Organic traffic drives 75% of visits to a website, yet, despite Marketing being one of the best ways to attract customers, there are still many myths surrounding the practice. Ineffective marketing strategies can be as detrimental to your business as nonexistent ones. 

It’s crucial to have a good grasp of what marketing entails and spend your time and effort on channels that give great returns on investment. Today’s guest tells us why organic traffic is so significant and how you can leverage it.

Founder and CEO of Marketing Insiders Group Michael Brenner joins us in this exciting episode. He draws from his extensive marketing experience to share insights on compelling marketing that will engage your audience. Find out why you need to invest in organic traffic and learn effective content marketing and SEO tips. Finally, Michael discusses concrete steps to finding your target audience and addressing their pain points.

Tune in to this episode and find out how to leverage organic traffic to elevate your business.

[02:55] For the folks in my audience who maybe aren’t yet familiar with who you are and what you do, let’s start there. 

  • Yeah, sure. 25-year career in sales and mostly corporate marketing positions, a lot of startups. I kind of did the startup, large company thing back and forth, but finally decided to go out on my own six years ago. Now, CEO and founder of Marketing Insider Group. We really just help brands and agencies grow their business through organic website traffic that drives leads. We do that with consistent content and helpful empathetic approaches on marketing that deliver a return on investment. 

[03:34] Okay, terrific. We’re going to do something a little bit different this week, folks. Yours truly is going to be on the hot seat. We’re essentially treating this podcast as a consulting call with Michael. My hope is by doing this, there will be takeaways for everyone that’s listening that they can go ahead and then apply in their own business. With that said, I’m going to hand it over to you Michael to start and guide this call how you would normally do it and I’ll answer your questions. We’ll go back and forth and try and produce what I hope to be a really interesting episode for the audience.

  • Yeah. This is a little meta, right? We’re almost thespians, in a way, kind of creating a dramatic environment. I think we can still have a good conversation. In general, if I met you on the street or at a conference, I’d ask, “How’s business? Specifically, how do you feel?” Well, let me start with this. What do you think of marketing? How would you describe it to your mom? 

[04:40] So it’s interesting that you asked that because of some training that I’ve been doing lately which has slightly changed my answer to that question. In the old days, I would have said marketing’s job… Actually, the job is the same. Marketing’s job is to capture people’s attention and drive leads, or appointments, or some type of interested people for the sales team or the sales process, maybe there’s not a sales team of human beings, maybe it’s just a sales process, to then turn into customers. That’s what I feel marketing is. 

  • Yeah, and that’s a better definition than most. Part of the reason I bring it up is because I believe that outside of the marketing world, most business people, and certainly like my mom, think of marketing as the last Superbowl ad she saw. I just posted on LinkedIn today. I’m not sure when it’s going to run. Last week, the Olympics just wrapped up, and I found it insane that Toyota was spending millions of dollars on advertising when if you walked into a Toyota dealership, you couldn’t buy a car because they don’t have any. 

I think most people think of marketing as advertising. I do think that advertising is one way you can achieve the goal that you define pretty well. But yeah, you’re right. I think it’s getting your company, and what you can do, and the problems you can solve in front of other people that might have a relevant problem. Then, how is that working for you? Or feel free to step in the shoes of one of your audience members. How’s it working? How’s marketing working for you? 

[06:25] Another very good question for us because Flowster is a very young company, and we really only started to market the company, actually, not even market, to conduct market research for the company about six months ago or so. The reasons for that are beyond the scope of this, I won’t dive into it. But essentially, our core target customer is evolving. Because the customer that we started out with, they didn’t turn out to be ideal for a variety of reasons. Again, they’re not too terribly important for this. Predominantly though, they were a lot of very early stage startup entrepreneurs who didn’t have the cash flow to be able to pay for the software on an ongoing basis. So churn was an issue. 

Marketing for us has, up to this point, consisted more of market research than… When I say market research, I’m talking about SEO experiments. I’m talking about advertising experiments. Last two or three weeks, I’ve been deep, deep, deep in the weeds and getting some really great results. Then, once the experimentation, what we all call the data-gathering process has been, not completed because it’s never completed, but gotten to a point where we can “turn on” marketing, by that point, given the methodology that I’m following, I’m quite sure the results will be spectacular. 

