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“You may not believe your advice is worthy, but it is. Help those who come after you. You can make a difference.” with Erik J. Olson

If I could wave a magic wand, I’d instill the leadership and business principles needed to be successful into each entrepreneur at a very young age so they have time to exercise those new skills. Of course, that’s not going to happen. But the next best thing is for entrepreneurs who are further along the […]



If I could wave a magic wand, I’d instill the leadership and business principles needed to be successful into each entrepreneur at a very young age so they have time to exercise those new skills. Of course, that’s not going to happen. But the next best thing is for entrepreneurs who are further along the path to look back and help those come up through the ranks. You may not believe your advice is worthy, but it is. Help those who come after you. You can make a difference in their lives which may compound into a much larger difference being made in the world.

As part of my series of interviews about “How to Use LinkedIn To Dramatically Improve Your Business”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Erik J. Olson, a digital marketer & entrepreneur. Founder & CEO of Array Digital. Host of the Journey to $100 Million Flash Briefing and daily podcast. Organizer of the Marketers Anonymous podcast and monthly meetups in multiple cities.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

We used to focus on custom software development and websites. With the many problems we solved for our clients, we noticed a pattern — many of our clients hired us to build a digital product but later failed to turn their creation into a thriving business.

The movie “Field Of Dreams” taught us that if you build it they will come. Turns out, that’s not exactly true in the business world.

To help our customers we began to offer marketing services such as search engine optimization, social media, and content marketing. Turned out that digital marketing services were more valuable to our clients than just making websites and apps, so we pivoted to focus 100% on digital marketing in late 2017.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?

It was December 27, 2017. We were in the middle of the long, slow, holiday break.

I knew we had a problem.

I had already exported all of our financial data from QuickBooks. With not much going on, it was the perfect time to take a deep dive into our finances.

We were spread too thin. Offering custom software development, web design, and digital marketing, the three services we provided at the time were completely incompatible with one another.

Requiring three different skill sets, and none of them interchangeable, we were effectively operating three companies under one roof.

I knew we were in for trouble if we kept going the way we were.

Custom software development brought home the bacon, and it was my background. Web development was my business partner’s background. We had recently hired someone to focus exclusively on digital marketing.

If we chose just one niche, which should it be?

Digging through the data, I realized that, at that moment, only digital marketing would be profitable the next year if nothing else were to change. We’d have to sell our assets off just to break even for the other services.

Problem was, digital marketing had little revenue. But it was profitable. What if we could increase its revenue?

I’d spent the last year studying nothing but digital marketing. It was my latest obsession. We realized that the riskiest thing we could do was nothing. If we did nothing, we’d go bankrupt. With no choice, we went all in on digital marketing.

That decision was the best decision we ever made. We’ve since steered the ship into a big blue profitable ocean of endless opportunities. The finances are stable and getting better, and we all love what we’re doing now.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

“David, I think we have a problem.”

My career started straight out of engineering school at Virginia Tech.

A classically-trained civil engineer, I went into construction project management. David was my first manager — my first boss.

We’re building a commercial warehouse on base housing for the Navy. I drive up to the construction site and right away something seems off.

The wooden roof rafters were dropped off by the vendor, as expected, but, huh? The rafters were dumped by the truck driver right on top of a 6-foot tall pile of dirt.

They’re horizontal to the ground but look like a bell curve. The edges are touching the normal grade but the middle is thrust 6’ up in the air.

I call David immediately. He’ll know what to do.

David arrives on site. “What the hell?”

We call the vendor and their owner arrives quickly to the site. He says, and I quote, “I’ve been in this business for 45 years and I’ve never seen anything like this.”

I lean over to David and whisper, “I’ve been in this business for 6 months and I guess I’ve seen it all.”

Trust your gut. Even if you’re inexperienced, if something doesn’t seem right, then it’s probably not.

Which social media platform have you found to be most effective to use to increase business revenues? Can you share a story from your experience?

If you grow your business by building relationships with ideal prospects then LinkedIn is a great platform for you.

If you’re not already familiar with LinkedIn, it’s a social media platform that highlights the professional aspects of our lives. Members create resume-style profiles (ex: here’s mine https://www.linkedin.com/in/iamerikjolson) and connect with other professionals.

Most people consider LinkedIn a “closed” network, similar to how they use Facebook to only connect with people they already know well. That is a mistake.

Instead, think of LinkedIn as an in-person networking event. Your goal at networking events isn’t to hang out with coworkers and people you already know. It’s to mingle with people you don’t know. Once you’re introduced and you determine they’re an ideal prospect, you can work towards them getting to know, like, and trust you.

Let’s talk about LinkedIn specifically, now. Can you share 5 ways to leverage LinkedIn to dramatically improve your business? Please share a story or example for each.

You can network with an almost unlimited number of ideal prospects on LinkedIn but it will take you hours every day. If you partner with my digital marketing agency then we’ll scale the process on your behalf.

Imagine if 100, 200, or 300 times a day, our software sent a personalized message to an ideal prospect at the optimal time.

Our approach…

1. Grow your audience. Find your ideal prospect by searching for new connections based on job title, seniority, industry, company, company size, and other professional attributes. You define your ideal customer. We’ll find hundreds or thousands of them.

2. Warm your leads. Send a personalized connection request that you craft in your own words. Nothing salesy. Keep it simple like you would at a networking event. We’ll inject personal data such as their name, industry, and company name. It’ll be identical to a request you would have sent yourself if you had time. We’ll send connection requests like this at scale, day and night, using our software.

3. Post content. Every time someone logs into LinkedIn they can see posts created by their connections on their timeline. This is where you can post content (articles, pictures, images) of you doing what you do and talking about your industry and company. This will serve as another touch point and will continue to warm up your new connections. Post daily (we’ll do this for you).

4. Invite them to an event. After a couple of weeks of being connected to you, send a personalized direct message in LinkedIn inviting them to an event. If you regularly hold your own events at your office or elsewhere — perfect! Fill the room with the new friends you made on LinkedIn. If not, then invite them to a networking event that you’ll be going to anyway. Either way, it’s yet another touch point, and if they come to the event, that is your opportunity to create deep and lasting relationships.

5. Reinforce the invitation on Facebook. For your own events, you can create inexpensive advertising on Facebook targeted just to your LinkedIn connections. Export your connections from LinkedIn, then import that list of names and email addresses into a highly targeted Facebook ad. Only your LinkedIn connections will see the ad, and it will invite them to your event. Again, nothing salesy, just an invitation to an event. This serves as yet another touch point in another platform.

There are many more techniques for courting your new connections. This is just the tip of the iceberg. The key here is making those new connections, with ideal customers, and at scale in the background, allowing you to service your existing business at the same time

Because of the position that you are in, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Every person, regardless of their position in life or business, has the ability to make a difference in this world. Entrepreneurs, however, are uniquely positioned to be in greater control of their destiny. But each entrepreneur starts off as a blank slate.

If I could wave a magic wand, I’d instill the leadership and business principles needed to be successful into each entrepreneur at a very young age so they have time to exercise those new skills. Of course, that’s not going to happen. But the next best thing is for entrepreneurs who are further along the path to look back and help those come up through the ranks. You may not believe your advice is worthy, but it is. Help those who come after you. You can make a difference in their lives which may compound into a much larger difference being made in the world.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

I’m a GaryVee fan boy. We’re in the same industry and he’s grown a large digital marketing agency in a short amount of time. He’s way ahead of the path I’m on. I already learn a ton from his podcasts, but would love to pick his brain on a few topics including selling to larger clients, and how he predicts the transition to a voice-first world will go down.

Thank you so much for these great insights. This was very enlightening!

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