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Ep 8: Chris Brogan. Personalization, automation & branding: retrofitting humans for the modern digital world

Ep 8: Chris Brogan. Personalization, automation & branding: retrofitting humans for the modern digital world

Host: Matt Medeiros | Published: October 6, 2019

Chris Brogan has spoken for or consulted with the biggest brands you know including Disney, Coke, Google, GM, Microsoft, Coldwell Banker, Titleist, Scotts, Humana Health, Cisco, Sony USA, and many more. He’s appeared on the Dr. Phil Show, interviewed Richard Branson for a cover story for Success magazine, and once even presented to a Princess.

In this interview Matt Medeiros interviews Chris on the changing landscape of running a business in this modern age and what the average person can do to adapt, stake out their niche and remain relevant. This interview covers topics of personalization, automation, branding, email list segmentation, podcasting, chatbots, experimentation mindset, video games and more.


Show Notes

0:00:27   Welcome and context
0:01:55   Story #1: Making $35k in one hour on a podcast
0:05:43   Story #2: Giving directed unfettered attention to someone
0:08:45   The blessing and curse of being a boutique brand
0:10:09   In a world where I could buy from anyone, why should I buy from you?
0:15:25   “We employ these [automation] technologies at the points where the customers are least happy.”
0:17:55   “The opportunity to get a human to respond quickly on any of the [social] platforms still is more important than anything.”
0:20:05   Is blogging dead? Does everyone need a podcast these days?
0:21:51   “If you’re not making a visual version of a conversation you’re missing some opportunity.”
0:25:49   “You live and die by your database.”
0:26:49   “You have to remember Google is a publicly-traded company, they are not a utility.”
0:29:37   Are bigger brands coming to the realization they need to own their content via hosting on a CMS they control?
0:31:49   “Using someone else’s platform is like putting up your posters in a hotel room and thinking it’s your place.”
0:33:05   Experimentation: how do you control your experiments?
0:37:19   If you had 100 CMO’s in a room what would you tell them to do first thing when they come to work on Monday?
0:38:27   “People are really tired of fitting in. We want to go where we belong.”
0:39:07   Your thoughts on video games?
0:42:11   “We have the best conversations. We use the game as the conduit.”
0:44:11   “Life does not have as many good feedback mechanisms as a video game.”

Show Transcript

Matt: 00:27 Hey everyone. Welcome back to the PressNomics podcast. This is my debut episode. I’ll be your host, Matt Medeiros, and I am joined by somebody I consider a friend, but even more deeply a mentor, Chris Brogan. Chris, welcome to the podcast.

Chris: 00:43 Thanks for having me Matt. Excited to be here.

Matt: 00:46 All right. If you don’t know who Chris is and you haven’t been in the marketing space for the last 20 years, and Chris, I’m going to take the easy route here. Just going to read right off of your about page. Chris Brogan is president of Chris Brogan, Media offering business and marketing advisory help for mid to large size companies. Chris is a sought after keynote speaker, the New York times bestselling author of nine, if you can believe it, nine books and counting. His next book is dented. Retrofitting humans for the modern digital world. Chris, I know you’re a self-promotional guy.

Matt: 01:15 Is there anything else that you’d like to say about yourself?

Chris: 01:18 Oh boy. Can’t wait to talk about me. No. I in one way or another I’ve always been helping people use various digital tools to drive better human interaction. So, you know, no matter what my title has been, or no matter what kind of tool I think is cooler neato at any given time at all, I’ll turn it down to how do we earn more customers, how do we build better relations with the ones we have? And that sort of a day. And you know, I’m not a tech guy. I’m a guy who uses a lot of tech to make better human interactions.

Matt: 01:46 So I’d be remiss if I didn’t share two stories about Chris Brogan and Chris, I know you’ve heard these stories many times from me and other episodes or videos that I’ve done about you.

Matt: 01:55 But the first one that comes to mind is when I was a very young entrepreneur. This is like 12 years ago. And I was just getting onto the scene. I heard about blogging, I don’t know where. And I started researching as much as I could on the young consumer internet about how to be a better blogger, how to be an internet marketer, right, if you will. And I stumbled across you probably from like, I don’t even know a Craigslist ad. I don’t even remember how I found other personalities and thought leaders out there at the time. But I joined a webinar from you. I scraped together or whatever it was, 50, 60, 75 bucks to do this, this webinar. And two things really shook me to the core a little bit and really just left a Mark on me for wallet all the way up until now for many, many years to come is at the end of the webinar, somebody you had, you said that let’s go into questions and answers and somebody said, well, how much did you make on this podcast?

Matt: 02:47 Right? And to my surprise, you shared your screen. You’re in a hotel room. I remember this so vividly. And you showed us, and it was like, I don’t know what it was, 30,000, $40,000, whatever it was. And one time I was just in one part of me was like, wow, that’s just amazing how much money this guy made in an hour. And so many other people are saying that in the webinar. And you’re like, yeah, but guess what? This is over a decades worth of knowledge and understanding that I have in this space dumped into this one hour of webinar that you just got for 50, 60 bucks and you just fast tracked your experience, you know, 10 years to what took me 10 years. Now you’ve just learned in a year. And I was like, wow, this is a spark that went off. I can make money on the internet, I can make money with my knowledge. And transparency is critical.