  • Yeah, that one’s great. Do you have a dedicated social media person? 

[08:06] We do, yes. There are obviously many ways that people can get their brand out there. We do both organic, a lot of content creation like this. My dedicated social media person is one of my employees and a team of virtual assistants that he works with that will take this piece of content as an example and chop it all up into little itty bitty pieces and clips. It’ll get spread all over Twitter, and LinkedIn, and Instagram, and I’m forgetting what other all the other platforms that we’re on, but all over the place so as to enhance the reach of this one piece of content. That’s a part of that individual’s job. 

  • Yeah, no, that’s great. Again, the reason I ask is the biggest myth I think in marketing is that it’s just ads. The reason that I think it is perceived that way is because that’s where most brands spend their money. Toyota’s not spending a lot of money creating helpful buying guides to electric vehicles. They’re pushing out ads. It’s a way more expensive way to do it. I think I just saw a stat that the average return on investment for a Facebook ad is 0.94, which means that the average advertiser on Facebook loses six cents for every dollar they spend. That’s true I think of a lot of the marketing activities out there. 

The second myth that I would like to bust is that the first thing you need to do is hire a social media person. The way that I like to… Again, this is kind of behind the curtain. I wouldn’t normally go this deep with normal prospects, but social media drives 3% of traffic, on average, to a B2B, and specifically software technology sites. Paid programs only drive about another 5%, on average. All of the rest of the traffic that is generally coming to a website like yours is coming organically. 

The reason we do what we do is we try to… We think the number one thing that you should do as a company is to fire up that organic engine. Because, unlike advertising, the second you stop spending on advertising, the results that you would get, if you were getting any, would drop to zero. But with organic, you’re basically building an audience, like you’ve done with this podcast. You’re setting an appointment with your audience, they know that something is coming, they’re getting value out of it, and that’s why they engage. 

That’s really what we do with our clients. This is the segment of the play or the movie, if you will, where I kind of get into how we do that. But again, it’s all back to busting this myth that marketing isn’t just advertising. It really should be about earning trust with people, gaining their attention not by promoting what you sell but by giving them something about you first.

[11:15] I want to jump in, if I may, and ask you a question. For the folks, and I put myself in this category, for the folks whose company is early enough in their lifespan that they’re not exactly sure who their ideal customers are, because many of us make and sell things that could be used by a wide swath of people, but trying to sell it to a wide swath of people is akin to boiling the ocean; it’s very expensive and very ineffective. 

Are you advocating that SEO and content marketing, which is more or less what we’re talking about today, is an effective strategy for identifying who your most likely and most probable buyer is? Or do you think that there is a precursory strategy that needs to be done so that you’re like, “Well, I kind of have a pretty solid idea”? In my case, my target audience is going to be marketing agencies. Now, I can start creating content that is more probable or more likely to resonate with them because I kind of know who the audience is going to be already. 

  • I have two funny articles I’ve written that were sort of snarky. One was Banner Ads Have 99 Problems And A Click Ain’t One because of some of the stats that I mentioned: 0.05 clickthrough rates. But the second one is right to your question and it was Personas Are Great (Except When They Suck). I’m actually friends with some folks that all they do is they work with companies to build out detailed personas: How do you reach your target audience? How do you identify your target audience and find them where they live? 

I’m not saying that there’s anything bad about that because an effective… For the folks I know, it’s a pretty extensive deep dive into the worlds that these companies live in. But the net result of it is almost always what some of us in the industry call an intent profile or a buyer profile. It’s an interest profile. While you’re looking for a type of person, what you end up finding isn’t the type but what they’re interested in. 

I’ll give you an example like, it’s not easy for me because I’m trying to sell to marketers. It’s not easy for me to find marketers or startup founders. But what I can find is marketers and startup founders that are struggling with growth, or struggling with ROI, or don’t want to waste money on ads. There are specific kinds of things that I know I can speak to, and we call that buyer intent or interest that will attract the right person. 

One of the things I learned in running a pretty extensive multimillion-dollar cost per lead program when I worked at the software company SAP was… I used to have the way I set this down but it was that targeted buyers do not engage with targeted content. For example, if we said, “Hey, retailers. Here’s a piece of content for you.” Retailers didn’t click, but if we wrote in a deep white paper article about e-commerce, well, that’s something that retailers care about. Or customer experience. Well, that’s something that retailers care about. 

