Tony Hughes – Building Your Personal Brand to Drive Sales Growth

Dallas McMillan Influencer Interviews Leave a Comment

Interview with Tony Hughes from RSVPselling

How Professionals Can Use Linkedin to Increase Sales & Grow Their Business

We live in an age of unpredicted transparency where employees, customers, investors and partners can easily click past the façade of our brand and online presence of the corporate entity. Internet review sites capture the sentiment of employees and customers, and it is vitally important for leaders and sales people to understand and leverage the power of social platforms to attract and engage clients, staff, partners and investors. The role of personal brand has never been more important and anyone without an authentic digital profile is viewed with suspicion. Those who create engaging personal brands that evidence their insight and values achieve the best levels of engagement and support. This webinar explores why everyone needs to create a strong online brand.

In this interview Tony and I discuss:

  • How is professional selling changing?
  • Why is building a strong personal brand so important for service professionals and sales professionals?
  • What makes Linkedin such a valuable platform for building your personal brand?
  • What are the most common mistakes you see in how people use LinkedIn?
  • Why is it important to create original content?

Tony Hughes is an international keynote speaker and the #1 influencer for professional selling in Asia-Pacific. He is also a best selling author and writes for Top Sales Magazine and other publications and websites.  In 2016 Tony was recognised as a Top 50 Sales and Marketing Blogger globally and is the most read LinkedIn Author on the topic of sales leadership. With more than 60,000 blog followers, Tony has also been listed as one of the top users of social media in business-to-business selling globally and teaches modernised selling for the University of Technology Sydney as part of their MBA program.

Tony is available for keynote speaking, delivering courses and workshops, or consulting to improve sales. With three decades of record breaking sales experience, Tony has also led business in the USA and Australia. His roles included Sales Director for public corporations and Managing Director leading the Asia-Pacific region for multi-nationals. Tony brings a proven track record in delivering results through strategy, methodology and disciplined execution. Tony’s LinkedIn profile has his background and credentials.

Tony Hughes the Joshua PrincipleLinks and Books Mentioned by Tony in this Interview:

Tony’s Linkedin Profile: www.linkedin.com/in/hughestony

Tony’s post on Linkedin Pulse Channels: www.linkedin.com/pulse/linkedin-really-worlds-1-blog-platform-tony-j-hughes

RSVPselling Website: www.RSVPselling.com

Tony’s Website & Blog: www.tonyhughes.com.au

The Joshua Principle Book: www.tonyhughes.com.au/author

David Meerman Scott’s Book: The New Rules of Marketing and PR: www.davidmeermanscott.com/books/the-new-rules-of-marketing-and-pr

Michael Hyatt’s Book: Platform: michaelhyatt.com/platform

Download the Interview Transcript:

Tony Hughes – Building a Personal Brand to Drive Sales Growth

Or read the transcript Below:

Digital Influence Tony Hughes

 

Dallas McMillan: Welcome to Digital Influence. My name is Dallas McMillan. Today, I am speaking to Tony Hughes who is known as one of AustralAsia’s leading [sales 00:00:09] influences. He’s been involved in selling for many years, but has recently transformed his visibility in his industry by working on his personal brand. Because that’s something we talk a lot about, and Tony is such a great case study, he’s agreed to come on the show and talk about how he’s used online media and blogging on LinkedIn and other strategies to build his brand and the way it’s impacted his career.

 

  Tony, welcome to the show. Thank you.

 

Tony Hughes: Thanks, Dallas, really good to be with you. I’m a fan of your show that you run.

 

Dallas McMillan: Terrific. Well, let’s start. Let’s get started just by talking a little bit about your background, what you do and how you got into this industry. Then later, we’ll talk about how your career trajectory has changed by getting really serious about building your online profile.

 

Tony Hughes: Yes, Dallas, and I know that you core market is really consultants that are out there as entrepreneurs, trying to drive their own business. They really need to be a jack of all trades so they’re delivering, consulting in services to clients, and as well as that, they obviously need, in their spare time, to build their own brand and obviously market and sell. Up until 3 years ago, I had a career spanning about 3 decades. I’ve owned my own companies here in Australia and the USA. For about the last 12 years before I went out on my own 3 years ago, I had various managing director roles, running the Asia Pacific region for technology companies out of North America. 3 years ago, I decided to pursue my dream and go out on my own, doing consulting.

 

  I published a book already that was a business best seller, and I developed some IP so my first piece of advice to people is you need to create some collateral that gives you credibility. You need some IP or frameworks or tools that you can go and build consulting around as a way of creating some leverage with your time and differentiating yourself. I had already done the hard work of creating those things, and I decided to punch the button on going out as a consultant on my own. About 18 months ago, I decided to get very serious about using social media to build my personal brand. Up until that time, I’ve been like, I guess a lot of people, very skeptical about social media who I basically regarded as narcissistic blasting and [spamming 00:02:32] that most people engage in. Then, it was just incredibly [time-poor 00:02:36]. I thought, “who really has the time to do all of this activity in social, and is there anybody really listening?”

 

  I’m going to talk a little bit today also about this book by David Meerman Scott. He was in Australia speaking for LinkedIn just last week, but it’s a brilliant book. That really [informed 00:02:56] my strategy for building so far, in 18 months, about 65,000 followers of my blog in the site LinkedIn. We can maybe talk a little bit later about why I blog on the LinkedIn platform rather than on my own website. Yes, that’s really my background.

 

Dallas McMillan: Fantastic. David Meerman Scott’s book is certainly a well-regarded [time 00:03:20]. I’ve read other books by people who have similarly been triggered with a career change or rethinking how they run their business as a result of reading that book over the last 5 years or so. What was it that made you think, “look, now it’s time to take social media seriously”? Was there a particular event, or was it just curiosity? What made you change from a skeptic to thinking it would be a great idea to get into that?

