If you write it, will they come?
In this week’s episode of The Inbound Success Podcast, Marketing Advisory Network Founder Samantha Stone talks about why she wrote her book Unleash Possible, and how publishing a book has impacted her career as a marketing strategy consultant and professional speaker.
From how long it really takes to write a book to whether to self-publish and how to get listed on Amazon.com, Samantha has candid advice about every aspect of publishing your first book along with insights on how to use it to market your business.
Listen to the podcast to hear Samantha’s story and learn how publishing transformed her career and opened up new opportunities.
Kathleen Booth (host): Welcome back to The Inbound Success Podcast. My name is Kathleen Booth and I am your host, and today my guest is Samantha Stone, the founder of the Marketing Advisory Network and author of Unleash Possible. Welcome Samantha.
Samantha: Thank you. I’m so happy to be here today.
Kathleen: I’m excited to have you here, and I have to thank you. Samantha actually sent me a copy of her book Unleash Possible, and I am a somewhat voracious consumer of books about marketing in particular as a person who’s in a marketing leader role myself. I always like reading new things, and I tore through it pretty quickly. There was a lot of actionable advice and I can’t wait to talk to you about the book. Before we do that though, I would love it if you would tell our audience a little bit about yourself, what you do now as well as your background.
Samantha: Absolutely, and I love that you tore through the book, that’s exactly how you want people to react to something like that, especially non-fiction, which could sometimes be a challenge. I’m very glad to hear that. I run the Marketing Advisory Network, and it’s a strategic marketing consulting practice. We work with companies that sell complex products and services, and we do all different kinds of things to help them grow their business.
I feel extremely fortunate that I get to do work that I love every day with a variety of different people and companies. I’m also the mom to four boys, so no question you ask me today can make me uncomfortable at all. Really just looking forward to digging in and chatting with you.
Kathleen: Now, rewinding the clock a little bit. Prior to forming the Marketing Advisory Network, you came from a marketing background, but you were working in-house for a variety of companies and doing B2B sales. Looks like a lot of large transaction value, complex sales. Can you talk a little bit about that and how you decided to move from that and into more of a consultancy role?
Samantha: Absolutely. I had spent almost 20 years early in my career in a variety of channel sales roles, and then later in my career in a variety of marketing functions, including launching new products to market for both very small start-ups and some very big companies. I absolutely adored what I did.
However, as I became more seasoned in my career, as I got to be part of a larger leadership team, as I became part of the executive team, I was doing less and less work. I was doing more and more internally focused things, and those things were important, but I found that I was spending too much time doing politics and internal meetings and traveling to meet with internal people. I missed doing the work in the heart and soul of it, and so that was a big motivation for me to get back.
My children were also getting older and I had a husband who was a stay at home dad, so it was never a struggle getting someone to watch the kids. I felt my presence and my flexibility was hindering my relationship with as the kids got older. Cuddling with mommy for bedtime stories was no longer a priority for them, and I wanted the flexibility to listen to my son play guitar after school, and go for a spur of the moment walk when my 16 year old happens to be in the mood to talk.
Having a consulting practice allows me great flexibility in my work. I still work more than full-time. I still juggle lots of things and I love it, but it does allow me to have a level of flexibility that going to an office every day was a struggle to do.
Kathleen: Boy, I can relate to so much of what you just said. I have four kids who range in age from 11 to 23 and I owned my own business for 11 years before I joined IMPACT. You’re so right that it does give you the flexibility, but it’s sort of a double edged sword, because you’re very flexible, but you work a lot.
Kathleen: Your work is your life and vice versa in some respects, so it’s very much about drawing your own boundary lines and knowing yourself and how you have to prioritize. It’s a great gift that you’re able to have when your kids are those ages, because you’re right, they do pick and choose how they interact with you.
Samantha: Right, we don’t get to tell them anymore.
Samantha: The place I’m in right now, what you see around me, was actually all about me making those boundaries. This is an office that I built and that is attached to my house. I wanted to have a work space that was different than the rest of my house, and I had looked at renting space, I looked at leasing space, I looked at hanging out with clients. I realized that I didn’t want to give up stumbling out of bed in the morning and being in my work space. But more important than that, at the end of the day when I left the room, I wanted to be fully present for my family.