When we targeted specific industries, or specific demographics, or specific firmographics, we struggled to find them. The consumer sort of corollary to that is we’re all people. When we see something that’s targeted to us, we hide from it. We don’t want to be targeted. Nobody wants to be targeted. But when we see something that generally speaks to the concerns that we have, the things that keep us up at night, that’s when we engage. Long-winded, hopefully relevant answer to your question. 

[15:05] Actually, it’s super relevant because I’ve been going through this process. It’s called high-impact testing and I learned it from a company called Mint CRO. Essentially, what we’re doing is we’re putting up little one-sentence Facebook ads and the sentence is… Basically, it’s a statement of pain that they may or may not have. An example of that would be, “I feel overwhelmed because I’m doing everything myself.” That statement may or may not resonate with a lot of people. In this case, when I tested, it massively resonated with a lot of people, and I got high clickthrough rates, and I had really low costs per click which was great. 

I knew that that was the beginning of a story that with further tests, I could flush out that story. While I don’t know necessarily the age, and the income, and the typical demographic stuff of the people that are clicking on that, I know the problems they have. I know what they’re concerned about and I know what they’re interested in, and then that allows me to further craft my message, and ultimately then content that will speak to the problem that that particular persona is having. 

  • Yeah. Oh, it’s a great insight. One of my good friends and biggest inspirations in the marketing world was a guy named Andrew Davis. He calls that the moment of inspiration. He was on a kick for a while of busting people’s terrible case studies because they often focus too much on why a company chose another company’s software, or product, or service. His criticism was to get to the why behind that. What was the moment of inspiration that led them to a journey that ultimately led them to choose your service? It’s the pain that you’re talking about. “I feel like I’m doing too much myself.” 

We talked about this I think earlier. Agency owners are like the cobbler’s children that have no shoes, right? They’re all doing great work but they’re not reflecting that great work on their own websites. We have a few agency clients where we help them do that. One of the great ways to do that is founding stories. I love to ask agency owners, “Why did you start your agency in the first place?” Sometimes you get a funny personal story. Sometimes you get a painful career journey. But a lot of times, it’s just the right combination of an opportunistic sort of experience meeting with a need and there’s just great story there. That’s my advice to agency owners is tell your founding story, at least on your website, before you do anything else.

[17:54] Let’s kick back to the idea of using content to gain further insights into your potential target audience. Then, some of the strategies and the tactics that should be used in a chronological order to build momentum, build traffic, start to generate leads. 

  • Yeah. We sort of very scientifically start with a foundation based on SEO. The way, back to sort of the mom analogy, the way I explained this to my mom when she asked me, “What do you do?” I’m like, “Well, there’s this company Flowster, and they want to show up first when agency owners type in challenge A, B, and C.” We create the kind of content that helps them to show up first, not because of a paid ad, but because they created content that helps. Ultimately, it’s a search engine game. 

Most people, whether you’re in marketing or not, almost every business owner I know can relate to “Hey, do you show up first for the biggest search term in your industry?” It was the way that I was able to sell content marketing at SAP. I went to the sales team. The marketing folks were stuck in the traditional world of advertising. I went to the sales team. I said “Hey, we sell cloud computing software but SAP shows up on page 22. No one’s finding us when they search for what the hell is cloud computing.” I was given a budget to go create that content because the sales team understood the value of showing up first for search. 

That’s the first step is identifying what are those keywords that people are using. But then we need to find what’s an actual winnable situation and there’s a lot of art and science to this part. We look at competitors, we look at trade publications. I’ll bust another myth: Every industry, every company is fighting in a competitive space. 

It’s amazing to me. 100% of our clients are saying, “Now, listen. I’m in a really competitive space.” “Well, do you know any that aren’t? Because if you know one, then let’s all go build a business there because we’re all in competitive spaces.” The challenge is finding where there’s a conversation happening but too many folks are trying to promote, or trying to persuade, or trying to sell. Let’s go try to help, and let’s figure out what those keywords are, those conversations are, that we have a point of view in. From there, we basically start handing over to our writing team so we start with a list of about 50 keywords that we think… Let’s say Flowster could rank for relative to your company…

[20:36] Let me interrupt though. Let’s dive a little deeper. How do you determine… Because there are lots of keywords, especially for a company like Flowster. Lots and lots and lots. What are some of the ways that you are coming up with that shortlist of 50? 

