there are some people who know they have something to say. They’re afraid that it’s just going to be lost in the din, but according to you, those people have a responsibility to get it out there, and you’re saying the way to do it is make it more fascinating, so that it does get paid attention to and isn’t just taking up space.

Sally: You’re the guardian of your message. If you don’t communicate your message at the top of your ability — in other words, if you don’t infuse it with your personality to make it fascinating — then the message could be ignored, forgotten, and if you have an important message, that’s sad.

When we did a study, we asked people: “Are you a better driver than the average person?” Eighty percent of people said, “Yes, I’m a better driver than the average person,” which of course, is impossible. Fifty percent are above average, and fifty percent are below. So people grossly over-rate their ability to drive.

Ninety percent of people think they’re more intelligent than the average person. But in our study, when we said, “Are you more fascinating than the average person?” Only 39 percent said that they were. So we have a fear of putting ourselves out there and not being heard.

There is something sad and scary that happens when people publish content or go onstage or share themselves with the world: They’re afraid that what they’re going to say won’t matter. And the reality is, the world needs messages that matter. The world doesn’t need more content for the sake of content. The world needs people to contribute something that’s so unique about them, a voice, an idea, an opinion, that breaks through.

And when you do that, this is the ultimate form of adding value.

The greatest value that you can add is to become more of yourself, and to make your content feel more like yourself.

Jerod: I love that quote. Absolutely love it. So within the context, then, of building an online audience, and eventually building a business, how do we do it, then? How do we start to get that content out there in a way that’s going to attract the audience that we want, and ultimately be able to build a business around it?

Sally: What a wonderful question. There are seven different ways to communicate, but there are certain ways that your personality is primed to communicate. And when you write with this voice, and you select topics that have to do with your natural mode of communication, it’s much easier for you to get in the flow and feel authentic, and be energized by your work so that it feels almost like a wellspring.

The question becomes what’s your personality’s natural mode of communication? In other words, what adjectives and characteristics are associated with your personal brand that if you could lean into those, if you could double-down on those characteristics, that you would be automatically differentiated in a way that was totally genuine and very easy for you to continue to replicate with more and more great content.

This brings us to the Fascination Advantage, which is the assessment that I created to help people understand how the world sees them. I’ll take a quick moment to explain what I mean by that.

Jerod: Sure.

Sally: There are a lot of personality assessments out there, and they all tell you a different aspect of your personality, like Myers-Briggs, Kolbe, DiSC, StrengthsFinder. And these assessments are built on psychology.

Psychology looks at the world through your eyes, so these assessments tell you how you see the world. But I found that there was a missing piece to the conversation — a missing piece that’s crucial if you’re going to be developing content.

And that question is, how does the world see you? How does your reader see you? How does your customer see you at your best, and what are the qualities that if you could identify them, and hone them, it would make it really easy for you to feel confident and relaxed. Not only in conversation, but also when you’re publishing content.

When you take the Fascination Advantage assessment — it’s only 28 questions now. It used to be 153 questions. But we found that the same 28 questions gave us all the data we need to know to measure how the world sees you, just like how a consumer sees a brand, how a customer sees a business.

Jerod: You have very generously allowed our audience to be able to take this assessment, so later I’ll give everybody the URL and the code to do that.

And I took the assessment, and Demian Farnworth, my usual co-host on The Lede, took the assessment. And we’re actually going to break down some of those results. Because I’ve listened to a lot of the interviews that you’ve done, and I found that to be the most fascinating part: When you really get personal and zero in on those results.

Sally: Yeah.

Jerod: I want to preface that discussion by saying this, because I’ve always been someone who’s a little bit skeptical of these assessments where you answer a few questions, and it’s supposed to tell you something grand about yourself.

And even after I took this assessment, I looked at it, and there was so much reading about what it said about me that I agreed with, and some of it, I was kind of like, “Well, I don’t know if that’s really complete,” but what’s interesting is Demian took it, and my fiancée took it, and as I started to read what it said about them, I was like, “Oh yeah, spot on! Oh yeah! That’s them!”

It gave me a perspective shift that’s like, “Oh yeah, this is how the world sees me,” so my perception of it is going to be a little bit different, and that’s the point, right? To highlight the differences so that you can step outside of yourself and view yourself more as other people view you.

Sally: Yeah, exactly. It’s important when you take the assessment to not just evaluate your own assessment. Show it to somebody else. Show them the video in which I describe how people see you at your best so you can have an objective point of view. The assessment’s almost like doing a 360 test where you ask people to identify your key characteristics.

Jerod: Okay. So, me. I took the assessment, and it came back and said that I am a Maverick Leader.

Sally: A Maverick Leader!

Jerod: Yes. A Maverick Leader, combining innovation and power. And Demian is The Secret Weapon. So maybe — explain a little bit about what that means. I’d love also to just get a comparison. Because Demian and I work together a lot, both on this podcast and just at Copyblogger, and I’ll be curious to see how we came out, if that means that we’re compatible or not supposed to be compatible.

Sally: First of all, they are very compatible. There is no one archetype that’s better than another, but it is important for you to work with people who can supplement. In other words, who can optimize you rather than replicate you. And you guys have a great combination of being able to optimize each other.

A Maverick Leader has primary innovation. Innovation is the language of creativity, so personalities with primary innovation tend to be big visionary thinkers. They like to be able to think in borad terms — how far can they push an idea. They’re not comfortable with doing things in a super-linear way.

Instead of going “One, two, three, four,” they want to go “One, two, four.” So innovation personalities need to surround themselves with people who can watch and observe and take note, and look at things from a more rational perspective so that it can be balanced out.

I happen to know The Maverick Leader archetype fairly well because I am married to one. In fact, The Maverick Leader was named for my husband, Ed. And Maverick Leaders are famous for losing their car keys.

They’re famous for coming into a meeting and saying, “Hey, I just had an idea of what we could do,” And sometimes people have a hard time keeping up with The Maverick Leader because their minds tend to think so quickly by leaps and bounds that other people can’t find the step-by-step bread crumb trail to be able to re-trace the steps. Have you ever found that to be true?

Jerod: Yes. (Chuckles.) Yes, absolutely.

Sally: So a piece of coaching that I would give to a Maverick Leader would be to say, “You have big ideas, but people can’t always keep up with you, so it’s important for you to be able to break it down into pieces so that other people can support you and give you what you need to actually execute and implement those ideas. Does that sound true for you?

Jerod: Yes, definitely. That will be very helpful. It’s funny, I’ve actually had a couple of experiences just in the past week where I had some big idea, got really excited about it, and it’s really funny.

