Social Media Strategy

Who Cares What Chris Brogan is Drinking?

You know who Chris Brogan is, right? Skip the following paragraph.

What?!? You don’t know the name? Chris is the publisher of Owner Magazine, CEO of Human Business Works, a publishing and media company, a keynote speaker, marketing consultant to major brands, and the bestselling author of six books. Marketers want a piece of Chris. He’s also one of the good guys. He means and does what he says.

Chris is also a big drinker.

Chris writes a personalized, no-muss, text-based email to his massive list of subscribers every Sunday night. He launches into each one by telling you what type of coffee or tea he’s drinking. He really does.

Recently he wrote:

I’m having some Vietnamese French style coffee (have you had that before?), and it’s yummy! What about you?

A week or so prior, he wrote:

I’m drinking a delicious though simple yerba mate with chai spices (Yes, Indian friends, I know that “chai” means “tea,” but that’s the label). You?

He appears to be a fairly discriminating connoisseur of tea:

I’m sitting here in my local Barnes & Noble sipping a double dirty iced chai, Barry, and I’m thinking about preparation and how just a little bit goes a long way.

But who the hell cares what he’s drinking?

I’ve been reading his emails for a year or more because they are great. Super genuine. Informative. Fantastic reads.

It always feels like I’m getting an email from a friend. Why? Because I am.

Is this mega-star of new media really my friend? Well, as it turns out we’ve never actually clinked teacups, but Chris cares about me. He’s always on the lookout for ways to help me grow as a business owner and person. He ALWAYS asks me to write back. I often do. He ALWAYS responds. That qualifies as a friend, my friend.

I must admit, I was scratching my head for quite some time when Chris insisted I get acquainted with his cup of tea or java every Sunday night. I couldn’t help but think, “Who cares, dude?”

I’m onto you now, Chris.

I think I get it now. Chris wants me to know him. Hot beverages are important to him. Nothing wrong with that.

I do the same thing. If you read my stuff regularly you have to come to know I have two daughters I adore. You have to know I love rock and roll. It’s inevitable I’m going to share my ideas about online marketing based on what’s worked for growing my business.

So let me tell you about this one compliment I get often. Goes like this…

“Hi Barry, I was just reading your website and it felt like we were having a conversation. It felt like you were talking to me.”

I say, “Thank you. I was talking to you.”

Was I being a journalist? Online marketer? Website copywriter? Teacher?

Yes, all of the above. Was I thinking of my job description as I wrote that page or post? Hell no.

I was thinking, it’d be great if I could help you grow your business with effective online marketing. And, I think, the only way to get ‘er done is to drop the façade and talk human to human.

Maybe I should run the idea by Chris.

I see Chris at most of the new media conferences I attend. I’m not real shy about introducing myself to the speakers, authors, even the hosts, however Brogan’s always surrounded by a crowd, so I’ve yet to barge in.

Prior to New Media Expo (NMX 2014 in Las Vegas), I asked Chris if he’d be there. He said, “yes,” and I said, “I’ll be shaking your hand there and introducing myself.” He said, “I look forward to that, Barry.” I believe I mentioned he’s a nice guy.

I did. About 30 seconds after the greeting (and conversation about his morning coffee), I told him I had an idea for a post. It’d be called, “Who Cares What Chris Brogan is Drinking?” I asked him what he thought of the idea. He thought it was a great idea.

I told him it’d be a story about being authentic, personal, and genuine with the people who read your communications. He got that. I had to know, “That is why you talk about coffee and tea, right?”

He said it was, but he said there’s a more important reason. Bring it Brogan. What might that be? Chris said the coffee and tea subject has proven to be the number one thing people write back to him about. 

Did you get that? He writes to hundreds of thousands of people. He has several companies and all kinds of services and programs he’d like us to buy, but he wants people to write back to discuss their drinking habits. Hmph.

Then he asked me about what I do and what’s something I’d like to accomplish this year. I guess he wants to lend a hand. I told him I’d like to begin selling some of my more robust copywriting lessons as information products, but I never have before. At a nearby table Chris spotted a man he knew would have great tips and resources for me. (He knows a lot of people.) He introduced us, thanked me for taking the time to talk to him, and moved on to the next guy who wanted a Brogan handshake.

You can never learn too much about this stuff.

Just a few hours later at the NMX conference, I took a seat at a session titled, “Guaranteed to Stand Out — Authenticity and Transparency Behind the Microphone.” It was a mini-panel hosted by Pat Flynn and Cliff Ravenscraft.

Cliff is kind of the big daddy of podcasting and one of his ace students, Pat, has graduated with honors. He has one of the leading podcasts in the world, speaks to standing room only venues at new media conferences, and operates several successful new media-based businesses. During the conference, Pat was selected to keynote next year’s event.

