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Content Marketing for Building Materials

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Content Marketing for Building Materials

This is a transcription of my podcast.  You can click on Google Play if you’d rather listen than read.  You can also subscribe to my podcasts on iTunes.

Changes in Building Materials Industry

Mark: Hello, this is Mark Mitchell from Whizard Strategy. Thanks for joining this podcast. Today, we’re going to talk about content marketing in building materials and why it’s so important and what you can learn about it and how you can get involved in it to help your sales and marketing as you go forward.

Beth Pop-NikolavToday, my guest as a person with the most wonderful name. I love great names like Billie Joel’s ex-drummer was a guy named Liberty DeVitto. What a great name so I’m always looking for great names. So my guest today is named Beth Pop-Nikolov. Isn’t that a great name?

And Beth is a whiz at content marketing and building materials. Now, she happens to live in this country called Macedonia where I have no idea where that is, but she traveled all the way from Macedonia here to be with us today, and she does content marketing for building material companies virtually, and she works for a digital marketing agency in Blacksburg, Virginia called Venveo. V-E-N-V-E-O. So welcome, Beth.

Beth: Thanks, Mark. Thanks for having me.

Mark: This is going to be good.

Beth: Yeah.

Mark: Beth, tell our audience, we keep hearing this term content marketing. You think you understand Facebook and then there’s Instagram, blogs, Pinterest in-house and unless you’re 18 years old, what is this stuff? How do you keep up or let’s just stay focused…Help us understand what is content marketing.

Beth: Yeah, so a lot of people throw the word content marketing around without maybe even out without knowing what the definition is themselves. The simplest term to define it would be to say that content marketing is connecting your audience with answers to their problems through content, and it’s important to keep in mind that when you’re talking about content that you include all of those things that you said.

So content is blog post and content is your website but content is also emails and content is also video and it’s also e-books and checklists and it’s even social media posts. Social media strategy is a slightly different animal than content marketing but they’re definitely intertwined and both rely and have checks and balances within one day.

Mark: Let’s back up.

Beth: Sure.

Mark: I want to go back to a point to make sure that our audience understands and to see if you agree with me. Okay. So early on there, you said a statement about content marketing is answering people’s questions?

What is Content Marketing?

Beth: Yup, that’s exactly right.

Mark: Right. So maybe that’s such a beautiful simple statement but it maybe if you’re sitting here with your headphones or in your car listening to us, you may not really understand what that means. So tell me, am I right? So an example might be instead of writing a blog post about if you’re in the fireplace business, why our fireplace is better than the other guy’s fireplace. Instead of writing that, you might write a blog post about how a new fireplace increases your home’s value.

Beth: Yup, that’s exactly right.

Mark: Okay. And so I hope the other one I think we were talking the other day, Beth, but if you think about your website, your literature, your trade show booths, and things like that, those are the places where you sell your products.

Content marketing is taking a step back from or maybe another way I looked at it is the way a sales funnel works if you’re selling things and you’re kind about a 5,000-foot level, that content marketing starts out maybe to 30,000-foot level. The person doesn’t even thought yet about if they need a fireplace, they’re thinking about what would be a good home improvement then maybe they want advice on how to pick a fireplace and then finally they want to know why your fireplace is the best. Am I defining this right? Do you agree?

Beth: Yeah, you’re exactly right. So the way that we help our clients do content marketing and talk to them about it is you just want to talk to your audience like they’re people. Your audience has questions. They have problems in their industry whether its building materials or any other industry and they want answers to their questions.

In old school marketing said that you would tell someone that the answer to their problem is to buy your product but thanks to the information age and to Google, now anytime anybody has a problem and anybody has a question about almost anything in the world, you’re just gonna look it up.

And so, content marketing comes in by if someone that you want to purchase your product has a question, you want them to enter that question and to Google and then “bam” there you are with the answer to their problem. And the answer isn’t hey, you should buy our product, the answer is actually a genuine answer.