Inside the description of “Maverick Leader,” one of the five adjectives is “dramatic,” and it says, “When presenting, they use strong body language, they use energetic gestures to emphasize their points,” and it’s something people have always kind of made fun of me for, that I can’t talk without my hands.

Sally: Are you talking with your hands right now?

Jerod: Right at this moment, I am right now.

Sally: I’m talking with my hands, too!

Jerod: I’m making huge hand gestures. And so it’s interesting, and I had a couple of experiences where I had this big idea, I got all excited about it, and I didn’t feel like I quite translated the excitement in my presentation of the idea, or at least I made them feel how great the idea could be, but not necessarily how it could actually happen. How the execution would happen.

Sally: And for you it was so clear, right? For you, you could see it so clearly in your head, what the vision was. But when you’re talking to different types of personalities, like an Alert personality, or a Trust personality, for them it’s not about making a quantum leap. It’s about being able to see how everything fits together, like the pieces of a puzzle.

Jerod: Yeah, I could see it five years down the road. I was already there. But yeah, the actual implementation part of it and seeing all of that definitely wasn’t there. So that’s great coaching because, again, what’s great about this is: How do other people see you?

Because it’s like with communication. It doesn’t matter what I’m trying to say; what matters is what you hear and how you take it, and the impact that it has on you. So if I want to be a better communicator, I’ve got to take you into more account than what I’m trying to think of and say. I think that this helps so much with that, and really just helps to illuminate those areas were we can get better in terms of impacting other people.

Sally: Let’s take that into two different areas: The fact that you’re a Maverick Leader. If you were going to be hiring, say, an executive assistant or somebody to work along side you, to be able to support you, do you need somebody who is also creative? Or do you need somebody who’s going to be more linear and executional?

Jerod: (Laughs.) I think we would get a lot more done if there was someone who was linear and executional, yes.

Sally: Yeah.

Jerod: To help with the organization. Absolutely.

Sally: So that doesn’t mean that you would necessarily gravitate toward that person. Imagine somebody walks into the interview and you’re looking for an assistant, or somebody to help you implement all these great ideas that you have. And the person is trustworthy and level-headed, and protective, and analytical.

You might not have an instant chemistry with that person, but yet that’s the exact person that you might need most in order for you to get your content proofread, or researched, or published, or spread. Because those are the things that you can do, but it’s going to feel kind of like quicksand. It’s going to be exhausting for you, wouldn’t it?

Jerod: Oh, yes. Absolutely.

Sally: One of the key things about the process of developing content and having a message that you want to spread and share and to make a difference in the world is, you can’t do it all. And you don’t have to do it all.

There are some areas where you’re naturally going to have what I call a “wellspring.” Meaning, it’s going to feel energizing. You’re going to feel confident. You’re going to look forward to those kinds of tasks.

And then there are other things, other types of assignments, or conversations, or people where it feels like quicksand. So if you can focus on the areas that are a natural wellspring, you’re going to be able to get a lot more done.

So let’s come back to you as The Maverick Leader, and then we can talk about The Secret Weapon, or other different archetypes.

Let’s imagine that you’re going into a critical meeting. What would be an example of a meeting in which you know that you want to make a great first impression and you want to add value, and you want to win.

Jerod: Well, shoot. We have editorial meetings every couple of weeks where I think that’s important.

Sally: So you go into an editorial meeting, and do you have ideas that you’re excited about?

Jerod: Yes.

Sally: So we’re about to walk into that meeting. You have ideas that you’re excited about because you’re a Maverick Leader and coming up with ideas is not something that’s a challenge for you. Before you go into that meeting, it’s going to be important for you to understand how other people see you at your best.

In other words, what is your strong suit that, if you can focus on that, your ideas are going to be more compelling to them because you are going to be more compelling? And in your case, as a Maverick Leader, you have your top three adjectives that are associated with you: Pioneering, irreverent, and entrepreneurial.

Before you go into that meeting, you might think, “I have this one idea that I know could be a killer theme for 2015.” You love this idea, and you want to really dig in, and sink your teeth into it, and spend time with it, and spread this. But if you go in and you present it in a cold, flat, rational way, do you think you’re going to get the best result?

Jerod: No.

Sally: Now, you won’t get the best result. But imagine if you went in and you had a spicy anecdote, or you told a story, or you gave an example of what this would be like, and you showed “here are five tweets that we would be able to do off this editorial content,” would that feel natural for you?

Jerod: Yes. Yes, and you know, what’s so interesting about this is I fight with myself sometimes, knowing that just my normal self gets very excitable, and all of those different things, and I think that I should do it the other way, and I think what I’ve learned a lot — and tell me if this is what you’re trying to get across — I think that we need to embrace these ways that we’re different.

Not try to fit into what we think other people want, but embrace those differences and say that it’s okay for me to be like this, and in fact, this is how I should be, because as you say, that’s how people see you when you’re at your best.

Sally: And when you’re at your best, you’re at your most confident and authentic. And in these moments, literally, your brain shifts into a different mode. When you’re more confident, you get more saliva in your mouth, your voice sounds different, your posture is different, and your listener is more confident in you. They’re more likely to be fascinated by you and by your message.

You know those times when you’ve been writing, and the content just flows, and it feels easy, and the ideas leap one to another? And it doesn’t feel like you’re clawing your way through the blog post. It just effortlessly flows out of you. Those are the times when you’re channeling into this wellspring of your personality.

When we study high performers inside of organizations, we look at: What are the top communicators doing differently? We found that they have different patterns within their communication, whether they’re leading a meeting or they’re writing an article. And here are the two key things that we found that high performers do differently.

Number one, they have a specialty. They’re not trying to be all things to all people. In other words, they have a specialty that allows them to hone their communication and focus it so that people know what they can go to them for. For you, your three adjectives are pioneering, irreverent, and entrepreneurial, because you’re The maverick Leader.

So what that means is, before you go into meeting, imagine you say to yourself, “Not only do I have permission to be pioneering, irreverent, and entrepreneurial, but I have a responsibility to be, because I am the guardian of my message, and nobody’s going to pay attention, and focus, and take action if I don’t deliver it in the most fascinating possible way.”

But not everybody is pioneering, irreverent, and entrepreneurial. Let’s take a look, for example, at The Detective. The Detective is a totally different personality style than yours. They use primary alert, which is the language of details, with secondary mystique, which is the language of listening. These personalities tend to be very focused inward. Their three adjectives are clear-cut, accurate, and meticulous.

