562: How to Become a B2B Influencer w/ Josh Steimle

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

In this episode we talk to Josh Steimle, Founder & CEO at MWI & Founder of Influencer Inc.

A relationship with the right referral partner could be a game changer for any be to be company. So what if you could reverse engineer these relationships at a moment's notice, start a podcast, invite potential referral partners to be guests on your show and grow your referral network faster than ever? Learn more at sweet fish Mediacom. You're listening to the be tob growth show, a podcast dedicated to helping be to be executives achieve explosive growth. Whether you're looking for techniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place. I'm James Carberry and I'm Jonathan Green. Let's get into the show. Welcome back to the B tob growth show. We are here today with Josh Stemley. He is the founder and CEO at Mwi. He's also the founder of influencer ink. Josh, how you doing today? Fantastic, James. Thanks for having me here. I'm really excited to chat with you, Josh. I have, I think, our paths crossed because I had a post on Linkedin, I think, last week, asking my network who they knew that had a great personal brand, and I think your fame came up quite a few times people tagging you in the comments saying that that you were just crushing it from a personal branding perspective. And when I doug a little bit deeper, I realize very quickly why that's the case. And so we're going to be talking today about how to become a BTB influencer. I think you have obviously nailed it, and but I want you to give a little bit of context to our listeners so they understand what what I have recently come to know about you. Tell us a little bit about the work you're doing it in Mwi and also at influence rank? Sure? Well, my short story is that I started mw in one thousand nine hundred and ninety nine, and M Wi is a digital marketing agency and today we've got offices in the US, Hong Kong, China, Singapore in the UK. And then about four years ago I had the opportunity to start writing for Forbes magazine and I started writing about entrepreneurship and digital marketing and that really blew up my business, Mwi, and just helped it grow like crazy. And so as I started writing for Forbes and then that expanded into writing frontreneur and time and fortune and Mashavill and tech runch and twenty other publications, and then that led to speaking engagements and I led to a book deal. As I started investing in that kind of content marketing, in that personal brand side of things. Then people start to come to me and say, Hey, how did you do this and how is your business growing and what led to all this and how do I do this for myself? And so I launched this other company called influence her ink to help people with their personal brands and to help train them and to help coach them and guide them through this process. And so now I've got these two companies, Mwi, markets and brands, companies, and influence rink, markets and brands. People. I love it, and so so, Josh. That obviously makes perfect sense given the topic that we're going to be covering today and why I think you're going to bring an immense amount of value to this. As we were talking offline. Yeah, I think the place it makes the most sense for us to kind of kick this conversation off as it relates to becoming a BETB influencer, which think pretty much everybody listening to this has aspirations to become a Beb influencer. Want to first talk about why do you think it's so important to seek out influence, to really be focused on your personal brand in today's environment? The first reason, the the selfish, the business reason, is that people like to do business with people that they like, know and trust, or I should say no, like and trust. And if you look at businesses, their faceless corporations, they're not people. People like to do business with people. And so if you go to do business with somebody, would you rather do business with a faceless corporation or a corporation that's represented by a smiling face? And so you think about a company like a virgin with Richard Brands, and Richard Branson seems to be this Super Fun Nice Guy and he's everywhere smiling, and that's the brand of virgin and...

