Three keys from this episode
- Engagement and authenticity are crucial
- Get out of that paralysis of doing nothing.
- Learn about the five E’s of social media
Doug: Well, hi, and welcome back to another episode of Real Marketing Real Fast. Today, I am super excited to have a friend of mine on as a guest. He’s a friend of mine and a business associate that … He just reminded me we met in 2004. His name is Jonathan Christian, and Jonathan is the founder of a company with a great name; it’s called We Make Stuff Happen.
It is an innovative Canadian-based digital marketing company and training agency, and they help businesses and not-for-profits around the world to tell their story online and on the ground. He’s known by his team as the chief imagination officer. He was born an enthusiastic and creative entrepreneur. His passion for social media began in 2008, after suffering a life-threatening neck injury resulting from a major car accident. On his road to recovery, he fully immersed himself into this world of social media and networking, content marketing, and emerged as an expert, leveraging the online sphere to maximize his business with a big-picture approach to business development and brand storytelling. He and his team at We Make Stuff Happen have successfully trained over 600 businesses in the art of social media and content marketing.
Jonathan leads a series of online educational programs as well as he is a regular speaker both nationally and internationally on how businesses can maximize their impact and online presence through his social media VIP access online boot camps, as well as his inner circle membership and regular social media meet-ups. Jonathan is committed to empowering entrepreneurs, not-for-profits, and businesses on how they can successfully maneuver the ever-changing landscape of the social media space.
He lives in Abbotsford, British Columbia in Canada with his wife Debbie, and together they have three grown children. I’d like to welcome Jonathan Christian.
Jonathan: My goodness, Doug, thank you so much. 2004 to 2017 has just flown by, my friend.
Doug: Nothing has really changed online. It’s all the same, right?
Jonathan: Oh, yeah. Yeah, it’s still about people buy stuff from people that they know, like, and trust. It’s just the tools that have changed … In many ways.
Doug: Well, it’s funny. I was thinking of our interview and thinking of what works in social media and what doesn’t, and I was hoping you could share with us and with our listeners what major successes you’ve had using a specific tactic moving forward for both your business and for your clients?
Jonathan: The realization I had about 18 months ago as I ran out of hours. There’s only so much you can charge per hour in integrity. We’re only really worth so much money. I couldn’t sell anymore, and I found that there were a lot more people needing my stuff than I had time in a day to help. Which is a great problem to have, but it’s also not a good problem to have. Because you don’t want to say to people, “I’m too busy for you.” At the same time, you don’t want to just work with people who can pay the most, because a lot of people need our stuff.
For me it’s leverage. What I did about 18 months ago was I learned how to teach from one-to-one-one-to many models. Over the last 18 months, I’ve created four different programs that we deliver online, so now I can help 10 businesses in the same time that I was helping one. Even though they’re actually paying less to get a piece of me, I’m actually as a company much more profitable because we’re leveraging that time. What I love is it creates this group of dynamic of what we call mastermind, and suddenly the group’s helping each other and they’re learning from each other and everybody’s … It’s not one-upmanship at all, it’s very much peer pressure to really come up with something different. It’s been an amazing journey.
Doug: That’s really cool. I know the discussion around people are typically afraid of speaking and presenting, and I’ve seen you speak and present, and one of the things that people get if they have a chance to tune in and see what you do is that you come across very authentic, so what you see is what you get. You’re very real and you can tell you’ve got a big heart and you care for people.
Jonathan: Thank you for that.
Doug: You’re welcome. I imagine it’s a little bit difficult going from one-to-one-to-one-to-many. However, I’m sure that your care for people still comes through, although it might not be sitting pressing the flesh with you.
Jonathan: Absolutely. In this virtual world that we live, on Facetime and Whatsapp and WeeChat and Zoom and Skype and all these different apps that we can really engage with people and still see the whites of their eyes and gauge how they’re feeling and motivate them, even though it’s not quite as good as sitting next to them. That’s the way of the world at the moment. We can do it really well.
Doug: Thinking of your time leverage and going from a one-to-one-one-to-many situation using an online delivery method, what do you think the biggest myth is this tactic that may prevent or hold people back from fully engaging in this?
