Episode 30 – How to use content to create an audience of educated buyers to generate high-quality leads

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BR: welcome to make the logo bigger or where we, uh, equip cmos and marketing directors with inside information on how to make your performance, your engagements, your campaigns better, uh, by sharing, uh, the inside view of an agency, uh, with myself, Bill Rice, who is the CEO and founder of Kaleido, a digital agency and the other side of the aisle or the other side of the table, uh, with Mike Carroll, who is the, uh, head of growth at nutshell, a SAS CRM company. Hey Mike, how are you doing?

MC: I’m good BR. How are you?

BR: Excellent. I’m super, super jazzed about this episode 31. We made it to episode 30. I don’t think we’ve ever like sustained anything for that many iterations, so that’s pretty exciting. The last time we did anything like that was 30, like blog articles won a day in a row and it wasn’t for us.

MC: It was for a client, so. Exactly.

BR: So that’s super cool. Um, and then the topic itself, this is a topic that I know you and I, uh, we were going to just talking about this before is we were kind of, um, just sort of chatting offline with Colin. This is something that you and I, uh, are on the hook for every single month and, and our metric restarts every month. And that is, um, how to actually generate high quality leads, educated buyers, um, hopefully sales qualified leads. Uh, and today we’re specifically talking about using content. Um, so today’s topic is how to use content to create an audience of educated buyers to generate high quality leads. And this is a one, like I said, something we’re on the hook for all the time. Uh, and number two, this is kind of the way that we love, uh, generating a lead. And that’s with content. So, um, I know that’s something that we’ve kind of collaborated on a lot. Anything that sort of gets you jazzed about that topic in particular, Mike, as we get into this?

MC: Well without a doubt in almost any situation that I’ve ever encountered. Um, it produces like the, the highest quality, like possible them. Of course there’s outbound sales and, and targeted types of sales that are going to generate super high quality leads like in an ABM strategy or something like that. But if you’re trying to capture, you know, a large swath of leads and you want their intent to be true, there’s no better way than capturing them through a content program that then includes ad words by the way. So that’s, I agree, it’s my favorite way to generate leads. Um, it’s probably also my favorite way to generate leads because it’s some of the hardest ways to generate leads and like that that makes it, that makes it more fun and that I’m super excited to talk to our guest about it because he gets to do the things for fun that you and I sometimes only dream of. And uh, I’ll be excited. And I think that that frees him to actually do a better job in a content program than most lead generators because, you know, he’s free from constraints. So I’ll allow you to introduce him, but that’s what I’m most excited about.

BR: Yeah, totally, totally. That. Um, so we’ve, we have pulled in an expert to talk about this because like I said, we’re on the hook. We’re always looking for ideas around this. And today we have, uh, Colin Campbell who’s the director of marketing at sales hacker, the world’s largest B2B sales community. And before that he ran account services, uh, and strategy team at a marketing agency in Boston. And so, um, this is super cool. Not only are we kind of getting expertise on the actual topic, uh, but I’m super curious to hear about kind of the whole development of community, uh, which is something that I know Mike and I talked about a lot and we are challenged in this area. Uh, so Collin, welcome to the show and we appreciate you being here.

CC: Thanks bill. And Hey Mike, it’s good to be here with you guys. I’m really excited.

MC: Yeah. Good to hear your colon. Um, you know, curiously, I think it would be awesome for our audience to like, just describe for them the slightest little bit. You know, what you do at sales hacker? Cause like the title itself sometimes to me even seems like slightly counterintuitive. Right? Because while you’re obviously sales ACARS a thing, that’s not how I would describe your role even though it’s, it’s what you do. Like how would you describe it? So everyone kind of knows what you do.

CC: You know, honestly I have trouble describing it at least describing it neatly. Um, part of the reason for that is we’re such a small team. We have I guess now four and a half full time employees and then a half. Yeah. One of them would spend some time we were acquired, uh, by outreach. I don’t know if you, if you know how to reach, it’s a sales engagement platform. We were acquired by outreach, uh, about a year ago now. So summer of 2018. And um, Scott Barker is sales hackers, head of partnerships. He spends a fair amount of time sort of evangelizing and um, running some partnerships with outreach as well. So that’s why I say four and a half. So we’re pretty small. So, so in terms of like what I end up doing, it’s a hodgepodge and the only way to neatly describe what I do at sales hacker is whatever it takes. So sometimes I’m building landing pages, writing emails, writing articles. Um, sometimes I’m, you know, organizing co-marketing efforts with some partners or, uh, tease, even just kind of rubbing elbows with the community. They’re trying to get their feedback and learn how we can be better for them.

BR: Awesome. Cool. So, um, yeah, go ahead bill. No, I was just gonna say, so just to kind of get us rolling here, sort of let’s frame up the concept that we’re talking about here. So obviously we were talking about lead generation. So, um, and I hate to boil it down, this simple, but like, uh, this is the number one first question we always get with a new engagement is like, what does that mean? What does that, what does an actual lead, um, mean or, or what is it in the context of sort of creating content around that. And then from there we want to hear about the techniques of, of kind of doing content in order to generate that lead. But maybe Colin, if we could start, um, when you’re thinking about lead generation, um, what is a lead in your mind? Um, and then let’s kind of back into, um, why we would use content to actually create that, that, um, that lead.

CC: Yeah, so sales hacker is an interesting, it’s an interesting place. Uh, you know, we’re, we’re a community running on a media model, so it’s a two sided marketplace. We need an audience and we need sponsors. So a lead could be an audience member, anybody who’s a sales professional really, but especially B2B sales professionals. Um, and then, you know, a lead could also be somebody who is willing to sponsor us. So anybody who sells a product or service to sales professionals, the interesting thing is that also being owned by outreach. Um, so outreach sells things to sales professionals as well. Uh, you know, a lead for them is a slightly different and narrower definition of different sub segments of both of our other audiences in the media marketplace. So we’ve got a lot to think of things to think about. Um, but what I tend to focus on most in terms of growth and like would I spend time worrying about is the size of our audience.

