Welcome to the All-Stars Linkedin Profiles Podcast with Linkedin specialist and copywriter Jeanine Hogan. Get Ready to power up your credibility, improve your brand strategy, and reach your target audience on Linkedin. It's time to supercharge your profile and turn you into an all-star.
Jeanine Hogan: Hey everyone, welcome back to the All-Star Linkedin Profiles Podcast I'm Jeanine Hogan. I have a very special episode for you today. Every now and then I come across a Linkedin Profile that really does a good job of standing out. In this episode, we're going to be talking with Rob Kessler whose Profile headline was so unique and intriguing that it really caught my attention and I just had to connect with him and learn more about what he did.
So of course, I dug into his profile a bit more and as a copywriter who writes Linkedin Profiles, I really appreciated what I saw. His profile hits all the right marks and so I thought he would be a great guest to have on this show. He so generously took his time out of his busy schedule to be here with us today. Rob welcome to the show and thanks so much for being here.
Rob Kessler: Absolutely, thanks for having me. That's a lot of compliments there in the beginning.
Jeanine:You deserve them and for the audience, Rob is the co-founder of goTIELESS the only shirt designed to be worn tieless. It's very interesting, Rob I'd love for you to share with us how you go about using Linkedin specifically to help grow your business. But before we even get to that why don't you share a little bit about your background and your story with us?
Rob: Sure. So I've been in sales all my life. I started with a little soccer and volleyball store in high school. I played soccer competitively for 20+ years, and those guys really gave me an opportunity from the beginning to spread my wings and do whatever I wanted to in the business. Which was amazing, being 16, 17 years old, and learning financials. I got a key to the store, the code to the alarm day 1 and it was they put so much faith in me right off the bat all I could feel like is I had to give them everything I had back.
That really laid the groundwork, from there I sold houses, cars, and diamonds. While I was selling houses in 2006 the real estate market was getting ready to take a turn. So for my soccer and volleyball days, I knew about screen printing. Graphic tees were really hot at that time so I started making graphic t-shirts partnering with artists. The graphic t-shirt company turned into a screen printing and embroidery business which I grew out of the basement into over a million dollars in sales. Ended up buying a 600 square foot building, we moved that business into, and my wife had started a gym so we had the two businesses together in that building.
I brought her out here to LA as we did annually for a birthday. We left and we said we had such a great time there, we always have such a great time in LA let's move there. She asked me, "when do we want to do it?" And I said, "how about by your next birthday." So within a year of that birthday we had sold the screen printing business, sold the house, sold our second car, sold all our furniture, everything we had and basically started all over here in Los Angeles.
During that process I had married my wife, we are now coming up on 7 years. We got married on the beach in Jamaica, I'm not a tie guy. I hate wearing neckties so I didn't wear one on the biggest day of my life and my shirt was a sloppy mess because of the casual and a little bit of the humidity. It was brand new and freshly pressed and I hated the way my pictures looked so I started cutting open dress shirts as soon as I got home from Jamaica.
I started working on what I ended up patenting and is now called Million Dollar Collar which is similar to a color stay but it goes down the front of your shirt where the buttons and the buttonholes are to help give some structure to that part of the shirt. Dress shirts have never really been designed to be worn without a tie so there is no structure in the part of any dress shirt. Doesn't matter if it's a $15 H & M shirt or a $400-$500 Ralph Lauren purple label there's no structure in there.
We launched that company about 4 years ago here in Los Angeles and have been grinding on that and in the meantime, we decided to make our own dress shirt which is goTIELESS. The first shirt that's been designed to be worn tieless as you said which has our technology built-in and all the fun little features to it. That brings me to today.
Jeanine: That is amazing, I love the story, the journey is relatable. I love that you actually had a problem for yourself that you identified that so many other people can relate to and you were able to fill that need really well. I actually took a look at your website too prior to our call and your product looks amazing. Congratulations on that it sounds like you guys are just, you're shooting for the moon and you're going to get there.