 

Tony Hughes: Well, the thing that actually happened for me is I was mentoring a client based in the USA. They had found my book online and read it. Then, they came and found me on my website. I was mentoring them once every 2 weeks via Skype. This person actually said to me that they loved my content and my IP, but they said “in America, no one’s really heard of you, and your content is better than anything else that they’ve read” was their opinion. They said, “well, why aren’t you busy in social?” I gave them all the standard excuses that people have. To cut the long story short, that person convinced me that I needed to get active in social to really attract and engage a marketplace. I’m working on a number of follow-up books, and I’m wanting to get a contract a New York book publisher.

 

  The reality of book publishing today is that it’s been dramatically disrupted by eBooks and audio books. A lot of book stores are just going out of business. The business model and the margins in traditional books has really changed. The reality is is that publishers are only interested in authors if they bring a big audience platform with them. There’s a guy called Michael Hyatt who has written a lot about this. He published an excellent book called Platform, but basically, any author needs to build a big platform of followers so that when a publisher publishes a book, they know that there’s going to be a lot of pull for the product in the marketplace. Because I wanted to get a book publishing contract, I realized I need to build big audience following.

 

  Just having good content isn’t enough. We need to go out and actually build an audience and engage with an audience. That was when I decided to adopt to pay it forward strategy and just give my intellectual property away and start to blog and publish basically everything that I know, and really build following. I wanted to move away from an interrupt and push kind of model of trying to sell and do business development and instead move to an attract and engage model through publishing on social platforms.

 

Dallas McMillan: Fantastic. Look, absolutely, that’s the approach I suggest as well. It’s great to have you echoing those sentiments. I wanted to just pick up a little bit on the book publishing thing because I have a lot of friends who have published books. A lot of them have self-published. Traditionally, people perceive that the publisher is going to do the promotion work for you, but the reality is even with quite successful authors, a lot of that burden rests on the author in terms of building, following and promoting the book. Even if you’ve got to pay publishing gig with a major publisher, there’s a huge amount of legwork required on half of the author. The benefits of having a traditional publisher, rather than self-publishing are often [understated 00:06:42]. Was your book published through a publisher or self-published?

 

Tony Hughes: I actually chose to self-publish not because I couldn’t get a publisher, but I wanted a long tail of sales. What a lot of people that are writing books don’t realize is that if you go to a publisher, you basically sign away your IP rights. The [stats 00:07:02] on book publishing are rather terrifying. There’s about 1 million English language books published in the world every year, and 95% of those books fail to sell even 500 copies. Now, it’s impossible to make money on the book unless you sell at least 500 copies. What that says is the failure rate is extremely high. Where book publishing has changed is very similar in the way that the music industry has changed.

 

  It’s not enough today for a band or an artist to get signed by a record label. Those artists and bands have got to go and build big following. The money has actually moved away from selling records, CDs or music on iTunes now. Where the big money is is actually in concerts. The whole music industry has really done a whole 360 where bands have got to build huge following, working hard, getting on the road, doing concerts. That’s what will create the pull through of sales for their online music. Instead of selling albums now, obviously, it’s individual songs, and it’s massively competitive. The book industry is very similar, so I chose to self-publish so that I didn’t sign away my rights to the book.

 

  What happens to most books that get published by a publishing house is 99% of them fail to ever get to a second printing or additional printings. The stock that goes to book shops is in essence, on consignment. Although the book shops are invoiced for the books, they can return them with the restocking fee. It’s basically consignment stock, and they have about a 5-month life in a book shop. Then, what typically happens is a lot of those books just get pulped. The author that signed away their rights to the publisher has to buy their own product back, or they just can’t get it in the future. What I chose to do was to self-publish and do a good job at marketing and promotion. I found a book distributor, and I managed which is really rare for an independently published book. I managed to get my book into airport lounges in Asia Pacific. I found a distributor who had relationships with the book shops that are in airports.

 

  I had a high [rebuttal 00:09:10] of self-publish, but find a distributor. For these downstream books, now that I’ve built a big audience following, actually, the truth is I’m not wanting the hassle of self-publishing. I’m going to go with the publisher really for that reason.

 

Dallas McMillan: Wow, there’s some fantastic tips in there. Thanks for sharing that. I’m sure people are interested in those details if they’re looking at writing a book. One thing I’ve noticed is that while people are often skeptical about social media and [wear it 00:09:38] for business, what I think you just can’t afford to miss is that social media is just such a perfect case study of what happens when these peer-to-peer technologies and changing social expectations, [infiltrating 00:09:52] industries. It’s happened to the media industry where you’ve just talked about books and music and of course, movies are going down the same path. I think it’s really important for anyone in any industry and obviously, professional services that’s, as I said, talk about it and which you will be familiar with as well that they see that this sort of disruption is inevitable when you meet the criteria of having sufficiently low-friction technology and social interactions that allow these things to happen. They just happen almost by themselves. As barriers to entry or monopolies are [loaded 00:10:30] by technology and globalization, this is sweeping through lots of industries.

 

  I love looking at social media, not just as a [tool 00:10:38], but in a case study of what happens to an industry that thinks, “oh, look. No one will ever stop going to the book store or going to the movie theater.”

 

Tony Hughes: Yes, many industries here are being disrupted, but professions themselves are being disrupted. There’s a father and son published a book. It’s in my bookshelf behind me. I want to turn around and try to find it, but it’s called The Professions. The surname of the father and the son is Suskind, S-U-S-K-I-N-D. They’ve written about how technology is disrupting professions. The reality is is that every single profession is subject to disruption. The people that will survive and prosper are the ones that get very good at embracing technology. If you, as a professional can have your knowledge and insights, but work with technology to improve your efficiency and the reach and the power of your network, that’s when you have a really good positive future. If you don’t embrace technology, the danger is you’d just be put out of business.