MC: Awesome. When Collin and I talked previously and like we met how long, I guess it was a month ago, 18 months ago, it could be longer. I don’t know, time, time runs together. For me, one of the things I thought was coolest about your job by the way, is that, yeah, I mean like, so as you, as you’re describing it, you’re technically saying that yes, you know, you’re required to generate leads for both audience building audience, uh, that which then becomes attractive obviously to the sponsors that are gonna come into sales hacker to do conferences or webinars or, or what have you. But like, what you were primarily focused on is what I think all lead generators should be focused on when trying to build leads or generate leads through content, which is actually just creating that community and worrying only on engagement. Because now, correct me if I’m wrong, like you’re not technically judged performance wise, where you haven’t deemed at that from a metrics perspective on actual leads that you’re generating. You’ve been focused on like what different kinds of metrics.

CC: Yeah, that’s right. So, uh, you know, I, I guess you guys were griping about, uh, always being held to a leads number. That’s the perennial complaint of all marketers everywhere, right? Um, but, but the grass is always greener in a way. Like, I, I’m not held to a Leeds number. You’re right. Uh, eventually I’m sure outreach will want to figure out how to pin us to some kind of revenue contribution or leads number contribution. But for right now, it’s really just about knowing the community. Um, which sounds freeing, right? To most marketers. Like when I heard about that was going to be my job, just make it bigger calling. I will make the logo, make the community bigger. I was like, what turns out to be tricky about that is, um, that there’s no end in sight, right? Like, I don’t get to say, okay, now this person’s qualifying and now they’re an MQL and now they’re in SQL.

CC: It’s every week restarts. This kind of constant battle for attention and maintaining how relevant we are to the sales world. So in a way it’s freeing because I don’t have to worry about, you know, qualifying and generating leads. But on the other hand, there are other struggles. So when you got, you asked your question was like, what are the metrics? When I started Maxalt chillers, that founder, CEO sales hacker and is now serving as the VP of marketing and outreach, the first thing he asked me to do when I started about nine months ago was decide what the goals should be. Um, so I did a bunch of digging and really the only thing I could think of outreach can buy emails and traffic pretty much anywhere they want. They didn’t acquire a sales hacker for that purpose. What did they acquire sales hacker for? The only thing I can really think of is the fact that we have people that trust us. Um, and the closest easiest to measure a proxy for that that I could come up with was returning monthly users to the site. So that’s what I ended up focusing a lot of my time on in terms of metrics

BR: and you know, oh no, I just don’t want to highlight something real cool. And maybe this is just something that I just kind of realized cause of some client stuff that we’re working through. But I think there’s a important distinction here and potentially a, an advantage to kind of the way you’re measured. So, you know, we generally are measured as a lead generation, sort of focused agency on absolute leads. Um, and I’ll be kind of fairly transparent here for a second. Um, so that, that gives us definitely a goal. Uh, but in order to create that goal, um, we have to really focus on, um, sort of going after high intent, probably less engaged. So we’re kind of going into the marketplace. We’re trying to find people that already kind of have a want and a need. We don’t have any time to sort of condition that sale and we have to force them, uh, kind of to convert and get into the sales queue.

BR: So as a result, uh, we probably have someone that probably isn’t felt philosophically, um, sort of aligned with us. Um, but it’s a delivered lead cause they have a pain point or a need. Whereas what you’re doing and getting measured on engagement is these people are highly engaged and at the point in time that they need to lead, then that lead is getting kind of converted over, um, in there. And so they already sort of pre-sold, then they’re ready to go. And so you’re probably gonna convert them. So, um, even though one particular client, and this is Kinda what results in this, we’re buying an n nearly a hundred leads a month, but then I just had them reach out to me and say, hey, it doesn’t feel like we had any lead growth this month because probably what actually shifted is that we got a more leads, but the leads that came in there, um, didn’t, they weren’t kind of ready.

BR: They were maybe doing inquiries or they weren’t ready or they had a different philosophy or whatever. So that intent versus engagement I’m going after that I think is something that a cmos marketing directors should really think about when they’re saying, hey, give me a hundred leads versus, hey, no, I’m just going to measure, let’s get our community moving and engaging for us and, and actually kind of being conditioned for the future. Anyway, just want to kind of highlight that distinction. I don’t know if that, um, if that fits Collin to kind of what you guys are focused on.

CC: Yeah, that fits. And that’s exactly why I was so excited to join sales hacker because that’s, um, yeah, I dunno, it just, it felt more exciting to have that, to be serving that kind of vision. And the way I’ve described it to people is like, so outreach is, is building something huge. Um, they just raised a, from vcs and, and actually some, a private lender and um, I think it was march, last round, raised over a billion dollar evaluation. They’re building something huge. So while they’re kind of worried, they’re always thinking about how to close this month sales and this months leads. They’re also thinking, ah, you know, pretty far in the future. And um, so the way I describe it as like sales hacker is the thing that teaches people to fish so that when they want to buy a fishing rod, there are other things that outreach is doing that they’ll go to outreach for. We’re just there to educate the market that, um, not only outreach but other awesome tools for salespeople exist. I mean, nutshell included. Like Mike and I work together a little bit. Um, we’re, we’re just here to try to like elevate the sales profession so that people agree philosophically. I think you put it really well, Bill [inaudible]

MC: awesome. I think that’s so important by the way. So like the, and Collin Kinda touches on it with a needle. I think one of the things that happens to Cmos or marketing directors where people even, you know, content directors that are charged with running a content programs at the end of the day. And we even make this mistake at nutshell from time to time is measuring that content program based on like, you know, we’ll call them last click converted leads. Yeah. Right. What does it say that they showed up on a blog post and like became, uh, became a lead. But that that’s pretty rare, um, to happen. I mean, I don’t know about you guys, but in my experience and even in a nutshell, I mean I can, I can hold the 10 blog posts in my hands that like generate a lead consistently when someone hits the page and then they actually click and you know, start a free trial or contact us in some way.

