Mark Lerner is the Director of Marketing for Oktopost, a social media marketing and content distribution platform for B2B companies. Mark is a jack-of-all-trades and his roles include social media marketing, content marketing and distribution, business development, and growth hacking.
Groove Digital Marketing has recently started using Oktopost in our own business and we really enjoy it. (Hint: try it out, they offer a free trial.)
If you are not familiar with re-purposing content, this interview will show you how to save a ton of time and produce a high volume of content with less effort than you think. Of course, you will also learn how to use Oktopost for social media content management and promotion.
Listen now and you’ll hear Mark and I talk about:
- (02:30) Introduction
- (03:40) How did you define your target audience?
- (07:10) How did you build relationships with influencers?
- (12:40) How did you develop your content roadmap?
- (17:40) How do you re-purpose your content?
- (26:00) How do you use social media to promote your content?
- (31:00) What is the purpose of your content marketing?
More About This Episode
The Bright Ideas podcast is the podcast for business owners and marketers who want to discover how to use online marketing and sales automation tactics to massively grow their business.
It’s designed to help marketing agencies and small business owners discover which online marketing strategies are working most effectively today – all from the mouths of expert entrepreneurs who are already making it big.
If you would like a transcript of the show please visit the original interview published at GrooveDigitalMarketing.com/12
About Mark Lerner
Mark Lerner is a marketing guru with years of experience in the world of startups and social media. He’s the Director of Online Marketing at Oktopost – the B2B Social Media Marketing Platform – Tel Aviv, Israel.
Mark has a BA in Psychology from Boston University and an MBA from Florida Atlantic University. He joined the Oktopost team in late 2013 and has helped take their marketing activities to a new level.
Brian Clark is the Founder and CEO of CopyBlogger Media, publisher of CopyBlogger.com, one of the most successful marketing blogs on the internet. On top of their huge audience they have built a very successful business by bringing to market products that their audience wants.
Listen to the Audio
Our Chat Today
- Can any business use content marketing?
- How should a B2B company get started with content marketing?
- What advice do you have for companies faced with stiff competition?
- How do you avoid being commoditized?
- How do you suggest people promote their content?
- How does one get publicity for their content?
- What is the New Rainmaker platform?
- What are some of the features that are going to be added to New Rainmaker?
- What advice would you give me to get traction with hospitals?
Additional Resources Mentioned
As I have written about many times before, one of the really terrific things about having a podcast is that it is an extremely powerful tool for networking. Thanks to my podcast, my professional network has never been better – and the best part is that I don’t have to fly to conferences to expand it.
Just a few minutes ago I got off the phone with Michael Gass – a past guest on my show – and we talked about the promotional part of his digital marketing strategy. Since interviewing Michael some months ago, he and I have started to get to know each other a bit and I have quite enjoyed my interactions with him. Had it not been for my podcast, it’s unlikely that Michael and I would ever have crossed paths; much less become the business-friends that we now are.
Michael runs a blog called Fuel Line that is very popular with ad agencies. After reading one of my most recent blog posts, Michael emailed me to offer to help me with some ideas on how I could further increase traffic to my blog.
As I am always looking for ways to increase my traffic, I was very happy to take Michael up on his offer.
Michael Gets 35,000 Monthly Visitors
Michael has been blogging for quite a number of years now and his site receives between 30,000 and 35,000 visitors a month. Currently my site is getting around 10,000 visitors a month, so I was very sure that the advice that Michael was going to give me would be worth listening to.
Rather than keep Michael’s advice to myself, I thought it would be a good idea to go ahead and write this quick blog post to share his ideas with my audience as well. I hope you enjoy them!
If you have questions or comments about the ideas that Michael shared with me, please make sure and use the comments down below so that we can start a mini-mastermind on how to promote our blogs and generate more traffic.
Below is a list of all the tools that Michael told me about, along with his advice on how to use each one of them
SocialOomph is a tool that he uses to promote his content across a variety of social networks including Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
Michael told me that he has around 800 posts on his blog and he uses social to regularly promote about 250 to 300 of his best posts. To do this, he creates a spreadsheet with the blog post titles and URLs and then uploads that spreadsheet to SocialOomph.
He creates a schedule that shares one of his posts every other hour from 3 AM to midnight every single day from Monday to Friday. He told me that this schedule matches the work schedule of his target audience around the world.
To create a spreadsheet he pastes the post title and the URL on one line with just a space between the two of them.
The main thing to understand about how Michael is using social is that he does not use it to promote his latest posts; instead he uses it to continuously promote his best posts. To promote his latest posts he uses HootSuite Pro.
HootSuite is another tool that allows you to promote your content across a wide variety of social networks and is one that I currently use. Unlike Michael I have been using only HootSuite Pro to promote both my new posts and my past posts on an ongoing basis.
In Michael’s case, whenever he publishes a new post he uses HootSuite Pro to promote his new post three times per day for a week. After the week is complete, he then stops using HootSuite to promote that post and adds it to his spreadsheet that gets uploaded to SocialOomph.
Michael told me that he has had very good success using StumbleUpon to promote his new posts. He didn’t say that there was anything particular about how he used it, other than to say that it was a part of his promotion strategy. I am already using StumbleUpon, and in terms of social networks that are sending traffic to my site, StumbleUpon ranks fifth behind Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and mobile Facebook.
Michael is a very big advocate of Twitter and tells me that he gets a lot of traffic from it. In checking his account I see that he has 64,633 followers. He tells me that he used to use a tool called TweetAdder her to build this following however; over time, that tool has lost a great deal of its effectiveness.
He is now using a tool called ManageFlitter. ManagerFlitter has a free version and a paid version. Michael is using the paid version. He recommends following no more than 100 people per day and then he sets the program to wait for about three days and then unfollows anyone that doesn’t follow him back.
He tells me that you can build a very targeted following (which leads to traffic!) by following people who are influential in your niche, and then by following those that follow that person.
I’m sure that some folks think that using automation to build your Twitter following is something of a gray hat tactic, however, as it is a strategy that is working very well well for Michael, I did not want to excluded from this post. Plus, it’s a strategy that I intend to test for myself.
I should also add that as of right now, I have only 2,470 followers and Twitter is my #1 source of social referral traffic, so I can only imagine how much more traffic I’d receive it I had 60,000 followers like Michael does.
Another past guest of mine, Casey Graham, founder of The Rocket Company, told me that Twitter has, by far, been the biggest source of his traffic as well.
Blog Post Syndication
As I have been having very good luck by syndicating my content other blogs, I suggested to Michael that we each pick a post from each other’s blog to publish our own blogs. Seeing the results that I had achieved with syndicating content like this, Michael was very open to the idea and so we are going to trade posts here in the very near future.
Michael has some concerns about potential duplicate content penalties so that he said he’s going to keep a close eye on this, and if there is no noticeable drop in SEO traffic (his largest source), were going to begin syndicating content to each other’s blogs on a more regular basis.
I strongly encourage that you build relationships with other bloggers and begin to do the same.
To do this, you can either get to know someone like I have done and then send each other the raw HTML for publication on each other’s blog, or you can use a service like Repost or Triberr. Both Repost and Triberr make it very easy for other people to publish your content to their blog with only the click of a mouse.
Both services are free and quite easy to use. In fact, if you like this article will notice that there is a repost button up at the top so you can easily repost it to your blog.
- Use SocialOomph to manage promotion for your best posts on an ongoing basis
- Use HootSuite to promote your new posts for the first week after they have been published
- Used StumbleUpon to attract a new audience to your blog
- Use ManageFlitter to rapidly grow your Twitter following
- Syndicate your content to other people’s blogs to expand your audience
Aggressive content promotion is something that I have really only started to do myself in the last 30 days or so, and as I wrote about in a recent traffic report, the results that I have been able to achieve in a very short period of time have been nothing short of amazing.
At the time that I published my traffic report, I reported a 68.57% month-over-month increase in traffic. Since then, my traffic has continued to climb and is now about three times the amount that it was prior to my implementing the strategies that I outlined in my post.
