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The One Where We Ask Again, Is Content Marketing Dead?

Content Marketing? Still? In 2018? Really?

Yes, really. In a world of exponential technology and dwindling attention, content marketing still matters. It still works, and more than that, it’s still an essential way of connecting prospects with your expertise. But there are doubters.

In this first episode of Season 3 of Expert Marketing Matters, Chris, Mark, and Lauren discuss (yet again!) whether content marketing is still relevant to marketing efforts…

You can listen to the episode using the player embedded above, or you can read a full transcript below.

Episode Transcript

Chris Butler: This is, Expert Marketing Matters, a podcast about generating new business opportunities and creating your future. Welcome to Expert Marketing Matters, I’m Chris Butler.
Lauren Siler: I’m Lauren Siler.
Mark O’Brien: And I’m Mark O’Brien.
Chris Butler: And we’re back for the new year, season three.
Mark O’Brien: I have to be honest, we’re not in the new year.
Chris Butler: Yeah.
Lauren Siler: I was wondering how we were gonna play that.
Chris Butler: Yeah, well we are-
Lauren Siler: Do we lie, do we not?
Chris Butler: We’re doing both. We are speaking to you from the distant past of December 2017. It is about a week and a half from Christmas. We’re ready to be closing out for the year. It’s been an awesome year and we are being true to what we preach and we’re recording this early.
Mark O’Brien: Yes.
Chris Butler: And getting some stuff in the can and ready for the new year. But you guys are looking forward to an interesting event in January.
Mark O’Brien: Mm-hmm. Yeah, it’s the … Now it’s called, Advanced Positioning of Lead Generation, in Nashville. And so I’ve gone to Nashville in January for almost all of the past 13 years I think. David and-
Lauren Siler: Is that true?
Mark O’Brien: Yeah.
Chris Butler: With a couple of exceptions right?
Mark O’Brien: Yeah, almost.
Chris Butler: That’s right.
Mark O’Brien: Yeah, that’s why it’s almost. A few years I didn’t do an event.
Chris Butler: Right.
Mark O’Brien: And that was I just didn’t go but aside from that I’ve been there January. One of my favorite traditions and the years I didn’t go because they weren’t doing anything, I really missed it. I felt lost. Being in Nashville in January is a thing for me. And so, yeah, this is the conference that David and Blair put on in Nashville.
And you can learn about it at And it’s really about … It’s an agency business conference is really what it is and a two day thing and David Blair goes over different modules. And it’s sort of a relative of what used to be called, the N.E.W Business Summit. It’s not the N.E.W. Business Summit. It’s in that world, right.
And they also have Revenue 2.0 and it’s sort of in that world too. And so it’s just great, we have a lot of clients there. We have a lot of people we’ve never met before and it’s very exciting to be in that room and to just have a chance to spend a couple days with all those wonderful people. It’s a really nice way to start the new year.
Chris Butler: We have some great client relationships that have their origin in one event or another in Nashville in January, which is very cool. Thanks for David and Blair for bringing together such as a stellar group of folks.
Mark O’Brien: Absolutely, absolutely. They always have an excellent attendance in terms of quantity and quality. And they put on a great show. It’s just a lot of fun.
Chris Butler: They have such a strong point of view on so many things. And as a transition on what we’re gonna talk about today I want to hear your story about this, Mark but Blair … I guess it was 2011, started to worry that content marketing was dead. And we debated that then and it came up again for you at an agency meeting.
Mark O’Brien: Yeah, so for about six years a part of a agency peer group. Whose 10 firms from around with America and we get together every six months. And I really miss that too. That was a lot of fun. A lot of time but a lot of fun.
It was the last peer group and I was sort of unveiling to them the grand plan for the new Newfangled which was moving from a traditionally web development based company to a marketing consultancy. And content was a big part of that and a number of them came out pretty hard, aggressively I would say.
It’s a bunch of agency principals who’s not afraid to go for it. Pretty aggressively against content marketing. Same basis, same thing. You know, like that’s over. That already happened and you’re building a business that is partially rooted in that is a really bad idea. And they were exactly wrong but they were also exactly right. Well-
Chris Butler: And you were able to dig into their perspective on this in that conversation and there was a bit more nuance to it than content marketing’s dead.
Mark O’Brien: There was. It didn’t start that way but as we got into it, it was. And the beautiful thing about that peer group was that you had so many incredibly interesting, smart people who all really cared a lot about each other.
There was nothing but love in that group and real investment but if they had an opinion they would go for it. And they did and what they were really saying is that written indexable online content doesn’t have a future.
That’s what they were saying and at the time I fought that as well. But not entirely, I understand and we were already doing … We had webinars for five years at that point, right?
Lauren Siler: Was that the argument they were making that you really just need to put all of your eggs in the webinar basket or the non written basket or were they just saying don’t worry about content marketing at all?
Mark O’Brien: They were basically saying that because this is such tenuous ground and they didn’t see a very clear solution to it that it’s just not a good foundation, right?
Lauren Siler: And they weren’t seeing results from their own content marketing?
Mark O’Brien: They had … A number of them had seen massive results from their own content marketing. In fact, the two people on my mind … The two most active members of the conversation, both of those firms got tremendous results from the content marketing. Tremendous results but they thought that, that maybe that stage of-
Chris Butler: Was a flashing banner.
Mark O’Brien: Yeah, at that time they were still seeing tremendous results.
Lauren Siler: Yeah, they just wanted to get ahead of it maybe.
Mark O’Brien: Maybe, yeah.
Chris Butler: Yeah, but I can envision this conversation mostly because you were confident but also based on what your perspective has been and it seems to me that someone comes out with an opinion like that, it’s a little bit bigger than it needs to be.
And you put them through a dialogue on it and they end up retreating back to a position of, “Well, nobody reads.” Right?
Mark O’Brien: Right.
Chris Butler: And so why are we writing all this content if no ones gonna read it. Or, “That worked for a little while and it’s not indicative of what’s happening now.” But it seems to me like if you take this concept there’s probably several ways we should chip away at this idea. One being that, do people read anymore?