A detective would be really uncomfortable coming into a meeting and being pioneering, irreverent, and entrepreneurial. That would feel inauthentic to them. It would take a lot of energy, and they wouldn’t make a good impression because it would feel forced. So the fact that you are pioneering, irreverent, and entrepreneurial is the key difference of yours that you not only want to not squash, but you want to hone in on that and actually apply it to all of your communication.

Jerod: And you mentioned an important word there, authentic. And it’s so important in anything that you’re doing, especially when it comes to creating content online and trying to build that rapport, build that audience, to be authentic. You can’t pretend to be something that you’re not, and as you’ve said, your communication, your message, is going to come across so much more confidently and so much more effectively when you are embracing what you truly are. And it just makes you so much more confident in that way.

Sally: The Carnegie Institute of Technology released a study that 85 percent of your financial success is related to your personality. And shockingly, that was their word, “shockingly,” shockingly only 15 percent is technical knowledge.

So imagine you’re writing an article that is even technical writing. According to The Carnegie Institute of Technology, 85 percent of that is going to be what you infuse in your vision, your opinions, your ideas, the flavor that you give it. And only 15 percent is technical knowledge.

If you’re only trading on technical knowledge — in other words, if that’s what you’re using as the reason why people should read your content — then you’re going to become a commodity. And if you become a commodity, you have to compete on the basis of price. And that’s a slow, sad, downward spiral into the depths of irrelevance.

And that’s what happens to brands that go out of date. Brands that become irrelevant are forced to compete on the basis of price, and that’s not a position that any of us wants to be in.

The archenemies of distraction, competition, and commoditization (and why they damage your marketing)

Jerod: And I’m glad you mentioned the commoditization part. Because you mention three archenemies that I think are interesting, and I’d like to highlight, especially as we look at carving out our niches online, and what are those archenemies, and how can we avoid falling into those traps?

Sally: The first archenemy is distraction. We’re all familiar with this. People are clicking off our page all the time, or people are tuning out when we’re making a presentation. People are so distracted today because there are so many messages coming in. The BBC released a report that the average attention span is only nine seconds, which is the same as a goldfish.

So when you’re thinking about writing, imagine that you are writing for goldfish. When you’re making a speech, you’re giving a speech to an audience of goldfish. And it helps you craft your message differently. You have to instantly add value. Remember, every time you communicate, you’re either adding value or taking up space. But if you can front-load your value, in other words, if you understand how the world sees you at your best, it becomes easier for you to not be one-size-fits-all when you introduce yourself.

The second archenemy of communication is competition. We grew up with this idea that we need to focus on our strengths, and strengths are good. But in a cluttered, crowded environment, strengths become something that everybody has. What really stands out is being different. So instead of focusing on your strengths, focus on your differences. Focus on the way in which you’re unlike all the other people around you.

And that’s what you learn when you take the Fascination Advantage assessment. What are your key differences so that you can differentiate yourself based on who you naturally are instead of some artificial persona?

Jerod: You know, it’s really interesting that you mentioned that one. And I’ll just share a recent example, just from my work at Copyblogger.

We were doing a promo, and I thought I’d written this beautiful copy that highlighted all the benefits of the service, and so I sent it over to Brian because I always like to get his input on things. And he basically said, “That’s great, but every other provider can highlight those same things. You left out the one thing that makes it different.”

I highlighted all the strengths, and really the most important thing was to highlight the difference. And I had, of course, left that out and fortunately, he’s very smart and was able to tell me that. But it makes so much sense, and it helped out a ton, of course, as you would imagine.

Sally: You know, let’s take a look at any category of brands. Cars, or insurance agencies. Everybody’s competing to be just a little bit better, and the problem is when you chase “better,” you’re on a competitive rat race that forces you to compare yourself to your competitors instead of figuring out who you already are, so you can do more of what you’re already doing right, so that you’re released from the cycle of trying to outdo your competitors by one-tenth of a percent.

If there are two insurance agencies, one of them is a 7.6 and one of them is a 7.7, that’s not really differentiating. But if one of them has a key benefit, like a killer customer service benefit they offer — like, “We answer the phone in two rings or less!” Or “We’ll cover the first $200 of your deductible,” or “We have a family heritage of five generations.” Those are things that start to become fascinating. They’re differentiating.

And the same is true for each of us.

In our personalities, we have certain qualities that give us a huge competitive advantage because they’re differentiating. But too often, we file those down. We dull the edges because we think that we’re trying to be better. Different is better than better.

Jerod: I like that. And it’s a lot like the idea of the unique selling proposition, right?

Sally: It’s like the unique selling proposition, and it is a way to be able to apply it in your day-to-day conversation because a unique selling proposition is something that a brand artificially creates, almost like in a laboratory. You can invent a unique selling proposition, but that’s not necessarily how people are already seeing you.

As human beings, we don’t have a laboratory. We don’t want to be artificially constructed. So the key is to think: What are you already doing that’s different? In what way are you communicating that allows you to separate yourself from other people? Are you more analytical? Are you more meticulous? Are you more tireless, or strategic, or curious, or inventive, or dynamic, or expressive, or prolific?

What are you already doing right that’s already hardwired into the DNA of your personality so that you can start to build your career and your writing and your business around that, instead of trying to spend more money on marketing or spend more hours typing away at your computer like a monkey.

What the results of the Fascination Advantage assessment really tell us about ourselves

Jerod: So when we’re talking about promoting a brand online, how do you balance the difference between your personal fascinations — the things that make you the most interesting or most fascinating — and the best way to communicate, and maybe it’s different for the brand? How do you balance those two when you’re communicating to a bigger audience?

Sally: Let me just ask one quick question. Do you mean differentiating from the brand, like for example, you are part of a larger team at Copyblogger, or do you mean somebody who’s a solopreneur, where they are their brand?

Jerod: More like me at a bigger company like Copyblogger.

Sally: You’re going to attract the kind of readers or fans, advocates who are going to respond to what you’re already doing right. In other words, if you tried to build a readership or build a following based on you being rational and reasoned and pragmatic, you could do that. But you’re going to be exhausted. It’s not going to last.

You’re not going to be nearly as successful as you could if you could build that readership around being pioneering, irreverent, and entrepreneurial. So the key is, if you go to work and you’re wearing a mask, you can do it for awhile, but after awhile you’re going to become so discouraged and disenfranchised, and you’re not going to be performing at your highest level, so you’re not going to get the results that you deserve.