Chris: 03:37 Well, it’s my pleasure. And what a funny way to share that because uh, you know, a couple of different times in my life, people have asked me like real open kimono kind of questions and I haven’t every single time just said, well here it is. And it’s, you know, it’s never really done anything to harm me. And you know, I, someone wrote, when I released some information about Google plus, I had, I had already logged 250 hours into Google plus by like the third week or so, which is ridiculous, but I really thought this is going to be a thing. So I charged $100 for that webinar and I had a limit of a thousand seats. And so people were like, Chris Brogan’s charging, you know, he’s gonna make $100,000 off of Google plus, which only just launched and that’s crazy. And whatever. And I said, I hope I make $100,000 that I sold a thousand seats.

Chris: 04:26 That’s good marketing man. I sold like, I dunno for 478 of the seats. What? I was really jazzed because I thought, you know, yeah, this is marketing. You could sell what you know. And what I said to people was, if you give me a hundred bucks, I will save you 250 hours of all the, you know, trial and error and mistakes and what I thought the setting meant and what it ended up meaning. And that’s why we spend money. It’s that stupid plumber cliche of, you know, it’s like 25 cents for the part and $500 for the visit. And the whole reason you pay the 500 is because you have to know where that part goes, you know, or how to put it in. I think that, um, you know, when we started selling courses and how to make your own courses at my, uh, one of my companies or intermediate group, we said, you know, people need to know what you know, and Y, you know, stop trading hours for dollars when you can trade your skills and your smarts to help people grow, to be a better, you know, entity in some way. And so that’s really been my small business model forever as far as selling information is just how do I give you something that’s going to equip you with a new skill.

Matt: 05:32 So that’s my story about Chris Brogan, the internet marketer, the guy who made the light bulb go off in my head to say, Hey, you can take your knowledge and make some money with it on the internet. Or at least through some consulting work. But the next story is one that is just threaded deeply into you as a human being. And the premise of today’s conversation about being more human, right, how to get brands to be more human. I remember just a few years later after that webinars you of course you’re saying I need to meet Chris. He’s not that far away from me. He’s up and around Boston. I’m just South of Boston. Let’s meet up. And we were both attending the same convention and I forget what it was, it was a marketing something or other in the uh, the South side of Boston and we ran into each other in the busy, you know, conference center.

Matt: 06:16 I sh I hunted you down and I said, Hey man, it’s Matt from the internet. I just want to shake your hand. And uh, I was there with my dad at the time cause that’s when we were starting our agency and they’re just asking for some pointers on just like how to get out there in the world. And you started talking to me and I’ll never forget, a woman came over and she said, all right Chris, we going to go, we got to go over here and do something or other getting ready for your talk. And you were like, no, I’m not done talking to this person right here. I’m not done talking to Matt. I’m engaged in a conversation. Let me finish it. And she’s like, yeah, but we’ve got to go in. And you know, again, you sort of just second it and said, look, I’m not done having this out when I’m done talking, then we can move on. And that has stuck with me for a very long time. As somebody who puts out his own podcast and talks to a lot of people at conferences, I tried to give the same amount of attention that you did and I can’t thank you enough for it.

Chris: 07:08 Look, everybody, you know, has so many opportunities to, to feel the opposite of that. So many times we feel like a number or we feel not all that important or, or you know, something gets between us in that sense that we’re, you know, in any way contributing in such a positive way to somebody else. And I always try really hard to make sure people know that I’m just like them. You know, I pay someone to put on my pants one leg at a time just like you do. And so it’s, to me, I think that giving directed, you know, like unfettered attention to somebody is a basic thing we should all do. And I, I’ve been, I’ve been the person getting looked over, you know, when I’m shaking hands with someone and they’re already trying to figure out who else they need to go talk to.

Chris: 07:53 And I never want that to be that for anybody. So it makes it hard for people who organize events where I’m there or book signings. When Julian Smith and I got to sign books at this big book, a event in New York for trust agents. My first book with Julian, the line was super long and it looked like it must be, must be amazing. But it was because we were very much personalizing every single book to the person in front of us. Not like, you know, reach for the stars. Chris Brogan, you know, it was every single thing was about what we talked about. So everyone left that experience thinking, wow, that was really personal. And, uh, I have just an, I don’t know how to do it the other way. I really wish I did. Sometimes I wish I could be like, thank you peasants and just leave, but it doesn’t work.