  • We go big and then we go small. It’s pretty simple. We build the universe of keywords that are important. We scrape our clients’ websites, just to kind of get a heat map. Then from that heat map and the competitive landscape. We build out the universe, and the universe is going to look 50, 60,000 keywords. But then, we start to whittle it down. One of my favorite tricks to this is if you have any SEO sort of PPC folks out there that are into this kind of stuff, I like to rank keywords, not on volume which a lot of people look at, or keyword density, or competitiveness. A lot of the old folks, old school folks would do that. I like to look at the CPC for keywords and rank from high to low. 

For example, I’m a content marketing agency. The CPC for content marketing agencies is pretty high because content marketing agencies are spending that money because that keyword converts. I like to use that as a proxy for return on investment. That’s just one of the ways. Competitiveness is another. If you rank on page two, three, or four, the chances that I can get you on to page one are pretty high, so we’ll look at that. We’re looking at the value of the keyword in and of itself, potential to provide accelerated growth. Low hanging fruit, essentially. 

Then, we look at buyer intent. What is it? What are the main pain points and challenges that your audience… This is a lot of the art part is we try to infer by our intent. What is the moment of inspiration for one of your buyers? Case studies are really helpful for that if they’re done well, to really pull out those threads of pain in a way that we can relate to your audience. That’s how we kind of build out a list of… A lot of times, we’ll hear from clients like, “Hey, this isn’t the list I would have built.” That’s because we use all of those factors: competitiveness, ability to rank, value. It often looks a lot different than most founders think. 

[22:59] When you get to your collection of say 50 keywords, are these all top of funnel keywords? Are they bottom of funnel keywords? Are they roughly spread around the funnel? Well, how do you determine the strategy for where to create the content first? 

  • Yeah, most of the keywords I would say straddle the funnel, if you will. There’d be some short tail. For me, it’d be content marketing. Long tail, for me, it’d be how much does a blog post cost, which is an article I just refreshed a couple weeks ago. We do a mix of all levels, but the gap that we see in every single company is at the top of the funnel. Almost every company ranks for their own name, for example, but doesn’t rank for the category name of the whatever category they’re in, competing in. They don’t rank number one for. 

[24:00] That’d be us. I don’t rank number one. I wish I did. 

  • Exactly. We find that the things that most companies do rank for are irrelevant because no one’s searching for them except the folks that already know them. Getting you to rank for the short tail keywords is important but those are also the highest, most competitive sort of areas. It’s a combination. It’s a healthy balance but the content that we then suggest for our clients largely focuses top of funnel, to try to move up the rankings in those important category keywords. 

[24:40] What are the things… Google is continually changing their algorithm. They’re never explaining any of the changes to anyone, and it’s left to the community to infer what the signals are. There’s been a lot of talk in the last year or two about on-page signals but I know from our own experiments that links still matter like crazy. When you have someone, a client that you’re working with and you’re looking at “Hey, I see you’re on page three, page four, page five,” is it really just going and building links to those articles that’s going to move them to page one? Or do you find that oftentimes you can achieve the same outcome simply by working predominantly on on-page signals? In other words, more, better content. 

  • Yeah. One thing to another. The first iteration of Google’s algorithm was links are votes on content. What Google, they just came out actually with for the first time, the algorithm is ignoring what they consider spammy links. What they admitted in the update was that all links have value. Spammy links now have zero value, but they used to have a little value. What that means is that if the Wall Street Journal or New York Times links to you, they’re giving that a lot of weight. If spammy links to you, they’re giving it now zero weight. But before this update, it was getting weight. It was getting some relative value. 

Quality content on-site is still the number one thing. Earning external links from high domain authority and relevant websites is I think really important. We don’t really do paid linking at all for the clients. We do some natural guest posting because we know that can help, but I don’t see the ROI in it. One link from a great site is not going to take you from page two to page one. Ten articles published once a month on a topic can get you up on page one.

