Why social engagement might be the emperor’s new clothes, with Mark Schaefer


Get ready to rethink social media as Mark Schaefer redefines what drives success online. In this interview Mark goes deep into why consistency matters, why engagement is the emperor's new clothes and how he's built his business around the freedom to follow his interest and curiosity. 

Mark is a content marketing legend. Author of so many books I'd almost certainly get the number wrong if I wrote it down. 

He speaks on stages all over the world and frankly - he’s one of my hero's ( can you tell? ). 

Despite my less than subtle hero worship we dig deep into what makes Mark's business work, his revenue streams and how he makes time to still do the work.

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Get ready to rethink social media as Mark Schaefer redefines what drives success online. In this interview, Mark goes deep into why consistency matters, why engagement is the emperor's new clothes and how he's built his business around the freedom to follow his interests and curiosity. Mark Schaefer is a content marketing legend, author of so many books. I'd almost certainly get the number wrong if I wrote it down. He speaks on stages all over the world and frankly, he's one of my heroes and a mentor.

Can you tell? Despite my less than subtle hero worship, we dig into what makes Mark's business work, his revenue streams and how he makes time to do all that work. Hi there, and welcome back to Amplify the Digital Marketing Entrepreneur podcast. I'm Bob Gentle, and every Monday I'm joined by amazing people who share what makes their business work. If you're new to the show, take a second now to subscribe so you don't miss new episodes and you can grab some older ones once you're finished with this one.

Don't forget as well you can join our Facebook community, just visit, amplify me, form forward, slash inciters and you'll be right there. So welcome along. And let's meet Mark. So this week, I am thrilled to welcome Mark Schaefer to the show. Mark is one of my remote mentors. You have no idea of this, Mark, but I've read most of your books. They've had a big influence on me. And probably there are a large reason that we that there's even a podcast.

So thank you for your books. Thank you for coming. But for those people who don't know you, maybe just want to tell us tell us a little bit about who you are, where you are and what it is you do.

Well, first of all, thank you very much for your kind words and thank you for reading my books. I really I really appreciate that. I, I never take that for granted. You know, Bob, I remember the first time I ever got a comment on my blog. This would have been probably 11 or 12 years ago.

And it was just such a thrill to me that people would actually spend time with my content. And I never forgot that. And I still feel that excitement today. So I really appreciate anybody who spends time with me.

So I spent most of my career in the corporate world and I started my own business about I guess it's been 12 years ago now. And I started to consult, started to teach. I started a blog and the blog became popular and led to some interest from publishing companies. So the first couple of books I published through McGraw-Hill, then the last few books I've published on my own, because that's a lot more effective and efficient and flexible and all together have published eight books.

So I also am a public speaker. I speak all over the world and I get good marks for that. And I am a college educator as well at a big university in the New York City area called Rutgers University. And I've taught there for about 11 years, I guess.

So I do. I do a lot, so I've got to stay organized. But that's that's me in a nutshell, I guess.

I think what's interesting there is 11 or 12 years doesn't seem actually like a very long time for somebody. That's if you ask anybody who's the guy for content marketing, your name is going to be one of a very small list of answers. And to achieve that in 11 or 12 years, 11 or 12 years ago, a blog, everybody was blogging. I'm astonished that you were getting that thrill of a blog comment 11 years ago. And here we are today with the sprawling mess of social media.

Um, and if you go to a content marketing conference, you're probably going to be there.

Well, I think a lot of it comes down to consistency. I mean, you're right. You know, back 11 or 12 years ago, it was kind of the Wild West.

And if I think about most of the people who were regarded as the thought leaders, then they're all gone. Yeah.

And so there is something to be said for just, you know, sticking it out. And, you know, it's been fun for me, Bob, because it's endlessly fascinating. Marketing is endlessly fascinating. Social media and content is endlessly fascinating.

And so I never have a lack of enthusiasm for for writing about something or or addressing something. And I marvel at you know, I'm thinking about one of my favorite content creators who truly he was at the top of the game back when I started. That would be Chris Brogan. You know, in this same time frame, Chris is probably stopped and started 50 different projects. I'll bet he's had ten different podcasts in the same period where I've had one blog and one one podcast.

