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The Top Three Marketing Ideas We Can’t Shake Right Now

What’s Changing in Digital Marketing?

What works and what doesn’t within digital marketing is always changing. One day, a tried and true technology, a best practice, or an idea is hot, the next, it’s not. Keeping up is hard!

In this episode of Expert Marketing Matters, Mark, Chris, and Lauren have each put together a list of the top three things in digital marketing — ideas, technologies, best practices — that are on their minds right now. With each of them coming from pretty different places of expertise and client experience, this is sure to be a diverse list of stuff, and a very interesting conversation!

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

Episode Transcript

Chris Butler: Welcome to Expert Marketing Matters. I’m Chris Butler.

Lauren McGaha: I’m Lauren McGaha.

Mark O’Brien: And I’m Mark O’Brien.

Chris Butler: And we’re going to do something a little bit different this time, which you can see by the title. We want to do our top three marketing ideas we can’t shape. We’ve been sort of batting around what this actual topic is. But we have some ideas that have been coming up over and over again in conversations with ourselves and with our clients that we think are relevant to marketing that we really haven’t talked that much about. And want to go around sort of Round Robin style to talk about them.

Chris Butler: So we’re going to go in order, I’ll go first. And what we’re going to do is we’re going to go through our top three and briefly explain what they are and then we’ll come back and dig into some of the topics because there’s a lot of connections between what we’ve all brought to the table.

Mark O’Brien: Yeah, I don’t think any of these things are isolated and I think this is a great time for this topic because a lot’s changing right now. Or maybe a better way of saying it is a lot has been changing for a long time and we’ve finally gotten to the inflection point of a lot of those changes now.

Chris Butler: Yeah.

Mark O’Brien: Some trends that we can date back many years that finally have caught up and have all intersected. So I think this is going to be pretty interesting.

Chris Butler: Okay. So the third thing, my number three, has to do with the art of expressing your positioning. And what I mean by that is that most people listening to this will be familiar with what a positioning statement is. It basically expresses what you do and for whom. And most people begin by writing that in a fairly literal way. We do blank for blank. And sometimes it doesn’t need to go past that. But what I’ve noticed in almost every conversation I’ve had with our clients is that it does need to get past that and the only way to do that is to start to speak to the heart. Right? Speak to the heart of what the prospect is coming in with. Or another way of looking at it, and we say this all the time is that you need to be informative first and evocative second. I’d like to mention later a couple of examples of this where the positioning language on that company’s website or deeper in actually starts to look like something completely different. It doesn’t look like a positioning statement but it does the same job. So that’s my number three.

Lauren McGaha: My number three, in my head I’m thinking of it as emails fall from grace which might be a little dramatic but what I’m thinking of with that concept is it used to be that if you had the budget, building up your database was one of the more simple and straightforward aspects of your digital marketing strategy. Just go and buy a bunch of names and start emailing your insight to them and those people would start engaging with your brand.

Lauren McGaha: And we’ve just seen over time that the performance of cold purchased lists and emailing those purchased names has declined. So email is no longer an incredibly useful tool for generating and creating new relationships with prospects. We’re seeing that it’s a much more effective tool for nurturing existing relationships with people who have heard of you or have engaged with your brand in some way. So what I want to talk about is just the relationship of how you use email as part of your [inaudible] strategy and then what else is out there to generate new relationships.

Chris Butler: Good topic.

Mark O’Brien: Mm-hmm (affirmative). My third one is the importance of a tight tie through real application of in person marketing and digital marketing. Looking back at our client base over the years, the ones who are the most successful have been very good at both. A strong in-person presence meaning public speaking primarily where they are on the scene based on their positioning at those key events and being involved there. And also, having a very strong digital presence and the interplay of those two things. And we spoke about that quite a bit on a previous podcast. I think it was like two or three episodes ago.

Mark O’Brien: But that’s a real pattern, especially from back historically there’s a lot there.

Chris Butler: That sounds really good. We could do a whole episode on that I bet.