Stop Old School Marketing

Mark: Okay, yeah, that’s a great way to define that and you bring up a point that as I started to learn about content marketing a couple of years ago that and the more I learn about, the more I appreciate it that I’d could compare it to old school marketing in which old school marketing, in my definition, you pay twice for it and you benefit once.

So what I mean by that is let’s say you’re going to run an ad in a professional builder magazine so you’re going to pay someone to create the ad and depending on, it could be inexpensive or can be quite expensive but you’re going to pay something to produce an ad, take a photograph and things like that and then you’re going to pay professional builder for the media space in the January issue which can easily be $5 or $10,000 then it runs in the January issue and it’s done. So you paid to create the ad and you paid for the media cost and you benefited for 30 days.

Now, it does have a wide reach in that 30 days but if you look at how I view content marketing is that you pay once someone to write a blog post which is 350 to 2400 words we’ll say and you could even do that yourself. You could write it. So you have to look and say is that free or what’s the time value of your money or you can outsource it and if you outsource it, it shouldn’t be anywhere near as expensive as creating an ad and then so you paid once for the content, the media is free, putting it on your blog, cost no money, having Google find it and serve it up as a search result doesn’t cost anything.

It’s not a pay per click. It’s free and then finally it stays there for theoretically ever but I find it stays there certainly and is valuable and people are finding and reading it years later and that to me is further like what a much better use of your money than advertising our trade shows. I’m not saying that don’t do those things but stop a minute and don’t assume those are the only things that you can do.

Beth: Yeah, absolutely. And content marketing really helps to further the value of your brand in a way that traditional marketing just can’t because traditional marketing is the constant ask, ask, ask, are you ready to buy, are you ready to buy, are you ready to buy but content marketing is the actual exact opposite.

Giving to Your Customers

You’re just giving and giving and giving. You’re giving answers, you’re giving value, and you’re giving resources so then when your customers at the point of purchase, you’re the brand they want to buy from because they feel loyal to you and they feel indebted to you instead of what traditional marketing can do is they kind of feel like well these guys owe me, I gave them this much money, their product better do X, Y, and Z like they said that it would.

With content marketing when it comes time to purchase, they just really believe what you’re gonna say because they’ve had questions, you’ve given them answers, they’ve put those answers into practice, and those answers have turned out to be true. So now, they are gonna believe the same thing about your product.

Mark: Yes. Yeah, that’s good. So content marketing is about establishing trust and credibility like this company is a trusted. They’re trying to help me solve a problem and so when I’m ready to solve the problem, I already have a good relationship through my relationship with them through reading their content online but I feel that they’ve helped me choose the right fireplace.

Beth: Yeah.

Mark: And then I’ve gotten down to probably well I feel the best about this company and what they’ve said has helped me make a decision. That works. Do you see it that way?

Beth: Yup, I would agree with that.

Mark: The other one, Beth that I see is how frequently I deal with a company or a client, one of the things that you usually do is look at their marketing budget and review it with them to look for places where I want to recommend that maybe they stop spending money and places that they should shift those dollars.

I’m always viewing that whatever your budget is then let’s make that work harder before you go ask for more money. And many times, people are doing old school, legacy things that somebody feels well we have to print this hundred-page catalog when you don’t and if they could let go of that time and money that they would have a lot of money to do for example content marketing which tends to be less expensive and I believe more efficient.

Content vs. SEO

But one of the things I find on those line item in the budget is SEO, Search Engine Optimization, and I’ll ask him, what’s this monthly fee for, and they’ll say, “Oh well that’s for SEO.” And I’m like, “Okay, why do you have that? “Well because we have to.” and what would happen if we didn’t and I go, “Yeah, what would happen if you didn’t.” Okay because if you have this website, and it’s static, the only thing you change is when there’s a new color or a new model number or something, that’s the only change that gets made to the website, okay, so it sits there static.

