The Virtual CMO

How to Build an Effective B2B Content Marketing Strategy with Brad Smith

August 03, 2021 Eric Dickmann, Brad Smith Season 6 Episode 1
The Virtual CMO
How to Build an Effective B2B Content Marketing Strategy with Brad Smith
Show Notes Transcript

In episode 82, host Eric Dickmann interviews Brad Smith. Brad is a content marketer and CEO of a SaaS company called Wordable. He runs two successful agencies in the content production and digital PR industry. As a Business Insider featured copywriter, Smith is on a mission to slay awful content one blog at a time. His content has been highlighted by The New York Times, Business Insider, The Next Web, MarTech Today, Marketing Land, Moz, Shopify, Unbounce, HubSpot, Search Engine Journal, Kissmetrics, Crazy Egg, BounceX, and hundreds more.

Through his agency work, Brad Smith has helped companies such as Monday.com, AdEspresso, Kinsta, Chargify, Freshworks, PandaDoc, HotJar, and dozens more of SERP-topping SaaS & affiliate brands, dominate their page one positions through content and backlink profiles. Now, Brad wants to share his experience with others on how he ranked on top SaaS sites around the world.

For show notes and a  list of resources mentioned in this episode, please visit:
https://fiveechelon.com/how-to-build-effective-b2b-content-marketing-strategy-s6e1/

A fractional CMO can help build out a comprehensive marketing strategy and execute targeted campaigns designed to increase awareness and generate demand for your business...without the expense of a full-time hire.

The Five Echelon Group - Fractional CMO and strategic marketing advisory services designed for SMBs looking to grow. Learn more at: 

https://fiveechelon.com


Eric Dickmann:

Welcome to The Virtual CMO podcast. I'm your host, Eric Dickmann. In this podcast, we have conversations with marketing professionals who share the strategies, tactics, and mindset you can use to improve the effectiveness of your marketing activities and grow your business. This week, I'm excited to welcome Brad Smith to the program. Brad is a content marketer and CEO of Wordable. He runs two successful agencies in the content production and digital PR industries. As a Business Insider featured copywriter Smith is on a mission to slay awful content, one blog at a time, and his work has been highlighted by the New York Times, Business Insider and others. Content marketing is such an important part of your overall marketing strategy. And before we dive into today's topic, I really wanted to share a couple of insights that I took away from HubSpot's 2021 State of Content Marketing report. You know, I'm a big fan of HubSpot. I think they're a great company. I think they deliver so much valuable content to their audience, and it's a place that I go to all the time, to research and to update my own thinking on where things are in marketing. And they had a couple really interesting insights, I think that I just wanted to expand upon a little bit during this show. First of all, one of the interesting statistics that I took away was that 47% of prospective buyers interact with three to five pieces of content before they ever talked to a sales rep. So, this is interesting in a couple of ways. First of all, it talks about the importance of content in the buyer's journey, because many prospective buyers are doing a lot of their research on their own, your website, your social media channels, your video channels, they need to answer a prospective buyers questions because what buyers are doing is they're trying to sort of get to the point where they want to interact with somebody because their base level questions have already been answered. So creating valuable content is so important. And I think the second part of that is that when you get a lead who has done that kind of research, you're getting a truly warm lead because this is somebody who understands your product or service and now they want to know more. They want to engage with somebody who can answer those second and third level questions. So I think it's a really interesting statistic. Another thing that I took away from the report that I thought was pretty obvious, but also it's a trend that we need to be paying attention to as marketers is that video is becoming such an important channel. More and more people are consuming content through video versus what was traditionally some of the more important, content marketing pieces, right? We used to create a lot of infographics and white papers and well, those still have a place in your overall marketing mix, video is where the action is at. Video is how people are consuming content across various social media channels. It's how they're consuming content on people's websites. And so if you don't have a dedicated video strategy for content, I think you're really missing out. One of the reasons that we do this podcast and we do a live stream on video is because about half of our audience consumes it through video versus the audio channel. You want to be able to meet buyers where they are. And I think the third thing that I thought was very interesting out of this report were what is the marketing mix? What are the channels that people are still using as their predominant channels for content marketing and surprisingly social media was number one. Website and email we're pretty much tied for number two and three, but this is interesting to me because obviously social media channels are so prevalent. We all are spending so much time on social media, and there are a great opportunity to develop that reach to get your message out in front of a lot of prospective buyers. Obviously your website is your digital home on the web. It's so important to have a strong website where you can create valuable content that your audience can find. You know, even if you're using social media, you obviously want to be using those channels to direct people back to your website. And so it's so important to have a modern website, a good looking website where this content can be located. And the third of those channels was email. Email is not dead. Email is still a critical a channel to your marketing mix, especially when you have strong opt-in lists, where people have expressed an interest in understanding what you do in receiving updates from your company. It's such an important channel and make sure that you're creating compelling email. You're not spamming your audience, but you're using this channel as a source to get those additional pieces of content out in front of your buyer. We will have the HubSpot 20, 21 state of content marketing report linked in the show notes. So be sure to check those out and I hope you'll follow this podcast. As we kick off season six, with a great lineup of guests. With that let's get started with my guests, Brad Smith, as we talk about building a B2B content marketing strategy for your company. Brad welcome to The Virtual CMO podcast. I'm so glad you could join us today.