Matt: 08:39 So let’s transition into the meat of today’s conversation. And that is humanizing brands. Uh, Pagely is a family owned company. It’s owned by a husband and wife. We still lead us today. They are the leadership team and, uh, it’s a blessing and a curse sometimes in the face of billion dollar giants, right? That do WordPress hosting. Uh, it is something where it’s a strength where we can be more agile, we can be faster and Oh by the way, we care way more than the competition about our customers. But a lot of larger customers are just looking for that insurance policy. They just want to go with a giant because they have $1 billion in. If something happens, well they just won’t go out of business or some, you know, crazy harebrained scheme like that. And in the smaller business sector where I spend a lot of time mentoring small mom and pops are, are losing to big, faceless brands. Like I don’t know anybody at Amazon, I don’t know anybody at Apple or Microsoft or Google or heck, even Bonobos where I buy my clothes, they’re probably not as big as those larger technology companies. But I just don’t know these people. And I’m just curious like how do you pull the human out of bigger brands?

Chris: 09:56 This is a conversation that has kept me on stages as a speaker for years because I can go into any entity in the world and say, in a world where we can buy from anyone, why should we buy from you? Every time I say the word, anyone, all anyone should be thinking is in a world where we can buy from Amazon. Why should we buy from you? Because I’ll tell you so small businesses get ready to hate me. You don’t have the right to be a small business. It’s not. You know, there’s no, you know, I checked. It’s not in the Bible. It’s not in the American constitution. It’s nowhere that you have some kind of inalienable right, that all small businesses are created equal. 90% of them fail. You know why they failed? They failed because they can’t manage the hours. The time between requested product and delivered product is far too long.

Chris: 10:49 Um, sometimes it’s not their fault. It’s just a location problem. A lot of times it’s really horrendous service. The, the thing that Amazon solves for is if we get it there fast enough, you will forgive us a lot of our sins. Now, what every small business can do to combat that is be ridiculously personable. Remember people’s names, be a much more adviser based role. You know, Julian Smith and I, when we wrote trust agents, this isn’t a big ad for trust agents. I swear when we wrote trust agents, um, we stole heavily from Charlie green and David masters book the trusted advisor, which is a book about, you know, for consultants and whatnot. We stole the trust formula out of there. Everything we could steal that wasn’t nailed down. And we said, you know, this stuff matters. Trust matters. And with trusted advisor, what it said was, don’t be a consultant.

Chris: 11:40 Be someone who advises a business in such a way that they keep coming back and saying, Hey Matt, we just did this thing. We were thinking, we don’t know what to do next. What would you do in this case? That’s what you want. You don’t want someone who just buys the service and leaves. So, um, I’ll give you an example of a bookstore. Talk about competing with Amazon, this little company that is now under totally different management and ownership. So this story is no longer valid, um, was in Newburyport, Massachusetts. And I walked in and I asked for a particular book and of course it’s a super small bookstore. They don’t have the book. The woman behind the counter says, I will have it to you Tuesday. Is that okay? I said, totally. Okay. I showed up Tuesday. This is the second time ever I’d been in this store four days in past.

Chris: 12:21 I walk in the door as I walk in the door, she looks at me up from the register goes, Oh, hi Chris, your book’s in. By the way, I got this book too because I thought you might like it. I saw it. You don’t have to buy it, but I thought you might like it. So of course I bought both books. I ended up working with this lady when I had a full on corporate job. I worked with her in the holidays just so I could be around her. I think she’s the most lovely person. Her kid, her daughter, and my oldest son go to school together now. So I get this here at school events and she could be Amazon any day of the week by being incredibly personable, being a great reference source to give me new information. And any business can do this for free or cheap.

Chris: 12:59 It does. You require no amazing capital to do what that woman did. I am somebody who grew up in small business. My family owned a car dealership. Uh, bringing out personality, bringing out family values is just sort of ingrained in me and when it comes to doing business, right? So personalization and branding and stuff like that is just really at my core. And it’s one of the things I still see well, medium sized businesses still struggle with, right? Us on the internet, trying to land a customer, trying to make more deals. And especially small businesses because they’re just so darn busy running their business. And when they get in front of a, a marketer or a consultant that’s going to try to help them with their brand and personalization and pulling the human out, the immediate race goes to, well, let’s get some technology in here and let’s make this, let’s make this automated for you.

Chris: 13:51 Let’s make a chat bot, talk to these people as, as if they were talking to you, the founder or one of your sales persons, and let’s do automation so that when somebody clicks something, they get 12 emails dripped out to them over the course of a week and we’ll make it really personable. To me, it’s like, aren’t we just diluting this personality with technology? It seems pretty funny to me though. I definitely know the positives of it, but at the same time, it just seems like we’re just going in reverse with every new marketing buzzword that comes about. So, uh, there’s a phrase that Rob hatch and I use all the time. Rob’s my business partner over at own and media. We say to automate his human because we say it’s never the technology, it’s how you employ it, right? So we write a newsletter.

Chris: 14:38 I write one every Sunday, robbery, two on every Thursday. We personalize it with first name. We mentioned so many people every single week in our newsletter that are from that community. You know, we reference people that we like. We linked to the people that we also do business with. Any size business can do this. Chatbots are wonderful if they serve you well, chatbots are wonderful. If they’re going to get you through a part of the process, you know that you need to have them. Just like mobile vert, mobile voice response units or voice response for units. VRU for English, press one for Spanish, press two. Any other language you probably don’t matter. So we’re not going to give you a button, right? Like it starts right there, right? We’re going to dehumanize you into one of two languages. So if you speak Portuguese, forget you. Uh, number one.

