Tags Posts tagged with "content"


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When your content is created for an audience and it resonates with them, it scales.

The answer isn’t producing more content. The answer is finding who your audience is first. When you find your audience, it grows.

Is the content you are creating connecting with others?

As we all become engulfed with the new ‘Hello’ single from Adele on every radio station, it becomes the equivalent of producing the lowest common denominator for a mass market. It’s safe, it connects and within a week everyone knows about it.

However, what if you moved away from trying to have as many slices of the same cake and trying to appeal to as many people as possible but build a powerful direct connection with a niche audience?

Someone Who’s Not For You

Back to Adele. On YouTube she has amassed a massive 6.8 million subscribers, but that is pretty loose change compared to KSI with nearly 11 millions subscribers.

You are probably thinking ‘Who on earth is KSI?’

That’s ok, he’s probably not for you.


However his 2 billion views mean something to the gaming community. It connects and boy, does it scale.

KSI is 22 years old and from Watford and his YouTube videos are a mix of FIFA commentary/tips, challenges, pranks and all wrapped up into the ‘banter’ category.

According to Variety, he is one of the most influential and bankable people according to 13 to 17 year olds (see…this is all about owning a niche). It’s more move over PewDiePie and goodbye Johnny Depp.

Having amassed this following naturally makes him attractive to brands (he was a member of The Sun’s online team at the 2014 World Cup), but more importantly with his ongoing and committed content he has built a loyal audience. When he endorses products to his audience, his audience listens, takes note and reacts.

Whilst everything is built around a channel owned by somebody else (Google), if KSI decided to leave YouTube and set-up via his own website, the audience would follow. They are not there for YouTube, they are there for KSI.

It was this audience that helped position him at number 30 in the charts in March this year with his song, “Lamborghini” and Island are releasing his debut album, “Keep Up” in January 2016. Plus, he has a show lined up at London’s, 02 Islington Academy in December. Great work for someone who built an audience around YouTube videos (that started in 2011) and now creating revenue channels in different spaces.

Lets not also forget his book, I Am A Bellend, released at the end of September.

Please don’t think I’m using this as a platform to sing the praises of someone who I can’t identify with.

He’s still probably not for you, and not for me. KSI represents the Loaded magazine mindset for the Tinder generation. However, I take my hat off to him and what he has achieved by owning his media.

That Link With What YOU Do

I am not here to comment on the output of content, but to highlight that from a centre of gravity (his YouTube channel), he has created satellites that are drawing people back to his space. The satellites represent the sales of books, singles, gigs and albums that all become the gravitational pull back to his primary source (his YouTube channel).

So how does this relate to you?

If you just have one place called a blog and you concentrate purely on this space for your content marketing efforts and that is it, you are probably wasting time.

Your blog can become the main planet with a gravitational pull, but there has to be activity within your solar system.

By activity, I mean a bank of assets that can draw back to the primary space. Whether events, podcasts, videos, reports, email, even print, but created on a consistent basis all form the ongoing content created for an audience that all comes back to a theme of what you stand for.

Ok, it may not be ‘bants’ but the role that you provide to others is to make their lives easier/more knowledgeable. When it comes to buy, you are committed to providing value beyond what you primarily do as a business.

The big point I am trying to make here and using the example of KSI is that more content is not the answer; the answer lies in controlling your network and commanding the media.

You have to understand the environment that you are within and the entire space that you are part of.

That Tiny Space You Have Banked On

A website is a small space to reside within. Perhaps it’s time to showcase what you know and have learnt to others in a more personal way (from the event that you control through to speaking at industry related events). This all comes down to creating a better experience for a customer and also a prospective customer.

This all represents having clarity with a voice that leads to others who will stand by you. I know I tend to use Jimmy’s Iced Coffee as a pretty well worn case study, but this is the kind of approach I mean.

The iced coffee is in the chiller aisle with every other huge brand that has been around for much longer and larger ad budgets, but that’s ok. Jimmy’s Iced Coffee isn’t just about a drink to have mid morning, but people buying into a lifestyle of freedom, not compromising and independence (backed up by the ‘keep you chin up’ #KYCU mentality).