And, you know, he's just full of ideas. He's always pushing the edges.

But my style has been, look, I've created this content that's attracted an audience who, trust me, I'm not going to let them down. They expect something from me every day. And whenever they see a podcast episode, a book or a blog post, you know, I'm going to give my best. I'm never going to let them down. It's going to be interesting and relevant and maybe even a little entertaining, but it's definitely going to be worth your time.

And that's what's in my head every single day when I create content.

I think a lot of people don't appreciate the importance of consistency over a long period of time. Yeah. And when I read your book, I'm pretty sure it was known that was one of the standard things for sure, ordinary people doing consistent things over a long period of time. Exactly. And achieving incredible results, which is very motivating. That one book. I think I'm asked about it four times because I keep giving it to clients. Oh, that's very kind of you.

But I'm glad you picked up on that point because, you know, some people miss that. They get preoccupied with the idea that, you know, you've got to be entertaining or you have to be brilliant or you have to be insightful. And that is that's that's not true. It really isn't. And, you know, if you if you look at my book, I think the thing that's the most fun about the known book is that I have all these case studies of people who are really well known in their industries today, but they didn't start there.

Nobody starts out as an expert. Nobody starts out as being known. And one of my favorite stories is when I started to blog, I didn't know what I was doing. I really didn't. I was terrible. But I learned. I learned. And, you know, I wasn't trying to tell people what what to do because I wasn't an expert.

But I took people along on the journey and I told them what worked, what didn't work, what was frustrating, what made me happy, my successes, my failures. And then five years later, I wrote the best selling book I'm blogging now. You know, it took me five years to get there, but I didn't start out as an expert in blogging.

So, you know, that should not be an obstacle for for people. It really is. The long game is you just you put yourself out there, you take your best shot.

And I think, you know, for the known book, I interviewed 97 different people from all around the world in all different sorts of professions. And the last question I asked them was, if you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to do what you're doing, what would it be? And almost every single person said, be consistent. Don't you know? The biggest problem is people give up too soon. And certainly I see that in my career and with the people I work with as well.

So what piece of advice would you give? I think the reason I'm asking this is I work with lots of micro businesses that would consider themselves to be ordinary financial advisors, beautician's, ordinary, ordinary meat and potatoes, as we would say in this country. I'm sure you have it in your country. Yes. I mean, potatoes, businesses.

They have this mindset that they're ordinary. What would you say to them to unlock that? Well, the goal of any business today and certainly the big challenge in marketing is to stand out above the noise. It's harder than ever because there's so much content being created today. So you really only have one choice. You have to find out or find a way to be original and to be original. You have to share your voice, your stories, your experiences and connect them to your audience.

Now, you know, there's nobody that's really ordinary. Everybody's extraordinary in some way. I guarantee it. There's nobody like you. There is no competition. There's only one you. And so I don't think I really have any special, you know, talent, any special gift other than I'll just say I want to make a point about something going on in the world today. Here's a very good example. I have been trying to inspire people and lift people up during this pandemic and talk about how we can really connect with customers in an empathetic and genuine way that can build loyalty to our companies and our brands in this time when so many people are suffering.

And I thought about an example early in my career. You know, Bob, this is something that happened when I was in sales probably 30 years ago.

It's probably 30 years ago. But it's a story that really makes the point. And nobody else has that story. And it just occurred to me that this would really make the point. And and I told this story in my in a new talk that I'm doing, you know, for the pandemic age called fight to the other side. And that story has touched people so deeply. It's moved them so deeply. And it's something they could never hear anywhere else because it's coming from me.

Everybody has those experiences. Everybody has those stories.

And that's where true talent and insight come, I think is from connecting your experiences to something that's relevant today. And people love learning that way. They don't want to hear numbers. They don't want to hear statistics. Well, maybe sometimes they do, but most important, they want to they could remember stories. People will remember the stories I tell to make a point. That's how they learn. And so I think everybody is extraordinary in maybe the first point part of being a great content creator is just sort of, you know, admitting that that there's nobody like me.

And I want to tell my story to the world.