MC: And that’s not really the objective of a content program. When you’re thinking about generating leads, what Collin described and what he is doing that should be the objective of your content program and measured in that way. Um, you know, build, you agree with that? I mean, or, or do you think you still have to like remain, I don’t want to say married to, but cognizant of direct lead generation, like produce from pieces of content. We’re not talking about demand generation here, which is different, right? That’s further down the funnel to be clear for our audience. But, but on the content side, on the, on the pure content marketing side, do you think that’s the case or do you think you measure more on engagement and then figure out how the, like how to leverage that audience?

BR: Yeah, I think this is a tough, you know, a tough one because I think that’s it. And we’re going to talk about this a little bit as far as, you know, kind of the engagement with content, um, versus kind of satisfying a need. Um, and we’re kind of experiencing the same thing. We produce a lot of content, um, and we, and we know that the content impacts, um, cause we can kind of see that through our metrics as far as what influenced, you know, maybe a later in, uh, a a later conversion or what was kind of that, you know, first contact, uh, sorta thing. But, um, but you know, boy, I would love to, to figure out how to actually use more of my content base, um, for engagement. And for kind of moving them, uh, towards that conversion. But, um, that’s a good, that’s a good question. I Guess Colin,

MC: how much, if you can even share this by the way, and if you can’t, don’t worry about it, but like, do you ever get numbers based on, you know, if they were, um, outreach leads that encountered a piece of sales hacker content somewhere along their journey and if so, like, what percentage of, you know, of those leads are encountering sale? Do you get those numbers or is that not communicated?

CC: Uh, we’re, we’re, so we’re working on it. Um, that’s not, it’s not the biggest concern right now though to be honest, for, for either. And, and so like we’re, we’re a year in to the acquisition and just so you guys understand, and so your listeners understand like where we’ve come in a year, um, the separation or in operations between sales hacker and outreach remains pretty wide. Like we treat them the same as we would treat any other sponsor. So when they do a Webinar with us, they owe us deliverables a certain amount of time in advance. They don’t really get to throw huge pitches in there or you know, make their content suck and be salesy just because they own us in the same way that any other sponsor just because they pay us doesn’t get to publish crappy content with us. Um, so, you know, when we talk about leads for outreach, the one thing that I do have insight to is when they sponsor a Webinar and a, and we give them the regular list just like we would any other webinars sponsor.

MC: Sure. I think, uh, I think the other thing that I find super interesting and like why sales hacker is continuing to be so successful is because of that separation. And that’s part of a question, but, but the, because of that separation allows you guys to be an honest broker. And you said, you mentioned trust earlier. And so when I think of anyone building a content program that that should be focused on thought leadership, that should be focused on like providing value to their audience, whether it’s value and indirect relationship to the tool that they provide or the service that they provide. Um, or it’s simply value like in the ecosphere of like what their audience is interested in learning and executing. Um, you know, what, what do you think that does or that does for like the quality of a lead and, or like the quality of your audience when you’re allowed to, you know, to, to be that honest broker, to compare tools to do all that kind of stuff. Is that part of your content focus or

CC: it is, yeah. I mean it, there’s trade offs to everything, right? Like that means we don’t generate though the kind of leads you were talking about generating for your clients. We don’t generate for outreach and they’ve owned us for almost a year. So, um, you know, the trade off is a timeline thing. Like what we’re building is meant to be a very longterm play, um, for, for making, I mean, I think in a lot of cases, intangible changes in the mindsets and attitudes of their general audience as opposed to a short term revenue play. Um, but so yeah, we think about honesty and trust a lot and there are, uh, outreach competitors that will call us out and Kinda hold us to that standard and, um, and we’re happy for it because it’s important to us that we aren’t just seen as somebody who’s here to help you, help you by outreach. Right? We’re not that we’re here to help you become a better sales person. And honestly, if outreach isn’t the product for you or isn’t the platform for you, um, that’s great. Mike, you know, do what’s best for you. We were, we’re really putting audience first and it’s the first time. So I used to work at the marketing agency, was there for six years and it’s the first time that I can honestly say I’ve ever seen that done in all of my interactions with B2B marketing. Um, so it’s pretty freeing in that

BR: it does sound amazing. So I want to totally do two things. One, I want to, I want to quickly get to kind of like how we build that engagement and that that audience affinity for the content that you’re creating. So there’s definitely seems to be a formula and framework to that. But ahead of that, I almost paused asking this question because it can really sidetrack us, but I think it’s super important. Um, if you can give us any sort of insight, how do you potentially, um, build that patience, uh, in your client, uh, in your organization? Um, too. Cause I think it, I think it also helps the organization culturally. If you’ve got this community around you that loves you and evangelize for you and feels like you’re a trusted source. Um, or even potentially, yeah, the PR benefits where, you know, media outlets come to you to ask your advice about something that you’re an expert on because of the products that you have and that sort of thing. But how do you kind of build some patients in the organization to kind of let you work the way that you’re working, uh, versus just, hey, slamming home some leads?

CC: Hmm.

CC: Yeah. Um, desperation is a two sided thing. So when your client is desperate for leads, if you’re desperate enough to take them on as a client, that’s when you get those toxic relationships where people want short term outcomes and agencies are willing to make massive compromises. Um, so I think the patients that we’re able to build with our sponsors and that we’ve been able to build with outreach is by saying no to things and knowing and, you know, kind of living the principle we were, we were from the start, always in a position to be able to do that. Um, because sales hacker was profitable from like day 30 and was run as a cash business for a long time. So Max set up a team and, and we stayed small on purpose for that reason. Um, so not being desperate to take on, you know, partners that need, you know, that are asking too much or aren’t willing to be patient has helped us build that kind of into our brand where we’re known as the principled people who aren’t going to compromise quality for.

