B2B Growth: Your Daily B2B Marketing Podcast
B2B Growth: Your Daily B2B Marketing Podcast

Episode 1743 · 6 months ago

How To Promote Your Ideas (And Not Look Like A Narcissist), with Mitch Joel


In this episode, Benji talks to Mitch Joel, Author, Speaker, and Founder of the Six Pixels Group.

Discussed in this episode:

  1. Valuable insights vs the cult of personality
  2. How thinking like a journalist improves your thought leadership
  3. Tools for creating helpful content

Conversations from the front lines of marketing. This is B two B growth. Well, today I am thrilled to get to chat with Mitch Joel, who is the founder of the six pixels Group, and Mitch, welcome into B Two B growth. Hey, Benji gets to meet you. Thanks for having me. For sure I wanna jump into something you recently put on Linkedin and we'll discuss that in a minute, but maybe just give us a quick rundown of who you are, Mitch, and some of the work that you're up to over at the six pixels group. Yeah, sure. So my name is Miss Joel and most people know me because in the early two thousand's I launched, along with several business partners, a digital agency called twist image, and in the early two thousands I started a blogging podcast called six pixels of operation, which really was early days of social media and watching all of that whole web two come together. So we had a very good ride up until selling the business about eight years ago W P P, and then that agency became mirror, which is still part of the Wonderman Thompson Organization. I left about four years ago, but from there I decided to continue what I was primarily doing, which was creating content at six pixels dot com, my podcast, speaking, investing, advising, and so that's what six pixels group is. It's really just a holding company for my speaking contracts and my media work, and I'm in the middle of a stealthy startup that I'm not talking about yet that should be going live at some point soon. But other than that, yeah, podcast, I write to create content and hang out with interesting people like you. Well, we will keep our eyes peeled for this next endeavor that you're hinting at here right. But you got a full plate, a fun full plate we're excited to tap into to your brilliant mind on this episode. Let's talk about what you published over on on Linkedin here recently, and I'll transition us by just reading a piece of this. You say, and this is the oversimplication of the issue, but most thought leaders who I know like trust and respect, are spending way too much energy posting about their winds, accolades and media appearances over or instead of what got them this attention in the first place. Tell me what, uh spotlighted this issue for you, Mitch, originally? What gets the wheels turning enough for you to say. I need to say say a bit of what I'm thinking. I think I've spent my life saying what I'm thinking all the time, every day, and so it's not like this was festering like an open wound for a long time it it was probably just in the moment. The general consensus from my own thinking about the leadership is what makes somebody a true thought leader, a thinker, a speaker, of broadcaster, a podcaster, is somebody who is consistently showing up and adding value to the audiences lives. And usually what happens in these instances is this person has an area of expertise. And when I said how about an area of expertise, it's quite general and I usually use it in thinking about event organizers. Um, an event organizer will say something like we need to get better more sales, we need to become and develop better leaders, we need to understand what's coming around the corner and thinking about the future, we need to think differently about our sales teams and we're particular to be to be and then you start looking for people who are experts, are thought leaders in that space. And for me, what again, being somebody who's been in this a long time and maybe that was part of my old man on the porch, you know, holding my fists and streaming of the clouds. Is that I really think the best thought leaders are consistently and...