Jonathan: For me, it’s almost like the televangelist scenario; a lot of people think, “No, no. I don’t want to listen to this guy,” but not all televangelists are bad. By any stretch. It’s the same with online marketing. We’ve all seen this spammy, “I make $100,000 in my sleep, and I’m driving this Lamborghini,” and there are all these girls at a pool and bling and … If this is what online marketing looks like, I’m not interested.
But the reality of it is people are just yearning, as you said very kindly about my presentation, they’re just yearning for somebody who is authentic and cares. As I say, a lot of people I speak to say, “I could never do that. I don’t want to be known as the used car salesman, online marketer.” Yes, there are people out there like that, but at the same time the real stars shine through. When you care enough, and you go the extra mile, and you authentically put your effort in. I think that’s the biggest myth that people need to get themselves over, is that there’s a huge marketplace for real people.
Doug: I think what you’ve said there really talks about engagement. I just wrote an article I’m going to post up a link in the next couple of days, and it said why social media isn’t working for your business. What you mentioned about the evangelist-type story, “Hey I’m making a million dollars a month, look at my Lamborghini,” there’s a lot of people who would just really like to be able to have enough money at the end of the month to pay their Visa for all the stuff they bought, and forget the Lamborghini, just have the few extra groceries in the fridge.
Jonathan: Absolutely, yes. Totally.
Doug: I think the challenge I’ve seen of social media, I’d be interested to hear what your feedback is, that people have engaged this thinking, “Hey it’s free social media,” and they use it like traditional media and all they do is they puke out their message on everyone and there’s really no engagement.
Jonathan: Yep. That is totally the way it is. Engagement is the magic word.
Doug: I’ve watched you at some of the companies, do you want to share with us a little bit about your philosophy around helping companies to tell their story?
Jonathan: Absolutely. I just literally came in the door from a company that’s established here out in the Fraser Valley. They’ve been in business now for 25 years. When you listen to the owner, who bought this shop back in Chilliwack, 25 years ago, it was in bankruptcy. They had the bailiff at the door, they had to arrive each morning and unlock they would get product major in a day and at 4:30 they’d lock up, and they made enough money to pay off the debt of the business. 25 years later this is a multi-multi-million dollar company. He’s not as involved with it as he used to be. But the passion of that gentleman of why he started the business, the 200 or so employees that he has, the families get a paycheck every other week, is just remarkable. I think, sure, anybody else can make a commodity, but the difference is the story behind the why. When you meet great entrepreneurs who, as I say, through adversity just battle through and ended up creating excellent product and have an amazing team around them, when people see that story and they get the vibe and they realize the passion that comes from building that business, that’s the marketing crux that makes the difference.
Nothing’s really that unique these days. Sure, there will always be another Facebook or another LinkedIn, but in terms of bricks and mortar commodities, it’s probably already been invented for the most part. So the difference is the story and the integrity and as I say the passion behind the story. When you can bottle that, put it into a video, people will read the blog, they see it in the social media, they see it in the faces of the workforce of the pictures that we share. Then people say, “That’s the company I want to buy from.”
Doug: Why do you think more businesses don’t take that approach?
Jonathan: There’s this whole thing about privacy. I get a lot with executives of a company, and it’s like … “I don’t have a Facebook page. I have no interest in sharing what I do on the weekend, and I don’t have time anyway.” It’s like, dude, you’re on it already. Whether you choose to be, somebody’s got a picture of you. This is where your workforce is, this is where your customers are, depending on the platform. If you’re not there, in my mind, you don’t care.
If you want to live in the 21st century, you have to market in the 21st century. That means being much more available, much more authentic, being much more open, and be willing to engage with people through social channels. When people get over themselves and do it, actually it’s not that hard. It’s actually very enjoyable. It passes the day a lot quicker, and it enriches relationships. I think people just forget what marketing used to be like 20 or 30 years ago, which was a handshake and you did a deal. With social media now, we’ve almost come full circle back to that handshake deal, because we’re getting so intimately close to people because we can watch their family and what’s going on through their social that we feel like we’re the same visit to the doorstep as we were 30, 40 years ago because of good social media if you do it properly.