I think a lot of the time people are trying to that self identity is actually quite a challenging thing to really burrow into. And a lot of the time it triggers things like imposter syndrome and.

Yeah, and, you know, I hear I hear that a lot.

But I mean, one of the biggest lessons I learned in my journey and look, I struggled with all this stuff just like everybody else. And it was a lesson I learned, oh, probably maybe a year and a half or two years into my blogging career. You know, when I started out, I thought, I've got it.

My job is to show everybody how smart I am.

And every blog post I wrote and every talk I gave was nothing but a big data dump that was probably pretty useless and boring.

And then one day I went out to lunch.

I was going to I was mentoring this young person and I can't remember exactly what the conversation was.

But I remember I gave her some piece of advice that reflected really what was the truth about what was going on in the marketing world right now.

And I you know, I just thought, oh, if I just feel slimy for even, like, giving this piece of advice maybe was about SEO tricks or something.

And so I came back, I wrote a blog post in fifteen minutes and it was something like the title was something like I just turned myself into a social media slut and you know, the blog post was maybe four hundred words or five hundred words, and it was one of the most.

Popular posts I ever did, and it wasn't profound, it wasn't a PhD thesis, I just talked about a conversation I had with a young person over lunch.

And people love that. You know, they love seeing a little peek into you and into your life. And, you know, I'm not oversharing.

I'm not saying everything about my life, but I'm just, you know, connecting the dots between my experiences and ideas and observations and lessons that people can learn. And I mean, anybody can do that. It just takes a little practice, I think, to get the confidence to know, hey, you know, here's this dumb little blog post I put out there, and it worked just fine.

I think your most recent book, Marketing Rebellion, the subtext is the most human brand wins or how they got that right.

The most human company wins. That's right.

When I work with a lot of companies and I think a lot of people will relate to this, there's a certain size of business where they want somebody to come in and do the digital marketing to them. And it doesn't work very well because if you can't get the people in that business to engage and show up online, everything else is kind of is just checking a box.

Yeah. Yeah. What how do you turn that around? Do you turn that around or you just avoid working with those people?

Well, there's a there's a certain word that always sets off an alarm for me and that word is convince. Right.

So if I ever hear someone say, well, you know, I'm trying to convince my managers, try to convince my leaders, they're just you know, that's that's a troublesome sign to me.

I think great leaders, they want to know. They want to learn. They're they're humble. They acknowledge that the world is changing fast. And so I can certainly understand someone who isn't experienced with social media or in their own experience with content or they're uncomfortable with social media content.

But if you have your eyes open, if you're an active and open learner, then you should understand this is a place we need to be and we really don't have a choice. And I think, you know, you mentioned my book Marketing Rebellion. To me, that is the business case for how we need to operate in marketing today. And it's not my opinion of the world. There's a lot of research. There's a lot of data that says here where customers are today.

This is where the world is today and we really don't have a choice. This is the way we need to move. And I'll tell you something, Bob, when I wrote that book, I was fearful because the book is provocative and there are a lot of sort of sacred cows in that book that I say, look, these things that you might like them, you might love them, you might have been doing all these things your whole life, but they don't work anymore.

And I really thought I would get a backlash. And just the opposite has happened because people have read the book and they've been open learners and they're open to new ideas. And the response has basically been, you know, I could kind of see this happening. You just put a name to it. And I sort of feel liberated right now because I had a sense this is what we're supposed to be doing anyway. To me, that's real leadership.

I mean, you look at the data, you look at the business case, you say, all right, I understand it's it's compelling. It's overwhelming. We've got to make this change. And, you know, if if someone would read the book and still has to be convinced, then I'm walking away.

It was something really became conscious for me as you were talking there. And it was it was this whole idea of convincing people. Yeah. And I reflect back on my career. And what's interesting, and I hadn't really been aware of it until now, is that the more I've invested in my own content, the more my personal brand has grown, the less I've had to convince. And the more people are coming to me for me because they know what they want.

Right. Right. That's really interesting. A powerful insight, Bob. It really is.

And I think it sort of cuts right to the heart of the idea that, you know, my other book that I think is that a lot of impact on people is known and it's all about this idea of what is this process to to create a personal brand in the digital age and. Be known, and the whole idea is that great branding is about building an emotional connection between what you do and your customers, and that used to come through advertising.

