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How To Make Your Customers Your Marketers with Mark Schaefer | Ep. 181

BDD 181 | Customers As Marketers


As technology evolves, more and more customers are moving ahead and controlling marketing. Mark Schaefer, known as The Marketing Man, discusses the steps in getting your customers to do the marketing for your business. Giving long-term value to customers is appealing and creating ‘wow’ moments by incorporating the idea of belonging is the best way to approach such change. Mark goes into how marketing is more efficient when used for promoting unforgettable emotional experiences of your customers.

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How To Make Your Customers Your Marketers with Mark Schaefer

Our guest is known throughout the marketing world. He is on a marketing rebellion. He was born to blog and from a young age understood The Content Code and The Tao of Twitter. He is now sharing the secrets on the world stages and on a crusade to let the world know that most human company wins. I am fired up to introduce the one, the only, the Marketing Man himself, Mark Schaefer.

I am fired up to be here with you. That was a great intro.

I had fun writing. I never thought I could write a whole intro with just book titles, but you gave me a lot of content.

I think you pretty much got them all.

I’m fired up about meeting you. I read your book. I was like, “This is it. This is the future of marketing.” The customers are your marketers and so many people don’t understand that. Give an opening to the readers to understand how you came across this realization and what is the future of marketing?

[bctt tweet=”What moves a story along are word of mouth marketing, social media, influencers, and reading reviews.” via=”no”]

I’ve been in marketing for more than 30 years and I started my career with big companies and then started to get into consulting and social media. I’ve been around quite a lot. Over the last couple of years, everyone I was talking to, big companies and small companies, were saying they were feeling stuck. Things weren’t working like they used to, that they were feeling overwhelmed, that they were falling behind. I had a hypothesis that was because of technology. Everybody’s overwhelmed. What’s the next big thing? AI and blockchain and all this. What am I going into? I realized that the technology’s moving ahead of us, but that really the customers are moving ahead of us. The customers are in control now. Most people who grew up in business like me, we’re oriented toward a model where we have the marketing messaging. We have our personas and our highly crafted messages and that we will share these messages that will result in a sales funnel.

As I was researching for this new book, Marketing Rebellion, I was immersed in this research. I literally got to a point where I lost my breath and realized I don’t know what it means to be a marketer anymore because all those things I talked about are gone. Two-thirds of our marketing is occurring without us. It’s through word of mouth marketing, it’s through social media, it’s through listening to influencers, it’s reading reviews. Those are the things that are moving our story along. The cataclysmic change that has occurred is that most people are still operating under this idea that a brand is what a company communicates to you. The reality of our world is a brand is what people tell each other. We have to flip this mindset and think about how do we get invited into those conversations and kick our way in like the old days. How do we create excitement? How do we create these stories so our customers will come to the marketers and carry the stories forward?

It’s such a brilliant idea and concept, but the problem is that everyone is spending millions and billions of dollars on marketing, but they’re not spending even a percentage point of that money on the experience. If your customers are the marketers, why don’t you go all in? We at a small level realize that we don’t have a marketing budget. We don’t even have a full-time marketing director but we have a director of first impressions, a fans first director and a ticket experience coordinator. Why aren’t companies getting it? Is the learning curve too much?

It really is complicated. The number one obstacle I think is culture. Here’s what is exciting to me. We’ve got new people coming into the world, new people coming in a business like you. Young people who are digital natives, they understand how business works and you look at the stuff we used to do in the old days and you think, “Who would ever do that? That’s stupid. Why would you annoy people like that?” Number one is I am totally excited by the change that’s happening, but it’s not happening at the companies we know and love. It’s happening with the new energy, the digital natives coming on board and leading their own companies. Number two I think is the measurement. In your business with the Bananas, you mentioned you’ve got someone who’s in charge of the experience waiting in line and someone waiting, buying the tickets and during the game, everybody’s looking at this experience. How does that impact sales on a day-to-day basis? It’s almost impossible to measure. You have to take a leap of faith and say, “If we trust our customers to be the marketers, it’s going to work.” That’s very difficult for most businesses to accept. I had an amazing experience, Jesse.