Rob: I like to set really, crazy, big goals. I never liked wearing a tie. I always remember ironing a shirt before we would go out. To me, a dress shirt is the guy's goto piece of clothing if they want to look good. It's super versatile, you can dress it up, tuck it in, you can leave it untucked, you can roll the sleeves, you can go one button, two-button, you can throw a tie on if you're desperate and you have to. To me, it's the most versatile product and the numbers support it. There are a billion shirts sold in the U.S. in 2018.
There's a lot of markets out there. So now we have the aftermarket version, where any guy can upgrade any shirt they have in their closet by buying our product and going to a local dry cleaner or tailor. They can buy one of our new goTIELESS shirts. We also have accounts with some of the biggest brands, we've been buying and building a catalog of dress shirts on our Million Dollar collar site of shirts that are already upgraded. If someone likes Tommy Hilfiger or Kenneth Cole or Calvin Klein, Van Heusen we already have those shirts, we have bought them in different colors and sizes and have upgraded them and they're ready to wear right off the rack. We're just trying to figure out every way to get this onto every guy possible.
Jeanine: Well, it sounds like you're doing a fantastic job because even if they are committed to a specific brand or they like the way that brand fits they're still able to solve their problem and still wear the brand that they like. They don't have to switch brands which is amazing.
Rob:It's been a challenge, most people in America aren't into alterations and tailoring and stuff. Around the rest of the world, we have sales in 110 countries. Around the rest of the world, tailoring is normal for a guy who really cares about his look. It's been a little challenge of someone buying our product, having to go and find a tailor to install it. We have now about 600 locations on our map of people that we work with that know how to do the installation, which is familiar with our product and we're growing that every single day.
We've always tried to find different ways to make it easier and if you know how you fit in a Calvin Klein shirt, why would you buy just a standard one when you can grab ours and have the technology already in there. It's been a wild ride, there's been no map to follow. There's no product on the market that you buy one place and you have to go somewhere else to use it. It's been a challenge but I've been loving the process.
Jeanine:It's interesting becauseit sounds like you have a lot of pieces there that you would need to have the right connections, the network of people to help you overcome some of that even to gain more reach to your target audience. That might be a really great segway into talking about how you're using LinkedIn. Now your headline was quite a bit different from the 90% LinkedIn Profiles that I come across which is why I think you stand out so well and why you stood out to me. I am curious as to what inspired you to go bold with your headline and how that's helping you attract more of those right connections.
Rob:I actually am in a men's group here in Los Angeles which has been insanely amazing. Guys who really hold each other accountable, successful business guys. Some guys that are on their way up and one of the members decided to do a pop up in front of everybody and said I'm going to pull up a couple of LinkedIn Profiles and we're going to talk about why these are good and those are bad. He absolutely shredded me and he's a really good friend and he's a really amazing guy, published author and he helped walk me through some of the things.
Like most people, you throw up a LinkedIn Profile and you're like yeah I got the basic stuff. Most people don't even have a header photo up there and he pointed that out on some very successful business guys in this group showing them that they have those lines with the dots. Whatever that standard header line is. He helped walk me through what I should and shouldn't be doing and to me I'm not a very formal guy. I swear and I talk off the cuff, I'm not really structured. When it comes to business I've always tried to walk a fine line between being who I think people are and being yourself. I think the more I am myself, the more I feel I have better, stronger, more real connections. It's been a little tough to shy away from that image you are supposed to have but I think being authentic at the end of the day is much better for you than trying to be somebody you're not.
Jeanine:Absolutely, that makes a connection so much more personal too. You don't want to not be who you are, you can't stand out that way, you're you and all of those nuances about who you are should come through in your marketing and your branding. LinkedIn is a great way to enhance your personal brand. One of the things I really liked is when I checked out your profile as I kept reading the very first line of your about section states, "Confidence is the sexiest thing you can wear and clothing says a lot about a person."
I just thought that was brilliant. It's just provocative enough to hit an emotional cord and make the reader keep reading. I think you did a really fantastic job of telling a story throughout your profile and giving a sense of who you are. In fact, I'm not even your target audience because I'm a female and I don't share the problem your target does and it still made me want to continue reading. So, in your opinion can you tell us a little about the importance of having a profile on LinkedIn not only represents who you are as a professional and entrepreneur but also your brand?