If content marketing is a strategy that you want to make use of in your business and your looking to achieve significant results in the shortest period of time that I would encourage you to get on the VIP list for my new book. When you do, you’re going to receive a free chapter, which (conveniently enough) is the chapter on content promotion. Plus, as a VIP, you will be eligible for a 25% discount on the book on the day that the book is released.
Are you looking for ways to create predictable revenue for your agency? Have you considered creating blog content for your clients on an ongoing basis for a monthly retainer? If not, you are missing out on a huge opportunity.
We all know that the number one way to drive traffic and conversions (which leads to new clients and customers) is to create content and then to promote the heck out of that content. When you create content, you position yourself or your firm as an authority, you provide value to your audience, you benefit from the social sharing of this content, and you build trust – which ultimately leads to a more engaged audience, more traffic, and more conversions.
But, I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know, right?
So, if blogging is working for you, why not offer it as a service to your clients? Just imagine how good it would feel to have 10 or 20 clients all paying you a monthly retainer of $500, or $1,000, or $2,000, or more.
Never Start a Month at Zero Again
Just imagine never having to start a month at zero ever again.
When I ran my prior company, we had $80,000 a month coming in on retainer every month, and let me tell you, that made running my company a LOT more fun and a LOT less stressful!
It also made my company a LOT more valuable, which is why I was ultimately able to sell it for $1.2 Million – far more than it would have been worth if I didn’t have $80,000 a month in PREDICTABLE retainer income.
Many of the agencies that I have interviewed on my show are already producing blog content for their clients on an ongoing basis and they report that doing so has not only added to their bottom line, but also really deepened their client relationships.
Position Yourself for Higher Value
Now, instead of being seen as just the web designer, these agencies have elevated themselves to the status of “Director of Inbound Marketing” for their clients.
That is the kind of positioning that happens when your clients start to see you as a valuable strategic partner, instead of just a service provider, and it’s positioning like this that will give you pricing power and long-term client relationships.
If you are already blogging and seeing good results in terms of traffic and social sharing, then you are perfectly positioned to begin offering this service to your clients. If you aren’t yet getting traction with your own blog, read how we here at Bright Ideas have recently started to see a HUGE increase in our own traffic as a result of some new content promotion strategies that we have recently begun to use.
Why is Scalability Important?
If you are going to begin to offer this service, or you already do and want to increase revenue (more clients on retainer), then there is an issue that you are either already facing, or will face as soon as you reach 4 or 5 clients on retainer. The issue that I’m referring to is how to scale your services (add more clients) without the wheels falling off and destroying your profit margin.
Consider this challenge: what happens when you have 10 clients that each want one blog post per week. That is 40 posts a month to produce, edit, and publish. That is also 10 editorial calendars to manage. Then there are all the people (clients) involved in the review of this content prior to it being published. Then, there is the team of writers to manage, and the time it actually takes to create all this content. Oh, and don’t forget that you will also need to promote all this content, too.
Can you see how there are a lot of moving parts here?
You bet there are. But with the right tools and processes in place, you can definitely do this very profitably.
For example, when my IT services firm started to remotely manage our clients’ desktops it was pretty easy to do when we had just 50 desktops spread over 3 clients. However, when we had 800 desktops to manage, things became infinitely more complicated. To solve this problem, we had to invest in some productivity tools as well as to create very specific (and repeatable) processes for how we delivered our support services.
Starting From Scratch
For the remainder of this post, I’m going to assume that you aren’t yet offering this service. If you already do have a few clients on board, it’s my hope that you will still find value in the tools and processes that I’m explaining. If you have pearls of wisdom to share, please do so down in the comments as I definitely don’t know everything there is to know about this topic and would love to hear from you.
START WITH AN EDITORIAL CALENDAR
Even if you have just have your own blog to manage, I’m a big believer in having an editorial calendar. We use one here at Bright Ideas and the goal of the calendar is to help us to ensure that the posts that we plan to publish all fit together with our strategic plan for that quarter, as well as to tie into the products that we are promoting.
If we didn’t have this editorial calendar, the posts that we would publish, while still valuable on an individual basis, would not be nearly as effective at helping us to increase our revenue because they would not be aligned with our strategic plan and the products we have to sell.
Instead, I’d just be producing a post here and a post there on a whim, plus, I wouldn’t have a clear idea of whether or not we had enough content in our production queue to ensure that we keep on publishing our posts on schedule!
Creating an editorial calendar is pretty easy to do. In our case, we have a dedicated Google calendar which we always look at in the monthly view. Then, each post is shown as a day-long event with a color coding to indicate the status of the post. Red = planned, but not started. Yellow = in progress. Green = Proofed and ready to publish.
FINDING TOPICS TO WRITE ABOUT
Once you have got your editorial calendar ready to go, you need to figure out what to write about . To do that, we refer to our strategic plan, think about the products we have for sale, and any that we might be launching – like my book.
Once we know what we are hoping to sell, we start to study what our readers are most interested in and consider how we can deliver educational value in the post in such a way as to segue to a call to action at the end of the post that will help us to achieve our revenue goals.
[Ed note: do you think it would be a good idea to write about blogging strategy for your own blog as a tool to help you to convince clients to put you on retainer to create blog content for them?]
Now that you know what your (or your clients’) strategic plan is for the quarter, and you’ve mapped out the content that you want to create in your editorial calendar, it’s time to set to work to actually create the content.
Fear not, it’s not nearly as hard as you might think. In fact, if you are smart about it, it can actually pretty darn easy to do.
CONTENT CREATION STRATEGY #1: USING CURATION
One popular method for content creation is curation. With curation, you are essentially acting like an industry news portal. What I mean to say is that the posts you create need not be all original content. Instead, you could be aggregating industry news that is of interest (that is the curation part) and then expressing your (or your clients’) opinion on the industry news. Just be sure to use proper attribution links in your posts so that you give credit where credit is due.
Curation isn’t anything new. News sites have been curating for years, and if done correctly, your readers will appreciate the value of finding all this good stuff in one place, especially if you have strong opinions about why the news is important.
I suppose you could concentrate entirely on curation, however, when mixed in with my next idea, you might get even better results – not to mention the fact that you will help your clients to realize that YOU will able to help THEM produce epic blog content with very little effort on THEIR part – and that is the kind of thing that clients are going to pay you for!
CONTENT CREATION STRATEGY #2: INTERVIEW YOUR CLIENTS
Having now completed north of 100 interviews with entrepreneurs, I can assure you that conducting an interview is really easy to do. The key is to know what you want to talk about before you actually start the interview. I’ll cover more on that in a sec.
Once the interview is done, you now have a piece of valuable content that can easily be used as a podcast, or turned into text and published as a post (with some editing), and the best part about this is that the content is not some low-quality crap from someone who doesn’t know jack about the industry. Instead, you now have high quality content that came from the mind (mouth) of an industry expert: YOUR client!
STRUCTURING YOUR QUESTIONS
The key to a good interview session is to brainstorm with your client and figure out what questions should be asked to get the answers that their readers are looking for.
To do this, I always start with the end in mind. What are the major points that I want to cover? How long does the interview need to be? Have I left room for follow up questions so that I can dig deeper? Can this interview be divided into multiple sections that could each be a post?
Whenever I do an hour long interview, I end up with about 10,000 words of text. After editing spoken text down to good written text (easily outsourced), those 10,000 words will probably be reduced to about 6,000 to 7,000 words – more than enough for 4 blog posts of 1,500 words each. So, with the idea of doing one interview to create 4 posts, be sure to structure your questions in a way to meet the needs of your editorial calendar.
Important Point: Can you see how 90 day strategic plan, editorial calendar and interview questions all kind of tie together?
Oh, one more thing. Another idea for interviews is to ask your client to express their opinion on some news items that you have “curated” as doing so will create value for the audience, as well as to further strengthen your client’s position as an authority in their industry.
RECORDING THE INTERVIEW
Recording the interview is a snap. Here’s what I do.
The interview itself is done via Skype. If your client doesn’t use Skype, you can simply call their phone from your Skype account. I then record the interview onto an external mp3 recorder that serves as my primary recording. To be safe, I also record the interview with Call Recorder for Skype (costs about $20) so that I have a backup copy.
Having done over 100 interviews, I can promise you that it’s not a matter of “if” your primary recording will fail, it’s a matter of when, so be sure and always have two recordings for every interview.