[26:45] Perfect segue to my next question. If buying links isn’t, you’re saying if I understood you correctly, that you don’t believe that’s incredibly valuable. I guess I should quantify buying links because there are many methods to buying links. You can go buy spammy links or you can buy links on high-quality blogs in relevant contextual content that are linking back to you. I got to believe that’s a value. But what is your particular strategy? Because getting links it’s ridiculously labor-intensive if you’re trying to do it organically and you’re going to get told no 99.9% of the time. How do you get them? 

  • We try to do things that earn them. There’s been a lot of research. I haven’t done the research itself, but I’ve been relying on it. But research, data, studies that kind of self generate tons and tons of links. Do a survey of your target audience and ask them what their biggest pain point is. Ask them what their salary is, some of that kind of stuff. 

We did a piece of content. I am allowed to divulge it, they’ve given me the permission. GE Healthcare is trying to sell AI-driven functional MRI machines, which cost $2 million to radiologists. They created series and series of content about the benefits of AI-driven functional MRI machines that got zero engagement because radiologists are really busy. Radiologists are also, it turns out, really superficial. What we found is that radiologists’ number one concern is how much money they make. Guess what? It’s probably the number one concern for all of us. We created a radiologist salary guide. We didn’t even mention MRI machines and it was the most viral piece of content GE ever created. 

Those are the kinds of things that generate great links, when you can do any kind of research. We just pulled the data right off of Glassdoor. It’s all publicly available kind of stuff. You can fake your way into a really relevant piece of content that can generate links. That’s one thing that we do. We do trends, we do insights, we do research, we do infographics. But another thing, like I said, we have a team of 30 writers, and for some of our top clients, some of our writers do publish on Entrepreneur Magazine or Fast Company or wherever. 

I’ll say “Hey, can you throw a client A or B into a relevant story? You pick if you think whatever article you think might be helpful, but if you can do that once a month, I’ll pay you for your time to write that guest post.” We do that, but I always tell my clients I wouldn’t say that there’s a return on investment to you. I think it’s good for you. I just don’t know that I would ever… I wouldn’t charge them to do it. We do it as a value add because it’s sort of an activity that’s already happening. We do it to promote our writers, and to pay for their time to build their own profile and their own sort of writing chops. But I just wouldn’t recommend an ROI-driven business person to invest in paid link strategies.

[29:52] Let’s unpack the process of actually creating a content a little bit. You mentioned you’ve got 30 writers. You mentioned you do keyword research. So walk me through the, “Hey, we’ve done some keyword research. We’ve got our list of 50. We figured out we’re gonna write about this one or these ones.” Then the other end of that is, “I have an article that’s published.” What happens in between there? 

  • It’s a lot simpler than most people think because we get… I just got off of one earlier today. “Hey, we’re in the food logistics industry.” Do your writers or… “How do I know and can I be confident that your writers are experts in the food logistics industry?” I was like, “Trust me. Anyone that’s an expert in the food logistics industry is probably not a good writer.” What we’ve done is we found great writers who also are really good at doing research, quick research. 

The process is pretty simple. They take the focus keyword we identified, they look at the buyer intent behind the headline that we’ve created, and then Google it. They look at the top 10 things and things that show up on the first page and they speed read every single one of them. It takes them about 20 minutes. They read the top 10 listings on all of those articles. They look at a video or two, they might look at the news tab in Google search results for that focus keyword. 

In that 15 minutes, they get a pretty good sense for what that topic is, what the main components are, and how they need to craft an expert-level article, at least one that reflects the top search rankings. It may not be as deep as some folks need, and in some cases, we’ll do expert interviews or we’ll go two or three pages deep. Or we’ll look only for relevant content that’s been published in the last six months, but in most cases, a simple Google search and 15 minutes of reading gets our writers all the information they need to craft the article. 

[31:56] Now, we’ve got an article. Hopefully, it’s content that’s compelling enough to allow us to earn some links. How are you initially… Because if a tree falls in the forest, does anybody know? How are you promoting that particular piece of content? Are you amplifying it with paid media? I’m assuming obviously, you’re putting it on your social channels but the problem with that is only the people who already follow you are going to see that. How are you putting it out into the wild? 

