Your Website is Your Recommendation Tool with Hashim Warren

Episode 9 May 09, 2022 00:26:13
Your Website is Your Recommendation Tool with Hashim Warren
Launch With Words
Your Website is Your Recommendation Tool with Hashim Warren

May 09 2022 | 00:26:13

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Hosted By

Bridget Willard

Show Notes


Do you just post like a robot, schedule everything, and never respond? When's the last time you took a look at your target audience? Who are they -- really? In this episode of the second season of the Launch With Words Podcast, Bridget is joined by writer and developer Hashim Warren for an insightful conversation on the importance of humanity in marketing.


"So the way that I've grown is understanding that not all of their business has to transact through the website. So I used to oversell the website as a part of the sales process now I'd say your website is your recommendation tool -- even when you have great word of mouth. That person who's receiving that referral is going to look you up online. You want your story to be the first thing there." Hashim Warren

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Episode Transcript

00:19.78 Bridget Willard Hey thanks for joining me. This is season 2 episode 9 with Hashim Warren. When I first started following you, Hashim, i that how you say it Hashim? ah. When I first started seeing you on Twitter, you had "Slayer of Words" and that has just stuck with me so hard. 00:28.79 Hashim Warren Yes, has Sheen perfect. Yes. You happen right. 00:39.54 Bridget Willard I mean I want to describe you as a writer but I know that our, our self-identity evolves. How how would you like to introduce yourself? 00:51.44 Hashim Warren Bridget I am 100% a writer. I am a writer through and through so that's taken different forms over the years. I started out when when I was a teenager. I wanted to be a novelist and just travel the country sitting in bars, you know, writing the Great American novel, watching people go by. Then that morphed into myself becoming a journalist and then from a journalist became a copywriter. And then from a copywriter started um running you know marketing, mm, teams in general. And but then I learned how to code and decided to become a product marketer which requires a lot of writing. So now I, I joke and I say that some days I write copy, some days I write code. Ah, so my current job -- I'm not writing code for the job -- but our product is a developer product, so I need to write code to actually use the product. So I am I've been a writer since I've been a teenager so I like that is my self-identity. I am a writer. 01:58.27 Bridget Willard Wow, That's awesome I love that. And, and it's interesting because the way your brain works. Ah when you're writing any language, It's writing. You know, so like I was at this jazz concert this weekend. 02:10.50 Hashim Warren Yes. 02:15.56 Bridget Willard And I was just in so much in love with it. And, of course, I was one of like 10 people there. They always say jazz is the music for musicians. But the people who who play music are using the right side of their brain. But the people who are composing live are using the left side and the right side. So it's that. That's interesting part of who we are and writing code is still writing. I know in WordPress we say, "code is poetry" um, but it's, it's communicating. Right? It's either. You want you're wanting the computer to do something so you have to tell it what to do and if you don't tell it what to do clearly it will not work. 02:42.38 Hashim Warren Right. 02:50.49 Hashim Warren Right. Right. And also if you write code, well you're writing for your future self and also for your coworkers. You want to write in a way that's clear. That's clear what this ah part, This component this function is actually doing. so there is a there, there is ah, an art to writing well even when writing code because it's not just for the compilers for the human. And also I um I find that, particularly with building a website, it's easier to write the code for the website if you have content to start. So I have my side project where I've decided I just want to write a newsletter for a few months and then I want to figure out, Okay, what custom post types do I need? 03:28.52 Bridget Willard Yes. 03:44.90 Hashim Warren What components do I need on the front end? I want I want to do that after I figured out, you know, what's the content I want to make. So um, you know if I worked on a team and I was just a developer, I would have to work with the content editors that way or if I ah, if I was a content editor, I'd have to guess at which you know let's say a custom post types I need. And then later, annoy the developer with you know what, we really need this change instead. I get to be the the same person. The 2 people 1 and work with myself that way. So. 04:09.18 Bridget Willard Right? right. 