BDD 181 | Customers As Marketers
Marketing Rebellion: The Most Human Company Wins

When I was in graduate school, I’ve got to study under Peter Drucker. He’s probably the most celebrated and acclaimed management consultant and author in the history of the world. I studied under him for three years. One of the things he pounded in to my head and one of his most famous sayings is, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” That’s the way the world has grown up in business. This is a big cultural shift, to be able to take a leap of faith and say, “It’s virtually impossible to measure a lot of this experiential marketing.” You’d go crazy trying to measure it, so you need to take risks. You need to think about, “If this works, what would it look like? What do we think it would look like?” If it looks like that, then you do a little more. You’ve got to start moving in that direction. I think culture is a big obstacle. Measurement is a big obstacle and I think an aversion to risk is a big obstacle, but it is happening. It’s absolutely happening because here’s the deal, we don’t have a choice. People don’t see our ads anymore. If they see it, they don’t believe him anyway, so we’ve got to trust the customers to be marketers. We’ve got to be down there with them, creating experiences that they love so much that they’ll share it with all their friends.

It’s so true, Mark, because companies are going to start going out of business. They already are. Even these big ones that dominated, Blockbuster, they weren’t focused on the experience. They were focused on the late fees and focused on how to maximize the dollars. I think the problem, what you’re saying is so many people are focused on short term profits and not the long-term values of their brand. I find it interesting in your talk, you said one of the most powerful statements, “Stop doing what customers hate.”

That was surprising to me that you were referring to the talk I gave at Social Media Marketing World and here’s what people said there. People were cheering for that in the middle of my speech for that statement. I think the reason why that resonates with people is because a lot of marketers forget that we’re customers first. Remember what it’s like to be a customer and if you’re doing stuff in your business that people hate, stop it. I talked about the human-centered approach to marketing, the human-centered approach to business. That’s step number one. Stop doing what people hate. Let’s get over that hurdle and then get out there and talk to your customers and spend time with them and figure out what do our customers love. We’re obsessed with technology and we’re hiding behind dashboards and we think all this wisdom is going to do some social media monitoring system and it isn’t. We have to get out there and we have to talk to our customers and learn about all those basic human needs and human truths that I talk about in my book. We need to reconnect with people on a human basis and get out of our dashboards.

I think that’s a great segue to get into the five constant human truths. It’s very simple when you think about it. No one wakes up in the morning and says, “I want to be marketed to this day. I want to be advertised to this day. I hope someone calls me and sells me something.” No one wakes up that way. Why do we come in and have our marketing meeting, our sales meeting and our advertising meeting? Why don’t we say, “What are we doing to wow, surprise, delight and create an amazing experience?” We had to fail to realize this. My wife and I were on an airbed, we were struggling but we started to ask, “How do we make people feel? How do you design the customer emotion?” That is what’s Fans First is and I think that goes into the five constant human truths that you talk about in your book. I think we can lead to this to talk into some of the practical examples.

It’s a great example. I think you’re a great role model in terms of tapping into what people need. I talk about in the book the example that got me thinking about these things that don’t change, that causes human truths. It was this quote from Jeff Bezos who everybody would point to him as a great technological disruptor. He said, “We have a lot of technology, but we focus on these human truths that aren’t going to change. People want a low price, vast selection and fast delivery.” It’s impossible for me to think that will ever change. If we do that better and better and put the technology in the service of those human truths, we’ll win. This can be intimidating. It can be overwhelming. I think if you focus on these constant human truths that don’t change, then you can calm down and say, “That’s what our business is all about.” I like the way you expressed it. You’re the long-term value to your customer. It’s something that they can count on, something that they can rely on. It’s something as appealing. Entertainment, people are always going to want to be entertained. It’s impossible to think that they’re not going to want to be entertained.

Every business is an entertainment business.

[bctt tweet=”Stop doing what people hate. Figure out what customers love.” via=”no”]

I talk about that in the college classes that I teach how many businesses now are sitting around thinking, “How can we be more entertaining?” Yet, that’s the stories that spread. Think about what everyone likes to share on social media. There’s some element of entertainment to it. It meant something to us. There was research that was done a few years ago by BuzzSumo, which is an awesome company by the way. They said that the most associated word was content that goes viral is awe. It’s like it’s something that makes you go, “I never saw that or I never thought about that, or this is something that’s going to amaze my friends.” It’s almost like the highest level of entertainment.

There was a story that I left out of my book. I actually put it in the workbook because there’s a great story. Cirque de Soleil is trying to measure awe. They are actually hooking up customers and measuring brainwaves to see what elements of the show create awe so that they can make better shows. That is the word that’s going to make it spread. You probably know that by instinct. When you create an experience for your customers that make them go, “I’ve never seen that before,” like getting a rose on the stands or something like that. That’s awe. That makes businesses thrive.