This was the perfect opportunity for me to be able to turn it off when I wanted to, and then go back and turn it back on at four o’clock in the morning when I can’t sleep. You know what I mean?
Kathleen: Yeah, and what you can’t see if you’re listening to this podcast is Samantha’s really cool office. Maybe I’ll pull a screenshot from our video.
(This is Samantha and I on our video call^^)
Samantha: Oh sure.
Kathleen: People can see the fantastic green wall she has behind her and you would actually never know that you are not in a really cool office space, so I love that. It’s great flexibility to have that right at your house. You started the Marketing Advisory Network, What led you to write a book?
Samantha: One of the things that was really interesting was that writing a book had two purposes for me. One was, as I was running my own consulting practice, there were lots of really interesting people I was meeting who had questions and were asking same kinds of things and wanted help. They really couldn’t afford to hire me, and I wanted a profitable business, and I didn’t want to give away my time.
I’ll go for hot chocolate with anybody and answer your question, but they had really needy things. I wanted a way to teach them how to do what I do and recognize that not everybody can afford to hire a consultant nor should they. The book was a way for me to have a tool to give people without saying, “I can’t help you.” So that was part of the motivation.
The other motivation is, it was a cathartic experience for me to take a step back and really think about “what have I learned over my career?”. What do I believe is truth about referral programs and demand generation and working with sales? Documenting it in a book format forced me to get really crystallized about what I believe to be true and why. To challenge my own assumptions, and to be able to prove those things.
Both of those motivations came at the same time. I also thought it was just a big old challenge, and I like challenges, and I like to try new things. While I’d written my entire life — well before I became a marketer I was writing — I’d never written anything like that. This was an opportunity to also challenge myself to embrace a new format.
Kathleen: How long did it take you to write?
Samantha: The book only took me about five months to write. That’s a little misleading, because probably for two years before that I’d been leading up to that “I’m going to write a book” moment. I had an outline, I’d been writing little articles and I I had a spreadsheet actually. This is the economist in me, because I have a degree in economics coming out.
I had a spreadsheet. Here’s the chapters and here’s the themes and here’s my source material of what I’ve written, and here’s the big takeaway, the case studies I’m going to include and things like that.
The final writing, when I said, “I’m going to write a book,” and I hired an editor, it was five months, but it really had a lot of planning that had gone into that moment.
Kathleen: Well, I think that’s really smart, because if you don’t do the planning, I imagine you could have spun your wheels and produced a lot of content that really didn’t get used in the end or needed to be revised substantially. There’s that famous saying, “You need to slow down to speed up,” and I think that’s a great example of it.
Samantha: You’re 100% correct, and in the end, I dropped two chapters from my original outline that, when I went to create them, I didn’t think they added enough value. I added one that I thought was really timely and felt like it had been a missing bolt. I was pretty true to what I had expected, but I absolutely remained flexible and adapted as the actual process of writing started.
Kathleen: Now, to talk about the book itself, the subtitle of the book is that it’s a “Playbook for B2B marketing and sales success.” One of the things that I really enjoyed about it — and it’s the same thing that I was looking for when I created this podcast — is that there’s a lot of theoretical marketing information out there, a lot of books that give you methodologies and approaches and strategies. There’s also a lot of material that while helpful at a theoretical level, does not give you enough concrete takeaways to really make it actionable. That’s one of the reasons I started the podcast. I wanted to learn more and talk to people who I could get concrete takeaways from.
I liked in your book that, in every single chapter, you start with the broad brush, the idea, the approaches, the methodologies, but in every single case, you drill down to very concrete, tactical takeaways with examples. Anybody reading it really can walk away from the book, can walk away from any chapter of the book, with some really specific ideas of things to test for their own marketing.
Samantha: Well, thank you. That’s exactly what I set out to do. I am a ferocious reader. I read all the time. I have a fiction and a nonfiction book going all the time. I read a lot about sales and marketing, business leadership, all these things. I was often frustrated by these things. I’d walk away. I was really motivated and inspired and what do I do now?