Chris Butler: Okay, my number two has to do with overcoming the discomfort of digging into your personas. What I’d really love to talk about is just going deeper with what it means to develop and understand the personas you’re speaking to. And what I would like to talk about involves actually getting in front of real people, past, present, and future clientele to do that.

Lauren McGaha: Yeah, there’s a lot there to talk about. That’d be good.

Lauren McGaha: My number two has to do with the nature of key word optimization in one’s content today. And the evolution of that process. Because again, it used to be that you could select a specific key word or search phrase and then make sure that you are a little formulaic about how you integrated that key word into your content in order to rank for it online. And now what we’re seeing is in order to rank for your content, you’ve really got to be considering search intent around certain key words and phrases. And we’re also seeing that the evolution of certain technology is changing the way that you need to write around your key words because voice-to-text for instance, is really changing the nature in which people search online. People are really specific when they’re asking Alexa to search for something than when they’re typing that same phrase into Google. And so how do you consider the searcher intent around certain phrases and how do you optimize your content to take into consideration these more specific ways that people are searching online?

Mark O’Brien: My second one, and these are all as you are going to see or hear, all completely interrelated because this is all connected. And I’m excited to get to the part we could just bad bunch ideas around.

Mark O’Brien: But my second one has to do with the relationship of email marketing as Lauren you were talking about versus ads. Particularly, LinkedIn ads. In that, this related to positioning as well, a couple quick points to mention before you dig in this deeper. Email has been more and more difficult as firms have been more and more courageous and really committed to a very focused market segment. It’s been more and more difficult to find enough individuals that fit that market segment over email. Now you do a search for that exact same segment in LinkedIn and you’re going to have thousands of results in most cases unless it’s an absurdly specific foundation. And it usually isn’t because that wouldn’t be good positioning, right? So the audience is much more identifiable inside of LinkedIn than it is through the various email databases.

Mark O’Brien: And the other issue with email is that it’s not as effective as a cold opener as it used to be but ads really are. And the invasiveness of email versus ads are just perceived differently now. And when I say ads, I mean just things on screen, on screens that we’re already on that are grabbing our attention. Even like chat bots have become really prominent and actually useful. I use a chat bot twice in the last week and it worked. It was a functional experience. And that is sort of like an ad as well. It has a different foundation but it operates in a similar way. So I think people are less put-off by well-placed ads, again based on good positioning, echoing expertise with some sort of educational component to it than they are email with the exact same message.

Chris Butler: Mm-hmm (affirmative), yeah. I think that’s why we’ve sort of settled on this idea of paid media as the term as opposed to advertising because advertising has tended to mean something static whereas paid media’s just like, “I’m paying to get my message in this other context and it could look in a million different ways.”

Chris Butler: And as a result, my last one is actually somewhat along these lines as a different point which is, my thinking … I’ve had this thing run through my head over and over again in the past few months which is that social is for people and ads are for content. And it’s just sort of thinking about how those two different ways of reaching somebody can work but you’re thinking about them is going to impact every step you take, every choice you make. And it actually has a lot to do with, Mark, your first point, which has to do with organic versus paid or sort of earned versus paid. I think social is a much longer road when done well whereas ads are something where you can get results and value right away.

Mark O’Brien: I haven’t gotten to that point yet, but I will.

Chris Butler: Oh, I thought you had a … no.

Mark O’Brien: It’s great foreshadowing. The audience is probably full of suspense right now.

Chris Butler: Sorry about that. They call in I’m having a review and –

Lauren McGaha: My number one is I’ve been thinking a lot about just the increased diversity and complexity among different content types in content marketing today. And I think it’s a really interesting time for content marketers because it used to be that blogging was kind of the definition of content marketing. Get your thoughts out, on a web page and people will find you. And now, that world is just blown wide open. And even inside of say, the blogging landscape, there are many different approaches to blogging and each of those approaches can be mapped back to very specific marketing objectives. And that’s true on the gated content side of things as well. And so I’m going to talk about how the world of the content portfolio has expanded and grown over time and call out a few pretty interesting types of content that we’re seeing achieve certain marketing objectives today.

Mark O’Brien: Okay. And yet last but not least, as Chris mentioned –

Chris Butler: Thunder stolen by me.