Discovering and sharing your own voice will optimise you.

Whilst the likes of KSI and Jimmy’s Iced Coffee may not necessarily have the B2B link that you are probably looking for, their whole approach is exactly the same.

When you mean something to others and not try to appeal to everyone, you speak to a niche. A connection is then made.

Where we are heading is into a bloody crusade for direct relationships, the moment you succeed is when your content resonates with a distinct audience.

Starting To Round Up

Creating considered content is a huge part of your jigsaw puzzle, but it cannot stand-alone. There is a huge battle for attention that will become ever more dense in 2016.

Your role is to connect and create genuine value for others. If you can do this, then they are on board, no matter who else is fighting to be heard.

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Podcast_the ID Group

I have swapped Spotify for podcasts. Here are the best marketing related podcasts to listen to when running.

I promise an article that doesn’t mention Serial (oh…no I just have).

What is shaping the way that we all listen and consume in an on-demand driven world is driven by the devices that we prefer to consume.

Smartphones represent 48% of listening hours in the UK when it comes to podcasts, according to Statista.com. My iPhone is a way to plug-in and immerse myself in opinion and the way the world if shaping.

What was once a struggle to collate playlists that would keep me focused whilst running has now turned into a library that keeps me focused during those evening runs and have some ‘Mark time.’

Real Intimacy

I represent an entertainment/educational choice that is growing in popularity and choose the intimate way of listening (headphones on and away I go).

According to Edison Research, podcast listens have steadily increased in numbers every year (apart from 2013).

You should take some time to listen to some.

I guess the reason why I love this format is something that has been part of me since I was younger.

Since a teenager, one thing that I have done is listen to something when I go to bed. From recording football matches on the radio on a Maxell 90 minute cassette in the 80s, to buying the likes of Radio 4’s Knowing Me, Knowing you on cassette in the 90s, through to listening to the Ricky Gervais podcasts on my iPod back in 2006 it has always been there for me.

Listening to audio has always meant no annoying adverts and to listen whenever I wanted. According to the BBC there have been more than 1.1 billion downloads of BBC podcasts since 2004.

It’s All Changing

What we are now seeing is the prominence of authors, writers, opinion formers who have a ready made audience and making that jump into podcasting and taking on the new guise of broadcaster.

This is why every run I now take is accompanied with the voice of someone else that I have got to know, even if they don’t know me. Or the other side of the coin is that we have got to know one another off the back of a podcast, so brings this level of intimacy even more real.

Eight Choices

Without any particular order, here are eight the shows that keep me occupied, entertained and thought triggered during my evening runs.

I have chosen these because of the ability to inform on a consistent basis. This is all about familiarity and getting comfortable with a voice that you connect with.

If you are looking to invest time in how the world of marketing is shaping, but don’t necessarily know where to start, then let me be the audio on-demand equivalent of the Radio Times.

These are shows that, to me, are making a huge stamp in the evolution of marketing.


new_rainmakerNew Rainmaker

Brian Clark, from Copyblogger, has decided to take the reigns of this great show following on from the departure of Robert Bruce earlier this year (who probably had the best voice for audio).

What began as the content platform to announce the release of Rainmaker in 2014, is now a show that highlights the latest trends within marketing and to bring in those who are making their mark.

Copyblogger has been teaching people about online marketing for over eight years, to take this into an audio format where Brian calls it ‘free consultancy’ is an asset for your smartphone.

Your Run: These are for the 5k+ runs and gives you enough time to listen from beginning to end and help you take on board quickly new concepts and thoughts.

Selected Shows: Seth Godin on Stepping Up & Making It Happen (Dec 2014)

Click here for iTunes


marketing_book_podcastThe Marketing Book Podcast

This podcast is a spotlight on the role of marketing in the mid point of this decade and not just a focus on a particular author.

Each author has a point of view that relates to his or her book and provides a broader outline to continue a train of thought beyond the podcast.

