Michael Greenberg explains four key areas where B2B’s make mistakes when it comes to content marketing, gives helpful tips for your website, creating content, email marketing, and for increasing conversions with Eric V. Holtzclaw on the Build Your Best Business Podcast.
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Eric Holtzclaw 01:04
Welcome to Build Your Best Business. I’m your host, Eric Holtzclaw. Build Your Best Business focuses on the entrepreneur journey. What does it take to successfully start, manage, grow and eventually exit a business? Today we’re talking with Michael Greenberg. He’s a Chief Interviewer and Strategist with Call For Content so he and I have similar titles. I call myself Chief Strategist of Laddering Works and we will have a good conversation today around what it takes to really build a business. So once you get it started, if nobody knows who you are and what you do, you might as well close it up and go back home. Michael, thanks so much for joining me.
Michael Greenberg 01:38
Thanks for having me today.
Eric Holtzclaw 01:39
So talk to us a little bit about Call For Content. What does Call For Content do?
Michael Greenberg 01:44
Call For Content is a B2B Content Marketing Agency. We use what we call the Call For Content process, which is a research focus to own the media strategy to position a company as an expert, or authority in a highly targeted niche.
Eric Holtzclaw 02:05
Okay. All right. So you said a lot of words there. Can I break those down a little bit? So number one, let’s just break this down. You and I will just tell everyone that’s listening we are very similar, we both go to the same church, we have the content, but we’ve seen it work, I know it works although it takes a little bit of time. You know, there’s not often patience for it. And one of the things that I think you fix that’s a real problem is, I can’t market your business if I can’t tell your story. I can’t get anyone to pay attention. So how do you approach a business like that? And how do you convince a B2B owner that they need to do content because sometimes they are reticent to get into that space?
Michael Greenberg 02:47
I came to content because I saw, and worked with so many businesses that just didn’t have the online presence or the content to say we know what we’re talking about.
Eric Holtzclaw 02:59
Got it. Yeah.
Michael Greenberg 03:00
If nobody can look you up and confirm that you know what you’re talking about, then it’s going to be really hard for anything but a close referral to come in or for you to have a direct sales relationship. I primarily work with B2B Service Businesses or SaaS Companies. That means that they have high-value relationships and they are relationships that take a long time to develop. So that means that the content my clients put out under their brand, has to really relate to those people they’re trying to attract. In a market where there might only be 10,000 customers worldwide, you have got to really focus in on the thousand that are best served by your product.
Eric Holtzclaw 03:48
Okay. So in that approach, and I agree 100%, are you going in and just helping them extract that story? And what’s interesting, because they never tell you the interesting story? I mean, when I talk to them, I’ll prep people for news media interviews or whatever, and they’ll start to talk to me, and then I get so bored. It’s as if they have said nothing interesting.
Michael Greenberg 04:12
Yeah. We start with about an hour and a half interview. I use an almost reverse version of the interview that I use to identify marketing personas. We use this on our own client first. And we use that to help develop the brand message and identities that are going to work for them personally, especially for small businesses, and especially in B2B with those relationships. It’s one or two or three experts at the top of your business, in many cases, and those are the people who are really providing the power to move the business forward in terms of authority and expertise.
Eric Holtzclaw 04:52
So talk a little more about the B2B business. When I walk into them, there’s a lot of them wanting the business to be the story. We want everything to come from the brand and they almost hide behind it. And prior to 2008, that was an appropriate approach or could be an appropriate approach. But today, I want to hear from a person, I want to know who that person is. That’s nice. There’s a company but, how do you get them to finally realize they’ve got to get out from behind the brand?
Michael Greenberg 05:26
I think that’s when they come to you before they come to us a lot of times. A lot of clients come to me having worked with an SEO firm, or what is now called a Content Marketing firm that was an SEO firm in the past.
Eric Holtzclaw 05:39
Yes. And it spent less on SEO.
