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CHAPTER 8

JABS AND RIGHT HOOKS

IN THIS CHAPTER, I TALK ABOUT THE NUMBER-ONE RULE FOR SALESPEOPLE, THE POWER OF THE ASK, AND HOW TO AMPLIFY YOUR AUDIENCE’S WORD OF MOUTH.

What more could I possibly say about this?

Jab: the content you put out that entertains, distracts, attracts, informs, or otherwise engages and builds a relationship between you and your audience. It builds your brand, raises people’s awareness of who you are and what you represent, and opens people up to receiving a right hook when the time is right.

Right hook: the content you put out that brings in the sale. The one that offers the 10 percent off, or announces the new line, or merely says, “Buy my stuff.”

It sounds so simple, but to make jabs and right hooks land with enough impact requires finesse, good improv skills, and a deep understanding of the psychology behind every platform you use. A jab on Pinterest will look completely different from one thrown on Twitter. A right hook on Instagram won’t work if it’s just something you recycled from Facebook. Each platform speaks to its users in a different way, and you have to learn the language. A short scan on any platform shows me that most people still aren’t fluent.

Want more details? Read my third book, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook.

The end.

imageWhat’s the best advice you can give salespeople in the social media/digital world age?

Don’t skip this one if you don’t think of yourself as a salesperson, because if you’re running a business or trying to make money of any kind, you’re in sales, and here’s the cardinal rule everyone in sales needs to follow: Don’t close too early.

Most people don’t jab—bring value—enough before pulling back for that right hook—going in for the sale. They’re less concerned with providing value than with making the sale, and it backfires every time. Why did I decide to do The #AskGaryVee Show? Did I miss the limelight? I already get plenty of media attention, so that wasn’t it. It was because I knew that a lot of entrepreneurs, managers, and marketers were still out there looking for guidance and inspiration, and I realized there was a format I could use to reach them that I hadn’t tried yet. I thought it might not only be helpful, but fun, too. You want to be tactical, but you have to practice the religion of providing value first. How many people put out stories, give free stuff, or engage with people? Probably quite a lot. Now, how many do that without any expectations in return? Very, very few. Be one of those few. When you have no expectations people can sense it, and funny enough, the absence of pressure or obligation actually makes them want to reciprocate.

That’s the best advice I can offer. But I have other advice, too:

1.Sweep the leg, like in The Karate Kid (the original with Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita, not the newer one with Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan). That’s literally how I think about it when I’m gearing up for a right hook. You have to go in for the kill. With what? Honesty. Don’t bashfully tread around the question. Don’t try to be cute.

Just. Freaking. Ask.

If I were the CEO of Toyota (and I’m being very serious here), my Super Bowl ad would sound something like this: “Hey. I’m Gary Vaynerchuk and I’m the CEO of Toyota. I want you to buy my cars. What do I have to do to make that happen? Let us know.” To me, that is a good Super Bowl commercial. Forget the pony. Forget the eagle and the cute dog. All of that distracts us from the main question, which is: What can I do to get your business? In addition, it would be so radically different in style and tone from the other commercials it would likely get a huge reaction.

2.Learn about Facebook ads because the segmentation is incredible. Turn to Chapter 10 to learn more about them.

3.Use Twitter Search to act as your bionic ears. Let’s say you’re biking across Canada for Pencils of Promise and documenting daily videos on YouTube, like one fan I spoke with on the show. If you want donations but you don’t want to throw out an endless stream of right hooks, you could go into Twitter Search and search for people talking about Pencils of Promise, then jump into their conversation. But don’t try to bring the attention back to you, like, “You hiked the Appalachian Trail and raised $20K? Well, here’s what I did!” On Twitter, you jab by listening. You jump in and your only response to their accomplishment is “Hey, that’s phenomenal.” And just by interacting, just by showing interest and paying attention, you’ll probably spur that person to look at your profile and see your other tweets, the ones that do tell the world what you’re up to. So you jabbed by listening, and then you jabbed with content that led someone to become aware that you’re seeking donations on behalf of Pencils of Promise. Congrats—your double jab just led to a right hook, and all you had to do was be nice.