For a more detailed look at all the technical parts of producing my podcast, read this detailed post.
TRANSCRIBING THE INTERVIEW
Once the interview is complete, the next thing to do is have it transcribed. You can either use a VA for this, or you can outsource it to a transcription service. I have used both. The service that we are currently using is called Speechpad and they charge $1/minute and take one week to do the transcription. If you want it faster, you can just pay more.
MANAGING THE EDITING PROCESS
Now that the transcription is done, you are going to need to have it reviewed and edited. The reason for this is that a transcription of spoken text, while full of valuable content, makes for awful reading because the way most people speak is full of um’s and ah’s, etc… Plus, they may ramble a bit here and there. This editing should be done by someone who is a good writer and has a strong grasp of the primary language you are writing for.
To ensure that this editing is as easy as possible, I strongly suggest that you structure the interview questions in such a way as to help your client give you the most direct answers possible. If you don’t plant to publish the interview as a podcast, this is easier to do as you needn’t concern yourself with producing an interview that is pleasant to listen to.
Oh, and by the way, these interviews don’t need to be done by you. This is a task that can, and should, be outsourced to an intern or VA that speaks English very well. The portion that you should not outsource is the planning of the interview and coming up with the questions.
GETTING CLIENT APPROVAL
Once the content has been edited and saved as a draft post, you are going to need to get your client to review and approve it so that it can be scheduled for publication. They key here is to have process that ensures that nothing falls through the cracks. I do not recommend relying on email alone for this as, at some point, something is going to slip through the cracks, especially if you have 10 clients on the go all at once (which you will, at some point).
One method that I have devised to address the issue of basic project/task management is to set up a Google spreadsheet that you and your client have access to. In each column, you list the title of the post you are working on, and then in each row, you make a list of all the activities that need to be done for that post. One of those activities is going to be the editing and approval. In our spreadsheet, we use color coding to make it easy to manage. Blue = new task. Yellow = task in progress. Green = task complete.
The benefit of the Google spreadsheet approach is that it’s FREE and it’s very visual – which works well for most people.
PUBLISHING THE CONTENT
Once the content has been approved, it’s time to publish it. On the surface, this seems like a pretty simple thing, right? Well, let’s consider it when you have 20 clients and 5 writers.
Who is going to be in charge of what? How is access to client blogs going to be managed so as to not allow access to client blogs for writers that have left your team? Even password/access management can become a big issue as the number of blogs you manage increases.
My suggestion is to either have ONE dedicated person on our team in charge of publishing content, or to make use of the spreadsheet technique I spoke of earlier. Just be sure that whatever you are doing now will also work when you have 20+ clients.
A good tool for managing access to clients’ blogs, along with many other ongoing tasks that you can charge for is ManageWP.com. I have used this tool for several years and LOVE it.
PROMOTING THE CONTENT
Content that is written and not promoted might as well not be written in the first place. That’s a strong statement, but I make it only because for much of the first year I ran this blog, I completely sucked at promoting my content. Actually, it wasn’t so much that I sucked at promotion. The truth is that I didn’t really do much in the way of content promotion! Shame on me.
Once we did start to aggressively promote our content, our traffic numbers went through the roof.
It’s because we struggled for our first 11 months and then got such amazing results so fast that I formed the opinion that if you aren’t going to promote it, don’t bother writing it.
At the time of this writing, our weekly traffic numbers are about 4x what they were before we began aggressive content promotion.
INCREASING PROFITS WITH TIERED PRICING
Content promotion is one area where you could actually tier the pricing for your clients. Tiered pricing can significantly increase your profits, as my business partner Nathan Barry wrote about in this post on WPEngine founder, Jason Cohen’s blog. (disclosure: I’m a happy WP Engine customer)
When it comes to your blogging service, you should offer 3 tiers of pricing; each of which will offer a specific number of posts per month as well as a different amount of content promotion.
SCHEDULING SOCIAL SHARES
Social sharing is actually something that could be completed as a completely different service that you could charge a retainer for and I plan to cover this in a future blog post. If you aren’t yet a subscriber and don’t want to miss this future post, become a subscriber today and you’ll be notified when that post is live.
For the time being, we’ll consider social sharing as a part of the blog creation/promotion process.
Like everything that we’ve discussed so far, the key here is to have a scalable process for social sharing so that, as your client roster expands, the wheels don’t fall off and kill profits.
If you have already created an editorial calendar and you have a Google spreadsheet for task management, you are in good shape. All you need to do is to create some extra entries in the calendar so you can plan the social sharing in advance (and discuss it with your client), and then create more row(s) in the task manager so that you and your team can easily track when social sharing has been completed.
In our case, we pre-write all of our social shares in a spreadsheet and then we upload that spreadsheet to Hootsuite ($10/mo) so that we only have to deal with it once per week. If you have 10 clients, you will need to repeat this process 10 times.
REPORTING RESULTS TO YOUR CLIENTS
Whenever you have a client on retainer, it is critical that you regularly reinforce the value of what they are paying you a monthly fee to do for them.
Back when I was running my IT support company, this was especially important because the better we did our job, the fewer IT support incidents our client’s would actually see. In other words, the better we did our jobs, the less it LOOKED like they needed us!
As you might guess, this can make client retention quite a challenge, UNLESS you are regularly reinforcing the value of what you are doing. The way to do this is with concise reporting.
For a marketing agency, the key to reporting is to show your clients the positive trends that are the result of your work.
How much has traffic increased? How many leads did we get? How many calls did we receive? How many sales have been made?
These are the key metrics that all your clients are going to care about, so the reporting that you create for them must cover these items as succinctly as possible.
There are many reporting platforms from which to choose. Here’s a short overview of four tools for social media analytics from the Social Media Examiner: http://goo.gl/5hYEfY. Hootsuite also provides fully customizable reports. So does Google Analytics.
Creating SHORT reports that drive home the VALUE of what you are doing can take a LOT of time if you don’t have the right tools, so make sure that you determine what is right for your business and then find a way to create these reports in as short a time as possible. If I’d found just one tool for this, I would have shared it here. Sadly, I’m not (yet) able to point you to one such tool.
Managing all the Moving Parts
As you can see, for just one client, there are a lot of moving parts to manage. Just imagine having 10 or 20 clients to look after. While that can be challenging to do, I can assure you that, speaking from experience, once you have clearly defined processes in place, supported by tools that are easy to use, the value that you create, both in terms of cash flow, and the value of your company, will have made this all very worthwhile.
Plus, with all that retainer income coming in, you will never have to deal with the stress that comes from the peaks and valleys that are the result of relying solely on project-based revenue.
If you do a good job for one client, you will get more clients. The key is to create a scalable process that will allow you to steadily add more clients without the wheels falling off. Here’s how you make that happen:
- Develop a 90 day content strategy for every client: sit with your client and figure out what their goals are
- Create an editorial calendar for every client: research what your client’s audience is interested in, then combined with your clients strategic plan, and populate the editorial calendar accordingly
- Use curation and interviews to easily create content for each client so that you are able to create high quality content quickly
- Create a process to handle content editing so that the finished product is something you are proud of
- Create a process for content approval so that nothing is ever published that your client hasn’t already approved
- Create a process to support content publication so that you don’t have to deal with the wild west for password and access management
- Create a process to support content promotion so that clients actually see a lift in traffic from the content they are paying you to produce
- Create a process to support social sharing to maximize content promotion and traffic
- Create reports and a process to continually reinforce the value your client is getting for the monthly fee
Automating the Process
As you can see, there are a lot of moving parts to manage as you grow your retainer income from blogging for clients. Earlier I mentioned that I’ve interviewed many agencies that are already doing this, and, in every case, when I asked them how they were managing all the moving parts, the answer that I got was the same: “we use spreadsheets and email and it’s killing us”.
Each time an agency told me that they didn’t yet have solid processes in place, I thought…hmmm…there must be ONE tool that could be used for this. I wonder why no one has told me about it. Maybe it doesn’t yet exist for small agencies?
As it turns out, I was unable to find an affordable version of such a tool, so my business partner and I have decided to build one.