Rob:Well, like you said I think most people try to play it safe and try to say what everybody says. My father has built an insanely successful jewelry business by breaking the rules. I learned from him one, being authentic and speaking your truth is the right thing to do. I also learned a lot about marketing from him and his ad writer and how to speak to people and say visual things. I try to pay attention, I don't really even think about it. I don't even really remember writing this actually, it just came out. I write how I speak so sometimes that drives people crazy. I've always said I think confidence is the sexiest thing you can wear.
Being in the clothing business a lot of people want to say oh this is going to make you look better or that's going to make you look better. It doesn't matter what you have you can have two people in the exact same outfit but somebody who is internally confident is just going to look better. Another thing we always said in our ads is, clothing says a lot about you.
It's an obvious point that I just shared an article yesterday about that. It's funny that the people who try to push back and say, oh clothing doesn't matter. I don't care who you are in the world if you see something walking up to you with a dark hoodie on with their hood up and their face covered you're going to get a little protective. If you see somebody whose head is up and shoulders are back you're going to be like damn that guys confident. Clothing does speak for you. If your shirt is untucked on one side and not on the other or whatever it just says more about you then you can before you can even say anything. It's something I really, truly believe and so I just wanted to put it out there I guess.
Jeanine:Well that was perfect. That alone talks and speaks to every individual out there whether you are male or female as it did to me. Kudos to you on that. You mentioned a couple of things that I think are really important. I know that it was a while since you had created that profile but there were a couple of things that I wanted to emphasize. Saying visual things or writing in a visual way is incredibly important especially when you are trying to tell your story. People need to be able to have a visual image of what it is that they're reading and then writing how you speak... That is one of the best ways to connect with an audience.
Actually, to write in the way that you speak, that's what a lot of copywriting should be and is about. So if you can write conversationally it will take you so much farther then trying to be grammatically correct or perfect with your prose. No one speaks like that. To write as you speak is really the best way to go because you are going to be able to connect with a lot more people.
One thing that I'd love to know is how you're using LinkedIn to help with the other aspects of your business. Are you able to make connections with LinkedIn that get you into the doors that you need to be in? Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Rob: Being that our focus is dress shirts, certainly our customer is on LinkedIn so I've been using it but not as strong as I should but I found out a couple of little hacks and a couple of ways to get through to people. My business partner Steve is incredible about being able to get meetings. He's gotten us meetings with all of the biggest brands and it was almost all through LinkedIn. Every major dress shirt guy out there he got through LinkedIn and he really knows how to push his way through the noise. To me, it was always finding who can get me to where I want to go. We work with a couple of custom clothiers where they come to your office and measure you all up.
Well, there are thousands of those salespeople out there and they're the ones that are down in the trenches dealing with customers every day and return and button placements and all these different things trying to make shirts look good. I figured I would go to those guys and just try to talk to them first, do you ever have any customers doing this or that? It's a much lower barrier to entry to a salesperson that's in Tempe, Arizona that's trying to build their business. I can get in the door through them and then ask them for a helping hand. How do I get up, who do I talk to about maybe making this an option? Who do I talk to about this?
They'll help you navigate through the waters. I've gotten through to the CEO's of major companies because of that. Nordstrom, Tom James and J. Hilburn and UNTUCKit. We've gotten through by starting at the bottom and working our way to the top and letting them direct us to where we need to be.
Jeanine: It's a smart strategy.
Rob: it's a little longer, it takes a few more steps, and it takes a little bit longer to build the relationship and I'm a big Gary Vee fan and he's like jab, jab, jab, right hook. Here let me give you some samples, here how can I help your business, how can I help you do this. By the way, how can I get to the next step? Who should I talk to about this? I try to give, give, give before I ask for anything and it seems to be pretty effective.
Jeanine:Yeah, I love Gary Vee. He's one of the greats for sure. I love what you said too about how your partner is able to access all of the biggest brands and getting some of the meetings that you guys need. He got them through LinkedIn, do you know anything about his process? Did he ever share it with you some of the ways he went about doing that?