So you have an SEO company who is fighting really hard to get you. If you make fireplaces, you’re trying to have them get you on the first page of fireplaces which is a very competitive place and because there’s no new content and I am not an SEO expert but because there’s no new content, the SEO firm is having to try to outsmart Google to improve your rankings versus giving Google what Google wants and what Google wants is more and better and regularly updated content. So if you give it to them, you make your SEO firm’s job much easier.

The other thing… So I many times say if you can’t afford content — if you have a choice, you can’t afford both SEO and content marketing then get rid of SEO and just do content marketing. Even if you’re doing it yourself, you will get good results. Even if you literally don’t — if you write good content but you don’t quite know how to set it up to be as optimized it for SEO, Google will still stumble through and find it, okay. The SEO firm can make it 30 to maybe as much as 50% better but I would tell you to first start with content and then add an SEO if you can’t afford to do both of them. Do you agree with that?

Beth: Yeah, I totally agree with that and something that I think we’ve talked about a couple of times is the reason in the building materials industry, this is a little bit unique, the reason that you can just kind of write content, you’re gonna start writing content literally today and start ranking in Google pretty quickly is because no one is owning the space.

None of the manufacturers are owning the space around fireplaces whatever their product category may be. So if you start writing content that people are looking for, Google is going to find you in short order and you’re gonna start ranking well in short order which is you just can’t say that in every industry. And so this actually has like a very unique advantage for the building materials industry because that if you’re just writing good content, you’re gonna be rewarded.

Mark: Yeah because so many times when I’ll go in for a client and look at how to — three ways to increase the resale value of your home, I will find things not forever very rarely from another manufacturer but I will find things from Bob Vila or…

Beth: Great.

Mark: Or usually a media magazine or something. I won’t find it from manufacturers and so what a perfect way for a manufacturer because Google is probably sitting and they’re gonna wish somebody would write new content for this question, okay. And before we get off of SEO, there’s two ways I find SEO helps the content.

One is SEO can help you figure out the right subjects people are looking for and the second is then they can take your post and do their little mambo jumbo tagging and different things they do to optimize it for Google and set you up for monthly reporting to show you how you’re doing versus your competitors and so there’s that part.

Now, Beth, besides, to me the biggest mistake companies make is not doing any kind of content marketing, okay. Now when you see companies that have started out doing content marketing or doing and maybe they’ve been doing for a while, what are the biggest mistakes that you see companies make?

Beth: Oh, content production is just, it’s the biggest pitfall in content marketing because content marketing is so powerful. It’s really easy to get the team riled up to get everybody kind of rallied around the idea of content marketing like you’re saying, it makes sense, it’s a pretty affordable way of marketing. It’s a pretty pervasive idea at this point so you don’t have to really convince them that this is what everybody else is doing but come a couple two, three, or four months later, to just continue putting out great content is actually a lot harder than it sounds.

Content is hard to prioritize. There will always be fires to be put out, sales to be made, and new initiatives to be started in your marketing department or whatever it maybe throughout your organization. So I would say when companies are first starting the content marketing that failing to plan for content output, failing to have a reasonable idea of how much content can I actually write and then failing to just prioritize content because internal deadlines are the easiest push aside so I would say that will probably be the number one and then kind of hand in hand with that is getting super psyched about content marketing in the beginning. so you just crank out all of this content like all at once and then again because of internal things that happened, priority shifting, you kind of drop off immediately and stop writing content.

So nothing makes a worse impression on me than when I go to a company’s blog and I see that for three months, four months, or how ever long, they were cranking out or writing consistently a blog post, let’s say a week or two a month, but I’m there and I can see that they haven’t written a blog post in the last three to four months. It literally makes me think did someone get fired, is this company considering closing down and so that’s why they’re not writing content anymore. It just really sheds a really poor light on your company.

Mark: Yeah, it reminds me of a buyer at Home Depot one time when I was working with a client and talking about how can we get in store literature to the customer in the store and his whole concern was what happens when the literature is all gone and the customer can see there’s a little pocketed box that held a hundred pieces of literature and it’s empty now and he claimed that an unfulfilled promise that I don’t want to see any unfulfilled promises.