As of the writing of this post, we have showed our tool, which is still in development, to over 20 agencies and they have all said some version of “Wow! That would help us to save a LOT of time! When will it be ready?”
I’m happy to say that we are just about a month away from releasing our tool to a small group of users for beta testing. Click here to apply to become a beta tester. If you are a good fit and are willing to help use ensure the best product to market fit as possible, when we come out of beta, you are going to be able to get a lifetime license for less than it would cost you to use the tool for a year.
There is no fee to become a beta tester. To apply for our beta program, please click here.
If you have any thoughts to add or comments to make, please use the comment form below. Thanks!
I have a confession to make: up to very recently I was horribly disappointed with the pace at which I have (not) been able to increase the traffic here at BrightIdeas.co and in today’s post, I want to share with you some of the lessons I’ve learned so far, plus a startling realization that has made a massive difference in the traffic to this website.
But first, some background is in order….
While I have never professed to be an SEO or traffic generation expert, I still had high hopes that the popularity of my podcast would translate into consistent increases in my website traffic.
Sadly, that hasn’t been the case.
Since launching BrightIdeas.co one year ago, traffic has been pretty much “stuck” at about 4,000 visitors per month; which is pretty damn anemic, in my opinion.
Its also been incredibly frustrating!
The reason that I didn’t let this frustration stop me, is that my list has grown steadily and the feedback that I have received via email and twitter has been nothing short of amazing.
Despite wonderful praise like this, and consistent increases in all other the key numbers that matter, try as I might, thus far, I have not been seeing the increases in website traffic that I’d hoped for.
How can I produce a podcast that gets such wonderful feedback and have a website whose traffic doesn’t grow? WTF?
As my podcast alone had thus far not produced an acceptable level of traffic growth, obviously, something needed to change.
The Pros of Podcasting
I am a huge fan of podcasting. I love doing the interviews, and, for me, it’s an incredibly easy way to create very high value content that my audience consistently tells me they love. (thanks to everyone who’s taken the time to tweet and write to me; it really helps!)
As a result of my podcast, I have had the opportunity to get a “free hour of consulting” from each of the 80+ successful entrepreneurs that have been on my show. With rare exception, I am very happy to report that I have learned at least one “bright idea” from every guest I’ve ever had.
Without my being the host of a podcast, there is no way that all these folks would have given a total stranger a full hour of their time. So why do they come on the show? They get exposure, plain and simple.
The #1 reason that I will never stop podcasting is that it has proven to be the very best networking tool that I have ever discovered. Without my show, I would definitely not have anywhere near the circle of influence that I currently enjoy.
If you have ever thought of doing your own podcast, stop thinking about it, and do it. The benefits FAR outweigh the investment of time and energy required.
The Limitations of Podcasting
With over 80 episodes in the can, I have come to realize that there is a downside of podcasting, and that is this: if you are only publishing a podcast and not doing much in the way of written text, you are going to have a difficult time attracting a new audience – unless you are pumping out an episode every single day like John Lee Dumas does.
In my case, I have too many other things that need my attention on a day to day basis to allow me to produce 7 episodes a week. I’m the co-founder of a software company (our product is still in development), as well as the founder of a marketing agency that is brand new and in need of plenty of attention, plus I run a mastermind group and am getting close to publishing my first book.
The reason that a podcast isn’t particularly good at attracting a new audience is because episodes take time to listen to and if someone has never seen any of my work, their desire to invest even 10 minutes to see if my show is worthwhile is limited. Plus, if they happen to find my show in the iTunes store, they don’t need to come to my website to listen to it.
What all of this boils down to is this: my podcast has been phenomenal for audience engagement, but it’s pretty much sucked at helping me to grow my audience; hence why my website’s traffic numbers have been relatively stagnant.
And Then I Met James Clear
Just over a month ago, I was introduced to James by a new friend here in Boise (who I’d also just been introduced to by another new friend). My friend here in Boise, Nathan Barry (who inspired the new design of my site) is a very successful entrepreneur and author of 3 books, and after listening to me gripe about my sucky traffic numbers, Nathan said, “You need to talk to James. He’s killing it.”
“Killing it?”, I asked. “How well is James doing?”
Back in January of 2012, James had a subscriber list of just 500 people and website traffic of 11,000. When I talked to him a month ago, he told me that his list had grown to over 20,000 and in the most recent month, traffic to his site had exceeded…wait for it….100,000 visitors!!
As soon as James told me this, I got out my notepad and proceeded to ask him to explain to me how he’d accomplished so much is such a short period of time.
Did paid traffic play a role? Nope.
Did he do a big product launch? Nope.
Was he using black hat techniques? Nope.
James told me that he focused on 3 key things to achieve such amazing results.
Thing #1: Know Your Audience
I’ve actually already written a full post on this topic already…but in case you haven’t read my blog before, I’m going to give you the very quick summary: if you haven’t yet selected a specific audience and don’t fully understand exactly what keeps them awake at night, you will probably completely suck at thing #2.
Thing #2: Write EPIC Content
For me, the key word in thing #2 is “write“.
Like I said above, for me, podcasting alone has been a weak strategy for attracting a new audience because they have no reason to come to my site to consume the content.
When you write content (like I’m doing now), first time visitors can quickly scan the article’s headlines (you are using headlines, aren’t you?) to see if your content is something that they actually want to spend 5 to 10 minutes to consume.
With a podcast, this is impossible to do….unless, of course, you are creating extensive show notes for each episode like they do over at the Social Media Examiner whenever they publish a new podcast episode.
Thing #3: Promote the F*** Out Of Your Content
This is where the magic happens.
Without promotion, based upon my recent results, I would say that there is almost no point in even creating the content in the first place.
Why do I say this?
Well…consider this: if you write an epic post and only publish that post on your site, how many people are going to see it?
In my case, not nearly enough. And, even if that post was the greatest thing ever, how many times can that piece of content be tweeted or shared on social networks?
To answer that, lets do some really basic math….
Ok…screw that. Forget the math. Let’s just jump right to the answer: NOT ENOUGH TIMES.
Unless you already have a high traffic blog, then the likelihood of your content “going viral” is about as big as the particle of dust that is somewhere on my keyboard.
Social shares is merely a percentage of total views. The better your content, the higher percentage of people that will share it (duh), but, unless you get a LOT of people to read it, the total number of shares just won’t be as much as they could be if you got more exposure for the piece of content to begin with.
Ok…so…with all that said, what was James doing that was working so well?
James Clear’s Content Promotion Strategy
Here’s what James does to promote his blog. Besides publishing his content on his blog, James republishes all of his content on several other sites. These sites include medium.com, quora.com, The Huffington Post, Lifehacker, and Google+.
Even if the sites where James republishes aren’t the best ones for your target audience, focus instead on his successful strategy and leverage your content as much as you can. His results speak for themselves.
Once James was published on the Huffington Post for the first time, he repeatedly asked for blogger log-in credentials for the site. Eventually the team at HuffPost provided James with these credentials, which makes it much easier for him to continually distribute his content there.
When James explained his strategy to me, I asked whether his blog had suffered any penalties for having duplicate content. He told me that he had not.
James doesn’t profess to be an expert in SEO, but he felt that Google was smart enough to figure out where his content was originally published. He underscored the point by saying that every major Internet news site does pretty much the same thing as he does.
He added that his traffic from SEO had not decreased as a result of this strategy.
What About Duplicate Content Penalties?
Despite the fact that James had told me that he had not experienced any penalties for duplicating his content, I wanted to investigate further.
CMI is a powerhouse in the area of content marketing and Joe is a very bright guy, so I was sure that I’d probably find some more bright ideas for content promotion by giving Joe’s work a closer look.
Turns out, I was right.
Content Marketing Institute’s Content Promotion Strategy
According to Joe, there are plenty of sites out there looking for “epic” content in virtually every industry. Whenever you find sites like these, there may be opportunity to syndicate your original content on their site. It turns out that CMI syndicates its content with business2community.com.
Business2Community gets roughly 500,000 visitors each month, many of whom are looking to learn more about content marketing. That’s the audience that Joe’s Content Marketing Institute (CMI) wants to reach, and here’s how they do it:
- About two weeks after CMI publishes a piece of original content on their own site, they allow Business2Community to “republish” the content (the delay lets Google know for sure that CMI was the original publisher).