Mark O’Brien: Thunder stolen. Yet to me, the thing I’m most interested in, and before I get to that I will put caviar on all of this is we’re talking about you and your marketing specifically. So like the world of marketing we think about and know the most about is incredibly small and is about how you, the expert, do it. Right?

Mark O’Brien: Now many of you are creative firms who are doing marketing for other types of organizations and none of this, at all, is meant to apply to any of that.

Chris Butler: Like marketing a handbag or a pair of shoes.

Lauren McGaha: Exactly.

Mark O’Brien: Right. We’re talking about marketing expertise specifically. It’s just important to put that container out there.

Lauren McGaha: That’s a good reminder.

Mark O’Brien: Yeah. It is the name of the podcast, but still. Just so people know.

Mark O’Brien: So something that I’m really interested in now is the relationship between paid and earned. And so when we’re talking about paid media, the idea there that we can just buy attention. Historically we’ve done a lot, and again all these things are intertwining. We’ve done a lot of coaching our clients on their content strategy and using email as the primary broadcast tool for that strategy because ultimately, we need people to show up. And we’ve had metrics where this amount of content plus this –

Mark O’Brien: We need people to show up and we’ve had metrics where this amount of content plus this many email addresses sent out, sent to at this frequency will equal this much traffic. Right? We’ve got metrics around that. And those metrics held true for a long, long, long time, and this is also part of the nature of who we are and what we do. When you are so focused on a particular type of category, you see the patterns develop before it’s known by others. And so, we could see that … well email actually was really effective tool for this, far after it was no longer an effective tool for many other things. Email had a longer shelf life in this area than it used to. Or that it would in other areas.

Mark O’Brien: But now we’re seeing that yeah, it’s coming to the end of its shelf life as a cold open tool. And it takes a long, long time to earn the trust of these email subscribers. So, as Lauren mentioned, it’s not just a matter of buying a bunch of names and starting to send out to them. Those names will come into play eventually, but in a different way.

Mark O’Brien: And so, also with content right? Creating content. It takes a long time to earn Google’s trust, so that Google really looks at you as the go to source, especially if you’re newly embarking on a very focused position as Chris mentioned earlier. So these two things exist and need to continue to exist, but in the short term to get the quick wins, to get the quick traffic, we do recommend some level of paid media. Primary through LinkedIn and we’re not going to get into the details of exactly how we do it, because that’s what we get hired for, but we’ve seen really, really excellent success on that front, using LinkedIn to maximize the email list and the content effort to get quick traffic and quick conversions.

Mark O’Brien: And using that at the beginning, as sort of an instigation tool, is really helpful. Now, over time that email list is going to become really strong and email is an extraordinary nurturing tool. As much as it’s ever been, Lauren mentioned this as well, and your content strategy that’s going to develop, and it’s going to yield greater and great and great results over time as you continue to apply yourself to it. The thing about the ads is that the day you’re done spending the money on the ads, there’s no more residual value at all. This mix of the long term investments, kind of like a stock portfolio, long term investment in your content strategy and using email as a nurture tool, not a cold open tool. Use the long term investment, those two things, plus the short term ad investment which has no long term benefit is a really nice marketing portfolio so to speak.

Chris Butler: Yeah, that sounds good. Okay, so we’ve laid out before us a very ambitious spread of topics, but it’s good for you if you are listing and want to smack on this stuff for a little while. I think we’re going to cover a lot.

Speaker 3: You’re listening to expert marketing matters, a podcast about generating ideal new business opportunities by creating and nurturing digital marketing systems and habits that have a measurable impact on your bottom line. This podcast is brought to you by Newfangled, a digital marketing consultancy focused on empowering experts to do better digital marketing. You can learn more about Newfangled’s digital marketing method at

Chris Butler: We’ve given our three each, lets get back into some of the detail. Some of these will merit more conversation than others and we definitely want to use the time wisely. So let’s go back to me first one, the positioning issue. We can have an interesting conversation around this that dub tails really nicely with the point you were just talking about, Mark, because I think all these things are connected and this one especially touches so much. Particularly, because in the expertise space it’s a given that the longer you persist as an expert in the marketing place, the more specific your expertise will become over time. That’s my belief. That’s the nature of survivability as an expert, right? Is you need to continue to focus in, focus in, focus in over time.