Because that is … In terms of the intent of this material that a human being finds it and learns from it, is that gonna happen? But number two, well, what about the search engine optimization component in this? Having indexable content so that someone can connect to your website, regardless of whether or not they read it in the ad.
But then the third thing might be well, are there other forms of content that are more effective now in the ziteguest, and perhaps even would have been more effective in the past.
But then the final thing is, what should somebody expect in terms of if you’re talking about these agency principles who they’ve seen great results but big picture, they might look at it now and say, “Well, we get all kinds of results from referrals, or networking events, public speaking, other types of legion.
But in the end, how much should indexable content account for anyway? What should somebody expect to see in terms of their overall share of opportunity.
Mark O’Brien: Yeah, and this relates I think … Which we’re chipping away here to a conversation I was having with a principal from a firm in Toronto. It was my first conversation with her, or anyone at the firm, a few days ago.
And she was very practically voicing concern and skepticism about her firm’s ability to write, quote unquote. The time for it because I told her what we say, eight to 10 hours per individual per month.
Chris Butler: Yeah.
Mark O’Brien: That’s what we did. Eight to 10 hours per individual, per month.
Chris Butler: Which is significant.
Mark O’Brien: It is, it is. When you think of a day per month per individual and these individuals are the experts.
Lauren Siler: Well, often that’s far less than what these people anticipate the expectation to be. Or maybe, even far less than what they are already spending … Doing on their own trying to do this in house.
Chris Butler: Yes, yeah, if they are. If they’re already a full utilized employee that’s not participating in marketing then yeah, one day it could be a big deal.
Mark O’Brien: It could be a big deal. And so that really … Sometimes people hear that and they’re like, “Oh, great. Sometimes they freak out. She was on the freak out side. And we kind of went around for a little while and I backed it up … And this is getting back to your point Chris. I backed it up and said, “Listen, the first question you need to ask is do you or do you not need to market your firm?”
That’s the question. Yes or no? If the answer’s no, if the referral stream is great, always has been great, forever more will be great, which is really the other choice. It’s like referrals or marketing. Those limit you, I’ll talk about that in a second. If that’s fine, then no you don’t need to market your firm. And you know it will be fine forever, which no one actually does.
Chris Butler: Sure.
Mark O’Brien: So, it’s not really a question.
Chris Butler: Right, if you routinely have more opportunity than capacity.
Mark O’Brien: Yeah, purely based on your relationships.
Chris Butler: Sure.
Mark O’Brien: Right? And even when that’s true, the problem that every agency suffers from is that they can’t evolve that way because they’re getting the same kind of work and the same kind of people. And if they want to do something different … Which they tend to do as they realize what they’re actually great at, where they could have those influence and make a little profit, all that kind of stuff.
They need to break that mold and you can’t do that with the referral method. So referrals create more of the same. The other option outside of marketing and referrals would be just straight aggressive sales. And agencies don’t have luck with that.
Chris Butler: Right.
Mark O’Brien: They don’t and they haven’t for a very long time. And they all-
Lauren Siler: And very little interest in it too.
Mark O’Brien: And very little interest in it, yeah. And it’s a really expensive way to go because you’re gonna hire one, or multiple, people who are going to do that. Those people who are the classic high powered sales people are really expensive. And they’re also a dying breed. Yup, right? Okay, so the question. Marketing, yes or no?
And she said, “Yes.” She understood the answer to that question was yes. And I was like, “Okay, you’re going to market.” One way or another and we don’t necessarily need to figure out how today but one way or another you need to get your expert thoughts out of your head and make them indexable and accessible. That has to happen.
Now we can talk all day long on how that has to happen but if the answer of the question, do you need to market is yes then the next conclusion, the only conclusion, is that these people need to have their thoughts accessible. And so the question is how do we do that.
Lauren Siler: Right.
Chris Butler: Right, right.
Lauren Siler: It’s the-
Mark O’Brien: No, go head.
Lauren Siler: It’s the method right? It’s the common assumption we hear again, and again, and again that to create content, or to express thought leadership, you have to sit down and write. You have to fit into the mold of a writer.
Chris Butler: Fingers on the keyboard.
Lauren Siler: Right.
Mark O’Brien: Yeah, fingers on the keyboard.
Lauren Siler: Exactly, and the conversations about the methodology.
Chris Butler: Correct. And also the mode of consumption right? I think the assumption around content marketing is creators, fingers to the keyboard, consumers, eyes on the screen.
Lauren Siler: Yeah.
Mark O’Brien: Yes. That’s good.
Chris Butler: Let’s come back to that. Can we come back to that?
Mark O’Brien: Yeah, I like that.
Chris Butler: Yeah, lets start though with what is the role of text and marketing first. Because I think we all have … And this format that we’re creating right now, is very much indicative of our thoughts on where we want to place priority in content marketing. But here’s where I think those folks have a point in terms of content marketing being dead.
Mark O’Brien: Oh yeah, sure, yeah.
Chris Butler: I don’t think content marketing is dead but I do think that what they are experiencing, and feeling, and articulating properly is the deprecated role of text in content marketing.
Mark O’Brien: Yes.
Chris Butler: It used to be that text was the way. Right? And it needs to be. Mark, you are right. Text still needs to be indexable so you need to get your expertise out of your mind and into some other format to be indexed by search engines.
Right around the corner, things that are non text will be indexable. Or things that are non-textable be automatically turned into text and indexed by the indexers.
Right, we won’t have to do that. Right now we rely on people to do that. We’ve referenced, they do that. But I do think that text is deprecated.
And this podcast is a great example of that in the sense that we record this podcast, we don’t write anything down, we take the audio, we get it transcribed, and we put it on our site.
And we believe that we need to do that because all that text becomes basically a way for people to connect to the site based on inquiries. But we don’t expect people to read it when they get to the site.
Lauren Siler: No.