So if you have a container that was supposed to hold some literature and there’s none in there then that’s it. You promised me some literature because the container is there and it’s not there so you have unfulfilled the promise. And so I view like when I go just like you do, I see a company that has a blog and is doing some content, and you can see there was some regularity to it.

An Unfulfilled Promise

It may have been once a month, once a week, twice a month and then it literally stops and it’s like somebody forgot about it and it’s almost like I think it will be better if they just hit it or something until they can do it on a regular basis because once again to me, it’s an unfulfilled promise and it says okay, if they can’t be reliable there, where else are they not reliable? Is that also how they treat quality control? Is that how they treat customer service? Is that how they treat shipping? Every brand, it’s a brand touch point and so every time you screw one thing up, it kind of reflects badly on the entire company.

Beth: I’m gonna be stealing the phrase “unfulfilled promise.”

Mark: I thought it was a great one when I heard it years ago and I thought wow, it led to an interesting solution where it’s now very common practice and I don’t know if I was the first person but certainly one of the first in which the literature was put, printed as a one long narrow piece of paper maybe 4 inches wide by 12 inches long and they printed it on the front and the back and it was bound in a pad and then there was a hole drilled on the top of the pad and you had a twist tie, one of those plastic wire things and we tied it around the post in the store. And so now when all those 100 were gone, you didn’t see anything and so that’s now very common practice in stores and it kind of — that was the way to make sure there wasn’t a promise left out there but…

Beth: Something else that I anticipate as far as the idea of an unfulfilled promise and maybe we haven’t said this clearly enough yet about how content marketing is not about you and it’s not about your products but we really need to make sure that if we’re calling it content marketing that you’re answering your customer’s questions and you’re not asking for the sale.

And something that would fall into the category of unfulfilled promise is as a consumer, if I’m your audience and I see that you have a blog, I kind of get jazzed up because I’m like okay, I’m gonna go to this blog and these guys are gonna have some information for me about your product category, about your industry; if I’m architect, you’re gonna be able to say something about architects; I’m expecting to get some knowledge. I’m expecting to find a resource and so when I click on your blog and all I see is, hey we launched new product, hey we got a new CEO, hey we all went on a company picnic and it was great, by the way we went to Kaybees, sort of all other companies like it’s just like [sound].

Like it’s just the worst let down and tells me that you don’t care about me and you actually also don’t understand what a blog is because that’s a news section but it tells me you don’t care about me, you don’t care about offering me information, you don’t care about what I need, you just care about making the sale and that’s not the way that you want your customers to feel about your brand.

Mark: From content marketing?

Beth: Correct.

Mark: It’s okay like you said in news section to say here we are at Kaybees but content marketing might be more five things for you to look for if you’re going to Kaybees this year.

Beth: Right.

Mark: Okay, which isn’t stopped by our booth there. I mean that could be in there toward the end but it’s like five things to look for, new colors, new textures, better plumbing fixtures and here that we noticed there’s a great class on this, that would be and then afterwards, five things we noticed at Kaybees that you, as a plumber, can benefit from or a kitchen designer.

Who is Your Audience

I think that’s another point we want to make sure people understand this is the audience for a blog. You need to look and say, who do you need to communicate to? Is it a home buyer? Is it a home owner, is it an architect, is it a contractor, or is it a builder? It can be any of those audiences and you can write content to them and in your blog, you can write content to all of them but every time you write something, you want to have in mind who is the audience you’re trying to reach when you write that and write to that person. Is that… do you agree?

Beth: Yeah, absolutely and it’s important to have your audience defined because each different audience is going to have different problems and so you want to solve… If you’re talking about new construction, the way that builders, their issues with new construction is different than architect’s issues with new construction or the questions that they may have and so you want to be able to speak to that audience’s specific pain points in as clear and specific way as possible instead of creating just a general blog post about five issues of new construction.