It was really important for me that this book hopefully inspired people, but was much more geared to how to actually do the things that we talked about in that book. I wanted people to see examples. Most of the case studies are positive, but there’s at least one — maybe two — in there, where we had a negative thing happen. I think it’s important that we show people how to learn from failure.
It was really critical to me that reality be set in it, and so it’s very rewarding to hear from you that you took that away as a reader of the book as well.
Kathleen: Well, I can’t agree with you more about highlighting failures, because that is a downfall of more than just the marketing book world. As a business owner — somebody who had their own business for 10 years — I found the same thing with business ownership. You hear all these crazy stories of people who are wildly successful, like the Mark Zuckerbergs of the world, and you can start to think, “What I’m I doing wrong?”, when the reality is that the vast, vast majority of business owners fail.
Some of the most successful business owners have a lot of failures in their back pocket, that contributed to them ultimately having the success that they had. You just don’t hear the stories as much and I think that’s a real shame, so I appreciate that about the book as well.
I’m curious. You’re somebody who is a marketer. I’m sure we could talk a lot about marketing tactics in general, but one of the things I was really fascinated to discuss with you was how the book has served as a marketing tool for you.
I mean, I know you didn’t initially write it thinking, “Oh I’m doing this because it’s going to be a great lead generator.” In fact, as you just explained, in some respects you wrote it for people who you knew would never be leads for you. I would love it if you could speak to the impact that the book has had on your business, on the opportunities that you’ve been presented with, and give us a little insight into the impact it’s had on your life.
Samantha: Yeah. I think I went into this with the right motivations, but a little naive perhaps about how it would allow me to go after and find more diverse customers. It always, when I did it I thought, “This is going to help me elevate my speaking platform,” and speaking is always good for driving business, because pretty much every speaking opportunity that I’d do for years now, something comes from it. Either there’s someone in that audience who becomes a client or they know someone who becomes a client.
I thought that writing a book would help me book more speaking. It did, and I expected that, but something else happened that I thought was interesting. By the way, I’m pitching the same topics as before and just saying that I wrote a book. I’m not sure it should be the case that it got me more speaking opportunities, but it did.
Kathleen: Well you know, funny enough, I speak at conferences as well. I don’t have a book and one of the things I’ve observed is that, on a lot of the applications for speaking opportunities, they do ask if you have you published a book.
Kathleen: It’s explicitly there, so I think there’s an undeniable correlation.
Samantha: Yeah, and you know, to some extent I understand it, because that means I have thought a lot about a particular topic or set of topics. I’ve taken time to document it and they can do homework on me ahead of time and look at what I believe and look at my writing style and learn a lot about me. I understand why event organizers look for those things. I don’t think it should be a necessary step and certainly I spoke before I wrote a book, but it absolutely has helped me elevate the kind of speaking engagements that I get.
In addition to that, it did something surprising which is that I actually have people email me who I would never have met in any other way, who don’t know anybody that I know. We’re not connected through people in LinkedIn or they’re not following me on Twitter. You know, there’s no connection other than they read the book and they became consulting engagements because there’s something in the book that they learned and they’re struggling to overcome on their own.
I’ve had a number of projects that have come, where I got to know companies that I’d never meet any other way, and that has been an incredible surprise. I’ve loved it and it has been such a fun way to learn entirely new businesses.
Kathleen: That’s great, and I assume they’re just finding your contact information in the book and reaching out directly?
Samantha: Yeah. I am pretty public. There’s a website for the book called Unleashpossible.com, it links to my website. It’s not hard to find me. Sometimes I get notes that are just you know, “Hey, I read the book. This totally resonated. We had a meeting today and I used blah, blah, blah,” and those are just as rewarding to me honestly as the consulting projects, because it’s so wonderful to hear that somebody is using your ideas and thoughts and guidance to actually make a difference in their organization.
I love the outreach. I encourage people to outreach. I encourage people to ask questions about what they read. Every once in a while, some will ask if they can have a quick video chat with me and they want to dig into something I said. It’s been great. That’s been a really wonderful experience.
Kathleen: That’s neat. I sometimes have that feeling when somebody I’ve never met either tweets something about the podcast or I meet somebody for the first time and they say, “I’ve been listening to your podcast.” I’m like, ‘Wow! That’s great. There’s somebody out there listening.”