Michael Greenberg 05:46
They don’t do the work that needs to be done, because they’re trying to get big numbers. You don’t need 10,000 visitors on your website if one sale is worth $100,000.
Eric Holtzclaw 05:56
Michael Greenberg 05:59
So for me, when I look at all that, I see the process backward. And when I talk to my clients, they are sales first almost every time. Content is the single best marketing tactic to support sales that I bet.
Eric Holtzclaw 06:14
Yeah. And so talk to me how you got to this. Your background, you and I were sharing that a little bit before the show. I’m a recovering technologist who is now a Content Marketing and Operations guy. What was your past?
Michael Greenberg 06:27
I come from a similar background, though without quite the same depth of experience. The first time I was going to college, about five, six years ago now I dropped out when most of my professors got pushed back to the private sector. I went to Silicon Valley and moved to Mountain View.
Eric Holtzclaw 06:48
That’s where both of the startups I’ve worked with were, at Mountain View.
Michael Greenberg 06:53
I was just about two miles south of the quad. You know, that Google campus.
Eric Holtzclaw 06:59
Yeah, it used to be the SGI campus Silicon Graphics. I’m old enough that I worked for Silicon Graphics.
Michael Greenberg 07:05
I went to a coding boot camp out there. I knew a little bit about logic before and architecture for data structures because my brother’s an engineer, so he tried to force that down my throat. But I went to coding boot camp and learned to actually code. I got hired by a company to get through their prototype, did that and didn’t have the technical chops to really carry on as CTO, but I knew enough to be dangerous in marketing and operations. So I moved over to CLL and stayed there to help build out sales and marketing. Then I left to go consult on growth strategy and rapid prototyping. Over time, I worked with companies and saw this issue with marketing where they weren’t positioned. I couldn’t do what I really wanted to do with them because they didn’t have that starting point in place. So I went to the drawing board and started building a content marketing process that I knew could be repeatedly implemented for at least my favorite clients to work with, not everyone.
Eric Holtzclaw 07:21
So how did you choose who your favorite clients to work with were going to be?
Michael Greenberg 08:19
Customer size. It really came down to a combination of size and space. I have really only worked in B2B and I much prefer the size of the deals in B2B, so I knew I wanted to stay there.
Eric Holtzclaw 08:34
So you liked the fact that one deal may be worth a lot of money.
Michael Greenberg 08:38
Yeah, versus finding one guy.
Eric Holtzclaw 08:41
Right, okay. Versus finding a million people to buy $1 item you find that one person who can buy the million-dollar product.
Michael Greenberg 08:50
Exactly, and I knew a lot about services. I knew they also popped up quickly and they could grow quickly. Faster than some other kinds of companies, because with services you scale on people. It’s a blessing and a curse.
Eric Holtzclaw 09:06
Exactly. Yeah. And so I wanted to start there. Then over time with my background in technology, and by existing network there, I’ve just sort of picked up clients who work with software. In your process, then you’re doing this kind of initial interview. Then is your team creating the content for the customer or are you just telling them what kind of content they need to create?
Michael Greenberg 09:30
We do a mix. We really try not to create content for customers, because that’s not going to be the best content. In a lot of cases, since we try to instill authentic voice from our customers into everything, I try to push everyone to have a podcast so we can get them on air. And then we also interview them, rather than writing or ghostwriting a blog for them. So I’ll interview them, get their opinions and get the words they might use to describe things. Then we’ll try to inject that into the final, where they might not do all the writing, but they’ll certainly provide half the words or more.
Eric Holtzclaw 10:09
Okay. And in your initial introduction to break words down a little bit further. You taught us to use the words owned content, I think,
Michael Greenberg 10:18
Yeah. We only produce content that goes on our client sites.
Eric Holtzclaw 10:21
Okay. And so just theory or belief system behind that?
Michael Greenberg 10:27
It’s where you start with content. At the end of the day, if you’re building for digital, you’re going to have a website. If you’re not building for digital, then you’re probably just building a business on business cards and we’re not going to be talking anyway. So, if you’re building for digital, you have a website and that website is the final piece of content before the sale in all likelihood, so we start there.