 

  As an example of this, if you have a look, for example, in the legal profession, a lot of what lawyers have done traditionally to make money is, for example, have a look at precedents. A client would typically go to a lawyer and say, “I’ve got this particular issue with a partner or an employee or a client. They’re threatening to sue me. Should I fight it? Should I settle?” What the law firm would do is go and have a look at precedent and come back with an opinion about the likelihood of success if they decided to fight and give them an estimate of what would be involved. Typically now, there’s search engines that automate that process of doing discovery and precedents, even things in merges and acquisitions where law firms would set up a deal room. They would go and do a due diligence in all of the contracts that are in place with the company being acquired, so that the acquiring company could assess risking contracts.

 

  Increasingly now, that’s all being digitized. That process is being automated and off-shored to lower cost labor markets, typically places like in the Philippines where that work can be done at far lower costs. When you have a look at globalization and the dismantling of trade boarders between countries in lower cost job markets. When you add to that the issue of technology being able to automate a lot of processes, that’s why a lot of professions are really at risk.

 

Dallas McMillan: Absolutely. Anyone out there thinking, “well, look. It’s not happening here, so it won’t happen to me.” I think that the risk is actually the longer it takes to hit you, the harder it’s going to [hit 00:13:10]. Things like banking and the legal profession, anywhere where you’ve had a monopoly which was imposed by legislation or by barriers to entry in terms of qualification. It delays that process, but then when it hits, those ivory towers are a long way to fall from.

 

Tony Hughes: Yes, that’s very true, and you work with the professional services industry, and I’ve got some clients in that arena, but I mainly specialize in working with sales people. For us to research in the USA, but with one of their analysts, a gentleman called [Andy Hore 00:13:46], did some research last year. They believed that within 4 years, 22% equates to more than a million people in the USA, but 22% of business-to-business sales people won’t have roles anymore. The reason is as everything drifts toward becoming a comodity where buyers are empowered, and it’s easy for them to jump online and do their homework. They’re not looking for just relationships with people. They’re not bored and lonely, looking for a new friend. They don’t typically need sales people either just to provide information. They can find that online.

 

  A lot of sales people are just going to fail to create the level of value that’s needed to fund their roles. Employees are going to move increasingly to inside sales models, and they’re going to think long and hard about how they can create great sales experience, both with mobile apps and technology and online and also content to attract and engage people much earlier in their buyer’s journey as they’re evaluating the market. They’re going to look at those things as a way of differentiating and creating sales, rather than just throwing money at expensive field sales people. Sales people are being disrupted as well.

 

Dallas McMillan: For sure. You’ve probably seen this coming, having read the New Rules of PR and Marketing. Obviously, you thought social media and building your online profile was some sort of hedge against your becoming redundant. How does it help having a great profile and being seen as an expert in your field?

 

Tony Hughes: Well, having a great online presence is really important. The reason it is is people have always done business with those that they know, like and trust. The quality of a person’s network has always been important as they go and seek to drive business. We all know that cold-calling is both brutal and also depressing. Cold-calling stats are very sobering, so the success rate of just jumping on the phone and cold-calling to try and generate business is currently trekking at about 2.6%. It’s getting worse every year, so it’s fairly low productivity. Any professional really wants to help people, but this whole idea of interrupting someone and trying to push your message at them is really quite difficult. The reason an online brand is important is really for a couple of reasons.

 

  Yes, we want to put content out there that attracts and engages people, but there’s a more important reason, and it’s this. 75% of the time, anyone who is considering doing business with us is going to check us out online before they choose to return their phone call or take the meeting or before they see us face to face. 3 quarters of the time, they’re going to look online. Then, the question is what do people see when they find us? Do they see a credible person of genuine insight and great values that’s worth meeting with? Do they [simply see 00:16:47] someone that’s really too low a caliber? That’s why having a strong digital presence is really important. Most people make the mistake of treating their LinkedIn profile as an online CV. We need to instead treat LinkedIn as a personal branding microsite.

 

  About 85 to 90% of the white collared professionals in Australia, for example, have got LinkedIn profiles. There’s about 430 million members of LinkedIn worldwide. There’s 2 people who join in a second. If you search or also if you Google anybody’s name online, often they’re LinkedIn profile is the first thing that comes up. The first thing I recommend to people is go and look at your LinkedIn profile very critically, and think about it in terms of a personal branding microsite. You want to have a business-friendly head shot photo there. You don’t have a glamour photo or an old photo of when you were at a wedding or something. You don’t have a macho photo if you’re a male. You don’t have a photo of you riding a motorbike or something. It’s business-friendly, so smiling and well-lit and in-focus. You want to have a headline. Most people treat their headline as their job description or their title, but you want to have a headline that speaks to the value that you provide people.

 

  You want to make sure your contact details are accurate. You want to customize your LinkedIn URLs. You can put that in all of your e-mail signatures and on your business card. You want to make sure you fill in the summary panel inside LinkedIn. In that summary panel, you don’t put your work history, but you basically talk about the value that you offer those you serve. If you’re an employee, you talk about the value you would offer an employer. If you’re an entrepreneur or professional services person, a professional that’s engaging clients directly, you talk about the value you offer your clients when in the first paragraph. In the second paragraph, you talk about the values by which you operate. The next thing I recommend to people is that they need to publish at least 2 or 3 posts.