I think these conversations start about the practical steps. We need to have these conversations. What are we doing to create these stories? You don’t have to spend a lot of money. I’ll give you a great example. We made a deal with a mobile carwash. During the games when people are watching the games, they’re going to pick out a few cars and completely wash their car, have a Thank You note for coming to the game and people are going to go to the car. We’re not going to announce it, we’re not going to make a big deal but if you come to your car afterwards, that’s a simple moment. That was a trade out. There was no cost to the company. It’s like, “What are you doing in those simple moments?” Give me a few more. I love Cirque du Soleil. What is your company doing? What stories have you built to create these wow moments? Don’t say, “We care for our customers.” Give stories to back it up. These human truths that we’re talking about, I know you talk about belonging and feel loved and meaning and respected. What are some of them that companies have done to show this?

The one that I’ve been spending the most time on these days is this idea of belonging. It’s a fascinating idea because when you look at these constant human truths, the things that are our friends, our neighbors, our customers are crying out for, number one is belonging. We have a belonging crisis in our world. We think we are a click away from a conversation or a friend, but what the research shows are that the more time people spend on social media and the internet, the lonelier they are. The rates of depression, isolation and even suicide are going up to crisis levels. This sounds like a joke, but it’s not. It’s reached such a critical phase that the UK government has created a position, the Ministry of Loneliness. That’s the crisis that we’re in. This is a basic human truth. It’s a basic human need. People need to belong. On each of these ideas, I spend a chapter exploring what’s the role of business in creating this validation, this love, this respect and this acknowledgement. What about belonging? I approach this very skeptically because I thought, “You might feel like you belong to a church or a sports team or an alumni association, but can you really belong to a company?”

I think the whole idea of a social media community is way overblown. When I got into it, I found that you can make people feel like they belong and it’s a huge unmet need out there. I think it’s really happening. I think that there is an opportunity for businesses and it’s not easy. That’s the common theme of all of this. You know this firsthand. It’s easy to take out an ad. You take the money and you wait for something to happen. It’s hard to go out and make a deal with your friends at the car wash and organize this thing so that these cars are being washed and everybody’s happy. You’ve got to roll up your sleeves and you’ve got to go out and do the work. The search for the marketing easy button is over. It’s over. We’ve got to get out of our technology and back into the things that you’re doing. If you do that, it is possible to create this sense of belonging.

BDD 181 | Customers As Marketers
Customers As Marketers: People are always going to want to be entertained.


Are people willing to wear your logo proudly? It’s very easy from a sports team like the Bananas. Yeti, they’re a cooler company and thousands of people are wearing their hats, they’re wearing the stickers. I think belonging has a big sense of pride. Not only do we all want to belong, but we also want to feel pride and proud in what we’re a part of. Yeti’s a great example. What other ones are there out there? How did Yeti do it? That’s a whole another story, but do you have any other examples of companies we may not be too familiar with that are creating the sense of belonging? It’s so important.

Here’s a little experiment that I did. I want your readers to pay attention to this. As you go around through your life, if you go to a coffee shop, look at people’s computers and look at the stickers that are on their computers. Look at the bumper stickers that might be on somebody’s car. They don’t do that in other parts of the world so much. That’s a fun thing people do in America. If people are willing to put an emblem on their precious laptop computer or their precious automobile, that’s like a symbol. It’s almost like getting a tattoo. It’s like a digital virtual tattoo without the pain and the needles. You’re displaying this emblem and saying, “I believe in this organization so much. They are not going to let me down. I will permanently display this on my laptop.” Those are companies that make people feel like they belong. When I was writing a book, I went out to my friends and I said, “What laptop stickers do you see the most?” That’s how I got a lot of ideas for the book. One of my favorite stories in the book is Wistia. It’s a little company up in Boston. In terms of a tech company or a small company, they are doing amazing things to help their customers feel like they belong. They had a Slack channel. They’re paying for a Slack membership for every single one of their customers and they’re one click away from a personal response from somebody in the company.

Another thing that I think is a very powerful thing is bringing people together. That was a theme. Of course, that’s what you do for your living but that’s not a natural thing for many businesses. When I was talking to a lot of these people in the case studies in the book, I kept hearing the same thing over and over again. People would say, “Everything changed when we brought people together.” Talk about how to be the most human company, when they see your face and hear your voice and hear your passion and see your smile and maybe give a handshake or a hug. It’s the difference between listening to a song on the radio and going to a concert with your friends. That’s an emotional experience you’re never going to forget. Bringing people together and letting them see your humanity and letting them see how much you care, changes everything.

