Transcript of How to Create Content That Stands Out and Gets Results written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing
John Jantsch: Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch, and my guest today is Garrett Moon. He is the CEO and Co-Founder at CoSchedule. He’s also the author of a book we’re going to talk about today, “10x Marketing Formula: Your Blueprint for Creating ‘Competition-Free Content’ That Stands Out and Gets Results.” So Garrett, thanks for joining me.
Garrett Moon: Yeah, thanks John. Thanks for having me on.
John Jantsch: So we have been saying for I don’t know, it seems like a decade, that content is king, and I guess there’s a lot of business owners that are out there still saying, “Is it really?” So, what are we missing?
Garrett Moon: I think that’s kind of been a good summary of some of the things I’ve been seeing going on in the industry, and as I’ve been talking to people at conferences, and just fellow marketers, that for last year or so, that’s the kind of question we’re asking. Is content marketing really driving ROI? Is it really giving our business the value that it needs to be giving?
I feel like in a lot of ways there’s a lot of disappointment and frustration with some of those results and returns. I think about Gartner’s Hype Cycle, and I’m sure it’s something a lot of people are familiar with, but it’s just a way that Gartner maps out how a new piece of technology is adopted.
It’s just this really, when something new comes out, you get some people very excited about it, and it generates a lot of hype, and a lot of talk, and a lot of big ideas, and it drives a lot of adoption very quickly. But what happens once you reach that apex, you have something called the trough of disillusionment, which is just as quickly as it went up, it goes right back down, and people are disappointed with the results that they’re getting from that new piece of technology.
I think with content we’ve hit that a little bit, right? We’ve adopted it, we’ve got the budgets for it, we’ve built the teams for it, but it’s not always giving us the results we want, and that’s the questions that we’re asking right now.
John Jantsch: I guess there’s a couple of things. Before we called it content marketing, I was producing content around the turn of the century, and it got a lot of attention. It drove ROI like crazy, because there just wasn’t that much competition. So, I mean, I think a couple of things are going on. I think two things. First off, we’re just saturated now. I mean, there’s just so much of it, because everybody got the message, but I think the other thing, too, is a lot of marketers just interpreted it as more was better. I think that’s exacerbated the problem.
Garrett Moon: Absolutely. I think one of the things I talk about in the book is something called competition free content, and really what that is is about starting to see, it’s coming to exactly what you’re saying here, where you need to start looking at the industry, not that you’re just producing marketing that goes out and does its job, but your marketing itself is actually competing against other folks’ marketing.
I think in the content world, when you’re maybe in the old advertising days, if you’re doing direct mail or you’re doing TV, it’s really easy to think about that stuff, but when you’re self-publishing, when you’re using content, you forget that that content is in competition with everybody else in your industry. They’re all doing content marketing, too, you know?
It’s not like it used to be, where the only, in your world of competitors, if you’re the one on Facebook, or if you’re the one doing content marketing, no one else is. It was a big improvement. It’s not that way anymore. Now they’re all there already, so you’ve got to do something that differentiates yourself from the crowd for it to actually work.
John Jantsch: I think another thing that I run across a lot is that people have trouble wrapping their heads around the different intent for maybe different kinds of content, that there’s awareness content, and trust building content, and education, and insight, and nurturing, and even referral content.
I think that’s the part that not all of content is created equal or has a specific intention, and that’s a part I think where people really miss the boat on this ROI.
Garrett Moon: Absolutely. I think some of that just comes from we’re publishing content, and that’s the goal, versus really thinking about where in my customer’s journey is this targeted at, and what is the exact call to action? I always think of it like this. Like, if you published a piece of content, and when your reader finishes consuming that content, or listener or whatever it is, and you only could have them do one thing afterwards, what would that one thing be, right?
Like, that I think, that one question can really help clarify that. It’s sort of a way to short circuit what it might be, because they might say, “Well, if I could just get an email address after that content, or as they consume that content, that’d be good enough for me,” right? Like, “I want them to join our audience so we can have communication,” or, “I want them to follow me on some network” or, “I want them to purchase something,” right?