Mark O’Brien: I like that topic by the way, the nature of survivability as an expert. That would be a cool article.

Chris Butler: Yeah, it would be.

Mark O’Brien: Yeah.

Chris Butler: So let me just give one example of this, and I think we can move on and use this as a frame for other things, but the bottom line is once you’ve done the work to figure out exactly who you are speaking to and what you’re offering them, right? Because that’s a task as an expert. Then you have to do the work to adapt the message to reach them emotionally. So again, I’ve said informative first, evocative second, and a good example of this is a client of ours called The Good.

Chris Butler: and what I really like about what they chose to do is they initially had a fairly conventional positioning statement that was, “We improve your conversion rate, turning more visitors into buyers.” Right? So they’re horizontally positioned. They are just CRL, conversion rate optimization expert for a variety of different applications. I think they believe they can do that in almost any context, which they probably can, but that’s not the message they lead with. If you go to their website the first thing you see in the biggest letters is, “98% of your website visitors won’t buy from you today.” That’s not a positioning statement, but it kind of is because what that tells you is, if you read that, that speaks immediately to the fear and the need that you bring to this shopping experience.

Chris Butler: If I’m even looking at this site it’s because at some point along the lines I’ve identified that I have a problem with conversions. Either I think I’m not getting enough or I should be able to get more, whatever it is and seeing that confirmed and quantified tells me two things. I’m right to have this concern and actually, these people anticipated that concern. They know more about it than I do and so then when they follow up and say, “We actually fix this for you.” I’m sold.

Mark O’Brien: Yeah. It’s good.

Chris Butler: That’s a perfect example of what I’m talking about.

Lauren McGaha: I think it’s one of the harder things for firms to prioritize when they’re thinking about how to articulate their positioning is get themselves out of the head space of how they are articulate what they do to somebody and really be more focused on inside of the firm first, and what’s smart about that and what’s most likely to resonate about that is that they are prioritizing that business challenge of the people who are arriving at the site initially.

Chris Butler: Right.

Lauren McGaha: And I just think that’s really difficult though for firms to do. To take their own identity off the table for a second and really focus on okay, the people who are coming here, what do we know is the most painful challenge that they’re facing?

Chris Butler: Right.

Lauren McGaha: And let’s lead with that because that becomes a proof point of expertise without me having to say I’m an expert in this thing.

Chris Butler: Right. If you know the person that you’re trying to reach, you’ve had conversations with them before, they may have surprised you in the past with the things that they care about, you need to keep a record of that. So that you can anticipate number one, what they care about but also maybe number two, what mistake you know they’re making. In their blind spot, that’s another way of looking at this is, you know, time and again you’re going to speak to a prospect and you’re going to realize that something’s in their blind spot and that’s where you can really win their trust is by saying, “Oh that thing that you’re talking about, it’s actually a smaller piece of this bigger phenomenon.”

Chris Butler: And that’s true of almost every single expert that we’ve ever worked with, which is, most of their clients come to them cherry picking issues and that expert says “Aha, you’re actually in the entire orchard here.” I’m mixing metaphors, but there’s … Well, there’s a cherry orchard, but it’s about convincing them that actually, our scope of perception on this should win you over right off the bat because we actually see something that you do not and every one of our clients is capable of doing this if first, they lay out that informational backbone. The basic, we do blank for blank. Get that down so that we all agree on what’s true and then let’s figure out how to finesse this. Right? And it doesn’t always have to look like that.

Mark O’Brien: Yeah, and what I like about that is that type of messaging, that heart oriented messaging, is very applicable to ads.

Chris Butler: Absolutely.

Mark O’Brien: Right? But no so much email.

Chris Butler: Right.

Mark O’Brien: Backing up the other point, what bucket does that fit into? It’s the ad bucket, not the email bucket. And it also speaks to specificity, and that gets to the specificity of search and this idea of content fillers and hubs and one thing we didn’t talk about that just narrowly missed the list is the idea of … Well, you touched on it in your middle point, Lauren.