4.Create serendipity. If you’re doing something noble, like biking across Canada for Pencils of Promise, or, like another fan, visiting all fifty-nine national parks in honor of the hundredth anniversary of the National Park Service, tell the world about it. Share pictures through Instagram and livestream on Meerkat to create opportunities for discovery, exposure, and business development through your content.

5.LinkedIn allows you to search people by their titles, so now you can hit up every person who’s a CEO of a financial services company if that’s your target buyer.

imageWhat’s the best way to make a right hook seem like a jab?

Don’t.

Let me say it again.

DON’T!

Ninety-nine percent of salespeople and businesses try to make right hooks feel like jabs, and they fail because people don’t respond well when they feel they’re being conned. Be honest. If you’re going to do something nice for your customer, do it because you want to, not because it will get you something. I get nothing from doing The #AskGaryVee Show other than the pleasure of sharing the God-given wisdom and work experience I’ve acquired over the years. I want zero in return. Believe me, though, you’ll know when I do want something. Months from now, you’ll know because whether it’s a book, a seminar, or a rare toy, I will clearly say, “Buy this rare toy now! It’s $9.99!” I’m sure I talked about this book before it went on sale. Maybe you’re reading this now because you watched more than two hundred episodes for free and felt compelled to buy a copy. Or maybe once you consumed the content, you realized it really had value and was worth the cost of a hundred copies that you could distribute to your employees, team members, or community.

There is no disguising the sale. Give when it’s time to give. Go all in with authenticity and generosity. On the flip side, don’t hesitate to ask for a sale. You’re not Mother Teresa. Sell when you need to sell; just be clear about it. So the answer is simple: There is no version of making jabs and right hooks seem like one and the same. Your jabs should be clear, and your right hooks should be even clearer.

imageI’ve been doing a lot of jabbing but I don’t feel like I’m hitting much of anything. Any advice?

There are boxers who know how to jab but whose right hooks just aren’t powerful enough to knock an opponent out, even when they land perfectly, and even when the opponent isn’t expecting it. You just may not be good at closing. Maybe you need to find someone who is a better salesperson than you to complement your strengths. Find a partner who’s got a powerful right hook who can bring all of your amazing jabs home.

Another possibility is that what you are offering for sale also isn’t worth the jabs you’ve thrown. For example, the price of this book is well worth the hundreds of pieces of free content I put out. But maybe you offered minimal value in your jabs and are asking for a $20,000 commitment on your hook. That’s probably not going to work. They need to line up.

imageAs we go from concept to final product, how can we empower our readers to spread the word?

What you’re really asking is, now that you’ve amassed an audience by giving them free stuff, how do you sell them something—a book, a workshop, a T-shirt, an expensive barbecue grill, whatever—and get them to spread the word so their friends buy, too? That’s the ask. There are only two ways to do it and convert: 1.Make a good product. Write an amazing book, develop a life-changing workshop, or build a better grill. Make whatever it is worth more than the money you’re asking for it. The best way to convert is to make something so great, consumers value your product or service more than they paid for it. That’s the kind of thing people talk about.

2.Be up front about what you want from your consumer. You want them to go to your website, share your video, buy your book, or attend your workshop? Don’t hedge your right hook. Ask for it. If you’ve been jabbing well with native content until that moment, your right hook should land squarely in the heart of the consumer and convert the sale.

imageInstagram is good for jabs, but how do you use it for right hooks?

I can answer this question because I believe in getting in early and always trying new things. The first couple of years I was on Instagram, I used it exclusively for jabs, like selfies and sneaker shots. But Instagram was begging to be hacked for right hooks, so I did. I’ve been throwing right hooks there ever since starting The #AskGaryVee Show.

At one point in time I was posting fifteen-second versions of #AskGaryVee episodes. The captions on these videos just said: “Go into my profile.” Why? Because I changed the URL in my profile so that it linked to the current episode of the show. At this time, changing your URL is the only way to actually drive people outside of Instagram so they can buy. And that is how you throw a right hook on the platform.

1.Put up a piece of creative.

2.Drive people to your profile in the copy.

3.Link out in your profile and convert your right hook.

I hope you’ll test out this right hook tactic. It’s worth a shot. If it doesn’t work, just keep jabbing on Instagram (the clickable ads are very good alternatives if you want to spend the dollars) and keep throwing your right hooks on Facebook and Twitter, where they’re easier. Bam.