Chris Butler: We don’t believe that, that’s the best way to consume this material. It’s the best way to get people who don’t know about it yet to the site. You see what I’m saying?
Mark O’Brien: Yes.
Chris Butler: So the text becomes a method to get someone somewhere. It’s a bridge but it’s not necessarily an end in and of itself.
Lauren Siler: But I do think we have to be careful about abandoning text all together because-
Chris Butler: I fully agree, yeah.
Lauren Siler: I think that it has its place particularly when people are going into a search engine and looking for a very specific answer to a question.
Chris Butler: Correct.
Lauren Siler: A transcript is not what Google’s gonna serve up to the answer to how do you do this or what’s a way to approach this problem. That’s not what Google does. It looks for how an article is organized and are there lists.
Is there one, two, three. Is there a really simple answer to that question that’s been crafted in a well articulated article. That still happens and still exists. That’s the whole snippet thing that’s going on with Google right now.
Chris Butler: That’s true.
Lauren Siler: So there is a balance to this.
Chris Butler: That’s very true and I think to a point that you’ve made in numerous context already, which I think is really important, there are people who need to be creating content for marketing purposes who are best served to write.
Mark O’Brien: Absolutely.
Chris Butler: That’s their gift. That’s where they’re gonna excel the most. That’s where their thinking is gonna be the most properly articulated in that format and so, yeah, that shouldn’t go away.
One thing I do want to mention though about the indexing is you’re right, Google is coming much more sophisticated about how it understands the format and context of information.
It does differentiate between something that’s formatted to be read and something that’s not quite, like a transcript. That being said, another half of page rank which is ultimately how they discern authority on a subject matter from one site to another has to do with the volume of words, the repetition of phrases, and the scope of coverage of a topic.
And if you’re especially prolific say with podcast like if you’re doing … If you’re able to publish one a week like we are. All that transcribed information covering the topics that we cover are gonna have an enormous impact on this sites page rank around certain topics.
And so if someone searches for a query around a topic they are likely to get our site because of all that content.
Mark O’Brien: Right.
Chris Butler: But you’re right it’ll see the page differently than it would like an article that was actually formatted to be read.
Mark O’Brien: There’s a bit of interesting give and take here and I’m gonna piece it together as I speak as I usually do. So we had the original media, books, right?
Chris Butler: Right.
Mark O’Brien: That’s the first real medium of any kind, right? Would you say … I guess spoken stories but that’s not reproducible media.
Chris Butler: Well, actually it was. We wouldn’t have the Iliad for example, or the Odyssey.
Mark O’Brien: Without spoken words.
Chris Butler: If it wasn’t the case embedded in that culture wrote memorization, repetition, and recitation was how-
Mark O’Brien: So the brain was the original-
Chris Butler: Right. I mean, those sources which we rely on for ancient history actually were not written down until much later.
Mark O’Brien: Just stories.
Chris Butler: So the extent copies that we have of that are not original. They far post date the actual inception of that material.
Mark O’Brien: That story.
Chris Butler: But it’s relied upon … It’s relied because we know how that culture used memorization. Which is totally something that Google has taken out of our culture firmly. Yeah, we don’t do that anymore.
Mark O’Brien: So, we’ve got text the second medium.
Chris Butler: For the purpose of this conversation I think you’re right though, let’s start with books.
Mark O’Brien: Well, text and then Google showed up and said, “Okay, well we need to make all this text accessible.” And that was their job, right?
Chris Butler: Correct.
Mark O’Brien: And so they did that but then when they did that, everyone started playing to their rules and they were making text in order to be indexable to Google, right?
Chris Butler: Right.
Mark O’Brien: So there’s this little bit of give and take and now people are branching from far beyond text and now it’s podcasts, videos, and everything else.
And so Google is now rapidly trying to catch up to that. And we’re right in that kind of awkward stage there between those two things.
Chris Butler: That’s right.
Mark O’Brien: But probably in the next couple of years that gap will be bridged.
Chris Butler: We’re on the cusp. I mean, Google began with free voicemail service almost 10 years ago now. The whole purpose of that was for them to basically teach their AI to recognize spoken text. It was just a research operation so that they could get better at figuring out how to index things that were non-text.
Specifically, spoken audio. In parallel with that they were doing the same thing with images. What is this image? Is it a bear, is it the Eiffel Tower? And it’s getting good at that because that’s their mission.
They want to index and make the world’s information accessible and information in text … Text is one piece of the world’s information and the minority even though text is abundant but there’s information everywhere else and it wants to make that accessible to … Dystopic as that may sound that is where it’s going and actually I think-
Mark O’Brien: It’s not necessarily dystopic.
Chris Butler: Right, because I think there are some good things about it. For instance, I would love that we don’t have to pay a fee to It’s going great but it would be nice if it were a little bit more seamless because even those aren’t perfect.
Mark O’Brien: Right, yeah.
Chris Butler: It’s the human ear. You know so I think making stuff like this more accessible in that way. If I could search for it, even on my own machine would be nice.
Mark O’Brien: Would be nice, yeah.
Chris Butler: Actually, we should take a break.
Mark O’Brien: Okay, yeah.
Chris Butler: And when we come back I do think we should talk a little bit about modes for getting content out there that are written and what we think about that now because that’s really changed our world. And then get back to that question of the opportunity share.
What are we trying to achieve with this content. Back to your colleagues questions about, is this dead? What do we think it should do? So let’s take a quick break.
Mark O’Brien: Okay, sounds good.
Chris Butler: Okay, welcome back. Welcome back. That was a very quick break. Where we left off was we got into some history of text and I think all of us here are readers and enjoy text.
Mark O’Brien: Right.
Chris Butler: And writers as well.
Mark O’Brien: Well, yeah, one point you made before the break was about how there are still some people who would prefer and are most adept at communicating through the written word.
Chris Butler: Correct.
Mark O’Brien: And certainly … I don’t know, both are correct]. You’re one of them. You have been historically an extraordinary creator of text and you’ve enjoyed it.