...constantly showing up with new thinking around that area of expertise. And I found myself, whatever morning I wrote this piece on, going through my feeds, whether it was facebook or Linkedin or twitter or, I. G. E. or Tiktok, tiktok, a little less, I would argue, and anybody who I've been connected to for a long time, it seems like all they're doing is self promoting. I'm speaking at this event, I have this program I released this book, which is obviously a best seller or the definitive book on this topic. And as I was constantly seeing this more and more, I decided to click on several profiles of some of these people and just look at what are the other posts? Maybe it just happened to be a weird moment in time where everybody is shilling versus providing value, and I realized that, whatever you want to call it, Gary Vayner Chuck Talks About It as the Jab Jab right, Hook right, do nine things and then give them the right hook of asking them to your book, your or buying your online course, and it felt like it was the inverse of that. And again, I come from a background of journalism and Publishing and broadcasting prior to their being an Internet, and I just always believe that I would rather write the cover story and have my byline there and have people want to continually connect with my content then be the face on the cover of the magazine. And I think you achieved the face on the cover of the magazine by constantly writing those cover stories. And maybe I'm wrong. Maybe we live in a world now where that's how we covet experts. We look to see what stages they're on, how many books they've sold, them screenshotting a positive review on Amazon or ranking in some minor subcategory of an Amazon best like everyone's a best seller and it's now you're people saying, Oh, I'm a best seller in my categories. I don't know what that means, but okay, Um, and I'm not trying to compare myself to that. I'm not saying I have any level of that acumen, but it just gave me pause that if I were looking to book that person for an event or looking to potentially use their services. I couldn't really give you what their perspective is on that space, other than they seem to be very proud of the things that they produced. MM HMM. That's interesting, because self promotion is so easy now, like you can just be on any platform, every platform, and once you get into the cycle of showing up at events speaking, there's some level of following that you've amassed you can default too. I'm just going to share the next thing I'm I'm going to like, almost without realizing right. When's the last time I considerably dropped some value? That maybe even is what probably is what got you that following in the first place. You call it like more of a cult of personality than domain of authority. Culture personality tends to be like what happens in in. This might just be my opinion, or what I see is like it's what happens at scale. So you hit this critical mass and then there can be this departure from domain of authority. So some of us do this on Linkedin, where we just promote our thing, but no one's paying attention to me. If you're a thought leader, you've got some some level of people that follow you. Right, those are the people you're alluding to. Yeah, I'm thinking about it more in the construct of am I trying to create the allure that I'm famous, important and smart, or am I establishing it by the content I'm creating? And and if I had to zoom out, would I know what this person's domain of authority is, or would it just look to me like they're doing quite well professionally, which, again, like there's nothing wrong with that. And, by the way, if we don't talk about ourselves, nobody will. It's a noisy world out there. So I'm in no way advocating to not self promote. I believe there are ways to do it that are intertwined with a delivery of value, because otherwise what you're essentially doing, and this comes from my marketing background,...

...is you're really just advertising yourself. You're not marketing yourself, you're not developing a thought or an audience because of something. And then you are right that at a certain scale it feels like everyone will pile on because everyone else is connected to this person. And the question is, is this person, who now will probably have a team in place, if they have a lot of fame and people following them, are they continually producing what got them there, or are they fulfilling this weird cycle of of fame and celebrity? So, you know, these are questions we have to ask ourselves as brands and as individuals. Are we trying to accruve fame or are we trying to build thoughtfulness and a unique perspective and a reason that would differentiate you from me? So, in particular, if you think about the B two B space, which I know well, there's so many people who are specialists in B two B sales techniques and I believe that in this world of there being so many, what makes somebody unique isn't necessarily that they're saying something different, it's that they're consistently delivering a perspective. So it doesn't have to be a unique thought, it really becomes, over time, a unique voice. So your unique voice in that space, because it is a it's a busy space and there's a lot of people who talk about it, but ultimately, because you're constantly giving your perspective, hopefully customers and potential customers are looking at you and thinking this person always has something unique to say. I want to be connected to that. Now, with that, there are many people who love the fame aspect. They love being on the train, even if it's not them. So the fact that I'm connected to so and so and they liked my post or they followed me back can be very gratifying. I'm questioning the value of it in a world where these are some really intelligent, smart people who have great things to say. I wish they would say that more than let me know which airport they're hanging out in. Yep, a big component of this too to me is the thought on what we just need to keep attention so I might mix in some value, but I don't know what to post to stay relevant. So if I know that the world is noisy, then I'll just add more noise so that I stay in the feed. And then and it it's becomes cyclical rather than just going. What's the value that I can add in my domain of expertise over time? And you can throw in some life stuff. We all like that. I like seeing what those people are doing, but it's that it's that ratio right and just not falling into this need of like just because everyone else is always posting about everything doesn't mean I I also need to do that in order to appease my audience. Yeah, look, I'm the pop culture person. I love. I collect comic books and graphic novels. I have a podcast where I interview based players and I have no problem interjecting the unique aspects of my personality because I think they reinforce a personality, meaning you're not just getting content behind the name you don't know you're you're getting to know the person a little bit. So I think there's a big difference between sharing life experiences and self promoting. I still think there's there's a there's a delta between the two, but ultimately the solved for the first thought you had, Benji, is very easy. You live in a world where you're probably subscribing to minimum five to ten newsletters, probably fifty two hundred or or sites or things that you do as your daily routine, and a long time ago I fell in love with an APP called pocket, which you can save things too, and there's save later now on almost every platform. And again this brings me back to the early days of Josh actor and his development of delicious, which then was sold to yeah, which was a big deal back back in the early days of the web and all I do is mostly read headlines and then I'll save them in pocket. Odds of me reading...

