Michael Greenberg talks about developing content, authority marketing and developing niche-specific, quality content that is engaging and delivers new customers with Dan Trzinski and Nancy Christopher on the Brandstorm Podcast.
Dan Trzinski 0:09
Welcome to Brainstorm, the podcast that talks to the people behind America’s brands. I’m Dan Trzinski, President of Platypus Advertising & Design.
Nancy Christopher 0:16
And I’m Nancy Christopher, PR director of Platypus. Being the first, the only or most unique is obviously a great advantage for brands trying to get the attention of its customers. It’s also easier said than done. Our guest today says he uses strategies to develop niche specific quality content that is not only engaging but delivers new customers. Please welcome Michael Greenberg, CEO of Call For Content and author of the Authority Marketing playbook. Thanks for joining us, Michael.
Michael Greenberg 0:46
Nancy. Dan. It’s great to be here today. Thanks for having me.
Nancy Christopher 0:49
So tell us more about Call For Content. What does your company do?
Michael Greenberg 0:52
So we are what I like to call a podcasting agency now, and our background is In b2b content marketing, that’s where we started. And that’s where we developed the strategies and authority marketing that went into the playbook. And we made a move from doing b2b content marketing focused on lead generation to podcasting when we saw that the most effective content we produced for our clients was around podcast based strategies.
Nancy Christopher 1:22
Didn’t we come up with that idea, Dan?
Dan Trzinski 1:25
Nancy Christopher 1:26
We’re talking to our competitor.
Michael Greenberg 1:29
I don’t really have competitors, so to speak.
Nancy Christopher 1:34
I know. We’re okay with this.
Dan Trzinski 1:38
There’s enough business for everyone. So what kind of content should companies be developing these days?
Michael Greenberg 1:45
Well, when we ask ourselves, what kind of content we should be producing for this client? The first thing we do is go out and do a bunch of direct customer research and see what kind of content will work for that client. And what we’ve seen is that, unless it’s that millennial or Gen Xer in tech politics, or one of those, let’s call them, little more technology-friendly industries, with higher levels of education overall. There’s a good chance that there aren’t going to be that many podcast listeners for a show. What we’ve seen from that is that the podcast may still be the thing to start with, not because people will listen, but because it allows us to create the written content that people will read. And it allows us to do that in voice because our original company strategy when we made blogs first, was sitting down and interviewing the subject matter expert.
Nancy Christopher 2:37
Yeah. And that’s hard because it just doesn’t come off as it’s them.
Michael Greenberg 2:41
Exactly. And so to get around that, what we’ve ended up going through is we had a pretty strict process for turning their exact words into blog posts. And so now we’ve gone to start with the podcast, interview them there and then repurpose that content into the blog posts or the little videos or whatever else we need.
Dan Trzinski 3:00
That seems smart.
Nancy Christopher 3:01
Yeah, that’s a good idea. I like that. You talk about creating that authentic voice. And I’m assuming that the podcast is kind of that way that you create that authentic voice?
Michael Greenberg 3:09
It’s become the easiest one, it’s the most cost-effective. Because if we’ve got somebody from the company in that host role, then all the content that comes out isn’t the company voice.
Nancy Christopher 3:19
When you use social media? Do you use the audio?
Michael Greenberg 3:22
So we’ll pull quotes out, and then we’ll also pull shortened audio quotes and create small videos around them. And then for some clients, we will go so far as to create like a teaser of the episode. And then have that link to a blog about the same topics. And have that link to the podcast as well. If somebody wants to listen.
Dan Trzinski 3:41
So who’s the voice of the company? Who should it be, in your opinion? Should it be the leader of the company or just any subject matter expert from a company?
Michael Greenberg 3:50
Yeah, that’s a good question. The size of the company makes a huge difference. So if you’re a 20 or 30 person company, you’ve got to have the founder on it. You’ve got to have the owner. If you’re 150, then maybe it’s a division head, maybe it’s your VP sales, depending on the use of the show. And then if you’re 1000, or 2000 person company. If you’re a really large organization, then depending on the import of the podcast, you might have a full-time team just for that.
Dan Trzinski 4:18
Well, I’m sure it’s much easier to get a leader of a 20 or 30 person company, knowing that we went through this ourselves when we started this podcast it was trying to get me to sit down and to write a blog that was impossible. You know, you’re busy, and you pour over every word and stuff like that. We’re sitting down for 20 minutes for podcasts, you can make time for that.