Chris Butler: I do like to write and I do like to read.
Mark O’Brien: Yeah.
Chris Butler: I’ve found they … I will say, and this speaks to that point about the deprecated role of text, I have found that the returns on that has been diminishing.
Mark O’Brien: And how does that affect your motivation to do it?
Chris Butler: It effects it. I mean, for instance outside a … Well, Newfangled history is a great example of this. We had a newsletter for a long time and we found-
Mark O’Brien: Put your heart and soul in that thing for like seven years.
Chris Butler: And we got good return from that.
Mark O’Brien: We did.
Chris Butler: For a while but we did start to notice-
Mark O’Brien: It was the bulk of our marketing promo.
Chris Butler: It was but we’d notice that it started to have a weird effect where it was like well some months it didn’t seem as necessary as others. It seemed like we were a slave to that structure as opposed to utilizing that structure for a strategic purpose.
And I think that can happen with anything that you do long enough. But also I think good marketing is something that’s shared by a team and just because one person might be a little more interested in writing you need to find a way to get everybody’s perspectives in.
And frankly, our marketing now … Well, forget the word marketing. Our ability to extend our expertise beyond the walls of this building so that it finds the right people, it’s better now than it was then. Fundamentally.
Mark O’Brien: Yeah, it’s better now than it was then but we did the best we could then.
Chris Butler: Sure, absolutely.
Mark O’Brien: And that was a lot. It was a lot.
Chris Butler: But it is true, I do like to read, I do like to write. I have found though that … I’ve had a newsletter of my own for a number of years outside of Newfangled called, “Don’t Think About the Future.” And a couple of factors lead to me barely doing it this year.
Mark O’Brien: Right, yeah, that’s true.
Chris Butler: Having a baby one but also, I just I would notice that while I wasn’t seeing the audience drop I was seeing the engagement drop significantly. So people would receive the newsletter but the opens were dropping.
Mark O’Brien: Okay.
Chris Butler: And the actual engagement with the text which you can measure in this was dropping. The engagement with the material, the click throughs were dropping.
Lauren Siler: Was your audience growing at the same time?
Chris Butler: At a slower rate. So it wasn’t … Attrition was not exceeding growth.
Lauren Siler: Yeah, yeah.
Chris Butler: But I basically concluded that people weren’t reading it and part of that has to do with the fact that I can be a little bit wordy. And these were not short emails but it was as advertised.
Mark O’Brien: But that’s what you enjoy. You enjoy digging deep.
Chris Butler: I do.
Mark O’Brien: Like that’s your expression and to look at the transition. We probably don’t have time to get into that, what you’re doing now. You’re still getting … Really, honestly getting much deeper now with the podcast.
Chris Butler: Right.
Mark O’Brien: And putting out a lot more content overall, right?
Chris Butler: It’s a different experience.
Mark O’Brien: But you’re seeing the engagement also through the roof.
Chris Butler: And that has to do with the fact that I think people are excited about audio right now. Audio can fill in the gaps in terms of time like if we’re all pressed for time, and that’s another half of this. Do people read anymore? People still read but there’s only so much time to read.
A podcast you can listen to while you’re driving home.
Lauren Siler: Anywhere.
Chris Butler: While you’re at the gym, during the commute. And I think that there’s space for growth there that people were not experiencing before. So I’m much more excited about that format at the moment.
Lauren Siler: I think there’s a perception too that it’s less work. It’s almost more entertaining. People look at it and they’ll listening-
Mark O’Brien: To consume?
Lauren Siler: Yes.
Chris Butler: Yes, I think you’re right about that for sure.
Mark O’Brien: And create, let’s be honest.
Chris Butler: Yeah, this is-
Lauren Siler: Well, I think that depends. I think you’re biased on that.
Mark O’Brien: Well …
Lauren Siler: Because I think it suits you for how you are.
Mark O’Brien: But just look at the time investment.
Lauren Siler: For sure. It’s definitely more efficient to create in a lot of ways but for some people … Not so much for some people it would be hell to create a podcast.
Mark O’Brien: Sure. Yeah, I could see that.
Chris Butler: Well, and just as a preview our next episode is gonna be about a little bit more behind the scenes how to, to get something like this done. But something, just to briefly point out, it’s easier for us because I think we like to converse about this stuff.
And we’ve also done the legwork behind the scenes to set this up so that all we have to do is show up, hit record, and start talking. There’s filters here that keep the cross channels from being a mess. All we have to do is export the audio file. It’s very, very fast.
Mark O’Brien: It really is.
Chris Butler: But that’s this format. There are people that … There are other types of podcasts out there that require more work but in terms of what this is meant to do, this is the right format.
Mark O’Brien: Like yours, which none of our clients would produce a podcast like yours. But how many hours do you think you invest for, The Liminal? Which is Chris’s podcast for those of you who don’t know. It’s awesome, you should check it out but a single episode how many hours of time do you think you invest?
Chris Butler: That’s a good question. It probably varies but it’s definitely in excess of 25.
Mark O’Brien: I was gonna say at least 20. Yeah, yeah. Exactly, exactly.
Chris Butler: Yeah, but it’s spread out. I can barely get one a month done.
Mark O’Brien: And the episodes are about an hour ish.
Chris Butler: That’s right, yeah. And it’s mixed media and so, yeah, it’s more akin to putting together like a documentary.
Mark O’Brien: Absolutely.
Lauren Siler: Yeah, yeah.
Chris Butler: If you were writing more of a research paper but … So, yeah it’s not efficient.
Mark O’Brien: Right, and that’s not the point.
Chris Butler: Yeah, but this … In terms of the people who are listening to this podcast and the people who would get the most out of adopting this type of media for their marketing purposes, this is far more efficient than our old newsletter approach.
Mark O’Brien: Or the webinar.
Lauren Siler: And to your earlier point, it opens up the opportunity for more people to do it because it is an accessible channel for a lot of people, right?
Chris Butler: Right.
Lauren Siler: You’re not requiring somebody to sit down and write out an extremely long newsletter to be able to contribute to the firm’s expertise.
