I’ve always been an avid reader but I have to admit that I was never drawn to fiction or novels, almost exclusively reading educational books my entire life. The only books I recall reading that are story-based were Rich Dad, Poor Dad and Life’s Golden Ticket by Brendon Burchard…both motivational parables with very strong, prominent real life themes that resonate with our own experiences.
I have spent countless dollars on educational books to help strengthen my entrepreneurial tools and skill set, many of which found a place collecting dust on my bookshelf. Despite this fact, one of the authors that have managed to consistently prevail as a dominant influencer in my business strategies as well as millions of sales professionals and entrepreneurs across the world is Jeffrey Gitomer.
His sales strategies have been appreciated and sought after as a corporate sales trainer by some of the world’s most successful companies including BMW, AT&T, Time Warner, GlaxoSmithKline, IBM and Coca-Cola. All of his books have been number one best sellers on Amazon.com including The Sales Bible, Little Red Book of Selling, and most recently, Social BOOM!
Gitomer has managed to turn his offline audience into a thriving social media community that hangs on to his every word via daily tweets, weekly emails and regular videos on YouTube. Every week for over the 20 years, Jeffrey Gitomer has written an article that gets used one time before going into the vault that he refers to as his body of work. It’s from this vault that the basis of everything he does is derived from.
This interview was my unique opportunity to pry into the mind behind the vault that has helped major successes generate millions of dollars. Here’s what I came out with.
FULL INTERVIEW AUDIO:
Melonie: In what ways are you using social media to build your brand right now?
Jeffrey: Well the main thing that I’m doing, you know I started off like anybody else, I did Facebook backwards, I accepted everybody as a friend of mine even though I had no idea who the hell they were. Then someone said well you need a business page and I go “Oh”! I began to fiddle around with that and then a buddy of mine said hey if you’re not on LinkedIn you’re a fool and I said “Oh”. And so I decided one day I’ll put “hey follow me on Twitter” on my email magazine and literally the first week I had about 4,000 followers. If you’ll notice on my Twitter page, I don’t tweet go to this url to buy something from me. Rather, I tweet messages that make people think, who then re-tweet it to their audience and then I gain new followers. In 2 ½ years, I’ve gone from 0 to 45,000 followers.
Melonie: I love what you just said about not tweeting urls to drive people to a sales page because that’s exactly what you don’t want to do with social media and make the same mistake as so many others.
Jeffrey: You know many people do and I’m not in favor of it, but you know it’s a free world you can do whatever you want. You know people who say let me show you how to make a lot of money on Twitter. We have a different opinion of the definition of the words ”a lot”.
Melonie: [Laughs] Yes.
Jeffrey: You know my feeling has always been that I would much rather create a brand and create an attraction so that when I go to a city like Dallas or Philadelphia or Vancouver, I can put an announcement on my Twitter or LinkedIn profile so when I’m going to give a seminar I can sell 400, 500 tickets online, because I don’t ask them to buy a lot of stuff. I simply announce my seminar and say, if you really want to go, click here. If you live in Vancouver, click here. If you live in San Diego, click here. If you live in Dallas, click here and people will go, because they know I’m going to present value, not crap.
Melonie: Exactly. See when you’re providing valuable content on a regular basis and you do a little promotion here and there, it’s well received because people know that that’s not something that you’re doing on a regular basis.
Jeffrey: I refer to it as value based business social media – not sales based. The more value based I found that I am, the more attractive I’ve become, the more people follow me and ultimately more people will invest their money in my products or my seminars.
Melonie: What convinced you to initially join social media?
Jeffrey: It took a lot of convincing. I fought it, you know, I’m 65 years old. I didn’t start until I was 62 years old. I fought it the whole way. I just thought it was something that was going to take my time and wasn’t really that valuable and I already have a brand and I’ve got a bunch of books…I was so dead wrong it wasn’t even funny.
Melonie: Do you feel that social media has changed the effectiveness of traditional marketing?