So it could be cute ads and maybe we'd have polar bears in our ads and we feel a certain fuzziness toward the polar bears. So that means we love, you know, the Coca-Cola or whatever it is. But people don't see ads anymore. They don't they don't see ads like they used to work in a streaming content society. And it's it's just taking off even more. People don't want ads. They avoid ads. If they see ads, they don't believe them anyway.

And so the new connection is with people, is with humans. People want to know who are these people? What do they do? What do they stand for? So if you stand out with your personal brand that you'll eventually attract the right audience, they're going to you're going to attract people who who connect with you in an emotional way. And eventually, those are the people who are going to hire you and buy things from you.

I really like that. And I've certainly found that to be the case. I just hadn't been fully aware of it until that penny dropped.

That's one of the most amazing and unexpected things I've learned in my career is so there's a lot of attention paid to engagement, social media engagement, engaging with your audience and, you know, building a community.

And I would say that 98 percent of the people who hire me for consulting or for a speech I have never heard of before. Hmm. Now, that doesn't mean that they don't know me. It doesn't mean that we don't have that emotional connection. But the lesson here is that if you're not getting a lot of engagement, if you're not getting a lot of comments, that doesn't mean it's not working as long as there's an audience out there. And who's consuming your content, they're building this connection to you.

You know, I have this favorite example that I use in my college classes where this fellow started reading my blog in 2013. I didn't know he was out there. 2015, he learned about my book content code from my blog, bought the book midway through 2015, got an email from him. Just wanted to tell you, Mark, this is one of the best business books I've read in the last ten years. He was the chief marketing officer for GE Life Sciences.

Now, he had been he had been connected to me for two and a half years, and I didn't even know he was out there.

And then, like in twenty eighteen, he hired me to do a content marketing workshop for his staff.

Now, if you've been following along, that's five years. Yeah. And, you know, for the first two and a half or three years, I didn't even know he was there then. I never heard from him again. And then all of a sudden he's hired me to do this amazing workshop with one of the, you know, most valuable and interesting companies in the world. And that's sort of how it works, is creating content and marketing in that way.

It it it takes patience. It takes consistency.

It is, you know, for the long haul, that's for sure.

You're not going to be able to demonstrate a quarterly ROIC normally. But, you know, it does work. And I know with all authority that it works because hundreds and hundreds of people have read that known book and they've said, you know, this book has changed my life. This book has changed my business.

And I think a person would be very lucky if they hear those words one time in their whole life.

And I hear it every week because it it is working this idea of connecting, building that emotion, you know, being patient, you know, it pays off and it works.

I feel quite liberated by that because you're right, everybody does currently measure their success on engagement. It's the key metric.

Yeah. And actually, you know, maybe in the show notes or something, I actually wrote a very comprehensive blog post about the the actual measured business value of engagement.

And, you know, I kind of looked at all the current literature and all the current research and and the conclusion is there's not a lot of real business value to engagement. There are a few small exceptions, but in general, engagement is not necessarily a sign that you're being successful.

Well, I'm delighted to hear that, because on this, I'm going to address this to my podcast audience. You guys are super quiet. Yeah, I'm so relieved.

Well, look, Bob, I've I have a podcast. I've had a podcast for seven years. It's in the top one percent of our podcast on iTunes. We have thousands of listeners that are very loyal. I will be lucky if I get one comment a week anywhere on the Web about the show. And yet we know that people love it. They support it. We have people who it you know, if if something happens, you know, we'll hear about it.

But yeah, engagement is not especially with a podcast, you know, because there's no button to click. Yeah. You know, there's no. No button to click, so, you know, it is it is really quiet on on podcast and in a way this is going to sound weird.

I kind of like it because engagement can be exhausting.

I think it's well, what you have to remember with the podcast and again, sorry to the listener for geeking out on podcasts, but behind every number there's a super attentive person. Yeah. Where else do you get that?

Well, the research certainly supports that. That podcast listeners, they're more likely to to follow you as a brand. They're more likely to buy from you. They're open. It's one of the few places left on Earth where they're actually open to add to hearing advertisements because they're sort of conditioned to expect that from, you know, radio shows or something like that.

