My friends Jay Stevens and Christy Ramsey recently got married, and they asked me to officiate. I warned them that I do not have any formal religious training, and in fact have been banned from a number of churches and synagogues. They didn’t seem to mind.
Jay and Christy did something simple and brilliant for their wedding, which was they wrote short letters to the people who meant the most to them — their parents, kids, and closest friends — and they had those people read the letters during the service. There were, as you can imagine, both laughs and tears. It was beautiful.
What I loved about this idea was that Jay and Christy turned their wedding from being about them to being about everyone else. Guess what? That simple idea made the wedding far more interesting than the usual blah blah reading yadda yadda singing zippity zoo you may now kiss the bride. It had heart.
Incidentally, Christy is a social media celebrity, with over 50,000 followers across her social media accounts. How did she get that many followers? By consistently posting great content, of course. But also by actively engaging with other people, and making them feel important.
Mary Kay Ash, the founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics, spent most of her career as a sales rep for Stanley Home Products, selling household cleaners. Time after time, the promotions and recognition she felt she deserved were given to men instead. When she retired in 1963, she wrote a book to help women succeed in business. One part of the book focused on the positive qualities of businesses she had encountered, and the other focused on the negative: what to avoid.
As she read through her manuscript, she realized that she had inadvertently created the business plan for her dream company. With her husband, she sunk her entire life savings into the new venture, which she called Beauty by Mary Kay. One month before the new business launched, her husband died of a heart attack. Undeterred, she had her son take her husband’s place in the business, and she launched just a month later.
What I admire about Mary Kay was that she had values for her business. One of the most important values was to make other people feel important. She repeatedly trained her sales team to pretend that every person was wearing a sign around hir neck that said “Make me feel important.” I heard that anecdote years ago, and the visual image has stuck with me ever since: a sign hanging around the neck reading, “Make me feel important.”
When we shine the spotlight on other people, we make them feel important. When people feel important, they feel good. They are more receptive to what we have to say. They get interested in us. They want to help us. We don’t make them feel important because we want them to do these things, but because it’s the right thing to do. Everyone wants to be heard, noticed, and recognized. The fact that it also helps us is just a positive side effect.
How to Guarantee Important People Will Read Your Blog
We used to run a humor website, and in the early days we did a lot of interviews with creative people whose work we enjoyed: filmmakers, cartoonists and comedians. I quickly saw that when we did an interview with one of these funny people, they usually became a fan of our site for life. They were so flattered by the attention that they followed the site thereafter.
Now that we run a content marketing company, we get the chance to see a lot of company blogs, where most companies talk only about themselves. Their corporate blogs are filled with blah blah blah product feature yadda yadda product release zippity zoo press release.
One of our most effective content marketing programs has been our Influencer Interview program, where we find industry experts and interview them for our clients’ blogs. If our client has a small business blog, we interview well-known business bloggers to run on the client’s blog. We force collaboration. These interviews are among the highest-ranked, most-read pieces that we produce, because the experts promote the interviews to their own audience. Why wouldn’t they?
“But why would we promote this person?” some novice marketers ask us. “Our blog should promote our company.” For the same reason that talk shows feature celebrity guests, instead of just having the host do an hour-long monologue. When you promote other important people, you can guarantee those important people will read your blog.
I’m a fan of the Nerdist podcast, which recently celebrated its fifth anniversary. Nerdist founder Chris Hardwick talked a bit about how they grew their massive following in just five years, and one of the ways was simply appearing on other people’s podcasts. Adam Carolla, for example, is a frequent Nerdist guest, and in return, Chris Hardwick frequently appears on Carolla’s podcast. Since their two audiences are similar, each gains a little bit of audience from the other.
The Collaborative Wedding Photo
At the end of Jay and Christy’s wedding ceremony, just before I pronounced them husband and wife, I felt we needed a wedding photo in keeping with the spirit of the ceremony. We quickly snapped this photo:
It was me, Jay, Christy, and all the wedding guests in the background. Everyone was part of the picture. Everyone felt important.
That’s a photo that’s going to get shared.
Sir John Hargrave is the CEO of Media Shower and author of the upcoming book Mind Hacking. This post is free to distribute under CC 4.0: if you like it, please share it.