 

  There’s 2 ways of publishing content in LinkedIn. You can publish updates, which is a greater way of working with other people’s content, but you can also publish your own article. What you need to think about is what are the insights that you have that you could offer people? What are the common objections that you would get from people in trying to do business with them? Then, write something that’s positively opposite to that because I really believe that the smartest people proactively deal with objections before they ever come up, rather than trying to deal with them at the time. Publishing content is a way of really setting a gender around the business value that you offer, the values by which you operate and why a conversation with you should matter to your market.

 

  In essence, what you’re doing there is you’re setting the agenda before you meet with the person. I encourage people. If you get an appointment with somebody, e-mail them to confirm the meeting. Encourage them to go and have a look at a particular post within your LinkedIn profile or to have a look at your LinkedIn profile in advance of meeting. If you do all of these well, what it means is when you turn up for that face-to-face meeting or you have that phone call, you’ve earned the right already to just focus on them and their needs and what’s going on in their world rather than having to feel like you’ve got to sell yourself before you’ve earned the right to ask any questions. Personal brand is really important for 2 reasons. 75% of the time, people check us out. We want to set an agenda, build trust, establish value early online rather than wait face to face. The other reason is we can actually attract leads by attracting and engaging people through the content that we publish.

 

Dallas McMillan: Fantastic. I think it’s really important, especially again for those professional services market. They rely so much on referrals from past clients or from professional colleagues that even with the referral, people then want to check you out online. In many ways, this is like a [hygene 00:20:41] step. People want to make sure it’s safe, that it’s okay to work with you. That just sets their mind at rest. It’s very much just about ticking the box, so in many ways, just having your LinkedIn profile doesn’t need to be perfect. It needs to be more than adequate that it addresses those concerns. People feel safe and secure, and then we’ll go forward. If it’s been a referral, then you’ll have all that extra trust that comes with that, but it’s been backed up. They can see why someone has recommended you. If someone says, “oh, you should talk to Tony. He’s a great sales person. He’s a great speaker about the topic of sales.” Then, I go to your LinkedIn profile, and all that’s confirmed and more. Then, I can rest very easy and know I’ve been referred to the right person.

 

Tony Hughes: Yes, yes. I agree 100%.

 

Dallas McMillan: Fantastic. With the LinkedIn blog post, that’s a really important new development on LinkedIn over the last couple of years. One of the challenges that I hear from people is that they’re not getting the [viewership 00:21:47] of their LinkedIn publisher post that they used to. What’s been your experience there, Tony?

 

Tony Hughes: Yes, my experience is the same. Basically, what’s happened is LinkedIn is just taking off and becoming incredibly popular. Obviously, LinkedIn was purchased recently by Microsoft for over 12 thousand million dollars, more than 12 billion dollars. They’ve paid for LinkedIn. LinkedIn is incredibly popular. The reality is we need to earn followers. It’s much easier to generate following 6 months, 18 months ago. Well, about 18 months ago is when they first made publishing available beyond just to select few. Now, there’s about 1.2 million LinkedIn that actively publish original content inside LinkedIn. There’s a couple of tips I’m happy to really give people from my own experience.

 

  I’ve had an individual post have up to a quarter of a million reads. Again, 65,000 followers, and I’ve published 300 blog posts in just over 18 months inside LinkedIn. I’ve done a lot of A and B testing of lots of different strategies. The conventional wisdom when you do a LinkedIn blog post is you want to go for somewhere between 600 and 1,200 words is really my view. Some people will say you can go as low as 400, but I’ve had blog posts I’ve published that are well over 2,000 words that have done incredibly well. The main thing is you’ve got to focus on quality content. Do not publish rubbish. It’s got to be good content, so 600 to 1,200 words. You want to make sure that you’ve got an image in the post that grabs someone’s attention.

 

  If anybody has a look at my LinkedIn profile, you’ll see an example of how I publish posts. I’ve got a number of posts in there that explain everything I’m about to say now, so you can go and have a look at that, including a post about how to build a strong personal brand that we talked about a few minutes ago. You want to have a really good image that attracts attention. You want to have a headline that actually grabs someone’s attention, things that lists, so the 5 things, the 7 things, the 3 things for whatever reason tend to get better readership. You want to have 7 to 12 images embedded inside the post. Bullet points work well, and the other thing that’s important too is whenever you’re right, always think about “who’s my audience? What’s my main point? Why is it important? What do I want them to do about it?” The thing that’s critical is in answering the question, “what do I want them to do about it,” you mustn’t sell to people in social.

 

  The biggest turn off, the biggest thing that would damage your brand and damage following is if you push aggressively on people and try and sell. If every single post, your pop-up says, “well, of course the reason I know this is because of my wonderful methodology or intellectual property. Click here. Buy this. Go to my website.” If all of that’s too overt, you’ll certainly damage following, but think about what you want people to do. Then, at the bottom, when you publish a post, you get the opportunity to publish 3 pieces of metadata tagging. You can have 3 different tags. Now, they’re predefined tags by LinkedIn, but if you started to type in a word, so “consulting” or “professional services,” you’ll see what the choices are. They come up. If your headline matches the taggings, so if you had, for example, the 7 sins of professional services. Then, at the bottom in the tagging, you had “professional services consulting, professional services marketing, professional services strategy.” If they were to [make 00:25:30] metadata tagging terms are available, then you’ve got a post that matches.

 

  The way their LinkedIn platform works is there are real human beings. There’s LinkedIn editors. I think most of them are based in either New York or San Francisco. They monitor LinkedIn’s pulse channels. You may hear the LinkedIn publishing platform describe as pulse. It’s not LinkedIn Pulse. It’s LinkedIn publisher, so LinkedIn publisher is the platform that we publish blogs in, but they have pulse channels. Again, I’ve got a LinkedIn post that describes what all of these channels are. There’s a link to go and have a look at them, but for example, they’ll have a LinkedIn channel on innovation, for example. If you want to get picked up by that pulse channel, you’d want to have innovation in your title, innovation in your tagging and have an image that would be interesting to someone that cares about innovation.