Michael Greenberg 4:40
And you’ll see it in the content strategy that Call For Content as a business actually uses. I knew I didn’t have time to create content when we started. I’ve got my own hobby podcast now. And so we just put out ebooks, big playbooks, like the authority marketing playbook, and we went in that direction because we knew we didn’t have the resources. In terms of time to create consistent content, and so it would be a fool’s errand to go after it at that point. So now we’re getting ready to roll out podcasts with the division heads. For each one of our lines because I still just don’t have time to run that weekly show.
Nancy Christopher 5:15
So we talked about podcasting, video, blogging, and the playbook. What other types of content do you create for clients?
Michael Greenberg 5:23
So I’ve started to see an uptick in audio courses. Some of you listeners out there might remember the Jim Rowan CDs, Tony Robbins CD audio course. And audio courses kind of went away for a while, but now it is podcasting. And starting to rise in popularity as more people are just listening to those long videos and that sort of thing. We’ve seen audio courses start to make a comeback, especially with coaching clients. And outside of that, it’s not so much in the variety of different content formats, but in the way, we plan the content where I’ve started to see real change. We’ve got more channels now than ever to create content through. And so developing a content strategy that one connects with customers from the start. And two, that is designed from the ground up for repurposing content, has been the real shift that I’ve seen recently.
Dan Trzinski 6:18
So this might be a three-part question, but what are some of your strategies for making the content that you’ve developed stand out more engaging. Generating more leads is what we’re all after.
Michael Greenberg 6:28
Yeah. So the first one that I’ve seen, and to borrow from another one of our competitors, content-based networking is a term that’s started to come up. The guys at Sweet Fish Media popularized it, another one of the oldest podcasting agencies out there, and they specialize in like middle-market tech companies. And so using the content to start to open the door on new potential relationships with clients or partners who can lead you to partnerships that are going to bring in large batches of clients, is the first thing to look at. So at a podcast, this could be positioning your show to focus on interviewing ideal clients for your business. Or it could be creating a series of interviews with high profile leaders at software companies who serve the same industry and using that to open the door to partnerships with them. And so that’s definitely number one. Too many companies just make their content for SEO, or just make their content to share in their newsletter and don’t think about who they could be creating their content with. To get more mileage out of it. And then along with that, customer research, actually speaking with potential customers and speaking with current customers, and using that information to inform your content choices and to create the content that they might want to see. If you’re talking with your key accounts. They will recommend content to you. They’ll ask you questions. And all of that can be used to create content that is engaging for them. And that is then used as part of your business development processes in the future for creating content that supports those sales, and business development initiatives really become the core of making sure you get fast returns.
Dan Trzinski 8:12
I’m a big believer in customer research. But one of the most difficult things I think I find in the agency business is finding clients that are willing to invest and invest properly in that part of the process. Do you find it difficult to price that? And to do the amount of research that’s necessary to develop a good content strategy?
Michael Greenberg 8:34
So far authority marketing clients who are bringing us in to do this larger scale lead generation with content, the first engagement that we have is a fixed engagement at $2500 in six weeks, where we audit their current information and carry out research about it. So that’s helped ease that process quite a bit because it’s not so pricey, and it lets us feel each other out.
Dan Trzinski 8:59
Okay. And how many of their customers do you engage with or talk to? To find out what kind of content they would be interested in receiving for that kind of money?
Michael Greenberg 9:08
Yeah, so we will do direct customer interviews with up to five customers. And then we’ll also normally send out a survey and then reach out to people who match the ideal customer personas but are not current customers. To get feedback outside as well.
Dan Trzinski 9:25
Okay, so you got kind of a qualitative and quantitative approach to it.
Michael Greenberg 9:28
Exactly. And we blend that together to create the personas.
Nancy Christopher 9:32
Okay. So your book is called The Authority Marketing playbook. What do you mean by authority? And why do you think it’s so important?
Michael Greenberg 9:38
When I say authority, I am talking about being the person that your target audience thinks of when they want to know about your subject of expertise, what you’re an authority in. So, the two ways I talked about authority are in terms of specialization and relativity. So specialization, the more you niche down, the more you specialize your business and the group that you serve with it, the easier it is to build your authority because you’ve got a smaller audience. You’ve got a more specific topic. Becoming an authority in digital marketing takes a long time. Becoming an authority in digital marketing for dentists takes a little less time. Becoming an authority for lead gen with Facebook ads for dentists practices in middle-market cities. That’s a very specific niche that’s laser-focused. And that’s something where you can become the authority in a couple of months, because going to the second part, authority is relative. The only people you need to be an authority for are the people who are actually going to buy from you or who are thinking about it or who you would like to be thinking about it. And so if you’re that Facebook ads lead Gen for dentists and middle-market cities, you don’t care if a small-town dentist knows who you are in the same way. And you certainly don’t care if an orthodontist does. You’re focused on the dentists. And so that gives you the constraints on your content. That will allow you to really learn about and speak that language of that single market.