So there's a lot of advantages to podcasting, but engagement isn't one of them.

Hmm. I should run some ads. I don't run any ads. Get ready for this, guys. I'm curious to know, OK, you write books. You have the podcast. You have the blog. Mm hmm. But what does your day to day content marketing schedule look like?

Yeah, well, so first, let's take a step back and talk about my my business. I think that'll help explain my content strategy. So I wrote a blog post maybe two years ago and I updated it last year. And I believe that I have 22 different sources of income. Now, of this twenty two, there are only really, for that matter, you know, I get a lot of little dribs and drabs of stuff, but there are only, for that matter, maybe three.

So I, I have a nice I actually have a nice revenue stream from my books.

Now, I don't want to create any hope or optimism for your your listeners because the rule of thumb is, is that you cannot really make money off of a business book.

And I would say, you know, ninety nine point nine percent of the people out there would say that. However, I've written eight books over a period of 10 or 11 years. And, you know, they've they've become very popular. And and and I've also worked 10 or 11 years to build the audience. If you don't have the audience, then you can't really expect to sell the book. So let's put that one aside. But I do have some passive income from the books.

Now, can I ask is, are the books one of the top four? What are the top four books? Are are the books one of the top four revenue streams?

Yes, I would say for me, yeah. That books, you know, it kind of varies from year to year because maybe I'll get a big consulting client. That would be a very big contract or something. But basically I would say, um, you know, consulting, speaking and teaching. I teach at Rutgers, so I'll put those two together. But I say consulting, speaking and teaching books. And then I also have an event called The Uprising.

Now, the uprising is a is a retreat for marketers that I have. It's it's limited to 30 people. So it's a small group that gets together and just kind of thinks big thoughts. And we have facilitated discussions and we have this retreat in this forested lodge surrounded by, you know, hiking trails and gardens. And we have great food and music. And it's a great experience. But unfortunately, because of the pandemic, I've had to cancel it in May and now I've had to cancel it in May.

In October, I am having a smaller sort of online event.

But that has been a great joy for me. It's it's the thing I am probably most proud of in my career, because it's an event that's changed people people's lives.

So A, consulting B, you know, classes and speeches. And then I've got these these work, these events and of course, the books.

Now, there's a there's sort of a synergistic relationship between all of this. So, you know, whenever I teach college college classes at the grad level, I have got to stay on top of everything because these people are very sophisticated, they're very smart. And I've got to know what I'm doing. And their questions tend to turn into blog posts because they're really good questions and they're very interesting. Those blog posts start to like worked their way into my speeches.

The speeches sort of turn into my books. So there's kind of this synergistic relationship between everything. But at the center of it is really my blog. There was a period of time where I kind of did some reflect. About do I need to keep doing this block? You know, I put so much effort into this blog, I blog at least once a week, usually twice a week. I haven't missed a single week in 11 or 12 years.

And it is this should this still be my priority? And when you think about how everything connects and how I've built my brand, that has become, you know, I've become known and that's led to my business and my success, it really all starts with that consistent content. I can't come up with any other path that it all literally. Bob, it all starts with the blog. It all starts with the blog. It's that sort of like the sun that's radiating the energy into everything else that I do.

The blog connects me to an audience. It's probably the place where I'm most open and emotional and and vulnerable. It's an archive of my work and my history and what I think about the future, my blog posts there in my research and development lab. You know, I'm working on a new book now and I'm going to be writing some blog posts to test ideas. There have been a couple of my books have tested ideas on my blog, and I received a comment so good and so helpful that I included the readers comment in my book because they were right.

I mean, they added something that I hadn't even thought of before.

And so it's the emotion. It's the connection. It's the audience. It's clarifying my thoughts. It's researching my ideas. It's also a way to help respond to people. Sometimes I get the same question, you know, over and over again, hey, I've written a blog post on it. I just send them the link. So there's you know, it's the blog. The blog is The Sun at the Middle of the soul of the Mark Shafer solar system.

Yeah. And something that you hear a lot is you need to once you're busy, you need to delegate as much as possible. And one of the easiest place for you to delegate would be your content. And I'm curious to know, have you succumbed to temptation there?