On the other hand, if you’re authentic from the very beginning and drop the masquerade, then you can be known for specific qualities that are really easy for people to identify you with. And that’s why it’s so key for there to be congruity between your personal brand and your professional brand, that who you are at work should be who you are at home, so that you don’t have to put on some other altered persona when you walk through the door at work.

Jerod: And this really highlights the idea of the dormant advantage, because you have a primary, and you have a secondary advantage. And then this idea of the dormant advantage, which is essentially the one that would be, as you mention, kind of the most exhausting to try and communicate with. Can you explain a little bit what that idea is, of the dormant advantage?

Sally: Sure. I have a primary passion advantage. That means I love being able to connect with people. Creating an emotional connection is something that I thrive on, and I use a lot of adjectives. I use hand gestures, as you can hear.

But somebody with a dormant passion advantage would be exhausted by going to a cocktail party. They don’t want to hug strangers. They don’t want to talk about themselves and open up. If you have a dormant passion advantage, it means that for you, creating emotional connections is something that takes a disproportionate amount of energy, and that’s energy that you can’t put into other things.

So it would not be a wise move if you have a dormant passion advantage to have a job in customer service or make a promise to your readers that you’re going to be available 24/7 to comment on the blog. Because that’s setting yourself up for failure. And your dormant advantage helps you understand why you fail in certain situations — why some things a no-win.

I have a dormant trust advantage, which means I don’t like patterns. I don’t like schedule. I don’t like absolutes. I don’t like rules. It’s very hard for me to work with a client who’s going to micro-manage me and give me a very tightly regimented outline of what they want me to say or do. And I imagine that you’re probably similar. Would you agree?

Jerod: Yes. Definitely.

Sally: Whereas if somebody has a primary trust advantage, for them they want to know: What are the expectations? Show me the box so I can operate within the box. Tell me the rules so I can win. And your dormant advantage reveals, when you look back on your life, why there are times when you tried your best but you just couldn’t seem to get a good result.

Jerod: That’s one area of potential danger, right? Trying to follow your dormant advantage too much. And one other one that you highlight in the book is when your primary and secondary advantage are the same. And one thing I was wondering is, when people take the assessment, can it sometimes come back with the primary and secondary being the same?

Because you highlight in the book what can happen, basically where there’s not enough balance and you just go overboard with one of the advantages.

Sally: Yes. Great question. We’re getting into the dirt now. (Laughs.) This is like the gossip zone of the system. This is called a double trouble. A double trouble is a mode that your personality can get in when you are at your worst. In other words, it’s when your advantage turns into a disadvantage.

We’ve all seen people that, at work, they have an advantage. We’ll take passion since I’m a passion personality. A passion personality might be very engaging, and able to create relationships quickly. But if a passion personality goes through, say, a breakup, or they’re hungry, or they’re stressed, then they slide into the double-trouble mode, which is named “The Drama.”

That’s passion plus passion. We’ve all seen somebody when they get into a drama mode, right? Can you think of somebody that you worked with where it just seemed like everything was sort of over the top, and they were sensitive and theatrical?

Jerod: Yes. We won’t name names, of course, but yes.

Sally: Yeah. They’re not like that all the time. Let’s take another example. The trust advantage — trust is all about stability.

But when people become fearful and they don’t want to change, then they slide into that double trouble which is named “The Old Guard.” Which is, they’re unmovable. They’re safe. This is the entrepreneur who won’t upgrade technology, who says, “Oh, Twitter is just a fad,” or “I don’t need to be looking ahead of the curve.”

You have primary innovation. Your double trouble is named “The Anarchy.” When your advantage turns into a disadvantage, then you’re going to be seen as volatile, startling, or chaotic. And this might be, you come into a meeting and you’re like, “Hey, guys! Remember that plan that we’ve had? Well, scrap that, and we’re going to try something new!” Have you ever had that happen?

Jerod: Yes. Fortunately not at Copyblogger, but yes.

Sally: We’ve all had it happen, and it’s important for us to be able to see how our advantages can actually become disadvantages.

Alert, for example, the alert advantage is all about details. These personalities tend to be protective, proactive — they’re great at being able to have a very skilled, specific outcome. But when they slide into double trouble they become “The Control Freak,” and this is the project manager who comes by your office three times a day, and they’re kind of compulsive, and “When’s it due? When’s it due? When are you going to give it to me? Send it to me! Email it! Post it!”

And in that case, the advantage becomes a disadvantage. The key here is to understand how people see you at your best, so that you can focus in on those, and do less of the things that get in the way of creating a positive relationship and connection.

The importance of having an Anthem and how you construct one

Jerod: These ideas are so great; they are so empowering. But the key is not to just hear them and then let them pass. You have to incorporate them into your daily life somehow, and you have a strategy for doing that, which is called “The Anthem.” What is an Anthem, and why is it important?

Sally: An Anthem is like a tagline for your personal brand. It’s a way to summarize how you’re most likely to add value. Your key difference with just a few words. I drew upon my history as an advertising copywriter working with brands like Target, Nike, and Coca-Cola, and just as in advertising, I was able to find the perfect words for a brand to describe how that brand is different.

I found that when a brand can identify how it’s different with just a few words, with a tagline, then it’s easier for the brand to differentiate itself in a crowded market. And so as I was developing this system, the Fascination Advantage system, I found that we can do the same with personalities.

We’ve measured over half a million people, and we started creating an adjective bank to see which adjectives are most strongly associated with different personality styles, and what we found is that if we can give people an adjective to identify how they’re most likely to communicate successfully — in other words, what is their competitive advantage — it becomes easier for them to stop trying to be all things to all people and to have a specialty.

So your Anthem is a two-to-three word phrase. You find those words in the Fascination Advantage report that you took.

I’ll give an example. Let’s take The Gravitas. The Gravitas has primary trust and secondary power. A Gravitas is dignified, stable, and hardworking. So if somebody who has The Gravitas archetype was writing a LinkedIn bio, they probably wouldn’t want to describe themselves as pioneering, irreverent, and entrepreneurial.

Because not only would it not be true, but then they would start to attract the type of clients they really don’t want. Whereas if they wrote, “I have a dignified presentation style, I’m stable in my work ethic, and I am hardworking and make sure I can deliver results,” it becomes easier for them to paint a picture in their reader’s mind of who they are and how they add value.

Let’s talk about your potential Anthem for a minute. Okay, listen to this. I’m opening up my copy of How The World Sees You.

Jerod: I have mine open, too, right now.

Sally: You do?

Jerod: It’s on page 248: The Maverick Leader.

Sally: Ohhh.