Samantha: There’s lots of people out there listening, but isn’t that great?
Kathleen: Yeah, it is. It is. You just, you know there’s people out there, you just don’t know who they are. When they self identify and raise their hand, there’s something incredibly rewarding about that.
Kathleen: You self published correct?
Samantha: I did. I talked to a number of publishers before I made that decision, but I did ultimately decide to self publish.
Kathleen: Walk us through why you chose to go that route, what you learned and your due diligence process and the pros and cons of the two different approaches.
Samantha: So before I made the decision, I talked to a number of publishing agents and a couple of publishing houses. I understood the process that we would be going through to write the book. One of the things I realized was, it’s a very long, drawn out process and I’m a very impatient person. It took me five months to write the book on my own. If I went with the publishers, it was pretty clear it would take about nine months or longer to get the book through the process, because they have a very regimented process.
I also spent time talking to many of the authors that I respect in the marketing space, such as Ann Handley and Carlos Hidalgo and Mark Schaeffer. I’m fortunate to have some personal relationships with many of these people and we talked really candidly about what the book publishers do for them. 100% of the people I talked to said, self publish.
I took those two things into consideration and I said, “I want to get this done.” I don’t believe that the book publishers are going to add a tremendous amount of value on the service. They do put you in bookstores, which I’m not, and there are benefits to book publishing, but most of the marketing and most of the outreach you have to do on your own anyways.
The piece that a book publisher was going to bring to the table was high quality illustrators, proofreaders, and excellent editors. I decided that I still wanted that high quality team behind me, so I was fortunate to team up with a bunch of people independently and do that. I wouldn’t have self published if I didn’t think I could get a professional proofreader. An editor and a dear friend did the book cover for me. He’s an extremely talented designer. I never could have afforded him if he didn’t do me the favor. He was wonderful and he did a great job.
I did invest and I spent about $6000 on the book, making sure it would feel like a professional book that was published by a traditional publishing house. I didn’t want to deal with all the logistics of getting it on Amazon and doing all that. I found a company called Stress Free Publishing that was referred from a friend who has self published, who for a very reasonable cost did all that stuff for me.
Kathleen: That’s great.
Samantha: So all in it was probably about $10,000, but it was 100% worth it for me to be able to control the process, to have control over the content. I knew where I wanted it to be distributed. Some day maybe I’ll sell it to a publisher to get wider distribution, because I’m not going to get in bookstores on my own. It’s not going to get into other languages on its own, but I’ve gotten a return on that investment many, many times over at this point.
Kathleen: It’s interesting to hear you talk about the decision process of self publishing versus going with a publishing house. I learned a little bit about how this works because a dear friend of mine is a fiction writer, who actually is very, very successful. She has been on the New York Times bestseller list, et cetera, but it took a long time to get there.
I remember in the early days when she got her very first book deal thinking, “Well she’s done, she’s made it, this is success.” Then I watched the process and I watched how little support they provided for marketing. It was incredibly discouraging and then she had this one point in time where this one book really took off.
After she found success with her first one, then they followed with, “Oh now we’re going to kick some resources behind you.” I think that’s one of those misnomers that people that haven’t published don’t understand. I’m curious if you perceive it to be the same way and have you gotten the same feedback from the people that you spoke to? I definitely learned a lesson that the book deal is not the end-all deal. You still have to put a lot of elbow grease on yourself to making it successful.
Samantha: 100%! I hear that time and time again from a lot of very successful authors and they all talk about how much work they put into making it successful. It doesn’t happen on its own. I also did a lot of research into finding publishers in the nonfiction sales and marketing space, who buy a lot of self published books, that’s part of what they do. Then they’ll broaden it for mass production.
For me, this was a way to have control over the process, control over the timeline. Still I was fortunate I could afford to hire really talented people to make sure it felt like a publishing house book. Then I could, if I wanted to, go back to publishers, when I’d had some traction and I had all these reviews and I had success, and distribute it through them should I choose to do that some day. I never knew that that was an option until I started.
I only thought, if they didn’t pick it up at the beginning, they would never look at my book. Once I self publish, it would be off the table — and that’s not true at all. There are many instances where that doesn’t happen. For me, this was the perfect way to go about doing it.