BR: Yeah, that’s, we, we all results it. I hear that. And we’ve, we’ve talked about that saying no, I think that’s super important. And even pushing back within your organization to say, Hey, no, for a second, we’re gonna, we’re gonna try to build a community and we’re going to build engagement around here. Um, maybe even this, Mike, uh, interested in your perspective. Maybe this gets you off the treadmill for a second or a quarter or two. Um, but, um, and good luck with that. Right. Okay. Well we won’t put you on the hook to answer that question. Let’s just dive into, so, so now we’ve got the patients in our organization, our client, um, and we want to actually kind of create community and audience, uh, that loves us. How do we do that with content? What’s, what’s that framework? Um, how do you start to, to build out or, or maybe even answer the question and why people don’t, uh, aren’t creating content today, uh, that helps with that engagement? What are we missing?

CC: Yeah, so I wasn’t around for the start for when sales hacker was first starting, first getting its legs, but back then we were an events company and Max would bring together events and finding speakers and sponsors and sending invites and, uh, that was the business. And then, um, you know, he started making, setting up smaller events. He had some regional folks managing meetups. He started the blog. So he’s taking events, content and putting it on the blog. Sure. Um, so I’m going very broad strokes here, but I think in general, the sales hacker success was starting really small, really high, engaged, and then, um, building from there. Uh, so he was able to take some real world, you know, relationships and ask them for content, right. And then, um, and then it ranks and then it attracts more people. And then you’ve got more relationships and you can ask them for content.

CC: So what we have now is, uh, it’s almost like a user generated content growth loop, um, where, you know, people can create content with us. We do some SEO, we rewrite things, we publish, we attract more readers and so on. Um, the thing that, you know, we’re not, uh, if you guys are familiar with Mas, right? They have the community where they have a true [inaudible], right? Um, you know, the thing that separates us from them is that we’re, we’re exclusive. Um, you know, a lot of people really don’t have any business sharing their ideas. And I hate to say it that way, but, but it’s true. So like when you’re, it, what you don’t publish is more important than what you publish. Um, so we’ve maintained our growth by focusing on people who actually have a unique take or just really good, solid, timeless advice. Uh, and then, you know, we take those ideas and essentially end up rewriting every article and we focused on organic traffic growth.

BR: So when you’re looking for that content and you’re kind of applying that filter, um, you know, what is going to, what is going to work, what’s going to build that in engagement, this, is there any type of type of content or type of approach? Um, I dunno if it’s media or format, um, that you’re kind of looking for that, that just tends to get more engagement.

CC: Yeah, that’s a really good question. Um, for me at this point, it’s kind of an intuitive feel, but there is one I’d say like pretty an hour that I can say contributes to whether a piece of content is gonna perform well. And that’s if the person that I’ve invited to publish with us already has a good following of their own somewhere else on any channel. It could be Instagram, could be linkedin, maybe they have their own blog. Um, ultimately they, you know, because we’ve been doing this for a long time, they have an incentive to publish with us because we’ve got reach and, um, I know that if they can do it somewhere else and help us at least promote to their audience, then it’ll likely be successful for us to, um, that’s one, that’s one big thing I look for. Like how, how much of a following does this person have?

BR: No, no, I was just going to, I’m sorry, I was going to add to that. So let’s just say, you know, you’re somebody who, and maybe, I don’t know, Mike, maybe you guys are already doing this, but, um, so you’re somebody like a nutshell and you want to get, um, more engagement, um, out of your own content. Um, are you, where do you focus first? Are you focusing on kind of building a good content from your own expertise or are you potentially kinda reaching out into, um, the marketplace and finding people that have more reach than you and trying to kind of advocate, pulling them in, uh, and sharing their expertise is kind of, which do you do first? I guess

MC: I can I edit that question cause I’m, it, it brings up a curious point for the people that listen to the, to the podcast, right? Which is, you know, it’s, I can hear people saying, well, it’s excellent for sales hacker to have this already established audience and their status is not as broker in the marketplace and all that kind of stuff. So my, my question as you focus on traffic growth, Collin, uh, in addition to what bill asked is like at what point do you call the ball between like, Hey, I’m going to go after like a search engine optimization, you know, plus quality content approach to, nope. It’s time. Like there’s not enough to be gained there. I need to split my time or spend more time creating partnerships and you know, and working with other people that have existing audiences that you know that we can then amplify each other. Like at what point does that, is that distinction made?

CC: Yeah. I appreciate the question because I know I’m making this sound easy. It actually isn’t easy even now, but having a large network does help quite a bit. So if I were starting sales hacker again like today, right now myself and I knew that I wanted to get like Tito Boart or Trish [inaudible] or some sales influencer to publish on sales hacker. Um, first of all I would reach out first to people I actually know, even if they’re not giant influencers. Like I would, you know, if I met somebody at a conference and I thought they just had a cool idea, I’d reach out and ask them if they wouldn’t mind writing that up for me, I would go above and beyond to help them write it. Cause not everybody likes writing. So if they want to like get on a phone call with me and have a 30 minute conversation that I transcribe, write an article and run by them, I would do that. And I still do that with some of our, uh, contributors. Like it’s their ideas. All the content comes from actual sales experts, but not everybody’s a writer. So I help them out and they appreciate it. So you build some gratitude into the process and pay it forward a little bit. Um,

MC: it’s awesome. It makes content sound like such more of a, hey, demons put it like this, but like a networking exercise rather than what people traditionally look at it as. It’s more of a, you know, what you described a solitary sit in front of computer to write a blog article exercise.