Lauren McGaha: I did?

Mark O’Brien: Yes, about the types of data content and smaller bite size bits of data content being incredibly effective. The micro element of all of this, a really specific idea, very focused positioning, highly targeted ads to an abundance of individuals on LinkedIn, all of these things really come together.

Lauren McGaha: It is interesting when you start to think about the context too, because … So you read that statement that’s on their homepage which, to me, seems like it would resonate pretty well with most people who come, and then Mark you’re pointing out in an ad context also seems like that would be pretty resonate but imagine that same phrase inside of a subject line.

Mark O’Brien: Yeah, that’s what we’re saying, yeah. It doesn’t work for email.

Lauren McGaha: No. It’s interesting that in that context it just sound a lot more promotional and sales-y in a way that’s invasive-

Chris Butler: Or aggressive.

Lauren McGaha: Yeah.

Chris Butler: Yeah, I mean that’s the thing, you got to take the temperature of this stuff. Actually, this is a great segue to I think your point about complexity, is that where we’re going next?

Lauren McGaha: Sure, yeah. We can go wherever you guys-

Chris Butler: Yeah, just because I think what you were talking about with complexity of the content type, the content landscape, I think is exactly in the same space as this, which is that none of this stuff is solvable in one decision point. Or one …

Lauren McGaha: No.

Chris Butler: Tool, or whatever it is. Even something as small as, how do you express your positioning in the written word on your website, is a very complicated thing and it actually starts to fracture into a million different pieces that you have to think about what’s appropriate in what context and I think what you’re talking about in terms of pieces of content being appropriate for certain things and you have to think completely differently about them spot on.

Lauren McGaha: Well, yeah, and when you think about your marketing objectives, a lot of people getting into this, they want everything all at once. Yes, I want more traffic, and I want that traffic to be relevant, and I want that traffic to convert as often as possible, and I want those conversions to be the highest quality. It’s like you want everything, of course, but in order to do this well you’ve got to start small and then build once you have a foundation of success. And I think that really comes into play when building out a smart content portfolio.

Lauren McGaha: You know, I mentioned before that blogging doesn’t equal content marketing anymore and blogging was this initiative that is intended to drive traffic to your site, right? You write on these subjects that presumably people are searching for. Google offers you up as the authority on that thing and people find you, but even inside of just that objective of “I want to be found for concept X.” Now the way that you go about creating content for those subjects is a lot more complicated depending on how many people are searching for X and how many of your competitors are going on the record about that thing. The internet is just so crowded now.

Chris Butler: Right. And is that subject appropriate for that particular forum as well because I’ve overheard you and your team say this numerous times to clients, that like okay that-

Chris Butler: … as well because I’ve overheard you and your team say this numerous times to clients: “Okay, that subject might be appropriate for this particular content experience, but maybe not for this one.” That’s intuitive in the moment, but it’s not when you’re thinking unilaterally about a content plan.

Mark O’Brien: One of the reasons this is complex is because it’s all been additive. So, rewind 12 years, and you could get away with a blog, and dominate, right? Now with email and using LinkedIn ads, it’s definitely both. LinkedIn ads have not replaced email. You still have to do both. Now it’s micro[inaudible 00:20:33] content and macro[inaudible 00:20:34] content. It’s everything. It’s only getting more complex.

Mark O’Brien: Another thing that I’ve observed inside of our client base lately is, not only is the media complex, the recipe for each individual firm’s approach to that media is complex, based on who they are, how they operate, what they are comfortable with and not comfortable with, what resonates with their audience. Just really the cultural inner workings of each firm are entirely unique. They really, really are. It’s just so thrilling to see that eureka moment happen: “Oh, we need to approach it this way.” But that takes many, many, many months to figure that out per firm.