Doug: Sure, it totally makes sense. I heard a saying years ago, a friend of mine said, “All the money that’s in the world is already in the world. It’s either in the hands of good people or bad people.”
Jonathan: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Doug: When I think of companies telling their story, I look at the people that I regularly do business with and I’m more likely to shop and be a loyal customer to somebody who I know their backstory, I know their passion for the community, I know the charities that they support. I basically know their integrity and their value. At the end of the day, the brand that I buy is less important because it’s Brand X, Brand Y. They both make coffee. This company cares for its people, cares for the farmers, cares for the community, so we shop there.
Jonathan: You got it. I think more and more people are having that sort of geo-eco philosophy too, doing business locally if they can rather than a big box, and supporting the guy who has the best story and the most integrity in his business.
Doug: Looking at where you are today, and your work and your foray into the online space in terms of teaching one-to-many, what are you most excited about today as it relates to marketing for your clients that you see over the next maybe six to 12 months?
Jonathan: Right on. Here’s the thing; I just finished a class of eight businesses for four months, and we’ve had a blast. The tangible differences have been remarkable of what’s changed. My goal is … I don’t want to do a class of eight next time, I want to do a class of 80, or 100. I know friends of mine are doing online classes in the thousands. I’m not thinking that far ahead, but I’m definitely thinking into the triple digits.
What I’ve done traditionally is market through social media but also with a personal approach to reaching out to people and really engaging them with my programs. Now, because I’ve hit that critical mass and I guess we’ve got some of these success stories behind us now, is that I can go sell cold to people who have never heard of us before but there are enough integrity and credibility behind our backstory of what we’re doing for other businesses that they’ll buy-in without actually physically knowing me. Very excited. Very excited to do that.
Doug: If I’m a small business listening to the podcast, and I’m thinking, “Hey that’s really cool. I have a Facebook page. I have a Twitter account. Maybe I have an Instagram account.” I don’t know if Twitter is still cool or not, but … What would you suggest? Where do they get started? Right now they’ve probably got something happening, but I’m assuming from what I’ve seen they’re really not organized, there’s really no plan. They’re just doing some stuff.
Jonathan: The one thing is just to get out of that paralysis of doing nothing. Just start sharing what each day looks like. Sometimes I start with motivational quotes in the morning that we creatively push them out. But what I find the most attraction comes to the posts that we do are the ones that are super real. A picture of me sort of engaging with somebody and just having some fun. We were playing with Snapchat filters in our office yesterday, and I was just doing a little happy dance at the end of the day. Somebody had this hotdog Snapchat filter literally mimicking my arm movements. They shared it, and I said, “Are you kidding?” Do you know what? That got great engagement. Because it’s kind of fun and real. I wouldn’t say everybody wants to go on Snapchat and do filters, but just share something that’s happening that’s real. Because this whole Kardashian reality TV world that we live in, people either love it or hate it. But it is the reality. People want to see behind the scenes. What we think is mundane and every day, other people would think is flipping cool.
Whether you’re a watchmaker or a carpenter or a market gardener or an internet marketer, there’s stuff that you do that people would just love to get an inside view on. Having an Instagram story going through the day, or a great Facebook video, even a short Tweet. I’m not sure about Twitter these days; we don’t use it a lot with our client marketing. But those behind the scenes pictures and videos and stories is really what people are hungry to get some authentic views into. Once you start doing that and you start to build engagement, it can work. But at the same time, when I say to people, “Don’t wait for them to come to you, go find them.”
A lot of people on their business page don’t use it to actually then engage with other businesses. On Facebook, it’s not as easy as it used to be to go to your business page and then go to your wall and like businesses as your business. But the more you do that, the more your business is popping up on other people’s feeds and you’re starting to get that awareness of who you are. When people come up to look for you on Google, they think, “I know that business.” They may never have been on your website before or seen your truck go down the road, but just because of how often they see you on social it creates an affinity. That affinity often creates a comfort factor enough to do business with you.