...the article, I'd like to say they're high. They're not that high. But what pocket is for me is a receptacle of potential ideas. So now I don't have to have unique thoughts or worry about what I'm coming up with. All I really have to do, maybe on a daily basis, maybe multiple times a day, is look at the things I've saved and say to myself, what do I think about that topic? Again, I don't even have to necessarily even read the article, but I can have a perspective on that topic and I can tweak that to fit my vertical I can tweak that to fit my my area of expertise. So, for example, I might see something in the media about what a brand did during the Olympics and I might look at that and say, well, I'm in B two B sales, so what is the question there? Well, maybe I want to break down how the sales works in terms of buying super bowl ads versus an Olympic ad, and maybe talk about values or whether B Two b should have a play in that. To be used. There are so many angles from one headline that you can probably pull out if you're truly a thought leader, and I think that that's the other aspect of it is more often than not you're seeing people who are essentially faking it till they make it, which I also don't have a huge issue with. It's something that we all will try to do at the beginning. It's normal in our careers. And again, what's The differentiators? I think I'd want to know I was put myself in the brain of the event planner or a potential customer. If this person is faking it till they make it, which is fine, is there a level of quality? Because I don't want to diminish someone who doesn't have experience or who's younger. I believe that every person who has a mentor should have a mentor who's somebody who's still in college university is they're going to provide you with a whole different perspective on how they use technology, what they do, etcetera, etcetera. There are so many things that we can do that creates that create real value, and it's back to value. What's the value I'm creating? So if it's constantly me being in places that are instagrammable or you walking around with my joke on on facebook or instagram is whenever I see one of these pictures of the person who's like semi pose with a coffee and a notebook and the whole thing, I'm always like, who's the photographer? It's not like a self here and listen. So did you pay someone to do like a half day shoot or not to pop the bubble or be a jerk? And Not at all. But again, it's the things that why are we doing this? So if you're doing a multi day photo shoots, that you have six months worth of visuals that add value to the content you're creating, whether it's text, the images, audio, video, short form, long form, live prerecorded great smart, smart strategy, much better than using stock photography like I do. It's the framing of it. And again, what are you bringing to it? I'm just personally getting tired of like scrolling through the feeding going out. You're on stage, you're on stage or you know, my new joke with speakers is you know I'm I'm the opening keynote at event and you see it's like, you know, six people in chairs fifteen open chairs and I'm like, it looks like a talk, doesn't look like a opening Keno, but we want to use that language because it establishes something in the brain. Versus somebody WHO's more sophisticated making a choice about it, seems like that person's is fake and not really delivering, because in every component I don't see their unique thinking around what they say is their domain of expertise. Yes, okay, I could go down so many roads on this, mettre, I love what you just said to two words pop right into my brain as you're giving that one is obviously, and you brought up value, but the second one was journalism, because I think what makes your perspective unique and what can be a way to differentiate is to think like a journalist, which is something you actually go on to mention. There is something about being able to investigate and ask the right question at the right time that unlocks something both in your personal content. So for anyone listening to this on the marketing side, like get better at asking questions, the better you get at asking questions and thinking your holistically, exactly like the example you gave with questions, questions.

