This guest post is by Danny Iny of Firepole Marketing.
On March 8, 2011, Guy Kawasaki released Enchantment, his latest book.
Oh, and an exclusive interview on Firepole Marketing.
What? You haven’t heard of Firepole Marketing?! Well, that’s no surprise, because unlike Forbes, Startup Nation, or Brazen Careerist, whose subscriber count numbers in the hundreds of thousands, Firepole Marketing’s subscribers number in just the hundreds—no thousands.
So how did a little fish like Firepole Marketing land a giant ocean liner like Guy Kawasaki? It all started with Jon…
Jon Morrow, that is. Jon Morrow of Copyblogger.
Step 1: Being nice
Back in 2008, I was running a flailing start-up. We ran out of money just as the financial markets crashed, and there was very little capital to be found.
I’ve been a fan of Copyblogger for a long time, and have bought almost every product they’ve released. At the time, I was a member of Partnering Profits, and I received an email from Jon Morrow. He was looking for case studies to help (basically, he offered free consulting) as part of the program. I had nothing to lose, so I reached out.
We exchanged emails, and this was his eventual conclusion: “My advice: stop trying to raise money until you’re already making money. If you can’t do that, then shut down your company and do something where you have a higher chance of success.”
(This is just one line extracted from a fairly long email. Jon gave me plenty of great advice, and has been very helpful to me over the years, as you’ll see. I’m not complaining in any way, shape, or form. But sometimes, the truth hurts!)
Now, I could have sulked, or been angry, but what good would that have done? I thanked him, and kept on trucking (though eventually I did have to pull the plug on that business).
Step 2: Seizing the opportunity
Fast-forward to the end of 2010: I had co-founded Firepole Marketing, and I was in the middle of Jon’s latest training program, about guest blogging.
One day, a lesson arrives in my inbox in which Jon explains that the easiest kind of guest post to get onto a popular blog is a list post, because it just takes so much work to write them, and they tend to be very highly rated because they’re so bookmark-able.
I had just finished developing a curriculum of business books to create an alternative business education program for a client of mine.
So I seized the opportunity. I replied to Jon’s email, telling him about the booklist, and asking him if I could write it as a guest post for Copyblogger. He said that he couldn’t make promises, but that I could write a draft and send it to him.
Well, I spent hours upon hours working on that post, to make it as good as it possibly could be. And it worked! 38 Critical Books Every Blogger Needs to Read was published on Copyblogger, and as of this writing, has accumulated 199 comments, 869 tweets, and 189 Facebook shares. (Yay!)
Step 3: A nice Guy
One of the 38 books that I discussed in the post was The Art of the Start. A few days after the post went out, I received an email from Guy Kawasaki thanking me for including his book on the list. He also explained that he had a new book coming out called Enchantment, and asked if I’d like him to send me a review copy.
Sounds great, right? A free book! (Seriously, I was flattered!)
Step 4: Seizing the opportunity … again!
Sure enough, a few weeks before the publication date, I received a follow-up email saying that I should receive the book within a couple of days, with links to material that might be useful in writing a review (biographical and background information, pictures of the book, etc.).
He also wrote that “if you’d like record a podcast or interview me, please let me know.”
Guy and I corresponded (I had to chase a little—not surprising, given how busy he is), and we finally nailed down a time to do the interview. The only time he could do it was 9pm Pacific time (I’m on the east coast, so it was midnight over here). Well, that was fine by me!
I spent about fifteen hours preparing for that interview. I read the book from cover to cover, and took notes along the way. Then I thought about what might be valuable to showcase about the book that most interviewers wouldn’t ask about.
In the best-case scenario, my goal was to make the interview so good that Guy would want to tell everyone he knew to listen to it—but at the very least, I wanted to be absolutely sure that I didn’t blow it with Guy, or make him feel like he wasted his time. The work paid off, and turned out to be a pretty good interview.
Step 5: More nice!
Now, did Guy mean to offer for me to interview him on my tiny blog? I may never know for sure, but my hunch is that I got the same email that went out to all of the reviewers on his list, most of whom are from way bigger media outlets.
But he made the offer, and he’s a good enough guy to have honored it and made the time for me to do the interview (time that he doesn’t have; on top of running his business and being a husband and father, he was doing five or six interviews per day—all with sites way bigger than mine). Thanks, Guy!
It doesn’t end there, though. Now it was my turn to be nice.
I posted the interview on Firepole Marketing, but also created a video to promote the book on YouTube, wrote reviews on Amazon and other bookseller websites, and basically did everything I could think of to get the word out (mostly because it’s my turn to be nice, but also because it’s a great book!).
9 Lessons for bloggers
So what’s the message here for other bloggers and online entrepreneurs? Here are nine lessons that I can think of:
- Be appreciative of any help or advice that anyone is kind enough to offer you—even if it isn’t what you want to hear, even if you don’t agree with it, and even if you aren’t planning on following it. They took the time to think about you and your problem—thank them for that. In other words, be nice.
- Keep on trucking. Don’t give up—even if you’re tired and frustrated, keep on working at your goals, because eventually you’ll get there. Especially if you…
- Cultivate relationships. Being gracious and appreciative is part of it, but go further—take advantage of any opportunity that you can to be nice to people. Like mentioning their books on other people’s blogs (or mentioning their blogs on yours!).
- When people teach you something, show them that you’ve been paying attention. A big part of why I got that post on Copyblogger is because I took Jon’s course on Guestblogging, and then did exactly what he taught me to do!
- Embrace the nobodies. This isn’t my lesson, it’s straight out of Guy’s new book, Enchantment. He didn’t have to make the time for that interview, but he did, and I’ve publicized his book in every way that I could think of. The lesson for you? Don’t just focus on getting a break from megablogs like ProBlogger or celebrities like Guy Kawasaki. Work with the little guys (like Firepole Marketing, iMarketingHacked, One Spoon At A Time, Jon Alford’s blog, and others). You might be surprised where they’ll take you.
- Be in the right place at the right time. Does this sound like frustrating advice? Well, being in the right place at the right time is part luck, but it’s also part getting out there and working hard. If you’re in enough places at enough times, then some of them are bound to be the right ones.
- Seize opportunities. If you’re out there being nice and cultivating relationships in enough places at enough times, then sooner or later an opportunity will appear. Make sure to grab it! Leonardo da Vinci once wrote that “when fortune approaches, seize her firmly by the forelock—because I swear, she’s bald in the back!” In other words, you’ll probably only get one chance to grab that opportunity, so don’t miss it!
- Do the work. Once you get that opportunity, you’ve got to work hard to make it happen, and to make the most of it. If I hadn’t chased after Guy to make the interview happen, and done all that prep work to make it as good an interview as I could, then the opportunity would have fizzled into nothing.
- Say thank you, and be nice some more. Once that opportunity has been seized and made the most of, be appreciative, and keep on being nice. Keep on cultivating those relationships.
In short, success is part being in the right place at the right time, part putting yourself in the right place at the right time, ten parts hard work, and part Guy Kawasaki being nice to you!
I think we learn best from stories, and I’d love to learn from your experiences. So, every person who leaves a comment with their story will be entered into a draw to win a free subscription to Firepole Marketing (worth $900)!
Do you have a serendipitous story of being in the right place at the right time, and then working to make it happen? Please share it as a comment…
Danny Iny is an author, strategist, serial entrepreneur, and proud co-founder of Firepole Marketing, the definitive marketing training program for small businesses, entrepreneurs, and non-marketers. For free marketing tips and ideas, head over to his blog, and sign up for their FREE 7-Day “Business Fireproofing” Video Course.