Actionable Insights from Interviewing 18 CEOs, Managers, and Entrepreneurs

Actionable Insights from Interviewing 18 CEOs, Managers, and Entrepreneurs

Not too long ago we kicked off an interview series with the goal of providing business owners and marketers with important insight, advice, and ideas for growing their online presence and becoming more successful in their marketing endeavors. To date, we’ve had the opportunity to tap the minds of industry marketing professionals at companies such as Google, reddit, SAP, Buffer, Hubspot, and Moz, plus a handful of successful authors, entrepreneurs, and even psychologists!

Each interview is minified here for the convenience of readers. For full versions, just click the link next to each interviewee’s name.

We went through each interview and plucked the most actionable insights from each one. Have you ever wondered what makes Googlers, Googley? Want to learn how to trump writer’s block or defeat self-doubt? Or discover a super niche but super powerful advertising tool? Learn all that and more in the snippets below. Enjoy!

1. How to Grow a Company Culture Like Google

Helpfulness, a willingness to do good and approaching work/relationships with a positive attitude/approach are all elements of the culture that are pervasive across Google. Googlers’ work and interaction with others (vendors, customers, non-profits, etc) are underpinned by honesty, trust and the desire to be a good partner. Googlers are looking to build bridges and help their customers grow each of their respective businesses. This approach is visible in everything that Google executes, including its investment in its employees, its products and its customer relationships/approach to businesses.

jim-armstrong Jim Armstrong, Account Manager at Google | Read his full interview here

2. Looking for a New Powerhouse Advertising Tool? Try reddit

reddit is made up of thousands of passionate interest groups, and if your product matches one of those groups it’s a no-brainer that you as a brand should be promoting your product in that community. You’re hitting the sweet spot: people who are passionate about what you, as a brand, are offering. To give you an example, there is a huge reddit community that is solely dedicated to sharing the most delicious pictures of food on reddit: /r/FoodPorn. This subreddit alone has over 1.6 MM monthly impressions, and over 275k monthly unique users. If you’re a food blogger, are selling a food-related product, or have a cooking YouTube channel, this is your opportunity to connect with a highly passionate community of reddit users who are already enthusiastic about your content.

adriana-small Adriana Gadala-Maria, reddit Ad Sales Marketing Manager | Read her full interview here

3. Have a Bad Case of Writers Block? Here’s Buffer’s Cure

I’m an idea hoarder. I have swipe files set up in a several different spots around the web; some people stash candy around their house, I stash blogpost ideas around the Internet. At Buffer, we collect ideas in Trello, a task-management tool. At any given time, our pool of ideas is 40 – or 50 – deep. The week before, we pull the stories that seem like they’d be the best fit for the following week’s content, then I get to work!

kevan Kevan Lee, Buffer Content Crafter | Read his full interview here

4. One of The Biggest Missed Opportunities in Digital Marketing (And How to Take Advantage of It)

Almost every business I know is completely over-weighted in paid media (advertising) with regards to budget. Social media practices are largely promotional (earned). And 90% of the content on brand-owned properties are promotional. See the trend? Our audiences spend most of their time trying to get educated or trying to find entertainment that helps them enjoy their everyday lives. And yet brands spend all their time, money and resources talking about themselves. If marketing’s role is to build relationships to get new customers to know, like, and trust us enough to spend their money with us, we are using the worst possible approach to achieving that goal. This is even more evident in digital, where consumer mistrust and disdain for promotion make relationships based on advertising messages nearly impossible.

Michael-Brenner-Headshot Michael Brenner, Head of Strategy for NewsCred, Former VP of Global Content Marketing Strategy and Head of Digital for SAP Americas  | Read his full interview here

5. Does Your Business Have a Blog? Chances Are, You’re Doing it Wrong

I’ve seen so many businesses maintaining an official blog just for the sake of having one. Few businesses really have an idea what to publish there, so they throw in some quick generic articles on the relevant topics. After a few months of struggling they announce blogging useless. I think blogging is one of the most efficient lead-generation and brand-building methods out there. It can turn your one-time customers or random visitors into brand ambassadors, and those are the people who’ll help your business survive no matter what marketing channel fails to perform tomorrow. A community around your business is the most powerful asset you can dream of, and blogging is one of the best ways to build one.

ann-smart-250 Ann Smarty, Brand and Community Manager  | Read her full interview here

6. The Secret Sauce to a Successful Client Relationship

Commitment – it’s so easy to get lazy with your customers as you grow and scale, but it’s a fatal mistake, and you do so at your peril. At HubSpot, we have SFTC (Solve for the Customer) baked right into our Culture Code, so there is no denying its importance to our business and our brand.

