In this entrepreneur interview, Eric Siu is joined by content marketing expert Jordan Scheltgen to chat about his inspirational business motivation and his startup company story. In this interview, you can learn how to do professional marketing and the steps to grow a business fast. In this business talk show, Eric Siu chats with today's top entrepreneurs to uncover their personal secrets to small business marketing, personal growth, and marketing advice in general. For more business stories that inspire, tune in to our channel and subscribe.
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Full Transcript of The Video
Jordan Shelton: My business, it started off in 2013. I started and online magazine, just a blog for fun with friends. I thought, okay, this is going be fun to do. And later that year I actually saw an advertisement for Florida Panthers season tickets for $180 bucks. I was in Canada to get season tickets to a professional sports franchise for 180 bucks. I was like, this is amazing. I did the only rational thing, buy the tickets. All with this idea, let's make a story about it. Right? And anyways, four months goes on. We're trying to give away the tickets. Nobody's taking it because it's hockey in Florida. We're pitching the story. We're talking about it online. And the Panthers catch wind of it. And the owner of it. Their social media team reaches out. They say, "Fly down." I'm like, "Okay." I'm in University at the time. I'm like, "Let's do this."
Go down to Florida, get the owner's box experience, food, drinks, everything. Come back to write a story about it. That story, I didn't even know what happened. I woke up the next day. That story was on Sports Illustrated, ESPN, on Papa Reddit in the sports section. It was insane. From there, I was just like thrown back. My aunt who was in PR is like, "Hey, do you know what you've done?" I said, "I have no idea." She said, "A brand would have paid upwards of $250,000.00 for that exposure". My face nearly hit the ground. I was like, "What are you talking about? Companies pay for this kind of storytelling?"
That's kind of when it switched, and I said we can create stories for brands. From there we quickly transitioned, started this agency which creates content for businesses all around the US, for Fortune 500 startups. And really trying to take that storytelling element into their business.
Eric Siu: What's your definition of storytelling?
Jordan Shelton: For me, I look at it like ... the best way I can sum it up is, if you hear a funny joke, that's a funny joke. Someone tells you five funny jokes, they're a funny person. So it's storytelling consistently and over time. It's the same way when I go to the gym and before I go and I look in the mirror, I've got 17 Nike check marks on my body, because they've been telling the story to me over the course of 29 years that somehow Nike's cooler than Adidas for me.
So for me, storytelling is how can I create a narrative that resonates with a customer and do it over and over and over and over again, so they have an emotional attachment to me, the brands we work with, whatever, because if we can get their attention with a story, that's one thing. If they like the story, they trust it, they resonate with it, now we have influence, and if we have influence we have the ability to sell the products eventually.
Eric Siu: One of the things that's really important I think, especially being on this show too, is the whole process of growth, right? So how do you go about leveling up your skills around storytelling, social, just all the stuff that you do for your clients? How do go about getting better all the time?
Jordan Shelton: I think the biggest thing you can do is learn from the experts. For me, I looked at who are the storytellers that I admire, both that are classic writers, classic storytellers, but also looking at the people who are ... And brands that are telling great stories, and actually looking at it and dissecting and saying, "How are they doing this"? When I look at it, why do I like Nike so much? Why am I emotionally connected to it? So it was a matter, one, of analyzing that but then two, getting out and trying. Trying to tell stories, not being afraid of when you put content on the web, that it might be judged, or that it might not resonate. So really just throwing a lot of content at the wall and seeing what sticks, and then just continually narrowing that down.
Eric Siu: When you say experts, who are one or two experts that you look up to?
Jordan Shelton: Right now, I really like Jason Freed.
Eric Siu: Rework.
Jordan Shelton: Yeah, I think he does a fantastic job of breaking away from the stereotypically hustle all the time, do everything, work 400 hours a week kind of narrative that's out there in entrepreneur circle. And then I also, on the flip side of that, I mean, it's hard not to like Gary Vaynerchuk and the stories that ... How he's able to captivate that many people. In just by sheer quantity and pulling great people around him, so I like how they do that and they're able to bring people in and teach lessons through their stories.