That’s a whole different type of thing, but it can help you focus that content much more quickly.
John Jantsch: I think the thing that the early part of that journey is where I see people really struggle with. A lot of people get, “I want to sell something to somebody” but a lot of times all people know is they have a problem. They have not attached that problem to any solution or any approach at all, and so getting people to write content that articulates that we know the problem in your life seems to be the hardest content, but I think it’s the most effective.
Garrett Moon: Absolutely agree. Absolutely.
John Jantsch: How do you get, when you start thinking about awareness content, that to me many times just has to be about, “Hey, we know your problem,” how do you get people to focus on that? Because a lot of times, that will have absolutely nothing to do with your product or service.
Garrett Moon: For sure. One of the frameworks I like is something we call content core, and it’s just an exercise that we’ve developed, and we did internally in a variety of different formats. We’ve boiled it down to this topic that we call the content core. What it is really about doing is figuring out what are the content topics where there’s this overlap?
On one side, you need a content topic that is going to solve a problem that a customer has, right? I think the word customer to me is very important there. Not that a reader has, not that just some guy or gal searching the internet, but it’s actually a customer. What problems are your customers, the ones that actually end up putting money in the cash register, what problems are they experiencing?
Then, where do those problems overlap with the value that you provide as a business? In terms of how do their problems overlap with your solution? And not your solution in terms of content, exclusively, but actually your solution as a business, or as a service, or an organization, whatever you might be.
Really seeing where those overlap is the key, and now what you have to do is back out and say, “Okay well, how do I help them solve that problem in a way that provides value? We’re not getting away from the traditional ideas of content marketing here. We’re looking to provide the value. In fact, we go so far as CoSchedule is, we’ll actually provide you with a perfectly great solution for that.
One example is we have a feature on our … We make marketing software, and we launched a feature that helps our customers plan marketing campaigns. The problem that they have is, well, a lot of times when they’re planning marketing campaigns that are multifaceted, there’s multiple moving parts, emails and blog posts, and social, and all these different things, they’re spread out across all these different tools.
So, for them, it was really difficult to see, to have single visibility on how this campaign is doing. Is the team producing it? What are the results we’re getting? That single point of visibility was the problem. So, what we did was we actually wrote a series, several different posts that were all focused on that exact problem, right? How to manage marketing projects so you don’t go crazy, right? Like, how to keep everything from your one marketing campaign in one place, and our content actually provided an Excel spreadsheet, I think it was like a Google Doc document that you could use for planning and managing those items.
So, CoSchedule certainly could help them. That’d be one possibility, but we also provided a completely independent, fully serviceable solution that helped ease their pain point. It’s a way where you can meld that problem versus solution, but still provide that real value, and a connection to your brand. The win there is that they’re associating the solution to that problem with your brand versus just providing you traffic and clicks, which is relatively easy to get these days.
John Jantsch: I think what you just outlined there has become the bar to entry, and I think that’s maybe one of the challenges, is that people maybe aren’t willing to go that far.
Garrett Moon: Yeah, and I think that’s true. I think sometimes early days, you settle for those parallel topics that I talk about. The ones that run parallel to your business, and they’re these types of things where your audience is interested in this. For CoSchedule, that might be something like 10 free marketing tips, right? Our 10 free best marketing ideas, just like a list post or something, where it’s relatively generic content, and our audience is certainly interested in it. They like to consume that, they might even share it, but it doesn’t really connect them with the value that we provide as a company. Doesn’t connect them to why we exist.
So, I think it’s sometimes, it’s just making that leap, getting passed that parallel stuff and into the type of content that really can dig in and provide value and results for the business.
John Jantsch: When you plan content, and we can unpack your four phases of planning, execution, publishing, and analysis. We probably should do that, but when you plan content, how do you reconcile the fact that I think content is really what powers just about every channel? I think it powers advertising, it powers email, it powers social, it powers PR. Do you plan this core content or content core, I’m sorry, to be adaptable to all of those channels?