Chris Butler: And on average … So, if we do a half hour episode of this. What’s our word count typically for the transcripts?
Lauren Siler: Maybe around 6,000 or so.
Chris Butler: Okay, so that’s double our recommendation per month.
Mark O’Brien: Per month.
Chris Butler: Right, our typical recommendation 3,000 words of indexable content a month. We’re doubling that each episode which means we’re quadrupling it just with this podcast.
Mark O’Brien: And we have two podcasts.
Chris Butler: Right. I don’t know what the eight version of quadruple is but-
Mark O’Brien: Yeah, I was gonna octupaling.
Chris Butler: Eightupling. Yeah, we’re octupaling it with your podcast.
Lauren Siler: Yeah.
Chris Butler: And that’s not including the white paper, the webinar, any other written posts.
Mark O’Brien: And what’s more important than that, is the impact.
Chris Butler: Right.
Mark O’Brien: So you had mentioned about your newsletter. You know, outside of this, ‘Don’t Think About the Future” compared to “The Liminal” and the engagement there, completely different kinds of engagement.
Chris Butler: Right.
Mark O’Brien: I was having a conversation with a principal out of Charlotte this week and it was so funny to hear him talk. He said, “Yeah, you know we’re getting good feedback. You know people say they really enjoy it and they’re passing it around to colleagues.”
We’re talking about just his content, right and they’re probably doing like white papers and blogs. And he was using very general language because people were giving him very general feedback because no one was reading it.
Chris Butler: Right. They saw the headline.
Mark O’Brien: Which he didn’t know but I knew.
Chris Butler: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Mark O’Brien: Because I was like, “That’s what everyone used to say to us.” They really enjoyed it. And that right there it’s not like that is meaningless, or worthless, they are being perceived as experts and people are respecting their expertise and sharing it with their colleagues. The only thing is, no one’s actually reading any of it.
Chris Butler: Right.
Mark O’Brien: Right? Or is that too aggressive?
Lauren Siler: No, no, no it’s not. No, I think … I just, I think both have their place and one area I would point to is the conversion itself. Well, we see this with our own content plan. White papers are, for example, the type that gets the most conversion long form.
If we were to look at how many people convert on a webinar registration or a past webinar download versus how many people are converting on the white paper form throughout the month, white papers are blowing webinars out of the water.
Mark O’Brien: Absolutely, 100 percent. 100 percent.
Lauren Siler: And so when we think about the purpose of a diversified content portfolio the conversion is a really big piece of that as well.
Mark O’Brien: It’s such a big piece of that. And people are scanning it.
Lauren Siler: Right, yeah.
Mark O’Brien: And the other thing about content creation is you never know which paragraph, or which article, they are gonna read.
Chris Butler: That’s right.
Mark O’Brien: Because they are gonna read some of it.
Lauren Siler: Right.
Mark O’Brien: So it all has to be excellent and perfect but what are they going to actually catch on to? We don’t know but we do know they scan and this … Actually, your point about webinars is a very, very good one. This is not simply written versed read or watched.
This has to do with when. This is the when. So just to finish the plans I was making earlier with the guy out of Charlotte, now we get, we see, we get specific feedback on the podcast. Right?
Instead of people saying, “Oh, that was really cool. You guys are really smart.” Blah, blah, blah. Just general praise we’re seeing, “When you said this, or Chris said this, or Lauren said this in this episode that really hit me.” And we’re getting that all the time now.
Lauren Siler: It’s true, yeah.
Mark O’Brien: All the time now.
Chris Butler: Yeah.
Mark O’Brien: And webinars, you think, “Okay, that’s non-text.” But the big difference is when. I think that’s the time, when is the content consumed. Not where, how, but when.
Chris Butler: Right.
Mark O’Brien: And commute consumable content reigns supreme.
Chris Butler: Yeah.
Mark O’Brien: Angie Crudor. Same thing. She’s been a fan of ours forever. But now that’s she’s listening to the podcast because she got a car that has this really fancy Bluetooth set up.
So I guess it’s not fancy anymore but she has that now in her car. I just got that in my car too and I like it. And now she’s giving specific feedback but she loves Newfangled. And loved our content but she’s paying more attention now because we’re showing up in a way that’s convenient for her.
Chris Butler: Right, and even the impression of convenience exceeds it’s actual convenience in the sense that we send an email out saying, “Hey, this webinar’s coming out.” Lot’s of people say, “I’m in.”
Mark O’Brien: Right.
Lauren Siler: Yeah.
Chris Butler: Lots of people do. Who actually shows up? Far less.
Mark O’Brien: Probably like 30 to 40 percent and it used to be solid 50 percent no matter what.
Chris Butler: Now, as we’ve said behind closed doors. That 30 to 40 percent, still worth it. I’ve said numerous times like, “Hey, if you can get five people in a room to talk to about your expertise you’d still do it.” You’d give up your lunch break to do that.
Mark O’Brien: Exactly.
Chris Butler: Right, so it’s great.
Lauren Siler: And the perception that you’re even investing in that type of media.
Chris Butler: Right.
Lauren Siler: That goes a long way too.
Chris Butler: Right, and I think the key word there is perception. I’ve said this to numerous clients when we’re talking about the placement of forms.
Vis a vis, their content and I pointed out the user data that we have shows that when somebody subscribes to something, right, subscribes to the newsletter, or a digest, or something. It is not a prerequisite for them to have consumed all the content on that page.
In fact, the data shows that sometimes they’ve been on that page for a second or less. And so what that means is that the impression of value, impression of relevance, is enough for somebody to say, “Yeah, I want in.”
Mark O’Brien: Impression of relevance, absolutely.
Chris Butler: Right, and you made the point earlier that it’s not like we see less people subscribing than ever. We still see people saying, “Yes, I’m willing to give you my information for that white paper. Yes, I’m willing to subscribe to your content.”
And so that shows that the interest is still there whether or not people consume after that point actually matters a little bit less to us now than it did before.