Brad Smith:

Thanks for having me Eric. I'm looking forward to it.

Eric Dickmann:

I'm really excited about this because you're a B2B content marketing expert, and we're going to really dive into the details of that a little bit today. But just to kind of kick things off here, I was hoping you could explain to the audience a little bit about your background and what you're doing in content marketing today.

Brad Smith:

Yeah, for sure. So my background is, uh, I worked in house at a bunch of different companies. I did almost like all digital marketing roles. So from social media to paid to organic, and spend most of my time in SEO. Then transitioned on my own and was doing freelance kind of consulting in the SEO space. as you know in the last 10 years or so, it's become really difficult and challenging and harder to do everything which we'll get into I'm sure on this call, but started kind of really doubling down and focusing on content specifically because we found it was working for a lot of like Technical B2B, SaaS companies, all that kind of thing. and then have been like really doubling down in that area for the last, I dunno, five to six years or so. So we have a few companies now, and doing a bunch of work with them, bunch of big SaaS clients you're probably familiar with, and a lot of work in publishing and affiliates, and all that kind of stuff too.

Eric Dickmann:

sounds like you've been busy.

Brad Smith:

Yeah, you could say that for sure. It's exciting, its never dull which is good. I would like to sleep more at some point, but otherwise I can't complain, you know?

Eric Dickmann:

So much has changed right in this world over time. I used to be able to create some great content and pretty reliably rank. And now you know, the rules just seem to be consistently changing. Before we get into the details of what good content is, what do you see as some of the big trends that are happening in terms of SEO and in terms of content development for an online strategy?

Brad Smith:

For sure. Yeah there's alot, SEO has always been like a zero sum game where to get all the results you have to be in the top one or two or three positions on the most commercial terms in your space or the ones with the largest volume, or whatever the case is. but the challenge is getting harder and harder and harder for a lot of different reasons. So you have everything from Google for instance, continuing to reward Large brands. And so, for example, maybe at the end of last year, we had like a big rollout, especially in a lot of affiliate spaces where you essentially have a lot of massive publishers starting to rank better than most kind of like niche oriented sites. And the reason for that is they're just huge brands. So you have these like really large brands ranking for, you have like Forbes writing on like The Best CRM Tools and all these types of like why would Forbes be writing and trying to publish for that kind of stuff, because they're winning. So your competition and more, yes your direct competition is getting better, you're better, savvier, more well-funded. That's not just your competition anymore though, when it comes to ranking your competitions also now the largest people in any kind of like media, the indirect competition is beginning really difficult. You also have issues with Google specifically. So for instance they're actually answering queries with instant answers so people are getting the answer to a query before actually needing to click They're essentially just scraping your site and copying your operation and showing it to the public so they don't have to click into your site to view it. They're also removing quote unquote free listing spaces and prioritizing more real estate for example as paid ads and paid listings because obviously that helps them more. And so you have all these like this confluence of events that are all happening at the same time that's just making it way more difficult to actually rank like you said with content. Its at the point where it's just doing like pretty good or average content that used to work in the past, it's kind of going out.

Eric Dickmann:

What do you think about these rumors that Apple may be getting into the search engine game? Do you think there's a realistic possibility that that might happen?

Brad Smith:

I do. I think if you look at like Siri for instance and how voice search is working, that's kind of replicating a similar idea and they're recommending so you can just quickly ask a question and you quickly get a response, and so it's kind of the same dynamic thing played out. It's not that far off from going inside Amazon and doing search inside Amazon for something specific like an e-commerce product. So if you think about search from an SEO is like a broader perspective, I think it's only a matter of time before Google no longer is able to have the same monopoly that they currently do, and I've had for like too long if you want to like really get down to it I think If you look at the political sphere and how much attention now is being paid to big tech because they're all kind of monopolies, if you think about it. And that's probably not a good thing for society. So I think it's only a matter of time before you have other big players like an Apple or someone else who starts jumping in and actually like trying to evolve. So I think that'll be the challenge. You won't see like a better Google, you'll see voice search become a bigger problem or like a bigger opportunity in that sense. So it'll be something similar but different If that makes sense.