Rob:I think he's got an app that connects his Gmail to LinkedIn so if any of that is information...he can speak to the two of those I'd be happy to hook you up and you guys can have a conversation about it. He did work for SalesForce for about 4 years, before that he was with Rico Copiers and Printers and was the number 1 salesperson there. He's always known how to work his way up. He comes much more from a corporate standpoint. I've always just worked for myself and done my own thing. I don't understand that corporate structure very much.
It really helped to have a guy that understands corporate structure to help us work our way through. He's just more anything, he's just relentless, he will keep messaging you until you respond and not in a rude way, and not in an obnoxious way. One of his email techniques is... "Hey Jeanine, just bumping this to the top of your inbox wanted to see if you wanted to connect. Let's talk about connecting in the next couple of days. " Just a real friendly, "I just wanted to bump this to the top of your inbox because we've gone back and forth a little bit." If somebody forgets about you it's just a nice way, I love that he says that.
One of the other things that I've learned from... I don't know where I learned it now. The email that starts with "have you given up on... " Is an unbelievable way to get people to open it. it could be an email or LinkedIn or anything. People that you've been trying to talk to then lost touch with I'll go back. There are days I send out 100 emails that say. or 100 messages on LinkedIn that say, "Hey have you given up on adding a Million Dollar Collar to your mix?" No, no, no I haven't given up I got busy and this and that. The response rate is unbelievable.
Jeanine:There's a little level of guilt there when you see that. You don't want to... you can't give up. That's great, I love that it's so brilliant. Being relentless, but it's being done in a nice way, and in a business-casual sort of way. Have you ever noticed, I don't know if this ever happens to you on LinkedIn, there's a lot of spammers out there? The instant that you connect with someone you'll get a sales pitch in your DMs. You're like I didn't even talk to you yet why am I getting sold to.
Rob: Yeah, I get that stuff. I tend to ignore it. That's why I try not to do that kind of thing. I am my own customer at the end of the day too. If someone does that to me it's a huge turnoff. Why would you do that to somebody else? I try to really avoid doing that and work your way in through a relationship before you start asking for something.
Jeanine:I love that and I also love the approach. A very simple, friendly, hey let's connect kind of message. That usually... I don't know many people that aren't going to at least respond to that or be interested. That was really great, thank you for sharing that. I also appreciate you sharing some of those tips on email headlines and subjects and things like that. I think sometimes we over complicate what needs to be said and that's a really simple, easy way to get attention.
Rob:My favorite phrase is KISS, Keep It Simple Stupid. Sometimes you want to explain everything and you end up writing this 8 paragraph email. Nobody is reading that nobody is reading an 8 paragraph email. You need enough to catch their attention like my headline. Want them to know a little bit more, you just tease them with a little bit and sometimes that's a lot better than trying to... I've done that, I've done it a hundred times where I'm word vomiting everything I have to say and it's not a good sales approach.
Jeanine: Less is more and that really works. What do you think is the biggest misconception that people have with using LinkedIn? And what would you say to them? You're in a little bit of a different market, you have a custom product so what would you say to these people that have whatever misconceptions?
Rob:I think a lot of people get stuck in how things were 10 years ago. Facebook was for college kids, LinkedIn was for getting a job. That's just not it anymore. To me LinkedIn is professional Facebook, you can connect with friends, you can connect with potential business partners. I think a lot of people think of it maybe as a way to market yourself to get another job. I think you can be very successful within your job if you work at LinkedIn properly.
Getting over the mindset that it represents, is probably a better way. Gary Vee always says, " The beauty of LinkedIn right now is your content will be seen unlike Facebook, Instagram that is filtering things and only a few of your friends are seeing the stuff that you're saying.” That's not true on LinkedIn if I post on LinkedIn everybody in my network, which is almost 4,000 strong is seeing it whether they react or not doesn't matter they're all seeing it.
There's an opportunity to have an interaction with them. As hard as it is to post content regularly, LinkedIn if you're going to do it and are in the business world in any way shape or form that's the way to do it. Like you said early it's about building your personal brand, knowing who you are, knowing that you have knowledge and information that maybe I need at some point. That's what's important.