Lauren Siler: Yeah, definitely.
Mark O’Brien: Wow, you know what would be really cool? If we had … And this is how Newfangled works, this is great. If we had, instead of conversion points based on medium, if we had conversion points based on topic and you get to choose your medium.
Okay, so this month here’s a topic. You get it through iTunes, get it though go to meeting, get it as a white paper, get it as a blog. Get it however you want and they get to choose. And whatever the button they push, it gets sent to them the right way.
Probably through the email you get a link with like the next step and that would be kind of cool.
Chris Butler: Yeah, we could definable do that. And we do need to start wrapping up but I want to come back to that question about ultimately expectation of value. So the whole purpose of this content marketing thing is to generate opportunity, right?
Mark O’Brien: Right.
Chris Butler: We’re trying to get our expertise out there to people who need that have never heard about us before. So that they get to know us and say, “You know what? Those are the people that I want to work with to get that thing done.”
The whole purpose of the website is to graduate that researcher interest into buyer activity. And you don’t do that without connecting content marketing to your ultimate articulation of the format of your expertise. That’s basic by the book.
But, my question is when you look at your overall business closed for a year, 2017. What percentage of that should originate with web content? Should you be able … And obviously this is all very messy. It’s a whole different podcast topic of teasing out source ’cause it’s hard.
It’s hard to do but I mean, if someone’s trying to benchmark should they expect the majority of their new opportunity to be attributal to web content to have started there? I’m thinking no.
Mark O’Brien: No, we’ve typically said 20 percent net new raw opportunity.
Chris Butler: Right.
Mark O’Brien: Right. But the other 80 percent is filtering, graduating, all of that stuff with people who are around for some reason or other.
Chris Butler: Right.
Lauren Siler: It’s influencing purchaser decisions as much as it is generating the opportunity.
Mark O’Brien: Yeah, and it’s educating.
Chris Butler: That’s right.
Mark O’Brien: Your point about education and this goes back to one of the original points of referral based business development versus marketing based business development. With the referral based business development it will always forever be more of the same.
But with marketing based you get to go on the record for who you are today and be discovered for that, be known for that and build up relationships based on that and because you’re gonna market constantly.
It’s a monthly endeavor and you’re always doing it based on your ideal prospect today it’s always evolving and so that 20 percent, brand new, never heard of you, great. But also the 80 percent. You’re not only building a relationship with them, you’re redefining the relationship with them through that content marketing and it’s critical.
And this other firm out in Charlotte, same conversation this week, they see that. They see that people are saying the right things. You know that kind of raw prospects. Like, “Oh, I’m impressed.” Blah, blah, blah but the people when they give them the sales cycle, they binge the content. They go crazy on the content.
Chris Butler: That’s right.
Mark O’Brien: And that, the way the content can now mold the sale is amazing. And I think the highest eschalot of this, at least that I’m aware of today, is productized your services. And we discovered this when we say, “Okay, this is what we do. We have the agency marketing model. We have the marketing program and this is what it looks like and it’s a package.”
And then they say, “Yeah, I want that thing.” And that too, helps to define the relationship and it makes it easier for the buyer and it makes it easier for the seller.
Chris Butler: Yeah, well I’m glad we ended with this because I think it’s important for people to understand that content marketing is not purely something that happens before the prospect shows up, right?
Mark O’Brien: Right.
Chris Butler: It’s something that continues to happen as that lead matures and is nurtured. And we had this insight years ago when we built in our old CMS a view that showed someone we were tracking and was able to play back their historical session.
Alright, so you could go and see okay, John Smith he’s been looking at our website content forever. “Hey, there’s the sales force opportunity. There’s when we start talking to him about a job.”
Look at all the stuff John Smith was reading as we were having this conversation. What was influencing that. How were we able to anticipate these conversations in the sales cycle based on what he or she was reading.
That’s critical and that’s still critical today in our inside engine. And that speaks to something that I think we weren’t as clearly aware of then but we had a sense for which is that content marketing is just as much about … I don’t know, helping with sales as it is helping with getting opportunity in. You know what I’m saying?
Mark O’Brien: Oh, yeah.
Chris Butler: And the blending and sales marketing, that’s a whole other topic but I mean, that’s what’s really happening there is they’re becoming this one interchangeable unit.
Mark O’Brien: Defining the terms of the sale based on the expertise.
Chris Butler: That’s right. That’s right, yeah. So content marketing, it’s not dead. But I think we are heading into new territory in regard to how text is consumed and created.
Mark O’Brien: Yes.
Chris Butler: And it is true that time is precious. All of this have a harder … I’ll be honest, I have a much harder time reading now than I used to.
Mark O’Brien: Really?
Chris Butler: I do.
Mark O’Brien: Even you.
Chris Butler: I do.
Mark O’Brien: ‘Cause I want you to know Chris is probably the most prolific reader I’ve ever known.
Chris Butler: Well, I don’t know you read a lot.
Mark O’Brien: I’ve never known anyone that reads like you read.
Chris Butler: Well, my wife reads more than I do.
Mark O’Brien: Does she?
Chris Butler: Still today, yeah.
Mark O’Brien: Wow, that’s good.
Chris Butler: Yeah. I do love to read but I have a much harder time doing that and the part of the reason why is I have so many incoming sources all the time. I’m constantly flagging things that I want to read and it’s kind of like when you hop into Netflix and all a sudden you find yourself browsing the queue for like 15 minutes. If you spend 15 minutes trying to find out-
Mark O’Brien: Except you’re finding nothing.
Chris Butler: Right, but if you spend 15 minutes trying to figure out what you’re gong to read. That’s 15 minutes you’re not reading.
Mark O’Brien: That’s true.
Chris Butler: And then what do you do? You fall asleep. I mean-
Mark O’Brien: Absolutely.
Chris Butler: I fall asleep with my kindle near by often.
Mark O’Brien: Often, yes, absolutely.