Eric Dickmann:

Yeah it seems like a lot of what Google has been doing is trying to get into the content a little bit to expose more ways to find things, and I know that that's really a struggle when you think about things like web page design. Obviously you want to design your web pages so that they have the relevant information so that Google can find it and rank it. But at the same time we're in an era of video, right? Where there's so much video content people want to see things, watch things, more than they want to read things, and so that sort of messes with the whole ability to get things to rank if you have a very video heavy content, right?

Brad Smith:

Totally, yeah. I think it's a big problem because it's also to the way they are able to scan and index text-based content, its so good, but its different than how you could apply that same thing to video at least at this point in time. So actually one of the things we're doing one of these we're recommending is kind of having to do both. For the time being, its not a great answer but it's kind of like the practical answer if you will, so we will do long detailed guides for texts because that's what works well for search. That being said I don't think I'm not under any illusions that people want to sit down and read 10,000-word buying guides. So we're actually doing video summaries and snippets on top of and in line with that same content And so it's like how can we create video or other types of media to actually satisfy users and to give them like the two minute takeaway and top summaries, but how can we still do the tax and flush that out to kind of play both things?

Eric Dickmann:

Which is the challenge right for a lot of businesses is you're just doing more. What used to to be a single work stream, now it's multiple work streams, multiple channels that you have to support to get this content out there, and it's really adding a lot of work. Marketing is getting increasingly complex.

Brad Smith:

It is. Yeah, It's hard It's funny cause like on the one hand, it's an awesome opportunity. Because the amount of money you consider it takes to do what we're talking about, pales in comparison still to like commercials, radio, like that old way of doing things. However it is getting so much more challenging and so much more dynamic in that like we're talking about you have to do video design. So for example our team, we're not just using good writers, we're using good writers plus designers, plus video people, plus producers to like work with the post production. So it is becoming challenging and it's not good enough to just say, well just do less. Because the challenge there is if we are living in a zero sum world, if you just do let's say one really good piece of content a week, Yes that's good and that's helpful but you better hit a home run on each and every piece, which may or may not happen, and you you better make sure that how are we going to be able to do just one a week and still hit the scale we need to scale a business into 7, 8, 10, you know 20 figures, if that makes sense. So we might be able to do one article and then get a couple of leads a month, a couple of customers a month, but how are we going to scale that into like hundreds and thousands? That's where it becomes a challenge and where you inevitably need to do more too.

Eric Dickmann:

You know we target this podcast at SMB, small, medium-sized businesses, many of them have really not embarked on a blog strategy or if they have it's all over the place, they just write whatever's on their mind, and many times, it's very product focused, there's a lot of talk about what they do as opposed to articles of interest outside of their product suite or their skillset. When a company is considered embarking on a blogging strategy to really try to drive that SEO traffic, what do you advise them? What are some of the initial considerations that they should think about before they get into it?

Brad Smith:

Yeah, there's there's a few. You see this a lot with B2B companies, so for example if any B2B site owner or business owner listening to this, if you just went into Google analytics for example, if you just go in and look at what's actually bringing people to my site? In general, what's actually bringing people to my site? It's usually going to be branded traffic meaning they are typing your address and directly they're searching for your brand name so they're literally going to Google and typing in your brand name and then click into your website. For a lot of like especially smaller B2B companies that's the vast majority. And that's a good that's a good thing and a bad thing. It's a good thing because it means you are creating a good brand and people are becoming aware of you in the space, and they're coming to search for you directly. It's a bad thing cause it's almost like a glass ceiling because there's only so many people that are going to be searching for that over time, so you need to kind of extrapolate out and figure out okay well what does my product or service actually do for people? One of the things we recommend when we're writing content is An old copywriting or advertising formula called a problem agitate solution. In other words if my product is the solution, what's actually the various problems that we're solving for these people? And usually you just get that by talking to customers, by looking at support requests, by talking to customer service. You usually see a lot of different things where people will come in and we'll say I'm trying to do XYZ or in my day-to-day business, my personal metrics, or my company metrics, or this, like how do we do this better or faster or cheaper or more effectively or whatever that case is? You want to position your product or service and brand as the solution but you do need to figure out and do a better job of tying it back to what are the actual different unique pain points or problems that people are searching for and looking for. Usually you find this by looking, by doing some basic keyword research. The easiest way to do that and still connect it to like a commercial intent back to like actually selling some stuff is just to actually test ads. So go in the Google search, go into like Google Adwords, try to run ads in your space. You don't need to spend a lot of money but actually trying to figure out what are the most expensive keywords in my space? And that is usually a pretty good indicator of what content you should be creating. So for instance, best CRM product is probably going to be pretty expensive, But then if you extrapolate out from that, it's going to be like HubSpot CRM versus Salesforce CRM or Salesforce CRM alternatives, and then if you extrapolate out a little further it's going to be how do I automatically connect purchase data to my CRM? And there's going to be like all these very specific questions that are more information based and I think that's kind of like the shining light moment from a content perspective of how to connect all the dots from helping these people at the beginning of the searches all the way down to like when they're an actually buy the product from you.