Jeffrey: Oh ya! You know companies like Proctor & Gamble are not doing traditional advertising anymore. They’re just going through their Facebook and social media outreach in order to reach customers one on one. That’s the beauty of it. That’s why companies like Zappos can clobber a competitor that’s got 500 stores like Macy’s in a heartbeat. They actually give a crap, they actually respond to customers one on one and people are still standing in line at Macy’s waiting to pay for something like a fool. Go into an Apple store, everyone’s a cash register. Every person who works there is able to take your money. You don’t have to stand in line any place and department stores haven’t quite figured that out yet. They don’t get it at all and they’re wondering why advertising isn’t working anymore. Dude, it’s never going to work anymore. It’s over – it is over!
Melonie: Yes, there is no question about it, the whole climate of traditional marketing has drastically changed. I even notice it where I live. Our newspaper used to have 3 or 4 times the amount of pages in it and nobody is advertising anymore.
Jeffrey: And like fools these people think that when the economy returns that their advertising dollars are going to return and it’s not. You know, look at the Vancouver Times or whatever the hell they call it? It’s over!
Melonie: With the face of social media constantly changing and new social networks coming about, like Google Plus, how do you really keep up with it all and manage what’s important for your business?
Jeffrey: Well, I’m adopting a ‘wait and see’ attitude. They’re a lot of places I can go in social media that would occupy my time. There are branches of social media. I play on Foursquare a little bit but I’m doing it more experimentally than anything else because the Big 4 are there already: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. They are pretty much the mainstays.
Related: Google+ vs. Facebook: Who Will Win In 2012?
Melonie: So what kind of advice would you give businesses on the best way to use social media for their particular business?
Jeffrey: Well, there are a couple of things. First of all, start! I don’t care if its half way screwed up, upside down and backwards…start! And start by inviting all of your customers to connect with you. Just say, look I’m going to be tweeting every day a value message that will help you as my customer.
Melonie: That’s excellent advice – get started right away. So how long do you think it’s going to take before social media becomes an extension of every business, rather than an afterthought?
Jeffrey: You’re on the cusp of that right now. Any business that is not involved in social media in some major way right now is an absolute fool! They are leaving themselves wide open for their competitors to come in and clean their clock. So you were thinking, “well we’ve got $250,000 that we’re going to use for advertising.” Why, because you’re an idiot? Why would you do that? Call up Living Social and create vouchers and give away a little bit of a discount to drag a customer forward, tweet the hell out of it; Facebook the hell out of it; interact with your customers one on one and let other people see it and let word of mouth, viral marketing take you over the top!
Melonie: So tell me about your new book, Social BOOM!
Jeffrey: Social BOOM is a combination of my understanding and other experts that I asked who would contribute some stuff to me. People who knew more about LinkedIn than I did, people who knew more about Twitter than I did and I’ve taken that stuff and distilled it down into a social media book that will probably be out of date in another 3 years and then I’ll issue Social BOOM 2. Right now, I get emails every day from people that have started their whole social media process because of Social BOOM. The book has sold tens of thousands and it has been very well received by everybody that reads it. I’m in a situation where I’ve put myself out as an expert simply by publishing a book on the subject.
Melonie: Yes. So Jeffrey, one last question. Just give me some advice that you would give our readers about using social media for business, one last piece of final advice.
Jeffrey: The best thing you can do is think about what your customers want to read and what your customers would consider valuable to them. For example, if you’re a plumber, your customer wants to know how to prevent or fix a leaky pipe or keep their pipes from freezing in the winter time. If you’re a dentist, people want to know how to prevent cavities. Figure out how what you do affects your customers and talk to them about what they would perceive as valuable. Once that happens, you have an understanding about what social media is all about. It ain’t about you, it’s all about them! They don’t care about you. They don’t care if you die. They don’t care if you drop dead right in the middle of your tweet. They’ll tweet back and go “Um, is somebody else out there doing this?” You have an opportunity to be able to do something very valuable for your customers and you’re overlooking it and I can promise you if you don’t do it, your competitors will. Thank you Melonie for your time.