Garrett Moon: That’s a great question. I think it sort of does, and we’ve always done that exercise on more of a creating content for our blog, right? Is a primary source of where everything’s beginning. But I think inevitability it all bleeds over. There’s a lot of times where we’re working on lists and ideas for topics for our blog or for eBooks or something like that, and it’ll start to bleed over into some of our paid efforts. Those ideas will start to carry over and we’ll start building landing pages and paid campaigns.
It definitely bleeds over into how we do email, so I think so much of that is driven by the core content pieces that you’re creating anyhow, that it just ends up bleeding over rather than having to be something that you focus on doing. I think if you really find good content core topics, I think as a marketing team, it will just naturally focus you on the right stuff, and that will carry over.
John Jantsch: Yeah, I have been saying for a couple of years that I think content really is the voice of strategy, so I think that’s a good way to encapsulate that.
Garrett Moon: Yeah, I like that.
John Jantsch: So let’s talk editorial calendars then. First off, I’m going to ask you if you think just about everybody needs one, but then also, how do people manage the fact that, really when it used to just be an offline spreadsheet even, maybe is how people did it originally, but then we started bringing in all of these online places. We had something in WordPress, we had stuff that we were doing in email, we had visual components that we were getting produced, so how do we bring it all together and then keep it inside of the overall marketing plan?
Garrett Moon: Well, for a lot of teams, I think that editorial calendar becomes the marketing plan, right? Really the thing we talk about, and we do, is if you really take the time and focus yourself on the right core topics and the right ideas, and the right things for your audience, all of this stuff falls into place.
We don’t really need the 30-40 page marketing plan, like we used to. We do need a strategy, we need to understand what channels our customers are using, and what’s going to be most effective. We need to understand that, and sure, we can write it down, but we need to put ourselves into a place where we’re not doing a marketing plan that’s going to tell us what we need to do for the next year, right? But we need maybe an editorial calendar and a short strategy that’s going to tell us where to focus on for the next three months so that we can say, “Okay, did this work? And how is the next three months going to work? How are we going to adapt and how are we going to shift?”
I think a couple of those things become these really important framing concepts. Content core is really good, kind of gets you on the right foot, and then you start taking that into the calendar, and now you have your action plan. I love this idea, I think one of the most powerful piece of a calendar is that it separates strategy from action. I think that’s a really important change, or important part of the process, right?
You have to set some time strategy, and then you need to set some time aside to execute it. That doesn’t mean you don’t come back and see and measure and look, and see how it went, and evaluate. You definitely have to do that, and we have a process for that as well, but that calendar gives you the ability to take your strategy, put it on paper, or on a drag and drop interface, and then execute it with a lot of focus and get it out there on time.
It’s that accountability side of making sure you hold to that strategy. For everybody that’s going to vary a little bit. Like, how far you want to plan out, two weeks, three weeks, four weeks, 2-3 months, depending on what you’re doing, will vary. But it gives you that solid place to execute and if you’ve spent the right amount of time on strategy and you reflect on it at the right times in the year, it should be a very focused calendar for you.
John Jantsch: What in your opinion should a content team look like today? Now, I know that that’s relative maybe to the size of the organization, but what functions maybe should a team have, even if it’s all being done by two people or something?
Garrett Moon: Yeah. It’s a great question, ’cause I think a lot of times we think of content as, we think of the content, right? Is it audio content? Is it video content? Is it written content? Probably most traditionally you think of the written side of things. So you certainly need writing, but the real thing about it is more and more you’re seeing content teams, like now, they’re owning social, they’re owning 100% of social. They’re owning email, like 100% of the email program with a company is ending up on that team.
Because the content becomes the driver of all of those things, right? Where the content goes, it’s driving the social, it’s driving what we’re talking about on email. So now you have all of these components that you need to do. You’ve got to be writing, you’ve got to have some good social chops, you’ve got to know email. There’s a lot of technical pieces of that, but now you’ve got to figure out how to measure that and analyze it.