Dan Trzinski 11:16
One thing about the word authority, you know, there’s a lot of people out there claiming to be the experts. How do you get to the, Why should I believe you, part?
Michael Greenberg 11:23
Why should you, believe me, Michael Greenberg, personally?
Dan Trzinski 11:25
No no. Why should I believe the person that says he’s the authority for lead generation for dentists and medium-sized markets on Facebook?
Michael Greenberg 11:34
So I like to talk about the three different types of authorities.
Dan Trzinski 11:39
Yeah, what are those?
Michael Greenberg 11:40
So one is the best in class. So that’s you’ve proven your expertise, you’ve proven your authority on a verifiable track record of knowing what you’re doing and talking about because you’ve done it well for quite a while or several times successfully. The next is the simplifier, which is taking those complex concepts like understanding how you can use and benefit from Facebook ads. Down to speaking to people who don’t know anything about the industry. And so for that, you might not need the same level of experience as somebody who’s best in class, but you need the ability to translate. And then number three is who I like to call the innovators. Who is doing the thing that goes against the grain. And those people prove their authority by showing success without unconventional tactics. That’s definitely the hardest, but it’s one that also sets you up for the most success because it puts you in a position where it’s much more difficult to copy. And so to prove yourself, I like to use the content. And I like the first content we create with customers is looking at what questions people ask, we try to get some recorded sales calls if we can. We look at what questions they’re asking to prove that the customers are asking, our client, to try to figure out if they really know what they’re talking about. And so then we create that content first. So that way we can answer that question before they ask it.
Nancy Christopher 13:04
How do you determine the best way to push it out? What channels to take?
Michael Greenberg 13:08
This goes back to customer research. Normally, if I look at your business and you give me your customer list and who’s buying from you, I can probably give you a pretty good idea just looking at it, where they’re going to be online, or if they’re going to be online at all, but we don’t truly know that answer until the ask. And it comes back to the research.
Dan Trzinski 13:26
Are you finding any one of those tactics better than another? You start with a podcast, and so then it’s like, Okay, well, you share it, you push it out on LinkedIn or Facebook. Is it all just totally industry-dependent? Or are you seeing anyone do better than another?
Michael Greenberg 13:40
LinkedIn is definitely popular right now. They’ve been working to improve their user experience. And so more people are using LinkedIn. And that’s where we’re seeing some of the best results with lead generation as a company. Our background is in B2B, Facebook’s definitely newer to us. And I don’t think I’ve seen a client where we’ve used Facebook groups yet. And I think that has more to do with the clients we work with, where we work with a lot of B2B service providers, and we work with a lot of B2B technology companies. And then we’ve started to expand into the B2C markets. So for us, LinkedIn has been the way to go.
Dan Trzinski 14:18
I would think so and B2B.
Michael Greenberg 14:20
Selling into the millennial, or Gen X or executive, Instagram has become a powerful tool.
Nancy Christopher 14:25
Are there any tools out there, Michael, that would help companies with their content marketing? What do you recommend?
Michael Greenberg 14:32
Thousands. In your marketing technology, there’s always 100 tools. But I really like to try to keep things as simple as possible. And Google Docs is probably my number one. Creating your content in a place where everyone can access it and comment on it has been huge for us. And it makes it really easy to be able to share a draft of an article or an E-book with a client and then just have them comment and make their edits. Along with that otter.ai is a transcription tool that has been invaluable as a company to us. I think it’s $70 or $80 a year, and you get essentially unlimited automated transcription. And so that’s given us the ability to have every call with anyone recorded and transcribed. And it gives us a big searchable database of information. As we continuously speak with a client or with another subject matter expert, or ones of different types to build up that library where we can go back and pull whole paragraphs of quotes and use that to put together our articles.
Nancy Christopher 15:36
As a great tip. Thank you so much, we’ll be sure to put that in our show notes there.
Dan Trzinski 15:39
Everybody’s about ROI these days and measurements. So how can you really determine whether your content marketing strategy is working? What do you use as a baseline matrix?