...it rests a lot on Richard Branson's personal brand. And all things being equal, you'd probably rather fly on a Virgin Airlines plane than on a Delta flight. WHO's the CEO of Delta? I have no clue, I have no idea. I'm sure he's a great guy, but I have no clue who that is. In Virgin. Definitely. I think if you pulled people and you said which one would you rather fly? If it was the same price, same time, same everything, which one would you rather go? And I think those people would say I've virgin. It just looks like more fun, it looks like it'd be a better experience, and a lot of that has to do with Richard brandson's personal brand. Yeah, so now, in my personal case, I started working on my personal brand. That helped my business grow because I was out there, people saw me and especially with my articles and Forbes and such, they would read these articles I was writing and they would say, Hey, this guy's talking about digital marketing. He's in Forbes, you must know what he's talking about, and then they would figure out what I did for digital marketing. Then I'm writing an agency, and by the time they came to us and contacted us, they were already ninety five percent sold on using us because they had gotten to know me. Yeah, and they would email us and they'd say, Hey, I feel like I already know Josh and I know him through his writing and I really want to work with you guys, because we had developed this relationship online. And so for me, I mean, this is meant millions of dollars for my agency. I have one article I wrote that as we can track back to two million dollars in revenue from my agency. So wow, this is the power of a personal brand that, whether you're a small business or a big business, it can really drive business for you. And that's reason number one. Reason number two is it's an opportunity to serve, to help people, and the reason I started influence ring because I believe most people in the world are good and if I can help them become more influential, than they're going to make the world a better place. And so the mission with influence rank is to help people, whether it's executives or entrepreneurs or working professionals, to become more influential, build their personal brand and then use that as service, use that to make the world better place, whether it's through the business world or through other things that they're doing. I love it. I love it and I have a question for you. I wanted to dig a little bit deeper, Josh, because I know that they're there can be and a some push back to personal brand actually driving, you know, real business results. I think we all would you know your example of Richard Brandson, I think is fantastic. I think about Howard Schultz and the starbucks brand. You know, I read Howard's book. You know he's prolific on social media. And then I think about, you know, the Duncan Donut CEO. I don't I don't know who that is. There's there's no human attached to it and I've got to believe that there's real, legitimate business impact. But you mentioned something that I thought was interesting. You said that you could actually tie real revenue back to a specific Forbes article. Is there a certain way that you're doing your attribution? Are you just asking? Did that just come about through conversations that you're having with new customers and them saying, Oh, yeah, I read this article. Is that how you guys kind of tied it back to that specific article? Right, it's the ladder. So when people come into the business we say how did you find us and they say, Oh, I read this article, and so we've tracked that and it's probably a lot more revenue that we have actually gotten from that article, but we can track at least two million to it. I mean it might actually be three million, but I know guaranteed it's at least least two million. Well, that's that's incredible. So this actually does map to dollars. So, now that we've covered kind of the the why behind it, you gave to really solid answers there, Josh, I want to talk about you know you need to be doing it, but what do you actually do to get started? What are some first steps that folks listening to this can take to go down the path of becoming an evolucer and driving results to the bottom line? Right. So a lot of people, when they ask hey, how do I get started doing this, they start thinking about social media and their profiles and putting their name out there and then filming themselves and putting videos out or something...

...like that. or The look at like a Gary Vaner Chuck and say, well, he's got a strong personal brand. I'll just film a bunch of videos of myself talking and cursing a bunch or something and that's my personal brand. It's like, I mean you're kind of hitting little parts of what it takes to build a personal brand there, but the thing that people miss out on the lot is actually deciding what their personal brand is going to be before they go out and do these things. Yeah, it's important to have a website, yeah, it's important to be on social media and be out there, but who are you and who's your audience and what's your message that you're going to be communicating to them? If you don't know these things going in, then you're going to be shooting all over the place, you're going to be unfocused and you're not going to get any traction and then you will won't have any success and then you say as this personal branding stuff doesn't work, when in reality you just went about it the wrong way. So the first step is figuring APP who am I? What is the personal brand that I want to have, and so you need to go through a kind of a positioning exercise to say, you know, what makes me special, what am I? What's unique about me and my background and my experience, and it's helpful to think about like a ven diagram. You see these Ben Diagrams where you have a bunch of circles and they overlap and where there's overlap there's some sort of special thing they're to give a simple example, I know a lot about marketing and I also happen to know a lot about skateboarding. Because I grew up as a skater and was involved in the industry. So if you overlap those two circles, then there's this intersection of skateboarding and marketing. Now a lot of people in the world know a lot about marketing. So as just a marketer I'm nothing special because there are thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of marketers in the world. And as a skateboarder I'm nothing special. There are millions of skateboarders in the world, but how many skateboarders have corporate high end marketing experience? Very few, I mean they're probably twenty or something. So you look at that and you say, okay, it's that intersection that makes me special, at least in this one area. And now I haven't chosen to build my personal brand around skateboarding and marketing, but that's an example of how I can take two areas of my life, intersect them and find something that is unique about me. And so I encourage people to make a list and say what are all the expert zones that you have in your life, things that you're really good at, and then start overlapping those and say what two things can I put together that really make me unique and that becomes my genius own where I say if, if I do this, I can own this space, I can own this match and nobody else can touch it because nobody else has this intersection that I have got it. And, Josh, what are so, what are your thoughts on if you want people to get granular on what? You refer to it in an email that I that I read on your through your email list earlier today. You talked about it as your as your swim lane. Do you have any any suggestions on how to know if you've gotten niche enough or if you're granular enough on the swim lane that you're choosing to build your brand around? Sure, and so the swim lane is something that came from Forbes, because they talked about this a lot with the contributors at Forbes. They require that you have a swim lane, you have a certain focus that you write about each and every day and you don't go out of that Swim Lane. And so it might be pr it might be digital marketing, it might be accounting, whatever it is, but they want you to create a tag line around that swim lane to and be able to have this short sentence that says I write about digital marketing for CMOS, I cover entrepreneurship in China or and so they really want you to focus and they work with you on focusing on this tag line and developing that. If you can't say what you do and one sentence and have it be really clear, then you haven't gotten focused enough. If you...