Chris Butler: So I think it’s partly because there’s os much more material out there. If last year was any indicator for most people, the internet is a raging conflagration of conflict in the written form. And I think a lot of people find that just emotionally and mentally exhausting and so we have to understand our business content is thrown into the mix with everything else.
Mark O’Brien: Yes.
Chris Butler: Political, social.
Mark O’Brien: Right, it’s true. It’s true.
Chris Butler: All that stuff.
Lauren Siler: Yeah.
Chris Butler: If it’s happening on the internet we’re in the mix. So if someone’s exhausted by what’s going on politically, or socially, or whatever we have to understand that, that’s cutting into our attention share as well.
Mark O’Brien: This data point though, I know it’s a single data point, but to me it’s very significant. If you, really the most prolific writer and reader I’ve ever personally known, is not really as interested in either anymore.
Still interested but not as interested in either who is going to be? Honestly, like that’s a big deal.
Chris Butler: I dearly hope my daughter will. I’m so terrified that our next generation is not gonna be able to-
Mark O’Brien: Well, I can say that when I was saying you’re the most prolific reader I’ve ever known the first person that came to mind was my son, Guss.
Chris Butler: Guss, right. He’s had a Kindle for years.
Mark O’Brien: Well, yeah but he loves books too. He will happily sit and read for endlessly.
Chris Butler: Yes.
Mark O’Brien: Like if we just put a pile of books next to him and give him water every once in a while.
Chris Butler: Just water, Guss, and feed him with the word.
Mark O’Brien: Yeah, so I think the mind still loves reading and I still love reading. I adore reading. I could never imagine not reading but in terms of this content marketing thing and Lauren what you’ve been talking about so much lately with the different styles of communication.
To know that you are favoring … Not favoring as much the written form I think is a harbongor for everybody else out there.
Chris Butler: I have an easier time remember things that are said to me than things I read. Frankly, that’s always been true. I’ve always been an auditory learner.
I’ll point out, we’ve mentioned David and Blair’s podcast many times. I have listened to more of their episodes, of their podcast … And there’ve only been like 30 something than I’ve read articles by either.
Mark O’Brien: Sure.
Chris Butler: I’ve read their books.
Mark O’Brien: Right.
Chris Butler: Cover to cover but in terms of articles and things that they’ve sent out, I’ve been much more dedicated to do their podcast than I ever was anything they wrote.
And I feel weird saying that here because I hope they’re listening and I hope they know that I’ve always valued their material.
Mark O’Brien: I think they know that.
Chris Butler: But think about what that means.
Mark O’Brien: Right. Well, also think about if you listen to … Their podcasts are about 30 minutes long. Let’s say it’s 4,000 words a content. Let’s just round down. You listen to 10 podcasts, that’s more than any book.
Chris Butler: That’s right.
Mark O’Brien: That they’ve written. Like most marketing books are around 20 to 40,000 words. Somewhere around there. Yeah, but most are in the neighborhood so 10 podcasts, in terms of content, and the thing is beyond … You say you’re an auditory listener.
I know we’re going long here but it’s just a good topic. I think auditory learner, I think most people are. I don’t think you’re unique in that.
Lauren Siler: Well, and I think that speaks to this specific feedback we get about the podcast is because I think that’s true. I think that the messaging is stickier in this medium for a lot of people.
Mark O’Brien: And the reason I think it’s stickier is because there’s more emotion transmitted.
Lauren Siler: Yeah.
Mark O’Brien: There’s voice, there’s inflection. And the podcast is often conversation and so you can hear both sides and hear the people thinking. It just has a deeper impact than reading an article.
Chris Butler: Well, and how many times have we talked about the scenes about a written piece of material and saying, “It’s the voice coming through.” Does it feel right. We don’t talk about that in the podcast ’cause we’re just saying it. It’s just who we are.
And that does come through. Another thing, I’ll cite my daughter yet again. We read her every night a story to her every night before bed, right. And the goal is to get her acquainted with speech, with words, with communication. But we’re reading it to her. So she’s experiencing words, and communication, and learning through hearing it. She’s not reading that text yet. She’s making the association that the text is there.
Mark O’Brien: Totally.
Chris Butler: And that’s how children learn to read but they’re learning through their ears before they’re learning through their eyes.
Mark O’Brien: Yeah.
Chris Butler: In terms of the power of the word itself.
Mark O’Brien: Right.
Chris Butler: And so I think you’re right. Everyone is an auditory learner. I think what ends up happening in culture is that we start to dismantle that and put people in other places and teach them that maybe they should put more of an emphasis on something else.
And as a result a lot of people struggle in school with textbooks and memorizing things. So that’s another reason why I’m more excited about podcasts. They’re just more natural and they’re deeper. I mean, there are things you can do with sound that you can not do with words.
Mark O’Brien: Yes, it’s just true. Okay, so this is officially our longest podcast which is really fun and exciting. And I’m thrilled it is ’cause this is important stuff.
Chris Butler: It is a good topic, yeah.
Mark O’Brien: I’m gonna end it with a prediction. This is the first podcast of the year.
Chris Butler: All right, I’m ready. I’m ready.
Mark O’Brien: The prediction, this year Newfangled … And this is something we’ve not discussed so this is the true prediction.
Chris Butler: I’m ready.
Mark O’Brien: This year Newfangled is gonna launch a service that is going to be all about our client’s never writing again. Okay, we’re gonna launch a service and I predict it’s gonna be the most popular thing we’ve ever done. Meaning, all the content assignments, zero writing.
Chris Butler: How do you feel about that Lauren?
Mark O’Brien: That’s my prediction.
Lauren Siler: I’m not entirely surprised to hear you say that.
Mark O’Brien: Okay.
Lauren Siler: Yeah, I’m not entirely surprised because I think that, that’s one of the biggest pain points that we hear over and over and over again. And so, yeah, I’m not entirely opposed to it but I’m not fully on board with that either.
Mark O’Brien: They’re not writing emails, they’re not writing … No, zero writing in the marketing.
Lauren Siler: But somebody’s gonna be writing.