 

  LinkedIn have an algorithm that starts to pick up posts. That algorithm then pushes is to the editors. They manually decide that they’ll push into these pulse streams. If you want a high readership, you’ve got to get into a pulse stream. It’s really important. Now, the other thing I’ll share is that if you want the algorithm to pick up something you publish, the amount of times that it’s, in essence, liked and share and commented on in the first 12 hours of being published has a significant impact. It’s not dissimilar to Facebook in regards. When people get frustrated that they’re not getting the amount of readership, that they think their post deserve. They need to think about a publishing strategy.

 

  We talked before about the strategy for publishing a book. You need a strategy behind what you do with publishing posts. I often say to people, “don’t just get busy in social. Its’ very easy to be the busy fool and create a whole lot of noise that does nothing for you at all. You need a strategy behind what you’re doing.” That’s why David Meerman Scott’s book, the New Rules of Marketing and PR is so good. That helped me start to build my strategy, as did Michael Hyatt’s book platform. I really thought about where is my market? For me, and I’d argue for most of the people listening to this, our market is in LinkedIn. Everybody we want to get to is typically in LinkedIn, so we need the [nuanced 00:27:44] strategy for using LinkedIn well, but from a [grinding 00:27:47] point of view, establishing the gender point of view and then attract and engage with publishing point of view. It’s a much deeper topic, but that’s a little bit of an overview.

 

Dallas McMillan: That’s fantastic. There’s a few tips in there I hadn’t heard before. I was aware of the editorial board, but the pulse channels was something I wasn’t aware of. Can you tell us anything about the editorial calendar? I understand there’s content themes that they cycle through, and that if you align with those, you’ll do better as well.

 

Tony Hughes: Yes, so LinkedIn actually invited to be an author, so I’ve been in their author program for some time. That absolutely is true, but they don’t publish that calendar out. It’s pretty hard for people to actually know what that is and how to write for it. The thing I believe is think more in terms of your audience. It’s all about your audience in your target market.

 

  If you’re a professional services person doing consulting and services in the accounts payable and financial area of low gender prices, you’d be thinking about, “okay, so my audience is the CFO. I’m tagging in these kinds of vertical industries. What is it that they care about? What are the topics they care about? Then, who are the people that they would follow in social? I need to get myself connected to those people. I need to start sharing that content through LinkedIn updates. Then, also publish my own original posts with my own content so that my market start to see me as a content aggregator.” Basically, if they feel they’re really busy, and they don’t have time to go looking in social everywhere, they think, “well, at least if I follow Dallas, he aggregates a whole lot of great content from others.”

 

Dallas McMillan: Fantastic, and thinking of your own publishing, one of the questions people often ask about LinkedIn publisher is “should I republish content from my website,” or “can I republish content from my LinkedIn post to another location?” They’re concerned about duplicate content issues. You’ve explored this and come to a decision in your own journey. Could you share what you did first and what you do now?

 

Tony Hughes: 18 months ago, I decided to stop blogging on my website all together, primarily because I didn’t want the work of posting in 2 places at 1 time, but I also did not want to suffer from the duplicate content problem. Now, the duplicate content issue is not as big a problem as people think it is. I’ll talk about that in a moment, but my main driver was go and be where my audience is. I’ll just give you an example of the power of this. I don’t whether you remember that Qantas A380 Airbus flight out of Singapore QF32 a couple of years ago where one of the Rolls Royce engines exploded. They managed to get the plane back on the ground at Singapore safely, but I used to be a pilot, so I found all of that interesting, but kept Richard de Crespigny who was the command pilot of that flight lives in Sydney.

 

  The thing that fascinated me was when they got that plane back on the ground, he went into, I think it was the business class and first class lounges. He spoke to all of the passengers. He’s co-pilot, [Matt 00:31:04] went and spoke with all of the economy passengers. What Richard de Crespigny did is he said to them that “when you fly Qantas, you’re flying with the premium airline. You have every right to expect a much better level of service, a much better experience.” he said, “right now, there’s a thousand Qantas employees that are rallying to find you hotel rooms. We’re going to try and get your bags. We’re going to give you vouchers to buy toiletries and clothing because you will need to stay overnight.” He said to people, “I want you to get your phone out now or get a pen and paper. I’m going to give you my mobile number.”

 

  Now, he gave every passenger his mobile phone number. He said, “if Qantas doesn’t treat you the way that you believe you deserve to be treated flying on [assets 00:31:41] of premium airline, I want you to call me.” Now, the interesting thing was that not one person phoned him, but for me, I just thought this was a great example of someone representing the brand of their employer, jumping into marketing and brand representative motive. I know it’s technically not their job. I wrote a case study about all of this, and I thought it was a really good white paper. I put it up on my website. In about a 15-month period, I had less than a hundred downloads or reads of that white paper. Now, when I implemented this strategy 18 months ago, one of the early posts that I put up was I repurposed that white paper as a blog post in LinkedIn. It’s had about quarter of a million reads in LinkedIn [I’ve had 00:32:23] thousands of shares.