Eric Dickmann:

So if you did an article and again this would be a difficult one to rank for, but if you did something like Best CRM Solutions for a Small Business, something like that, and you were a CRM solution provider. You could mention yourself as well as your competitors within the article, but do you always recommend that they do that sort of in quote unquote non-biased way, and then maybe in a sidebar or maybe in an ad, in a call to action inserted in the middle of the blog post that is clearly different from the content that you say, Well, try our CRM for free?

Brad Smith:

Definitely, yeah I do. The short answer is yes. And I'll explain that the long answer is you also need to just double check. A lot of it will also depend on what's actually ranking already So if you typed in best CRM for a small business I think it was, if you actually go look at the content already ranking you're probably going to find a lot of those kind of like competitor or alternative comparisons, so like the top 10 tools and then what they're good at like pros and cons. That's usually like pretty common content format, so if that's what you already see writing then the short answer is yeah you should probably mention yourself too, but trick is to do it in a way that's not biased but you're also not calling people out uh where it makes sense. So for instance you can do it very legitimately and just say these tools are better for these reasons or these types of customers. We're better for these reasons or for these types of customers. So what's the action? And this comes back to the company positioning and product positioning which is often a bigger discussion outside that that marketing doesn't always you know have influence over, but hopefully you should. Uh and hopefully um you're able to weigh in on that, there should be tangible benefits other than price between using you versus a competitor and there should be like a better fit for some types of customers for using you versus competitors again other than just being a race to the bottom and the cheapest price.

Eric Dickmann:

You know one thing that's always an interesting discussion with businesses is you get into this idea of what do we want to rank for? You know maybe these are the keywords or the long tail keywords that we want to rank for, you write some what you believe is compelling content to go after it, You let it churn for a little while and then you go and look at the results and you say, Well wait a minute, I'm ranking for other things. I'm not ranking for the things that I went after. What do you suggest people do if all of a sudden the article that they wrote for one purpose is now ranking for something different?

Brad Smith:

Yeah that's a good question. If it's ranking really well for that other thing that you didn't intend, I would almost say leave it and try again cause you don't, I don't want to break what's or what's the expression, I don't want to break something that's not broken.

Eric Dickmann:

Not broken.

Brad Smith:

Yup. Something that's not broken, Yeah, exactly So that's one consideration. Is it actually working pretty well for that other thing? Even if we didn't mean it,let's leave it and let's create a brand new attempt at the old thing, at the original thing. Um the other bigger two points to look at are number one, did you actually do a good job of matching that search intent where we talked about a second ago. So if you go back and look at the original stuff already ranking for that page, Did you do a good job of your content with that? So for instance, if you see a search engine result page would be, if you see a SERP that has 10 out of 10 on the first page, are all list posts and yours is a product feature page Then then that's that's not gonna that's not gonna match well and you're probably going to rank for something different something more product oriented as opposed or feature oriented as opposed to you know the list posts ranking for uh for this keyword So that's one issue is like does my actual content actually line up with what's already kind of performing in that direction Um the other thing to look at is how are you citing or referencing or driving traffic to this thing So for instance if If uh if you're not doing link building or PR But you naturally happen to get a link or some PR referencing uh your piece of content in a way that you didn't intend Sometimes that helps like shape The understanding of that content if that makes any sense can you can you kind of like steer people back in the right direction And so for example we see this all the time where let's say um let's say a Uh a client of ours had A piece of content that they wanted to rank for like something more commercial but but they kept getting almost like um support Related links or mentions from other sites just naturally But the problem is It makes it come off or sound more like a support and a frequently asked questions type piece of content as opposed to a more commercial tense Like no we actually want to rank for like a CRM type product page to get people in here to buy And so that's another potential issue where it's it's almost like how do we Again if we are doing PR or we are doing like building and that sort of thing how do we do a better job of like shaping It doesn't need to be an exact Uh anchor texts for for the people that do know all the nerdy SEO stuff Uh it doesn't need to be like an exact anchor text every single time but it does it does need to be a little more in line with like what you want that page to rank for Um not necessarily like how people are perceiving it.

