We all wish we could turn back time and do things differently at some stage or another in our lives. In this episode Aaron and I discuss the one thing that we wish we started working on a decade ago: our personal brands.

  • 1:30: Why Aaron wishes he’d worked more on building his personal brand on day one and talks about what he was doing instead.
  • 4:50: Why Sujan wishes he’d gotten out of his comfort zone earlier than he did when it came to growing his business.
  • 8:15: Why harder work leads to more luck and how that pertains to brand-building.
  • 10:20: Why being able to say no to things means that you’re achieving success.
  • 11:05: Things everyone can do to boost their branding.

Most of the companies I work with are relatively small players competing directly with large enterprise companies. There are a lot of obvious challenges here, especially in the world of SEO.

But small companies have a handful of advantages that – if leveraged correctly – can level the playing field and even tip the scales their way.

On this episode of the Growth Mapping Podcast, Aaron and I discuss how we help small business compete with enterprise businesses in SEO.

  • 1:50: Some of the advantages of being the underdog when it comes the ability to make changes.
  • 7:25: The correct ways to use backlinks and other strategies to boost your authority.
  • 9:10: Using local optimization as a small-business owner: what to focus on and why this can help you beat the big guys.
  • 11:10: Why you don’t have to create a lot of content if you focus on thought-leadership, promotion, and building ancillary content.

You could be leaving customers cold and money on the table if you’re still sending out generic, impersonal emails. Mastering a personalized email campaign can dramatically impact your bottom line. According to research from Aberdeen, personalized email messages improve click-through rates by an average of 14%, and increase conversions by 10%.

Continue reading Going Beyond “First Name” Personalization with Your Marketing Emails

Did you know your audience is 4x more likely to watch your video than read an article? In this podcast we share tips on how to leverage video marketing for your business.

  • 1:25: Why video is so popular and why people consume so much of it
  • 4:00: Factors to consider when putting together your video setup
  • 8:50: Some tools that you might use to promote your videos
  • 13:50: The preparation that goes into creating video content
  • 17.30: Why to consider getting a professional video editor

I first began working in internet marketing 13 years ago. Since then, I’ve taken on and grown more than 10 blogs to the 100K (and above) monthly visitors mark.

Doing this has played a critical role in the development of my own personal brand as well as the companies I’ve launched or been involved in growing. And it’s not just me.

B2B marketers that blog reportedly average 67% more leads than those that don’t, and are 13 times more likely to enjoy a positive ROI. (source)

Of course, simply having a blog and updating it occasionally won’t cut it. To leverage a blog for real results – whether that’s growing a personal brand or a business, or monetizing it for passive income – you need to aim big.

100K monthly visitors big.

Continue reading How to Grow Your Blog to 100K Monthly Visitors (From Scratch)

There are a lot of “marketing tips and tactics” out there that will actually cause more harm than good. In this podcast we discuss the top 10 most overrated marketing tactics, and what you can do to avoid them.9

  • 2:30: Why social media is not as effective as you would think when it comes to conversions
  • 7:25: Why not to waste money buying ads when you don’t know the platform well
  • 9:50: When guest-posting is ineffective and when it’s more likely to work
  • 12:45: Whether it’s effective to write highly controversial content or “newsjacking.”
  • 14:35: Why memes might not work the way you hope they will

Creating high quality content regularly isn’t easy – believe me I’d know. In this podcast we discuss some quick tips that can help you write better content faster.

  • 1:50: Why it’s important to diversify your content and publish on the right platforms for your readership
  • 4:50: Thoughts on repurposing content that you’ve already created to take advantage of different types of platforms
  • 9:20: Tips on hacking the writing process, how to avoid distractions, & when to edit
  • 12:00: Tricks for coming up with ideas for content
  • 15:50: How to track your metrics for more success

Back in 2014, I read Keith Ferrazzi’s Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time cover-to-cover several times, along with Jayson Gaignard’s book, Mastermind Dinners: Build Lifelong Relationships by Connecting Experts, Influencers, and Linchpins.

More importantly, I started acting on what I’d learned. Everywhere I traveled, I invited 5-6 strangers and 1-2 friends to dinner to catch up. As a formerly-timid guy, this didn’t exactly come naturally to me. Before I started doing speaking engagements around the world, the thought of being in a room full of hundreds of people made me feel totally overwhelmed. I’d just shut down, which meant conferences and networking events weren’t really an opportunity for me at the time.

I’ve always been best one-on-one (or one-on-a-few-people), so small dinners made sense. Over the last two years, I connected with more than 500 people by throwing 40+ dinners, spending close to $50,000 in the process. Even today, I still spend almost $2,000 a month hosting dinners, and I’m happy to report that doing so has had a huge impact on both my professional network and my comfort level talking to new people.

(As a funny side note, the people I’ve gotten to know through these events might think I’m totally into fine dining, but my favorite restaurant – if you can call it that – is actually Taco Bell. I’m a very picky eater, so the fancy dinners I throw are more for my friends and network than they are for me.)

Here’s how you can grow your network the same way.