You have to have a strategy, and somewhat of a technical side, or at least the ability to understand the data you’re looking at and how to piece things together, but be able to strategize on that. A content team today, it’s a multi discipline team. I mean, it’s not one or two things. It’s five, six, seven different things that they have to be really good at.
John Jantsch: I tell you, where I see a ton of growth is I see a lot of organizations hiring videographers and editing teams, because they’re just capturing so much video now.
Garrett Moon: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely, and I mean, we’re doing the same thing around here all the time. The iPhone’s a great companion for that, but eventually you have to standardize it a little bit.
John Jantsch: You did a number of interviews for the book, and I’m not going to ask you who your favorite interview was, but maybe point out a couple of people that you think are doing a great job with this 10x approach, with their content.
Garrett Moon: Yeah. Well, it wasn’t an interview, but one of my favorite examples of just a 10x … One of the things we talk about is just these 10x ideas, and part of that is a 10x idea versus a 10% idea, and this is part of where the whole framework for the book comes from. Really, what we’re after as marketers is not 10% growth per se, right? 10% growth kind of means you did something and it was good, and it probably moved the needle a little bit, but it’s really hard to tell, and if you keep doing it, it might slowly get there.
But really what you’re looking for is these 10x jump-aheads. Like, you need to skip ahead and multiply your results by 10 times, and they’re the holy grail, right? They’re not easy to get to. It’s like, how do you make an ad viral? Well, there’s no guarantees, right? But you’ve got to try and find some of those projects, and one of the ones I talk about is a company called Groove.
I like it ’cause they’re this startup that was doing content marketing, and they found themselves into this exact situation that we were talking about before, where, “Hey, we’re doing content marketing. We have a content marketing blog.” It’s a customer support tool, GrooveHQ is the URL, and I think they had a good number of subscribers, 5000-10,000 email subscribers, or something like that. So, for a small startup, pretty successful.
But the CEO, Alex Turnbull, wrote the team one morning and said, “Hey guys, our blog sucks. We’ve got to do something.” Basically what he was saying is, “This is plugging along and it’s doing okay, but this is not going to get us to jump ahead. As a company, we need to make some big jumps in revenue, in growth, in awareness, if we’re going to be able to get ahead in our marketplace, ’cause there’s a lot of support tools out here. We’ve got to make a difference.”
They took down that entire blog and what they ended up launching was something that started to tell their story. I love this because it’s something only they could do. They provide support software that by and large is going to be purchased by startups like a CoSchedule or something like that, where we provide a software solution to our customers, and we need to provide them with customer support. Pretty simple.
They just started talking about their journey as a startup. They published their numbers, they started talking about the things that worked for them in terms of growth, in terms of fundraising, in terms of how they structured their board. All of these different things just became wide open and visible to their audience, and within the first week, they added 5000, I think it was first eight days, 5000 email subscribers to their list.
They more than doubled their list in about a week, by changing that topic. It’s just this great leapfrog moment for them where they were able to do something that no one else could do, no one else was willing to talk about this stuff, but they were, and allowed them to change the whole conversation, and get out of that rut of doing “regular” content marketing, and doing something completely different.
John Jantsch: So, one of the ideas behind the book is that this was a bit of a retelling of your experience at CoSchedule. So, if I’m not putting words in your mouth. Give us the 50,000 foot view of how you applied 10x marketing to your content at CoSchedule.
Garrett Moon: Yeah, I mean, the story, me and my co-founder ran a marketing agency and had a lot of the problems that many marketers do on a day-to-day basis, and thought, “There’s got to be a better way to do it.” We were web developers and software creators, so that’s the direction we went in. But when we launched a tool, we started just like everybody else. No subscribers, no followers, no customers.
We had to go from zero to somewhere very, very quickly, and the number one process I think we always focused on was this concept of 10x versus 10%. Like, it’s just something that even today, as CoSchedule’s over 60 people, it’s still something that we have a regular conversation about.