Chris: 15:24 Number two, we employ these technologies at the points usually where the customers are the least happy. I think our customer service, something’s broken. I think that should go as fast as it can do a human being no matter what. And, and I used to manage call centers for the phone company. Uh, way back in the day. I mean like on the floor level kind of call center manager and it’s all about average handling time. You’re trying to minimize this part of your business. It is a cost center, not a value center to most companies. However, retention and referral are the most important parts of marketing that almost zero marketers spend any money on. They spend no money on retention, they spend nearly no money on referral. And so if you made customer service part of the marketing department and by that meant treat them so well, they need to come back.

Chris: 16:12 Then you would know when to use a chat bot. You know, it would be even so much better at certain times you would say, you know what, I’ve got a really cool bot that can help you finish this project if you want. I’m going to send you the link. Is that cool? Can I text you this link? And that gets him to like a a service to finish a project. That’s when we’re willing to do it. Think about the way like if you think of the shape of customer service call or problem or anything like that where there’s human interaction, the shape is always this. Some kind of energy is being expended because you’re not happy or you’re not sure or you’re something that’s out of the ordinary, otherwise you wouldn’t be involved in the customer service chain and then you get to that point where you have in some way been placated hopefully and then you get back onto the the stream of good business.

Chris: 16:58 The least time to use automation technology is at the front part of that shape. It’s, it’s at the end part of that shape when people want to get connected. Now I love email marketing. It is my favorite tool. I love really well executed email marketing and I think I’m good at it. I want to be great at it. I want to segment my list even more. I want dynamic content so that if I know that Matt only ever wants to hear about small business, I will never put a mid size business product or story in my email, et cetera. Companies don’t spend any time on segmentation of their lists. It’s amazing how many lists are just monoliths of any email address we’ve ever vaguely rubbed up against in a, in a place. And I think that that’s ridiculous. Um, I think chatbots are a great technology used when, you know, that kind of thing.

Chris: 17:44 I, the email Mark has a great, I think any of the social media type tools for automation. I think the post automation is great. I think the listening automation is great. I think the opportunity to get a human to respond quickly in any of the platforms still is more important than any of it. Anything that says, Whoa, this person’s really hot. We need to really talk to them now. Um, I’ll give you a real life example. Jacquelyn, my better half. She’s launching a skin health product and she, she’s built it all herself. She’s got her little sample bottles now and, and she wants to put the labels on them. She goes to that online label company who it’s a 100% automated kind of system. She does all the things the right way. The, the project says on the website, do this, then this, then this and we’ll send you the labels.

Chris: 18:29 But there were like two or three other steps that weren’t mass mentioned and the delivery time wasn’t explicit enough and they couldn’t deliver on time. Now, not the worst problem in the world. They handled it utterly worst. And I tweeted, I got involved in this one, I was a little grumpy cause it’s my woman and I tweeted some angry things to them and they were the worst possible attempt at customer is bonds ever. So now they’ll go in slides for speeches. Thank you company. I will mention you by name on a lot of stages about how bad you are. And I’m not saying that because this is what you should hope you know to avoid as a company, but you really want to be the good example in a slide. And it’s not that hard and it is absolutely not as expensive as the negative public relations.

Chris: 19:13 I’m about to give this company for several years to come. There is an absolute title wave of content in media for us to consume for our customers, customers to consume as just comes at us in a million different ways. It comes in as a Netflix and YouTube and entertainment and education. And I know your friend, uh, in my, I don’t know, mutual acquaintance, Gary Vaynerchuk, when somebody asks him, what’s the next step in growing my business? It’s always become a media company. If you’re in business, think of yourself as a media company. And I’m actually frightened when I hear that for small businesses who just really can’t do it at the level that’s necessary to retain engagement. Um, but I’m curious, you know, you mentioned content in that last piece there. When we’re humanizing the brand, when we’re trying to pull out personalization, I mean it used to be about a blog.

Chris: 20:06 Is the blog dead these days? Is podcasting the new medium? Do we have to be, have like a comedy hour on Netflix to reach people? Like what’s the next step? So if you looked at how many people are producing podcasts, you would think, my gosh, look at this. If you look at the infinite dial report by Edison research, uh, on this particular project run by my buddy Tom Webster over at Edison, that report shows you that more people are connecting to services like podcast much more often than they ever were before. Uh, by contrast, the average American anyway is reading no more than 19 minutes a day. And that includes text messages, emails, and any other kind of reading one can do. So they’re not reading your dumb says the book author. They’re not reading your dumb blog says the blogger, you know, as much as they used to.