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JASON FARRIS

@FRESYES

Fresyes.com

imageI’ve been putting out jabs based on my expertise (real estate), but I’ve never really brought up the fact that I have a business to promote. How do I make the transition and establish that I have a product to right-hook for?

When I looked at this question, my first thought was that the answer was actually stunningly easy. My second thought was that it was massively complicated for the people who were actually struggling with it. There’s no doubt you could have made this easier for yourself. A lot of people will share content about subjects they’re passionate about, say comic books and video games, and in the process of sharing almost accidentally develop and establish a business. It happens, and it’s great! I did things a little differently. It was super-easy for me to transition my wine and social media expertise into sales because I was straightforward about my business involvement from day one. I ran a wine store. I run a social media agency. It’s always been a part of my identity.

But you did neither. You build up equity purely using your content, and you weren’t open about your business interests in your subject matter and expertise. So here is what you do: You attack the problem with a signature piece of content. A manifesto, if you will. Whether it’s a five-minute video, or a long-form piece of written content, it needs to be a straightforward explanation of the situation at hand.

For example, you could say: “I’ve been putting out a lot of content, but all along I’ve been selling homes. I’d like to start interacting with more of you and seeing if I can help you more directly, so you might see more content from me featuring specific homes, or other business opportunities. If you have any concerns, go ahead and leave some comments.” You could also try something like this: “My passion has become something I want to do full-time. As of recently, I’ve started selling some of my comics on eBay, so you might see some of those offers on this page. I just want to be transparent and let everybody know that I’m not in the bait-and-switch game.” That’s it. Just the simple truth laid out in one signature piece of content that you can point back to in the future.

imageIs there ever such a thing as too much jabbing? Is there ever a time when you withhold content or refrain from engaging in order to build up some mystique?

Great question. Actually, it’s two questions.

1.Yes, there’s a time where there’s too much jabbing. In fact, I wrote the book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook because I realized that jabbing was all the early social media practitioners were doing. Marketers had gotten so obsessed with creating perfect jabs they had neglected to create a slamming right hook. They were swinging all the time, but they were missing their mark.

2.Is there ever a time when you shouldn’t be in the jabbing business at all? Absolutely. You know who isn’t?

Apple.

Apple is in the right-hook business. Look at their social media engagement. It won’t take you long because there isn’t much. Look at Apple’s simple strategy: Make the best crap in the business. And then they did, and then they dominated. No jabs or engaging with consumers on a one-to-one level on social media. They were just the best with the best product, and they knew how to market it.

Some brands want to make themselves more exclusive by not jabbing, but it won’t work for everyone. You really have to be the best at what you do. But for those who can pull it off, you can make your brand a rare, valuable commodity.

I could try it. What if I announced that starting now all my content, from the articles on my website to The #AskGaryVee Show, would be behind a paywall, and you’d have to pay four dollars to access each episode or batches of articles. How many people would actually pay? Here’s what I know: Ninety percent of you would not pay a dime.

If 10 percent of you did, that might make for a better ROI than my current strategy of giving everything away for free. The thing is, though, I like the jab business. I like building up the equity and the awareness. I like it when people pass on my videos and articles and allow other people to discover me. Because that’s what makes me run. I like people. I love the climb of building a brand and I know that when I sell, I sell quality and people will buy. If I didn’t, I would go the other way. A paywall. Playing hard-to-get. Secret events that cost a lot of money to attend. A private island where I charge you money to visit me. But that’s not for me right now! Nope. I’m here for my fans and consumers on the open Web 24/7. It’s what feels natural and I enjoy it.

What makes you run? What if that paywall gets you a better ROI? You have to analyze your process and figure out what has historically worked best for you, even if it goes 100 percent against the advice I or anyone else offers. It is very possible that you will need to try a few different combinations of jabbing and right-hooking before you hit your stride. Some jabs with some right hooks. No jabs and all right hooks. All jabs. Always keep trying new things. Get to know your own DNA and your community’s appetite, and run with it.

imageIf my right hook is “Watch my Web series!” what are some good jabs to set that up?