  • We don’t do social for our clients. What we do do, especially for agencies, is we connect our founders, our client founders to… We use Hootsuite. We have a business account for Hootsuite so we get this feature for free, so anybody could do it. We connect their LinkedIn account to their RSS feed. Every day that a new article publishes, Joe Smith, the CEO of agency ABC, it looks like he’s naturally publishing or sharing that on LinkedIn. We do that for a number of our clients. 

We actually have a client who said they had a lead in the first two weeks of doing that because they weren’t really active on LinkedIn. The first time somebody saw an article, it was actually their founding story. They saw somebody they were connected with they’re like, “I had no idea you started an agency that does this. This is exactly what I need.” It was great. It was kind of a great validation for him and for us, but for a lot of B2B agencies, we find that LinkedIn is really the only game in town. 

I’m pretty active on Twitter. I have a contractor that shares 12 times a day on Twitter. About 4% of my traffic to my website comes from Twitter. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a single lead from it, so it’s kind of I’m in the game so I got to play the game. But I don’t know that I see a lot of value in it. On the consumer side, Facebook, Instagram I guess have value more for, I think, direct-to-consumer type applications. But I don’t know of a single sort of B2B software company agency, anyone selling to other businesses that have seen any value from Facebook and Instagram. But again, I automate that as well. I think I have automation in Hootsuite to my Facebook company page. I share out there. Every once in a while, somebody likes it. 

Again, so I go back to that stat: 3%, 4% of company website traffic comes from social. I wouldn’t spend more than 3 or 4% of your time on it. We really focus on the organic. That’s where 75% of traffic comes from. A way to boost that, in the beginning, is trying to get a newsletter go and get all your clients on the newsletter, ask any prospect that you’ve ever talked to, your own personal database to join your newsletter. Make the content that your newsletter is sharing share-worthy. The early days, obviously, there’s not a lot of folks with eyes on it, but it takes one step to kind of complete a journey of thousand miles.

[35:05] For someone who doesn’t have a newsletter list, they don’t have a way to tap into that traffic on-demand, as it were. You mentioned connecting the RSS feed to LinkedIn. What’s the difference between that and simply just saying “Hey, I’m writing a post on LinkedIn and putting a link. I wrote this great article. Here’s the link to this article”? 

  • The thing is time. You mentioned it. “I feel like I’m doing everything right.” Founders don’t have time to do anything, so we automate the process. Hootsuite does a pretty good job. If you look at my LinkedIn, you’ll see I shared an article this morning that I published last night, and it looks pretty natural but I didn’t touch it. It was completely automated. That’s really the difference. 

[35:43] All right. Before we wrap up, in the context of today’s discussion, what haven’t we talked about that we should?

  • Yeah, I think “Where’s the value” is really an important question. One of the things that I know companies are too early for us is if they haven’t figured out a way to generate something of value from their website. For most companies, it’s a Contact Us form, which I don’t know, if you’re like me, 99.9% of my Contact Us inquiries are spam: people looking for links, people looking to sell their own stuff. So that’s not a great one. It’s software companies that we work with: Click Here to Get a Demo, or Test Drive, or Talk to a Salesperson. That’s a pretty valid one. 

For a lot of companies, what we do is we sort of growth hack our way into a downloadable guide. We take the first 10 articles or so, we bundle them up into an eBook. Then, we put that on a landing page that you have to register with an email address for, and that’s a great way to generate leads, at least start building a list. Usually, we’ll look at doing something like the ultimate guide to whatever it is that your company does. But having that sort of conversion point is important to be in place before we start working with a company. Otherwise, we’re building traffic for traffic’s sake which has no real value. 

[37:08] Sorry, I’ve been turned. I’ve been muting my microphone on and off because the construction noises downstairs have been absolutely ridiculous, so I spoke without my mic. I’m muted. That’s where figuring out what that lead magnet should be is where what I talked about earlier when I’m talking about these pain statements these, high-impact tests. I use Facebook for it even though I’m B2B and it works very, very well because of the fact that people are scrolling and you’re interrupting and it either resonates or doesn’t. 

Learning what I’ve learned now, I would never ever guess at, “What YouTube video should I make next?” Or “What lead magnet should I make next for literally 25 bucks within 24 hours or even less than that?” Typically my experiments are done in four to five hours. I wouldn’t know exactly. If I picked 10 topics or 10 pain statements, I would see a very clear winner out of those 10 for a whopping 25 bucks. Let me tell you, that’s a very, very good use of 25 bucks.

