Online Marketing With Chris Brogan

Season 1 Ep 2

Interview With Chris Brogan
Gary Leland Show Episode 2

Chris Brogan joins me to talk about marketing, and selling stuff of course. Chris is an old friend from the early days of podcasting, and I thought the perfect person for my first interview. – Produced By

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Gary: Chris, I really appreciate you coming on the show today. I am really excited to have you on our second episode and our first interview of the Gary Leland Show!

Chris: I am so thrilled to be here, Gary, this is the coolest! Long time fan, first time guest!

Gary: Yes, long time! We have been talking since the old days of podcasting, when that was something no one knew what it was.

Chris: Oh, I know. Like you and others, you have survived, you found a better way to do it, and you’re delivering, so I get goose bumps being here!

Gary: Thanks for the kind words. I am really wanting to talk to you about your session you are giving at Podcast Movement, for anyone who is not familiar with that go to “”, that is the seminar to come to for podcasting this year. You’re speaking there and your subject is podcasting as a business driver. That goes so well with the subject of our show, because we on the show talk about selling stuff, making money on the Internet, and just selling stuff. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Chris: It’s interesting framing because I think you’re right, there are so many people who are talking about selling “stuff” and they mean digital products or things that are really fast, one click kinds of things. You know, there are so many other kinds of products out there. My girlfriend Jacqueline for instance, she is a competitive fitness competitor, so she does bodybuilding and that’s her stuff. She shows up to these contests and one of the things they wear besides these really nice suits are costume jewelry, so she made a site. What was fascinating for me about how she did it though, is that she orders her product, she gets a bunch of product in like any other regular “mom and pop” store. She puts together a website using really simple software like Wix, and it takes her an afternoon with her camera, the jewelry, and Wix. She puts the whole thing up, starts a Twitter and Instagram account and starts going. Next thing you know she has a handful of customers. It’s just that easy to be a merchant these days. Once you start to get a little comfortable with some of those technologies, the swipes and squares, and everything of the world.

Gary: Do you see it like I see it right now? When I first started putting this show together, I went out hunting for people who sold stuff, that’s what I call it, “selling stuff”, on the internet. I went to groups on Facebook and asked who was selling stuff here using podcasting or social media? Everyone gave me people who sell e-stuff. That’s it. I didn’t get one person who said they sell “something”. Do you find that to be rare really right now, or am I just not seeing it?

Chris: I have to tell you that part of that is coming from the universe of people who like to say that you can make a million dollars online and here’s how you’re going to do it, you just have to be an authority on something, and you just have to do this, follow my lead. It’s just kind of filling the Internet with a bunch of silly stuff. I think that its not that there isn’t some value in those products, I sell informational products too! For instance I am involved in a network marketing company, and we promote this challenge where the actual product is a bunch of shakes, vitamins, and nutritional stuff to help you with weight loss, helping fighting obesity and childhood obesity, and that’s a hard, physical product. I just started with this company, Gary, and I have been using all of my internet tools and one of the two interesting things I have found is that where all of the cool kids hang out, like the Twitter’s and the Facebook’s have netted me nothing. Jacqueline put links in Craigslist and got way more, 100% more response, than I did with my hundreds of thousands of followers all over the social web.

Gary: That’s really interesting! So Craigslist, with her much smaller following than you have, drove more business than your following did on social media.

Chris: Absolutely. When you think about it, Craigslist doesn’t really have any concept of following or follower numbers, they don’t really know who put the post up unless if you do something to really highlight your profile in the body of the text. Everyone is on an even playing field there. Jacqueline with absolute anonymity beat the hell out of me with notoriety. You know, I have hundreds of thousands of people who follow me on all of these social networks and supposedly love what I do, and I got a handful of people of people and she got twice as many people with just a Craigslist post. The reason why I point this out, Gary, is I know you are a lot like me and you are not about the shiny objects. I also know that you are exploring other modalities. Doing things like podcast is valuable, I’m not saying that any of the new stuff is bad. I’m saying you can’t throw out the old stuff without thinking about it a little more.

Gary: That is such a good point. To me, right there, this time period was worth it. It’s amazing how long I have been selling stuff on the Internet and I have never done something as simple as go to Craigslist and make a post. I consider myself pretty intelligent on selling stuff!