Doug: I agree. There’s an opportunity to get in front of people. The old saying I guess in sales … I don’t know what the new statistics are, is that it takes seven to nine touches to sell to a new prospect. My question typically to my clients will be, “How long do you want those seven to nine touches to take?”
Jonathan: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Doug: You really want to drive to their business every week for seven to nine weeks and do that? Or might you try leveraging email and direct mail and social and other ways to have those seven to nine touches happen over a shorter period of time?
Jonathan: For instance, that client I was mentioning that I just came in from today, one of his sales managers came from a workshop that I did three years previously. We made an approach to them … (I like to call myself persistent rather than pushy, and I have an email that goes out quite often and I do my best to be consistent with my social media. Not in a sales-y way, but in a knowledgeable, pay it forward, education way.
Three years later, I get a call from this company saying, “We know we should have done it three years ago, but you know what? We’ve been following you ever since and your stuff seems to work. We feel that we know you because you’re constantly out there and we’re reading the success stories that you’ve done. If it’s not too late, we’d like to engage you.”
Three years. Go figure? You never know who’s watching you. If you’re not posting consistently, you’re so missing out on all those seeds that can be germinating for when they do need your services, which may not be when you want to sell to them.
Doug: How active are you and do you recommend your clients be in terms of specifically targeting when they’re building their social media profiles? I understand the filters and the searches and what you can do, but is that a part of your active strategy?
Jonathan: It is. It also depends on the target audience. I like to call it an “ideal client” rather than a target market these days. For me, most of my business now is coming out of the States. East to West coast. I have a three-hour time block, which is quite different. It could be in the local area. I’m finding now that the best times to be out there and engaging is that sort of 6:30-7:30 AM time, and also the 8:30-10PM. Obviously, you want to be posting during the day as well, but that’s when I’m finding I’m getting the most attraction, especially for the clients that we have as done-for-you clients as well, is early morning, late and night. When people are out of their sphere of work, but you know they’ve got a phone in their hand with a cup of coffee in the morning, or a tablet on their lap while Downton Abbey’s on or Game Of Thrones because they’re all Googling. If you can get in that feed while their eyeballs are in front of you, it’s a great way of … I say invading their culture, but invading is a pretty aggressive word. Just go where their eyeballs are.
Quite often it’s those times of day, I’m finding. Seven days a week that you want to be posting. There are scheduling tools, but nothing beats a real post. Especially if it’s a video and it’s actually happening, it’s awesome.
Doug: Yeah, it’s interesting you say that. I just finished up writing a book and it’s coming out, and one of the chapter titles … Don’t give away too many details, it’s called, “Addiction Deficit Disorder”. One of the things I was looking for was how much time people actually spend on their phones. It scared the heck out of me when I learned how addicted people are to their smartphones.
Jonathan: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Doug: How often they check them, they sleep with them under their pillows. It was … I don’t know. For me, it was frightening. I’m thinking, “Holy smokes. Where’s the world gone where the average person checks their phone more than 150 times a day.”
Jonathan: Oh my goodness. I could be that person.
Doug: I know I’m there. But there’s the opportunity. The world has changed. The days of pushing media out first over in print and then radio and then TV. Now your consumer’s carrying all those media with them in their pocket, so they’ve got the digital, the audio, and the video with them. Seven days a week, 24 hours a day. A recent study said that when they took their phones away from students for a test they experienced distress that they didn’t have their phones for a 24 hour period. If we can’t help people’s use of their phone but we know they have them, we can certainly use that to communicate.
Jonathan: Oh, for sure. I’ve taken a couple of what I call “digital sabbaticals”, where I’ve … I say to people my investment in my business is paramount, my investment in my marriage is even more so. Debbie and I have gone out for either a date night or a long weekend, and the phone is only used for photographs. I’ve said to people, “I’m taking a sabbatical online, and I’ll be back on Tuesday.” It’s surprising how many people say, “Good for you.” We live in this fear like if I’m not online people won’t buy from us, but people respect you for taking a stand. But yeah, it is addictive. I know that.
Doug: That’s just good practice. You set your boundaries, and if you communicate that to your clients I think they respect … They might not agree with you, but they respect your decision. You don’t need to be grinding seven days a week, 24 hours a day. It doesn’t make for a happy life or a happy wife.