Eric Siu: What about business challenges? What's one big business challenge you've faced while growing this one or maybe another business that you've started in the past?
Jordan Shelton: I think the biggest challenge I faced was moving to the US. You know, I was sitting there in Toronto, we had an agency, it was going, things were going, and I said ... We had a client in Florida and I'm flying back and forth, and I said, "Okay, it's time to immigrate to the US, but we don't have enough cash for an immigration lawyer." So the Internet's a beautiful thing. You go on and I learned it all, and as a Canadian I showed up to the border with a stack of documents like this, and I said I hope this works. Went through, but why it was such a challenge is now, once you move and moving myself to the US and away from family, friends, everything, it was sink or swim.
I told everybody I'm gonna do this thing, right? I pretty much put everything financially into the move and getting set up, and then it was go time. And that pressure of systematically putting your back against the wall, there's two options. It was either fight out of the corner, or fold like a three dollar tent. And I think putting yourself in those situations, at least for me, where you have to meet the expectation not only that other people have but you set for yourself, is so powerful. So that was huge.
Eric Siu: Right, so burn the ships, let's go.
Jordan Shelton: Yeah, exactly.
Eric Siu: Cool. Love it. So you talked about the concept of looking for, or looking up to experts, right? You got Jason Freed, you got Gary Vaynerchuk, how else do you go about growing or getting better or just learning?
Jordan Shelton: I think you really have to find people ... You have to have a good balance online between following curators and creators. A lot of people are creators, but when they get to a certain point, they only point their own stuff. So you're not seeing different perspectives, you're not learning new techniques. And a lot of those people who are the creators, they're not actually in the trenches anymore doing that day to day.
So I would look for more people that are curators, whether or not it's news outlets, particularly with marketing. Something like an add week, add age. Or individuals, and looking at ... There's a couple that come to mind. Jason Lafferty, Dan Genghis, people who are ... They're not these super millions and millions of followers, and they really have their finger on the pulse with the day to day for advertising. Following those people.
Eric Siu: So like microinfluxers almost.
Jordan Shelton: Yeah, they have an audience, but their audience isn't how they make their money, per se. They're still in the trenches. And there's something about ... When I hear people and they give a perspective on an article and then they can relate it back to a client they're working on. They're not only giving keynote speeches, that's not a ... They're actually doing things. Learning from those types of people is invaluable.
Eric Siu: Cool. So last question. For people that are looking to start out, looking to level up, to grow kind of in their career and their business, what advice would you have some of the people starting out?
Jordan Shelton: I think the biggest thing is not to get caught up with the mountain top, and oh I need to be at the mountain top tomorrow. Really, it starts as, you just gotta take one step towards it every single day. Do things that you know, hey I know what I wanna get, but I'm not gonna grow an agency with 500 people overnight. So what can I do to get one more person? What can I do to get one more client? Taking those steps in the right direction, I think that, and not getting caught up with the mountain top ... Ryan Holiday, the author of "Ego is the Enemy" and "Obstacle is the Way" and a bunch of other books, he's like, "People think you just write a New York Times Best Seller overnight". He's like, "No I write one page a day."
Eric Siu: Yep. So it's all about the journey.
Jordan Shelton: Yeah and just know that you're taking the steps in the right direction.
Eric Siu: Great, cool.
Jordan Shelton: That's what I'd go with.
Eric Siu: Well Jordan, this has been fantastic. What's the best way for people to find you online?
Jordan Shelton: Yeah you can find me online at cavesocial.com or just hit me up on Twitter, and that's @cavejordans.
Eric Siu: Alright, there you go.
Jordan, thanks so much for doing this.
Jordan Shelton: Hey thanks man.
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