...require a paragraph or a whole half of a page to describe what you do, then you're not focused enough. You're trying to cover too many things. So you should be able to fit it into one sentence. The other thing is, does it stick once you've got it? If you create that tagline and it really resonates with who you are and what you do and you can tell your friends about this and they're like yeah, that's you, that taggling describes you. That's how I think about you. You you are the digital marketing in China Guy, you are the marketing and skateboarding guy, like that's how I already see you. Then you know you're onto something if you're trying to create a personal brand and it has nothing to do with really what you are and you're just creating it because you aspire to something else and you're trying to create something and move in that direction. That's really tough. There's a saying that it's easiest to lead a horse in the direction it's already going. So you want to create a personal brand around what already makes you special, that people already know you for, and then just strengthen that personal brand that you've already been working on rather than try to go create something that's totally different than who you already are. So so you mentioning the skateboard piece, Josh. For me, I named my business after my favorite candy, Swedish fish, and so I think a lot of you know I write about it a lot my emails and how it'sessed. I am a Swedish fish and I think Noah, you know, I see Noah Kegan doing this. I think that maybe actually what inspired me to get just more human in my writing and talk about the things that I just are really enjoy that have nothing to do with business. And, as silly as it is, people really seemed to latch onto that. The the replies that I get on the kind of the nurture emails that go out from our marketing automation system. A lot of times it's Oh my God said that that line about, you know, your care bear Pajama Pants was hilarious. Or Oh, I'm you know, my wife loves Swedish Fish. Talk to us a little bit about how you have integrated, because I have seen you talk about kind of the skateboarding piece you you haven't necessarily built your entire brand around it, but talk to us about the importance of kind of letting those, those more personal elements of your personality shine through in the content that you're putting into the world. Yeah, and, by the way, I love Swedish fish to that's my favorite can. Yeah, man, we're really correct mine on a deep level of your great mind. So, yeah, those little personality quirks are really useful because it does help you stay top of mind with people at just it introduces this unique little thing that makes you stand out. And so I have skateboards on the back of my office wall. So when I'm doing video interviews, these skateboards that are hanging on the wall because I like the artwork on them, they show up and people remember that and they comment on it. And so, even though I'm not in the skateboarding in industry, like that's not what I focus on for my professional life. I've still made that part of my brand because people say, Oh, yeah, Josh, he's that marketing guy and he wrote that CMO book and yeah, he's into skateboarding and stuff. It's just one more little thing that makes me stick out and helps people to remember me because it's unique. And so having those little personality things makes you human. It makes you more authentic, which is a popular buzzword these days that everybody's chasing after, and it just makes you a person. It makes you somebody that people say, well, I feel like I know this guy because I know something special about him. I love it. Josh, you're obviously dealing with particularly at influencer ink, you are working with a lot of executives. Where are you seeing the biggest where you seeing them struggle the most, and and what is your advice whenever they hit those snags and they're struggling with their personal brand? Two areas that I see a lot of struggling in. One is people trying to be somebody other than who they really are. Okay, and when they do that they create content that's not authentic and because it's not authentic,...