How Smaller Companies Can Beat Larger Companies

Mark: Yes, that’s a good advice. The other thing that I think for companies to keep in mind is if you are a small to medium size company, you have a real competitive advantage when it comes to content marketing.  Theoretically, the large company has more assets, resources, money, and so forth that they could put against content marketing but content marketing by its very nature is something that, I’ll use the word, is hard to control.

The larger the company, the more they’re afraid that you’re going to say something wrong. When good content you’re really not talking about the company or warranties or making product claims at all and you just have good conversational articles that help people solve problems or answer questions. But big companies, they’re very nervous about it.

They don’t understand it. So three to five people have to review everything that anybody writes. Lawyers have to sign off, product and technical people and all of a sudden it’s this meaningless drivel and it becomes this big chore when it’s much easier to have a person that you trust and their job. It’s almost like if you have a PR spokesperson and that person has interviewed by a reporter, you can’t approve every word they say. You trust that they’re gonna be able to represent you.

It’s almost maybe that’s the model to think about is the person you trust them. And if you don’t like something, the beauty is, you go in and change it tomorrow.  And the other is if you really don’t like something, you just take it down, and it’s gone. There’s also thing about it.

But large companies don’t — they’re just not comfortable. They’re way behind the time so they’re gonna be way behind the time. So if you’re small or medium company, this is a great way for you to just kick the butt out of your larger, larger competitors and no longer worry. They can spend more than you want to trade your booths more than you in advertising but they just psychologically, I don’t know what, culturally cannot get their hands around how to do content marketing effectively and it’s going to probably be a couple of years until they are forced to deal with this new reality. Is that making sense to you too?

Beth: Oh, yeah, that makes sense to me. I would say that although Lowe’s is not a manufacturer they’re definitely the building material space and they’re actually a very good example of a big company that smarten up and just got up in its own. And if you look at the content that they’re creating but more importantly how agile they are online, how well they engage with their customers. They’ve got people that if you tweet at Lowe’s or post Lowe’s Facebook, you’re going to get a comment back and not just a comment that says thumbs up or “Hey, Mark, thanks for the follow.” but you’re gonna get a comment back that says, “Hey, Mark, I’m glad you like this.  Where did you put it in your house?” And that’s effective.  Consumers love that but that’s the really the expectation not the rule but that would a good case study.  If you are a larger company and you’re like how can I show, the top executives that this is something that’s gonna actually work and that there’s other companies our size doing it, Low[?] good example.

Mark: Yeah.  And probably most of our listeners are building material manufacturers as opposed to big boxes dealers. An example of a manufacturer that I think would be someone to look at and follow is a company, fiber cement company called Allura. I think they started a blog maybe back in January or something and I think they’re doing a very good job. I think take a look at the content, the subjects. They have, how their blog posts are written and I think they are very — compare to James Hardie, very small company and I think they’re doing a very good job. And you think of people to the — examples of anybody, any other examples of somebody that they should take a look at?

Beth: Yeah. GAF Roofing is doing a really good job or trying to get out of their way and write content that solves their audience’s problems without asking for the sale. For instance one of the blog articles that they have up right now is talking about how to manage a pre-construction meeting. That is just a really good resource that people are going to come back to time and time again.

And any time you can create something that makes people want to buck market. I mean, if I was — if that article applied to me I would have it bookmarked in my web browser and that would be what I pull up every time I have a pre-construction meeting because their audience are not very naturally administrative.

So they were like, “Hey, this is a pain point for our audience. It doesn’t really have anything to do with our product necessarily but we know that the people to buy our products care about this and so we wanna show them that we care about it as well and they’re trying — this is just one example, they’re trying really hard to write just good content, good resource book content for their customers.

Mark:  Theoretically, if you wanted to start you could go to WordPress today and for free you could start a blog and you just pick out a design template you like and you got a blog. And you can start putting content up and learn as you go.