Mark O’Brien: Not them.
Chris Butler: Right, not them.
Lauren Siler: Yeah, but-
Mark O’Brien: It’s them. Their thoughts, pure, purely their thoughts.
Lauren Siler: Yeah, but what I’m taking issue with is that writing still has to happen.
Chris Butler: Well, and that’s an important nuance because I think that what you’re selling in a very compelling headline speaks to the pain point somebody has of like, “I don’t know how to write, I don’t want to write, I don’t want to read, I don’t have the time.”
What you’re talking about is the reality that text still matters and so what’s the service? It’s connecting those two truths.
Lauren Siler: Well, yeah. Yeah.
Chris Butler: As a case in point I’ll just mention this, we had a really awesome call with a client last week. Or earlier this week.
Mark O’Brien: From where?
Chris Butler: And we’re gonna have another one soon. From where? This is our client from Kansas.
Mark O’Brien: Got it, okay.
Chris Butler: That we are working with again.
Mark O’Brien: Yeah.
Chris Butler: And what I liked about that call … Because this has happened numerous times. Is we’re helping them sort through how to articulate what they do. So their positioning is clear. What they struggle with is how to communicate that.
And we have some unique insight into that because of how we tie it all together from a marketing perspective. And by the end of the call we had basically written something for them. Well, not basically we wrote something for them.
Mark O’Brien: Right.
Chris Butler: And this has happened numerous times. And we’re good at that and the reason we’re good at that is not just because we’re wordy people and we’re good with words but it’s because we have a perspective on how all these things tie together.
And what it means to communicate them in the most effective and intensive way possible. And the same thing happens with emails. We’ve seen that time and again that we have apiece of content that is a marketing piece of content and what you realize if you have to market the marketing.
Mark O’Brien: Yes.
Lauren Siler: Yes.
Chris Butler: And that’s what emails are.
Mark O’Brien: That’s so true, yeah.
Chris Butler: Emails, out by marketing, is marketing the marketing. You have to sell somebody on, “Are you willing to spend a little bit more time on this topic?”
Because I just wrote you three lines in an email, I want you to click this link and read a whole thing about it. You’re marketing the marketing, and we’re really good at that, and our clients struggle.
Lauren Siler: Yeah, that’s such a big piece of what we already do inside of the content program. ‘Cause we’re not just reviewing the marketing that they’re creating but when they put together those promotional emails they’re sending them to us first. And in many cases we’re entirely reframing them.
Chris Butler: That’s right.
Lauren Siler: And helping them be better at getting that content and compelling somebody to dive in deeper.
Chris Butler: Yeah, if you needed one proof that time is more precious than ever and the inputs are more abundant than ever I think the proof is that now all marketers have to market their own marketing content. Marketing of the marketing.
Mark O’Brien: Can I go into Word Press after this and change our headline to, We Market Marketing for Marketers.
Chris Butler: I mean, true as that maybe I’m afraid of saying that because that sounds horrible. That’s so-
Mark O’Brien: It says blah, blah, blah.
Chris Butler: Yeah, it sounds pretty bad.
Mark O’Brien: Blah, blah, blahs, la blog.
Chris Butler: But I think in terms of your prediction and this is obviously something we’ll talk quite a lot about.
I think it does tie together stuff we’ve been talking incessantly about for the last quarter and opportunity that we see. There are things that we don’t do today that we know our clients want that we’re trying to get them to do themselves.
That they’re routinely struggling with and that we probably could do very well on their behalf through a variety of different means. And I think that’s gonna be the bridge between never writing again and acknowledging the value of text because both things are true.
Mark O’Brien: Oh, yeah. There will still be tons of text.
Chris Butler: Right, but if someone doesn’t believe something’s valuable your best bet isn’t to try to change their mind. It’s to just try to show them another way forward, right?
Lauren Siler: Episode two of consider this is called, You Never Have to Write Again and it’s about a lot of these concepts.
Chris Butler: Yeah, yeah.
Mark O’Brien: It’s in the air.
Chris Butler: So we could go on for much longer than this.
Mark O’Brien: Clearly.
Chris Butler: Which, is pretty exciting. I think if there’s one thing you get from this podcast it’s that in the midst of questioning what content marketing is, it’s value. How it works, how much time you spend on it. What’s still true is that it’s essential.
Mark O’Brien: Yeah.
Chris Butler: We wouldn’t be having this conversation if we didn’t believe that.
Mark O’Brien: So true.
Chris Butler: What makes it murky and interesting and maybe scary or intimidating, or any of those things, exciting. Let’s just go with that.
Mark O’Brien: Yeah, absolutely.
Chris Butler: Is that it is in a state of flux, it is changing. And there’s an abundance of opportunity that has yet to be captured and we’re speaking into microphones because we’ve realized this year this is an opportunity we had not captured before.
And we’re better at this honestly than we had been in the past at routinely writing things that got read cover to cover.
Mark O’Brien: It feels really good. That’s for sure.
Lauren Siler: That’s exciting.
Mark O’Brien: Yup, it is.
Chris Butler: And we’d like to see more people doing it.
Mark O’Brien: Yes.
Chris Butler: We work with people who are great orators.
Mark O’Brien: We are and we do.
Chris Butler: The conversations that we get to have with them behind the scenes are really rich and if they could just take that and record it.
Mark O’Brien: Right.
Chris Butler: It would be better for them than trying to write it down.
Mark O’Brien: And that’s the subject of the next podcast.
Chris Butler: That’s right.
Mark O’Brien: Which we no longer have time to record today.
Chris Butler: That’s right.
Mark O’Brien: Which is fine.
Chris Butler: Which we will do. The next podcast is gonna be on how to do that.
Mark O’Brien: Yeah, exactly.
Chris Butler: And what we’ve learned.
Mark O’Brien: Great.
Chris Butler: Hope to see you back then.
Mark O’Brien: Happy New Year everybody.
Lauren Siler: Happy New Year.
Chris Butler: All right. Happy New Year guys.