Your content itself is the jab. You want to put out teasers, snippets from your series or short original clips in the form of native content (content that is contextual to the platform, like Facebook or Instagram) that thematically ladder back to what you’re doing on your website. Your jabs need to be just that—jabs. Don’t put out a post like “My biggest idea ever is . . . go to my website to find out!” That’s lame. Put out great content—jabs that provide value—where your audience spends its time, and your website will get traffic as a by-product. And it’s not as though you won’t be able to throw right hooks in those social platforms, too.

I started posting long written posts on my Facebook page in the summer of 2015 and the response was overwhelmingly positive. People appreciated that I was creating a seamless experience and saving them time. It’s not that your fans don’t want to go to your website, it’s that they’d rather be in all these other places. So get your butt over there.

imageHow do your right hooks differ for a free service versus a paid one?

Aside from the conversion numbers they won’t look very different. Of course people will watch, read, or try something for free more often than if you charge for it. I would suggest, however, that if you are sending a right hook to someplace where you are charging, include that information in your Facebook or Twitter post. I have seen that letting your consumer know what to expect clearly helps conversion.

imageMany of your jabs and right hooks reach your B2C audience (wine and books), but how does it impact B2B?

My right hooks are not often made for B2B, so you’ll rarely if ever see me tweet, “Hey, do your business at VaynerMedia!” But my jabs are. The more I make content where I try to provide thought leadership and make accurate predictions, the more likely people who see it are going to consider they might need someone like me for their business. My content has been a gateway drug to RFPs and business inquiries and we have clearly benefited as an agency.

It’s admittedly harder to generate a lot of B2B content because it’s generally more technical or geared to a smaller target audience. You get fewer at bats, so therefore you need to treat each piece of content as something extra special. Coming up with a captivating piece of B2B content, which tends to be more serious and longer form than other kinds, requires even more rigor and effort than the content you put out for your B2C audience.

Here’s what you must remember: No matter who your audience is, you’re always one great piece of content away from changing your life. Everyone you know started off as an unknown until they did the thing that made them known. Every rock star or rapper was ignored until they wrote or played the song that put him or her on the charts. Every famous investor was a nobody until he or she made the investment that paid off big. Now, not everyone’s content can be at the level of a Madonna or a Chris Sacca, but it still has the potential to change your life. So if you love something—music, photography, diet culture, museums—talk to the world about it, even if only one person is listening. Because all you need is for that person to share it for the pipes of social networking to start humming. You’re just one piece of content away from making what you want to happen actually happen.

The problem is most people are not good enough to make that kind of content. That’s rough, I know. But talent matters. You have to be good enough to be discovered.

Also, you have to be right. When I put out content that says Facebook is going to buy Instagram, and people say I’m an idiot, and then it happens, guess what? I’m not an idiot! And that builds me street cred. The same thing happens if you post content in the form of a white paper on LinkedIn in which your CEO correctly predicts changes or trends in the industrial Internet, the financial markets, the Supreme Court, or tax reform. Now, if I say wearable tech has no chance because it’s a fad, I’ll be an idiot (because it really is going to be a big deal). That’s not content that takes me forward. It’s a lot of pressure. But quality will always be the main differentiator between the content that makes things happen and the content that holds you back.

image

ROSS WALKER

@R0ss_WalkeR

imageMy company is strict, I would say almost too strict on working within their brand guidelines. What is the best way to approach and post content on social, in particular jabs, without being perceived as breaching the company’s brand guidelines? In other words, should I tell them to chill the F out, it’s social media?

Tell them to chill out. Over the last five years, I’ve spent an enormous amount of time with big brands and their guidelines. First of all, those guidelines are 1,000 percent subjective. They’re usually predicated on one or two individuals trying to hold on to the power and act as judge and jury. Trying to execute social media content in the same way as print, radio, and TV just isn’t practical, not in the volume of content you’re putting out, nor in achieving the context necessary to be successful in those environments.

Now, the problem is that when you come with your message of chilling out, they’re not just going to sit back and say, “You’re right!” Brands (and their human decision makers) are still fighting very hard for their guidelines.

Now, that’s not to say that a brand shouldn’t have an identity around its IP. What I’m saying is that the flexibility, and the end consumer’s interpretation, gives you a lot more breathing room than most people realize.

imageDo you recommend your website’s landing page be a jab, like a blog, or a right hook?