It was, as a team, in both of our, when it came to developing a product, when it came to doing marketing, we have to figure out how to constantly prioritize our biggest opportunities and make sure they’re getting the attention they deserve. I think it’s a hazard for anybody, I think it can especially become a hazard for marketing teams, because there is a lot on your plate. There’s a lot of people out there telling, “Oh, you have to get on Snapchat. Oh, you have to get on Instagram. You have to do this.”
All of those things become these 10% things that really remove focus from your team, and when you remove focus, you remove the opportunity for those big growth. You may be able to see continued growth, like I’m not saying it’ll go away completely, but you lose the opportunity for those big 10x jumps, punch through on your results.
I’d say that framework was probably one of the biggest things where we just constantly were good at like, “Okay, what are all the projects we’re working on right now? Let’s put ’em on a whiteboard. Let’s grade ’em. How hard are they? Are they a one for really easy, and a three for really hard, and how much time they take? Then, do these things have the opportunity to grow our results by 10 times? Yes or no?”
If they didn’t, these were something that had to come off the board, and we’re just going to say, “You know what?” We talked about video content, video was one of those for us early on. This is something everyone’s saying we should do, it’s gotten popular, this was a couple of years ago. It’s gotten popular, we should probably consider it, but you know what? At the end of the day, it’s really hard for us, because we don’t have an internal video team, and you know what? What we’re really good at is written content, so we need to double down there and we just need to let video go for now, and we’ll come back to it when we have more resources, and we’ve done that.
Now we do all kinds of video content, but it was just one of those things where there’s a lot of things that are good, but not right now. There’s a lot of things that are great big ideas that if you don’t actually stop and execute them, they’ll just stay ideas, and that’s a shame.
John Jantsch: I think that’s probably one of the hardest things for businesses to do, because as you said, there are a lot of people in your ear saying, “Do this, do that,” but also I think typically entrepreneurs never want to miss an opportunity. But I think you’re absolutely right. I mean, the best advice you can give an entrepreneur is tell ’em that they should be doing less, and be more focused. I think that’s true of any business out there.
Garrett Moon: Yes, absolutely.
John Jantsch: This is mid February when we’re recording this, and the book will be out mid March or 2018, depending upon when you’re listening to this. Tell people where they can find out more about 10x marketing, and anything else you want to share with us.
Garrett Moon: Yeah, absolutely. Best place to learn about the book is just CoSchedule.com/10xbook, and right there we have a link over to the Amazon page where they can do pre-orders. Those started just last week, and you can also download the first chapter for free if you want to take a look and get some of the content in there.
I’m also blogging every week and sharing videos and some of my favorite excerpts from the book there as well, so once you get to that page, you can follow along with that content as well. Otherwise, you can follow me on Twitter, @Garrett_Moon. It’s always a good place, too.
John Jantsch: All right. Garrett, thanks so much for joining us and I’m a big fan of CoSchedule, and so hopefully next time in out in the Bay Area we’ll cross paths again.
Garrett Moon: Not in the Bay Area. You’ve got to come North to find us. We’re in North Dakota. We’re a Midwest startup.
John Jantsch: Oh, that’s right. I just was talking to somebody in San Francisco, but you’re right, I mean, you make a big deal about being the biggest.
Garrett Moon: We do. Yes, that’s right, that’s right. Everyone assumes we’re in the Bay Area, until I tell them otherwise. We’re proud of it, even though we have two feet of snow on the ground.
John Jantsch: You know, I’m going to Hawaii in a week or so, and that’s like state number 47 off the checklist. North Dakota-
Garrett Moon: Oh, that’s great.
John Jantsch: … is one that I’ve never been to.
Garrett Moon: Well, we’ve got to work on that.
John Jantsch: I know. Well, maybe when the snow melts.
Garrett Moon: Yes, that’s fair.
John Jantsch: Actually, I’m a big national park fan, don’t you have Teddy Roosevelt up there?
Garrett Moon: Yeah. Beautiful area. That’s the place to go.
John Jantsch: Yeah, awesome. Well, Garrett, thanks so much, and we’ll check out, everybody check out “10x Marketing Formula.”
Garrett Moon: Thanks John.
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