Eric Dickmann:

Hey, it's Eric here and we'll be right back to the podcast. But first, are you ready to grow, scale, and take your marketing to the next level? If so, The Five Echelon Group's Virtual CMO consulting service may be a great fit for you. We can help build a strategic marketing plan for your business and manage its execution, step-by-step. We'll focus on areas like how to attract more leads. How to create compelling messaging that resonates with your ideal customers. How to strategically package and position your products and services. How to increase lead conversion, improve your margins, and scale your business. To find out more about our consulting offerings and schedule a consultation, go to fiveechelon.com and click on Services. Now back to the podcast. Well I think a lot of businesses you know, they use the tools that they have in front of them. So if you're a WordPress user you're probably using a Yoast SEO plugin or you're using a Rank Math, or something like that. I think oftentimes, you know they say what's the keyword that you're going for? You plug it in and it scores you based on that, but that's not going to Google right? And saying okay please rank this page for this particular keyword because it's the one you put in. But I think that's the way a lot of people think it works.

Brad Smith:

Yeah. The issue with that and from um Uh like our practical standpoint is those tools will tell you you're doing a good job because they're measuring something very small and specific and tactical And and you think that they're measuring something else So in other words Um Uh you You are looking at I want this piece of content to rank for this very specific term And so those tools we'll just check them very basic things like use that keyword in your title tag Or did you use your keyword in the H two like a header or in the um did you add all image attributes to your images And did you describe And are they related to this So so you may have done those things and you may get like a hundred percent or like a green lights or an A-plus or whatever From a very tactical standpoint but then if you think about what search and Google and all these things are trying to do from a broader standpoint They're getting much better at inferring intent So they're they're getting much better at going beyond just that one keyword that you were optimizing for and actually understanding what someone's searching for and how do we surface that So for instance Uh engineers let's say you typed in like engineer salary that could mean software engineer That could mean similar Civil engineer that can be an electrical engineer Those are all very different types of uh uh content and websites and everything else But if you were just on your page if you were just optimizing for engineer salary and you tick those boxes of like putting in your title putting it in all these other things Uh Yoast will tell you you did a good job but Google will sit there and look at it and say well how do I know this They mean like what type of engineer are they looking for Uh what where where are they located So engineer salaries were like in the U S and the world Uh in certain sectors or certain verticals like um so when you start thinking of all those like extra challenges and problems Hopefully it gives you kind of a green light where it's like oh actually we're answering a much broader problem here We're not just trying to optimize for that one specific keyword you know anymore

Eric Dickmann:

I think a lot of people get frustrated sometimes when you know they build some content, they feel it's great content, they've done the research and then they go and look at the search results and they've got some competitors ahead of them and you look at the page and there's nothing to it. You know it's a very short article, it's a very short page, it doesn't seem to have a whole lot of value, but sometimes it's ranked more highly than your own page. How do you take a more aggressive stance toward that and say okay we're going to go and we're going to take that one out. We need to rank higher than that page because that page is of no value.

Brad Smith:

Definitely. Yeah, I think there's a few approaches, we like to look at it almost as like a balanced scorecard idea. So in other words there might be let's say five variables That's you back What which one of those five is the problem. So is the content good? Is it written well? Is it informed? Is it insightful? Is it long enough? Um does it actually match the intents of the searcher? So just like this problem we're talking about now it might be very good piece of content, but does it actually line up with what is actually ranking and what people are wanting to see. Um If not can we tweak it? So can we add things? You don't have to like do a full re rewrite or revamp but can we tweak things improve things whatever. Um Uh links and PR and promotion are usually the other side of the equation, Um because there's two issues here Number one how large are the competitors are going against? That's always going to be a problem. So if your site if you're using um We like to use I'm sure people are are hopefully familiar with uh concepts like domain, authority rating in general, We use it as like a proxy for brand awareness. So in other words uh if you're if you're a good regional company where you're trying to rank for something against Home Depot, it's always going to be hard even if Home Depot sucks, even if their website sucks, even if the pig sucks, you know the content sucks, even if your product's better it's always going to be hard because everyone knows them and nobody knows who you are outside of zip code you know. So that's always a problem. um the the roundabout or or the other side of it is how much authority or traffic or whatever you're driving to this specific page versus that specific page. So when you kind of peel back the onion from both the full site and brand awareness to like actually that individual URL Um often what you can exploit's hopefully is more PR, more link-building, more editorial mentions, uh more paid social distribution to try and drive traffic to that individual URL over the other one and that's usually where you can try to out-compete them too. Um because again They're probably going to a big site too, they're probably going to beat you on just site awareness and branding. Um so maybe on a page specific level, you can you can outflank them by driving a lot more awareness and traffic and interest to that individual URL again relative to Uh whatever that sites is.

Eric Dickmann:

You know the conversation about link building I think is interesting as your site begins to grow you begin to build that domain authority, all of a sudden you start getting these emails in your inbox from people who say, Hey I happened to read your really good article about XYZ. Uh would you be interested in including a link to our page which talks about this, a similar topic. What do you think about that? I mean obviously everybody wants to build links, those back links are really important. If it's appropriate should you do it? Uh is there a downside to adding those links?

