Marketing and sales is not something Dr. Misner was always confident about, but he unexpectedly became the marketing manager at a business he worked for, so he started reading and learned on the job. Sometimes our lives and our businesses go in unexpected directions.
The key to success in referral marketing is helping other people do what they do best. So whatever business you’re in, build your own brand. Name recognition is the biggest challenge for small companies. For Dr. Misner, brand building was about writing (newspaper articles, blogging); for others, it may be video or podcasting. If you demonstrate expertise in your field, people will follow you.
Read Dr. Misner’s Entrepreneur.com post about this topic and tell us how you’re making your mark.
Brought to you by Networking Now.
Complete Transcript of BNI Podcast Episode 247 –
Hello everyone and welcome back to The Official BNI Podcast brought to you by NetworkingNow.com, which is the leading site on the net for networking downloadables. I am Priscilla Rice, and I am coming to you from Live Oak Recording Studio in Berkeley, CA. I am joined on the phone today by the Founder and Chairman of BNI, Dr. Ivan Misner. Hello Ivan. How are you?
I am doing great, Priscilla. Thank you very much. I am here at BNI HQ this week, trying to catch up from the book tour that we are doing. The topic that I have this week, making your mark, is kind of an interesting one. It was my communications rep that suggested it. In the social media, we get a lot of members that like some of the personal stories that we have on either BNI got to where it is or how I went in the direction I did. This is one of those.
There are a lot of entrepreneurs out there that find themselves in a business that they didn’t see themselves in 10 or 20 years ago. Like I say, marketing and sales isn’t something I was always confident about. As a matter of fact, when I started out in business my bachelors degree was in political science. My masters and doctorate was in administration and organizational behavior. I had virtually no experience in marketing. I think it is ironic that I ended up very much in marketing.
What happened that got me into marketing a bit was that I worked for a transportation company in southern CA in the early 80’s. In the first month of the job, my boss asked what I knew about purchasing. I said I didn’t know anything about purchasing. He said, “Well, read some books because in about an hour I am going to fire the purchasing agent for the company and you are now the purchasing agent. You are going to do that and you’re assistant to the president.” I thought okay, I can do that. So I took on purchasing.
Then about a month later, he said, “Ivan, what do you know about marketing?” I said, “Boss, I know less about marketing than I do about purchasing.” He said, “In about an hour, I am going to fire the Director of Marketing Services. You are going to be the manager of marketing services. You had better read up.”
So I found myself for six months as the manager of marketing services. I really didn’t know anything when I took that over. My marketing experience was really trial by fire and it was reading. I just started reading books on marketing, and I just learned as I went. It gave me enough knowledge to do some marketing on my own.
Then when I became a business consultant, I was able to take some of that experience and apply it. It kind of brings me back to where I started. If anybody would have asked me when I was 25 years old in marketing for this company where I saw my career 30 years down the road, I would have had no clue that I would be in marketing and that I would be the founder of the world’s largest referral marketing group.
Sometimes we go in places- this is sort of a message that my communications staff feels would be of value when they talk about the podcast and social media. Sometimes we go in places in life that we never expected to go. That is where I am. I didn’t think that I was going to start the world’s largest referral organization. I am passionate about helping people grow their businesses. I think that is the key to whatever you do. You have to be passionate about helping people grow their businesses, and you achieve great success through referral marketing by helping other people do what they do best.
I think it is really important that whatever business you are in and all the businesses that are represented here in BNI, if I had to give my top marketing tip for you to be successful in whatever it is that you do it would be about building you as a brand. Building your expertise. Your name recognition. I think that is the most important lesson that I learned when I was in my 20’s working for the transportation company and later as I started my consulting company and when I started BNI. It’s building your recognition, you as a brand and your company as a brand.