You probably if you have a website you probably want to engage one of your website firm or your ad agency or something to at least make sure the branding, it looks like you came from your company and they helped you to pick things like tie faces and things. They may want to grab ownership of it which you can decide whether or not that’s the best thing for you or you can retain ownership. Let’s talk, Beth, about who should not write content for the blog.

Who Should Not Write Content

Beth: Here’s is one of my favorite subjects. I’d say there’s three people in your company that should not be writing your blog. The number one is the person who knows the most about your products, your subject matter experts. They’re very valuable resource to your company.

You can’t write text specs without them. You can’t write product pages without them but they are the absolute wrong person to be writing content and the reason is is they’re not gonna be able to have that 30,000 views like you were saying earlier, Mark.  They’re just gonna be focused in they’re so granular. They can’t come up to a higher level and realize what are the pin points that my audience has outside of just my specific product but you wanna talk about how your product fits maybe in the construction as a whole or even beyond that.

And subject matter experts, that’s just not how their brain works and that’s why they’re good at their current jobs but that’s also why they’re not good content writers. The second person on my list is your CEO. The plain and simple reason is CEOs, it’s part of their job is being overloaded by their job. There’s not a CEO in the world who has free time.

And even though your CEO is more than likely someone who’s extremely passionate about your company, extremely passionate about your product and maybe even really excited about content marketing and dying to be a content writer they’re not gonna be able to maintain the level of content output that content marketing requires in the long run.

When clients have CEOs as their head content writer, that is a recipe for content product failure. We’ve seen it just time and time again. If you just can’t get your CEO off the idea that they must be the writer, we recommend having them write guest posts and have someone else be in charge of the actual more regular content production.

The third person that should not be writing content in your company is your VP of sales. Your vice president of sales is your vice president of sales because they’re a good salesman and that’s just kind of in their blood and it’s great, they make great accounts for your company but they don’t make great content writers because like we’ve said content marketing is not about your products. It’s about your audience, it’s about solving your audience’s problems and the VP of sales is just not gonna be able to help himself, he’s gonna ask for the sale. He’s going to plug your product.  He’s just going to make it sound a little bit too markety, a little bit too salesy, and you want content marketing to sound organic.

You want it to just be giving valuable content because you value your audience and salespeople are gonna have a really difficult time taking on that voice and that’s why they’re good at their jobs but again that’s why they would not be good content writers.

Mark: Let’s walk through, Beth, if somebody, you know, if we motivated somebody to say, “I want to do content marketing or I want my — I think my company should start doing content marketing.” Let’s walk through what are the one, two, three, four, five, whatever steps to doing that. What do you think is the thing first they should do?

Beth: The first thing we should do to put on a little bit is to define your audience and to be specific as possible.  It’s very likely that you write to more than one audience. Most manufacturers market to at least four separate channels. So it’s fine if you have more than one audience but each of those audiences needs to be as specific as possible.

So as an example you don’t want to just say I write for architects, you want to try to get granular and say, all right, for architects who specialized in high-end multifamily because they’re gonna have a specific and unique set of issues that architects who don’t work in multifamily and don’t work in high-end multifamily are just not gonna have.

So, that’s number one. Number two is to figure out what you’re gonna write. I know that sounds really simple but sometimes coming up with ideas and headlines and topics, it’s a little bit difficult. So we always recommend that you just start with the questions that your customers ask you or really the questions that prospects ask you what are the questions that people don’t understand about your products, what hangs people up right before you’re about to close the sale.

And then even before that what are the issues that your audience has just in day to day life as far as in their professional life of course. What problems keep architects who focus in high-end multifamily up at night? Do they have to now focus more on lead certification because those rules are becoming more and more strict? Do they have to worry about their relationship with builders? Could you write about their — how to relate with builders or how to convince your contractor to use this new product that you expect that no one’s ever used before, things that may not necessarily lead them directly to your product but are just problems that they have in their industry.

