Marcus Sheridan, Ryan Hanley, Gini DietrichBy Gini Dietrich

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to share a stage with Marcus Sheridan at Social Media Marketing World.

If you’ve seen Marcus speak, you’ll understand when I say I was scared to death!

Marcus has a bigger than life personality. He is notorious for going into the audience and picking on people. Which, for an introvert, is the worst kind of session you can attend. You spend the entire time scared to death he’s going to pick on you.

Now imagine taking that fear to the stage…in front of 300 people.

Intimidating as all get out!

But I’m fairly certain Marcus and I were best friends in another life because we have that friendship where you can not see or speak to one another in months or years and then pick right back up where you left off.

Such was the case when we got up to talk about community building.

It wasn’t as scary as I thought. It was super fun. He teased me. I teased him. We debated the merits of community. And the audience had a good time, especially when I mimicked him and started picking on people.

In fact, I’m trying to convince him to do an encore here as a webinar (cough, cough!).

What better way to convince him than to have him sit on the Spin Suck Inquisition hot seat…and have you all guilt him into it!

What is the Biggest Mistake You’ve Made in Your Career?

With my swimming pool company, the biggest mistake was thinking that retail stores equated to success.

My mind was stuck in the 20th century mentality of “bricks and mortar mean Marcus is successful to the rest of the world.”

Uhhhm, no. Not even close.

Luckily, I realized after about seven years of having this mentality that retail, at least as we knew it, was never going to be the same and we instead needed to embrace a digital philosophy.

So I let the leases run out on my retail locations and centralized everything to one main office, with no retail.

What started out as the worst move we ever made (as it almost sunk us financially) ended up being our best move because so many other swimming pool company are still brick and mortar is the way to go instead of focusing on the web and all the magic that can come with the internet.

(Note: Five years ago, our swimming pool company averaged 2,000 visitors per month to the website. Today, we’re getting about 320,000 monthly. It’s the most trafficked swimming pool website in the world and this is how we did it.)

With respect to my marketing company, I think my biggest mistake at first was not clearly understanding what I was writing for.

When I started this in 2009, I often times wrote articles that were “socially cool,” but did little to nothing in terms of generating actual leads and customers.

Today, I write for leads and customers, which has made a big difference on the company’s revenue side and profits.

What is One Thing about Yourself that Would Surprise Most People?

Many people in the marketing space have seen me speak and think that’s always who I am – Mr. Ball-of-Energy guy who is bouncing off of walls.

Although I have my moments off stage as well, I’m actually a pretty chill guy most of the time, and would even consider myself on the shy side when I’m with a group of people I’ve never met before and who don’t know me either.

I guess my point is that we often times think we know someone when we hear them give a presentation or read a blog article of theirs when in reality everyone has different sides—be it in professional, family, or social settings—and it’s nice to get to know each.

If You Could Achieve Everything You Ever Wanted in Life, but Had to Die 10 Years Sooner, Would You Make that Trade?

That’s a tough answer. Ten years is a long time and I’d love to watch my grandkids grow and have an opportunity to positively influence them if I’m able, for as long as possible.

Plus, I feel like I’m going to run through the finish line, no matter how old that may be, which means I plan on making a difference somehow/someway until my last breath…At least, I hope that’s the case.

Plus, I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure it’s possible to fully check off everything that’s on your life’s bucket list, mainly because that bucket list is ever-changing, evolving, and growing.

What Industry Advice or Practice Would You Most Like to Cry Foul On?

There are so many!

For example, I hear people talk about “bullying” all the time and how it’s bad…and then I’ve seen these same people use their online platform to bully businesses that make a simple or dumb mistake.

I think everyone is a little guilty of this in some way, shape, or form, but I’ve seen a few folks that have made a living at digital bullying, and it bothers me.

Why are we so hard on businesses who are run by imperfect people when we ourselves are quite flawed and have our own set of issues?

This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t analyze businesses and be honest about our observations, but it does mean we should be sensitive to all parties involved and as respectful as possible.

I’m also not a fan of making businesses and individuals feel like everything they do in the digital or content marketing space has to be perfect.

I’m 36 years old and haven’t met a perfect human being in my life.

I’ve never written a perfect blog post or given the perfect presentation. Besides, we all need the chance to learn, grow, and figure things out. Notwithstanding, there is so much “It it’s not amazing, don’t publish it” crapola out there that it leads to more inaction than results, which is a crying shame.

What is the Best Book You’ve Read in the Past Six Months?

Wheat Belly…not a business book, but a book about the history of wheat and the societal problem of gluten, something I struggled with for years and since cutting out most gluten from my diet, it has made a huge difference on my health and energy levels.

Why Does Spin Suck?

This world is thirsting for honesty and transparency. You can’t find it in government. You don’t read about it on the news. But each and every one of us has an inner voice and radar that senses who is jerking our chain and who is keeping it real.

If businesses truly want to stand out in the digital age, their best “strategy” is to simply cut the crap and be real.

Novel concept, but true.

Where You Can Find Marcus Sheridan

You can find Marcus on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, and Slideshare.

You can read his blog at The Sales Lion or his book, Inbound and Content Marketing Made Easy.

You can listen to his podcast, Mad Marketing.

As well, he is putting on The Remarkable Growth Experience in November. It speaks to both sales and marketing teams and helps eliminate that silo. I’ve heard nothing but really great things about the first one.

We have two clients going and I’m considering sending one person from my team. Consider it!

photo credit: Ryan Hanley, who is also pictured

Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

View all posts by Gini Dietrich