Name recognition is the biggest challenge, especially for small companies. Especially for entrepreneurs and for sales people of large companies. It’s not the same for everybody because people’s skill sets are different, but for me in my business, brand building was largely about writing. Before the internet, I was trying to get articles in newspapers and magazines. Of course, now, it is a lot easier with blogs and social media. Even small companies and individuals can have a global reach with the internet.
So you have to take action to be able to stand out and the top marketing tip from me to people would be write, write, write. Be an expert in your field so that people want to follow you because they will folloe you. They are more likely to do business with you when they know that you are an expert at what you do. Building your brand, to me, is about writing and I know you had a question about that, Priscilla.
Yeah, I was thinking about it. I read your blog on it and it really did emphasize writing. I was wondering what are your suggestions if you are not a writer?
Right. Now, more than ever, we are at a place in the world where you don’t have to be a writer to have the same kind of impact because technology exists today that allows you to be a video writer, a video blogger. All you need is a little webcam that costs almost nothing and you can be a video blogger. So you don’t have to write to be able to build an audience. Most people are successful when they can talk about what they do. They may feel uncomfortable talking about stuff that they don’t know well, but most people are good at explaining what they do and helping people.
Put a video camera in front of you and start doing video blogging. As a matter of fact, if you look at my blog at businessnetworking.com, half of my blogs now are video blogs. I do two blogs a week as a rule. Monday is a written blog. Thursday is a video blog. Almost every Thursday is a video blog.
Do you do all of the recordings yourself?
I do almost all the recordings myself, usually with a Flip video at some remote location. You can always tell because you can hear noise in the background and I am doing Flip video. Sometimes I am doing in studio videos. We have a small studio here at BNI HQ. I’ll do a video here and post one of those. Other times, it might be a video from a live presentation that I did. It could be a lot of things, but generally, it’s a Flip video that I use.
Very informal. Most of them are not in a green screen kind of environment. It’s really informal. Anybody can do that. Anybody can do that. So what I want to leave with- if you have another question, I will be glad to take it, but what I want to leave the members with is my top marketing tip other than building your business by referrals.
My top marketing tip is build your brand, and the best way to do that is to blog or write. You can do video blogging if you don’t like writing. That really helps to build your expertise. I strongly recommend that. If you have somebody in your chapter who does or knows about video blogging- you might have a coach or a web person who does that. Have a conversation with them. I think it is the best thing you can do to build your brand.
Or podcast, like you and I do here, Priscilla, every week. I think podcasts are another way to build a brand. What you do in helping people produce podcasts is exactly what people who want to have any kind of regional or global reach should be doing. So call Priscilla Rice.
Yes, please. Live Oak Recording Studio will help you with your podcast. I think the regularity is probably the thing I would want to stress, right? You can definitely start something, but then if you let it go, it’s not going to work for you.
Yeah, it takes a real commitment to do that, but you don’t have to do it twice a week. Just once a week is fine. I think that is sort of the minimum if you want to do something once a week. But if you want to do a video blog, I take my Flip video with me everywhere- everywhere! If I am at an event and I meet somebody whom I think has a good topic, we’ll do it. Video blogs are two minutes, maybe four. So I’ll have a conversation with somebody about some topic that I think will be of interest to my readers and viewers. It doesn’t take a lot of work to do Flip videos.
And how do we see those again?
You can see those by going to businessnetworking.com. Businessnetworking.com is my blog. It’s not BNI-centrific about networking for everyone, but I write it with BNI in mind. You will see that almost every Monday is a written blog and almost every Thursday is a video blog. So go check out the video blogs and you can see what you can do if you hate writing. You don’t need to be a writer.
Great, Ivan. I like that idea. Okay then, do you have anything else to add?
No, that’s it for today, Priscilla. Thank you very much.
Okay. Great. Well, I would just like to remind the listeners that this podcast has been brought to you by networkingnow.com, which is the leading site on the net for networking downloadables. Thank you for listening. This is Priscilla Rice, and we hope you will join us next week for another exciting episode of The Official BNI Podcast.