Hasn't even crossed my mind. I'm so glad that's the answer. Yeah.

I mean, I just first of all, I enjoy it. You know, it's a great intellectual challenge. I've said a few times that my greatest achievement on my blog is that I haven't, like, embarrassed myself to the point where I've become a meme or something, you know?

I mean, I haven't really I haven't really screwed up. That's that's my biggest I think my biggest accomplishment. And that's not to say I haven't made mistakes or I haven't been controversial, you know, but I haven't become a silly mistake. I haven't become a meme.

And I think, you know, I heard this story one time that's always stuck with me.

There was a young woman who admired a certain business executive, and she was thrilled when this business executive followed her back on Twitter. And she was very humbled and honored when this when this fellow, you know, engaged with her and answered some of her questions. And so this guy, you know, became her hero and she had a chance to meet him in real life and introduced herself and explained, you know, where she came from.

And the guy just had a blank stare because someone else was doing his Twitter for him. And she realized that she had been engaging with an administrative assistant and was crestfallen. And this guy's reputation was really ruined. So, um, I just I can't see it, you know, and honestly, once you get into it and once you really get into a routine, it doesn't take that much time. One of the things that astounds me is if someone asked me a question or leaves me a nice comment on Twitter or LinkedIn or wherever, I try to respond to every one.

And and look, I've got a pretty big following.

I mean, I'm not Lady Gaga, but I've got a pretty good a pretty good following.

You know, if I had to add it all up, it might be 400 or 500 thousand people altogether.

And, you know, in fifteen or twenty minutes a day, I can kind of respond to everybody and I'm sure some things slip through the cracks. But I don't find it that difficult to to be just accessible and and and a human being, and one of the things that surprises me is a lot of times I get feedback and said, oh, Mark, what I love about you is that you're so accessible. You actually you ask people, you know, you answer people's questions now, you know, unless you're like some big movie star or something.

I just don't understand why that's a point of differentiation for me. Why isn't everybody nice? Why isn't everybody accessible? I, I don't understand why you wouldn't appreciate people who reach out to you.

You're absolutely right. And I think that 15 minutes a day, I don't a lot of people maybe don't appreciate how important it is, because something that I've experienced firsthand is when you do follow somebody and you engage in their content over a period of time. I as a consumer, I'm making quite a significant emotional investment. And I remember the first time I met somebody in person that I engaged in with on line for a long time. Yeah, I'd been I'd follow them on Instagram.

I watched their YouTube, I read their blog posts. I know their kids names. I know where they go to school. I know the wife's name. I meet this guy. He has no idea who I am. Yeah, but he respected that investment. He could tune into it and he twigged. And when you get comments, it's so easy to think it's just a comment not understand the emotional investment that might be carried with it.

Well, that's you know, that. And that's that's hard. I mean, I, I am right there and I appreciate that. But I'll give you an example that came to mind just as you were speaking. I was at social media marketing world last year, and this woman came up to me and she said hello. And I didn't know who she was. I didn't know who she was, didn't recognize her name. And she was from Scandinavia.

So she had a very I mean, she had a difficult name. It wouldn't be something that, you know, like Bob Gentil. That's a name that you could probably remember. You know, that's kind of a nice name.

But, you know, this lady, this is this this woman had a name that you could never pronounce or never remember.

And so I just I just kind of, I guess, had a blank look on my face. And she just couldn't believe that I didn't remember her because she had left a comment on my blog and I had left a comment back. And I think I've had seventy thousand comments on my blog. And but, you know, it did mean a lot to her.

She had invested that time. She invested that emotion.

And there's this there's this phenomenon called the para social relationship, which is very common now, especially with you tubers and podcasters, where people see your face just like you say, you know their kids names, you know where they go to school. You feel like they're your friend. But it's one way, right? I mean, the other people, they're they're not investing heavily in.

And you and I had this experience a few weeks ago. There was a young guy. He was like asking me all these big favors. And he said, well, my boss wants to be a public speaker. Could you get on the phone with him and teach him how to be a public speaker? So I'm racking my brain like, who is this guy?