 

  It’s just been incredible, but that’s the power of rather than expecting people to come and find you on your little no-name, non-descript website because there’s so many websites out there. There’s so much noise. Go and be where your market is. I decided to go build audience following in LinkedIn with the strategy of always bringing people back to my website later. Just in the last month, I’ve changed platforms. I used to be on an older platform [quadruple 00:32:53] from my website. I’ve changed to a product called square space. It’s quite similar WordPress, and that is designed for blogging. I created a tonyhughes.com.au website, and my sales methodology website is rsvpselling.com website. They’re both built on blog platforms, and I’m not duplicating my older content onto my websites and in a way that you can search for content.

 

  I’ve got over 300 posts, so if you’re going to search on a particular topic, you can’t really do that in LinkedIn. You just got to scroll through, having a look. I’m indexing all of those posts now in my website, so it’s a place where people cam easily find content about a particular subject.

 

Dallas McMillan: Terrific, Tony. That’s a great answer. As you mentioned, the duplicate content issue really isn’t as bad as people worry about. You can always put a link back to your site. Do you have any suggestions of publishing first? Then later, to your website.

 

Tony Hughes: Yes, so in my view, don’t be paranoid about the duplicate content, but make sure there’s about a 90-day gap. If you’re going to publish on 1 platform before the other, just make sure there’s a 90-day gap. Also make sure that you cross-link those 2 pieces of content together. That way, the Google algorithm will see that you’re not trying to [gain 00:34:17] the system and trick Google. You’re open about the fact that this is a duplicate of what was published and both of these are you. The reason the Google algorithm publishes duplicate content is it does it because it’s trying to stop marketers who are trying to [gain 00:34:35] the Google algorithm by putting up lots of different sites, all with exactly the same content. If it’s obvious that you’re linking to each other, that problem tends to go away.

 

Dallas McMillan: For sure, and the duplicate penalty is a little misnamed. It’s really a lack of credit rather than a penalty, even in the worst case scenario. It shouldn’t slow people down too much, but I just thought I’d pull up your website on the screen here too, Tony, so people can see. This is tonyhughes.com.au, and I’ve clicked through to the leadership blog. As I’ve heard you mention before, the big advantage of moving your own platform is that you can manage and organize the content how you want, so you can make it easier for people to find what they want or find the articles that you want to get out there most of all, which is really hard to achieve in LinkedIn.

 

Tony Hughes: Yes, exactly. I’ve actually got a search bar on the blog on my own website so that people can actually search, yes.

 

Dallas McMillan: Great, and while we’re here, I’ll just check out the RSVP selling website. There are a ton of sales, resources and a really good quiz which I did the other day on your B2B Selling Readiness as well. I really encourage to check out rsvpselling.com and tonyhughes.com.au.

 

Tony Hughes: Thank you.

 

Dallas McMillan: One of the things that you on the map really with your sales work and as a sales trainer and expert on sales leadership is your book, the Joshua Principle. Can you tell us a bit about your book?

 

Tony Hughes: Yes, so I think everyone’s got a book in them, and I have a huge amount of respect for anybody who just manages to finish writing a book, let alone, get it published, right? It’s a huge [fit 00:36:21] to get one done. I think anyone who is a consultant aspiring to leadership should probably do a book. They’re not easy to write. I went through a journey myself in publishing my book where I’ve got about 40% done, got frustrated with the process, stopped for about 18 months, dusted it off and started reading it again after that time and just really didn’t like what I was writing. It was just like all of the other books out there. What I decided to do was to, instead of writing a book that was more like textbook, I decided to tell a great true story.

 

  The book I published is written as a novel. It’s really a father and son story about a [better 00:37:02] sales guy who’s about to get fired who finds a mentor and gets coached both in his personal life and also on how to run large, complex strategic sales, and be it in a [sixth 00:37:14] printing, it’s had incredible endorsements from people like Professor Neil Rackham and a whole pile of other people. It’s been really great.

 

Dallas McMillan: That’s fantastic. What motivated you to write the novel version? I was going to say fiction, but it’s [partly 00:37:32] based on a true story. I understand it’s a much harder book to write than the [His 00:37:37] 10 Steps to Boosting Your Sales.

 

Tony Hughes: Yes, and again, I just encourage people. If you’re going to publish a book, don’t publish something that’s rubbish. Really take the time to publish something you’re truly proud of. I think there’s a lot of people out there that claim to provide frameworks and methodologies just to rapidly pump out book, right? I think if you’re going to do one, it’s worth doing well. The reason I adopted that format is that people learn through 1 of 2 means. They learn through the repetition or they learn through emotional impact. I decided to tell an emotionally powerful story that people really couldn’t forget. I had 1 gentleman who is … I won’t tell who he is because it’s an embarrassing story for him, but he was the managing director of quite a large company. He was on a flight coming back from Singapore to Sydney.

 

  He was reading the last chapter of the book, the culmination of the story. He was crying so much that the flight staff on the airplane kept asking him whether he was okay. It’s not the kind of book you read on the bus. Well, certainly not the last chapter is what you read on the bus, but the reason I did that is people remember the story, and they, therefore, remember the lessons. What I wanted was an intuitive framework that people could basically execute on the back of a napkin in a coffee shop when they’re trying to manage a complex opportunity that they’re wanting to win.

 

Dallas McMillan: Fantastic, and it really is a great introduction to this, both the newest style of selling, but also too complex sales versus transaction sales. In many ways, what we’re saying with disruption of various industries, including sales and professional services is that we’re seeing a split into the low value commodity work, which people are expecting to be fast, easy and cheap and the higher end work which does require an expert and people are more prepared to pay for. You’ve pretty much got to pick where you want to put your energy and decide to be chasing the numbers in a race to the bottom or focusing on high-value transactions that leverage your unique skills or gifts.

 

Tony Hughes: Yes, that’s very true. I agree with that.