CC: Yeah. I mean, I think that the derogatory term for it would be an ego trap. Um, I actually don’t think I’m playing to people’s Egos. I think I’m helping them find a new, like, people have great ideas. Not everybody’s an SEO. There are amazing, uh, SEO experts in technical SEO experts who can’t write well and their incredible SEO advice isn’t being found cause they haven’t partnered with people who can help get found. So that’s where I see myself as. Like, I’m just trying to find people with great advice for sales people and help them get it out there, help them, you know, people do it for their personal brand. But I think people genuinely also like to pay it forward. Um, it feels like,

BR: yeah, I think that’s a huge thing. I know several of the people that I follow, uh, in the design in the agency space and there’s so many more people kind of exposing their process. And actually that was one of the reasons that we started doing this podcast is just exposing that that process, um, just actually refines how we execute better. Um, and so I think that’s a huge thing. So to kind of break away from that ego trap concept or thinking that, that these people, uh, who are publishing in these different place are just playing an ego trip. Um, I think there’s something to be said about just, um, kind of exposing testing and validating the process and, uh, learning from other, other individuals. So, um, yeah, it’s, it’s huge. Um, and, and everybody, you know, kind of gets better as a result of it. So that’s, I think that’s a really important highlight to make is this as this is generally not about people’s ego, it is about giving back. It is about learning something, refining your own process, sharpening other people’s processes, um, maybe getting people a head start. Um, so I think that’s super fascinating.

CC: Yup. I mean, readers in any marketing audience, any, you know, whoever you’re targeting pick up, they pick up on that cynicism. It’s, it’s more transparent than people think. When people do things like that, everybody can tell you’re doing it for the visibility. Um, and you know, on the other side of the coin, if you do something that’s just genuinely to be helpful to the community, everybody can tell. And I’m so like, here’s an example. Like when people email marketing, it’s sales hacker.com. I respond to every single one that doesn’t scale. Like the activity doesn’t scale, but the outcome does. And those people know that I’m just doing it because I care about what they asked me about. And I hope that their perception of sales hacker is better than it was 10 minutes ago. That’s the kind of thing, like that level of just, I don’t want to call myself an altruist, but I, I like people, I care about people. I’m not really in it for myself. If I was that.

BR: Yeah, it’s still key to, and I think you do highlight just a perfect example and I see a lot of folks that suffer from this concept of like kind of being overwhelmed and that sort of thing. But, um, but usually most of us don’t get like that much, um, kind of, you know, inbound people asking questions and stuff like that. Even our communities when we start, um, you know, people seem to get annoyed with, you know, just, you know, five or six, you know, or whatever, a week or something like that. And, and they, they very quickly stop engaging with the audience on that personal level. And then you see guys like Gary Vaynerchuk, it’s like just he’s, you know, I’m sure he has a team now or whatever, but I mean, he seems to really kind of try to be engaging with everybody that reaches out to him still at that scale. And, um, so yeah, don’t, don’t short circuit that by just, you know, as soon as it gets to be, you know, five or six all of a sudden, no, I’m not gonna I’m not gonna answer these emails anymore. You know, it’s like somehow,

CC: well, I mean people get fired because they think it’s going to be glamorous and there’s going to be a point where they graduated away from that and they can just send an email blast and have all of their troubles taken care of. But building a community and building something that actually matters is like digging a hole. It’s the same back-breaking it’s not complicated. You just have to help

BR: and want to, and not to get too sidetracked on this, but I think it’s super helpful to folks. Um, you know, so often we have like a CRM system to like go after our prospects and that sort of thing. But I know one thing that I’m trying to do, and I’ve been horrible about this, is actually kind of track a separate similar sort of set of activities against just a friends and colleagues. You know, there are so many people and I started to assemble that list that I’ve encountered over the years or whatever. Um, but you know, my first kind of blush at them is there’s, you know, there’s no opportunity there, but every time I’ve kinda done that engagement and caught up with them and talk through it or whatever, like we’ve, we’ve grown in that process somehow. Like we either referred somebody over to them or, or learned something new or got a new idea, uh, for what we’re kind of presenting or whatever. And so you should actually, um, work and engage that list with the same intensity that you do, kind of your hot prospects. And that probably will actually ultimately in a good way,

BR: make you feel good about yourself as well. Um, uh, yield better than your cold prospect list that you’re just pounding on every day.

Speaker 6: Yeah,

CC: absolutely. Yeah. I met Chris Orlen, uh, is the, I think now his seat title is senior director of product marketing or something like that at Gong. Um, and Mike, you may know gone and, and uh, I met him at a conference and we exchanged emails and not awhile, not long later after that he emailed me and asked me to help him promote something he created and um, like that ask didn’t feel like it was too much to me. In fact, I found it like flattering. I was, oh, Chris actually thought of me like, sure, Chris will help you out man. Like let’s have a real relationship here. Um, so yeah, that idea to like have a separate kind of group, like a closer network of people who maybe aren’t even your buyers but you still network with is a good idea.

MC: That’s awesome. That’s such a great idea. It’s a great way to explain like again, why this process is so personal. And when I think one of the things that like super interesting that you said and I like and I won’t steal it, but I’ll, I’ll borrow it from time to time. And Collin is, you know, the activity doesn’t scale, but the outcome does. And that like, to put that in context for our listeners, I would say, you know, what would be the alternative to creating this network of people and helping other people’s content and all the things that college has described is like creating all the content yourself. And like that’s twice as not scalable. It’s double, not scalable. Like you can’t, you can’t do all that type of, you know, all that writing. So what, you know, it’s not easy, but I think it sounds to me to be easier and way more fun than like trying to build a single content publication based on like your either yourself or like your only your internal team, which, you know, even at large companies, the content teams that are running a blog, you know, max two to three people deep.

MC: Yeah.