Chris: Every meeting I have ever had with you, you seem like a grown up! The first time I ever had an inkling of this was when I was talking to Alexis Ohanian, who cofounded Reddit. She said, “Do you know where I am making my biggest success? I have a Hip Monk billboard. I put up a billboard in San Francisco and it drove crap tons of traffic to me.” I asked, “a billboard billboard? Like a physical one? With something weird like a QR code or something?” She said, “No, just a phone number and a URL.” I don’t know; it feels like everything old is new again. 70% of my business, even the Internet stuff I sell, 70% of it comes through my email list, which is a 1990’s technology. Everyone says that email is dead. Email is not dead, bad email is dead.

Gary: I have just started using email; I have never used it. I’ve been missing the boat, so I hope it’s not dead, I just started building my list in the last year. Is there anything else that y’all have done? That was such a simple tip, which I find many great tips are. Is there anything else that you may have experimented with on her jewelry line?

Chris: I just had this conversation, it’s a digital example but you can use it for something physical, something as simple as posting up a landing page. People get so wrapped around the easel about what that really means, but if you have a blog, you click add page, make sure there is no side bar and make sure that the content explains what it is that you are selling and you point people to that. People aren’t even doing that. People are doing much more muddy things to get things sold. They are worrying about the technology. Like I said, she used Wix; it’s free to join, you can buy a premium version. I think she bought the premium version and that fixed a few things and took off the ads that support free sites and all of that. None of it was high tech, she is pretty good with software, but she didn’t have to be. I think that there is so much opportunity really that you can do good stuff with. Start simple. You don’t have really simple landing pages for your products, real easy ways to explain what you are doing. I have a friend who is an EBay seller and the way I worked with her was I said, “listen I have a bunch of stuff I need to get out of my house. Why don’t we just split it 50/50, you do all of the work and I will bring all of the product”. All she does is she goes on and tweaks her ads and if they are not getting any kind of traction she takes them down and rewrites them again. She is like a little micro copywriter. She is having great results selling on EBay, it is so not dead. Marsha Collier wrote a great bunch of books including the “EBay for Dummies” series. She sold over 2 million copies of those books, so I would say she must know what she is doing or at least a lot of people think that is the best way to start learning. She has a mountain of advice in those “EBay for Dummies” books; she would be a good guest for this show.

Gary: You just went over landing pages. I wanted to ask a question that I have had on my mind for a while. Most people who have landing pages just go on and on forever. You just keep scrolling and you never finish the page, it’s like 10 pages worth. Is that the best way to handle a landing page or is it better to keep it a little bit simpler?

Chris: This is embarrassing to tell you, but it works. I can tell you from my own experiences that the minute I started putting longer, not as long as those scary yellow highlighter pages, landing pages, it worked. It converted way better than what I thought would work, which is small, brief, and to the point. What happens is this: there are a bunch of tire kicker, hem and haw, chew on the inside of their mouth kind of people who wonder “what if this”. You have to put as many “what if this” answers on the page as you possibly can to get them to click the buy it button. I think that it starts with maybe you should consider buy this buttons and by the time you’re at the bottom you’re cursing. I think that if you stick enough “buy” buttons in there as well so that people don’t have to scroll 300 miles to find the one that tells you the price. Just numerically through my testing, that’s what works. Just like when people hate pop ups on websites, the reason there are pop ups on websites including mine is because they work. There is hockey stick growth to newsletter subscription once you start to have pop ups. Christopher Penn said to me years ago, “You can hate it all you want. Once you put it on you will not take it off”.

Gary: When you say that the information is in there over and over, you are really closing all of the doors that could be negative reasons not to buy this product. They are just covering every negative reason why I wouldn’t buy, and making sure they are giving more reasons not to say no, to say yes.

Chris: You’ve got it. Jacqueline a long time ago made an excuse removal system. You have to come up with as many reasons to remove excuses as possible. She used it for exercise. If you remove all of the reason to not exercise, you will have a better shot at actually doing it. In this case you want every reason why not to buy to be handled as best you can and that will give you a shot. So if you are selling softball equipment, people could wonder if the gear is league qualified because he is in the south and my league is in Montana, maybe there are different rules. You would want to say “league certified in all 50 states” or whatever the language is. There are all of these things where you can mind read a little bit and scatter those around. If you charge a little more, you can do something like guarantee that they will get exactly the product you want and not a random substitute. There are all kinds of things you can throw in there that will help people get over their mental barriers and hurdles. The best way to think about this, especially if you sell things in the physical world, you want to think about what you would say across the table, if I were elbow to elbow with this person, what would I say to them to make them feel better. The other thing they are getting at that moment is they are looking in your eyes and they can’t do that on the net sometimes, so what are you going to make them feel like they can.

