Cheval John is a writer, social media marketer and podcaster of “What’s the Word” – a show that highlights people that have succeeded in their careers, their stories and their tips for others hoping to achieve like-goals. Cheval is originally from St. Croix, but now lives in the Houston-area.
We were curious to learn more about Cheval and what he had to say on digital advertising and programmatic, so, he spent a few moments sharing his thoughts with us:
PA.O: Thanks for your time, Cheval. What brought you from the Caribbean to Texas?
Cheval John: I was brought to Texas for college. After graduating, I was job hunting and in the process, I founded a website for a media company called Vallano Media LLC. I also write about social media, which I think is really a game changer in a lot of ways.
At Vallano Media LLC, I write commentary on different aspects and segments of social media and host an online radio show on “What’s the Word.” I interview people that have succeeded in their respective careers and share their information with their audiences.
For example, I had Felena Hanson, the founder of Hera Hub, on the show a couple of weeks ago.
I try to share information that can help people. I enjoy offering people something that can solve a problem and make them feel good. That’s why I engage a lot on Twitter. I believe that now it’s really important, especially with all that’s happening, that you have a rolodex of a network you can rely on.
PA.O: Thanks, Cheval. How many people have listened to your show?
Cheval John: Right now I have over 87,000 downloads total, and it’s still growing. I’ve done 158 episodes so far.
Also, I’ve finished blogging a book – “8 Lessons Every Podcaster Needs to Learn,” as part of Nina Amir’s “National Nonfiction Writing Month” challenge held last month.
PA.O: How do you feel programmatic advertising is disrupting the social media space? What are your thoughts of how it is affecting marketing?
Cheval John: I think automation really helps, but at the same time, you have to personalize your message. Given the fact that many companies might rely on programmatic to reach their customers, they might just think that they can put their messaging on automatic and just leave. That’s a huge mistake. If they don’t personalize their message to ideal clients or customers, they are going to miss out. Word-of-mouth is king. Many people will only buy from a company based on the referral from its network. You have to be very engaged with your audiences and personalize your message. If you automate your messaging and content while customizing it toward your audience, it’s a huge win for you and your business.
PA.O: Thanks, Cheval. What are the biggest growth areas for advertising?
Cheval John: Twitter and Pinterest are some of the biggest social media platforms out there, but the biggest mistake that advertisers are making is that they aren’t developing relationships with their customers. Instead, they go straight to sales without caring about their ideal customer. They only think about the end goal and not building loyalty from the fan base.
I really don’t like that businesses think that once they communicate with someone on Twitter, and that person follows them back, they have the right to demand a sale. Just because someone followed you, it doesn’t mean that you have the right to pitch your product to them via direct message. What you are saying is that you don’t care about the person, you just care about the sale. You’re just another number to them. “Thanks for following me, please buy my product,” is a huge turn off for anyone. If you want an impact you have to build respect. You have to build that relationship.
PA.O: Is digital advertising doing a good job of marketing to and building relationships with minority populations?
Cheval John: There is still a lot of work to be done in reaching out to racial minorities with social media advertising. Advertisers are not doing enough research about marketing to minority communities, at all. They are not understanding the demographic or even communicating in the right language why minorities should care about their products and services. They need to do some sort of a program to introduce their products and communicate what they are all about.
PA.O: What would that program look like?
Cheval John: I recommend companies have a Twitter chat that they use to ask customers about what they care about, what impacts them and how social media can reach out to them. Advertisers are probably thinking the old model of just selling will work. They are not going out of their way to engage personally. This type of communication generally does well.
PA.O: Do you have any examples of this put into practice?
Cheval John: An Applebee’s location was on a Twitter chat a few weeks ago, and they were asking questions to learn about their customers and create a better restaurant experience. They took the time out of their schedule to interact with their fan base. That’s what I think many companies can do to better understand minorities.
PA.O: It’s crucial to understand any customer before marketing to them.
Cheval John: Yes, you have to develop a relationship with that customer base and personalize your message to basically understand their world and become a part of it. In the book, “Jab Jab Right Hook” by Gary Vaynerchuk, he talks about continuously building that relationship and trust with your audience. Then, at the right time, you can use the right “hook” to make the sale.
PA.O: How do you recommend companies out there actually build the relationship for the sale?
Cheval John: Blogging is one way to develop that relationship with your customer. I’d say maybe after their 20th interaction, post companies can go out there and pitch to the client. There is no set number, but the point is after “X” many transactions, you’ve taken the time to actually build a relationship with that person or audience. Then, you’re in a better place to sell.
Another good way to do this is podcasting.
PA.O: Thanks, Cheval. What excites you the most about the future of advertising?
Cheval John: What is really exciting about the future is podcasting. I think podcast is really personalized to your customers because they can listen to what you are saying, and it is like you are intimately talking to that person. That is one way advertisers can go out and reach their potential audience. According to an article by Kimanzi Constable in Entrepreneur Magazine, there are only 250,000 podcasts out there. Now compare that to 250 million blogs. There is not much competition out there for podcasts. If you can blog in addition to having a podcast to reach an audience and develop that trust, that is one way you can build a relationship and get customers to buy the product.
PA.O: Let’s say a company wanted to get started with a podcast. How would they get started?
Cheval John: Interview someone who has succeeded. Make the interview about him or her, not you. There’s an 80-20 rule. Make the podcast 80 percent about the person you interviewed – basically promote them. If the interview is for the CEO of your company, have a podcast to let the audience know who they are, as a person and businessman. Basically it’s all about human-to-human and not about the institution. You’re not really human if you’re just selling. A customer will buy from a human. I think that’s a huge advantage for anyone who wants a podcast – if they are human-to-human they can be themselves and show their personality.
PA.O: Cheval, how do you go about growing your fan base and getting interviews for your podcasts?
Cheval John: When I first got on Twitter, I had the wrong mindset. I just shared my content. Then in October 2012, I realized I needed to share other peoples’ content more on Twitter and engage with them in that way to be successful. By December 2012, I had grown by 800 followers.
I basically try to build a relationship and trust with people before I reach out to them, and send out an invitation for an interview. My rule is, I try to get to know someone for at least a 2 to 6 month period before I feel comfortable enough to ask them.
PA.O: How do you go about promoting your podcast on social media?
Cheval John: I rely on Twitter. That’s where I get most of the engagement from people. That’s how I do it.
PA.O: Thanks so much for your time, Cheval.