That’s why when I read your book, I was like, “This is the textbook of the future.” I was so fired up because it was something that needed to be said. It is the hard way but it’s the right way and to think about how you make people feel every day. Thinking about how people belong and they’re part of something, you don’t think, “I’m going to make someone feel that they belong. I’m going to shoot them ads, I’m going to market them and I’m going to give them a cold call to try to get them to buy the product that I want to sell, not the product that they want.”

You talked about belonging and another one I love is taking a stand. You talked about this and it’s a hard one but it doesn’t necessary mean controversial. You talk about Kaepernick in there, which is extremely controversial. Politics are controversial but taking a stand can simply mean, “Do you share who you are and what you stand for?” For instance, we stand for more fun, more caring and better fans-first experience for everyone. That’s not politically incorrect but we say it over and over again. Can you give some examples of taking a stand? I liked Nike’s too, “Don’t give me a hero. Make me a hero.” That was really cool.

Let me back up because this is a really important point. I don’t want people to miss this. One of the things they show you in the research is that loyalty is in decline. This came across in multiple research studies, but there was a clue in this report created by McKinsey and they said that the reason that loyalty is in decline is that the emotion is gone. People are getting on their smartphones, flipping around, looking for a pair of shoes.

[bctt tweet=”If you take a stand for something that other people believe in, they will defend you to the end.” via=”no”]

Whose loyalty is it for? It’s actually the company setting them up to make them loyal. Loyalty is built from the customer, not from the employer.

There was an article published in Harvard Business Review that examined all these different things that we think contributes to loyalty. What they found was that they really didn’t. There is no customer engagement and customer impression. The only thing they found that created a connection to the loyalty was shared values and shared meaning. If you take a stand for something that other people believe in, they will defend you to the end. They will stand by you and they will even pay more for your products if they think we’re aligned with them on values. You mentioned the Colin Kaepernick example with Nike. That was a very risky thing to do, but Nike had tons of research. They ran the numbers and they knew their customers very well. There aren’t too many marketing jobs out there that have a job description that says, “We want people to burn our product in the streets.”

That’s what happened when they took that stand, but it doesn’t have to be controversial. If you want a great example, I encourage your readers to go on YouTube and do a search for a video called Worlds Apart. It’s a video created by Heineken that brings a tear to my eye every time I see it. It’s a video that is unifying and it taps into a great emotion around connecting to people who are different from us. That’s a great example where it doesn’t have to be political, it doesn’t have to be polarizing. You can create content that’s wholesome and unifying.

You also gave a great example in your presentation at Social Media Marketing World about the company, all the people in the mountains climbing.

That’s one of my favorites. That’s the North Face video.

BDD 181 | Customers As Marketers
Customers As Marketers: Bringing people together and letting them see your humanity and how much you care changes everything.


Tell us a little bit about that. Was the first comment, “That’s how you make an ad?”

It was a video created by editing together user-generated content. The customer was the marketer. It gets back to this idea of belonging because of the people who are doing these extreme sports, they are on the outside. They’re on the fringes of society. They’re climbing up these rock faces and they’re riding their mountain bikes over glaciers and all this stuff. North Face made this video that said, “You’re not crazy. You do belong. You belong to us. You’re our people.” Thanks for bringing that up. It’s one of my favorite examples of appealing to this constant human truth, this constant human need for belonging in a beautiful way.

It was so powerful. We have a couple of other things. I want to get some games with you because we get in games on this, so be mentally prepared. One of the things too is showing people behind the brand and this is what happened. You mentioned Wistia and how they actually film everything. Me and Jared, our president, were blown away by this then we also realized they’re a video company, so that makes more sense. Here’s what we took from you, Mark. We left Social Media Marketing World. We came back to the staff and we said, “We’re going to start showing all of you, because people buy from us. They don’t buy from Bananas.” We started doing Facebook Live every day at noon, Monday through Friday. People tune in and it’s become a real connector. Share briefly about how other ways people can show the people behind the brand.

