How One Man Turned An Internet Marketing Fail Into Relationship Marketing Success

By August 20, 2015Podcast, With Guests
How One Man Turned An Internet Marketing Fail Into Relationship Marketing Success

A Trip Into The Coal Mine

Or as close as we’re going to get to one! Today we talk to Wade Harman, blogger and digital marketer. But he wasn’t always online. Once upon a time he was a coal miner and doing very well. He also put himself through school where he received a Masters degree in cognitive psychology.

Unfortunately, a mining accident left him unable to perform his job anymore. Left with no career, no salary and a family to take care of, Wade did what so many displaced people do: gravitated to the internet as a way to make money. His story is one of the most fascinating things we’ve heard.

The Kind Of Guy We Complain About

If you listen to our podcast or read our blogs you know that we constantly warn against people who go from “day job” to “social media expert” overnight. They don’t know a thing about marketing or social media but they buy a Dummies book, set up a Buffer account and slap a title on themselves.

Wade’s story is not entirely different – he went from coal miner to social media consultant. And yet he did it without becoming one of “those guys.” And according to him, he most certainly didn’t do it overnight. He managed to learn and grow and eventually to build a business on helping people in a completely honest way.

And yet that’s not how it all started…

Wade Fell For The Promises To “Make $5,000 In 30 Days”

By his own admission, Wade came to the internet knowing nothing – except that he knew he could make money. Why? Because the ads told him so! So he bought into the promises and started following the advice of people who tell you to set up some landing page with an “offer” and some high pressure psychology to get people to spend money.

Wade ended up spending so much money on these programs that promised to make him rich that if he hadn’t he might actually have saved the money and become rich.

But worse, he was following the advice – he set up his own landing pages, created his own offers and used the same tactics to part unsuspecting people with their money.

One of the things that impressed us most during the conversation is that Wade openly admits to lying to people and selling products without providing any value because that’s all the advice he was getting – and he believed that was what you’re supposed to do.

It takes a pretty brave person to admit that.

The Tide Changes

Turns out that if you don’t provide any value, not too many people will buy. And the ones why buy certainly won’t come back. Nobody was sharing his blog posts and nobody was paying attention.

Wade wasn’t making money and figured he’d better do something different. His wife pointed out the best solution of all. She said, “Wade, you’re good at building relationships with people. Why don’t you use that?”

From there he shifted his focus to helping people. He figured that if he was just learning this internet thing, other people must be too. So as he learned something new (like how to set up a YouTube channel or a Facebook profile) he would write about it in a way that other people could follow.

And do you know what happened next? People started sharing his blog posts. They started paying attention.

Every Entrepreneur Gets Discouraged

By his own admission, it was a long and tough journey. He didn’t exactly go from coal miner to internet superstar with any speed. Along the way he wondered how he would support his family. He was frustrated by the false promises and lack of results.

But Wade says that every entrepreneur faces discouragement and disappointment. It’s not a matter of avoiding it. It’s a matter of what you choose to do with it.

In his case, Wade chose to learn and try new things – but most importantly to keep on going – and ultimately make it a success.

In Between, Family Still Matters

It happens to the best of us. We’re so caught up in running our businesses that the rest of our lives fall by the wayside. Maybe you miss a family dinner. Or skip out on a school event. Maybe you don’t have time to play with your kids or catch a movie with your partner.

Ultimately your family life suffers.

Wade stresses the importance of making time for family no matter what. The best thing you can do is set a schedule of work hours and off hours. And that’s not to say that sometimes you won’t have to work late or slave over a deadline or important project, but if you don’t consistently make time for the most important people in your life, you’ll be missing a lot more than a deadline.

As Wade wisely, says, “Social media isn’t going anywhere.” You can shut down, check out and nobody will forget you exist by morning.

Admit Your Mistakes

If there’s one thing Wade is not, it’s shy about exposing his flaws. In fact, he has built a pretty good following and lots of relationships based on the fact that he is so open and honest.

The premise of this show hinges on him discussing the mistakes he made. He says he’s willing to lay it all bare.

And that’s not entirely common, especially on the internet where everyone seems to want you to know how wealthy and happy they are. Sadly, we’ve known people who have touted themselves as successful, with photos of them working from a tropical beach, who have turned out to be frauds. The photos were faked and in reality they were living off food stamps.

But Wade takes the opposite approach. He is all about sharing his mistakes because he believes that good relationships – and good business – are built on transparency.

But Don’t Admit Your Mistakes Unless You Mean It

Some people can admit their mistakes and sound genuine about it. Other people share their mistakes and it just seems like a marketing tactic.

We conclude that the difference is intent. If you share your mistakes honestly so that you can build better relationships and help people through your experiences, then your intent is genuine. But if you share mistakes just to prove you’ve made them, but never took time to reflect on them, it will come across as contrived.

How much you share is up to you – but whatever you choose to put out into the world, do it with honest intent.

Best Quote Ever

Wade’s philosophy is pretty simple and if you have the wisdom to follow it, is also pretty powerful: be a hero to one person at a time.

His journey hasn’t all been mistakes. Along the way he learned how to provide people with true value. He learned the value of real relationships. He persevered and built a reputation as someone who puts other people as the focus of his attention and kindness.