Brad Smith:

It depends, The good news is you can probably ignore most of those

Eric Dickmann:

Hmmm.

Brad Smith:

And uh have them go somewhere else. Uh think of link building like you need votes. Like you need people actively voting for you and vouching for you but you do know what you're talking about, and if you don't get those and your brand isn't Home Depot, you're always going to struggle, like it's always going to be a problem of essentially visibility, of making sure that you get um you get the boats and enough credit to actually be considered to compete against those types of big brands. if you're not doing any sort of link building ,yes you need to do something. The good news is you don't need to do link building in like an awful way, you can do it in like a PR way, you can do it in a promotional way, You can sponsor things, you can run contests. There's all different types of ideas where you can do it in like an organic way that brings you traffic, it brings you other things other than just the length. Those types of emails that you're referencing today I only really work for unsophisticated audiences. And when I say unsophisticated, I'd just be less tech savvy because in the more tech heavy industries, everyone has already seen those millions of times and they probably already get 10 a day, and so the problem with chasing tactics like that is you often, you're too late probably. So so the time that that works, you're exporting like this little arbitrage, this little this little area, the window of time when that worked. Probably the best time to do that It was like three years ago/ If everyone's doing it today, the best results probably came three years ago, so if everyone's if everyone's doing it the same with LinkedIn too. It's like if everyone's doing something in a specific way, it's probably going to become saturated if it isn't already and it's already commoditized, and you're not you're always going to struggle to stand out so you probably should be looking at other ideas. So uh like I was for example we worked the travel company a long time ago We ran like a uh a campaign where we like sent bloggers on a road trip and then we did another one where we sent customers to uh like a free trip To like different cities. And uh there's different ways you could be really clever and get other businesses involved and then you just contribute your product or service and it doesn't cost you anything out of pocket. Like there's very easy ways to do this if you just get creative. Um .I think it's just making it compelling. So even if you work in like you know a quote unquote boring industry, well how do you how do you make it interesting or not boring then? How do you tie it back to something in the news? How do you tie it back to something about your customers actually really do enjoy or like? Um that's always the challenge here and getting creative with that and if you do come up with something but there's no shortage of ways where you can do videos or do content or do contests or promotions or work with journalists and bloggers. Do something interesting, it's always about finding what that unique interesting kind of angle or hook is

Eric Dickmann:

It seems like such an effort to you know to have somebody researching these articles, finding out who to email, sending that email out, following up multiple times just for a single back link and rarely do they offer much in return other than saying we've got this valuable piece of content. So it doesn't it helps them more than it really helps you, right? And I look at other things that people could be doing and just like you're here on this podcast today, there'll be show notes, they'll have your links in there, you're going to get a back link from this like automatically, and you're also adding value at the same time. It's a much more efficient use of your time and the value will be greater than it seems like that effort of going out and hunting for those backlinks.

Brad Smith:

For sure Yeah Think about scale for everything. So for instance um Like like you're suggesting swapping one-to-one links with someone, it might help it might help a little bit but it's not going to help like at the end of the day uh really move the needle. So what you need to figure out is okay well how do I do things or how do I focus my time and effort and money on things that are going to provide lots of different returns? So traffic, brand awareness, credibility, uh and links. So how can I piggy back link building on top of the stuff we're already doing? Um or how can I leverage my activity a little more So it makes sense So in other words like this idea with this If we if he ran one contest And then you tried to get like 10 bloggers involved. Well there's 10 bloggers that could potentially link to you cause you're trying to run a contest to get them involved then how can I also take that one contest and go talk about it socially? How can I get other companies involved uh in the same promotion? So it's like four different companies are sponsoring it So all those four people are also going to link to it. And then how am I going to go pitch this idea to like a couple of different blogs in the space or journalists to cover because it's interesting and unique and it's different and journalists always needed something interesting to talk about? So all of a sudden one campaign or idea is above and beyond the traffic and brand awareness. But you're looping in like you know 10 different entities that could be 10 different links drop the bat from one simple campaign you know And so you got to think about how do I leverage Are activities better so that we are getting like uh we are getting the volume and quantity but we're we're doing it in a smart way that leverages our time and investment not in kind of a you know quote unquote dumb way where we just have like a VA or an intern sending out a hundred emails you know a week and spamming people

Eric Dickmann:

It's so true. You know one of the things that I think is a hindrance too for many businesses when they think about a real content strategy is its intimidating, right? They have to write a lot. And so then they say, Well there are all these companies out there that are SEO companies, that are content companies that say well we'll help you, we'll create those blog posts, we'll do those articles for you, we'll create that content. But they're not experts in your field, most of the time. Now maybe they have a general knowledge depending on what the industry is, but for some they need a little bit more expertise. So when you're a business and you're saying I don't have time to write all this stuff myself, I need to get somebody in here to do it. Yeah you can get a VA to do it but that's probably going to be a little bit of an uphill battle, right? Just because of the learning curve. So how do you find the right companies to work with in order to create the kind of content that's really going to be valuable that are going to be able to provide enough value in that content that people are going to actually search for it and find it?

