Last Updated on December 30, 2020
Warren Whitlock has been creating content since 1969, working in new media before there was an Internet. Warren is ranked as a leading influencer in content, solar energy, health, futurism, blockchain, martech, startups, small business, finance, marketing and of course social media. Warren has been named one of Forbes’ Top 10 Social Media Power Influencers and is the host of the Profitable Social Media Radio show. Warren loves to create and share content that can serve his audience with information about new ideas, better living and an abundant future. You can learn more at warrenwhitlock.com.
You’ve been creating content since 1969, which is pretty amazing. How did you get into advertising?
Well, you know, I was born as a small child and, Steve Martin joke, and actually early on – I mean in 1969 I was 13 years old I was producing a live stream event. Live stream meant cables and we borrowed TV cameras it was a special event we got two cameras. We were allowed one every month for a few days, I think a week a month or something like that. And so the school arranged to borrow somebody else’s camera, hook it up, and broadcast it out to rooms with TVs and it wasn’t all the rooms. We had cable in all the rooms but the brand new school first with cable were able to do that and I look back on it when I got into content marketing and I said that probably was content. You know, we were using it to promote whoever was coming and I have no recollection of that. Flash forward that got me interested in I wanted to be a disc jockey. First thing I heard was mom told me “with your voice you can’t be a disc jockey” my voice has changed a bit since then but when I went to school and study with people that wanted to be like 1960’s style Djs not what a DJ means today, disc jockey playing the records on the radio station.
I worked in radio for several years but I quickly found out that there were people with just, you know, naturally better voices than mine and they wanted to do that and work the crazy hours for no pay. So I got into sales and I studied advertising in college and ever since then I’ve looked at the world through a marketing lens. And then the biggest thing I ever learned was Zig Ziglar, great salesman. So pots and pan door-to-door and he taught me you can get anything you out of life if you help enough other people get what they want and truly that goes back to my childhood. I remember as a small kid being told, “you know, you’ve got it – you go to church and they say you got to live your religion when you go to work or to school” and I go like “I was 6 what the heck are you talking about, you know, why would I be a different person certain days of the week” Well I got to be an adult and some business training and it was all dog-eat-dog and you got to kill the competition and, you know, sports metaphors and things like that and I finally, you know, I finally found what Zig Ziglar taught. And in another course by a man names Ken Greenwood who would basically everything he was based was on Larry Wilson’s famous stuff. Larry Wilson’s famous for the trust exercise of falling backwards and have your team catch you and there was Pecos River and that kind of stuff. He was also a super salesman and he taught, you know, you get what you want if you just start listening. So I like this interview where you ask a question and I’m talking for five minutes. In sales I try to listen to what somebody wants and see that they get it and it’s as simple as that.
You write on your website that people hate to be sold, but love to buy, and our research confirms that. Can you discuss some of your strategies for persuading people without coming across as salesy?
That’s the million dollar question, sure I’ll help you with that. It’s simple. I go and find the people that want to buy because if you are trying to sell something you are falling into the other side of that equation, people hate you as soon as you stop trying to sell them something they’re open to telling you what they want to buy. Right now if I was to go to a public event and walk around people would say “hey what do you do, whop do you work for”. It’s funny most places I go ask “what do you do” and I know I’m in the wrong conference when they’re asking “who do you work for” because then it’s like which fortune 500 company are you with like that matters. But, you know, still individuals – I did a lot of work with IBM. People who work with IBM are just like you and me they want the same kind of things, they are motivated by the same kind of things but none of them can make a decision by themselves because there’s so many layers and teams and things that they do or they do not know. I went to an IBM conference and I met people who didn’t know somebody, you know, that was like the next booth because it’s so large an organization. You get to know people, you find out what they want, and it’s work. So in the organizations I usually deal with small, medium businesses it’s pretty simple there’s a lot fo customers who love who you are. And here’s a secret – sometimes like I love to use the local dry cleaner because that’s the basic small business we all understand, you know, how a dry cleaner works and, you know, they’re not going to get business from 200 miles away or a thousand miles away but on the internet you can because I can go on to Twitter, find people who are asking a question about dry-cleaning, and answer the question without any promo at all and I’m see as a good guy and everybody in my local area sees that. Of course, you focus on your local area, you do your advertising, [and] your influencer outreach. One of my favorite things to do is there’s lots of resources where you can find an influencer who is famous in one area. You know, somebody went from the local football team to, you know, a pro career but did not go very far it’s okay in his home town he’s a hero, if he comes to your dry cleaner that’s a good thing.