Pat and Cliff are very knowledgeable, very generous with their wisdom, very comfortable in front of crowd, but mostly they’re amazingly genuine in all they do. It’s the secret to their popularity and success.

They had no slides. Bravo. The first thing they asked of the audience was to turn to the person next to you and tell him or her about a favorite vacation, then allow them to do the same. If you say so guys.

I told the guy next to me about a fairly recent family trip to Sunriver, Oregon. He told me about his first trip to Hawaii with his wife. I asked him his name. It was Spencer Haws of Niche Pursuits. No way!!!

Spencer and I know each other. Guess how? Social media. In fact, I use the software product Spencer created, Longtail Pro. He knows me. Why? I wrote about his software. Where? Here. On Convince and Convert. I interviewed him via Skype while researching my article.

Crazy, eh?

But why should I care that Spencer and his wife treasure their memories of the hikes they took in Kauai?

Grab a cup of tea and think that one over.

Facebook Comments


  1. Kate Breuer says

    Really enjoyed reading this. I think sharing a bit of our personal life makes it way easier to create a connection to our fan base. Nicely written article on the topic. Thanks!

  2. antoniamatthews says

    Barry – great post. I love how genuine you are. Being caring and really human allows people to forge meaningful connections, which is what’s so exciting about marketing today (when people get it)!

  3. Michael Belfry says

    Terrific article – really demonstrates how content written in a personal, conversational tone can make a lasting impression. : )

  4. says

    HA! Great post title! I was ready to jump over here and defend those beverage-centered emails! LOL

    NOOOW, since you said you’re into rock n roll, I have to ask…are you interested in being a featured VIP for the #GarageParty I hold on social media every Friday night? 😉

  5. says

    Wow Barry, this post hooked me up. Very good story, and vey surprising one. I should start to talk more about my human habits (actually there is a lot to talk about base level of the Maslow pyramid).

  6. Deb Nelson says

    And all this time I thought it was just Chris and me sitting down to a nice chat every Sunday morning. Hmmm…it’s a crowded room with Chris!

    Seriously, though, great post!

  7. Guest says

    Great post! Thanks so much! And I can vouch for what an amazing person Chris Brogan is. He does reply to email, and he helped me out by doing an interview for my blog. You are right. Being authentic and connecting with people is how you serve them. When they know, like, and trust you, and you then offer something that might be helpful, then everyone benefits.

  8. says

    Great post Barry, glad to see it posted! I generally put a joke in my newsletter. I want to share good information but I also want to put a smile on someones face. I also share some pictures of my family, talk about stuff I do etc. This is what I get most responses about. I don’t drink too much tea or coffee but I guess I’d speak about this if I did!!!

  9. says

    Connection and character. It differentiates. Plus it’s fun and I will take interaction over slick slides any day. If you like the slides then maybe it isn’t your cup of tea. But a strong cup of tea of a particular variety and mixture is better than just getting another cup of Lipton. Some might get tea-ed off when you dance around the point but I like it. Cheers!

  10. says

    Great post. I love the serendipity created when you take the time to the person next to you at a conference. I always enjoy the content being shared and typically learn a lot, but real, long term value, 90% of the time, comes from taking the time to actually talk to and get to know people. And funny enough – I had an opportunity to do that with @iancleary:disqus, who also commented, late last year :) I know we talk about authenticity entirely too much, but it does matter and the stories above are prime examples of that. And funny enough – I had an opportunity

  11. says

    This is so true! I do love that Chris throws those little personal bits into his emails. I’ve met and spoken with Chris many times before in real life, but it’s those little personal interactions through the emails and other social media touch points that make me feel like I really know him. (Side note: I did a webinar with Chris last year and part of my intro included a line that read “And Chris is one of the only social media thought leaders whom I always know what kind of tea he’s drinking.”)
    But I find that very true of most social media. In everything I do and write I try to show off both my smarts, but also who I am. If you ever were to look at my Twitter stream you’d see it filled with business talk and articles, but also music, comics, stupid thoughts I have, etc. I always show off who I am as a person beyond my job and to be honest I think it’s the biggest reason why people have been able to connect with me. They know I’m human and they appreciate it. (My personal blog is all about my personal life/thoughts so people can get to know me through that as well, but no one really reads it).
    I think that the getting to know the human is what makes this new social world such a success. It’s not just about pushing marketing messages etc, it’s about finding people you like, respect, look up to, think are smart and wanting to do business with them. That personal connection is what helps to make business thrive in today’s social world.

    Great post Barry!

    Sheldon, community manager for Marketwired

  12. says

    Excellent post, Barry. I, too, enjoy Chris’ Sunday newsletters and find I look forward to reading the latest beverage pursuit! Thanks for the reminder on sharing yourself in the hustle and bustle of all this content we create.