 

Dallas McMillan: Terrific. We’re really focusing on building your profile here. Tell us a bit about how important the book has been for your profile and how it ties into your online activities because a lot of [people 00:40:08] would think the book is sort of a … It’s a very traditional approach. It’s an approach that’s been around for a hundred years is a way to build your business and longer, of course, but the social media thing is very new. How do they work together?

 

Tony Hughes: I actually think that anybody building their brand in the professional services arena should really focus on blogging before they think about a book. The really good thing about a blog is people don’t expect to blog to be a perfectly edited piece of work. You’re really sharing your thoughts, all right, so you’re [ideating 00:40:44] your ideas in blogs. Now, you do need to proofread blogs to make sure they’re of a certain standard, but they don’t need to be the standard of a book. I would really encourage people to start blogging about their ideas and through the process of blogging every 12-month period, you’ll really start to refine and hone your ideas to the point where you can then get it into a book.

 

  Now, a book is not just a collection of blogs at all, but blogging is a great way of exercising that muscle and becoming good at writing. Very few people are good at writing. I’m not naturally good at it. It’s actually a really hard work for me to write well. It doesn’t just naturally flow, but I think if you get the discipline of basically writing or blogging everyday, even every week, initially, just get 1 blog post at a week. Make sure it’s all about your clients and their world, not really about yourself. That’s where you get resonance with the market that you’re approaching. Use blogging as a way of getting good at writing. Then, use blogging as a way of refining your ideas that you would then eventually put into a book. Then, just set the goal and just get it done.

 

  It’s very affordable to self-publish today and obviously, with eBooks, so there’s lots of really good platforms that enable you to do book publishing really, really well rather than go to a publisher. Then, you can have that book as an eBook on your website and all of the other things. I think a book is a good credibility piece, but I believe that blogging is actually far more powerful, commercially.

 

Dallas McMillan: Okay, that’s really interesting. I heard in another interview with you that you said you didn’t want to just write any book and that this book took a lot longer to create than you expected. In many ways, blogging bridges the gap and lets you be producing content and seeing some quick wins, rather than spending 3 years locked in your basement, writing quotes that might never see the light of day.

 

Tony Hughes: It’s true, and that book I published, actually, it took me 4 years to write and 2 editors. The initial version I thought I was happy with was 120 thousands, and we got it down to about 87,000 words. Just that process is long and difficult as well, but you’ve really got to be committed to writing a book. Again, my big thing is if you’re going to do it, make sure that you write a good one.

 

Dallas McMillan: Fantastic. I know. I’ve been working on a book for a few years, myself. At first, I thought I had some good ideas, but when I got them down on paper, I thought, “look, this is actually pretty similar to things that are already out there.” We really need more of this. It took me time to develop my own IP and approach and test that more thoroughly before I was confident and could zone in on something that I could offer a unique perspective on.

 

Tony Hughes: That’s exactly my journey. When I got frustrated, put it down, went back a year and a half later and started reading. I just thought the same thing that you did. I thought, “wow, this is just like all the other stuff out there.”

 

Dallas McMillan: Fantastic. That covers why we should create original content. Do you have any tips you want to leave us with or things to avoid doing when we’re building our personal brand or using LinkedIn to help us drive sales in our business?

 

Tony Hughes: Yes, so just some of the obvious things. Never plagiarize. Never breach copyright. When you have your main image in your LinkedIn blog posts or on blog posts on your own website, so that main headline image that you use, make sure you go to one of the websites that provides common use license images. There’s websites like Flickr, F-L-I-C-K-R.com. There’s a bunch of other websites as well. When you look at images, just have a look at the top of license associated with imaging, on a common use license. What that means is you can use the image with attribution. If you have a look at my LinkedIn profile, just go to the Tony Hughes LinkedIn profile. Any of my posts, if you just hover your mouse up in the top left edge of the main image, you’ll see that it says “Flickr.” Then, it attributes source.

 

  Don’t breach copyright. Don’t plagiarize, and the other thing is don’t go negative. One of the things you see in Twitter, for example, is it just becomes a bit of a sewer of negativity with people when they talk about social issues. People can be negative in business. Facebook is slightly more positive, and LinkedIn, I regard as very professional. LinkedIn is well-moderated environment. If people are either being nasty or being trolls, it’s very easy to completely disconnect from those people. You can report on platforms like LinkedIn, but by all means, be provocative and be controversial, but always stay positive are really my main tips.

 

Dallas McMillan: Terrific. Well, I’ll just share the screen to show people those recommendations. I’ll also just show how to do a Google image search for safe images to use. If you type in a Google search term such as sales. Then, select images here, so I do an image search. You can then click on search tools, and you can modify your search by usage rights. You can say “labeled for non-commercial reuse” or “label for non-commercial reuse with modifications.” That’s a bit of a [neater 00:46:23] way to search lots of things, including Flickr and other websites that offer common usage. Let’s go and check out Tony’s profile. While I’m here, Tony, I might just talk through a couple of things.

 

  What you were saying in summary is that your profile needs to be, almost a billboard for you as a product or a service provided. It should read almost like an ad or a billboard and what you can do for who. If you scroll down to your LinkedIn posts here, it’s great if they’re on topic for what people are expecting to find from you. If I’ve been introduced to Tony as someone who’s an expert on sales, then these posts very much reinforce that message. We’ve got a bit of social proof here with your 65,922 followers today. Then, in your description, you followed your own advise with those paragraphs about the value your provide, the values that drive you rather than it, being a description of your work history or something like that.

 

Tony Hughes: Yes, exactly, thank you. Yes, and with those 3 blog posts that people can see there, there’s a little button that says “see more.” That’s when it expands out, and you can see the 300, but if you hover over one of the banner images of, maybe the most recent post I just published this morning. This one is Management: the Weak Link [in 00:47:59] the Revenue Chain. Sorry, it’s just at the bottom of the image. Sorry that changed the layer, but yes, you can see it write “just a tribute source.”