So finally I said, do I know you from somewhere?

He said he said, no.

I said, Well, you're just asking me for some pretty big favors. He said, Well, Mark, I'll have to apologize. I listen to your podcast. I listen to your audio books. Your voice is in my head all the time. I feel like I know you. I feel like you're my friend. So you have to respect that. You have to appreciate that. You know, you have to, I think, just be gracious and patient and understanding.

And, you know, I'm very fortunate. I'm very blessed to be in the position that I am. And, you know, I want to support people. I want to be attentive to people is as much as I can. But, you know, sometimes that's hard when the audience gets really large.

Yeah. I think some people listening might find this conversation difficult to relate to, but I think we're all on different points of a continuum with that. So I would hope that most people could access what we were talking about. There is rather a strange idea. Yeah, but something I would like to ask you now is I know you as a very competent person. And one of the things with social media is that we all get to share what we're good at.

But I'd be curious to know, what does Mark Schaefer struggle with?

Oh, that's easy. First of all, it's a very long. But what's at the very top is sales. I don't like sales, I don't like self promotion, I don't like negotiating. I don't like, you know, pursuing. And I'll tell you, Bob, I'm so grateful that basically I'm well-known enough that I don't have to sell anything. I mean, people normally just come to me and the pipeline is always full.

But it was it was something I've known about myself for a long time.

But I actually had a start up around twenty fourteen or twenty fifteen and, you know, put a lot of time, put a lot of energy into it, put a lot of money into it, you know, had people had resources.

It was a great idea. It was a great business. But basically it just the B to B sales process just wore me out. I hated it and it's like someone says, yeah, we're going to do it. And then they leave the company. They said, oh, yeah, we're going to do it.

And then their boss gets fired and we've got to start all over. Yeah. And it just wore me down.

And there were so many other things going on in the world that were interesting to me that, you know, I just I gave up. I wasn't I just wasn't good at it. I didn't want to, you know, I could have stuck it out. And the irony is actually the the sort of the core software from that startup that I that I had is actually, you know, being incorporated into another business right now. So it is going to pay off.

But I'm not I'm not really good at sales because I don't I don't enjoy it at that.

Kind of leads me on to another question I'd always wanted to ask you, and that's if I pick up pretty much any business book on a shelf, there's a back end. There's always a OK, you've got the book. But if you click this link and come through to my website, you can do this, this and this. And that's never been there in your books. And on the one hand, I really appreciate that because, you know, everything's in the book.

But is that something you've done intentionally or is it because you again, you're so busy with other things you don't want to build those productize diko systems that would potentially allow you to make much more money?

Yeah, yeah. Well, I've I mean, it's definitely been an intentional decision. And in fact, I was just having this conversation with someone the other day about the initial advantage I had when I wrote my first book, Return on Influence. So this was the first book I'd influenced marketing in the world. It came out in 2012 before anybody was even using that word. And I predicted in the book that within the next two years this is going to become a mainstream marketing channel.

And I was right now, I could have been Mr. Influence Marketing. I was the first one there or one of the first ones. I could have had an agency. I could have built it up. I had no desire. I had absolutely no desire. I wrote the book because it was interesting. It was an intellectual exercise.

I thought, you know, I thought it was a fascinating topic. But, you know, I was at a point in my life, I don't want an agency. I don't want to hire people. So, you know, I've made, you know, most of the choices I've made, especially in the last ten years, have been lifestyle choices. You know, I'm I'm older than a lot of people on the scene. I didn't write my first blog post.

I was forty nine years old. And so, you know, I haven't had a mastermind group because they don't want that commitment. I and people have begged me to do online courses, but then you get on this treadmill where you have to make another you have to make another, you have to make another. You have to excel. You have to cross. So you need to, you know, be constantly advertising. Say, Hey, I'm Mark Schaefer.

Look what I have for you. That's just not me. That doesn't fit my personality. And so I've made lifestyle choices that if it's not consistent with my view of the world, if it's not something that's going to bring me joy, then I'm not going to do it. And I think probably one of the things I'm known for is that I'm honest, I don't have an agenda. I'm not trying to up sell you to something. If you read a book, you read the book, you know, there is no further obligation or even request, in fact, any of the links that I had in my book back to my site.