Let's start with why or how no question that can be answered with the s or now you don't want those questions. Yes, and that's you can tell how curious you are depending on how closed or open your questions are. Oftentimes uh. So I think there's something to be said about being a journalist. That then actually informs how you add value, because the more questions you're asking, you're gonna find new ways to give value to your audience. Talk about how that's set you up for maybe some success, but thinking like a journalist and how you would implore us to do to do that as well. I mean it's my my natural state, it's where I started in my late teens professionally. So I was had a passion for it and I always had a passion for questions and I always had a passion for putting the content, which could be an individual who you're interviewing or the subject, in the spotlight. Again, not making it about me. It's about the content, and then the content finds the audience and the audience then connects to the person who created that content because they want more of it. That was the cycle that I always saw. That doesn't, that doesn't push aside the idea that many journalists have become celebrities. Absolutely, we again cult the personality. We see it every day on TV, we see it every day on on Youtube, there's no doubt. But if that, if that individual isn't really creating valuable content, it goes away really quick. And what you see at scale is even big youtubers like Mr Beasts or Preston. If your kids, you start seeing this strange chase that they have after these likes and follows. And why did that video not get pushed as hard as this one? A journalist would would never think like that. A journalist knows that there's always another story tomorrow and that, no matter how much I believed in this story today or the development of it, or how much how long it took, and I'm sure you've experienced this too, it is often the intent that is somewhat innocuous that gets the most hits or lands. I knew you where you were going with that as soon as you and it really is true. Right, if we knew what would be viral, we would only create that which would be viral. What you learned really quickly is that viral is a result and the result isn't necessarily directly co related to the effort or the personal value you assigned to it. Audiences are very peculiar, they're very unique and the most important part is that they're very fleeting. So you might think I have a hundred thousand subscribers, but you really don't. You have a hundred thousand people that have agreed to allow you to sneak across their screen at some point. They're not really the audience until they've fully consumed what it is you've created, and I'm going to guess, like my platforms, that not everybody who's subscribed, like their following, is consuming everything. They're floating in and out because there's a lot of things and sometimes it's just time based, sometimes it's work based, sometimes it's content based. So what you can do to make this more relevant from my perspective is three things. One is make yourself, as the creator of the content, compelling enough that, if worst came towards someone has trust in you to still work through it, even if they don't like the next part, which is the content. What is the topic and how does it resonate with me? And then the third part is I'll call them guests, but they could be subject matter experts, that you're interviewing or trying to cover. So if I have somebody like a Tom Peters or Susan Kane on my show, their fans will probably watch or listen to the content because they know like and love Tom or Susan. They may not now, someone may have never heard of Tom or Susan, but they've heard of this idea of introverts being as relevant as extroverts and they might think, well, my kids an introvert or I'm somewhat introverted. I always thought that I have to break out of my shell, but now I'm hearing this content from this person I never heard of, Susan Kane, who wrote this book on introverts. So then the top, because what's drawing me in appealing to the actual guests or subject...

...matter expert and at the same time, if I'm doing my job well, I'm conducting and I'm bringing that topic and that guest. So in a perfect world you want where someone loves you as the host, they love the the guest or the or the subject matter expert and they love the topic. But you want to be in a place, ideally, where at least you're not the factor for them leaving so then you're playing against those two right the subject and the guest. And listen, I know as someone who's done probably more podcasts than anyone, that you can't get every a or B list guest out of the gates, but you could always find an expert that people probably never heard of and should. And so then you're really working heavy, not on their repertoire resume or social connections, but the fact that they really are brilliant on the topic that they discuss. So these are the things that we have to do as content creators to push it forward. Now I say this in a world where, truthfully, someone can say, I don't agree with you, do as much ridiculous things as possible to get the clicks. It's a big, big world out there. That works too, it will work too. Yeah, that's the thing is, if this is it's I'm with you on the value side of things. We're with you as as sweet fish as B two B growth, and I know that many of the listeners are on that side. To where they're going. Man, there's not enough time to just go after endless likes and and in B two B, like specifically, let's just talk that for a second to we're not chasing vanity metrics over here. I mean you can go that route for a second, but you know, if you're trying to drive business results in any meaningful way, your content has to add value to your audience or you're just we're missing it. And hopefully we see that more broadly as well with with thought leaders and and Um outside the space. But in B two B. I know this, what you're saying really resonates and we'll be driven home. I think. I didn't want to bring you here not to have you give us some questions we could ask. So, if we were gonna start to wrap this thing up, what I wanted to do is go Mitch, tell me before I hit published on my next post, like, what are some questions I should be asking? What will put us back on track, to to promoting our ideas in a more healthy, more value centered way? Are there questions you call yourself back to? Yeah, but they're they're questions about content. So I'll typically look at a piece and say, is this more about me? Is there too much about me in here? That's usually my first sign that I'm not gonna, you know, love this. Is there a real through line here? What, ultimately, do I want somebody to think when they read this? Because we can tangent and get to the place where my personal opinion becomes someone's personal opinions and the comments and they're missing the greater idea or concept. A great example of that is I recently did a fairly long article about business travel, whether or not it's worth it to continue to do and people kept piping in that Oh, you know, I did this amount of legs and it wasn't so bad. There was just a minor delay. I realized that they're probably reacting to the story that I tell in the article, which isn't even about me, it's about someone else as whether or not that the whole concept is true or not, whereas what I was trying to do is break down the idea that if we are in a recession, if there are supply chain issues, if oil is increasing, if plane flying or just traveling general is much more expensive, which it is, and then, on top of that, if people are canceling because there's just there's still covid believe it or not, at what point let a CFO and CEO say I don't know if there's a real value in this at the level of which it is, considering the bootstrapping we have to do. So then those questions become is that idea very, very clear? Is My perspective different on this in some way from what might be the general thinking about it, or is it in the way, like how is my wording on this? Is it unique or difference, something that might be a staple in someone's brain after and then I'm thinking about out...