But more importantly is that idea of I’m going to help the whole world and my favorite example I’ll teach you here quickly, Twitter search. You go onto Twitter search because I wrote I the first book about Twitter it has – I’ve been using this example over and over again. You go in and type sushi space Cincinnati space question mark and you will get nothing but questions people are asking about sushi and have Cincinnati in the tweet. Pretty good chance you’re going to find people eating saushi locally. Have not even tried it for awhile but I’ve never failed when I’ve tried to find some kind of question you could answer just like altruistic don’t even think about selling anything yourself. If my name is best sushi of Cincinnati, actually that would be way too promo, my Twitter is Cincinnati sushi and I’m answering questions worldwide about sushi I’m going to get a reputation real fast. On my own account my reputation is you can ask me a question, anybody can talk to me in fact anybody listening to this interview please talk to me @WarrenWhitlock. I try to answer I’m human and make mistakes and sometimes spammy things involved but I try to answer every unique – if you’re, you know, just a guy in Nigeria who wants to be successful “how can I make money on Twitter like you” I’ll answer that question, you know, just because I want that interaction and my brand is I’m going to be the guy that helps on Twitter. And I put a lot of links in, I put quote cards that matter to me not a service that puts them up there for me, and I help people that’s my content.
And when – and the same for – I use Twitter as an example because it’s my largest audience but the same is true for Facebook, for Linkedin. Most of my business actions comes off of Linkedin and people ask me questions based on what I’ve posted or find me in a search I answer that question and they come back and want more and it just applies. Once you learned that it’s better to find the people that want to buy instead of trying to sell them you are much better off. All the persuasion, all the sales tactic, NLP is fantastic to learn if you haven’t read Influence: The Psychology or Persuasion the book’s got influence as the big word and it’s Cialdini. Yes, Cialdini I get asked every time there’s somebody in an audience comes up to me and asks. Bob and I have worked together on a couple things but mostly me interviewing him and promoting it just because I like what he did so much and if you haven’t read the book lately read it again. It’s just full of incredible example of how to persuade and one that I learned that was important to me was likeability. I want you to like me but more important I need to like you, I need to find out what your interest is. So if I find somebody that I want to sell to and they’re interested in rescue dogs well I’m going to do everything that I can to help them with rescue dogs and takes care of it. That’s probably a poor one for me I don’t know anything about rescue dogs. If my wife was here she’d be yelling “what the hell are you saying rescue dogs for you don’t even care” but that’s the truth. By the way since sushi in Cincinnati I have to be careful I always say this when I tell this story I do not need any recommendations for sushi or Cincinnati. I’ve never been to Cincinnati, I hate sushi, I hate the thought of eating raw fish, or even cooked fish but sushi in Cincinnati has been such a great example because I’ve made it work many times, large audiences small audiences whatever.
So yeah, you find out what somebody wants two together. Like I told you guys when you asked me what I wanted to talk about, you know, if I had any questions. No ask me a question I’m going to respond I’m here to help you and help your audience and if you keep that attitude things open up. Thanks to the connection on the Internet by the way this is the brass tacks, is why it work. We’re all connected, billions of people are on the Internet, everyone is going to be on the Internet eventually, we’re getting more and more connected thanks to technologies like blockchain the connections are working better and better, 5g is just going to blow that away where every person on earth is going to be connected that means if you are wasting your time talking to somebody that doesn’t want to buy you are just wasting money. Don’t put out something just because somebody might see it. I hate it when somebody says that “oh, you know, we’re contacting you because you have a large audience” yeah but what if my audience doesn’t care about what you want me to talk about that’s more important than anything. I’ve got to respect my audience and you got a large audience I can make almost anything interesting but, you know, that’s what they pay me to do. So, you know, If I need to change your topic into something interesting then I will but yeah don’t keep going sale sale sale. By the way if you are trying to put stuff on sale that means you haven’t been creative in attracting people. Having a sale, giving somebody a special deal when you are closing them all good stuff to do, time limits things like that but if, you know, your main headline is big sale and its not, you know, a special day, you know, in other words you got to have some other way to attract people.
The quality customers don’t buy on price and we ultimately though care about, you know, when we’re negotiating the price comes in but do you want to start negotiating before you ever meet somebody, no. I walk into your store and say “do you want to take advantage of 30 percent off” no I walk into your store because I’m interested in what you sell. The same with the website same with anything so I hope that’s been a bit helpful.