It depends on your business. If you’re selling something you only have finite time to reach people when they land on your page, so you need a right hook. But if you’re selling information or trying to grow brand awareness, or you’ve been “selly” for a long time, you might need a countermove to soften your right hooks. To really answer this question properly I’d have to audit what your business or organization has been doing for the last twelve to thirty-six months and figure out what you’re trying to achieve. Once that was established, we’d then make sure that all your behavior matched. That’s why it’s so important that you establish a strategy, a religion, or a belief system to guide what you do. You cannot be wishy-washy.

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SOREN AZORIAN

@SORENAZORIAN

appail.com

imageIf you could ask one question of your audience to make sure you’re on the right track, what would it be?

I’m a very big believer of just going in for the ask. That’s basically what my whole last book was about. I’m not afraid to seek feedback from my audience, and nothing trumps just asking them, “What do you think of my show?” or, “What do you think of my service?” But that’s just part one. The secret is in part two, when you ask, “And how is it going compared to a year ago?”

By asking how it’s going compared to a year ago, you’re not just getting a snapshot of this moment; you’re getting context on how your efforts are trending. This is equally important because while things might seem good, they could actually be stagnating or stale, which to me is actually losing equity.

imageWhat are the most effective things you’ve done to drive book sales?

Here’s the first secret to book sales: Sell it about a year or two before anyone even knows you’re writing a book. I started selling my next book during the first episode of #The AskGaryVee Show, even though I hadn’t given a new book any thought yet. Time is my number-one asset. I like time more than money; that’s how valuable it is to me. And yet every day I take time to entertain, to make others think, and to provide value to people who think I’m worth their time (thank you). By taking the time to reach out to a whole new audience, I’m creating a new pool of buyers for my next book. At the time this particular question aired, the book I was selling was the book you hold in your hands. My most recent episode as of this printing, however? That’s me gearing up for something else.

I’m surprised by how many people haven’t figured out the second secret to book sales: People don’t want more content as much as they want more access. Authors always want to offer customers special deals like a free e-book for every three books he or she buys. I try to do better than that. One of the biggest things I ever did that sold a lot of all four of my business books was to give myself. I literally sold the one thing people wanted most from me—my time. If you bought a certain number of books, I’d do a live Q&A on your video blog, come to your school, do a talk, even make a happy-birthday video. Fans want to spend more time with the authors they love and admire. Let them.

Third, use social media to jab and build lots of new fans. Make awesome content that gets attention. Build value up front and create leverage. Engage in one-on-one marketing.

Fourth, scale the unscalable. That means refraining from one of the biggest mistakes I see authors make: bulk emails. They usually read something like, “Dear Friends, I never normally do this but I have a book coming out and it would mean the world to me if you would buy it . . .” The authors are going for efficiency, and it stinks. It might work on your aunt or your BFF, but who else is going to feel moved by such a plain-vanilla, impersonal missive like that?

Before the launch of my last book in November 2013, I spent all of August writing email after email to people from whom I wanted help. “Dear Bill, it was so great seeing you last month at the conference in Reno. Did you connect with those people I set you up with? Anyway, I’m writing to you because I have a book coming out, and it would mean the world to me if . . .” See how it’s done? And I did it over and over again, personalizing every email so that the recipients knew that I was paying attention to them and that I truly valued our relationship. And I didn’t just ask them to buy as a favor to me. I gave them real reasons why I thought my book might be of use to them, their friends, or their employees.

Fifth, create opportunities. In the fall of 2014 the podcast scene was starting to really happen. So I did a ton of interviews with all the emerging podcast people, achieving something I call equity arbitrage—where two people or entities get ROI based on the mutual exposure they gain by joining forces. I barely mentioned the book during the entire thirty minutes I was on the air. Instead I focused on providing as much value as possible to their listeners. It was my one shot to let them know I was someone to trust and take seriously. Since then this has become a popular tactic, but now there are so many more podcasts and so much more competition for ears that it’s not as valuable as it once was to be a guest, though it’s still worthwhile to appear on them and promote. But as you read this book, there is probably some new platform that has come out just waiting for someone like you to use in a creative way that gives you leverage and visibility.

Finally, remember that whether selling books or Barcaloungers, on social media or in a brick-and-mortar store, you won’t convert unless you appeal to your consumers’ emotions. When you’ve got that, you show them your value proposition. And then you stand back while they pull out their money. Heart, Brain, Wallet. Every time.

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