- Inside their content, CMI includes informative links back to relevant blog posts on the CMI website, as well as receiving an all-important “author’s link” at the bottom of the page (James Clear emphasizes the importance of the author’s link as well).
After learning how CMI republishes their content on Business2Community, I visited the site and quickly found a link to apply to become a contributor. At the time of this writing, we’ve been syndicating our content to this site and the results have been nothing short of amazing (see results section below).
I strongly suggest you do the same.
Here’s what to remember:
- You want to publish your content on high-traffic sites whose visitors and subscribers match your audience. That’s very important.
- As you research sites, it’s essential that they allow you to categorize your content with some kind of tag. Doing so makes it that much easier for your target audience to find your content on these high-traffic sites.
- Some sites like medium.com, quora.com, and Google+ allow you to self-publish your content without the need to gain anyone’s approval.
- Other sites, such as the Huffington Post and Life Hacker, require that you submit your content for approval. Just Google around a bit and you’ll figure out how to do this.
Since discovering all these bright ideas for content promotion, we have kicked our content promotion into high gear. Below is a summary of the actions that we’ve taken thus far:
- Produce more text-based content
- Ensuring that we interlink all our posts to other posts (increases engagement)
- Syndicate our content to Business2Community, Medium, Quora, and Google+
In addition to the above, we have just started using Hootsuite to pre-schedule our social shares a week in advance (tweet every hour + 4 shares on FB and LinkedIn/day). While we have been using Hootsuite up to now, we have only been using it on a limited basis due to a lack of making repeatedly sharing our content a top priority.
If you are thinking this sounds like it would take a lot of time, you’d be right. That is why we’ve hired a full-time VA for $500/month to handle it all.
The reality today is that we live in a world where the key to driving growth is to get eyeballs on your content, and as such, I consider the $500/month that we are going to be spending to be worth every penny – especially given how fast the results have come in.
The Results Are In!
Take a look at the numbers below. All numbers are for the most recent 30 days compared to the prior 30 days.
After months of flat lining, visits are up a whopping 68.57%, page views are up 97.5% and average time on site is up 33.20%.
(picture me dancing for joy around my office)
At this point, I suspect these numbers aren’t sustainable long-term, however, they don’t need to be. If I could grow my traffic by just 21% per month over the next year, I will have hit 100,000 visits in a single month.
I can hardly imagine the benefits of 100,000 visits in just one month, but I’m sure it’s going to be pretty awesome.
Only time will tell if what we are doing will continue to work; however, as the basic logic is unlikely to change (more exposure = more traffic), at this point, I cannot see why our traffic won’t continue to increase.
Take a look at the volume of social sharing for my most recently published article on Business2Community.
There are 98 tweets, 15 shares on Facebook, 16 shares on LinkedIn, 6 shares on Google+ and 14 people have added it to their buffer.
In the words of Borat…thatsa nice!
I have never seen that much social heat for just one article in such a short period of time. (the article has only been on their site for a few days).
How did this happen? Did I write a better article? Well, maybe I did…but why do I only have 7 tweets on my blog vs 98 of Business2Community?
The reasons is simple; they are getting about 500,000 visitors a month, which is about 100 times more than I’m currently getting.
Getting your content on high traffic sites is naturally going to lead to your receiving more exposure.
So why didn’t I guest blog then? Why did I syndicate?
In my (limited) guest blogging experience, the sites that are going to post your article want exclusive rights to publish that article. That means that I have to write more articles for other sites than I do for my own.
That blows. If I’m going to write epic content, you can bet it’s going on MY blog.
With syndication, I get the best of both worlds. My epic content get published to my own blog, PLUS, I get to republish the exact same content on many other sites.
In my books, this is a win-win. (FYI…it’s also what the Huffington Post and a gazillion other news sites do.)
From now on, my team will be putting as much effort into promoting my content as I do into writing it. The results that we have achieved are just too compelling to ignore.
If you’d like to discover even more content marketing and content promotion strategies, then you will definitely want to sign up and become a VIP for my new book. When you do, you are going to get access to a free sample chapter, and, as you might guess, that sample chapter is all about content promotion. As a VIP, you will also get 25% of the price of the book on the day that we launch it. Click here to become a VIP today.
Tom Martin knows a thing or two about developing a content marketing strategy. He’s a regular contributorto standout blogs like Ad Age, Copyblogger, Social Media Examiner, Social Fresh and MarketingProfs, to name a few. So when Tom shares his well-tested strategies for content creation and content promotion, youmight just want to listen. (One Quick Tip: Use social media to identify where your target audience hangs out, and then place content in those places.) His content strategies come together to form a Painless Prospecting System. In other words, if you do content right, clients will be attracted to you and you won’t have to work so hard. (As you may know, I’m a firm believer that content marketing has forever changed client attraction, and to succeed in business you need to learn to take advantage of this shift.) Listen now and you’ll also hear Tom and I talk about:
- (3:25) Introductions
- (6:10) Overview of the Painless Prospecting System
- (8:55) Overview of his target customer
- (10:45) How he finds places to put his content
- (13:55) Overview of his content creation strategy
- (16:55) How he’s using dictation to produce effective blog content
- (21:55) How to find Propinquity Points
- (28:05) How he suggests to become a contributing author
More About This Episode
The Bright Ideas podcast is the podcast for business owners and marketers who want to discover how to use online marketing and sales automation tactics to massively grow their business. It’s designed to help marketing agencies and small business owners discover which online marketing strategies are working most effectively today – all from the mouths of expert entrepreneurs who are already making it big.
Trent: Hey, there Bright Idea Hunters. Welcome to the “Bright Ideas” podcast. I am your host, Trent Dyrsmid. And this is the podcast for marketing agencies, entrepreneurs, and marketing consultants who want to discover how to use content marketing and marketing automation to massively boost their business. And the way that we do that is we bring proven experts onto the show to share with you the specific tactics and strategies that they use to make themselves successful.And today’s episode is no different. My guest on the show today is a fellow by the name of Tom Martin. He’s the founder of an agency by the name of Converse Digital. And he is also the author of a book that is just about to be released called The Invisible Sale.And what Tom has done and what we’re going to talk about in this interview in detail, is he has created what he calls a “painless prospecting system.” So, if you’re suffering from making cold calls and doing all sorts of expensive and exhausting outbound marketing strategies and you’re not getting the results you would like to, this is definitely going to be an interview that you will find very helpful.For example, in about the seven-minute or so mark in the interview, after we get through the introductions and we give an overview of what the painless prospecting system is and how to find customers, we go into detail on how on some specifics of how to get your content placed in all of the right places where your target audience is going to find it, so that they are going to want to come back to your blog and learn more about you.He is also going to talk about how he is rapidly producing content and then reproducing that content so that he’s able to get published on so many different places. And some of the places he’s published are on Ad Age, Adweek, MarketingProfs, Copyblogger, Social Media Examiner, Social Selling, SOCIAL FRESH. So, he’s getting a whole lot of distribution for his content. So, if that’s something that you would like to learn more about, make sure that you tune in to this episode.So, we’re going to welcome him in just a minute. Before we do, the other thing I want to tell you about is the Bright Ideas Mastermind Elite. And you can get more information at brightideas.co/mastermind. And here, on a one-by-one, hand- selected basis, we are assembling a group of people who all have one goal in common. And that is to build a very successful online marketing agency or marketing consultancy. And they don’t want to be just stuck out there in isolation without anyone’s help and without anyone’s ideas. And that what the mastermind is there to do is to bring us together to allow us to share, encourage, support, and motivate each other. So, if you’d like to learn more, brightideas.co/mastermind.So, with that said, please join me in welcoming Tom to the show. Hey, Tom. Welcome to the show.Tom: Hey, Trent, thanks for having me. Trent: No problem. It is a thrill to have you have here. I really want to learn more about this painless prospecting system and this propinquity theory that we talked about just before we hit the record button. But before we get to that, I want to make sure that the listeners understand what they are about to get by listening to this episode. So, let’s start off with who are you and what do you do? And after that, we’re going to talk about some of the pretty amazing results that you’ve achieved. Tom: Well, I’m Tom Martin. I founded