Importance of Content Calendars

So you know who you’re writing to, you know what you’re gonna say and now I would recommend taking those two ideas and creating a content calendar. Content calendars are important because they’re gonna keep you on track. They’re gonna hold you accountable like we were talking about earlier, they’re gonna keep you accountable after the buzz and honeymoon phase of content marketing is amazing, we’re all going to be millionaires as one off. You wanna have a content calendar in place that says, “Okay, in January I made a plan that said, ‘In June I was going to write about low-flow toilets for architects who focus in multifamily high-end’ and now that day is here and I’m gonna write that.

It keeps you from having to come up with a new content piece every time that you wanna write a post which takes up an insane amount of brain power. It kind of takes the pressure off later down the line when you’ve got 50 plates spinning on sticks and you’re like, man, I just don’t have time to write content but if you’ve got that topic there you got that headline already written. It’s a lot easier to just sit down, write the blog posts, write 500, 600 blog posts in two hours rather than having to start from scratch.

Mark: Okay. Yeah. Where in the steps do you appoint to someone in charge of this or the leader?

Beth: Yeah. That’s a great point. So we’ve talked about who shouldn’t write your content and you might be thinking, well, everybody in my company is completely overwhelmed and we can’t afford to hire anybody else. So what we recommend is that you find someone within your company that’s already passionate about content. Maybe they don’t have all the time in the world but they are willing to dedicate some of their work hours to just championing content.

Mark: Could they be also just passionate about the customer…

Beth: Yes.

Mark: And then they could learn what’s this content stuff all about?

Beth: Yup.  That’s a great recipe right there. If they are excited about offering your customer’s value and just are excited about making your customers feel cared for, that’s the guy or gal that you want in charge of your content. We have this term, content champion, because this person may not be able to write all the time because writing actually takes a lot of time but they can write from time to time as well as top people within your organization to write guest posts or blog posts along the way.

So if a salesperson has a kind of unique interaction with a prospect and this prospect brings up a new pin point, have that salesperson write a blog article about the pin point and the solution and then your content champion would be in charge of editing it. When your CEO is really gung-ho about content and you decided, okay, we can’t let him just be in charge of content but when he does when to write a post, your content champion can be the one who edits it and posts as well as your content champion would write from time to time.

So they should be, as Mark said, they should be passionate about your audience. They should be passionate about content marketing. You don’t wanna have to convince them that content marketing is the answer because they’re gonna be the one to keep the ship steady when in four months the content marketing buzz has died down a little bit.

Mark: Just want to be clear.  What are their — so we’ve told them not to write it.

Beth: Yup.

Mark: We set to a point a champion or leader, captain, whatever you want to call it. Is that person, to me, could be somebody who doesn’t write any of it because they may not be a — have either, you know, they may not like to write. They may have other things to do, okay. What are other options that they would have to having the content written?

Beth: So we said that they could get people from around their organization to write and it would just be them editing it. So, that’s where it comes in where you said they should be someone who’s passionate about the audience because they just need to be someone who gets it and they’re able to take out whatever pieces, salesy, markety words kind of slip in there, so that’s gonna be their job with content from around their organization.

There’s also the option to outsource. There’s lot of websites, lots of companies online today that will write blog posts for you for really reasonable price and your content champion would be in charge of getting those outsource blog posts, editing them.

Mark: And we’re giving — those writer you always have to give them the subject matter like write about this or give them literally think of a headline as a starting point for them to do that, correct?

Beth: Right. So they would take that outsource piece of content and make sure that it sounds like your company and that’s a really important thing that you make sure it sounds like who you want your company to be perceived us. So your content champion would make it sure it sounds like your company as well as just make sure it sounds in line with the content marketing strategy that you’ve laid out, make sure it’s actually answering the question that you gave to outsource company to answer.

Mark: Yes. Good. There’s also a natural one to is going to be your ad agency is going to recommend that they write it and they may have the writing skills or they should and they — if they can also get out of their own about always sneaking in a plug of your product. But the bigger issue to me is ad agencies are kind of in their mind trained up to the value of writing and the value, what they will charge you to write an ad or a brochure or your website in my opinion is a lot more than they should charge than you should pay for a blog post.