Gary: That’s a really good point. Let me ask you about your book. I heard Michael Selznick interview you about your book. I even sent you a comment, which I never do to anyone, because that book hit with me so much with what you were saying. Your book is “The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth”. Can you tell us what that means?
Chris: I wrote a book about entrepreneurship and it is for the not standard person, for weirdos, misfits, world dominators. The kind of person who wants this book is the kind who has gone to the bookstore and saw a book on entrepreneurship and saw two guys with suits shaking hands with briefcases and thought they were not that. A freak is someone who has a tattoo level obsession with doing business the way they want to do it, with the people they want to do it, and where they want to get it done. For instance, Reebok is a freak company because they like to work with the CrossFit people and the Spartan Race people, while Nike just says we just have a lot of shoes, we have you covered. I am looking at anything from solo businesses, to people who are employee-preneurs still working for the man, to companies who are looking at the world through this mindset of wanting to do business with a very specific tribe and I am going to love on them and I know that means I will miss some customers who don’t see themselves in what I am selling, but I know I will have so much fun selling to people who get me and know what I’m into.

Gary: We don’t have enough time to get into the book in depth, but you may want to Michael’s show and listen to the interview on this book because it’s great. You’re talking about something so basic to entrepreneurs. This gave “freak” a whole new meaning to me.

Chris: To me, one of the reasons I called it that, Gary, is because I wanted to dissuade some people. That is a really weird thing to think about as a seller but I have a really important opinion about this. My opinion is that you don’t want to sell to everybody. You want to sell to people who are like you, who get you, who are the kind of people that you would like. I want to do business I would want to have a beer with. I want to do business with someone I might actually like. That may not work the same way for someone with a hot dog stand because he probably just wants to put hot dogs in your mouth, but you’re in the softball world for instance. You like that world. You like the people, you like the game, you love talking to the folks that are there, the ones who really like softball and who can talk the inside game with you are who you like to surround yourself with. If I said Gary, that’s really cool, I need you to help me sell refrigerators, it’s not going to work the same way.

Gary: It wouldn’t have quite the meaning for me. But you know that hot dog guy would probably rather have people hanging around his stand eating the hot dogs that had something to converse about.

Chris: I would think so, and he would want people who would refer him. Referral and word of mouth is old as there is something to sell. I would imagine that thousands of years ago that if Ukluk had better berries than Mockmock, then Ukluk would get more traffic because someone said that he gives them the good berries and Mockmock gives them the rotten ones.

Gary: Where can people find the book?

Chris: It’s easy, just go to and you can find it in whatever form you want it.

Gary: And if people want to follow you or join your mailing list you were talking about, where would they go for that?

Chris: Go to the same URL and it’s in the upper right hand corner. I will tell you that I like the book a lot, but the newsletter that I give out ever Sunday is the best thing I do period. If you get it, you’ll agree with me.

Gary: I heard the other day that your newsletter only goes out to your newsletter people. It’s not information that is rehashed from your website during the week, it’s information you have written just for the newsletter.

Chris: 100% right, Gary. Here is my thinking on that. If I am going to have you over to my house for dinner, I should probably not serve you leftovers.

Gary: That’s exactly what I am doing then; I am serving my guests leftovers! I’ve never thought about it and it hit me when I heard that you were putting original content in that newsletter. That’s a lot of work for that newsletter!

Chris: What I do is I make the website for Google and the non-believers and I make the newsletter for the people who did a little more than just stop and look. If I owned an art gallery and you stop in for the Ritz crackers, then you are not my buyer. I want to talk to the person who wants to understand what the brushstrokes were. I will make my website kind of easy and understandable so people can get it and I make my newsletter stuff you can make money from.

Gary: Chris I appreciate you taking the time to come on the show, and I will see you at Podcast Movement very soon.

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