Brad Smith:

Totally Yeah I would I would bring it back to budget probably And the reason I say that is because like you're saying you can find experts not cheap Uh if uh so for example My company codeless uh works in a lot of big SAS companies We have specific subject matter experts in finance Because we work a lot of big companies Uh it's not cheap because Those subject matter experts by definition are expensive Another way to think of it is like let's say you wanted some a really good piece of investment content If someone was that good of an investor in their day to day. They probably don't need to freelance to bring in an extra money

Eric Dickmann:

It's a great point.

Brad Smith:

Or they're doing that but they're doing it with a with a vested interest meaning very own something that they're bringing attention back to So they're already the reason they write write content on big sites is because they have a business in that space and they make money on equity and distributions and not on like freelance writing And so there's a fine line You have to walk when you're when you're looking for those subject matter experts and it's difficult and that's why it is expensive So it's worth it If you can find those people and work with them and if you have the money If you don't Uh because content is a long-term game It's not like a one month thing where you're going to be blown away next month by all the results it's going to take six months 12 months to kind of ramp up Um the other alternative there that I'd recommend is definitely find ghostwriters freelance writers Have them interview you Or interview people on your team And so doing a call like this for instance it's usually a lot easier And that way that the writer for example can help you figure things out Like well what are people looking for in this space If someone's looking for best CRM for small business What are the top three questions that they're asking or that feature in the other types of content So like um I don't know I don't as you can tell I don't use a lot of CRMs uh but what is uh so I'm having trouble coming up with a good example but like if you're talking about best CRM for small business obviously one of those considerations is price They want to figure out um monthly seats So is it price per user Is it price per team Another one might be like automated email followup sequences Another one might be uh uh integrations with other tools that I'm using So what are those like top things that people want to know about then have the writer interview you So then I can sit here Expert and just rattle a bunch of stuff off in the course of 30 minutes to an hour and then they can actually craft it and make it sound good on paper Because a lot of times a lot of times subject matter experts especially the more technical spaces you get into the more dry and boring They get uh and and they struggle more with the narrative of like how do I connect this they're so product focused and brand focused They have trouble putting themselves in the customer's shoes and not dumbing it down but it's it's a problem of um B be too close to it and make too much of an expert And and assuming things that the customer knows that they don't in reality And that's that's where you need the outside perspective from So have a writer sit down with you for 30 minutes a week Have them ask you questions on a specific topic You give them your point of view record the whole thing get the transcript and then have a writer go through and actually write out from your transcript Cause then they're able to use your real words and the way you speak to So for instance I often talk in this like Clipped way and where I don't really explain like full formal sentences I like I just informally like go through you know Staccato And uh and so if I wanted someone to write that for me I would probably want What usually happens is people want to see something that would sound like them And so you kind of need to like hear it and understand how that person would actually say it in reality And talking to them is the best way to do that So that's usually kind of like the best win-win again there's a little bit of a working working out the kinks period where you still probably will need to review the content Initially still provide some feedback of like say it this way Not this way or actually what I said here I really meant this There's usually that kind of a process that needs to happen Um but that's often the best way to do it and to kind of bridge that gap between you know Uh budget friendly writer with uh with something that's still gonna you're still gonna be happy with and you're still gonna get you some results

Eric Dickmann:

Yeah, there aren't a whole lot of shortcuts to this process You know when we started doing these podcast we started to look at well we can take the transcript and turn that into an article. That's actually a lot harder than it sounds because just as you said, you don't speak in the same way that you would write. And so the flow of things isn't the same way that you would write it. So there are elements there and you can pull things out, but it's a big rewrite to do all that. There was one other thing that I wanted to get your thoughts on today before we wrap up and as you were rattling off those things in this CRM example about what somebody could write about from an interview It made me think a lot about pillar pages and pulling up content underneath that pillar to really drive up that authority. Do you still think and 2021 that pillar pages are worth the investment? Because its a lot of content that you need to create good content to create a good pillar page, right?