Eric Holtzclaw 10:54
It is an important point you just made. It’s the final point of sale. So people search your content and they look at what you talk about. They know if they visit your website, they might get trapped into giving you their contact information. We’re smart, we’re smart buyers, we know that we want to look for everything we can and learn about your business, and then we’ll end up in that last piece.
Michael Greenberg 11:20
Yeah, I know, if you’re on my radar, and if you click on a website link, I will know you clicked on it. And that’s pretty much expected for all marketers these days, I think.
Eric Holtzclaw 11:33
Yeah. Well, that is the challenge. Having a technology background is a good thing because we understand the technology stack. And traditional marketing doesn’t necessarily mean they went to school for Don Draper. So they will say, I’m going to create the big idea and the big campaign and then all of a sudden it becomes, how do you cobble together all this technology and make it work in a way that you’re aware and you know, what’s going on? So it’s been a very transitional market or space.
Michael Greenberg 11:59
Definitely. I think the thing that throws most people off is ads. Both because clients will come to me saying we tried Facebook ads or we tried LinkedIn ads and they don’t work, but ads will almost always work if you use them right. There are just so many ways to use them and there’s so much variety. And that’s why we focus on their own media first, we don’t work with the ads, we don’t work with them with the other stuff. We get one thing working, that focuses on sales because sales are where our clients are if they’re not marketing, let’s build the first thing to help them with what they did.
Eric Holtzclaw 12:39
Good to know. So we’re going to go on a commercial break and we get back, I want to talk a little bit about Michaels top five things that companies are either doing poorly or well. Giving me a little bit of advice because you’re in a similar space I am and we both see them making some interesting mistakes. Or doing some things well, so we’re back in just a second. You are listening to Build Your Best Business. I’m talking to Michael Greenberg. He’s Chief Interviewer and Strategist at Call For Content and we will be back in just a minute.
Eric, tell us about Laddering Works.
Eric Holtzclaw 13:19
Laddering Works is a company that helps other businesses in one of two ways. Your company is either growing, and you’re not exactly sure how to keep up. You need to scale operations, maybe raise some money, or are growing too fast. You have got structure, you walk in every day, there’s a fire. You’ve been doing it longer than three years or 1000 days and you still feel like you can’t step away from the business and take a vacation. We help companies on that side. Operational support, looking at their financing and seeing if there’s a way that we can help them get to the next level or your company that’s not doing any marketing at all. You may be stalled. Your Business has gotten to a certain level, you make a certain amount of money every year, but you’ve never gotten above that and we come in and build a marketing structure. So both of them are operational at the end of the day. It’s about creating a process and a way to approach it that is strategic. Owners don’t often know how to do both of those. So they’re really good at sales, which means I may need operational structure because they’re out signing more customers than they know what to do with or they built a beautiful product that’s the best-kept secret. Then they will need somebody to come in and help them market that product. That’s the kind of business we look for. We come in as a stopgap and we work with a company for somewhere around 12 to 18 months typically, solve those problems for them and leave them better than we found them. And we’re back. You’re listening to Build Your Best Business. I’m your host, Eric Holtzclaw talking today with a fellow chief strategist, I don’t call myself an interviewer but I probably should, Michael Greenberg, he’s with Call For Content. They focus on creating content for B2B which is such an important part of the marketing mix nowadays that is often not understood or overlooked or feels like a mystery. I said in the first piece that when we got back I wanted to get your top five and it might be four and it might be seven. But what are the things that you see the companies either should be doing that they’re not, that they’re not doing well, just off the top of your head? What are some of those areas and what would you advise?
Michael Greenberg 15:42
The number one thing I see is just a bad website. If your website doesn’t look like it has been made in the past three years, then I think your company is failing.
Eric Holtzclaw 15:54
Yes. I tell everybody, put their websites on a diet, get rid of the 5000 pages and put it into your content. If you want to keep it somehow, let’s turn it into a blog or a piece. I don’t want to read it on your site, so give your site a diet.