...it doesn't connect with their audience. And when there's no connection with the audience, there's no traction, you don't get any results. And so they're often trying to imitate somebody else. They're trying to imitate Richard Brands and they're trying to imitate Bill Gates, they're trying to imitate Gary Vane or Checker, whoever it is. And I say be yourself and be authentic about yourself and make yourself vulnerable and tell secrets of about yourself, talk about failures, and that's how you make a connection with your audience. There's power in that. The other thing is that they don't produce content enough because they're so there. They want to be perfect. Yeah, and when you want to be perfect, you end up spending a lot of time on your content, and this damage is you in two ways. One, you just don't get that much content out there. Too, it also hurts your authenticity. The more you polish the content, the less it's you. And so I encourage my coaching clients and the people that I'm working with to go out and just create content, even if it's quick and dirty. Go on Linkedin right now and tell your story in one thousand three hundred characters because that's the limit they have on the posts. Yep, but go out there and tell your story about how you got where you are and what you love about what you're doing, and don't Polish it up, don't make it sound like an advertisement, don't even put a call to action in there. Just do it. Yeah, and write that story and you'll be amazed at how that connects with people and how many likes and how many comments you get on that, versus if you go out there and you do a linkedin post and you put a link in there in a graphic and you try to really Polish it up and make it this advertisement type of thing. People hate advertisements, they don't listen to advertisements, but they love stories. So just go out tell your story and experiment with that and just get doing it. Yeah, I've been writing these linked to posts every day, just telling little stories about failures, about things I've done, and sometimes I'll put a little called action in there, but oftentimes I don't. I just say hey, this is my story, this is what I'm going through, what are you going through? And there's no I'm not leading them to my email list, I'm not leading them to my social media profile. I'm just trying to figure out what connects with people. Yeah, and as I do that, I've had amazing success. I think I'm up to like I've gotten like five hundred thousand views on my linkedin posts in the past two weeks or something. And so if you can jump in and do that, even though it's quick and dirty, do that and then you take those posts and you refine them and you turn them into blog posts, you turn them into videos and nurture emails that Cora answers. Yeah, right, right. So you can take that and then you can lead it to the more Polish stuff, but just get out there and start get the stuff that's quick and dirty out there. Just get it out there. So for the past four months, Josh, I've been going all in on Linkedin as well, posting every day, seeing seeing similar results. I think I'm around the probably the three or four hundred thousand mark from a view count perspective, and I think that people, you know what, I've been talking to a lot of marketers lately about the results that I've been seeing on Linkedin, because I want them to start, you know, jumping on the train before linkedin starts charging for for this kind of stuff because it just seems it seems crazy. I mean I had a post earlier this week that's it like two hundred and seventy five thousand views right now, and and it's organic. I'm not I didn't pay anything to get that kind of reach and the inbound messages that are coming in from it. I mean it's unreal, but it's because I've been doing exactly what you just said to do. I've been vulnerable, I've shared my story. But when I when I told my wife a couple weeks ago, or not a couple weeks ago, I guess it was a few months ago when I started doing this, I was just saying like Hey, I've been hearing a lot of people talk about the more vulnerable you get on Linkedin, it actually really helps with getting more engagement and getting more eyeballs on your content. What do you think about that? And she was really hesitant at first. You she was like well, what, you know she's she's a little bit more guarded and she doesn't, you know, want the world to know her. You know the intricacies of her life. She's not trying to...