The host is critical for any podcast. I am a big fan of the laidback style of Douglas Burdett who has pedigree within the marketing industry.

Your Run: The 30 minute 5k plus runs lets you understand the whole point of view from each interview.

Selected Shows: The Marketing Performance Blueprint by Paul Roetzer (May 2015)

Click here for iTunes


Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 19.16.00Convince & Convert Podcast

The perfect example of repurposing content.

Selected articles from the convincandconvert.com blog are read by professional voice over artists to give every episode a sense of production quality. These shorter podcasts from five to 10 minutes, cover topics from response, social, content to blogging.

These are great to listen to, particularly articles that you may have an interest in that gives a deeper sense of emphasis from the written word to audio.

Your Run: The end of the run (doesn’t matter what distance) where the end is in sight and so is your learning and listening time.

Selected Show: How To Create Time For Writing Great Content (Feb 2015)

Click here for iTunes


reputation_revolutionReputation Revolution

Trevor Young hosts this podcast from his space in Melbourne, Australia and I think it’s important to hear a marketing perspective from across the globe (which is part of the fascination with the ability to broadcast and share a voice).

Much of Trevor’s focus is how we build influence and what we can take on board for our businesses and also ourselves in order to mean something to an audience who are willing to take time to listen.

Your Run: For the 5k+ runs. These shows range from 25 minutes to 45 minutes, so if you are going with the flow and seeing where the run will take you on an unfamiliar path, this is ideal.

Selected Show: How Joe Pulizzi Built A Dominant Global Thought Leadership Position Using Content Marketing (April 2015)

Click here for iTunes


six pixels of separationSix Pixels Of Separation

Anyone who can proudly say at the beginning of a show ‘Welcome to episode 479’ has earnt the right to earn the attention of others.

Mitch Joel’s weekly podcast is testament to being curious, being committed and being inquisitive from someone who has produced one of the finest books of this decade (Ctrl Alt Delete).

The reason I enjoy this podcast is not because of the scope of guests but just how knowledgeable and insightful Mitch Joel is.

Your Run: For the longer 10k+ runs, this is a great podcast to soak up and immerse yourself in.

Selected Show: any episode that he teams up with Joseph Jaffe

Click here for iTunes


this old marketingPnR: This Old Marketing

Approaching 100 shows, this weekly show is probably regarded as the stalwart for any content marketer.

Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose break their hourly shows into segments from weekly news, a rants and rave section and a case study on brands that practice a content approach.

I have to say that this is a show that I fit in every week, without fail, purely for the fact that it is topical. No other podcast out there does this.

Your Run: With the segmented nature of this podcast, why not break this up into different runs (which I do).

Selected Show: start from the latest show, take in what’s happening within the world of content marketing and guarantee you will be back for the next show (released every Tuesday)

Click here for iTunes


content incContent Inc.

Similar to New Rainmaker coinciding with the launch of the Rainmaker platform, this podcast was aligned to the launch of Joe Pulizzi’s latest book Content Inc.

The target audience for this is very much for the smaller business with the aim to build an audience with the outcome to drive actions. These short shows (five minutes) are intended for each episode to take one thing from it. As the book is now launched, I hope this keeps momentum.

Your Run: This is for the five minute burst at the end of the run. You know the end is in sight, this is here to accompany the momentum from another show.

Selected Show: What If Your Content Was Gone? (June 2015)

Click here for iTunes


probloggerProBlogger Podcast

From having a ready made audience from ProBlogger.com, when this show launched in June, it is understandable why it reached number one in the business podcast category on iTunes.

Darren Rowse has a very relaxed nature to help you build a more effective blog and to bring in his knowledge and experience to share with others.

Your Run: this is for the focused 5k+ run where concentration is on one topic.

Selected Show: Any of the Q&A shows

Click here for iTunes


There we go, eight podcasts to hopefully give you a bit of variety to listen to when running. There is content out there for every interest. I’d be interested to know what you are listening to.


The Quiet ‘Homebrew Mention

Marketing_Homebrew_podcastRather than turning this article into an advert, whilst it would have a sense of self-congratulation if I included above, if you are ever looking to add to your list, why not listen to The Marketing Homebrew.