Jerod: And that’s what I love about the book. Again, it’s called How the World Sees You. I mean, you go into detail about each one of these different archetypes with the adjectives, and even with the one-minute coaching, and examples of other famous people who have that archetype.

It’s so interesting. Not just for your own, but reading the others, and especially knowing what Demian is, and what my fiancée is; reading what it says about them is really fascinating.

Sally: And to be able to look at something and say, “I am so not that,” because that helps you understand who you actually are.

Jerod: Yes. Yes.

Sally: Let’s take a look at what your Anthem could potentially be. Now, I have my copy of the book open to page 367, which is where the Anthem exercise is getting executed. Here’s what I found.

Now, taking a look at deconstructing. What was I doing when I was writing headlines and campaigns for brands? What actually was going on? I realize there are two parts of great branding. The first part is “how are you different?” The second part is “what do you naturally do best?”

The first part, “how are you different?” is an adjective. What you do best is a noun. And when we pair the adjective with the noun, it gives a positioning statement. You might think of your Anthem as a way for you to position yourself based on what you’re already doing right.

So for you, let’s take these three adjectives of The Maverick Leader: Pioneering, irreverent, entrepreneurial. Which one of these three feels like it best describes how you’re different from other people?

Jerod: I like pioneering.

Sally: Well, who doesn’t love pioneering? Okay. So we’re going to take “pioneering,” and we’re going to put it in the parking lot. Now, your personality has a twin, and the twin is another look at how people see you at your best. Your twin is named “The Change Agent.”

Instead of innovation plus power, it’s power plus innovation. The change agent has three different, yet similar, adjectives. Those adjectives are “inventive, untraditional, and self-propelled.” Do you like any of those three adjectives more than pioneering to describe how you are different? In other words, what is your competitive difference from other people in your same industry or peer set?

Jerod: You know, when I went through this, self-propelled is the one that I liked the best and the one that I thought was the most accurate description of what makes me different.

Sally: Okay, great. So for our adjective describing how you’re different, we have two that are over here in the parking lot. We have “pioneering” and we have “self-propelled.”

Now, let’s take a look at what you do best, and I want you to think back on your career. What are the types of tasks or assignments that you relish, and that you know that you have a relatively high odds of delivering and over-delivering?

I’m going to pick out three different nouns. First one is “accuracy,” second one is “ideas,” and the third one is “work ethic.” I arbitrarily picked three from the list. Accuracy, ideas, work ethic.

Jerod: I certainly think “work ethic” would work, but I think “ideas” works the best. I think that’s one thing I’ve always been able to contribute is ideas.

Sally: Well, one thing that you could do, since you do have “innovation” as your primary, which means you’re creative, your Anthem could be a little bit of a combo platter. You might say, “I deliver pioneering ideas and a self-propelled work ethic.”

Jerod: Ohhh. I like that.

Sally: Imagine that you’re going into a job interview and say, Brian Clark is interviewing you, saying “there are a lot of different writers. There are many different directors of content out there. Why should I hire you, versus hiring one of these other people?”

And if you said, “Well, I deliver pioneering ideas and a self-propelled work ethic,” it starts to give Brian a really clear idea of how he can tap into your natural advantages so that he can help you do more of what you’re already doing right, but also assess the types of assignments or topics that are going to be best for you.

Jerod: Yeah. And I think this is a hard practice to do on your own, just to come up with an Anthem. But I love the way in the book how you do it, where you really break it down and make it step-by-step, and make it a simple process, but one that really makes sense. And I love what you just came up with. That’s great.

Sally: You know, two days ago I was trying to think to myself, “Why is it so hard for us to work on our personal brand?” I’ve struggled. I do personal branding for a living. I’ve been a copywriter all my life. I literally wrote the book on the topic. Yet sometimes I can freeze up when I’m writing a LinkedIn profile or a Twitter bio.

What I realized is it’s almost impossible for you to write your own personal brand, because your brand originates within yourself, but it’s through the eyes of other people. In other words, you can’t look in the mirror and accurately assess yourself. You sort of need somebody to help you do it. And that’s what the purpose of the system is.

It’s almost like your friend, who’s a big supporter of you, who knows you intimately, and has business savvy on what’s valued in the marketplace describing for you who you are at your best, so that then you have those words to use as building blocks. It’s not a formula, and it’s not cookie cutter, but it’s certainly a starting point so that you can start to flesh out around that and to help direct you on the areas where you’re primed to win.

Jerod: You know, I mentioned on a previous episode of The Lede, Demian and I were talking about lessons that we can learn from our successes, and one of the things that I was talking about is, I’ve been fortunate enough at Copyblogger to move out of the support team and come over to content, be Director of Content, and now VP of Marketing.

Along that journey, I haven’t always felt quite like I belonged, or that I really — not that I hadn’t earned it, because I’d worked hard — but I guess it was hard for me sometimes to see what the leaders in the company who were giving me these additional responsibilities, quite what they saw, simply because I didn’t necessarily have the copywriting background they had.

I was focused so much on the things that I wasn’t instead of seeing what I was, and when we had our company meeting a couple weeks ago, we did this exercise where everybody had to basically state the one or two things they contribute most to the team, and then we went around the room, and other people said what you contributed.

It was so interesting to hear what people said about me, and the things I said about other people. And it’s funny how the timing of all of this worked, because it really solidified in my mind, “Oh, yeah. It’s okay that I’m different and I don’t do this, that, or this, because I do X, Y, and Z. I do these other things, and that’s where my value actually comes from.”

I think that realization I had in that meeting is so much of what you’re talking about in this book, and just with what you do.

Sally: And to take it a step further, imagine if the people around you understand what are the areas that are going to be your wellspring, then they can say, “Oh, this is exactly what you should be working on right now,” or “here’s an area where I need your help because you’re the in-house specialist in this area.”

On the other hand, if people also know the area in which you’re most likely to have quicksand, they can say, “Oh, let’s make sure that we get extra support in this particular area.” My team is very clear. I need support when it comes to things that have to do with the minutiae and the detailed follow-up and repetitious tasks, but that I’m going to be really great when it comes to brainstorming. And conversely on my team, there are other people who have totally different advantages and pitfalls.

Jerod: And that’s okay, right? Like you said, we don’t have to be all things to all people. We don’t all have to have strengths in every area. It’s okay to recognize these differences and even recognize areas where we’re not so good, and make sure that our team is built around that so that we’re all complementing each other and supplementing where each other maybe isn’t at their best.

Sally: A minute ago we were talking about high-performing teams, and I was describing the top two characteristics. And I realized I only gave the first one. The second characteristic of a high-performing team is that the team has diversity, not only in terms of how we typically think of diversity, but also personalities.