 

Dallas McMillan: Terrific. Yes, that’s a great tip. Actually, something you mentioned was the number of images you use in a post, so 7 to 11, was that?

 

Tony Hughes: Yes. See, one is 6 to 7 images where ever you possibly can. You can see I’ve just embedded some images in here. Right at the top there, you can see I’ve also embedded a YouTube video. The LinkedIn publisher platform is really elegant. You can embed YouTube videos as well. The thing in life is that we see what we’re looking for, if you decide that “I am going to start to publish content as a way of attracting my market and providing value for them,” you’ll just be committed to continuous learning. As you’re looking and reviewing information everyday whether on the train or on the bus or waiting at an airport. When you find things, you can use simple tools like Buffer to simply click a button and load it into cached content. It will get published automatically for you in that updates facility within LinkedIn and also out to your business Facebook page and Twitter and also Google+ which helps with search engine optimization, so they come up in rankings.

 

  If you’re looking for content, you’ll see it everywhere. You’ll think, “wow, here’s a really good video I just found on YouTube. I could write a bit of commentary around all of this and then publish it.” What you’ve got now is a multimedia blog post that’s got some commentary, a video they can look at, some interesting images and in essence, make it snackable for people so they can just easily have a browse, have a look at the video. They get both informed and entertained. That’s really the approach that you should be taking. Think like a magazine publisher. Don’t just think LinkedIn. Also think about YouTube. YouTube is massively powerful, and it’s the second most popular search platform in the world as well.

 

  I know for myself, when I’m looking at solving problems, I’ve actually had a blocked tear duct in my left time for a long, long time. It’s just annoying me. I was thinking, “how do I go and get this fixed?” I jumped onto Google, but then into YouTube and just did a whole heap of research. I found an eye clinic guy that’s near where I live that I’m going to go and see. Again, my buyer’s journey just all started online. It didn’t start with me going and seeing [a GP 00:50:42], but YouTube was one of the places I went and searched to try and find information.

 

Dallas McMillan: Absolutely, and that really is the shift in how people search for [truths 00:50:56] and buy our products and services that we need to take into account. I might just share this screenshot of doing Buffer as well. It’s one of my favorite tools. I’ve got a little app that creates a Buffer share [of our 00:51:13] images. It’s a browser plugin, but otherwise, I could just type this link into Buffer. Buffer then just hooks up to my social networks. I really like using the power scheduler which let’s you choose you want to post a specific network. You can see, very easily having clicked on that image, it brings up a preview of the post I’ll be publishing to Twitter, Google+ and other things. For my own content, I would push it out to all my networks, and then repeat it on Twitter every few days as well with the new LinkedIn post. It’s a great way to syndicate your content to lots of social sites.

 

  As you said when you first published that LinkedIn post, the LinkedIn algorithm is looking for activity on that post within the first 12 to 24 hours. If it’s hot, it will get pushed up to the top, just like in Facebook. If you publish something, you want to be then sending it out to your e-mail list, sending it out to your social media profiles, asking friends to share it if it’s really important. For example, if you’re putting on an event or doing a build-up for a launch. Then, getting some social support from your network can really help. They are great tips to improve your visibility and reach on LinkedIn.

 

  Well, Tony, we have talked for heaps of time, and we should go on, but I’m conscious of the time. I really appreciate you coming on and sharing this incredible journey you’ve had with LinkedIn and building your profile. If people want to know more about what you do, what services do you offer? Do you have training programs? I know you do keynote speaking, and people can buy your book. What are the ways that people can work with you if they wanted to learn more?

 

Tony Hughes: Yes, so my typical market is really business-to-business sales organizations, so I really help sales teams modernize the way that they go to market through building strong personal brands, increasing the reach and efficiency in how they try to go and build pipeline and then manage big complex opportunities. I also do a lot of keynote speaking. Last month, I was speaking at a big international conference in London. Anybody wanting to modernize the way that they and their sales teams sell, if they want to go and fix the revenue problem inside their business, that’s really what I focus on. People can find me in LinkedIn, obviously, so Tony Hughes in LinkedIn or at my speaker website, tonyhughes.com.au or at rsvpselling.com.

 

Dallas McMillan: Fantastic. I’ve just done that sales readiness quiz which was fantastic. Are there any other downloads or anything people should check out on your websites?

 

Tony Hughes: Yes, I’ve got a whole pile of free content. I’ve got white papers, but really, everything I know, I publish in blog posts. Jumping into my LinkedIn profile and then clicking that see more button, and then you see approximately 300 posts. You can just browse that, but basically, anything people want to know about complex selling, leadership, social selling, I know that’s a crazy term, social selling, but leveraging social platforms to generate revenue in a far better way. I’ve got lots and lots of content about that. How to publish blog posts, insights about the LinkedIn algorithm, things on personal brand. I’ve got lots of content there, so people don’t need to pay me any money to get that. They can just go and get all of that content for free.

 

Dallas McMillan: Fantastic, so the first action step for people is to go and follow you on LinkedIn and make sure they’re getting all your recent posts. I really look forward to seeing what’s to come and seeing your journey. Thanks again, Tony and really fantastic to have you on the show.

 

 

Tony Hughes – Building Your Personal Brand to Drive Sales Growth

 

Interview URL:

https://digitalinfluence.com.au/tony-hughes-building-your-personal-brand-to-drive-sales-growth/

 

Video URL:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X7jg6rQT06Y

 

See more Digital Influence Interviews:

https://digitalinfluence.com.au/interviews/

 

 

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