Kburke Headshot Katie Burke, HubSpot Director of Talent and Culture | Read her full interview here 

7. How to Evolve “Good” Content Marketing into “Epic” Content Marketing With the Master of Content Himself

Today, good is not good enough. Good gets you ignored. Good doesn’t grab anyone’s attention. To be epic, you need to do a few things. First, you need to find a content niche that you have a chance at being the leading informational expert in that industry. You also need to have a point-of-view. You need to develop content consistently that works to build a loyal audience over time. You need to remove all sales pitches from your content. Perhaps most importantly, you need to set the goal to become the leading informational provider in your niche. If you don’t at least set the goal, you’ll never set yourself up for success.

joe Joe Pulizzi, Founder of Content Marketing Institute | Read his full interview here

8. A Simple Organizational Trick to Help Boost Your Day-to-Day Productivity

The important thing is the 80/20 rule: 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. This means that if you’re doing ten tasks, two are going to be vastly more important than others. When you make a to-do list, you should also make a to-not-do list. Warren Buffet was asked about the secret to success, and he said that it was saying no to almost everything. Some of those little tasks won’t matter as long as you get the big tasks done.

briantracy Brian Tracy, Author and Chairman & CEO of Brian Tracy International | Read his full interview here

9. Does Your Biz Have a Tight Budget for Marketing and Digital Promotion? Try These Tips

Use a combination of promoting your expertise (not your product or service), along with email marketing. This has worked very well for me. Also, I do a lot of business with companies that keep me informed via email about what they’re selling and how I can use their products. Start by offering an enticing digital freebie that your market cannot live without, in exchange for their email address. Send an email to your list once a week, following the 80-20 rule. That is, 80 percent helpful content and 20 percent promotion. There’s a glut of material online on how to do email marketing. Ask people on your email list to suggest topics they’d like you to address. Pay attention to questions you receive from the public in your email. Those questions can tip you off to the next product or service they need. Several months ago, I started seeing several questions from people asking me what their publicity plan for next year should include. I created a webinar on 7 Things Your 2015 Publicity Plan Must Include and offered it for free, then posted the video at my YouTube channel. It’s still bringing in consulting clients.

Joan Stewart tight crop 110 x 110 Joan Stewart, Publicity Expert (aka The Publicity Hound)  | Read her full interview here

10. The Smallest Change You Can Make To Your Website to Improve Rankings

Sometimes checking if the robots.txt file is correct and spotting nonsense disallow rules can make a big difference, but this doesn’t always happen. For every website I’d suggest being sure that each page has its own unique HTML title, aligned with the page content and containing the topic the page should rank for (not more than a few keywords). Obviously, be sure the same terms appear in the body content as well.

giuseppe Giuseppe Pastore, Veteran SEO Consultant based in Italy | Read his full interview here

11. How to Deal with “Energy Vampires” In Your Company

The best way is to encourage them to be more positive. Try to transform them. If this doesn’t work, then isolate them and make sure they don’t infect the rest of the organization with their negative energy. Have them do what they do best and keep them from interacting with others.

Jon Gordon Jon Gordon, Jon Gordon, Author & Speaker  | Read his full interview here

12. When You Start Doubting Yourself it Can Snowball Out of Control. This is How You Can Stop it

The way to do that is to “check it out.” A lot of times people just buy into their thinking, but just because you think or feel something doesn’t mean it’s true. Don’t automatically go into panic mode about the worst-case scenario. Take a step back to look at the facts and say “what evidence do I have that this is true or untrue? Realistically, is this something I need to be concerned about right now?” Rather than thinking of the worst-case scenario, what’s the best-case? Most people forget to ask themselves that question. What’s the most realistic outcome? That’s where it’s important to stay. If you don’t realistically need to worry about it, let it go. If you do need to worry about it, focus on the realistic outcome, not the worst.