a company here in New Orleans called Converse Digital. And it’s a digital strategy and lead- generation firm. We work with digitally-challenged clients to help them understand “How do you take a traditional lead gen process and power it with digital tools”? I’m 20 years in the ad business, most of which was spent actually as the business development person at an ad agency. And since a lot of that experience has now translated into what we call “painless prospecting.” But it’s basically the methodology I use to both launch and power the growth of my firm since 2010. Trent: Okay. And that growth has averaged how much per year? Tom: We’ve averaged about 25 percent year over year. I’m not a big fan of huge, gigantic growth. I’m much more of a fan of a nice, easy- measured growth that I can manage. So, we’ve kept it right in that 25-percent range. Trent: Okay. And you mentioned one other statistic to me, too, that I want to get out in front here real early, is your close ratio for clients. It was pretty impressive. You want to talk a bit about that? Tom: Yeah, I think it’s probably the thing that most has excited me as a guy who was the biz dev guy in an ad agency environment where, if we were closing 25 percent of the pitches we got into every year, we were super excited. We thought we were doing great. Since I’ve converted to this painless prospecting style in Converse Digital, we are looking at, right now, at about an 85 percent close rate. We very seldom don’t close a lead. And if we do, it’s always price-oriented. They thought we’d be less expensive than we are, and we just don’t fit their budget model. Trent: So, now we’re going to dive in to how you’re closing 85 percent of the people that you’re talking to. And I think that’s really the dovetail into the conversation that we’re going to be having about the painless prospecting system and the propinquity theory. So, can you just, in a short a period of time as you can, sort of explain at the high level, what your painless prospecting system is? And then, we’re going to get down into the nuts and bolts of exactly how someone can do it for themselves. Tom: Sure. The painless prospecting system is all premised on the concept that today’s buyers are self-educating. They’re hiding behind Google searches or they’re just going online and looking for information to help them make buying decisions or just do their job better. And the whole idea behind the painless prospecting is that we all have our sort of go-to set of online resources that we use to educate ourselves and figure out what things we need to purchase to do our jobs better. In a painless prospecting world, what we do is identify and categorize those locations online, we call them “propinquity points.” And then, we plan and schedule our own content to appear repeatedly at these propinquity points, thus giving a prospect the opportunity to sort of trip over us and find or discover us, as well as repeatedly be exposed to our content and our messages. Which, you know, just like advertising, frequency creates awareness, content frequency creates awareness or what we call “propinquity” that ultimately leads that person to move from a “I know who you are” to “I get to know about you, I like you and ultimately, I want to buy from you.” Trent: Okay. So, the key, it would seem to me, is two critical success factors. One is, “I’ve got to make sure that I’ve got the right content that is going to resonate and speak to the audience that I have chosen.” And then, “I also have to make sure that I get that content to the places where they’re already hanging out.” Is that correct? Tom: Absolutely. It really comes down to those two simple points. And if you can nail both of those, then you can painlessly prospect. I like to laugh about how my painless prospecting system is generating leads while I sleep. Or last year at Mardi Gras, while I was having fun here in New Orleans at Mardi Gras, there was a new business lead that was coming through my system and ended up calling me and saying “Can we have a meeting because I’m going to be in New Orleans for Mardi Gras.” I had one meeting and three weeks later, I have a new client. I didn’t do a thing other than have him meeting with a guy and then write a contract. But, my system did all the work for me while I was out with my family having a good time at Mardi Gras. Trent: So much better than making cold calls and doing every other kind of thing that people spend all that kind of money doing. So, let’s get into some more nuts and bolts. Who is your target customer? Because I want to walk through the specifics of how you did this. Tom: Well, my target customer tends to be one of two people. They’re either a mid-size business owner or they’re the senior person on staff in marketing. It might be a VP, a director, their titles vary. But they’re the senior marketing decision-maker, again, at a mid-sized firm. That’s kind of where I play right now is in that mid-size arena. Trent: How much revenue is “mid-sized” just so we understand? Tom: Say around $25 million or less. Some of our clients might be $5 million or $6 million. But I would say if it’s a true B2B group, they tend to be in that sort of more $15 million to $25 million range. Trent: Okay. And what industry are they in? Tom: We really do not specialize in a particular industry. Currently, we work in a pharmaceutical, liquor, restaurant, travel, and hospitality. People come to us for the process and the approach, and then, we help them meld it to their industry. I have a pretty rich background in terms of, throughout my 20-year career, I touched a number of industries throughout my advertising career. So, once we get in with a company, we understand what are the business levers that power their particular industry. We can usually help them figure out how to turn our system to really fit and maximize the effectiveness of the system in their industry category. Trent: Okay. So, in your case, you wanted to make sure that you were creating content and that that content was placed in locations that your target audience would find it. Can you walk us through, what are some of those places and how did you find them and how did you make that happen? Tom: Sure. Early on, one of the core platforms that I was able to penetrate is Advertising Age Magazine. In the advertising world, there are two trade mags: Ad Age and Adweek. And I’ve always felt Ad Age was probably the bigger of the two; it was a little bit more national. And so, early on, I’ve secured a reoccurring writing position there in their small agency diary column. And that really did two things for me. It put me on the radar of the senior marketing people. Not so much that business owner, but that senior marketing person, not only at the mid-size, but at the national level. It also gave me an enormous amount of clout. The real kind, not the online version. And people saying “Wow, you write for Ad Age. You obviously must know a thing or two.” And it really opened the doors to a lot of the things. Because you tell people, “I write for Ad Age.” When you try to then go to some of the other, more targeted. So, like MarketingProfs, because it’s a huge B2B community. Copyblogger, because I think it’s one of the premier social media content marketing destinations. A lot of people go read Copyblogger. Social Media Examiner. Again, people that are interested in social, Social Selling. A lot of them are there. SOCIAL FRESH. A lot of these big, sort of aggregator-type online blog areas. All of those, when we said I write for Ad Age, that was an instant credibility check. You can write for them, you probably can write for us. So, laid the Ad Age, then began to lay all of the social media sites. Primarily because when I first launched Converse Digital, it was in the height of social media. It was 2010, everybody and their dog was getting interested in social. So, it created a really nice niche that I could populate very quickly and establish myself as an expert within that niche. And from there, as social media has begun to become saturated. Anybody with a laptop is now a social media consultant, then I really began to dial my choke down to where it is today, which is really focused on helping people use social media, e-mail and Web content to shorten the sales cycle and improve the conversion rate, which really dovetails nicely into my professional background. Because that selling of professional services has been what I’ve done for more than half of my career. So, I’ve just been slowly dialing down into a real niche core that, currently, not a lot of people function in. There’s a whole lot of people talking about social and digital and e-mail. You don’t have a lot of people really talking about social selling, yet. That’s sort of the next big thing I think that’s coming through. Trent: So, you’re producing content for other people’s blogs as well as your own. What percentage of your time do you spend sitting and writing this content? And when you produce a piece, does it only go to one location? Or can you cross-publish the same piece of content to more than one? Tom: Well, I’d say a couple of things. One, it varies because the way I think about content creation. I think, fundamentally, content creators are thinking about content creation at the wrong level. Everybody thinks about it at the individual blog post level. And I believe that you need to look at it from an ecosystem. So, I try never to write or produce anything once. Big believer that you have to look for ways to take anything you create and place that in multiple channels. Now, I don’t just copy and paste though. So, for instance, there’s a section in my book that talks about using voice to text software to make it easier to write more blog posts. Trent: Like Dragon? Tom: Yeah, like Dragon. Specifically, Dragon. And how you can use that software along with an iPad or your iPhone to, instead of just driving to work in the morning, you can write a blog post while you’re driving to work. And I take people through step by step how you do it. It’s super simple. It’s made it real easy for me to create a lot more content. So, I might write a blog post on my own blog about that. I might take some of that content from the book, build it into a nice 700 to 1,000-word blog post, put it on my blog. But then, and for instance, I actually did this. You