Kathleen: You started with your outline, which you flushed out. I love that approach. You learned a lot from talking with these other authors and you went, you “stress free published” — Stress Free Publishing is what it’s called?
Samantha: Stress Free Publishing. They do more than I use them for. I really just use them to get the book in a distribution house on Amazon, but also any bookstore actually can order it. Occasionally I have a event or something at a venue and they can order it directly through any bookstore if they requested. They’re just not keeping it stocked on their shelves.
I went through the process of doing that and setting it up so I can do both a print as well as a digital version. They did all the logistical components of it.
Kathleen: Once that was done and the book is officially in Amazon and out there and people are able to get it and read it, walk me through what you did to market the book.
Samantha: I actually had a book launch event that is sort of an atypical one. I originally went down the path of, I’m going to have this cocktail. I’m going to invite everybody. We’re going to do a book signing, and that would have been fun, but that would’ve been all the people who know and love me who would have bought the book no matter what.
I actually decided to do something slightly different. I picked a marketing conference for the book to coincide with — B2B Marketing Forum, the Marketing Profs event. They happened to be in Boston that year and I made that my deadline. Then I partnered with one of the vendors who was sponsoring the conference and they were so generous. They bought many copies of the book, and they had a book signing in their booth. I used that as sort of a venue.
I also did send some copies to people that I knew and respected in the industry, and I asked for advance reviews. I set up a little website. I did all the social communications, all the things that you would expect around that. I used speaking opportunities and I’ve done some guest lecturing at some colleges. It’s been a really great experience.
I haven’t invested in any big advertising. In the early days, I did a little bit of Amazon advertising, just to see what would happen. I did a little bit of Facebook advertising and stopped doing that, because I was getting more people interested in how I looked than interested in the book. Clearly I was not targeting well.
Kathleen: Either that or you just had a really, really fabulous picture that apparently was so compelling, people couldn’t resist it.
Samantha: Apparently my smile turned some people off.
Kathleen: Oh no, I thought you meant you got really positive responses!
Samantha: I also got very positive responses, but clearly I was not focused on what I needed to focus on.
Samantha: I sort of cut that experience off, but I did do a little bit of, I did a video, I was sort of talking about it. In the video, which is on Unleashpossible.com, I actually had a reader who’s a CEO friend of mine get on camera and talk about why he read it and how he applied it to the organization.
I did all the things we do in marketing, and sort of encouraged the people who are reading the book. I have an email newsletter, but I didn’t make big financial investments in the marketing. I made really targeted investments in trying to get the word out.
Kathleen: Now, if somebody’s out there listening and thinking about writing a book, and if one of the goals they have for that exercise is for the book to serve as a lead generator for them, any tips? Any lessons learned that you would share?
Samantha: Yeah. I think it’s important to think about the topic. If you want it to be a lead generator for your business, you need to make sure that the topic of the book is going to lead to whatever it is you do, whether it’s a product you sell or whether it’s a service that you offer. Just being inspiring — unless your goal is to get hired as a speaker and for some people that is the goal — isn’t going to cut it. I never wanted to make my living as a speaker. I can get paid to speak occasionally, but that wasn’t the goal.
Unless that’s your goal, you need the book to directly align to the service or product that you offer. I think it’s really important to think about that. I also think it’s important to not treat it as just a longer version of other content I create. A book is something substantially different than your 20 page eBook. It’s not just a bunch of 20 page eBooks lined up in a row, and so I do think whether you do it yourself or you pay people to do it, having an editorial team and the proofreading and all these other things — there’s still errors in the book even with all of that. There’s typos in the book. They’re going to happen.
I take comfort knowing that Anne Handley has a couple typos in her book to! A little better, right? It happens in a format like that. Making it not just “I want to say I have a book,” but a book people read. A lot of times, people write books so they can write it on their resume. It’s really important that if you want it to be a lead generator for you, it’s a book people want to actually read, not just buy and they get value from it.
Kathleen: How important is it to have a website for the book? I know you mentioned you have one for yours.