04:18.36 Bridget Willard Well, that goes with your novelist ah taught the kind of analogy and in your beginnings. I'm I'm I'm currently reading Jack Kerouac's "ON THE ROAD THE ORIGINAL SCROLL." And there are no paragraph breaks. There are no chapters. aI just got to the part it says "BOOK TWO" and it's just all caps but it's still in the line. I mean they call it the original school because it's just a brain, what we would call now a brain dump. You know? And he's just writing and you and you can't stop reading it because it's so exciting the way he moves you through this journey. 04:44.74 Hashim Warren Right. 04:55.16 Bridget Willard I'm like wait. I have work to do. Like sorry Jack I can't read this anymore. But like so he would you know a writer would just write and then hand it in to a editor they would like make suggestions on maybe moving this here or there. But when we're self-creating, Um, for our own purpose, it's kind of hard because we have to be all of those people. And I think in many ways, maybe you agree, that for the small business owner, they're doing what we what we writers do is -- we're editing as we write and then that stops the whole process. 05:30.98 Hashim Warren Right. Right. That's that's exactly right. So even for me it is easier for me to write marketing copy for a client than for myself because I am editing as I go because I'm not because I'm thinking about the end while I'm at the beginning. 05:44.67 Bridget Willard Preach. Ah. 05:50.70 Hashim Warren Because it's hard for me to do research and it's also hard for me to think um, objectively about what's actually good about my service. So I worked for a CMS company that also did ah a ah add-on service where it would do your web design and I spoke to the designers and I said Okay, why are people buying the service because we want to write more copy for it. Do some more promotional of it. They said because the because the designs are beautiful and because we make the site look really modern. And you know all these things like that. Ah, then they told me that customers fill out a ah, you know, a start to worksheet where they say, "why do they buy the service?" So I say oh this is perfect. Let me go read those. And when I read them you know over and over again. Ah, customer said "I I could do this myself I Just don't have time. I don't have time to do it." I got so wait a minute we are We are selling a productivity service that allows business owners that they have that have the time that they want. 06:48.78 Bridget Willard Yeah. 06:56.58 Bridget Willard Yeah, yeah. 07:03.33 Hashim Warren And these were photographers specifically so they they were artistic people but they just didn't have the time to use a drag and drop tool or a Squarespace or anything like that. So if I was the designer, I would even if I saw this research, I would ignore it. "No, it's because of my beautiful designs." So it is very hard to write for yourself as a small business owner and it is much easier to have ah a third party do it. 07:20.99 Bridget Willard Of course. 07:29.71 Bridget Willard Yeah I mean the the objectivity is so real. Like I I find even for my own premium content packs for Launch With Words I have a hard time. I'm just like ah I'm too close. What don't you understand about why this is awesome? I, I don't get why you don't get it. Right. 07:42.49 Hashim Warren Right. Right. 07:49.24 Bridget Willard Because I only see it the way I see it. And I and I think that I did it for the pain points I see. But obviously, I'm not communicating that, you know, because it is too close. And that is something that a lot of business owners they're doing every day. They're doing their accounting, especially, super small businesses. I started in ah you know construction being a secretary and all of that and man, the owner, was also the estimator was also the project manager was also the CFO was also the CEO. 08:17.20 Hashim Warren Um, life right. 08:24.00 Bridget Willard And I'm like and you're doing your dad's accounting? Hire a bookkeeper for $18 an hour. this. You cost this company too much to do this. And I think that's a good way to to sell that time component is -- do you want to. 08:26.55 Hashim Warren Um, right exactly right. 08:40.83 Bridget Willard Spend $200 an hour doing this or do you want to hire somebody who that's all they do so that you can do those $200 an hour things? So um, as far as websites go like you and me were both like you know. 08:48.49 Hashim Warren Right. Right. 