Marci Fox Marci G. Fox, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist and Adjunct Faculty Member at the Beck Institute | Read her full interview here

13. The Internet is Overloaded with Content. Here’s How You Should Approach Tackling This Phenomena

This is something we’re hearing more and more about these days: content shock. We hear how people can only take in so much information; that they only have so much time to spend reading content, and at some point, something has to give. This is a pretty narrow perspective brought about by a lot of very stressed-out marketers. Let me explain. It’s important to remember that consumers have a different perspective on content than marketers do. As marketers (especially content marketers), we’re tasked with staying on top of our respective industries. We have feeds and alerts set up for our competitors, our partners, our inspiration, and we feel nervous and guilty when we have to “mark all as read” – like we might miss a key post and be left behind. We spend an inordinate amount of time scouring the web for content (time that’s often better spent elsewhere), and then we project our stress onto our audience, thinking they must be pulling their hair out by now. The thing is, our audiences simply don’t approach content that way. They’re not going to subscribe to as many blogs as they can, hoping to learn ALL THE THINGS, then cry out in desperation, covering their ears because they’re up to their necks with too much noise. Of course they have a limited capacity to consume content, but their approach is (and always has been) to search for solutions to one problem at a time.

TrevorKlein Trevor Klein, Moz Content Strategist | Read his full interview here

14. Is The Customer Always Right?

Anybody who believes the customer is always right hasn’t met very many customers. A few are rude, demanding and sometimes wrong. But while the customer may not always be right, he or she is always the customer. That means they’ve exchanged their money for our service, and if we’ve taken their money, we must deliver the best service that we can, even when the customer is sometimes unreasonable.

mark_sanbornMark Sanborn, International Best-Selling Author | Read his full interview here

15. A Cup of Cold Truth for Aspiring Entrepreneurs

Work your ass off. Nothing great comes easily. You need to put in the time to build something awesome. Never stop learning. If you are stagnating in your current job and not growing your skill-set, leave immediately. Get an accountant and focus on the things that you do best. Trying to do everything yourself will quickly drive you insane. Network (online and off) and find people you can collaborate with. Finding a good partner is key.

david-wells David Wells, Founder of Inbound Now, an inbound marketing WordPress plugin development studio with over 350,000 users.  | Read his full interview here

16. You Have Employees or Coworkers Who Don’t Interact With Customers. This is How You can Help Them Still Practice Proper Customer Service

They have to identify their internal customers. To me a customer is anyone who receives information, product, or services. For example, I worked with an organization where the IT department realized that everyone working in the call center was dealing with the customers. So every week one person from IT would spend an hour cleaning the call center keyboards and doing nice things like that. They got to build a personal relationship and get some face-to-face time instead of just being someone at a help desk. The hardest part is identifying the internal customers. For HR, all the other employees are their customers. Back when I was at Holy Cross we had a guy in payroll, and this was when we were using handwritten sheets. There were corrections that would come through and needed to be fixed that day, and that made him upset that people weren’t filling the forms out right. What he didn’t understand was that if a nurse’s paycheck is short $100, she’s not spending the day worrying about patients, she’s worrying about her paycheck. Unfortunately, he never figured out that he was serving the team and the team wasn’t serving him.

liz Liz Jazwiec, Author  | Read her full interview here

17. Still Pissed Off About Facebook Reducing Organic Reach for Business Pages? Here’s How You Can Combat This Promotion Pinch

Brands should focus less on recovering their Page’s reach and should shift their focus to producing content that is actually ‘shareworthy’ on all social media channels. Anecdotally, a post I published about my newfound understanding behind LinkedIn’s publishing strategy and its current value-add to businesses received 650+ shares on LinkedIn. Generally speaking, I’m lucky if a post I publish gets more than 30 LinkedIn shares. We don’t have a grand presence on LinkedIn. We didn’t pay to promote it. But LinkedIn readers outside of our regular readership found it wildly shareable.

danny_wong_large Danny Wong, Entrepreneur and Marketer at Shareaholic | Read his full interview here

18. Having Jitters About Putting Your Brand on Social Media?

Just getting started can be really intimidating. There are so many sites out there, and joining all at once can be overwhelming. My advice is to find a few that fit your brand really well and start small, then grow. You want to do really well on a few sites, not go halfway on everything out there. Instagram isn’t for everyone, at least not right away. Additionally, some companies get really nervous about the public opinion aspect of social media. But you have to remember that people are already voicing their opinions on Twitter. You just might not be there to listen or respond for damage control.

AZarrella Alison Zarrella, Author and Social Media Marketing Consultant | Read her full interview here

Phew! That was a lot and kudos if you made it through. We’re continuously reaching out to marketing professionals, entrepreneurs, and passionate business people alike. If you have a recommendation for someone you’d like to see interviewed or a particular company, please let us know below! And if you’d like to stay updated whenever we publish a new interview simply subscribe to the blog and you won’t miss a beat.

After all that business talk I think it’s time for some Netflix binge-watching.