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John Foley on the impact of book writing on his businesses

Published on August 17, 2012

John Foley, CEO of InterlinkONE & Grow Socially talks to Cary Sherburne about writing two business books and the impact they've had on his personal reputation and his businesses.

Cary Sherburne: Hi, I'm Cary Sherburne, Senior Editor at WhatTheyThink.com and I'm here with John Foley, who is CEO of InterlinkONE and Grow Socially. How are you today?

John Foley: I'm good Cary. It’s good to see you as always.

Cary Sherburne: It’s always great to see you. So wow, you’ve become an author. You’ve got a couple of books under your belt here. Why don’t you talk to us a little bit about the writing the book process and how it has changed, how the business transformation books has actually transformed your life?

John Foley: Well it really has and thanks for asking me about it. So I have two different books, right, so we have this one Business Transformation: a New Path to Profit for the Printing Industry and then we kind of modified it, Business Transformation: New Path to Profit for the Mailing and Fulfillment Industry and the process was interesting. People asked me all the time why did you write this book. Well until printers and service providers and mailing fulfillment companies actually put the right things in place it’s very hard for them to buy our software and services because they don’t have the right people in place, so I had all these notes. I had videos. I had org charts and business plans and said you know we should put this in one place. So I wrote the book and it really has transformed people who know me and you know. I was speaking yesterday and I said hey you know I've become famous and the book is part of that. The other part would be what I do on social media, but it’s good and I get a lot of positive feedback. People read it and say wow, you know and it’s really the secret sauce is in business. It’s business and these are really business fundamentals and if you’re trying to transform your business you have to go back to business basics and that’s really what some of this is all about and then we put in some great case studies so people can actually see the people that have made this transition. So that’s—it’s been good. It’s been really good.

Cary Sherburne: Yeah, so I know you sell some of the books. You give away some of the books. It’s a long—it’s quite a process to write a book and do you expect to make money on the book or is there another way that it brings value to you?

John Foley: That’s a great question. It really brings more value in letting people help move their business along and then we can actually sell them services, right. They might not have the marketing team. They might not have the marketing software yet that they really need and if they read the book and they change their business then they’re a better fit for us and I know this sounds crazy, but we just don’t sell our software to everyone. If they don’t have the right resources it’s not going to work for them and that’s the first that’s going to happen and then it’s really not going to be that profitable for us.

Cary Sherburne: Sure, because they’re going to—they’re not going to be happy. They’re going to need too much support.

John Foley: They’re going to need too much support and but it’s all good, so you know the book is not anything about our software and services. It’s really about how they can transform their business and I'm passionate about the industry back in the late 90s and I actually saw this a long time ago that the digital space was going to change the way that we do business and the web and the internet and I said but you know they’re really going to need this, but they didn’t think so. I would say generalization here, but maybe 2005, ‘06, then all of the sudden people were climbing onboard and today they understand and they’re really doing a good job. It was pleasure being here today because I talked to so many people that are making—they’re trying to diversify. It’s good.

Cary Sherburne: You know it’s interesting because two of the key takeaways that I got out of that was A; your first move should be to hire a marketing professional. If you’re going to be a marketing services provider you have to have some marketing knowledge and B; you have to have a plan.

John Foley: Right. So yesterday I was speaking on—I did this whole thing on online and inbound marketing, content marketing and we got talking about that everybody—questions about the book and I gave away a bunch of the books in there and that’s really a big hit in there. As a matter of fact a little side note, Jason Pinto my CMO is in the back of the room and he goes, “That was awesome.” He goes, “Even the lady that was in the back of the room that works for the hotel actually said, ‘Wow, who is that guy? I want one of those books.’, and she’s not even in the industry. But when I was speaking I—you just said exactly. I said if there is one thing you can take away there is really no secret sauce here if you want to sell marketing services and there had to be about 200 folks in the audience. I said what do you need or who do you need, what type of person do you need if you’re going to sell marketing services and no one is raising their hand. I said let me repeat that and finally I said you need—and they all—I said look now does—can we say this one more time and I made them all say it out loud because it’s they do. They need a marketer. Then they need a plan, right, and-

Cary Sherburne: And the marketer needs to help develop that plan.

John Foley: Right.

Cary Sherburne: Yeah.

John Foley: The other upside that they have I think, the transitioning companies, they have revenue today. Imagine if me and you went into business tomorrow and we started something new we’d need to go raise capital or we’d have to throw in our credit cards. Well they have a revenue stream. The problem is they want to just kind of make a little change and that’s not the case. You really have to look at it as a different business if you’re solution selling versus commodity sales. It’s totally different.

Cary Sherburne: But you also have to somehow maintain that legacy revenue stream to fund the new business.

John Foley: Right, right. Well but at least they have revenue, right? So they have already—they’ve got customers. The problem is they have to—in the business the strategic plan has to say I need this type of organization, I need this type of people and they’ll help me get there and it’s not the same people they already have and that’s where they struggle—at least one of the points I think.

Cary Sherburne: That’s great, terrific.

John Foley: Yeah, it’s awesome.

Cary Sherburne: Thanks a lot.

John Foley: All right, good to see you.

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