Making Online Marketing Smarter, Faster, and Cheaper. A Chat with David Siteman Garland

David Siteman Garland is quite an infectious individual. His mission is simple: help others succeed in business with innovative and fluff free marketing strategies. He’s an entrepreneur many times over who has been making waves with his web show The Rise to the Top and more recently his new book Smarter, Faster, Cheaper.

This week David was kind enough to take some time out of his hectic schedule to chat with Sparkplug Digital about online marketing

Thanks for taking the time to chat David. On Rise To The Top you claim to be the #1 “Non Boring” resource for someone trying to build their business. Define “Non Boring”.

Bottom line is I strongly believe business should be fun. It isn’t all about pleated pants and water coolers. One of the things I’m very passionate about is helping people view business and entrepreneurship as something fun, entertaining and rewarding. The last thing I wanted to do was create something snooze-worthy. 

You’ve connected with and interviewed A LOT of big names such as Seth Godin, Tim Ferris, and Chris Brogan. What’s your secret?

I think the secret is having something different and timing when you ask someone for their time. For example, I try do interviews in a unique way with atypical questions and sort of an all access, behind-the-scenes glimpse with the guest. Sort of like having a cup of coffee with him or her. And asking the right way with the right timing is critical. Most people have on their website how they like to be contacted (email, pony express, Twitter). And, the key is waiting for when the guest might have something new going on. Perhaps a book, new product, change in direction, divorce (just kidding), etc. Even the most inaccessible people become much more accessible when there is news.

How do you use Twitter to promote Rise?

On Twitter, I make sure to syndicate all my episodes and blog posts. But the real ability to promote successfully on Twitter is focusing on helping others. Sharing other people’s great content, small talking and just being part of the community. I can tell you though Twitter is in the top 5 traffic sources for RISE. 

What factor does SEO play when it comes to your site’s traffic?

I’m definitely much more on the social side of the brain as opposed to SEO. For me, I don’t consciously worry about it (even though of course the site is optimized). I try to focus all efforts on the community and creating badass content. What has happened though is organically, search engines have been sending lots of traffic over. As the site has become more popular (0-100,000 tuning in the last two years) search engines have now started to send significant amount of traffic. I view that as a neat bonus. 

In your new book Smarter, Faster, Cheaper you recommend that individuals become a trusted resource as opposed to constantly pushing product. How do you recommend individuals find this balance?

Great question. It definitely is a balance in this new world of shamelessly promoting stuff and creating interesting, valuable content that helps others. A good rule of thumb is 80/20 or perhaps 90/10. 80% of what you “put out there” is great content, conversations, dialogue, promoting others, etc. 20% can be promotional. It is definitely more of an art than a science.

You do a combination of video blogging mixed with traditional blogging. Do you recommend that all businesses blog in some form or another?

I love doing a mix, but I would say that blogging and creating  is not for everyone. But (BIG but) If you have passion for topic/interest that goes beyond just promoting products, I believe creating some kind of content that is educational, entertaining and/or inspiring can be one of the VERY BEST things you can do for your business and yourself. People are attracted to interesting, passionate bloggers. And it is also very therapeutic. A great outlet for ideas.

One reason that some businesses may be hesitant to use social media marketing is that measuring return on investment can be difficult. How do you address this concern?

I think the key is not focusing on short-term or small ROI. Example: You will drive yourself criminally insane if you try to figure out the ROI of every Tweet or every “relationship” (cringe). But, I would also say there are things that are very measurable. For example, your sales. It sounds simple, but it is true. Are your sales increasing? Are you getting more leads? More press (new and traditional media) coverage? More clout with Google? These are all very real measurements. Trust me, if you have a business and you aren’t getting SOME KIND of ROI, it wouldn’t be worth the time. 

What is the #1 piece of advice you’d give to a small business who wants to start marketing themselves online?

Find the passion/interest point. What are your potential clients and customers interested in? What topics? Wine? Cars? Sports? Cooking? Whatever it might be. And use that as the backbone for how you build your presence. Because online, the key to building an audience and community is reaching out to people genuinely interested in what you are doing. And this interest goes way beyond products.

Thanks again to David for the interview.
Don’t forget to check out The Rise To The Top and Smarter, Faster, Cheaper.


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