Lauren McGaha: I think a lot of that speaks to what the quality of the content has to be really high. I think the quality of the content has to be higher today than it’s ever been. It’s not just a matter of just doing this: are you publishing something on your site. It’s really, okay, if you’re going to write a blog, one, is it very thoughtful and thorough? Are you publishing something that’s verbose enough to even get the attention of Google? But two, is it the absolute best content out there? Did you write that better than anybody else did? Did you address a gap that does exist today inside of the messaging?

Lauren McGaha: These were factors that didn’t necessarily have to be considered, in my opinion, even five years ago.

Chris Butler: That’s true.

Mark O’Brien: Your point earlier, I want to get into a bit, Chris, about the social verse ad, and contents per ad, social for people. I think we need some unpacking on that one.

Chris Butler: Yes because it sounded weird. Here’s what I’ve noticed, both in my own experience online just as a person, as well as professionally with our clientele, which is that most people in the professional space have hopped into the social context… and by social I mean social media, so Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, that sort of thing… and they want to use it in the same way that they use their email channel or the same way they use their blog online, which is, “Okay, this is a place where we can post things and gain visibility.”

Chris Butler: In many cases, it’s automated. There was actually someone that was in our field of view many years ago who said, “The best thing you can do is just automate all this stuff. You just post in one place. Just post the same thing everywhere else.” We had an immediate gut reaction to that, which was, “No.” What I’m noticing now is that that “no” is so much more qualified.

Chris Butler: There is a place for automation in social. We’re actually experimenting with that right now. There’s a tool that allows you basically do what you do with marketing automation but within social networks, where you can build a campaign around a piece of content and roll it out over time with certain kinds of messaging. There’s a place for that.

Chris Butler: What I think people are missing in that, is that social media thrives because it’s about personal relationships that evolve over time. That has to be carefully tended to with a point of view, with one person on one end and one person on the other end. That’s a bit different than what I think about with ads when I say, “Social is for people and ads are for content.” Ads are a great way of getting people you don’t know to a piece of content that you’ve created. That’s perfect because you otherwise can’t reach them.

Chris Butler: If you’re starting with ads, and you’re trying to get someone to an ebook that you wrote or something like that, by all means, that’s one of the best ways you can do it today. If you want to get the most value out of the social network itself for your brand over time, you really do have to think about it as if you’re sitting in a room with a person and building a relationship with them over time. You’re going to yield results further out. To your earlier point, it’s not going to be a quick hit.

Chris Butler: That’s just a perspective that I’m not seeing developed well in the expertise space. I’m seeing a lot of people use social as if they’re using an ad.

Lauren McGaha: Well, because they’ve gotten used to a one-way street of communication.

Chris Butler: Exactly.

Lauren McGaha: It’s hard because these people are putting so much effort into expressing their expertise, and they want to get it out on these platforms. Social, it’s about the investment of allowing people to respond back to whatever you put out there, and also being interested enough and curious enough to go find other things related to that subject to express a point of view on, that maybe you didn’t start that conversation either. I think that builds a lot of credibility in the social space.

Chris Butler: I think one way to get to the “Aha” moment with somebody, if you were coaching them around the social point, is to say to them, “Look, a year from now, what would you perceive the benefit of having been on the social network?” Or, “What’s the ideal future state for you on Twitter or Facebook? Describe that. Forget about transactions or anything like that. Just describe that.”

Chris Butler: Most of the time what you’re going to be describing is a reputational boost and a relational boost over time. So if that’s what you’re looking for, which is definitely worthy, then reverse-engineer that. How do you actually get to that? Whereas, if you say to somebody, “Well, what’s the desired future state with this ad?”, it’s getting visibility on this piece of content. That’s much more straightforward. You might get that next week if you do this right.

Mark O’Brien: A sub-theme of this is something, Chris, that you’ve mentioned a few times over the past month or so, internally, which is this idea of developing a cult of personality.

Chris Butler: Right.

Mark O’Brien: This ties to many of these things. So, there’s marketing the firm and the firm’s expertise, which is super important. Then there should also be at least one individual who’s on the scene and who’s really known, that perhaps is the public star of that organization. There could be more than one.