Jonathan: I’m 100 percent with you on that one. I know of a certain friend of ours who markets every day to the world, and is whole hustle and grind I admire, but it’s too much. You have to find that balance.
Doug: I’m not sure who you’re referring to, I’m not going to ask you. But I was speaking to another guest on the podcast and I believe we talked about this same individual who lives in New York who shared with his wife before they got married that he was a workaholic and that when they do have kids there will be many times when he will not be at dance recitals because he’ll likely be on a plane going someplace else.
Jonathan: That’s a choice-
Doug: Absolutely. Not my choice.
Jonathan: Making a shed load of money and employing a lot of people, and making a motivational difference in the world too, which is a good thing. But yeah, for me, that’s over. Over and beyond what I’m looking for.
Doug: Yeah, no I hear you.
What advice would you give people that are listening that won’t pull the trigger? Just let me finish up by saying a lot of people come up with … I say it’s an excuse, “I can’t afford to hire somebody. I need to do everything myself.” I’ll turn over to you and let you respond.
Jonathan: I have this philosophy, and I say to people there’s an equation here. Do you have more time than money? Or do you have more money than time? If you have more time than money, then you’re doing your own social media. You should be anyway because it shouldn’t just be outsourced. But if you have more money than time, i.e. you can hire somebody to do something that you would do at a lower rate so you could concentrate on something more profitable, then bring someone in. Whether you hire a bookkeeper, or a cleaner for your home, or a guy to do the yard. Yes, we can all do those jobs, but if you’re cleaning your oven rather than having somebody else at $15 that can, is that the best use of your time? Of course not.
Why do people think when it comes to their marketing that they have to do it themselves and they can’t afford it? It’s one of those commodities that is a transferable skill, once people get into your ethics and your authenticity, you can get a lot more done in an hour of congruence just working with somebody and saying, “This is what we need. This is where we’re going this week,” then you go and do what you do best which is closing deals or creating proposals. Just let stuff happen.
Sometimes good enough is okay. It doesn’t have to be … In fact, sometimes excellently is not good enough. Sometimes excellence puts people off. That slightly not quite perfect photograph is more authentic, more real, and people will respect you for that.
Doug: Yeah, there’s certainly been the transition in the video space and YouTube when you look at the overproduced, Hollywood-style b-roll film that people are putting out there, with all the lighting and makeup and hair and you’re going, “That’s not real. That’s a commercial.”
Jonathan: Yes. Yeah. People see that for what it is.
Doug: Do you work in a hybrid fashion sometimes with clients? That said, “Hey I want to make sure I’ve still got some voice in the social media. After all, it’s me, or it’s my brand.”
Jonathan: Absolutely, and I encourage that from the top down. Sometimes the very top CEOs of the companies that we work with do not want to be part of the strategy. I just said, “You know what? You lead, whether it’s your LinkedIn.” Look at Richard Branson. That guy just leads the Virgin empire from the top down. You can read about him and you’ll see him on Necker, you’ll see him kite surfing, you’ll see him giving out money. You see him with his stance on equal opportunities, and LGBTQ people within the organization. You know what he stands for, and you know the whole Virgin brand because of how he works. That’s what I have to encourage my staff to … The clients that we work with. Don’t segment. Everybody needs to be part of this story, and part of this journey. When they are, it makes for a much more congruent picture. It’s a wonderful thing.
Doug: From an organizational point of view, would you work with a client to help them set up some sort of social media guidelines to make sure their team and their staff are following best practices?
Jonathan: We absolutely do. What we do is we have … Each of the different platforms, we come out with a little roadmap for them. We’ll give them ideal posts that could be done at certain times of the day, and we’ll actually create a PDF binder kind of thing that they have with them, so they never have to worry about it. I also teach them I have this little one-handed five E’s of social media, that if anybody is not quite sure where they’re at.