Chris: 20:52 Blogging is not dead. Blogging is still an incredibly powerful tool for Google. I still produce blog posts at least weekly, around weekly, sometimes weekly. Um, I produce a very religiously, uh, maintained a newsletter for 10 years in counting. That is, you know, a a, a good, I’ll explain why in a second. And I think that we have to do video and I think almost every company has to do video. And I hate saying that because it freaks people out. But, uh, 1 billion hours and, and closing on 2 billion hours, now served every day on YouTube every day. I’m 300 million of those hours have served on a mobile device. We all sort of had that feeling no one’s going to watch YouTube on a mobile phone, wrong, a hundred million plus hours on a set top box. Meaning it’s the box that you watch your red socks on, but you’re not watching the socks you’re watching Netflix or YouTube.

Chris: 21:47 100 million hours is served on YouTube. If you’re not making a visual version of a conversation, you’re missing some opportunity. And I, and I hate saying it because it sounds like jump on a bandwagon kind of language. The numbers are just, they’re, Gary’s not wrong. I almost never bet against Gary except for in football. Um, but that’s sort of funny inside joke. So, um, I will say that the challenge is that people accidentally think producing content is good. No producing good content is good and good only means useful. It does not have to be edited to sound like some NPR show. It has to be something someone needs in some way. Should a barbershop have a how to get a good haircut kind of content? No. Could a barbershop make great content out of the chitchat that goes on in chairs? You know, if people are personable enough, the skills that it takes to be a great hair cutter doesn’t necessarily equate to a great host of a show.

Chris: 22:45 So there are some challenges in making an editing and producing and distributing this kind of material. I get it. That said, almost any business that has the opportunity to educate, entertain and inform as a big leg up if they have content production over some other people in those categories, spaces, you know, uh, if people, well, I’ll give you an example. Two days ago this doctor medical doctor who is now selling a product contacted me and she goes, I saw you on the Tony Robbins DVD series, the internet money masters talking to Tony Robbins and I couldn’t believe how easily accessible you were. And so I’m here because I have a business proposition for you. And I was like, this is ridiculous that this video I shot with Tony in like, Oh eight or Oh nine is still getting me leads in 2019. And so I think that your Ted talk, your whatever your ongoing podcast, if you’re good enough to do it is a great force multiplier compared to organizations who don’t have it. And I think that if you think that is too much work, how much is too much work compared to you? Not ads, not working for you? Uh, any T terrestrial media not working as well for you phone books. Oh my gosh, I remember when the yellow pages was good enough. Do you have a current yellow pages near you? Not unless you’re short.

Matt: 24:09 Right. Um, I mean, you know, the, the visual that normally comes to my head. So I do a lot of mentor ship, uh, at a local accelerator that I’ve mentioned to you before, IE for all. And we just get this, this, this, this cast of about 15 or so businesses. Every cohort come through and they bring me in to talk about content. And you know, the visual is like shake a soda, a metal soda can shake it up really, really good and then smash it against the rock. And that is what the heads look like of small business, local or local small business owners thinking about like content marketing. And there is no, you know, again, technical hurdle. They’re unsure where to start. And like you, I normally say start with one easily enough telling your story about why you got into all of this in the first place. Get somebody interested in your, in your journey and your methodology of building whatever businesses is and get them onto an email list. Because my God, the alternative is just to pay lots of money to Facebook or Google to push ads to your website. And that’s fine if you want to do that, you know, but wintertime’s coming in new England with 17 feet of snow, no one’s going out shopping. You might need to have that email.

Chris: 25:22 And Matt, I have to tell you, so I’m glad you reminded me about email because I would have lost that thread. Um, so I, so a couple of things. One is w when Jeff pover hired me in 2006 to go work with him, Jeff’s a visionary, a guy, he cofounded Vontage back in the day when voiceover IP was brand new and he was way ahead of the curve on the disruption of VoIP compared to regular Telefony back in the day. Jeff said to me the first day he hired me, he’s, the second piece of advice he gave me was, you live or die by your database. If you don’t, you know, really meticulously maintain your list that you have access to send mail too. You’re an idiot. Um, and I took that to heart the first day. The minute I started a list, I’ve never turned back. Facebook is great.

Chris: 26:06 If you’re really excited about paying money to access people that already said they’d rather hear from you, that’s the game on Facebook is give them money to access to people that already said they like you. That’s a weird game. Google, uh, forget that. Don’t be evil thing they used to say 10 or plus years ago. They’ve given up. Their new tagline is just, um, and I’ll tell you an example of that. So I have friends in the healthcare space and in various a health and fitness, uh, type industry spaces. One of them reached out to me and showed me the graphs of what Google searches done very recently. And then weirdly a few weeks after that graph was shown to me Google a whole bunch of new health products that they were releasing. And it just, you can’t make it up, but you have to remember Google is a publicly traded company.

Chris: 26:51 They are not a utility and we have accidentally mistaken that search feature that we all hound on. And this isn’t like saying go to Bing or duck duck go. This is saying that default Coke versus anybody else’s is Pepsi. Okay. Is a for profit organization who doesn’t care if they send you more traffic or not. So for the years that we’ve tried so hard to rank, you know, in Google it’s at, we serve at their pleasure. So the only place where we don’t have that and the only place where small and midsize businesses can thrive over big guys is in a well managed, well-maintained human interaction filled email list or an incredibly media-savvy kind of email list. One of my favorite newsletters of all time right now is teen Vogue. I am absolutely not the person who should be reading teen Vogue. However, I’m a bunch of really smart millionaires that I know told me this a bunch and they were like, Oh, you don’t know the teen Vogue thing.