can go to MarketingProfs, for instance. I took that and I angled it to where I just focused on the mobile application of it. And I wrote a post for MarketingProfs that was “How to lose weight while blogging.” And it was all about how you can take this mobile device and this mobile application and go get on your own your ellipse or your stationary bicycle or whatever. And while you’re walking and running and getting a little exercise, you’re actually writing a blog post. Trent: So, now, I’ve just purchased Dragon, myself. I was actually messing around with it for the first time yesterday on my desktop here. So, do you use the mobile version and put it on your iPhone, so that you can create your content while you’re on the move is question number one. And the second part of that question is do you lay out, in form of bullet points, for example, just on like a postcard or whatever, so that you have your, sort of, talking points so that you don’t end up rambling on? How do you do it? Tom: Yeah. I actually wrote entire sections of my book while driving to and from speaking engagements. And what I did learn, in fact, I talk about this in detail in the book, is the number one thing you have to figure out is when you move to a dictation model of writing, you do have to write down, sort of, your core, thematical outline, if you will, of whatever it is you’re going to create. Blog post or white paper or whatever. Because, yes, if you don’t, you just roll into these tangents, which is fine because once you transcribe it over, you can copy and paste. But you end up losing so much time in the editing process that it kind of outweighs the benefit of being able to work out or drive and write a blog post at the same time. But if you can do it well, it’s perfect. In fact, because I know you produced a lot of content. Another nice opportunity, and again, another way I spun that particular blog post, is I wrote one about how you can use this type of software to break through writer’s block. Where I can’t get any words on the page. Okay, fine. Put the headset on, go for a walk and just start rambling. And what happens is that, you know, just the act of talking through your idea, you end up kind of finding some points, getting into a theme. And before you know it, you’ve got a rough outline for a blog post. Versus just sitting at your desk with your hands over the keyboard going “Oh, man. I have nothing to write today. Nothing’s coming to me.” And so, again, it’s a way of looking at, “Okay, I wrote one blog post.” But I was actually able to take that base post, pull a piece of that, angle it a different way and create a new, valuable piece of content that solves somebody’s problem. One being writer’s block. The other being a little bit more fun with MarketingProfs that was a “Hey, here’s how to solve two problems content creators have, ‘How to Create Content and How to Find Time to Exercise.'” And it was fun, but people liked it. And that’s the way I look at the content. You always are looking for ways to “How can I take this? Spin it to where it makes sense as a new, valuable post and makes sense on that person’s particular platform.” So, for instance, that “Lose Weight While Blogging,” I would have never offered that story to Copyblogger. I just don’t think that’s Brian’s style. But, Ann Handley over at MarketingProfs, she loves fun stuff like that. That’s her style. And MarketingProfs has a sort of fun angle to its brand. So, you offer that story over to them because it fits their brand. And so, I think that’s a big part. When you’re planning this content distribution to your propinquity points, you really have to understand “What is the platform? What is their style? What do they value? What kind of information do they like”? And then you take your core content and you spin it to fit and then, of course, you back link across so that’s there a reason for the person for the person at Copyblogger or SME or MarketingProfs, there’s something there that you’re not going to explain in-depth because it’d be a whole other post. But they kind of need to understand it to understand the post they’re reading today. And so, for me, a lot of times, that is one of the core strategic underpinnings of a painless prospecting platform is the social theory called propinquity. Real world, most people have never heard of it, few people know how to say it. So, when I write guest posts that talk about painless prospecting or social selling, I always try to find a way to work in the concept of propinquity. It’s usually very easy because it’s a foundational element of my thoughts. But I never define what it is. It’s always a link back to a post on my website that explains, “What is propinquity and why does it matter to marketers?” I always get a lot of back traffic from that, and it’s a good use of a propinquity point to then drive inbound traffic to my blog where then I can hopefully maybe capture somebody with, register to get a newsletter or get the blog sent to you by e-mail, etc., which, again, escalates that ability to move someone through the sales process. Trent: So, the question I asked earlier that you didn’t give us, probably because I asked two questions at one time, was what percentage of your time do you spend creating content? I’m still curious about that. Tom: Right, I didn’t. I would say on a weekly basis, three to four hours. But, then, what will happen is at least once a month, I might do a six to eight-hour binge where I’ll sit down and really create more of that, sort of, ecosystem. I’ll create my core posts that I’ve written and then, I’ll begin to create the spinouts that are going to be sent off as guest posts to other platforms. I’ll set aside a day, six to eight hours, maybe sometimes more. And I try to do it all in one sitting because I just find it’s a more efficient way to do it than to try to one-off stuff, a little bit here, a little bit there. Trent: The concept of bucketing, I guess, would be a good way to describe that. Tom: Absolutely. And it works. Trent: All right. So, what advice would you give to the listeners who are thinking “Okay, this makes some sense. I want to get started.” What advice would you give them to start? Should they be, I guess, they’ve got to research the locations where they’d like to have their content seen. Would that be the first place? Tom: Yeah, the first place really is to define those propinquity points. There are lots of tools and techniques that can be used. If you’re fortunate enough to have access to social-listening software like a Zissimos [SP] or a NetBase or a Radian 6, those are very helpful. But if you don’t or you’re just not sure you want to go to that level, the easiest thing to do is to, for instance, in Twitter, create a Twitter list of all of your prospects that are on Twitter that you’d like to business with. And put them into a single Twitter list, throw them into a client like a HootSuite, make a column. And then, get an intern or a receptionist or somebody that doesn’t necessarily have a lot to do every single day that requires them not to be able to look at a computer because it’s a better use of their time than yours often, because your time is best spent selling. And have them just simply catalog every single URL in a spreadsheet that is shared by members of that list. And what you’re looking to do and this will take you six weeks, maybe a couple of months because you need time to allow the trends to appear. But, like, for instance, every single time somebody shares a link from Social Media Examiner, you document “Hey, that’s one more tally or tick mark in the Social Media Examiner column.” And what you’re going to see is over time, you’ll start to see certain websites. A lot of times, those that you’re familiar with, but sometimes ones you’re not so familiar with, will bubble to the top. So, then, you can be pretty confident that those are valid propinquity points. Because you’ve got, it’s a highly-shared website by your prospects of a sub-segment of your prospects. And that’s usually a really good place to start. Because that content is obviously drawing the right kind of people. It’s obviously considered valuable because it’s getting shared. And if you can get your content there, you increase your opportunity for virality of your content because again, you already know that content is getting shared by prospects within your target audience. Trent: That’s a cool idea. Tom: It’s super dead-simple. And like I said, it’s the perfect job for an intern or a receptionist who, in-between welcoming people to your building or accepting phone calls, they’re going through Twitter and going “Oh, there’s another one. There’s another one.” It’s just super simple and easy. Again, it takes a little time to allow to have enough. You can do the same thing with hashtags. If there’s a hashtag that’s relevant in your industry, create a list in HootSuite that searches for every instance of that hashtag. Do the exact same thing. Look for what websites are being shared under that hashtag. And you know, you will find, sometimes, a little niche-y, like a blog or a forum that doesn’t show up in Google searches because it’s just not that big. But you will see an overabundance of those content links being shared by your prospects. And so, what it helps you really do is that it helps you discover those little niche-y blogs, forums, etc. that you just otherwise don’t see. Unless you’re really paying attention and looking for the patterns that are emerging. You can do the same thing with LinkedIn. Follow all of your prospects on LinkedIn, see what they’re sharing in their news feed, Facebook, you name it. Any place where somebody is sharing content, you can do the exact same thing. In fact, we like to bring it all together, which is why if you have something bigger like a Radian or a Zissimos, you can do it inside those platforms. It just makes it a little bit less heavy-lifting. Trent: So, with Radian or Zissimos, do you still have to have a person manually collate or count how many times the links are all shared? Or is there some type of reporting mechanism that you could essentially say “Here, I want to follow these 37 people and I want to look at their tweets over the last 30 days and da, da, da” and now I know, instantly, which are the most popular sites? Tom: Zissimos makes it a lot easier. It’s not a complete