CC: Yeah, absolutely. Uh, that, that is the alternative. And like, I mean, you can outsource it I guess, but, um, that’s what it takes muscle and you might as well do it with somebody you enjoy doing it with.

MC: Yeah. That’s awesome. So let, I want to talk a little bit like what topics you guys choose and how you choose. So, so which will lead me into like a second question about engagement, like return visitors. Yeah. You know, I think often that our listeners and me included struggle with like, man, okay. Just as an example, we obviously sell CRM, we’re talking to sales people. We can only write about sales topics. Um, and, and sales hacker, you know, is a, is a sales community. Like you can only write about sales topics, but you guys expand out from that. How do you make that choice to expand out? How do you know when like a topic is tired, you know, talk to us a little bit about that pressure.

CC: Okay. So I’m going to separate questions out if I can. One is like, how do I choose topics normally? And then two is how do we choose when to tackle or when not to tackle tangential things. So for our content process and our plan, we kind of get three general avenues of, of topic selection. One is keyword research. We’re super keyed in on, um, what we rank for and what we don’t rank for, what we’d like to rank for, what we don’t really care about. Um, our universe is pretty broad, so the things we’d like to rank for in organic search is a long list. Um, and we’ve got that kind of set away. So when anybody approaches us and they say, Hey, can I write a topic about like how I built this awesome sales forecasting method for my company? I’ll take a look at the list, uh, what we’ve already published on the topic and I’ll say, hey, yeah, we’d love for you to write about sales forecasting. In fact, um, do you mind if I change the angle a little bit and I can help you figure out how to do it? There’s this slightly different angle I think we’d like to publish even more. So one is like taking a topic and matching it up to the keywords we know we’re looking for. Another is sometimes you just let the contributor run with it. Like some people have

CC: enough of a unique take or just a different idea. Um, or are you just kind of want to let you know maybe it’s their first time publishing with us and you want to let them get a feel for what it’s like to work with sales hacker. They have a cool idea that just sounds good. Let him let them try it out. So we test things that way. And then the third actually has no, even though organic traffic is our biggest acquisition channel, the third is really nothing to do with any particular traffic acquisition channel. It’s just about like we’ve noticed that subjectively speaking, when people seem to be talking about sales hacker or thinking about sales hacker [inaudible], everything else is impacted in really positive ways. Like organic search traffic goes up when we run our top 50 awards every January, even though the top 50 words page does not get any search traffic. Okay.

MC: How do you think that happens? Like, I mean I think I know how that happens, but like I’m curious like how does that, what do you think is the residual effect that creates that are people searching for the brand? Like what do they end up?

CC: I think, um, people are searching the same things they always do. They’re searching for sales terms, but because we’re part of a conversation and we’re in front of them on other channels, they’re more likely to click us because they recognize our domain name. That’s what I suspect. I don’t really have all the answers. What were you going to say? What do you think causes that, Mike?

MC: Well, I, yeah, I wondered if it was like, I mean, I think your theory actually works better. Mine was just simply like, I, you know, I wonder if it’s as simple as unawareness factor, in which case they’re searching for like a topic plus sales hacker even getting to you like in a faster way. Like, I know that sales hacker’s written about this at some point. I’m gonna include that in myself because I want to pop in branded search for you guys after you run pieces like that. But yours seem to be like way more sense so long as you’re ranking for that term. You know, in the top five.

CC: It’s a general awareness thing. I got, I got that um, idea at least from an old friend who used to work at education first, their, their audiences, teachers, educators all over America and actually globally, I think now. But they would have, they would run Facebook ads over the weekends before they sent out promotional emails or newsletters on Tuesdays. And they actually didn’t really care about the direct lead outcomes from the Facebook ads over the weekend. They just wanted those ads to increase the open rate on their Tuesday newsletters and promo emails. So that’s

MC: fascinating. Super clever

CC: forever. So that brings me to like the, the third way we kind of try to generate topics is just like, at least once a month do something that’s gonna start a conversation. Um, that is interesting. And usually these things don’t pay off in the long run for organic search traffic. Like it’s a blip in the big picture of things, but it helps us stay relevant. It also helps us learn because these are the times when we start a conversation is when we get to s, you know, we were never really a megaphone. Like it’s never really a one sided conversation. But when we do these big pushes, um, like for instance starting a, uh, we have a video series coming out in a little bit, I’m teasing this right now. I don’t even know if I’m supposed to be talking about this yet. Um, where we take a recorded sales demos and um, you know, they’re real ones, real customer real rep and re critique them. Um, that’s kind of out of our control. Like it’s, it’s going to start conversations and people are gonna react to our critiques in the, in the sales reps conversations with their prospects that we can’t control. So we do stuff like that that’s not going to get organic traffic, but it keeps us relevant. So those are the three big things we do to decide topics. Your other question was like, how do we decide when to, like where do we draw the line between what’s tangential like to tangential and what’s on topic for us. Right.

MC: Yeah. Well you know, yeah. How to decide exactly like whether that content is business focused enough to write or does it, you know, it doesn’t matter. I think it’s more advice from you on how you know brands and marketing directors can help make that decision. Cause I think they feel so strapped like well if this isn’t relevant to the thing I’m selling and it’s not valuable. So like so in your, in your case, how do you decide if it’s not like, you know, top five ways to get, you know, you get prospects to, you know, to commit to the meeting on the phone type of article. You know, it’s something else. Like how do you, how do you choose when to go off the, off the rails from a topic perspective, it’s not directly related to your [inaudible].

CC: Yeah. So if I’m a, if I’m a marketing director or like a content manager at any company that sells a product, in other words, not sales hacker. Um, I guess what I would be thinking about most is I should cover a topic, not if it relates to not if it, it’s gonna don’t let yourself worry about what’s gonna happen to that person. Are they going to be a lead later on? Help the person right now if there’s a problem that someone has, like you find people searching for a keyword and it’s even remotely related to what you do and you don’t think the search results are helping them solve that problem, help them solve the problem.