Chris: 27:53 And I was like, I don’t know. And you know, every week or every day I will get some weird thing about Kardashians or you know, you know, should I, should I tell my boss about my period and things? I don’t need to know Matt, but there’s magic in there. Just like someone years ago might’ve been, Seth Godin told me to read Bob Lefsetz letter, which is a newsletter about the music space. But if you can Intuit from it what you want to use as marketing tools for your company, there’s some magic in that old silk hat. A good majority of the money I make never has anything to do with social media except for that’s the very wide area of the funnel. So I gave someone a snack somewhere or I made a show somewhere and they gave me the right to message them through newsletter or through email and that’s how I make money.

Chris: 28:40 It’s never the snack, it’s never the show. It’s the letter. When I talk to small businesses, and again and again, I have to preface this with medium size businesses at Pagely, I’m raw, raw, WordPress. I mean you know that I’ve been talking about WordPress for 10 years, get a WordPress podcast all about WordPress. And one of the things that steers me and continues to steer me in the direction of using WordPress is because of something that you said of, you know, we can leverage these platforms, but we want to own the customer experience, own the customer contact, be able to directly message the customer whenever we can, again, through email. And for me, WordPress is great because we can own that content, right? A platform could never change. In other words, we’re putting our blog on WordPress and we’re uploading it to our site. When in in like you, you have 15 years worth of archives, if not more of blog content safely stored on your site and no one will ever tell you, Hey, guess what?

Chris: 29:33 We’re never going to surface these blog posts again. Um, from your vantage point, again, when you’re working with the medium size to larger types of brands, do they care as much to own their content? Are they starting to now in the year 2019 to be a little bit more skittish putting all of that, uh, inventory onto a Facebook or LinkedIn or even a Google PR, let’s say. Um, what’s your, what’s your take on owning that content and does that reflect what maybe your larger clients are seeing as well? I love this question because the sad and I mean painfully sad truth is that people could care less than even like when we started telling people about this years and years ago, I’ve been a WordPress guy since, I don’t remember when I had come over from blogger and a few other ancillary technologies. And when I got to WordPress, I was like, Oh my gosh.

Chris: 30:28 And I had the pleasure, you know, many years ago to hang out with Matt Mullenweg for a little bit. And I was like, this guy gets it. And you know, anyone I’ve ever met that’s, you know, WordPress, you know, company. They’re the right kinds of people out there. For the most part, 90 something percent of WordPress business people I’ve met are wonderful people. And the other 10% I hope burn. So, um, but companies, there’s this thing that happens with technology and a lot of things in life. We, uh, there’s a word obfuscate, which is a great $50 word, but it just sort of means that like there’s what’s really there and then there’s layers between us and it so that we don’t think about it as much. And when you use a Mac, you’re using a very visual looking computer that’s running on an OSTP called Linux. And if you had to type into the command line at Linux to do anything you normally do on a Mac, it would make you cry.

Chris: 31:18 But as years go on and as you need to know less and less, Linux, Mac becomes so much more pleasant. Windows become so much more pleasant. Same way in both cases. It’s through that obfuscation. The more we can take away the suffering feelings that people feel they have a in using some of these platforms, they, they feel like this is great. So Facebook comes along and you just type into it. Medium comes along and they go, let’s use this. And I’m like, yeah. So I’ve been saying since maybe 2005 that using someone else’s platform the way most people do and try to set up their home there is the same as getting a hotel room and bringing your own Oriental rug, hanging up a couple of led Zeppelin posters and sticking a lava lamp on the desk and thinking it’s your place. It’s not your renting it with WordPress.

Chris: 32:06 You have access to the software. You can ruin any piece of that code that you want. With the interfaces like Gutenberg and some of the building platforms and all that, it can look super pretty and sleek like medium does fine. That’s great, but WordPress had having your own site and having your own place of content. I wrote a post a million years ago, a 2005 or six about the Homebase and outpost and that you need to make your home base the most important thing and you use these social outposts to guide people to the home base. I have used that same strategy since then and never stopped. The only difference in my strategy, I love WordPress. I’ve used it endlessly for years. I don’t. Every now and again I’ll build something on another platform to try it and go, Oh, that was not going to happen again. Uh, the only thing that I’ve changed in my strategy is from the way old days to now is how much, much more important it is to also have a great email list and have a great email service provider technology to message that list in a, in a thoughtful and meaningful way.

Chris: 33:03 Experimentation. That’s the word I’ll use over the years. I’ve seen you experiment in different ways of, you know, again, thinking back over a decade ago of your live stream television show, I’ll say, you know, and, and just thinking back of my God, this man is ahead of the curve every single time. How does he do it? Um, but I’ll call them experiments. I’ve done experiments in the, in the past. Um, how do you control that or these controlled experiments? Do you go into something when you’re coming up with a new digital marketing or content flavor, uh, how do you control these experiments? You look at them as experiments. Where do you say this is the next thing? This is what I’m passionate about, so I’m just gonna follow it and we’ll see what happens. So in the movie 300, uh, when the Persian messenger is faced off against that pit Woodley and nineties qinglian IDs, and he says, this is madness.