The number one thing they need to do is engage. The second thing is you need to entertain, you need to find stuff that people like. The third part is you need to educate people on what it is that you do and why they would buy from you in a non-sales way. If you get those three pieces right, we then get to the fourth “E” which is empowerment. At that point is where people are like, “I really like this company. I could use their stuff.” Then the fifth “E” is excitement. That’s where their credit card gets processed or the check gets written. Those five simple E’s of social media is what we teach, and then we try [inaudible 00:25:41] that into a much more detailed plan per platform. Then I monitor it. I set people up on my notifications and when we’re working with them, or even when we stop, I still keep checking in to see if they’re consistent, that they don’t forget Google +, or forget to use their hashtags on Instagram. They’ll just get a quick check from me, “Hey, by the way, don’t forget …” “Oh, thanks for that.”
It takes a long time for it to be habit-forming. Sometimes I find that people that haven’t done it consistently they get embarrassed and they think, “I haven’t posted, people will notice. I just won’t post at all.” It’s like, “No, nobody’s probably noticed. Just jump back in.”
Doug: We think people notice we’ve stopped posting when we’re not up to date.
Jonathan: But that happens though, I’ve heard it many times.
Doug: In terms of mix, I mean I heard you say something that I totally agree with, that’s related to add value to people. What sort of mix would you give advice to our listeners for how much good content; so educational versus sales?
Jonathan: We all know how strong the 80/20 rule is. I’m not adverse to continuing that. For every 10 posts, one or two for our clients or for mine would be around what we do and how people could work with us. The rest is educational and fun so that those three E’s of engagement, entertainment, and education that’s the three pieces. The empowering piece follows on from that. The 80/20 rule has worked for many decades, and I think it totally translates itself into social, too.
Doug: That’s super cool. I think it translates itself into most media. I mean, I’m a subscriber to an enormous number of email lists being that that’s where most of my experience is, and you quickly figure out who’s who in the zoo. 10 out of 10 messages are, “Hey, buy my stuff.” When’s the last time you added any value to my life without just asking me for my credit card? These people I just won’t do business with, because you clearly don’t understand that this is a two-way relationship, it’s not just a one-way.
Jonathan: Mm-hmm (affirmative). You’re so right.
Doug: I really appreciate you taking the time out of your schedule, and I want to thank you for coming on. I’ve got a couple of questions for you here before I let you go.
Jonathan: Sure thing.
Doug: Second to the last question will be who’s one guest you think I absolutely have to have on my podcast?
Jonathan: My hero in the social media world is a fellow called Marcus Sheridan. He has a company called The Sales Lion. If you know his story, back in 2008 he had a swimming pool company in Virginia in the United States. Everybody was telling him they had to go bankrupt, and there was no way out. He just refused. He had five children, he just said, “I am not declaring bankruptcy.” He put his very last money into some social media marketing with a company called HubSpot, and he is now probably … His swimming pool company is by far the best company in North America, but his passion for social media and telling stories through blog and video is beyond excellent. I’ve been to his workshops, I follow him, I’m a personal friend these days. If you can get in touch with Marcus Sheridan at The Sales Lion, he would add enormous value to your audience, I know it.
Doug: Well excellent. Now, what’s the best way for people to find you, get a hold of you, and get into one of your seminars or courses?
Jonathan: Thanks for that. Well, our website that you mentioned is wemakestuffhappen.com. I’m a big believer in hashtags these days, and my hashtag that follows me around is b, all one word. I often say to people, just check the hashtag out. You’ll find me by reverse engineering. Either wemakestuffhappen.com on the web, or #makestuffhappen on social, and you’ll find me.
Doug: Excellent. Well, I’ve known Jonathan Christian for a long time, I’ve watched his business grow and evolve. I had the privilege of sitting in and listening to him speak, and developing a friendship with him and his wife and getting to know their kids. I would highly recommend that you check out Jonathan’s website. I’d encourage you to get into an audience where he’s speaking, or check out his online courses.
Until we talk to you next time, thanks so much for tuning in. Check the show notes, we’ll have all of Jonathan’s details, links to all his websites and upcoming courses available for you there. Thanks so much.
Jonathan: Thanks, Doug.
Doug: It’s great to catch up.
Jonathan: You bet you, my friend. That was awesome. Thank you.