Let me give you an example that I think will really connect with people. Tesla is a company that has only been around for ten years. They have a higher market value than Ford Motor Company. I think part of that is that people love Elon Musk. He is controversial in some ways but he’s real. Sometimes he makes mistakes and sometimes he says things he shouldn’t say, but he’s an engineer. He thinks like an engineer and he talks like an engineer. I think people can relate to that and they love him. The first time I ever saw him speak, I was entranced and I thought, “That is a person I would work for.” Who’s the person that you love at Ford? Who’s the person that you love at Chevy? Who’s the person that you love at AT&T?

We can’t create an emotional connection to a logo or a jingle or an ad or branded content, whatever that’s supposed to be. We can only create emotional connections with people. Increasingly, the personal brand is the company brand. We love the people. I think your instinct is correct. They might love to go to the Bananas games because it’s fun and it’s entertaining but that real emotional bond is going to come from showing that people who are behind the scenes. To say, “I know the ticket person. I know this person because I have watched them on Facebook Live and they do this and they do this. They love gardening and I love gardening.” That’s what really builds the emotional connection beyond because that makes it beyond a gimmick. It turns into love.

[bctt tweet=”People can connect with you if you have the courage to tear down corporate curtains, show yourself, and be original.” via=”no”]

That’s as powerful as it gets. You made the example, “I spoke in front of 5,000 CEOs and I asked, “How many of you guys have actually gone out and met with one of your customers, sat down with one of your customers and had lunch with one of your customers?”” You said it was about twenty people, is that correct?

Nineteen people.

What’s amazing is I shared that with our staff and we’ve started this thing, One Fan a Day and our director of tickets championed it, which is great when your people champion it. Every day he will reach out a handwritten letter, a video thank you to them and they’ll have at least one lunch a week with one of our customers. That’s an investment that you should make. Stop thinking about putting $1,000 in here, $1,000 here. Invest in that lunch, that $40 lunch a week. It seems so simple.

Let’s use you and me as a case study. I was vaguely aware of you and then I got a handwritten note thanking me for writing the book. I thought, “Who is this guy?” I started looking at it, trying to figure out who you were and what you did. I thought, “That’s really an interesting business.” We met at Social Media Marketing World. There’s that human connection. We wrote an article about you for my blog, which is one of the top five marketing blogs in the world. That was nice for you. Now we were talking about other ways that you and I might be doing business together. That started with a handwritten note. It never would have happened without handwritten note. We’re getting to know each other, we’re becoming friends and you never know where that will lead.

I think everyone should let someone know if they made an impact on their life. I remember very vividly when I was young and some people let me know, that meant the world because we all need that. Mark, as you know, the higher we grow up as influencers, big time authors, speaker, it becomes lonelier at the top. Those emails, those calls, those videos, those lunches and those dinners mean the world. I realized that. I want to make sure other authors, other people feel that as well because I know it means the world to me. Thank you for acknowledging that. We’re going to have some fun to finish up here. We have a couple of rapid fire. It’s a game about making people feel like they are a part of something and belong. This is one of the things we do at our stadium.

BDD 181 | Customers As Marketers
Customers As Marketers: If you don’t have customers, you don’t have a business.


I’m terrible at games.

Everyone is. It’s fun. We have 4,000 people sing. It’s called our Sing-Off, Sing in the Blank. We have 2,000 people in one grandstand singing against 2,000 people in the other grandstand. You know this song and all you’ve got to do is when the song stops, you’ve got to finish that song lyric. If you’re the worst singer in the world, that’s perfect. No one’s been good at this. This is a sing-off. You should know this one. Here we go.


All you had to say was one word.

That’s all I know. I’m terrible. I had this mental defect. It’s a disability. I cannot remember the lyrics. I can usually remember the refrain. It’s ridiculous, I can’t sing any song. I know Happy Birthday and the Mr. Rogers’ song, It’s a Beautiful Day Today in the Neighborhood because I heard it 10,000 times as a child. Other than that, that’s about it. I passed your game.

[bctt tweet=”Make more decisions that lead to joy. Success does not need to be stressful.” via=”no”]

You passed the game. Usually we’ll have like Pour Some Sugar on Me, Living on a Prayer and It’s Wild. I kept Revolution because I think you came out to that song or you finished your talk with that song, is that correct?

No. It was Rebel Rebel.

In my head, that’s where I was hearing.

It was all about the rebellion.

I think you talked about it, we’ll be doing a rebellion and a revolution. You’ve talked about that before. A rebellion is a little more aggressive, but it is a revolution too. You have done so much to grow your brand. The Marketing Minute, Known was one of my favorites too. I could show you that in our bookshelf, every page earmarked. What is the best thing that you’ve done to grow your brand?