  13. Frederic Gonzalo says

    Love it! Great read, Barry, and so very true. We connect with people and their human side before we connect with the rational, or business, side. Great post!

  14. says

    Enjoyed the read. What I found with this post and alongside Chris’ approach is to humanise the world. Whilst we all embrace what technology presents to us (and hide behind our warm social media comfort blankets) and get to grips with platforms to build a dialogue, one thing will always remain and that’s what we stand for as people. We all want our audience to know, like and trust us and that is exactly what Chris does with his Sunday digests. Looking forward to his new book in the next couple of months.

  15. Bobby Ray Burns says

    Funny, I felt a little put out when I learned from Chris that he likes tea! Like, why should I care?! Because Chris is my “friend” though we have never met and probably never will. But I am still a bit self-conscious now about my coffee addiction and dislike of tea! :) Thanks, Chris…

  16. says

    Awesome Barry! Nicely thought and well done. I’ve emailed Chris a few times, and well, he has always responded. I respect the heck out of him for that. We even emailed back and forth several emails one Sunday morning. I love the Owner magazine idea too. Thanks for this!

  17. says

    This is awesome Barry, and so true. I remember back in the beginning of it all when social media friends started to decide to get together “IRL” (in real life). People were making actual friends offline from people they first met online, and sometimes knew for years online before they actually physically met!

    In the end people want real connections. Or I should say real people want real connections. This was a great reminder of why authenticity rocks.

    p.s. Was it your first time to Sunriver? I went there every summer for about 25 years! I love that place.

  18. Baby Herman says

    Barry, thanks for this post. Really made the point. I follow you on Feldman Creative and always appreciate your ideas. Love that you come from the advertising world. Love your slideshare posts too.

  19. says

    Interesting post, thanks! I subscribe to Chris’ newsletter too. I’ve never met him, but I do appreciate his humour and the way he comes across as, well, human! I’m always a little wary of following the “big guys” and especially celebs. It seems the more popular people become, the less human they become. In many ways, the fact that Chris Brogan has become so famous and popular in the social media world puts me off! What’s the point in following someone that is only interested in themselves and promoting their business? They’re certainly not going to be interested in talking to “little me”. I think this is where people like Chris get it right, or at least that is my impression. I only ever replied to one of his emails, not expecting to get a reply, and I did. Humans are relational and 2-way communication is so important.

    Would I call Chris a friend? Not really? I don’t know him and he doesn’t know him. At the end of the day, he’s in the business to sell something. Having said that, most relationships start in some small way. Business works on trust and we tend to trust real people. And although I don’t know Chris, he seams real.

    • says

      Ian, thanks for chiming in. I urge you to abort what feels like a game to me. Do you want something from Chris? If so, let him know what that is and he’ll help however he can. He’s not a celebrity. He’s a highly in demand resource.

      • says

        No problem, Barry. Apologies with the wording of my initial comment. It serves me right in trying to get what was in my head down on the comment too quickly! I’ve tried to re-word it a little and hopefully it makes a bit more sense (as well as being a little more grammatical!)
        I think the word “celebrity” is over used. He’s a very approachable guy who has integrity. Is that the type of person I want to talk to and do business with? Of course! It’s what all of us should be doing.
        I didn’t quite get what you meant by the phrase “I urge you to abort what feels like a game…”? Do you mean my aversion to the popular people?! 😉

        Thanks again!

  20. says

    One of the debates in starting an online effort is whether or not to be a big fish in a small pond or a small fish in a big pond. Fact is these ponds are getting fuller every day! Being genuine may be the one true way to stand out.

  21. MariaElenaDuron says

    I appreciated the wonderful face to face time with everyone at New Media Expo. And the fact the Chris genuinely cares inspires me. You said it so well in your comment that ‘he’s not a celebrity. He’s a high demand resource.’ I was blown away when he asked me if he could hug me. How cool is that???
    I also was in the same workshop you were in with Pat and Cliff! What a wonderful question to have us discuss and I, too, make a great connection from doing that and will forever remember her vacation that she shared with me.
    Excellent post, Barry! You really captured the “feel” of NMX and the importance of really connecting, listening and friendships.

  22. says

    That the grate part of this personalised notes even if they are in the email or the articles you write. It’s about creating an environment that is cosy and pleasant for both parties. Plus it helps you focus on the reader. Pawel Grabowski’s article where he admits that he writes his articles like letters to better focus on the that particular audience.

  23. MamaRed says

    I was completely stunned one Sunday morning when I got my first “Chris Missive” and it said what he was drinking and asked what I was having. I found myself writing him a response thinking “What the hell? Yeah, like he’s gonna write me back.” Color me stunned when he did and we’ve had these convos ever since. Heck, he even helped me promote The ContentThrowdown. Love real people and am totally enjoyed your post Barry and the comments!

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