Michael Greenberg 16:12
That’s exactly what we’ve been doing this past month at Call For Content and that’s what I try to tell everyone. I like one page, it’s a sales page, it has a contact button and a blog, and about page if you’re really feeling big.
Eric Holtzclaw 16:29
It’s basically a brochure on steroids with a honk and block.
Michael Greenberg 16:33
Yeah, because that’s really mobile friendly and easy to keep updated and design. I like Squarespace for it but just about any website builder will do. You can probably put one together or find a decent template to get started. And then upgrading to something custom is just signaling that you have your stuff together and that you have a serious business because you can put 5k or 10k behind the brand new website.
Eric Holtzclaw 17:00
Yeah, and I like the recommendation of Squarespace and Wix. There are several others if you don’t have a good website. I’d rather see you put something up that is like that, like a templated newer looking site, than the one that you and I said looked like it’s from 1985 before the internet. So website, make sure the websites are then in a good place.
Michael Greenberg 17:27
And then number two is put out content.
Eric Holtzclaw 17:31
Do you suggest a cadence? What does that mean in your mind?
Michael Greenberg 17:36
Put out regular content. It doesn’t matter what it is. It doesn’t matter what your cadence is, so long as it’s there and you’re putting it out and you’re putting out multiple pieces. I recommend a podcast because personally I think they’re probably the cheapest thing to start if you don’t like writing. If you can write them just start a blog and set aside 15 minutes or 30 minutes to write every day and you’ll get there eventually. But it’s really the putting out content that’s important.
Eric Holtzclaw 18:10
Yeah, putting out content, making sure you promote it when you put it out. Because the crazy thing I see is people spend all this time and they promote it once.
Michael Greenberg 18:18
That’s actually the thing that I’m not 100% on and my reasoning for this goes back to sales. I work with some clients that are sales focused organizations through and through. They’re not going to get leads through marketing and every single ebook, every single piece of content on their site is locked out. So you can’t get it without giving up that contact information and that works really well for them. They don’t promote because the people who are going to them come from conferences and they know that, they know how they get their customers.
Eric Holtzclaw 18:55
Yeah. So how narrow then is the niche of the customers that you’re working with?
Michael Greenberg 19:00
That specific case is somebody who sells into enterprise. So for enterprise sales, a lot of cases are not going to have some of the same marketing materials that I might put out for somebody selling to a smaller medium-sized business.
Eric Holtzclaw 19:18
Michael Greenberg 19:20
And we work with companies generally in the one to 10 million range, but we work with them on any sort of B2B sale.
Eric Holtzclaw 19:31
All right. I’ve done podcasting since 2011. I did it because I was told to stand on stage and I wasn’t comfortable with it at that point in my life and we didn’t have video. So I was thinking I can do a microphone and I can cut it off if I need to, or never run it if I didn’t like it. I had some very different reasons. In fact, I was only going to do 42 interviews and now I’m on 1000 or some crazy number. So some of the benefits that you see with the podcasts for the customers you’re working with.
Michael Greenberg 20:03
There is no other way that you’re going to get 30 minutes of somebody listening to you on a consistent basis like that. If you find one, you probably have a class.
Eric Holtzclaw 20:14
Yeah, I agree and it’s a great way to get to know either prospects and also customers. It’s a nonthreatening nonsales thing that you can do that establishes a relationship in a very different way.
Michael Greenberg 20:31
The warmest cold intro, you can have.
Eric Holtzclaw 20:34
I like that warmest cold intro. Okay, so what else is on your list?
Michael Greenberg 20:39
Don’t spam email. I love cold email as much as the next marketer because we can put in 1000 leads at the top and get three qualified ones at the bottom. But don’t, especially on your LinkedIn connection. Don’t send out a mass email to advertise your business. Take the time to actually customize your email campaigns. You can do a lot more sending 50 good emails, then you can send 1000 bad ones.