And we’ve seen that you can buy blog post for as little as $22 for 350 words and they can be surprisingly good. I couldn’t imagine this working and they’re all writers based in United States but in my mind they should be in the low hundreds of dollars and ideally less. Maybe there’s a range of things depending on how much research is involved, how long it has to be written. But I never — in my opinion want to see where there’s a high cost, such a high cost on an individual blog post there’s like we don’t have a money for that.

Like when you do a new brochure, it’s like do we have a budget for the brochure? It should be literally like, hey, we can just do a blog post a week and it’s fine, it’s just part of our process. And if you have a blog post that costs $22, that’s nothing. And if they start to cost 150, 300, maybe even 5 or 6 depending on how long they are, it would be hard press to imagine a blog post should cost a thousand dollars or more. Or maybe rare instances where you can justify the work but don’t get in the habit of that’s what blog posts as a matter of course cost. Do you agree with that?

Beth: Oh, I absolutely agree with that. If you’re outsourcing your content it needs to be a sustainable model. A thousand dollars per blog post is not a sustainable model.

Mark: Right.

Beth: Yeah.  If you work in any sort of intelligent organization, someone is gonna catch on pretty quickly and say, wait a minute, what’s the ROI on that thousand dollar blog article?

Mark: Right.

Beth: And although we know and then have seen time and time again that content marketing has a tremendous ROI and content marketing absolutely will bring in more qualified leads and more qualified traffic onto your website, you don’t want to have to climb that seat pill of what I’ve dumped $10,000 into 10 blog posts. I mean, that’s a really hefty investment. So if there’s — yeah.

Mark: Yeah.  And I think you and I the other day heard somebody say something that was funny which he recommended, you know, look around and you can find somebody with an English degree that probably working at Starbucks because nobody is hiring English majors.

Beth: I’m an English major. I actually know a couple of unemployed English major. So if you need someone to write your blog post, I’ll do it for pennies. I told you.

Mark: So, that is another way. So, you know, if you could best summarize what’s the major takeaways from our discussion today besides — I’m gonna give you number one is that let’s just do it, start a blog.

Beth: That was my number one.

Mark: Sorry, I stole your thunder. What would be a couple of other things they should take away or is that it?

Beth: Yeah, that would be it. No. I would say that I just hope that everyone feels like we kind of debunked what content marketing is. I’m a marketer. I work in a marketing agency. I love marketers but we also love buzz words and it can feel a little bit overwhelming to try to actually nail down to actually touch the definition to some of our buzz words.

So I hope that if you walk away from here, you know, okay, this is what content marketing is in case you missed it the first time I’m going to tell you again. Content marketing is connecting your customers with answers to their problems through content. In the caveat that we’ve talked about today is that’s it. You can’t ask for the sale. You can’t say also our products are really great, you’re just giving them answers to the questions that they have.

So number one, do it.  Number two, content marketing is actually pretty straightforward. And number three I would say is just don’t let the content ball get dropped. That’s just the biggest pitfall. Don’t overestimate how much content you can put and don’t under produce content as well.

Mark: Good. That’s excellent. Well, thank you so much, Beth, for being here.

Beth: Yeah. Thanks, Mark. That was really fun.

Mark: Beth with a great last name Pop-Nikolov. I told you in the beginning she works for a great digital marketing agency called Venveo. What’s your website?

Beth: Venveo.com, V-E-N-V-E-O.com.

Mark: Yeah. So if you have any other questions about content marketing, please feel free to reach out to Beth. Or if you’re looking for a great digital marketing, see for some help with your website, social media, things like that, Venveo would be a great place to consider. This is Mark Mitchell from Whizard Strategy.  Thanks again for tuning in. I hope you’re subscribing to my podcast and also recommend hopefully that you subscribe to my newsletter and tune in for my webinars.

You can read more about content marketing in building materials here.

 

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