...build a personal brand. So I guess to someone like my my wife, maybe the person out there that that wants to have a personal brand. But the thought of like being vulnerable online feels like how this is going to be here forever. What if people see that and they think, Oh, this guy like doesn't have a stuff together? Is that a common pushback that you get, or do people typically understand you fundamentally? Okay, being vulnerable is is the better path. And if they do push back, what's your response to that? Yeah, so they're they're kind of two things here. There's this vulnerability side where people do struggle with that because they feel like if I reveal failures, if I'm vulnerable, than people won't respect me, people will think that I'm a failure. They're not going to want to listen to me because all they want to hear our success stories and they want to see people like Richard Branson smiling and talking about the billion that he's made, and that's not at all what people want to hear. They don't want to hear success stories. They want to hear about overcoming challenges. They want to hear about when you were just like them and struggling and how you overcame those challenges. I was just meeting with somebody two days ago and he was talking about this and saying, yeah, go out there and tell some stories about how you're failing at this and back when you're company only had three people instead of the three hundred people today. He's like, well, yeah, but then I don't know if my customers will really trust me if I start talking about that. Like they they had an experience. In his business. They make it's a prototyping company, so companies come to them to get parts made when they're designing a new product and then they test out these parts before they go into man mass manufacturing. Okay, and he was telling me a story about working with a famous motorcycle company and they made a part and they made a mistake and it almost resulted in somebody getting hurt, and then they learned this lesson. I said, well, what did you do? And they said, well, we bought this machinery so that we can test at ourselves, because it was really a partner who failed, and now we went through this and now we know how to do it the right way. And I said that's a great story. You should tell that story. They said well, if I tell that story, though, then people are going to see that we didn't do it right this one time. I'm like, they don't care about that, they care that you do it right right now. Yeah, and if you tell that story, it shows that one you're willing to tell the ugly truth, but to you it shows how you solved the problem. They know that you've got that problem solved as soon as you tell that story. In fact, what happens is that it's going to put doubt in their minds about all of your competitors because they're going to be asking, well, does do his competitors do this, or are they still doing it the old way? But I know that this guy does it the right way because he had this bad experience as like this is great marketing for you, but he was really afraid to do that at first because he didn't want to say anything negative about his company. So that's that vulnerability side. This other side is sometimes people are just uncomfortable with the personal brand because they don't like talking about themselves. They don't want to be self promotional, they don't want to be that guy who's like always talking about himself and you kind of get your image and this image in your head of those guys who are like taking photos of themselves in front of Amborghinis and with wads of money and stuff, and it's like that's not what we're talking about. When we're talking about personal branding, we're talking about going out there and just telling stories, giving tips, and it's not about you. This is what I have to tell people is it's not about you. It's about your audience and it's about sharing with your audience. You're not going out there and saying look how great I am. You're saying here's when I failed and here's what I learned and here's how you might be able to learn from my experience. Or here's how we started our business, here's some of the struggles we faced. Here challenges we went through, or I see our clients struggling with X, Y Z, and here's how you can overcome this in your business. Here's what people pay me five thousand dollars to know, and I'm just going to give it to you for free. Here's my advice. This is the kind of stuff that you're putting out there and yeah, it will make you look like an expert, but you'll never have to say, look at me, I'm an expert. You're just giving advice and the expert part happens naturally. I love it. We're super aligned...

...in our thinking. Josh, this has been fantastic. I've loved this conversation. If there's somebody listening to this that wants to stay connected with you, they want to learn more about your course or or just get connected and consume the type of content that you and I have been talking about, because you are practicing what you're preaching right now. I've been seeing it for the last few weeks on Linkedin. What's the best way for them to go about staying in touch with you? visit me on my personal website. It's Josh Stimeleycom Stimley's Stei am as and Mary Elle Love it awesome. Josh, will thank you so much again for your time. This has been incredibly valuable for the folks listening and I really appreciate it. Thank you so much, James, for having me on. If you're a be tob marketer, we want to feature you on sites like Huffington Post, social media examiner and chief marketer. Every week we send out a question related to be to be marketing. We use the responses to those questions to fuel the content we write for really popular websites, so head over to sweet fish Mediacom backslash questions and sign up today. Thank you so much for listening, until next time,.

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