Mark O’Brien: Just like supporting positioning is really hard to have the energy to properly support X number of people, and if there is a strong foundation of marketing, where there are a handful of individuals contributing to the regularly-created content, that we would put ads around and that kind of thing, then there should be at least one individual… for most firms, probably at most; a lot of our firms are not big enough to support more than one individual… who is developing their own personal social network, who’s doing the public speaking, all these other things we’re talking about. I think that’s a key, and that’s something that is under-considered, typically.

Chris Butler: It’s under-considered and avoided because people think of things like brand evangelist or cult of personality, whatever you’re going to call it. They think of that as kind of icky. Or personal brand: it’s hard to say that without it sounding ironic.

Chris Butler: Actually, this can and should be done in a very sincere, earnest, and good way because otherwise, what you’re really talking about is something unpersonal [sic] or depersonalized.

Chris Butler: Actually, one detail that tends to manifest all the time, is I’ll look at designs of insight sections with clients, or content sections. They take out by-lines from their article pages. They do that because maybe someone else has written it, or there’s one writer who’s heavily writing in the firm. They say, “Well, we don’t want it to look like only one person’s doing this.”

Chris Butler: I would say to them, “Well listen. Imagine you’re the person who’s landed on this article, and there’s no name associated with it. The conclusions are mostly going to be negative, which is maybe, ‘I don’t know who wrote this. What are they trying to hide? Did a robot write it?'” There’s nothing to be gained from that, whereas if there’s a name there, there’s something to be gained over time.

Chris Butler: In fact, what you want five years from now, if you’re starting from scratch, is there to be some name recognition between that person and that expertise. That’s what expertise is. Expertise has no value if it’s not brokered by a human being.

Mark O’Brien: Yeah, people trust people.

Chris Butler: Exactly. So coaching people on how to do that is a bit different than ads. That’s why I really want to separate it out.

Chris Butler: Ads are something where you can get value today, and you should. That’s a good thing. Ads are a manifestation of the complexity of the technological landscape today. There’s no way to reach Mark O’Brien if you don’t know him, other than to put something in front of him by way of the broker, Twitter, Facebook, whoever it is. They’re the broker. That’s the way to do it. If I want to reach Mark O’Brien as a relationship over time, it might begin with the ad. Maybe that’s what brings Mark into the fold. But over time, how’s he going to stick?

Chris Butler: You said, “You shut the ads off, you lose the value.” It’s true. It may be the case that I can then keep Mark in the fold because I’m actually relating to him as a person over time. He follows me on Twitter. I follow him back. We have a conversation. Maybe I find where he’s engaging some Slack channel somewhere and we spend time together in that place. That’s what we’re talking about.

Chris Butler: You really have to think deeply about how far into the weeds can you get with the people that you care about. Maybe it ends up being as far as a Slack channel or texting them, or whatever it is; some group that you have, or a network, or someone else’s walled garden, whatever it is. It takes depth and it takes time.

Mark O’Brien: Yeah, it does.

Mark O’Brien: When we were batting around these ideas… So, the homework that Chris put in front of all of us in prep for this was, we each had to come up independently with three to five ideas. We were trying to decide, should we let each other know what they are or not? We decided to, and I’m glad that we did.

Mark O’Brien: As we were batting around the ideas right before the recording of this, we realized this is a launchpad for all kinds of really interesting topics. I bet this will be a bit of another bit of foreshadowing to a dedicated podcast we might have on some of these topics. If you’re interested in any of these particular topics or would like to hear us go into more depth, let us know. Email

Chris Butler: Yeah, I think maybe we should have a part two around some of the subjects. In particular, I’d like to go back into two of the ones that both of you brought up. Email we handled quickly today. I would love to go back into that because that’s been a major discovery and experience for us and our clients. Also, I want to go back to the complexity of content type thing because there’s a huge amount more to unpack. We could have a whole episode on that alone, which I think we should.

Chris Butler: To Mark’s point, if any of this is resonating, if there’s things you would like to hear us cover that are coming up for you, and you don’t even know how to explain them, you can hit us up at

Mark O’Brien: Great. Well, thanks, you two. It was fun.

Chris Butler: Yeah, it was. Thank you.

Lauren McGaha: Thanks for listening.