Samantha: I think it’s important for us to have a website for anything major that we’re promoting. I didn’t want to confuse it with my consulting practice, and so I did create a separate website, but it links directly to my consulting practice. Honestly, I use my book website more than my consulting practice when I’m not speaking, because I think you can get to know me and my philosophy really fast in that site, whereas my consulting practice site talks more about the services.
There’s nothing wrong with it, but I think that the book site is a little bit more dynamic and it catches people’s attention a little bit sooner and faster.
Kathleen: How did you find your team of freelance people that helped you with editing, et cetera?
Samantha: I asked people who had written books and self published books. Katie Martel edited my book, and it was really important for me to separate editing from proofreading. I wanted an editor who knew me, understood marketing inside and out, and would understand what I was trying to get across, not just be a good writer.
For me she was the perfect partner in crime. She also wrote a chapter for the book, which is great. It’s on PR.
Then I hired a proofreader, then another author friend of mine, Anne Janzer who wrote Subscription Marketing and a couple books on the writing process, recommended a proofreader. That was important to separate editing from proofreading.
I just asked around and got great recommendations, and decided the investment was worth making.
Kathleen: Looking in the rear view mirror, what impact would you say the book has had on you? Would you do it again? What aspects of it would you not do again?
Samantha: I would absolutely do it again. I’m actually writing another book now, but it is a very different book. It’s actually going to take much longer than five months. The first book was almost already written. When I started to write the next book, I needed to do a lot more direct research in order to do it, so it will be a much longer process.
It has absolutely brought me business that I wouldn’t have gotten any other way, both the new speaking opportunities that it’s helped me secure, as well as readers. I got a call the other day from someone who said, a year ago — so not this past Christmas, the Christmas before — a friend had given them a signed copy of my book as a business gift. A year and a half later, they decided they wanted some help and I was top of mind, and they reached out and I went into a meeting.
On the table on the boardroom was my book with all these little sticky notes sitting out of it. I’m like, “This is going to be a good meeting.”
Samantha: This is perfect. I have a wonderful long-term relationship with them now. We have a six month project that I’m doing and it’s been a wonderful experience. It’s absolutely driven business, it’s absolutely been a great tool that I’ve been able to give people who can’t afford to hire professional marketing services. Many of them have read it, have commented, have told me how it’s helped them. It’s been overall a really, really great experience.
I do think that we have to treat it with the respect that a project like this takes. I wrote it in five months and I wrote three or four days a week in that time. I wrote from like three AM to seven just because that’s when my brain is most clear. I couldn’t stop working, because I don’t have it in my nature and I also I had a financial hit. I absolutely carved up mental space that was book creating space.
I’ve surrounded myself with a team. I would do all of those things again. The only thing I might do differently is, I think I’d create an audio version of the book. I didn’t do that this time. I have a Kindle version, but not audio book. I think I would, and I still can someday, but I haven’t. I might have gone back, I might have gone to a publisher to get broader distribution. Once the book built up some traction, I sort of decided not to do that, at least for the time being. Those two things I probably would do if I were to do it over again.
Kathleen: Great. Well, I will share with you a couple of the tips that I flagged and underlined in the book. I work at an agency and I think we’re pretty good at what we do, but there’s always room for improvement. A few of the things that I marked in the book included having a content SLA, a service level agreement, and you’ve got a great template for that in the book. Then I loved the other one, which is when you bring on a new customer, you can send them a “party in a box.”
Samantha: Yeah. It is true.
Kathleen: I think we send cupcakes right now, but I was like, maybe we can add something else in with the cupcakes, some balloons!
Samantha: Cupcakes are fun!
Kathleen: There’s a lot more where that came from. There’s so many good tips in the book, so I definitely encourage everybody to get it. It’s called Unleash Possible. You mentioned the URLs, unleashpossible.com, right?
Samantha: It is, yeah, thank you.
Kathleen: Before we close, two questions I always ask every guest. One is, company or individual, who do you think is doing inbound marketing really well right now?
Samantha: There’s two companies that I think are just killing it in inbound marketing. One is James Carbary of Sweet Fish Media. They’re actually a podcast production company and his team is doing a phenomenal job of cranking out super valuable content, and businesses are coming to him. He’s great at advocacy. He has this model that’s really working really well. I think they’re doing a great job.