MC: Yup.

CC: And then the rest follows like your, you can do things like focus on those problems with more search volume. You can prioritize problems that are a little bit closer to your value prop, but like don’t get too caught up in is this going to turn into a lead or not just help people. So

MC: no, no, I was going to say you go ahead. So I have to do the, like the worst thing on a podcast ever than it’s one 59 and two o’clock. Speaking of Demos, I have to give one, I didn’t realize we’ve been talking for as, as, as long as we had. So I tried to slack one of you but does enough come through a drip notifications. So I have to make that make mention of that. But I’m hoping you guys can continue on the conversation and uh, you know, and finish up the episode, this will be the most bizarre interruption to a podcast episode on the record.

BR: All right. So we had kind of a super interesting, uh, Mike actually had to, uh, jump off the call and go to a sales demo. So just further a teasing out Collins, uh, new sales demos that we’re gonna talk about kind of at the end of the podcast. And in fact, um, Mike was saying that he’s actually gonna record this one and submit it, uh, for that critique. So, um, so that’s kind, kinda funny, but, uh, super interesting. So I want to transition a little bit. So we’ve kind of talked about how we kind of pick out and decide on content topics. Um, and, and maybe kind of related to that is, um, how you kind of determine what that, uh, content diversity looks like. I think one of the challenges that we have with clients, uh, and I probably, uh, those clients are cmos and marketing directors.

BR: The challenge that they have is so often they think about things, uh, as kind of a magazine or episodic, uh, which is kind of interesting cause a lot of youtubers are kind of go into this episodic concept. Um, but that’s not generally the way the web works and the way a lot of sort of, uh, blog and website content platforms work as far as, you know, how they get traffic and when people come and encounter it, engage with things. So, so Colin, how do you kind of shape that in your mind and determine, um, what that diversity looks like or, or is there diversity, uh, in your particular concept? Maybe you’re actually focusing down a little bit, so us some guidance on, on how to kind of manage that.

CC: Yeah. Uh, I’m, I mean, I may not be the best person to ask just because we’re so, you know, we’re a small team, so our ability to even produce widely diverse content is pretty limited. Like we don’t have an in house designer for instance, who can help us make infographics, um, or ebooks or things like that. But like the one thing I do think about for sales hackers, content diversity that seems to be working for us is that, um, like for our community, it feels important for us to have some level of diversity. We’re not a community because we have a linkedin group. We’re a community because we, um, have these kinds of close little intimate interactions with people on all kinds of channels. Like I mentioned emails earlier, I chat with people all the time on linkedin. I’ll do phone calls. Um, I try to like every time somebody comments on a sales hawker blog article, even though comments on blog articles aren’t, um, like popular anymore, when that happens, I make sure the author knows about it or I reply myself.

CC: Um, and so like you asked about diversity for us, like I think about diversity of channels and being available where people want to interact with us. And then sometimes that necessitates that we do have some other types of content for those channels. And like one of the reasons we have this video series is because we noticed our youtube channel, which we really haven’t intentionally grown at all, um, is actually more popular than we expected it to be. So we thought, you know, it seems like people want something from us here. We should probably do something intentionally for it. Um, but to be, I mean for me the thing always comes down to resources, right? And I think that’s for most people too, it’s like you want to be able to do everything and at some point you have to narrow down. We’re still working that out. I mean for us, we know the written content has a big impact because our, because of the SEO we focus on, but we also are pretty aware that there are other channels that we could be doing better on if only we had other more diverse content types.

BR: Yeah, I love that. So I want to hit one thing and then I’m going to actually kind of share a little bit of a process that we’re using just out of interest to create some earth city. But the first thing I wanted to hit, uh, cause he’s kind of set it, um, off to the side. But one of the things and um, you know, for years been in the SEO world and one of the things I’ve always said about SEO is most of the SEO work actually happens, um, outside of the online world. And so we put so much focus and technical and sharing backlinks and everything, but the stuff that works, um, in, in what kind of triggered my thinking here is, you talked about the talking on the phone, right? Is actually picking up the phone and talking to somebody. You met at a conference and saying, Hey, I’m kind of working on this, uh, can, can you help out here?

BR: And, and so, so much of that, whether talking about content or you’re talking about SEO or you’re just talking about campaigns in general. I don’t, and you’ve said it several times and this is probably one of the reasons that you and sales hacker are so successful is, is actually picking up the phone or having personal email conversations and having just kind of those personal one-off behind the scenes conversations versus just kinda banging out the sort of, uh, I dunno, the sterile, um, online, uh, sort of work that everybody kind of talks about, I guess that front thing. So have you found that kind of, uh, kind of a secret to success is sort of all that background activity that actually doesn’t even happen online?

CC: Yeah, it’s huge. And it started from you. When I was at the marketing agency, I was overseeing a team of account managers and every now and then one of them would ask me to review an email that they wanted to send to a client. And after awhile I just made a rule that if you asked me to review an email, that means it should just be a phone call. Um, in fact like there are probably other emails I’m not seeing that should also be phone calls, but like at least those ones. And that’s what I like. For me, it was a time management thing. I was like, look, I don’t know, just have the conversation. Um, but then I realized it was actually making a big impact when I started at sales hacker, I got in touch with, um, Natalie, I’m forgetting her last name at consumer affairs, which is kind of like a consumer reports competitor. They have an excellent SEO Ram and I’m really, really good back link building efforts too. And she talked to us about how they do outreach for link building and she’s, you know, cold calling for link building and totally blew my mind.