09:00.37 Bridget Willard Team WordPress, team internet, let's put everything on the internet. Ah what these small businesses that kind of like say well I have Instagram or I have Facebook, what's what's the compelling reason to be on on, Ah, have to have your own website? to have your own domain name in your website, even if it's just WordPress.com? 09:25.30 Hashim Warren Yeah, you know Um, so I've grown in one way with some with some advice I give to small business owners and this and I've had a huge shift another way. So the way that I've grown is um, it's understanding that not all of their business has to transact through the website. So I used to oversell the website as a part of the sales process now I've grown it and and I've I'd say your website is your your recommendation tool even when you have great word of mouth. that person who's receiving that referral is going to look you up online. You want your story to be the first thing there. Okay yes, you still want a direct call or or have you and that's how most of your business transaction doesn't need to be a form. They don't need to pay online if if that's not how you want to do business. But still, even if you are getting referrals, Um your website needs to tell that story. Or helse to allow yourself to allow third-party services to tell that story. And it could be that one bad review on on you know? Um, ah, um. 10:40.51 Bridget Willard Yelp. Ah yeah. 10:42.98 Hashim Warren What is a Better Business Bureau or that one bad review on Facebook and you you don't have any time to explain your process, to explain your money-back guarantee, to explain your history, to explain your values. Your website is where you do that. So even if you um have a great social media presence and also great referrals. You want that one place where it'll be the first place someone goes to um to move along your referral. So so that's the way that again I used to sell the idea of transact all your business on your website. I just I would just overwhelm a business owner like it should happen all here and then we should have a funnel and all this stuff and and and ah most people didn't go for that. 11:23.58 Bridget Willard Yeah, yeah. 11:39.96 Hashim Warren A big shift I've had is that sometimes the web, now that we've taken away the website in terms of it has to do all these things, there's offline work that you should do ah that will have even a bigger impact than your website. So you have to have a website. You just have to. But then after that um if You do a if you are our tree trimmer and you do a job, Let's say at my house, what should happen next? I've been advising people to get a get a testimonial right there, with the business owner with a photo and take the photo and actually have Postcards made which can be ah done easily online make a postcard with the quote with the photo of the business owner who's happy or the photo of the work That's really done well and then use a UPS their service. Ah their you know, um Bulk Mail service to Send that postcard to the thousand homes in that area. So we haven't talked about a website at all yet. And that could be you take one great testimonial and you haven't even written your own words yet. 12:41.18 Bridget Willard Yeah, right. 12:53.90 Bridget Willard Right. 12:54.93 Hashim Warren Either You're just taking their testimonial, their photo that they've agreed to right on the spot, you sent it out to all their neighbors, of course with their permission. The next thing that's going to happen is that neighbor who's interested will go to your website So the website exactly. 13:06.88 Bridget Willard Right! It's the direct mail, website connection. 13:14.34 Hashim Warren So that website is and extremely still important. But, in the past, I would have talked about um you know generating um using the website and using SEO to generate interest from those neighbors who are looking. And then maybe they'll you know maybe they'll see. That person. Or using advertising to advertise to that area. And now it's actually easier for a business owner to, to have postcards made take it to the post office buy that service which is pretty cheap, and have that postcards sent everywhere. So. 13:47.61 Bridget Willard Yeah. Chicken and the egg. It doesn't really matter the audience. like so I love this! because like this is what I always say people like write for the persona and and find that person first. And I'm like no just write like the comedy people do. 13:51.00 Hashim Warren You know, right. 14:05.66 Bridget Willard And then your audience will find you. So like if you send this picture out of Jack who just has trees trimmed and you're like oh that looks good I I remember that I drove by that house. 14:06.00 Hashim Warren Right. 