Great teams aren’t built on similarities. They’re built on differences so that they can optimize each other and balance each other out, and people don’t have to be responsible for being good at all things, being all things to all people, and instead they can focus on over-delivering in the area in which they’re most naturally suited.

Jerod: And relationships are even like this too, right? I know Heather and I were talking about this, and we both took the assessment.

Sally: Ohhh! Back to the gossip! What was her archetype?

Jerod: Well, she was The Evolutionary.

Sally: Oh! One of the most rare archetypes!

Jerod: Is it really?

Sally: Wow! Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Jerod: I can’t wait to tell her that.

Sally: I think it might literally be the most rare. If I remember correctly, it’s 0.4 percent of the population.

Here’s why. It’s primary trust, meaning stability, consistency, but secondary innovation. And if you think of personalities that are creative, they tend to not be highly structured and self-managed, whereas if you think of personalities that are highly structured, they tend to not be creative. And so Heather is a combo platter.

Jerod: Yeah, that’s great. And we found that it seemed like some of the differences help to kind of supplement each other, but then, obviously, there are those similarities, which obviously, help us get along. So it was very interesting doing that and doing it together.

Sally: It is a great thing to be able to do with somebody that you’re really close with so that you can watch each others’ videos, because a lot of times, especially in romantic relationships, people look at each other and go, “Oh, that’s why you do that thing you do.”

Jerod: Exactly.

Sally: We did training at the headquarters in California for Intel, and we separated everybody into groups of their primary advantage. So the power personalities at one table, mystique personalities at another table, passion, and so on, and we gave everybody a simple marketing assignment.

And what they didn’t realize was the purpose of the assignment was not for them to complete the task; the purpose was for them to be able to watch how their group becomes hyper-concentrated on their primary advantage, and how different that is from the other groups.

So, for example, the passion group, over the course of the 15 minutes, had all kinds of ideas. They were high-fiving, back-slapping, they were taking Post-it notes and putting them up on the wall, and you could hear them from all through the halls. “Woo hoo, yeah, love it, yeah!” But then they didn’t actually come up with an idea. They were so involved in the creative process.

When you have passion personalities that work together, they can be very excited and very emotionally into it, motivated, and spirited, but they’re not going to necessarily be the most productive. On the other hand, if you have, let’s take, prestige personalities. These are people who are overachievers, who are focused on excellence, and they always want to try to make sure that they’re raising the bar.

The prestige group was competitive, and what happens inside organizations that have a disproportionately high use of prestige is that the personalities can almost become — the culture becomes brittle because people are so focused on achievement that nobody’s looking around at the culture and quality of life and the maternity leave policy, or what time people leave on Fridays.

And so this is what happens inside of our organizations, no matter what size they are. If the organization takes on the personality advantages of the people who are the greatest number within the organization, alert personality organizations tend to become so detailed that it’s all about the owner’s manual and not about the spirit with which they’re marketing.

On the other hand, power personalities tend to become so focused that the group can become dogmatic. It’s important for you to understand the advantages in your group so that you can even it out, and make sure that you have a good balance for the outcome that you want to achieve.

Jerod: Yeah. Again, it’s about balance. I have my own little personal philosophy that kind of helps me, which is balance pride and humility. If I can always balance those two things, I feel like I’ll always be successful in whatever I’m doing. These kind of opposing forces, almost, and get them to work together somehow.

And that’s so much of what you’re talking about. There are different strengths, different elements that these different advantages bring to the table. Get them to work together, both internally and on teams, and everybody’s going to rise and experience more success together.

Sally: So, “Balance pride and humility with pioneering ideas and a self-propelled work ethic.” How about that?

Jerod: I like it. I like it. I may be changing my Twitter bio today.

Sally: Yeah!

How Sally applies her own ideas at home, as a parent

Jerod: I told you before that I had notes for three hours, and we could just keep on going, but I know that we can’t go that long. So I wanted to end with this, and it’s going to kind of go in a completely different direction.

I realized that when I was going through your book I was fascinated before I even got to the first page, because I don’t often read the dedications in books, but I did read this in yours, and it says, “To my mother and father, who taught me how to become more of who I already am.”

I don’t have kids yet, but I do spend a lot of time thinking about how I want to be as a parent when I do, and so much of that centers on how do you instill in kids as they’re growing up to be able to have these ideas, and to be comfortable with who they are, and to see their differences as advantages, not disadvantages? And so I wonder. You have eight kids. How have you tried to instill these ideas in your kids?

Sally: Well, I’ll give you a very tangible example. Our youngest, Azalea, is 11 years old. She had a concussion last year, and now she has something called “post-concussive migraine disorder,” which is, she gets really bad migraines that go on for sometimes weeks at a time. She’s been out of school all week, and she is home on the couch and has a cold compress on her head, and it’s really kind of miserable.

And it would be easy for me to say, “Oh, you’re okay, let’s get better, let’s change what’s happening, let’s change your experience, change your mindset,” but the reality is she’s miserable. And so instead, I gave her a journal, and I said, “Draw for me what your pain feels like.” And she was so articulate. And she’s been drawing for her doctor what the pain feels like each day so we can track it.

In other words, I’m not trying to change her experience of the pain; I’m trying to help her emotionally deal with the pain in a way that’s going to be more productive for her long-term. I think that’s what my parents did for me. I grew up in a very unusual family. When I was seven years old, my sister had two world records — Guinness World Records — in swimming. And then she went on to the Olympics, and she won three gold medals.

Jerod: Wow.

Sally: And a silver in the Olympics. My brother graduated from Harvard, and I was the baby of the family by seven years. And so I always struggled with, “How am I different?” And my dad said to me, “Sally, you don’t have to change who you are. You just have to become more of who you are.”

And that’s what I say to my kids:

The goal is not to change who you are into somebody else. The goal is to identify those parts of you that are so valuable, that are so different, and become more of who you are.

Jerod: Yeah. Become more of who you are. And that is the message that you’ll be telling all of us who go to Authority Rainmaker in May, which I cannot wait for, not just to hear what you say but to meet you in person.

I’ve had such a good time during this conversation, as well as while reading your book. I can’t wait to meet you in person and to hear what you have to share with the audience then.

Sally: Oh, thank you! Thank you! I’ve got to tell you, I am so psyched to be able to be part of this group and to be part of this conversation.

I’m so excited to be able to meet people and talk to them about their content and how they’re using their personalities and their advantages, every day, living and breathing it.

Jerod: It’ll be great, and it’ll be our pleasure to have you there.