Alright, Michael. Because of the construction noise and because I think that we’re about 35, 40 minutes into the show, the construction noise is actually making it really difficult sometimes for me to hear you. Hopefully, it’s not coming through and I’m doing a good enough job with the mute button and my microphones. 

  • The sound has been great on this side so hopefully, your audience won’t hear at all. 

[38:27] Terrific. Well, thank you very much for coming onto the show. For people who are listening who would connect with you, to learn more, potentially work with you, or what have you, what is the single best way for them to do that? 

  • Yeah, connect on LinkedIn and send me a direct message. Anyone that does that and mentions your show, I’ll give them a free pdf of my book, The Content Formula

[38:47] Oh, brilliant. Lovely. All right. Well, my guest, this is Michael Brenner. I will put a link to his LinkedIn profile because I’m guessing there might be more than one Michael Brenner in the world. This is where being a Trent Dyrsmid is really great. Nobody ever has any difficulty finding me at all because I’m literally the only one on planet Earth. But I’ll put a link in the show notes and you’ll be able to get easily to Michael’s LinkedIn profile. 

Thank you very much, Michael, for making some time to be on the show. It has been a pleasure to have you here. 

  • Yeah, great talking to you. Thanks, Trent.

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Michael’s Bright Ideas

  • Invest in Organic Traffic to Establish Trust with Your Audience
  • Target a Specific Pain Point
  • Find the Right Keywords for Your Business
  • Publish Consistent Content

Invest in Organic Traffic to Establish Trust with Your Audience

A common misconception about marketing is that ads are the only way to do it. In addition, most business owners believe that they need to hire a social media person immediately.

The truth is, it’s more thoughtful, more sustainable, and much more valuable in the long run to fire up your organic traffic rather than spending on paid ads. The average advertiser on Facebook loses six cents for every dollar they spend. On the other hand, organic traffic builds an audience and encourages them to engage by providing value.

Michael elaborates: “Marketing isn’t just advertising. It really should be about earning trust with people, gaining their attention not by promoting what you sell, but by giving them something about you first.”

Organic traffic establishes a more solid foundation with your audience, paving the way for better ROI.

Target a Specific Pain Point

Specificity is a must in drawing out your target audience and encouraging them to engage with you. But it’s important to know what you should be specific about.

Targeting a specific type of customer will cause them to hide because people don’t want to be targeted. Instead, seek to address their concerns that your business can help with. Then, share this information with your audience.

Michael reminds us: “When we see something that generally speaks to the concerns that we have, the things that keep us up at night, that’s when we engage.”

To figure out their pain points, dig into the moment of inspiration that led consumers to choose your service. Figure out the reasoning behind why they decided to engage with your business.

Find the Right Keywords for Your Business

Starting with an SEO-based foundation helps your business get on top of the searches. However, it can be challenging to determine the right keywords to put you on the first page.

As a rule of thumb, always seek to help rather than promote or sell. Always put your customer’s needs above your own. With that in mind, create a list of keywords that will help make you visible to your target audience. 

It may be daunting to whittle down such an enormous pool of words. Michael shares that when they’re building a keyword list, they “go big, and then go small.”

He goes on to share five steps to creating a keyword list:

  1. Scrape your client’s website.
  2. Build a heat map
  3. Narrow down the universe of keywords by ranking them according to CPC.
  4. Look at the keywords’ value, ability to rank, and competitiveness.

They then write content for around 50 keywords, finding a healthy balance between short and long-tail ones. Michael primarily focuses on the top of the funnel, targeting the crucial category keywords. 

Publish Consistent Content 

While using external links from relevant websites can be valuable, it’s better to prioritize publishing quality content on your website. Michael shares, “One link from a great site is not going to take you from page two to page one. Ten articles published once a month on a topic can get you up on page one.”

Center your articles on your target market’s pain points. You can also incorporate trends, insights, and research to produce quality content. Michael explains his writers churn out expert-level articles at a fast speed:

  1. Take the identified keyword.
  2. Look into the buyer intent behind the headline you’ve created.
  3. Google it.
  4. Read through the top 10 results on page one.

Following these steps gives you a good grasp of the competitive landscape and the topic you need to write about. 