Chris: 33:59 And then he yells in his face, this is Sparta and kicks him. Um, everything I do is madness and Sparta. I do everything right out in front of everybody and I’m like, Hey guys, watch before. I’ve mastered the trick. You know, the difference between Tony Hawk and everybody else and the difference between Tony Hawk and me is he waited until he perfected that twist. And he, when he got that, you know, who’s the first guy to do what was it, the 900 and something degree or 720 or whenever it was, he spun that board around so much, it was like a helicopter with, you know, glasses. Uh, Tony waited until he had a great trick to show you. I do it exactly the opposite. I’m like, I just got a skateboard, guys. Let’s go do something. Um, there’s a reason why I, the method to my madness comes out of, is as far back as podcasting and before that I’ve belonged in one way or another to technology communities where we’re all building stuff at the same time and learning and we say, Oh, do you know, if you do this and you kind of add this sort of enclosure, then this works better.

Chris: 34:59 And everyone benefits from getting that information faster. And so podcasting the, when we did our first ever pod camp event, which is an international series that Christopher Penn and I co founded, we had the great opportunities to talk to both, um, Adam Curry, who was one of the first ever podcasters. Um, and Oh my gosh, why am I going to blank on his name? He’s gonna hate me. He’s gonna kill me, founder of RSS as much as, as everybody else. Why can’t I think of Dave’s name? Um, he’s gonna kill me cause he never gets the credit he’s supposed to get, uh, Dave Weiner. Oh my gosh, I had to Google it. Dave Weiner, who would hate me for hearing that Dave said, um, and Adam said too, we were calling each other on the phone all the time going, Hey, how do you make the podcast actually get picked up by a block?

Chris: 35:49 You know, how do you make it like syndicate the way blogs do and RSS works and how do we do rich media and closures and all that? So that’s a real long answer to your question, but there’s a lot of reasons why that experimentation mindset is how I’ve always executed everything. And I will say, I’m launching a new company. Everyone’s like, that’s great. And they’ll come to my site in like a month and a half later. They’re like, where did that thing go? It was terrible. I didn’t, it was bad. I shut it down. You know? I think that rapid iteration is important until you get some traction. And then I think the worst thing you could ever do to a community or an audience or a list or anything is to 90 degree them. A lot of times the more you whip SA, you know, I, there’s an analogy I love using, you know, you don’t go buy ice cream from the gas station, right?

Chris: 36:37 And so there’s a lot of opportunities that you can accidentally get someone really excited about project a. But if it’s so far field when you do project B, there’s market confusion and people go, I don’t even know what you do anymore. And then they leave in droves. That is the, uh, an an an intended negative byproducts of doing things the way I’ve been doing them. Two questions before we wrap up. It’s been a pleasure and I think many people, we’re both from the Boston area. We both lack the Boston accent. You ever get that? People say that to me all the time. They say you don’t sound like you’re from Boston. Well, so I was born in [inaudible] and then I came down here and I like to neither accent. So [inaudible] Canadian or the Midwest somewhere. If you had, and you often do, if you had a hundred CMOs in a room, what would you tell them that they have to go and do tomorrow when they report to work?

Chris: 37:29 Maybe not tomorrow because it’s a Friday, but Monday first thing you do on a Monday a hundred CMOs in a room. So people hate my advice because it always sounds so, uh, quaint and what at least sounds like is words that you’d see on a Ted talk. So I feel like people are really tired of trying to fit in. We want to go where we belong. And I think that what we need to start doing in every single company in the world is speak specifically to the very specific people we hope to sell and serve and stop trying to speak to everybody. I see this in so many verticals. Restaurants, the restaurants that are failing are the ones that have multiple pages of multiple cuisines. We want to go to a place that has a menu that could technically fit on one side of an eight and a half by 11 piece of paper and you know, maybe Chinese food is the rare weird exception, but when was the last time you had amazing Chinese food? Did they also sell Japanese and Korean and whatever? No, I would say people are really tired fitting in. We ha we want to go where we belong. What does that mean to your business? How do you have to change how you, how do you change who you reach and what are you going to do to set up systems and processes and humans to make it super clear you’re our kind of person if and make that the way you actually guide your decisions in money, time and resources.

Chris: 38:52 I don’t have a direct clear question for this next piece. Okay. But it’s one that I am, I am selfish to take a couple of minutes to just throw out a word and have you and I am riff on it. Go or the two words, video games, video games. It’s something that now of course I’ve been a fan of forever. I know you have two. I have two young children. You have teenagers. Yes. Um, I believe teenage two teenagers. Correct. Um, so and now I’m thinking in the thought process. Okay. My oldest is three, two, I start to let him play video games. Am I going to be one of those parents that don’t let them play video games? Because I, you know, started playing video games when I was very young and quite honestly thinking back like EverQuest, like the first MMO RPG I ever played, I think really it allowed me to socialize, uh, edit, edit at a different level because you’re just typing on a keyboard, you’re trying to get things across your, you’re sort of, uh, just walking up to people and literally talking to them, you know, not verbally at the time, but nowadays you do, um, video games, your, your thoughts, the impact or the pleasure that you have with video games.

