Lessons from 120 book interviews in 10 weeks

book interviews

I’ve been interviewed more than 120 times in the last 10 weeks. That might seem amazing. Actually … it seems amazing to me! I’ve never been interviewed so much in my life and I probably never will be again, so I thought I would write to you about this strange and interesting moment in time. What did I learn from 10 weeks of non-stop talking? Why did all of this happen anyway? And … was 120 book interviews worth it?

Why me and why 120 book interviews?

In the famous Jim Collins book Good to Great, he talks about his famous concept of a flywheel. Collins says there is no single defining action, no grand program, no one killer innovation, no miracle moment that creates a successful business. Rather, the process resembles relentlessly pushing a giant, heavy flywheel, turn upon turn, building momentum until a point of breakthrough, and beyond.

What business activity keeps ramping your business up to the next level? For some, it might be product launches or certain sales activities. For me, it’s writing a book.

Every time I write a book, I am generating unique new ideas to talk about. I’ve published enough popular books by now (nine) that people look forward to what I have to say. I never write about common things — I deliver new insights — so I am a fun person to interview, and I work hard to create value for the hosts! Writing a book generates fresh interest in the Mark Schaefer brand and that leads to new opportunities.

Giving so many interviews in such a short period was a unique opportunity that may never come again. In non-pandemic times, I would be on the road right now. I’d be somewhere in the world speaking or consulting but since I’m COVID-grounded, I have a lot more time to say “yes” to interviews. And, I did!

That’s the why. What about the how?

book interviews

No speaking audiences. So I had to find another way to create awareness for the book!

How did I get placed on so many book interviews?

This is a weird answer. I don’t know for sure.

Out of the 120 interviews, there were just five that did not happen “organically.” What I mean by this is that I reached out to just five people and said, “can I be on your show?” The other 115 happened because people read my new book and were interested in talking to me.

So … it literally just happened. I didn’t even have to ask. But it wasn’t a random occurrence. Earning that attention shows the power of creating generous, helpful content consistently and building a personal brand. People know me and trust me through my content, and they know I’ll provide a great interview for their audience.

The interviews came in the form of:

  • Blog posts
  • Magazine articles
  • Podcasts
  • Livestreaming
  • Masterminds/book clubs
  • Video recordings

The vast majority of them were in the U.S. but about 30 percent were global including U.K., Ireland, India, Australia, Canada, Portugal, Spain, South Africa, and probably a few more I am forgetting.

Best practices

I knew I would be doing a lot of interviews about the book but I didn’t know what questions people would ask me. Cumulative Advantage isn’t a long book but it covers a lot of ground. To be prepared, I had a friend ask me questions in a practice interview so I could get a feel of what I could expect.

After just 3-4 interviews I had a feel for what people wanted to know and I could tell how my stories were being received. It didn’t take long to become comfortable … after all, I did know the material very well!

My favorite interviewers:

  1. Were prepared. They were extremely familiar with my previous work and my book. I appreciated their preparation!
  2. Explored the curious edges. They wanted to know how my ideas worked in a practical way in this world. The best interviewers asked me questions only I could answer. That’s what makes a great show.
  3. Created a conversation. One interviewer spent the first 10 minutes of our time together talking. Why was I there? It was unbalanced. I loved it when a show became a relaxed and balanced conversation.
  4. Surprised me with new takes and questions I have never had before. That always assures a unique show!
  5. Respected my time. In some cases, the hosts went way over our allotted and agreed-upon time. I was in a vulnerable situation — how do I end their show? This had a domino effect, making me late for the next meeting or interview.
book interviews

In my interview with DP Knudten, he demonstrated the best way to read my books — with lots of note-taking!

There was tremendous diversity in the interviews and all of them were special in their own way. A few stood out:

  • The talented and generous Jennifer Ast created a book club event for me in the Social Media Pulse Facebook community. I believe for the first time in any interview, I was teary-eyed when Jennifer Ast asked me about my mentoring activities. In fact, by the end, we were both crying as she asked me about the emotional final chapter of the book. Have you read it?
  • Ninder Johal is an entrepreneur and editor of Business Influencer magazine. We did a video/podcast/magazine interview and he took me down some deep, un-mapped paths of psychology and philosophy. It was a joy to connect to this intellectual challenge!
  • When I finished my interview with Jay Baer and Anna Hrach on the Social Pros podcast, I was spent but exhilarated. It covers a lot of ground and Jay and Anna were incredibly well-prepared.
  • My very first interview was with Douglas Burdett and his unmissable Marketing Book podcast. Douglas has elevated the book-related interview to a fine craft. If you want to learn how to do an interview, he is the master.
  • The Crux is a podcast hosted by two Boston University professors. This show was so unique because they were able to apply my ideas in Cumulative Advantage to PR and communication strategy.

There were amazing nuances and experiences in every single show. I tried to make every one of them unique and special in some way.

Was it worth it?

Measurement of a PR activity like media interviews is difficult. It’s almost impossible to directly attribute a live stream, blog post, or podcast to sales.

However, I see daily book sales reports and I could definitely see a lift associated with some of the bigger shows.

But there is a larger strategy here. In fact, it’s what the Cumulative Advantage book is all about! I wanted to create momentum.

In a chapter in the book called “Sonic Boom,” I relate how peak awareness in the digital world doesn’t necessarily occur over months or years. It usually happens over weeks. So my strategy was to put everything I had into promoting the book over a short period of time. In February and March, there was a good chance you would see a mention of my book … well, everywhere!

On top of these interviews, I also experimented with …

  • paid influencers (limited, but I liked the results)
  • organic influencers who are creators (definitely worked)
  • micro-influencers through an agency (definitely did not work)
  • paid PR support (bombed but not sure why)
  • Amazon advertising (works)
  • promotional video (who knows, but here it is >

… all of this helped contribute to the sonic boom, beyond the interviews.

Here’s a post if you’d like to read more about some of my specific book marketing techniques. Building early momentum gets the snowball rolling down the hill, gathering size and speed that keeps things moving into the future.

Setting the flywheel

There’s another reason why these interviews were an important centerpiece to my work. Normally, I would be making appearances at large conferences and events. I’d be doing book signings. But not during the pandemic. So I needed the accumulated volume of these interviews to somehow help me make up that deficit.

To understand the importance of launching this book, we have to go back to the flywheel idea. My success won’t be measured merely by book sales. This effort is ramping up every part of my business in some way and it might be years before I see all the results.

But here is how the flywheel works … an email from an association conference leader:

“Mark, I heard you on a podcast discussing your new book. I think this subject of Cumulaive Advantage would be perfect for our event. Can we have a conversation about having you return to our conference as our keynote speaker?”

Flywheel for the win.

Hope this insight helps. Thanks so much for your interest in me and my new book Cumulative Advantage.

Keynote speaker Mark SchaeferMark Schaefer is the executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions. He is the author of several best-selling digital marketing books and is an acclaimed keynote speaker, college educator, and business consultant.  The Marketing Companion podcast is among the top business podcasts in the world. Contact Mark to have him speak to your company event or conference soon.

Follow Mark on TwitterLinkedIn, and Instagram.

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