Brad Smith:

It is it is um I do. As you're saying it's harder and it's more time and money and all the things uh again think of this as leverage So um piggyback on the last example If you're going to sit down with a writer for an hour That stat should result in like three or four different articles That shouldn't just result in one article And so think about leverage as much as you can but but that means you actually have to do the research or someone You see the research beforehand to identify those five potential topics in this one area or those 20 potential topics in one area uh and then doing a little bit of research to figure out what again what those questions are supporting materials how all the dots connect. In other words like how how one question here might relate to one question here um almost map that out in like on my map or like a Excel sheets or something just very simple. And then when you sit down and do your interview Again you do it like one hour a week or maybe you do like three hours in a month time That results in 20 different articles Um and so you're you're leveraging your time as much as possible, so you're the subject matter expert or the owner or whoever, it might it might only cost you and time you're usually short on time is usually your biggest problem. So uh I don't know I am anyway So that's you know that's three hours out of the month actually Not that big of a deal Cause it would take you if you sat down and wrote an article It should take you three to four hours And if it doesn't you're not putting enough into it Uh and you probably don't have three to four hours of spend per article times 20 articles a month That's a crazy amount of time. So how can you spend personally two hours, three hours a month on this one thing but increase the output. Get 10 articles out of it, 20 articles out of it. Um that's always going to be the key is to figure out those kinds of leverage points and processes and all that stuff

Eric Dickmann:

Yeah I think that's great advice. You want to leverage your time for sure. I'm interested too on the technology side, I use a tool called StoryChief that allows me to collaborate with other writers, build my articles, and then have them imported into my WordPress. And you offer a tool as well. Tell me a little bit about that.

Brad Smith:

We do, yeah. We're getting ready to relaunch I think it's been around since 2016 uh we actually bought it last year and rebuilt it and are kind of re-releasing it Um it takes historically takes Google docs and imports them So it sounds similar directly into WordPress. What we're trying to do is add a bunch of uh kind of nerdy SEO stuff And the time consuming stuff. So for example one benchmark we give is and that we see internally from doing this for a bunch of big clients is a it usually should take you around 30 minutes to an hour per article to upload, format, optimize, and then publish. To do it manually and if it's not, it usually means you're missing a lot of steps so you're not optimizing a Properly your formatting is going to be bad, your images are going to be huge because you're not like optimizing them and that's going to slow down your sites so there's all these problems or you're not using enough images like oh it's you know I'm I'm able to do it in five minutes Cause I can just copy and paste the content there's no images want to see images Your people want to see a video like uh so so that's it's kind of like forcing in a lot of those things that most people don't want to do or they'll take a long time And just trying to automate the whole process, and then we're we're setting them up to work with essentially any like website content management system So it's not just WordPress, but if you're using uh platforms like yeah exactly HubSpot, eCommerce, all that kind of stuff. And then also help help you bring in content for many other tools. So uh historically works really well Google docs because Google docs is easy. A lot of people collaborate on there too, but if you have writers that working in one specific uh tool like a writing app like you've listened to it on Mac devices or uh some people still love like Google doc or excuse me Um Microsoft Office files or or uh Word files and those don't always play nice with other things, so so we're trying to kind of like let you import optimize published content in seconds uh in bulk too. So if you're doing like we often do 20 articles at a time for a client because we just batch our our stuff and uh as you could imagine that's kind of like soul-sucking, tedious work for 20 articles at one time, That's like multiple days worth of work for some poor person And so uh we're just trying to automate that whole process for people. Uh I mean yeah again that's that's wordable.io.

Eric Dickmann:

That sounds fascinating, and it sounds like it's solving a real world problem. And I'll make sure that we put that in the show notes the link for it. Hey as we're wrapping up here I'd love it If you could just share with people where they can find you on the web and the companies that you work for with so many balls in the air at one time, I'm sure there are a couple of places, but where do you want people to find you?

Brad Smith:

Definitely. wordable.io is our newest tool would be kind of re-releasing here soon. I'm on LinkedIn at Those are my initials. Um, but also marketing marketing is kind of, you know, sometimes, if we're all being honest, Um, I also run and I'm a partner at Usurp. This is a content production agency. Usurp is a PR and digital link building company. Um, I'm on LinkedIn, as you can imagine, I'm not super social on the socials, cause I don't have time, because I'm doing too many things already, but one of those places will usually get you back to me at five. You know, at some way,

Eric Dickmann:

Hey, that's perfect. I'll make sure that we put all those in the show notes. Hey, Brad, this has really been an interesting discussion. It's a topic that I certainly have with all of my clients because you know if you can execute a good content strategy, it can pay dividends for years to come, and so it's a worthwhile investment. And so I really appreciate the tips that you've shared with us today and some of the strategies.

Brad Smith:

Thank you, Eric. Yeah, thanks for having me. I hope it was helpful and somewhat interesting to people listening.

Eric Dickmann:

Thank you for joining us on this episode of The Virtual CMO podcast. For more episodes, go to fiveechelon.com/podcast to subscribe through your podcast player of choice. And if you'd like to develop consistent lead flow and a highly effective marketing strategy, visit fiveechelon.com to learn more about our Virtual CMO consulting services.