Eric Holtzclaw 21:10
Yeah, there are tons. There’s a guy here Singrum, and I’m going get his last name wrong, who did flip the funnel. So you’ve got a lot of the same kind of philosophies. Who is it that you want and how do you get to them versus the whole funnel of putting a bunch of people at the top and then see what sifts out the bottom?
Michael Greenberg 21:27
Yeah, that makes perfect sense to me. The reason for that is because we can now target people on digital. You had to broadcast all your advertisements back in Batman days. Targeting and actually, this is a good number four or five and I’m not sure what rule we’re on now, but the target. If your description of who you’re targeting is not to the point where somebody can say, yes I know that person or can point them out in a crowded room, then you’re not targeting details enough.
Eric Holtzclaw 22:03
Yeah, yeah. And it sounds like you said that a minute ago. Did you talk about the concept of personas and establishing personas? I owned a research company during the period of time that the world went from mass to individual and we saw transitions. Most of our work at the beginning was, can they use it? Can anybody use it? By the time everything got switched, it was who would use building the product in a very different way, and in a very different way. So the problem I run into with personas is, regrettably, that it’s a watered-down word that marketing agencies took over and they write them in a vacuum. You know the person’s this old and a lot of data. Unless like you said, you can specifically know who the person is, and the language they use, it’s just the change of one or two words that makes a significant difference in the way this is going to impact.
Michael Greenberg 23:04
Yeah. What they call their customers is normally the biggest one that I see people mess up. If they call them clients or customers or if you’re in a position where you’re working with vendors, you have to talk about everyone using the jargon. It’s those that signal a lot. When I was starting out, selling Call For Content, we were selling a lot to executive coaches and I wasn’t using clients. I was using customers because we had been selling to another group. We switched to clients and saw about a 10% bump across the board. Just because that’s the word they used to describe their board.
Eric Holtzclaw 23:50
That does define a very different relationship. How they talk about it, if its clients, customers, vendors, partners. I had someone who was selling me a bunch of stuff and he wanted to partner with me. I told him when you buy something from me you will be partners but right now you are a vendor. What do you see in the future? Is it a continuation of the content thing? Do you think this is a fad?
Michael Greenberg 24:17
I think it’s become the media. I am building Call For Content so that I have the machine to build my own podcast network and media network and become the media myself. And I see that as the best route forward for most brands. As we move more towards the native advertising and various branded content or more interactive advertising we move more to content. If you ever get a chance, read The Content Trap, which is a great book but very long and a little boring because it’s an academic book, but the point of The Content Trap is that content is about the community around it not in fact the content you create. So content is by itself worthless in digital because we can just copy-paste it 1000 times and we create it near-infinite amount every day. But content can be valuable in relation to a specific person or category.
Eric Holtzclaw 25:28
Okay, so The Content Trap, I’ll take a look at that, and look for you. It’s The Fourth Turning.
Michael Greenberg 25:33
I love that book, The Fourth Turning.
Eric Holtzclaw 25:36
We’re in the fourth turning, which is why all this makes so much sense. That would make sense for that conversation too like contents about a community and the vetting. We have this whole thing going on with bigger unnamed either social media platforms or outlets that you can’t trust. You have to know the person you’re getting the advice from and that you’re like that person so that you believe in what they say to truly survive what’s right and what’s real and what’s not. So yeah, very interesting. Well, it’s been a pleasure talking with you.
Michael Greenberg 26:10
Yeah. It’s been a lot of fun.
Eric Holtzclaw 26:11
Yeah, so I’ve been talking today with Michael Greenberg. He is the Chief Interviewer and Strategist of Call For Content. If you are B2B or B2C, or you want to sell to people, you should be establishing and creating content and creating unique content that educates not just sells. Don’t tell me about your speeds and feeds, I can look that up. I don’t care. I’m already bored. I want to hear the story. So you’ve been listening to Build Your Best Business. Until next time, what are you going to do to build your best business?