Step 1. Make a list of all the people you want to meet

Sit down right now and think about everyone in the world you want to connect with. Don’t limit yourself by thinking, “Oh, that person would never want to meet with me.” Put the big fish on your list, along with anyone else you’re hoping to work with in the future.

Think broadly. Don’t just think about influencers in your industry. Are there sports stars that inspire you? Authority figures in other niches you love following? The bigger your list, the more opportunities you’ll find to connect with influencers wherever you travel.

Step 2. Map your list to your travel plans

A few days before you go on your next trip, go back through your list and make a note of any influencers who live or work in the city you’ll be traveling to. Then, make a separate list of people you know in the city (ideally, people you can confidently say will meet up with you if asked).

As you’re planning your guest list, don’t get too far ahead of yourself. Generally, I like to keep my dinners to 6-8 people, though I’ve done events with as many as 10-15. Remember that the more people you have, the harder it’ll be to talk to everyone. The last thing you want is for people to leave feeling like they never really had the chance to connect with you.

Step 3. Message your friends and target influencers

With your list in hand, email the people you know first and let them know that you’re throwing a dinner in their city. In my case, I pitch it as a dinner for marketers and entrepreneurs; that tends to get people excited so that I know I’ll have at least a few people committed.

Then, email the people you don’t know that you want to meet. Introduce yourself and invite them to come to dinner on you. Make it clear that there isn’t an agenda to the meeting. You’re just in town and looking to connect with like-minded people who might enjoy each other’s company.

If you aren’t sure how to reach certain influencers, a warm introduction is your best friend. Ask existing members of your network if they can help, the way Chris Brogan invited marketer Dorie Clark to attend a dinner being hosted by Canadian entrepreneur Scott Oldford. In a Forbes article written by Clark, Oldford shared the thought process behind his invitation approach. “Whenever I’m going somewhere, I’ll reach out to random people and people I know in the area,” he says. He makes sure they are not trying to push an agenda. “I want to make sure they’re not trying to pitch people.”

Step 4. Make a dinner reservation

I’m partial to Italian restaurants for these types of dinners because they usually have big tables and private rooms available. However, any well-reviewed restaurant with enough space for your small group to have a semi-private experience will work.

Step 5. Be a good host

I like to invite a few people I know to arrive early so that we can catch up before the dinner kicks off. Even if you choose not to do so, arrive early. Don’t make your guests sit around waiting for you and wondering if the dinner really will be worth their time.

As your guests arrive, introduce them to each other and share personal stories that give guests something to start a conversation with. If you have two entrepreneurs, for example, and you know one just closed a funding round, share that with the other to give them a natural jumping-off point.

I also like to make it clear throughout the dinner that the people I’ve invited can reach out to me for help any time. Nobody has ever taken advantage of that offer, and – like Hiten Shah, who argues that helpfulness is one of the best assets brands have – I’ve found it’s an easy way to get great relationships started.

Finally, this should go without saying, but stick to your “no pitch” word, and make sure your attendees do the same. Launching into a sales pitch when you’ve sworn not to is a serious breach of etiquette that’ll trash the relationships you’re working so hard to build.

Step 6. Share your contact info

At the start of each dinner, I like to give guests my phone number so that we can stay in touch after the event (and so they know I’m serious about it being a non-salesy, relationship-building thing).

Afterwards, I send out an email to everyone who attended and invite them to join my Slack group to stay in touch. Not only does that help my guests, it’s been a great resource for me as well. Now, if there’s anyone I want to get in touch with in the world, it’s virtually guaranteed that someone in my group can make the introduction.

Step 7. Arrange one-on-one meetings after the event

Sometimes, I meet people at my dinners that I want to get to know more. Maybe they’re entrepreneurs with great ideas, or maybe they’re marketers who have unique insight into strategies I haven’t heard about before.

Regardless, I’ll shoot an email to those people to arrange to follow up with coffee sometime later in my trip. It’s a great way to build deeper connections than can be achieved in a single dinner alone.

Step 8. Lather, rinse, repeat

I do this every time I travel, and you should too. Think about it: you’re already going to be there. Why not spend a little extra time getting together with interesting people who could help you down the road?

Now, though, I want to hear from you. Do you make an effort to meet new people when you travel? Would you ever consider doing a formal dinner series like this? Leave me a note with your thoughts in the comments below:

Advertising on Facebook is becoming more and more difficult as more companies continue to invest more heavily in the platform. Find out some of the hacks you can use when advertising on Facebook to ensure maximum ROI.

  • 3:00: How organic reach has changed over the past few years and how to increase it for your page
  • 6:00 Reasons to love Facebook ads and some ways to maximize its impact on your reach
  • 8.25: How we use a lookalike audience and videos
  • 12:00: How to use Facebook ads for pixel-swaps
  • 16:15: How Facebook Live can fit into your strategy for boosting your reach

Speaking engagements are one of the most effective channels for building your personal brand. In this episode we discuss how to secure meaningful speaking gigs.

  • 1:25: How effective public speaking can be at distinguishing yourself
  • 4:20: Working your way up to the speaking circuit
  • 7:50: Getting noticed and specific strategies to get your first gigs
  • 14:33: Paid advertising, cold outreach and other methods to get more opportunities
  • 16:50: How to get better at public speaking