Today we conduct our first WSI Digital Marketing Consultant video interview, and it's with none other than our banking expert, Eric Cook.
Eric is well known in our WSI network for sharing his knowledge and whenever one of us needs to understand something relating to banking, he’s our go-to guy.
FYI, we are intentionally conducting these interviews from our respective offices, that way anyone investigating joining our franchise network will get a good idea of how WSI businesses operate.
Eric is an avid sportsman, loves cycling, water-sports and camping - something that is close to my heart as well. He is an accomplished speaker as well - so let’s get started:
Eric, tell us a little about yourself and where you are located?
Former banker of 15 years before joining WSI. Located in Michigan, and spend a lot of time on the spreading the gospel of digital to the banking community.
Why did you want to become an Internet consultant?
I started building websites in 1995 as a community banker. We built one of the first community bank websites “back in the day” and after 15 years in the industry, decided I didn’t want to be CEO of publicly traded bank. Decided to pursue my passion for digital and “stumbled” upon WSI while doing a career search for a “real” job. Haha!
Did you do anything else before you started your WSI business?
Community banking, plus involved in several local service and community efforts.
Tell us about anyone who helped influence you into starting your own business?
I remember talking to Doug Schust and Neal Lappe. Doug actually was assigned to me “to help” land my first customer before even attending training in Toronto due to his proximity to me here in Michigan. Once I started, there have been so many others that have been influential to me, and also become close friends...
How long have you been with WSI?
11 years (2007).
Describe your typical work week?
Wow, no such thing! I could be traveling for a conference, teaching at a banking school, in the office managing a project, creating content, conducting a webinar. It really varies.
What highlights have you had since being with WSI?
Started in 2008 with winning a Web Award (way to kick things off!). Several other awards over the years from peers, which are humbling. I’ve been selected as a Top Gun, elected as an ICAC (Internet Consultant Advisory Council) member, asked to emcee our 2018 Global Convention (second time, actually).
What are the biggest obstacles that you have faced in running your business and how have you mastered them?
Still a work in process. Probably the biggest challenge has been resisting the urge to chase all the shiny objects that we get exposed to as a digital marketer. So many things that we could be doing and trying to learn, but discipline is key to staying focused and on-task. Still not saying I’m the best at it, but working with our team on project management ideas, empowering staff to help keep me organized, etc. Need to focus on what I’m good at and then “let go” of the rest.
Do you have any skills or talents that most people don't know about?
I’m fluent in Pig Latin. I also can recite the Greek alphabet (very quickly) while holding a match upside down (thanks to my college fraternity days).
What do you think are the best skills that you bring to your business?
Since I do a lot of work with community banks and was a banker myself for 15 years, I’m easily able to relate to what their “business challenges” are. I pride myself by being able to get outside of just the “digital marketing” mode and really look into their business and see what’s going on. The great part is that I find there's a lot of carryover of this for other businesses as well, as we work with other small businesses as well. This gives me a real “results first” approach that I think my clients appreciate.
What goal do you have for yourself that you want to accomplish in the next year?
We’ve got some personal goals related to our cottage and a move that are exciting and a bit intimidating at the same time. Business-wise, we’re looking forward to fine-tuning our CRM/marketing automation process as a SharpSpring shop, identifying some new key services that our clients will want (and make us more attractive to new prospects), and working to develop our team so the business is not as reliant on me as it currently is.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
I really enjoy the public speaking that I do as part of my business, whether at a conference or one of the several banking schools where I’m a teacher. I’d like to be doing more of that, plus maybe even have a book, online training program(s) in place, producing video/podcast content to help educate my audience, etc. All of these also have the ability to generate some nice passive/recurring income for the business as well, but more importantly, deliver information that I know my customers and the banking industry will find valuable.
What advice would you give a new WSI Internet Consultant?
Focus on the personal side of the business first, then get technical. Remember that anything you do “technically” can be replicated with less expensive option pretty much at any time thanks to the global marketplace the Internet has created. However, it’s impossible to replace the personal connection and relationships that are created when you approach the business as a “people business”, not just one that deals in technology and marketing. Understand your clients, their business, their challenges, etc. and only after you have a good handle on these, can you really become a valuable (and irreplaceable) member of their team.
What would be your personal motto?
Do what you love. Love what you do. Life is short.
If we went to happy hour, what would you order?
For me, it likely would be a Guinness. On a hot summer day maybe a Moscow Mule, but only if they can serve it in a copper mug!
If you could be anywhere other than here talking to me - right this minute, where would you be?
Likely on a long road trip in our RV with my bride, my doggies, our Jeep in tow, and all my bikes on the back. Of course, the WiFi hotspot is going at all times so I can keep connected, lol!