BR: Yeah, no, totally. The sales effort I think, I think, I think of myself, you know, obviously as an agency you gotta Kinda Hustle and do business development. It always starts with the founder. But man, I think that’s kind of where I learned it from is just kind of working on marketing campaigns and stuff and picking up the phone and see if you can get somebody to help you out. Um, okay. So I want to close with this a diversity and this is just kind of a hack that we’ve started to use. I’m sure other people have used it, lots of people talk, kind of talk about it. I’m not sure how well it gets executed. Um, but just kind of having this cascading effect, uh, of, of content, um, and, and as a PR, as a result, sort of producing multi, uh, uh, sort of diversity or different types of media or whatever.

BR: Um, so one of the things you talked about is a lot of times people aren’t writers. And so what we’ve tried to do, uh, with clients if we can, and it’s harder with clients, uh, but we’ve got a few that are doing it. If we can kind of find a, that celebrity or somebody who’s comfortable on video, um, we actually try to, um, start with, uh, an outline. And sometimes that’s them creating it, uh, which then builds a presentation, which we can use, uh, as you know, that format, uh, actually publishing the, uh, the presentation, uh, that then drives a video, right? And so they just get on video. Sometimes this gets in reverse. Some people are just comfortable on video and just, Hey, get in front of your iPhone and just go to town. Uh, and then we take that video, that transcript, we actually do this with the podcast as well.

BR: Um, and then have a ghostwriter. Uh, and you mentioned kind of, um, how you guys actually do this with some of your folks where you actually help write from their content and then you end up with at the end of that process, once you actually got that article, you end up with like anywhere from three to five pieces of, of diverse content. Um, and you Kinda can publish those, uh, and create density around that same topic. But they’re all sort of five unique pieces of diverse content. So for what it’s worth, um, that’s a hack that we’ve been using, uh, pretty effectively.

CC: Yeah, I love that. We’ve, we’ve got a few pieces of that in place, but it is definitely something that we want to be doing better, especially with how we distribute all those little different chunks of content on different platforms. You know, right now the way we’d promote something on Twitter is I think a little too similar to the way we’d promote it, like an email or an Instagram. I feel like I’d love to be a little more channel specific with that. Yeah, totally.

BR: And the, and the key is really process. I mean this is where we break down and even when it doesn’t work, it’s because somewhere the handoff didn’t happen because when you do that, um, it usually takes a little bit of a bigger team. Um, and some different skills. Like the person who edits the video is not the same person who’s, you know, maybe developing the presentation or doing some of the design work or even building that, the outline from the topic idea. Uh, and then of course the writers, uh, different. So making sure this is where we fall down a lot is making sure, okay, the transcript got run, which was super cheap. And in that transcript and the audio or the video file actually got to the writer a is often like, oh well we forgot to actually produce the piece of content. Right. You know, and maybe the podcast gets published and then the social media stuff, um, that’s a whole different aspect. It’s usually a different person. Um, and uh, so we fall down hugely. In fact, I was on a conversation earlier today where I’m kind of trying to improve that for us. Um, so we’re, we’re right beside you with that one, trying to figure that out. Cause it, it does need to be different. Um, and so we’re, we’re not doing that at all. Well, so yeah.

CC: Well let me go and crack that nut. I want to hear it.

BR: Yeah, for sure. So I’m going to give a, we’ll give you some, some different ideas and it’s, it sucks too because it’s, sometimes we’ve been good at it and sometimes we’ve been bad. So we’ve, we’ve actually kind of like completely disappointed our audience along the way. Like we have a pretty big following on Facebook and Twitter, but man, we didn’t just like mail it in for a couple of years, so I apologize to all those folks. So, all right. With that, Collin, I’m gonna, um, we always like to tell our mistakes and our failures and that’s definitely one of them. Um, but I wanted to kind of wrap this up. Uh, this has been a super, um, Austin, a conversation, um, went a little bit close to an hour, but I think there’s tons of good value in here. Uh, and we will, um, kind of look forward to the next one.

BR: So before I exit out of here, I’m sales hacker. Uh, you’ve got to check out the website and the content. There’s tons of value there. Um, I love just the ethos around it, the fact that there’s a community behind it and you can kind of engage with the community. Um, I’m super excited about and you can kind of, uh, uh, play us out with some explanation around this, but, uh, you’re launching that new video series, um, where you’re actually recording, uh, real sales demos and we heard, uh, Mike had to exit so he could record his, I’m super fascinated by that. As I ran a sales team, uh, we lived on our, uh, sales clips, uh, in training and they’re so valuable. Uh, so you’re actually gonna push those out to youtube and you guys are gonna critique those live ones. Um, so how can we make sure that we’re like there and we get them and we see them, uh, when they happen.

CC: My advice, at least for season one, which, uh, should drop next week is just go subscribe to sales hacker, go to sales hacker.com, subscribe and we’ll make sure everybody gets all the episodes. Um, that’s probably the easiest way.

BR: Yeah, totally. Get on that email list. They’ll make sure that they get to you directly. It’ll help kinda guide you into youtube. Um, man, I, I am so much loving. I’m learning so much from getting behind a lot of agencies and design agencies and even some sales folks that are starting to do kind of these type of episodes. So, uh, once you get that first one, uh, make sure you hit that subscribe button and the bell and keep up on the, so again, thanks so much Colin. I appreciate you, uh, joining us today. Um, as always, uh, we love to get your comments that drives kind of who we reach out to and, and who we talk to next, uh, and the topics. So encourage you on wherever you get your podcasts. Overcast, iTunes, Spotify, uh, leave those comments, leave that feedback and let us know what you want to hear next. Make sure you subscribe and give us a thumbs up or rate us, uh, as high as you can on all those channels and we will see you next time on episode 31.

About Kaleidico

Kaleidico is an award-winning, premier digital agency based in the Detroit-metro area of Michigan. In business for nearly 15 years, we have supported top brands in the US and Canada with digital strategy, web design, development, SEO, Content Marketing, PPC, and email marketing.

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