It gives you more free stuff for marketing rebellion. There's a. Free workbook that you can get. You don't have to give me your email, it's just free. I'm just I'm just giving it away.

Crazy, Marc. Crazy.

Well, but but that's but but, you know, my philosophy is, you know, if I ask people for their email, 95 percent of people wouldn't do it. So the better idea is to unleash that content and get it out into the world as much as you can, because that's how that's how you grow your brand. So. But, you know, I'm happy. I have fun every day. I enjoy what I do. I know I've left money on the table.

But, you know, I can go out on my boat when I want.

That's the trade off.

And I think that integrity and consistency that stood you in good stead and built that brand that's giving you the freedom you want to do what you want to do now, which is ultimately where we all want to get. But everybody seems to be working so hard, doing possibly the wrong things to get there. I think you're a fantastic role model.

I mean, I think it's important to to really stay centered. And it's hard, Bob. It's hard because there are so many people out there that are embracing the hustle culture and they make you feel like crap if you're not in the hustle culture and if you're not creating something, you know, every minute of the day and you're not working 18 hours a day. And so you really need to stay centered and sort of block that stuff out and stay focused on, you know, this is who I am.

This is the plan. I'm going to stick to it. I'm not going to sacrifice, you know, my time, my money time with my family or whatever that I you know, I'm going to do this my way. And, you know, I can remember times where there's a lot of slimy people in the digital marketing business. And sometimes it can be very disheartening, you know, to just stay the course and not do all these slimy things like everybody else is doing.

And and, you know, I've I've just stuck to the plan. I've just stuck to the vision, stuck to the plan. And just, you know, whenever you get content for me, it's it's the real deal. There's no agenda. I'm just being honest. I want to be helpful. I'm not selling you anything. But hopefully you'll fall in love with me.

Well, if they haven't already, I would encourage every listener to go at least and grab a copy of Known because it's one of my favorites. It's a handbook for content marketing. And obviously you should probably go and read all the rest. And I'm sure Mark would love them to read Marketing Rebellion as the newest book, which is amazing as well, because they will. Provide this roadmap for content marketing, which I don't see on the bookshelf anywhere else.

Yeah, yeah.

Mark, I am so grateful for your time. Very aware that we're heading towards an hour here. So I should probably ask you the question that I keep coming back to every week. And I'm getting really good at remembering what's one thing you do now that you wish you'd started five years ago?

I wish I would have invested in a company that made mask's what a good idea, because we're sure use it a lot of them in America right now.

Yeah, I think that's only going to go up for a while. Yeah.

Well, you know, to answer the question seriously, I mean, honestly, I'm on a constant path of continuous improvement. So, I mean, I, I change a little bit every week and every month. So I'm not I'm not too hard on myself for not seeing something or making a mistake because I know I'm on a continuous path. So, you know, if I if I had to give advice to myself five years ago, I would just say, you know, be brave, stay centered, keep on the path and you'll be OK.

Mike Schaffer, thank you so much for your time. You've been a fantastic, very generous guest. I'm delighted to finally meet you.

Thank you, Bob. We followed each other on social media for a long time, and this has been a lot of fun.

Hopefully I'll see you in social media marketing world soon. There you go. That's what I love about. One of the main takeaways from all Mark's work is that consistently showing up over time will get results where others come and go. Those who are consistent get consistent results. Before I go, just a quick reminder to subscribe. And if you haven't already, then join our Facebook group. You'll find a link in the show, notes or visit Amplify to have them forward slash insiders, inciters.

As always, I would love to connect with any listener on social media. Follow me wherever you hang out, you'll find me at Bob Gentle. And if you do message me, let me know and I'll follow you back. Also, just another reminder. I do have a YouTube channel where we have slightly different content, possibly more a little bit more How-To content. So if you enjoy this, you'll probably enjoy that. And if you did enjoy this, then I would love for you to review on iTunes.

It means a lot to me and it's the best way to help me reach more subscribers, which does matter to me. My name is Bob Gentle. Thank you to Mark for giving us his time this week and thank you for listening and I'll see you next week.