14:15.75 Hashim Warren Exactly or I know Jack, you know. I know Jack bought a house. I know Jack or we have the same type of trees. You know so right? That person's like me. 14:19.70 Bridget Willard Oh yeah. Yeah, like those poplar trees are always a problem or whatever. So. 14:33.60 Hashim Warren That that image of of Jack who's had his tree trimmed of that normal person who has tree trimed is better than buying a stock photo of of some beautiful person that that is a model. So so it's ah so my advice in terms of websites have evolved. Um. 14:42.32 Bridget Willard Oh totally I Love that. 14:52.80 Hashim Warren Some parts are smaller in terms of where it comes in and other parts I talk about how it needs to interact with your marketing offline. And and that's just a lot easier for for some small business owners to wrap their minds around. Also another thing is when a successful job is the trigger for sending out marketing, It makes the, the workflow of the marketing a lot easier. Because a lot of business owners, including myself whenever I'm running something online, it's hard to have that balance between delivering the work and also promoting yourself and promoting your business. But what's really nice is is when when you focus on kind of that offline marketing campaign I just talked about. A successful job Triggers triggers a promotion. And that's it and hopefully a fly will effect happens. 15:32.53 Bridget Willard Yeah. 15:43.93 Bridget Willard yeah yeah I mean that is essentially off-page SEO like if you want to be all SEO about it. But it's just normal. It's a normal thing to do oh you like this. 15:51.61 Hashim Warren Right. 15:59.56 Hashim Warren Bridget, I'm going to write that down -- "off-page SEO." I like that. "Offline SEO." I'm going to go to write that down. 16:02.20 Bridget Willard Yeah, ah I mean I mean I know so many direct mail people and and it works. It works when. Advertising works when people know who you are. But that like me campaign like me campaigns always work which is why social media is so powerful. And why case studies are so powerful and um I know ah I know that your Twitter bio says you're a community organizer I'm wondering how how your marketing writer-ness. I mean I want to talk about you as a person a little bit like how does that all culminate? like. But do you? How does? Can you talk about that a little bit? 16:40.88 Hashim Warren Sure sure about two years ago my wife and I decided that we were outsourcing our citizenship to organizations, like our government, like our church, and and like our the companies that we work for. And with the thinking, Oh if I work for a good company, it'll it'll do good for society. If I go to a good church, it'll do good for society. And we looked at each other we said, what are we doing for our neighbors? like. What are what exactly are we doing? And we decided that we wanted to use our interests our gifts and things like that to, to actually serve our neighbors in some way. So the time my daughter, she was doing a project where they were making signs welcoming refugees to Greensboro. And when I looked it up, I found that Greensboro has a rich history of being very welcoming to refugees. So I looked up the organization that had partnered with my daughter to school and we decided to get to know that organization better and also to serve that organization. So, because I am a marketer and because I'm a web developer, ah, the first thing I did was um, ah build a website with a campaign this this support, ah, you know these refugee families. And, and then you know. 17:58.59 Bridget Willard Yeah. 18:09.65 Hashim Warren I've built actually about three websites with different campaigns to support this organization. And one was a personal one that was ah, a kind of a birthday campaign. It's my birthday please support this. Another one was um, kind of a multifaceted campaign with you can donate, you can you can volunteer. you can also advocate and write to your senator, and you can do these things. And here here's the deadline and you know just all of my marketing tricks. It was really is a little annoying to my wife like you're you're overdoing this but we had a ah, video created with one of the best video marketers I know and just raised ah a terrific amount of money. And got to celebrate it, have a party with with the families there. Ah and we also built a fence for the community center and raised money for that. Snd. Um. So we're actually working on something right now where ah where the same company I just talked about, that CMS company that's located in Greensboro, we're working on a campaign where. Ah, you know this is so funny, you asked about this Bridget, because this is all coming together -- that same do-it-for-you design service. We're creating grants so that people in the refugee community who are small business owners can get a free year of the do-it-for-you service. 19:39.76 Bridget Willard Oh my God I Love this so hard. This, this is reality. This is your beliefs becoming something concrete and actually putting back into a person who is a block in that community. 19:43.91 Hashim Warren Yeah, so this is. But is that right. 