Chris: 40:03 Uh, so I’m a wee bit older than you, so my first ever, you know, game experiences were far less pleasant, but you know, I was, I was very much into it from a very young age and it was because, you know, they could take you beyond whatever you were capable of doing and they can take you into kind of an imagination space in a way different than the way books work. Uh, yes, I would start them early. Yes, I would start good etiquette early. Um, both my kids started playing very young, always way too young compared to whatever this, the age recommendation was on a game and we’d have rules, right? So my, uh, oldest, who’s now 17, headed towards 18, wanted desperately to pay play Assassin’s creed. We’re in the main character is an assassin. You kill people. Like there’s no way around it.

Chris: 40:49 There’s no cutesy graphics to make it like no YouTube bubbles at them. And I had, I had a rule and it was so weird explaining this to other parents. I’m like, well, the rule is you can only kill the people you’re supposed to go kill because in the game you could kill non-player characters. You can just go into the town and just start messing up a bunch of people just for entertainment. And I said, that’s not allowed. You know, if these people are not, don’t have any good reason why they need to be eliminated, then they stay alive in this kind of thing. What a weird rule. My kid did great when they started studying Italy because he knew the insides and outs of some of these buildings from hiding in them as an assassin. So he would talk about them. And it’s also really weird way compared to other people.

Chris: 41:29 Um, my, all three of us, my two kids in me played together and it was the first time my oldest kid figured out what chores were about. And the first time my youngest kid figured out he hated chores and never wanted to do them. Um, my kid was like, dad, we got to go collect these eggs and we’ve got to like, you know, uh, harvest all this wheat. We could probably make a little bit of bread before we go. Would it be good to make some bread first? And I was like, this is crazy talk. Like that’s chores. That’s what people do, right? In a video game. I have endlessly written them into my books. I wrote about Skylanders with my oldest. Um, my oldest and I play, uh, a first person shooter. Uh, and when he’s over at his mom’s house, we’re playing together on two different systems.

Chris: 42:11 We have the best parental conversations because we use the game as the kind of conduit. Just like when people go fishing or play golf or whatever, and I spend a lot of time trying to explain to CEOs and otherwise why this is all really useful stuff. But back to young kids as his oldest three, these interfaces were all using tablets, mobile devices or whatever, aren’t going away. It’s ridiculous that we keep saying don’t expose kids to these devices that their entire job will be run off of, and that I as a parent also touch for 14 hours a day. Don’t let them touch that. You know? The only reason you’d ever argue that is that GA would be cool to remind everybody that there’s another window that you can’t click closed and you can actually go out of that again. But I, I look at your Instagram.

Chris: 42:56 I know your kids get a lot of outdoor time. It’s good. Yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s one of the things that sort of, I’m always kicking around in my head. It’s like I was able to play video games and it was, you know, the games back then weren’t as they are today. They weren’t as immersive. They certainly weren’t as violent. But, um, it was more about like, how long ago am I going to be staring at a TV for until my parents were like, you have chores to do. Um, so I’m a, I’m already starting to think that and, uh, about about my kids and what they’re going to touch, so that’s awesome. I like that. Uh, you know, follow the quest. The quest only just follow the quest. Don’t be, you know, grand theft auto ING around the world. We don’t need to do that.

Chris: 43:33 Absolutely. Well, you know, another thing about, I want to say one other point, this is like going way too deep. You heard a lot in the last 10 years ago, gamification. It suddenly became the buzzword of marketing and all that, but it’s really true in video games. There’s the thing you can do that you get some points and then there’s this other stuff you could do that you get more points and better results. I talked to, um, people that I coaches, uh, executive coach, I talked to them a lot about gamification because you can fill your day with anything or you can go after certain objectives and you’ll have filled your day with something that’s gonna matter more than just that day. And I think that I got the, I really started to really absorb that in video games because life does not have as many good feedback mechanisms as a video game.

Chris: 44:15 And so we have to start generating them until we can figure it out for ourselves. Chris, it’s been a pleasure hosting you on the PressNomics podcast and that I’m able to introduce your, um, boy, I dunno, credibility, uh, your core passion for people. Uh, I am very proud to have you and finally record something officially together, uh, to broadcast to the world. Where can folks find you to say thanks? There’s nothing I love more than getting to do something professionally with someone that I admire from afar and have had the chance to spend time with a few times in this planet. Uh, it’s easy enough, I guess just look for Chris Brogan. Just type that in and it’ll land somewhere. Chris brogan.com my WordPress I site, uh, or anywhere else you want to come find me? Awesome. Everybody else’s pressonomics.com is PressNomics podcast. Don’t forget to leave us a five star review on iTunes. Share it with your friends.

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