Jeanine:I couldn't agree more. I love what you said, it's so true, your content will be seen on LinkedIn. That's what makes it so powerful, that's really what's going to help you. Attention is your greatest asset today, especially with everything being online. LinkedIn gives that to you.
Rob:The cross-connections too, I haven't used it very much for "Hey you know so and so could you give me an introduction. " That is an amazing way to broaden your network and get into where you want to be by making connections. I used to connect with every single person that wanted to. I had to go back and purge that list because there were on there that one I didn't know who they were and two I had no reason to be connected with.
Now the 4000 people I'm connected with are actually in the industry I'm working on in one way or another my 6 degrees of separation are getting smaller and smaller. Never forget that option is out there. That you may be connected to somebody or may be connected to someone you may need to get to.
Jeanine:That's really great advice, thank you. I can't help but feel a little honored that you have kept me as a connection and I didn't get purged out. So Thank You. Do you have any final pieces of advice or best practices for other entrepreneurs in terms of using LinkedIn to make the connections that they need to grow their business?
Rob:The biggest thing like anything is to use it. If you set up a profile and then you forget about it and you just react it's not going to be a piece for you. For me this is a potential, this is like having another employee. This sitting out there and representing who I am is speaking for me. You want to make sure that the profile really is representative of who you are as a person.
Like you've said we've talked about through this whole interview is makes it personal. No one cares that you've been in sales for 20 years. That's a standard thing. I'm a boat captain and it's fun and different, people always react, "you're a captain how'd you do that?" It starts a conversation outside of B2B. You have to be a real person. Putting out who you are for real I think is a lot more powerful than any of your business accolades could be.
Jeanine: It certainly is, I couldn't agree more. That was excellent advice, thank you! So Rob if any of our listeners want to contact you what's the best way to do that?
Rob:LinkedIn of course! Obviously, I'm on LinkedIn. I have 3 companies right now we have Million Dollar Collar, so I'm Rob@milliondollarcollar.com if you have any questions about inventing stuff and patenting and that process I have a lot of people I talk to and guide on that.
goTIELESS is the new company, Rob@gotieless.com so that's our dress shirt stuff. We are working on custom colors and branding. So we're working with some pretty cool companies that are going to have our technology, our shirts and it's going to be their uniform. If you have a staff and you're ready to ditch the tie and you're ready to make your company look great still we can get you set up.
I'm a captain so if you're ever in Los Angeles and you want to go for a boat ride look us up Bella Boating and we'll go out for a nice boat ride.
Jeanine: That sounds amazing, you sound like a busy guy?
Rob: it's a better way, if I'm sitting around doing nothing it drives me crazy. I would rather have more on my plate. I seem to be more effective when there's more on my plate. During the soccer season in high school, I did better in school because I had limited time to screw around.
Jeanine:Yes there you go. It's true that sometimes being busier is definitely better. It keeps you motivated.
Rob:Yeah love it.
Jeanine: Rob, thank you so much for being here. This has been a wonderful conversation. I'm so glad you were able to share some of your insight about how you're using LinkedIn and also for teaching us about your business. I'm really excited for you and I think you have something really amazing. I look forward to seeing what you do in the future.
Rob: Awesome thanks Jeanine we'll talk soon.
Jeanine:Alright. Thank you so much.
One of the things I want to reiterate before letting you guys go is that Rob made an excellent point. LinkedIn is like having another employee. Your profile represents who you are and speaks for you as your brand. If you're a solo entrepreneur and it's just you or you're a creative entrepreneur and it's just you this becomes an excellent representation of who you are. I couldn't agree with Rob more. The only way it will work for you is if you actively use LinkedIn. Rob's success is great evidence of why you should be on LinkedIn if you own a business and how important it is to be authentic, to be bold, and stand out and to make it personal.
What I think would be helpful for you is I'm going to compile what I found to be the biggest takeaways from talking with Rob and I'm going to include them on the podcast website. you can go back and review them on your own time and hopefully, you will take Rob's advice and put them to good use for you as well. I will also include Rob's contact info in case you'd like to reach out to him directly.
If you have any questions for me please feel free to email me as well. You can contact me on LinkedIn or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. The website is allstarprofiles.com. Thank you guys again for joining us this week and I'll talk to you next time.