Another way to publish consistent content and generate organic traffic is to connect your LinkedIn to an RSS feed. This method produces automated posts that still sound natural.

What Did We Learn From This Episode

  1. Marketing is much more than just promoting and advertising. It relies on establishing a relationship of trust and value with your target audience.
  2. Target the pain point rather than the customer.
  3. Optimize for search engines by creating a list of keywords. 
  4. Create content centered around your keywords and your customer’s pain points.
  5. Practice consistency in publishing content.
  6. Organic traffic has the potential to accelerate your business growth.

Episode Highlights

[03:01] – Michael introduces himself

  • Michael has been working for 25 years in sales, primarily in corporate marketing.
  • He founded Marketing Insider Group, a content marketing agency, six years ago.
  • This company helps businesses grow through organic traffic using consistent content and empathetic marketing strategies.

[04:15] – What do you think about marketing?

  • On a consulting call, Michael would usually ask what the client thinks about marketing. 
  • Most people confuse marketing with advertising.
  • Marketing is forwarding your company to the people whose problems you can solve.  

[06:13] – Busting marketing myths

  • Marketing and advertising are not the same. 
  • You don’t need to hire a social media person right away. 
  • It’s more sustainable to invest in organic traffic than ads.
  • Organic engines allow you to build an audience and encourages them to engage by providing valuable interactions.
  • Marketing is about earning trust and gaining attention by introducing your company, not promoting your products.

[12:22] – How to find your ideal customers

  • Buyer profiles shouldn’t be about demographics but their interests. 
  • When they know they’re being targeted, audiences tend not to engage with your content.
  • Be specific about the concerns you want to address to attract the right audience.

[16:28] – Finding the moment of inspiration

  • Don’t focus on why people chose your product or service. Instead, hone in on the moment of inspiration behind that why.
  • Agency owners often do great work that’s not reflected on their websites.
  • Share your founding stories before anything else.

[18:16] – Using content to learn about your target audience

  • Start with an SEO-based foundation.
  • Identify the keywords that people are using.
  • Seek to help rather than to persuade, promote, or sell.
  • Come up with a list of keywords that your company could rank highly on search engines.

[20:51] – Narrowing down your keyword list

  • Go big, then go small.
  • Scrape your website and build a heat map.
  • Whittle down the keywords by looking at the CPC before ranking them.
  • Lastly, consider a keyword’s value, ability to rank, and competitiveness when creating the final list.
  • Figure out the pain points of your audience.

[23:15] – Determining the strategy for content creation

  • The keywords should ideally straddle the funnel.
  • Focus on the top of the funnel first.

[25:23] – Should you build links or better content?

  • Spammy links have lost their value. 
  • Quality content on your website should still be of utmost priority. These help drive organic traffic.
  • Earning external links from high domain authority and relevant websites can be an option too.

[27:27] – Getting links organically

  • Knowing your target audience’s pain points and writing about them generate great links.
  • Look at the trends, insights, research, and infographics.
  • You can do guest posting to add value for your clients, but such strategies are not advisable for an ROI-driven business to invest in.

[30:15] – Crafting expert level articles

  • Take the identified focused keyword.
  • Look at the buyer intent behind the headline you created, then Google it. 
  • Read through the top 10 results on the first page.
  • Doing so allows you to get a good grasp of the topic.

[32:28] – Promoting content

  • You can try connecting your social media to your RSS feed to publish your content automatically. 
  • However, don’t focus too much on social media. Organic traffic accounts for 75% of visits to a website.
  • A newsletter is a great way to boost organic traffic.

[35:51] – Building a list

  • Growth hack your way into a downloadable guide.
  • Take your first ten articles and bundle them up into an ebook.
  • Put that on a landing page that requires people to register with an email address.
  • Setting a conversion point in place is essential in building up organic traffic.

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Today’s Guest

Michael Brenner is the former VP of Digital Marketing at SAP, he’s been a CMO of multiple high-growth startups, is a top Content Marketing influencer, and now runs a fast-growing content marketing agency, Marketing Insider Group. He is also the author of The Content Formula, and Mean People SuckWhen he’s not running after his 4 kids, Michael enjoys sharing his experiences and client stories to inspire leaders like you to create growth and impact.

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