Sally: Wonderful. I’m excited. I’ll finally get to meet you there.

Jerod: Yes, absolutely. Well Sally, thank you so much. Again, the book is How the World Sees You, and if people go to and use the code “Copyblogger,” you can take the fascination advantage assessment and figure out what your archetype is, and learn more about how the world sees you.

Sally: Yes. Exactly. We’re excited to see how this audience is different and unique from the average population. I’m really curious to see what the results are.

Jerod: Yeah. I am, too. And I’m going to send this around to the rest of our team, too. It’s fun seeing that Demian is The Secret Weapon — I’m sure it’s a nickname that he’ll start using now.

Sally: (Laughs.)

Jerod: It’ll be fun to see what everybody else is too, and I’m sure it’ll just inform us from a team perspective.

Sally: Can I reveal the results of that, of your team, when we’re at the conference?

Jerod: Yes! I mean, I guess. Here I am, just kind of jumping to an idea really quick. But yeah, sure.

Sally: (Laughs.) Can we light a fire onstage and do Jägermeister shots?

Jerod: (Laughs.) Yes. Yes.

Sally: (Laughing) Cool! Okay, good!

Jerod: That sounds great. I’m going to add that in the promotional materials.

Sally: Good.

Jerod: Well, Sally, thank you so much, and I will see you in May. Can’t wait.

Sally: Great. Great. See you then.

Jerod: All right. Take care.

Thank you very much for listening to this episode of The Lede. That URL, again, so that you can take the Fascination Advantage assessment is:

I will also put that in the Show Notes. For the access code, enter “Copyblogger” and you’ll be able to take the assessment for free.

And again, don’t forget, Sally Hogshead will be keynoting at Authority Rainmaker, so go to to get all the details about the event and register if you can join us, because I sure would love to see you there.

All right, everybody. Again, thank you for listening to this episode of The Lede. We will be back next week with another episode. Until then, take care. Talk to you soon.

About the author

Jerod Morris

Jerod Morris is the VP of Marketing for Copyblogger Media. Get more from him on Twitter or . Have you gotten your wristband yet?

The post Sally Hogshead on How You Can Unlock Your Natural Ability to Fascinate appeared first on Copyblogger.

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The New Authenticity and Authority: What it Looks Like, How to Use It Mon, 16 Feb 2015 14:00:00 +0000 Jon Stewart’s retirement from The Daily Show this week, accompanied by many tears and some cheers, is getting a lot of coverage around the web. First, because the show is insanely popular. But more than that, because the show demonstrates a real shift in what authority and authenticity look like in the 21st century. In


The post The New Authenticity and Authority: What it Looks Like, How to Use It appeared first on Copyblogger.


Image of Jon Stewart

Jon Stewart’s retirement from The Daily Show this week, accompanied by many tears and some cheers, is getting a lot of coverage around the web.

First, because the show is insanely popular.

But more than that, because the show demonstrates a real shift in what authority and authenticity look like in the 21st century.

In 2007, Stewart came in fourth in a poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press as an admired journalist. (He tied, interestingly enough, with Brian Williams.)

The Daily Show is a very different creature from the news parodies that came before it. Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update might make you laugh (some years), but no sane person relies on it for an analysis of what actually matters in the news. By contrast, in 2008, The New York Times asked if Jon Stewart might not be The Most Trusted Man in America.

You may not like Jon Stewart, which is fine by me. Because whether or not you care for his view of the world, he has a lot to teach you about how to present yourself to your audience.

Authenticity and authority: 21st century style

One anchor. Five correspondents. Zero credibility.
~ an early Daily Show tag line

Jon Stewart is a writer and standup comedian, and never made any pretense of being a credible source for the news. His primary purpose was to entertain and engage. He didn’t start The Daily Show, but it did seem to pick up some real momentum when he joined in 1999, moving from a zany “Weekend Update” style to a harder-hitting, more political approach.

And a funny thing started to happen as The Daily Show picked up steam.

People started turning to it for analysis of the “real news.”

Then, bright people started turning to it for analysis of the “real news.”

Jon Stewart is a content marketer of ideas. While of course The Daily Show is supported by advertising, what he’s selling is a critical, unsparing approach to politics and current events — coming from a particular point of view and set of beliefs.

Here are some things that I think make Jon Stewart particularly effective as a marketer, rather than just an entertainer, with an eye to traits and practices you can swipe for your own content.

Power Tip #1: Know the topic

While there are plenty of people who don’t care for Stewart’s interpretations, the fact-checking on The Daily Show is surprisingly good — particularly when you contrast it with the rather sloppy or nonexistent fact-checking that’s increasingly demonstrated by traditional media.

The Daily Show fact-checks so carefully, I suspect, because it improves the quality of the entertainment. It’s just no fun to take a juicy swipe at a political figure and then find out your carefully-crafted joke is based on bad information. And the great thing about politics (any country’s politics) is that you can always find comedy gold just by watching what’s actually happening.

It’s funny cause it’s true. ~ Homer Simpson

Some of The Daily Show’s tactics have been widely adopted by mainstream news, such as using video montages to show the way that politicians contradict themselves. And they were praised by journalism organizations and the Pew Research Center for getting Americans to look more critically at how the news is presented.

The Daily Show routinely positioned themselves with self-deprecating promises like, “all the news stories — first … before it’s even true.”

But they then went on to distinguish themselves by looking more closely and carefully at the news than many of their “legitimate” colleagues.

How to Use It: You probably don’t need to wade through the volume of research material that The Daily Show does. But you do want to keep yourself solidly informed on your subject.

Don’t just learn your topic — keep learning it. Keep questioning yourself, keep searching out the most credible sources, and keep your mind as open as you can about new developments that come up.

Power Tip #2: Speak with a strong individual personality and voice

Whatever else you want to say about Stewart, he’s funny. He has a great sense of comic timing, along with an uncanny ability to know when to say nothing at all and just stare blankly at a particularly insane news clip.

He doesn’t speak or write like his colleagues. He doesn’t sound like Stephen Colbert or John Oliver.

His writing (and remember, audio and video content start with writing) has a distinctive rhythm, moving back and forth between outrage and lunacy. He is not afraid to be serious, and he is not afraid to be deeply silly, but in both cases, he’s speaking with a voice that’s distinctive.

How to Use It: The best way to strengthen your writing and recording voice is to use it — a lot. Write lots of content. Record lots of podcasts or videos. Write about what you care about, and keep writing.

Imitation won’t take you very far. Learn to embrace what’s different about you — whether your style is flashy and outspoken, or quiet and deliberate.