The best thing I did to grow my brand was to have the courage to add my story to the business. I’m old school. I’m an old guard. I grew up in the days when the companies were in control and the companies controlled the brand. When I started my business, I didn’t even have my picture on my website. I started blogging several years ago and I thought, “I am going to present my marketing message to my ideal personas.” That’s the way I started blogging and two things happened. First of all, nothing happened. Second of all, I got bored. I started to relax and I started to have more fun and I decided, if I feel funny now, I’m going to be funny. If I feel mad about something now or confused, I’m going to talk about it. I took these little risks of like opening up the curtains to show me and my world and my life.

On Instagram, I was out power washing my deck. I was sweaty and grungy and I wanted to show people, because I think a lot of people put me up on a pedestal because I speak at these big things and I wrote these books, but I’m a person like everybody else. I want to show that all the time. I’m a person like you. I’m out power washing my deck. It’s one of my superpowers. The biggest thing I did was tear down the corporate curtains and have the courage to show yourself, to show your humanity because that’s how people connect with you. It’s the only way you can be original. You have to. You have no choice. There’s nobody like you, so you’ve got to express your personality.

Every leader should do that. I don’t care if they think they’re an introvert, they need to get out and start showing themselves. I’m not making up this game. I’m calling this game the First Step. We talked about a lot of ideas. What’s the first step for a business to start getting the customers to do the marketing, to start this rebellion?

Step number one is to stop doing when people hate, as Robo calls. Since when is calling people good business? Direct mail is littering mailboxes and spam and lead nurturing and all this stuff. After that, I think you need to have some reflection and you have to be able to finish the sentence, “Only we.” It’s a hard sentence for any business to finish. If you could finish that sentence and you can’t get something lame like, “Only we have great customer service,” that could be your garbage man. That could be the people who bring you your mail. It’s got to be what is it about you that people love and talk about? What drives your competitors crazy? What’s distinctive about you? If you know that, you’ll know the story. You’ll know the story to tell, you’ll know where to tell it, you’ll know who to tell it to and it unveils your marketing plan.

Only is a little bit better, faster, quicker and cheaper. Only is it distinct. It’s different. We talk about that all the time. That’s why we try to be the only team with break dancing first base coach, the only team with a male cheerleading team, the only team with dancing players. That’s part of our concept, the only. What are you only? Another quick game, Flip the Script. Mark, you are the host of the show. You can ask me one question.

Do you ever not wear a yellow suit?

I proposed in the yellow suit. She said yes in front of a sold-out crowd, but I wasn’t allowed to get married in the yellow suit. It was all about Emily that night. The suit is my uniform. I played baseball my whole life. When I put on my uniform, it’s game time. On Sundays, I take it off. Another one, Question Time, what are some of the best questions you’re asking people you’re working with?

I think that the one that we talked about is one that blows people’s minds because nine times out of ten, they can’t answer it. If you can’t finish that sentence, “Only we,” you don’t have a marketing plan. You may think you have a marketing plan, but you don’t have a marketing plan. I mentioned earlier that I studied under Peter Drucker and one of the things he’s famous for is the five questions. These are the five questions you’ve got to ask to really realize what your business is about. I narrowed it down to one. I’m not saying I’m smarter than Peter Drucker, but it at least gets people thinking in the right way, “What makes us distinct?” That’s how a business starts.

Here’s the final four. What’s one thing that you’ve done to stand out in business and in life?

Courage and it’s hard. Writing this book took courage. This is a book that needed to be written. I said what needed to be said. There aren’t too many people who would do that. I had a tremendous amount of trepidation writing this book because I thought a lot of the traditional people were going to slam me.

Which is okay, because you’re standing for something.

It has to be said. I think that’s what I’m known for is having the courage to say what needs to be said and doing it in a nice way too.

If you were to give advice to someone starting out in the business world, what would you give them?

Start with marketing. I worked with a lot of young people and a lot of startups and this is the last thing they think about because they’re in love with a product, they’re in love with a service and they are in love with an idea. If you don’t have customers, you don’t have a business. You’ve got to bake your marketing into your business plan from the very beginning. If you need help, get help. A lot of people think, “It’s do-it-yourself. I’ll get a blog post, I’ll do Facebook.” Marketing now is harder than it’s ever been. I’ve been in marketing for nearly 40 years. Marketing is harder than it’s ever been.