In fact, Wade is all about people. Even when we digress to talk about when it’s a good idea to block people from your life (hint: when they are mean, degrading or taking advantage of you), Wade still struggles with the idea. He is truly focused on being that “hero” to one person at a time.

But don’t take it from us. You can connect with him online and see for yourself.

Your Marketing Action Item

From Wade: Try Pinterest promoted pins. For only a few dollars (as low as ten cents per click) you can get dozens of pins and repins. The best part is you don’t pay for the repins, just for the initial clicks. You can use this strategy to drive traffic to your site. Be sure to create a great (vertical) graphic. And if you aren’t sure when your audience is on Pinterest, try it on a Saturday because that’s a pretty popular Pinterest day in general.

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Ralph M. Rivera
Hi, I'm Ralph! I'm a web developer at Rahvalor Interactive, a creative marketing services company that I founded in 1999 with my wife and business partner Carol Lynn. In January 2012 we created Web.Search.Social as a branded service offering that brings enterprise-level services to small businesses in an affordable way. I'm also founder and CTO of Podcaster's Toolbox, a SaaS platform designed to help podcasters plan, produce and promote their shows. I teach web development at Manhattan College in New York City. Carol Lynn and I are home based near the Jersey shore but we're currently location independent and traveling the country for a year, working and podcasting. I'm also trying to build a flux capacitor, but that's not going as well as the other stuff I do.
Ralph M. Rivera
Ralph M. Rivera
  • Anyone who’s a fan of Jeff Foxworthy gets my vote and wins my confidence. LOL!

    Wade is the kind of person most can only aspire to be. FAB interview — Inspirational, candid, and downright delicious! I wish him the very best of success with his book and the remainder of his entrepreneurial journey. The world would be a better place if we could clone Wade. 🙂

    “Buy my thing so you won’t make the same mistakes I did” is a running theme online. Cynic that I am, I don’t always trust that people are being upfront with their stories or claims. Did you know people sometimes lie online with the intent to sell you something? Imagine that. 😉

    • Thanks for the comment Melanie, appreciate the compliments too…never been ‘delicious’ before 🙂

      I can agree with you that you can’t always trust people online. But this whole interview was me. You can buy my thing and learn from my mistakes, but the book won’t tell you what this interview wouldn’t about me. What you heard today is what will be in the book. I just want to stress to people that you can’t be fake…then there’s other marketing things as far as relationship building that will be in there as well.

      Spending $24 on my book won’t help you learn any more about me than what was in this interview. This was the whole shebang.

      • Maybe I should take a minute and clarify, Wade. All I have to do is hear your voice and I’m assured you’re THE REAL DEAL. Yeah, I can hear truthfulness and sincerity in peoples’ voices (that’s cause I’m old and I’ve been around the block a few times). LOL! Plus I obviously trust Ralph’s and Carol Lynn’s judgment. They bring on the greatest guests!

        My adventure online (I could have used a number of other adjectives there but I’ll respectfully refrain from cussing at the moment) started out very similar to yours. However, I got involved in MLM. God help me! That was a horrible and expensive nightmare — and something that still haunts me today. 🙁

        I’d love to help get the word out about your book. Carol Lynn and Ralph will confirm my “sharing” capabilities. Please let me know how I can assist you with promotion.

        As an aside …

        I grew up in Southwestern Pennsylvania. I was surrounded by steel mills, coal mines, and dairy farms. Your story resonates with me. Keep telling it! The coal dust from your past will help to mine your future. 🙂 xoxo

        • Well I see this conversation did just fine without me 🙂 Wish I had been getting the actual comment notifications but why should we expect our tools to work…. gr. Anyway, awesome stuff all around!

          • Is Disqus still forgetting you?! Grrrrrr! Too bad they don’t have a real help desk. Or a real human working a virtual desk.

  • Hey Ralph, I think Wade needs a little help with his book cover. NO offense, Wade, but you’re much more colorful and charismatic a guy than your book cover depicts. Just my two cents worth. 🙂

    • Lol, you got that right Melanie…already working on it. My wife hates the cover 🙂

      • Well, I’ll be darned! Who knew?! That’s awesome news, Wade. Your wife has a keen, discerning eye for design (plus I’m sure she loves you to pieces and wants you to succeed). She’s a keeper! 🙂

  • Boy oh Boy, we all agree on the voice… WOW… and a coal miner as well.. One of my grandfathers was a coal miner. That is some serious work..

    I absolutely love what Wade said about a family and life schedule. That has been a huge issue here. I am horrible about getting absorbed in Social Media and losing track of any life outside of it. I can get focused on promotion, especially if sales are slow, and just forget that anything else matters. Or, I will get into my sewing room and not stop for 16 hours, as if all that matters in life is filling up my shop. When in actuality, my health suffers because I forget to eat and take care of myself when I do that. I am learning to schedule in not only family time, but fun time. For the longest time, I felt guilty if I went out and had a night off, like I was wasting time that I could have been spending working.

    • I hear ya, Tammie! Truth is, “leisure time” is, in fact, productive time. It’s essential to your sanity, good for the soul, and it boosts your creativity. So, there! Take a day off once in a while. I promise the sky won’t fall. 😉 xoxo

    • I have the same feeling. If I’m doing something fun or relaxing I end up counting the unproductive minutes I “could be” doing something. But as we all know so well and yet hate to admin, we NEED time off.