Gary Vaynerchuk doesn’t sound like John Jantsch.

Ann Handley doesn’t sound like Sally Hogshead.

The world has seven billion voices — but we need yours.

Power Tip #3: Package your content as entertainment

Part of why The Daily Show has such a large audience is that it’s just more fun to watch than the news.

The segments are short, punchy, and, of course, funny. They don’t have to cover all of the important stories — they can stick to the ones with entertainment value. They come in bite-sized pieces that are perfect for sharing on social media. Stewart has a gift for coming up with ridiculous labels for different elements of the news, like Mess O’Potamia and BAD-vertising.

How to Use It: Whatever business you happen to be in, as a content marketer you are also in the entertainment business.

Use all the art you can command to make your content interesting, shareable, and compelling. And don’t be afraid to bring skillfully creative people into your team.

The real role of a top-notch professional writer isn’t to get the grammar and spelling right — it’s to make your content irresistibly interesting.

Power Tip #4: Don’t be afraid to show emotion

While Stewart has conducted most of his time on the show under a carefree, goofy persona, he’s never been afraid to let some real emotion out when the situation calls for it.

He can be grief-stricken, as he was after 9/11. And he has plenty of flashes of genuine anger.

Humor is a terrific vehicle for communicating a message, but its downfall can be that everything becomes a joke. Allowing people to see some real emotion can be the antidote.

How to Use It: While you probably don’t want to stay at a fevered emotional pitch all the time, don’t censor yourself when genuine emotion appears. If something makes you feel angry, happy, sad, outraged, or vulnerable, don’t be afraid to show it.

Your audience wants to connect with a human, not an unfeeling robot. The authority of knowing what you’re talking about is always well served by matching it with the authenticity of a feeling, sensitive human being.

Power Tip #5: Don’t worry about the people who can’t stand you

Most people who adore Jon Stewart are politically either neutral or left of center. Although he does sometimes skewer the American left, once calling the Democrats “at best Ewoks,” the right definitely takes the greater share of the smacks.

And the American right’s hatred of Stewart hasn’t hurt him. At all.

In the 20th century, you could cultivate a relatively universal authority. Everyone thought Edward R. Murrow was trustworthy and smart.

In the 21st century, you pick your tribe. The authorities you find most credible and admirable might be quite different from mine.

Whether or not you find this cultural fragmentation a good thing or a bad … it is.

How to Use It: In your content and marketing, lead with your beliefs. Don’t try to hide behind a veneer of impartiality — it’s boring and attracts no one. Get real about what you value.

And remember to live those beliefs and keep yourself in alignment and integrity with them — because if you don’t, the web will find you out and unmask you.

What to do if you aren’t Jon Stewart

I’m not as talented, funny, or charismatic on video as Jon Stewart.

If you aren’t, either, don’t let that worry you.

While these five tips are things that Stewart was particularly good at, you don’t have to be at the hit television show level to make them work for you. Follow the How to Use It tips in each section to inform your own writing, podcasting, and video content.

  1. Keep yourself informed on your topic — do your homework
  2. Develop your own distinctive voice
  3. Remember you are in the entertainment business — make your content compelling and shareable
  4. Don’t censor yourself when genuine emotion appears
  5. Lead with your beliefs, to attract the tribe that shares them

That’s how you’ll create content that’s memorable, that rings true, that establishes leadership and authority, and that helps you reach your business goals.

Which of these five lessons do you think you could incorporate right away to improve your content? Let us know over in our LinkedIn discussion group.

About the author

Sonia Simone

Sonia Simone is co-founder and Chief Content Officer of Copyblogger Media. Get more from Sonia on Twitter and .

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The Excitement of a Rock Concert. The Education of a Graduate Course. Fri, 13 Feb 2015 14:00:00 +0000 Check out the entire Authority Rainmaker experience here, and take advantage of Early Bird registration. We’ll see you in sunny Denver in May!   (If you like this video by The Draw Shop, you’re going to love meeting them at the live event — they’ll be creating Genius Maps of our sessions and providing avatar-ready


The post The Excitement of a Rock Concert. The Education of a Graduate Course. appeared first on Copyblogger.


Check out the entire Authority Rainmaker experience here, and take advantage of Early Bird registration. We’ll see you in sunny Denver in May!


(If you like this video by The Draw Shop, you’re going to love meeting them at the live event — they’ll be creating Genius Maps of our sessions and providing avatar-ready caricatures for attendees! Secure your spot today.)

About the author

Brian Clark

Brian Clark is founder and CEO of Copyblogger, host of Rainmaker.FM, and evangelist for the Rainmaker Platform. Get more from Brian on Twitter.

The post The Excitement of a Rock Concert. The Education of a Graduate Course. appeared first on Copyblogger.

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Rainmaker.FM: Has Social Media Killed Consumer Trust? Wed, 11 Feb 2015 16:30:00 +0000 This week, Robert and I put on our commentary caps to take on subjects that have been in the news. Plus, we reveal what’s in the very near future for Rainmaker.FM (think big). The main story this week is all too familiar … short-cut marketers are the reason we can’t have nice things. Now, apparently,


The post Rainmaker.FM: Has Social Media Killed Consumer Trust? appeared first on Copyblogger.


Image of the Rainmaker.FM Logo

This week, Robert and I put on our commentary caps to take on subjects that have been in the news. Plus, we reveal what’s in the very near future for Rainmaker.FM (think big).

The main story this week is all too familiar … short-cut marketers are the reason we can’t have nice things. Now, apparently, they’ve destroyed trust in social media, as consumers assume everyone is on the take.

As you might expect, we have an answer for that one. Plus, we talk podcasting for content marketing, revenue models for podcast networks, and heartily agree with some advice given by Gary Vaynerchuk.

In this 39-minute episode Robert Bruce and I discuss:

  • The big, new project that we’ve been hinting at
  • 3 business benefits of producing a podcast
  • Revenue models for your podcast
  • A key content marketing trend we’re riding
  • How marketers have destroyed social media
  • The second coming of word-of-mouth marketing
  • How to grow your audience when momentum is flatlining

Click Here to Get Rainmaker.FM
Episode No. 28 on iTunes

About the author

Brian Clark

Brian Clark is founder and CEO of Copyblogger, host of Rainmaker.FM, and evangelist for the Rainmaker Platform. Get more from Brian on Twitter.

The post Rainmaker.FM: Has Social Media Killed Consumer Trust? appeared first on Copyblogger.

]]> 0 Has Social Media Killed Consumer Trust?