19:54.48 Hashim Warren Exactly right. It so it took yeah now I feel the same way like it checks all of my personal boxes in terms of. So I'm actually helping with the copywriting there and ah so. 19:57.32 Bridget Willard Oh my God that is so cool I Love stuff my I might yes oh cool. 20:13.96 Hashim Warren Ah, yeah, they they get a year of the service after a year we're going to ask them to participate in helping someone else get the grant. But ah, um, also a fun fact is that ah immigrants and refugees, they have ah a very high rate of starting their own business and and um and their new home country. So I will. We're starting out with one. We hope to get to three and we'll see where it goes from there. But myself as a marketer, myself as a web developer, myself as a former employee of this company, and myself as a community organizer, organizer with this organization that helps refugees it just ticks all the boxes. So I'm vibrating in terms of my home interest there. So thank you for asking about that. But um, when, when other friends have asked about getting involved. 20:56.42 Bridget Willard Yeah. 21:11.86 Hashim Warren I've told them it doesn't have to be like the things I'm doing are a little bit flashy because this is what I like as a marketer I said go knock on your neighbor's door and see if you can mow their lawn like it. Whatever your thing is in your local community. It can be. 21:22.31 Bridget Willard Yeah, yeah. 21:29.56 Hashim Warren Ah, like that. Um it doesn't have to be you know what myself and my wife like to do. 21:32.97 Bridget Willard Right? Like the tree trimmer could help of elderly people once a month. Once a month they could donate tree trimming. You know like I live in a poor neighborhood that's getting gentrified or whatever and there there's houses that. 21:37.91 Hashim Warren Ah, that's right, That's right, That's really instant. 21:52.25 Bridget Willard I just think sometimes like they just need somebody to mow their lawn. Like how did how does that happen? You know, and if I owned a landscaping company, I would do that. I mean I would um you know, find out who these people are and. 21:55.22 Hashim Warren Right? right. 22:08.39 Bridget Willard Or have somebody nominated, even better. Ask my customers who who could use this service as my way of giving back? Because all small businesses understand that if you don't have that involvement with the community online or off, you don't exist. 22:16.38 Hashim Warren Um, right. 22:27.38 Bridget Willard We don't We don't do business in a vacuum because we don't live in a vacuum. We're social animals. We're spiritual beings. And we're meant to be with one another. And when we help others it elevates all of humanity. 22:30.80 Hashim Warren Right. 22:43.19 Hashim Warren Exactly right. And I learned about the word "Shalom" recently and and how it means kind of um Harmony and peace in a community and the fabric working together. And, you know I use a service called Feedly and I pay for like the advanced Feedly service. And I did that for a newsletter that I have. But then I started to use it to track news in my community and I told Feedly I want to know about businesses that are are serving the community too and I try to amplify that on, on Facebook. Where Facebook was where I'm connected to a lot of my neighbors, unlike Twitter where I'm connected to a lot of the WordPress community and web development community and the marketing community. But I see this happening. Bridget, there was a moving company that took 5 % of their they took $5 for every move they did the last month or two and they gave that money away for mother's day. And there was news about another restaurant that ah you know your meal pays for someone else's meal. It's it's a pay-what-you-can restaurant in my neighborhood. I've always heard about those restaurants but I was like wait a minute. There's one in my neighborhood and just so on and so forth like there. Ah the war in Ukraine a lot of businesses have been doing things to help that. 24:03.85 Bridget Willard That's so cool. 24:12.90 Hashim Warren And I said you know what? if you were doing that I'm going to try to give you as much free social media promotion as possible. So on LinkedIn, on my Facebook I'm going to talk about those stories. It's much nicer than talking about bad news that day or something like that. 24:26.58 Bridget Willard Yeah, yeah, and I guess you know we've went over but I don't care. And ah it's a my podcast I could go over if I want to. But I love this because it just reminds me that good business is being a good human and the best marketing is caring about others. Right? Thank you so much for your time is there any anything you want to promote at the you know do you want people to find you anywhere or go to a website or check out any of that. 24:50.37 Hashim Warren That's awesome. That's exactly right. That's awesome. 24:59.78 Hashim Warren Sure. So on Twitter you could find me at @Hashim_Warren. I also have a newsletter where we talk about some of the ways to give to your community called JusticeYear.com. So Justice Year is a weekly study on Biblical justice and you can learn how myself and my friends that were trying. We're stumbling through learning how to contribute to our community. 25:24.58 Bridget Willard Okay. 25:33.57 Bridget Willard I Love that. Thank you so much. 25:37.45 Hashim Warren Thanks Bridget.

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