...what can I say about this in a short, concise way in social channels that might encourage someone to read a thousand word piece, or connected to an hour long podcast where they may not know the guest? So those are some of the things. And then when it comes to the actual content in general, when I'm speaking to a subject matter expert, I'm not trying to throw them for a loop. I'm not trying to get them in that sixty minutes Gotcha. What I'm trying to do is get them to show up and show their work, and I feel all too often what's generally happening is a lot of these people are predominantly answering the same questions. So I want to know different things about them, and that's what I pushed for. Yeah, and this is so fun to to chat with you on this topic because, one, I think it's valuable too. I love your journalistic style and bringing that side of things. I think journalists to make fantastic marketers. I run into that crossover pretty often actually, people that study journalism. They went, Oh, well, I don't know if it's gonna work out in that career path. So here I am in marketing now. And well, yeah, marketing is of you know, one of the bigger functions of marketing is the stories we tell. And B two. You know, B two B is no different from B to C in that aspect of it is. The better stories you tell that the more anchored they will become in people's minds. And whether you're in a highly regulated industry or one that's very procurement driven, the ones who tell the better stories, that become anchors, are the ones that get to show up. Yeah, and so from a B two B perspective, it's really important that you think about the stories. Now, what happens generally in the industry, and I'm generalizing because there's a lot of Homogeney, this will this idea of that. Well, there's a best practice or there's a white paper that someone else did and we should follow that roadmap. I actually think that the success we see and B two B isn't something you can map out. I think more often than not when we see success, it's the exception of the rule and it's not something that you could map out to do, which means, which is a good thing, by the way. It just means that you can tell your own story in the unique way and find your own path to whatever audience there is for you. Yeah. Well, thank you so much for breaking this down. For those that want to go check out the full piece and read it. How to promote your ideas and not look like a narcissist, Mitch Joel, and you can find it over on Linkedin. I love that title. I appreciate that. I was laughing because I hadn't remembered what I called it and I was like, I guess that's that works, and you can always find things at six pixels dot com as well, and my stuff is there too. Fantastic. Well, that is an easy way to connect. Connect with him on Linkedin and check out the six pixels website. And Hey, if you're listening to this for the first time and just checking out B two B growth. We want to say thanks for for being here and we're wanting to have conversations that help fuel your growth and your continued innovation new ways of thinking. So never miss an episode by just following the podcast on your favorite podcast player. And I'd love to connect with you too if you're wanting to chat about marketing business life. Um, pretty constant on Linkedin and would love to chat with you over there. Mitch. Thank you again for stopping by the PODCAST. We really appreciate this conversation. Times for Benji. Grace seeing you and thanks for the conversation.

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