Michael Greenberg 15:49
Yeah, so we look at qualified leads as our number one and backing out from that we look at. I call it emails, but in most companies, that would be leading that have not yet been qualified. And so what we’re looking at is, is our content marketing successful. We see how many leads were getting if those leads are of good quality. And we want to try to maintain anywhere from five to 10% of leads and being qualified leads from a marketing perspective, and then tracking those leads through the sales process and seeing where they convert. And so I know that appearing on a podcast like this leads me to about an 80, 85% close rate if somebody contacts us after listening to a podcast episode. But if they’re coming in off an AdWords ad, we’ve got maybe a 15 or 20% close.
Dan Trzinski 16:38
Do you help people with setting up that whole process for measurement? I mean, some people have a CRM, but they don’t really use it appropriately. And you know, you don’t put this stuff in, and they don’t quote it quite right. And so then it’s kind of garbage in, garbage out.
Michael Greenberg 16:51
Yeah. So my background is in B2B growth strategy and technology-enabled operations. I was consulting and then kind of stumbled into this agency thing. And that’s the first thing we set up with a client where we’re doing lead generation because it’s important for us to be able to report those to the client. And it’s important for them to understand what we’re doing for them.
Dan Trzinski 17:11
A lot of those things are beyond your control, right? So what if they’re just not adhering to the protocol of where the lead came from? Okay, they get a phone call from a podcast that they heard that got shared somewhere on LinkedIn, are you capturing all of it?
Michael Greenberg 17:26
So we try to capture everything. We’re almost never successful. But we always have the email data. And we always try to get what makes a qualified marketing lead. So at the minimum, we can track to that far. And if we can track to that point, then at the end of an engagement with the client. If they’re on the fence because they don’t know if we really showed value because they weren’t tracking everything. Then on that closing call, we will just go down the list and say, okay, What happened with this lead? What happened with this one? What happened with that one?
Dan Trzinski 18:03
How do you shift when the answer was, well, they couldn’t afford us, they had an excuse for everything, and they’re not closing business. How do you shift your strategy or your content strategy to get better leads?
Michael Greenberg 18:15
So it’s a difficult question. A lot of times I found the issue is not necessarily with the quality of lead coming from the marketing, but the quality of the sales process.
Dan Trzinski 18:26
Blame the client. I love that.
Michael Greenberg 18:27
I mean, if the client is the only salesperson in their organization, there’s a very good chance that that has been the issue more than once. And if they don’t have any close rate going in, then that’s normally a red flag to us,
Nancy Christopher 18:41
And do you just kind of walk away at that point, or do you try to help them?
Michael Greenberg 18:44
I try to help. Like I said, I’ve done that whole operations thing before, and so we have resources to help somebody make sure they have a good sales process in place, and if they’re still not seeing success, and hopefully we’ve got some call recordings at this point as well. Then if it turns out that the leads just aren’t working, that we’re getting in, we take a look at different leads. We take a look at different avenues. And normally where we see the most issue with lead quality is if we’re running an ad-based strategy for lead generation for that first
Dan Trzinski 19:14
AdWords or that type of thing, where it’s just outlined.
Michael Greenberg 19:18
Yeah, there’s a lot more unqualified traffic. If we’re doing something like using a podcast for lead generation, and we’re inviting guests on who should be a good fit for the client as customers, we can figure out where that issue is pretty quick. And so it depends how we’re using the content and the lead generation strategy on how easy it is for us to determine if this is a marketing issue, or this is a client operation and sales issue.
Nancy Christopher 19:43
Well, this has been really interesting, Michael, thank you so much. If someone wants to learn more about content marketing, what’s the best way to connect with you?
Michael Greenberg 19:51
So the best way to connect with me is to go to callforcontent.com, and on the site, there’ll be a little chat thing that pops up in the corner, little widget. And if you select office hours there, you’ll be able to book with me for my office hours. I try to have a session every day, but it ends up being more like a couple of times a week, and they’re completely free. I’ll talk about anything from bread making to content marketing with you, and will hopefully both walk away with a little more knowledge.
Dan Trzinski 20:25
That’s great. Thanks so much, Michael. It’s been very helpful.
Nancy Christopher 20:28
Yeah, and if you have any questions for Dan or me about today’s episode, please feel free to contact us on our LinkedIn pages. If you’d like what you’ve heard today, please don’t hesitate to share, review, and subscribe to Brandstorm.
Dan Trzinski 20:40
This is Dan Trzinski, along with Nancy Christopher at Platypus Advertising and Design, an awesome company that creates perceptions that influence the choice. We hope you’ll join us next week for another episode of Brandstorm.