turn-key system, but it’s infinitely easier. You can create the list and the system will help you find it, the URLs and tabulate some stuff. Radian can do some of it. The biggest challenge with Radian is when you look at their URL share report. If they’ve used a short link, a bit.ly, a t.co, it rolls all that up under the short link. Doesn’t look underneath the short link to see, the, what really was the media that was shared? And so, that becomes a challenge. Whereas Zissimos will look underneath and return back the underlying URL which really gives them an advantage. But they’re also three times as expensive as Radian. So, really, it’s an enterprise-class platform. If you have it, great. If you don’t, yeah, you can do some of that through Radian. Or you can just do it yourself with a simple spreadsheet and HootSuite. Trent: What’s the URL for Radian? I can’t seem to find it. Tom: Radian6.com, I believe. I think that’s what it is. And Salesforce bought them, so maybe they’ve switched. I just have it bookmarked because we’re a subscriber to it. So, I just have it bookmarked. Trent: Okay. And folks, if you’re listening to this and you’re driving, don’t worry about writing all this stuff down. Everything is going to be in the show notes. You can get to those show notes at brightideas.co/78. There it is. It’s now called salesforcemarketingcloud.com. Tom: There you go. Trent: Good enough. So, that has been absolutely a very, very interesting way to go and find out where your audience is hanging out. Now that you know where they’re hanging out, what would be some suggestions to you when you’re reaching out to some of these blogs or websites and you want to become one of their contributing authors? I’ve got to think that they’re getting a lot of people saying “Hey, let me write for you.” So, how do you separate yourself? Tom: Yeah. I think, especially, the smaller, niche-y ones, not so much, maybe. But definitely the bigger ones. Really two. Some of them will have, they’re looking for contributing authors. You go to socialfresh.com. And Jason Keith has got a form that says “Hey, you want to write for us? Fill this out.” He’s actively looking for and he’s got his process. Others won’t have that. And even if they do, I think it never hurts to really do what I would suggest, which is, get to know the people that own and operate the platform. There is just no replacing the development of relationships. Good old fashioned sales 101. People like to do business with people they like. And you know, every platform that I write for, I personally know the people who own or are the key editors at that platform. And I knew them before I wrote for the platform. So, I was able to meet Ann Handley over at MarketingProfs, get to know her. Meet Jason Keith, meet Brian Clark, meet Michael over at Social Media Examiner. All these places I write for, I was able to meet those folks through either Twitter. Fabulous, I think one of the best uses of Twitter in a social selling environment is it’s using it as a platform to meet people that you don’t currently know. And start to form the budding of a relationship that can then maybe be transferred over to, maybe, like a Facebook where it’s more of a private friend. You can kind of get to know them a little bit more. Maybe LinkedIn. Or just exchanging e-mails and so forth. So, I always tell people “Identify where you want to be. And then start to build a relationship with the people who own that outpost.” Because if you get them to like you, respect you and appreciate your content, then, when you make that ask and say, “Hey, I really think I can bring some value to your readers. Here’s an example of something that I might want to do. Would you be interested in a post like this?” And it doesn’t have to be a finished post. It can just be a really tight outline that gives them a really good sense of what you’d want to write. I think you’ll find that your listeners will find their take ratio will be much higher. Than if they’re just Joe Blow sending in an e-mail. “Hey, I really love your site. I think I have something for your readers and I’d like to write for you.” You and 10,000 other people. Because you’ve got to remember, these people are making money quite often through the sale of advertising or event monetization, things of this nature. And so, by giving you a guess-posting capability versus forcing you to pay for access to their audience, that’s a big give. So, if you’re not really bringing high-value content to them and creating value in the other direction, you’re not likely to get it. You’re not likely to get it at all. Trent: Okay. So, this whole propinquity theory and painless prospecting has worked very well for you. I want to thank you for sharing the nuts and bolts of how to make it happen. Before we wrap up, have we missed anything, Tom, that you think is really salient to this discussion? Tom: No. From the prospect of using digital tools as an inbound selling strategy as opposed to cold calls, I would encourage your listeners to pay very special, close attention to it and begin to experiment with it. But I would also encourage them to make sure that they understand that this, I think it’s a slower selling process than, like, the cold call process is. I always just say “This is sort of like fly-fishing versus tuna- fishing.” Tuna-fishing, you throw out a bait, you troll, you dang near run into the tuna. Fly-fishing, much more elegant. You’ve got to keep dropping that bait in the water, presenting it, in hopes of getting a bite. And that’s really what this is. It’s a much more elegant way of doing it. It’s a hell of a lot more fun. And if they want more information on how to do it or if they’re looking for a guidebook, next month, my book The Invisible Sale is coming out. And, literally, that book is a field guide for anybody that wants to do this. I give you the arguments to make to your boss, the statistical arguments for “This is why we need to it.” I show you exactly, step by step, how to build the painless prospecting platform. Show you how to create every type of content imaginable. And give you apps and shortcuts and tips and techniques, both my own and from pros; podcasters, videographers, etc. And then in the end, we talk about how do you actually close that self-educated buyer. Because it’s a little different. You have to come it at differently than maybe the traditional sales. And it’s really a tool for anybody that wants to learn this in- depth. And really begin to do it themselves and I would highly encourage anybody to go pick it up or pre-order it at theinvisiblesale.com. Trent: That’s The Invisible Sale singular? Tom: Singular. Trent: Okay, I’ll put that in the show notes, as well. All right, Tom. Thank you so much for being a guest on the “Bright Ideas” podcast. I, as I always hoped to, got some really good golden nuggets. I loved what you shared about going on Twitter, going on LinkedIn using hashtags, figuring out all your prospects, websites they’re mentioning and using that as a way to start your outreach program, so that was terrific. And if people want to get a hold of you, what is the easiest, single way to do that? Tom: They can follow me on Twitter. I’m @tommartin. Or visit conversedigital.com. Both will find me. Trent: Okay. Terrific, Tom. Thanks for being on the show. Tom: Thanks for having me. I really appreciate it. Trent: All right, so that wraps up today’s episode. If you want to get to the show notes, just go to brightideas.co/78. The other thing that I would really love it if you would do is go to brightideas.co/love. There, you will find a pre-populated tweet and also, a link to the iTunes store where if you would take a moment and if you thought this episode was valuable, leave a five-star rating in the iTunes store. I would really appreciate that. It helps the show to get more exposure and build the audience. And the more people that are aware of the “Bright Ideas” podcast, the more people that we can help to massively boost their business. That’s it for this episode. I am your host, Trent Dyrsmid. Thank you very much for being a listener. I look forward to being with you again in an upcoming episode very soon.
About Tom Martin
Tom is a no nonsense, straight-talking 20-year veteran of the advertising and marketing business who favors stiff drinks, good debates and helping companies grow their businesses. As an internationally recognized digital marketing keynote speaker, blogger, founder of Converse Digital, and Author of The Invisible Sale, Tom marries his two passions, marketing & technology, to teach companies how to leverage digital marketing channels to achieve and sustain sales growth, enhance brand perception and painlessly prospect for new customers. His first book, The Invisible Sale, is now available for pre-sale at TheInvisibleSale.com. You can follow him on Twitter @TomMartin, connect with him on LinkedIn, circle him on Google+ or contact him at http://ConverseDigital.com. You can find Tom’s marketing missives on his blog at ConverseDigital.com, Ad Age, where he is a regular contributor, as well as many of the top social and digital marketing blogs like Copyblogger, Social Media Examiner, Social Fresh and MarketingProfs, to name a few.
Peep is the face of ConversionXL. His unusual name (to most people) is actually pronounced ‘Pep Laya’. He’s from Estonia, but lives mainly in the US these days.
Peep is an entrepreneur and a conversion optimization junkie. He runs a unique conversion optimization marketing agency called Markitekt (they make existing sites better and build new conversion optimized websites) + several niche internet businesses such as T1Q.
Peep delivers trainings and workshops on conversion optimization and internet marketing, consults businesses in need and plans the architecture of websites that sell.
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Who is Trent Dyrsmid?
Originally from Vancouver, BC and now residing in Boise, ID, Trent Dyrsmid is a serial entrepreneur, husband, and father. In addition to hosting the Bright Ideas eCommerce podcast, he is the Founder of Flowster.app; a business workflow management application used by thousands of eCommerce businesses around the globe. In 2019, his eCommerce business ranked 254th on the 2019 Inc 5000 of America’s Fastest Growing Private Companies. Full bio at brightideas.co/trent