I also think that the Terminus team with Flip My Funnel is another fantastic example of taking a concept, teaching people, educating them, and building a community around it. Yeah, they want to sell software — that has to happen — but they don’t. They’re not leading with that, but because they’re not leading with it, they’re selling a ton of software.
I think they’re both really excellent examples of companies with complete integrity, complete transparency and adding huge value and growing their business profitably.
Kathleen: Well, I actually had Nikki Nixon on the podcast a few episodes ago. She’s with Terminus Flip My Funnel, so anybody who wants to learn more about what they’re doing over there, definitely check out that episode. I really enjoyed talking to her and I learned so much from that conversation.
Samantha: Nikki’s fantastic. She’s a ball of energy, which I adore. You know one of things that I respect about what they did is, the first series of events they ran, they ran with competitors. They were championing an idea and they needed to get the word out, and they knew that the community needed to do that as an integrated aspect. I think they executed their strategy brilliantly and they continue to do that.
Kathleen: Absolutely. Now the other thing I’m always curious about — especially with somebody like yourself who’s had such accomplished career in marketing and you’ve written a book about the topic — is that marketing changes so quickly. The biggest complaint I hear from marketer I speak to is, it’s really hard to stay up to date and to keep educating themselves. How do you do that? What are your favorite sources for staying on the cutting edge of the marketing world?
Samantha: One of the reasons that I don’t want to become a speaker for a living is that, the work that I deal with in client accounts keeps me very current on the systems they’re using, their strategy, and the data they have access to. One of the ways that I keep current is through the work itself.
I attend a lot of conferences, and when I go to speak I’m fortunate that often because I’m speaking, the cost of attending those conferences is a little bit easier for me. There’s plenty of things locally even if you can’t travel to them — tons of free or almost free events. I attend a lot of those. I listen to other people. I ask questions. I get to talk with folks like yourself and get perspective, and I do formal education.
I just finished a six week certification class through MIT around artificial intelligence. I felt it was really important for me to do that. I also just invested in Tamsen Webster. She’s like a speaking guru who helps you refine your message. I’m good at my message — I do this all the time — but I could still be better.
I spent two days with Tamsen and a couple other people on a retreat, honing those skills and learning the latest things that she’s learned in the psychology of speaking and audience attention and things. Formal education — 100% do it. I go to conferences. I learn from my clients and with my clients, and I think it’s my responsibility to continue to do that.
I could run a practice and make money doing nothing but what I was doing 10 years ago. I really could still do that. I chose not to, because I think that is A, boring and B, it won’t serve well for the long-term or serve my clients well. It’s a conscious effort.
Kathleen: The best marketers I know are like sponges, they’re constantly looking to learn more, so that’s a great example. Well, there’s so much here that I’m looking forward to digging further into. You’ve left us with lots of tips and ideas, and I personally know a lot of marketers who want to write books and so I cannot wait to share this with them.
Kathleen: If somebody has a question and wants to reach out to you and learn more about what you talked about, what’s the best way for them to get in touch?
Samantha: Absolutely, and I encourage them to do that. I’ll be happy to show all the woes and trials and tribulations of this, and where I hit my wall — because I did hit a wall right in the book — and how I got through it. You can reach me on LinkedIn at Samantha Stone. You can reach me at Samantha.firstname.lastname@example.org — and I know that’s a mouthful. I’m not going to be an abbreviation like man.com — it would definitely drive the wrong kind of traffic. I’n on Twitter @samanthastone.
Samantha: I hope that your listeners will reach out and ask questions. I love seeing people reach for their dreams, so if writing a book has been a dream of theirs, I hope they go for it.
Kathleen: I will include all of those links in the show notes, so if anybody wants to know how to reach Samantha, just check those out.
Thank you so much for joining me today. It’s been a lot of fun and if you’re listening and you enjoyed this, please give us a review on iTunes, Stitcher or whatever platform you happen to listen to podcasts on.
If you know someone who is doing kick ass inbound marketing work, please tweet me @WorkMommyWork, because I would love to interview them. That’s it for today, thanks again Samantha.
Samantha: Thank you.
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