What’s the best advice you’ve received? I know you have Peter Drucker and you’ve had a lot of people around you. What’s the best advice you received?

I was a young guy growing up in the corporate world and I was full of piss and vinegar. I was going up the corporate ladder and I was conquering the world. I was getting promoted. I was stressed all the time. I went into this training program and I got this Master’s degree in applied behavioral sciences. One of the mentors in the program became a great mentor to me. He was trying to get under my skin and have me shed my corporate armor. He said, “What’s the emotion you feel most of the time?” I said, “Anxiety, of course. Why would I be in this stupid program? That’s what causes me anxiety, being a stupid program.” I didn’t say those words exactly. That was what was in my head. I was being a smart aleck. I said, “What’s the emotion you feel most of the time?” Without hesitation he said, “Joy.” I knew it was true because this guy was a joyful man. One word changed that because I thought, “I want to be like that.” I need to make more decisions that lead to joy because I’m making this assumption that to do what I do, it has to be stressful and it has to create anxiety in my life. I need to start making different decisions. That was literally a moment and one word that changed my life.

Make more decisions that lead to joy. The final question is how do you want to be remembered?

I think one of the things that are such a blessing to me and such a reward in my life is that every single week someone tells me, “You changed my life.” There are not many people in the world that can experience that. It’s wild. I built this platform where people listen to me and they trust me. I’ve got an opportunity to be a good role model. I’ve got an opportunity to show people that you can lead with your heart and we don’t need to have this toxic world. We can lift each other up, we can help each other and we can be positive. The world is so toxic and the internet is such a cesspool in so many ways. The place where I live on the internet is not. It’s positive. It’s uplifting and it’s filled with hope. That’s what I wanted to bring to my little part of the world. I can’t solve world hunger but at least in my little world, for my audience, I wanted to be a positive place of hope.

You’re doing that and you are changing people’s lives. Mark, in a little small way, from first reading Known to being blown away by Marketing Rebellion and meeting you, you’ve made an impact here and everyone we touch. I think that’s what’s amazing. It’s this domino effect. When we are sharing what we learned with others, it spreads and it’s contagious. You’ve done an amazing job of that. Thanks so much for sharing with the readers. Where can people learn more and connect because you’ve got so much to share?

It’s easy to find me. I figured early in my career that nobody can learn how to spell Schaefer. There are so many ways to spell it. is out of the question. I thought that people could probably remember Businesses Grow. is my website. You can find my blog, my podcast, my books and my social media connections. I’d love to keep in touch with your readers and learn more about them and what they’re doing in their lives.

Thank you so much, Mark. You are a rock star.

Thank you.

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About Mark Schaefer

BDD 181 | Customers As Marketers

Mark Schaefer is a globally-recognized keynote speaker, educator, business consultant, and author. His blog {grow} is hailed as one of the top marketing blogs in the world.

Mark has worked in global sales, PR, and marketing positions for more than 30 years and provides consulting services as Executive Director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions.

He has advanced degrees in marketing and organizational development; holds seven patents; and is a faculty member of the graduate studies program at Rutgers University. For three years, Mark studied under the late Peter Drucker (a world-renowned consultant and author, hailed as the founder of modern management).

Customized for every audience, Mark’s programs specialize in marketing strategies for content marketing, digital marketing, social media, and personal branding. His clients range from successful start-ups to global brands such as Adidas, Johnson & Johnson, Dell, Pfizer, The U.S. Air Force, and the UK Government.

Mark is the author of six best-selling marketing books: KNOWNSocial Media Explained, Return on Influence, Born to Blog, The Content Code, and The Tao of Twitter – named the best-selling book on Twitter in the world. Return on Influence was named to the elite list of top academic titles of the year by the American Library Association, which declared it an “essential” and “pathfinding” book. The Content Codewas named one of the top five marketing books of 2015 by INC. Magazine. Mark’s books are used as textbooks at more than 50 universities, have been translated into 12 languages, and can be found in more than 750 libraries worldwide.

He is the co-host of The Marketing Companion, one of the top 10 marketing podcasts on iTunes.

Mark is also a popular and entertaining commentator and has appeared on many national television shows and periodicals including the Wall Street Journal, Wired,

The New York Times, CNN, National Public Radio, CNBC, the BBC and the CBS NEWS.He is a regular contributing columnist to The Harvard Business Review.