What’s the story with the figure on your shelf?
That’s Uncle Frank or pull my finger Frank, Fred. Somebody gave it to me many years ago, I think it’s passed. We’re going to try it this could be the last time it works I never have found batteries in it. Nope he needs batteries. Next time we do an interview. But it really it’s, you know, there’s a fart sound and he says something funny and he’s there to, you know, remind us to keep things light and casual and real instead of too stuffy.
As a futurist, I have to ask you… Where do you see influencer marketing headed in the next five years or so?
I’m advising some companies that are working on things like loyalty payments and paying for small transactions and one more book Cory Doctorow Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. He tells about a future where we have a waffle number on our head but we can replace our clone anytime it gets damaged. So if you have been properly backed up somebody shoots you they just reboot another clone and you lose a few hour and so you’re basically immortal. And there’s no money and that’s the reason I bring it up, absolutely no money everything’s been taken care of. The End of Capitalism, another great book, The End of Capitalism is not because we get rid of capitalism it’s because capitalism’s end goal is to take care of everybody on the planet. Once we do and everybody can eat, have a place to live, access to clean water, some amount of freedom, you know, taking the bottom of that’s what we talked about in Billions Rising Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is that once all the people in the earth can connect And do what they want,, travel freely we do not need anything else. Electricity is essentially free we can then solve any other problem we want that’s from Buckminster Fullerr, you know, you want to stop the world’s problem you need a global grid and that solves everything. Well we’re getting close -0 we’re working on that in electricity in, you know, local power whatever solar but in people communicating the hive brain that is us all the Internet is getting us there.
We can find out anything we need to know, I don’t see anyone going to college in 10 to 15 years but again that’s not so much a prediction as I got to start thinking about my grandchild is not going to go to college because she’s going to be – I mean she’s so smart \, she’s not quite one. She knows how to swipe something on a phone and, you know, it’s not like she’s sitting with a phone all day she, you know, can’t even walk, she’s not picking her own programs, but she is able to notice it’s her on the phone. I couldn’t do that when I was an infant. That’s going to rewire and change hoe we look at things. We’re not going to put up with sitting in a classroom and raising our hands, that’s a skill you don’t need in the real world by the way. No job is ever going to require you to raise your hand and sit quietly until somebody gives you permission to do something. I think -yeah so the trend is going to be like it’s hard to imagine.
When I was in 2007 and thinking where the iPhone was going to go I knew it was revolutionary. I wanted one immediately of course but, you know, I immediately saw that there were things that were wrong with it or it wasn’t going to work right yet and they fixed a lot of that. There’s still a lot more I’d fix on the basic smartphone but hey I live with it, in fact today I have two. That’s a whole another story we won’t get into. I don’t normally have two phones. I think we are going to get where VR and AR is going to work like smartphone do today and that means that you can have a pop-up display anywhere you want. You know, maybe 10 years out until we get it on contact lenses and that’s just fine by me. I’d love – I’m a cyborg already, you know \, I’m wearing contact lenses and automation has ruled my life. I have a thermostat, yeah I have a thermometer too but that’s not the point, I have a thermostat it controls thew temperature in the room, I don’t have to do anything. No it’s not some fancy Nest item it’s what came with the house and, you know, the mercury moves and flips a switch and when the coil expands or contracts it moves the little thing that’s got mercury in it, that’s it. That’s a piece of automation that I’ve had almost my entire life. We didn’t have it until I was probably like 12 in my house but it makes life so livable it’s how I can stand to live in the freaking desert, you know, and it makes it okay. And other kind of automation I don’t think about how far something is I get in my car and drive. Actually I take an Uber but that’s a different story.
And, you know, you can get to any place, you can do anything we need to make sure that we, you know, respect freedoms, privacy that sort of thing but the way we’re building on blockchain it’s there and so watch the trends. Moore’s law is never going to fail you, you know,. We’ve been going with Moore’s law about like this and we’re going to take off like this, you know we’re going to take off a whole lot faster as technology – we’re probably – we’re right at the end of Moore’s law being the slow poke way to improve and when that happens just watch the trend stick with it. Don’t stick with somebody that’s going to make a comeback by getting us to watch TV on an appointment basis or get us back to reading newspapers or even books. Like I say this is the set I read on the Kindle or Audible. But I realize that in the future my granddaughter will not be reading books.
Andrew is the Head of Client Services for Intellifluence and has a background in communications. He is committed to helping brands get the most out of their campaigns and is the co-host of the Influencer Spotlight series.