Ian Rhodes and myself started this in January 2015 and whilst the likes of New Rainmaker, Problogger and This Old Marketing already had significant audiences prior to launch, Ian and myself started a lot further down.

Our whole intention is to create a show with a UK perspective. The current format is to take a word apart so it doesn’t sound like a buzzword.

We have started to include interviews from British brands that are making their mark and building their audience. There aren’t too many shows with a UK focus and how the world of content marketing is shaping. All we are trying to do is highlight the importance for businesses to change their thinking. Come and have a listen. Click here for iTunes.


Image at the top of the article courtesy of Minoru Nitta

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Matthew Capala is the President of Alphametic, an organic growth accelerator specialized in SEO workshops and consulting with portfolio of worldwide brands including L’Oreal, Hoval, and Quest Diagnostics. As a prolific Internet entrepreneur, Matthew has launched and built ground up several popular websites, including Search Decoder and Sumo Hacks. He is a sought-after International speaker and trainer. His work and ideas have been recognized by Mashable, Chicago Tribune, and The Huffington Post. As Adj. Professor at NYU, Matthew teaches a graduate course on search marketing. Matthew writes regularly on The Next Web, and is the author of three books, including bestselling “SEO Like I’m 5: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Search Engine Optimization.”Talking Content Marketing welcomes the sharing of some SEO knowledge from Matthew Capala.

Matthew is the President of Alphametic, an organic growth accelerator specialised in SEO workshops and consulting. Matthew has launched and built ground up several popular websites, including Search Decoder and Sumo Hacks.

His work and ideas have been recognized by Mashable, Chicago Tribune, and The Huffington Post.

Matthew writes regularly on The Next Web, and is the author of three books, including bestselling “SEO Like I’m 5: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Search Engine Optimization.”

Six questions on SEO, lets jump in.


You say that ‘invisibility is a fate much worse than failure’ is this a problem for most companies?

Yes, because in a world where 80% of consumers search for a product or service before purchasing it.

So every business, large or small, need to show up when consumers are actively searching for their products or services.  Yet showing up in Google became the Labors of Hercules far many business owners. Each year, Google changes its search algorithm around 500–600 times. Each year there are more changes than a year ago. 

2015 has already been a rollercoaster for businesses and marketers who are trying to keep up with Google, and we can expect much more yet to come! While Google is evolving at light speed, many are lost fighting for survival.

Worst of all, many marketers are still using the obsolete SEO tactics of the past that today may put you in Google’s penalty box pronto. You will not do well in SEO by chasing the algorithm; you need to get in front of it.


What is the most important aspect to take on board when it comes to SEO?

By far the most important aspect of SEO has to do with matching your content to the right keywords.

Google processes 40,000 search queries per second. Only a fraction of this traffic is related to what you or your business does, so targeting is the ‘keyword’ when it comes to SEO.

The process of “mining” this info-stream of data of the billions of Google searchers begins when you develop your list of keywords. When developing this list (usually built in a spreadsheet program such as Excel or the Spreadsheet program in Google Docs) it’s important to isolate – from the entire list of terms in the linguistic universe – those “Golden Nugget” keywords that will drive business results.

What are Golden Nugget keywords? Words and phrases, typed into a search engine by users, that deliver desirable visitors to your site.

Golden Nugget Keywords are effective in terms of driving traffic that will result in business, and fewer websites are competing for them. They represent opportunities for you that your competitors may be completely oblivious to. That’s why it’s crucial that you discover them.

Here is a list of 10 free keyword research tools for businesses. 


What is the biggest hurdle that companies have when getting started with SEO?

I think most businesses struggle most with content planning and creation.

It’s very hard for companies to think long term, they want instant ROI. So they put most of their marketing dollars into ads, while content marketing is more of a marathon, not a sprint.

For a business to win with smart content marketing, it’s important to invest time and resources to develop a data-driven content strategy, user-centric buyer personas, UX, and built your SEO and keyword research into your editorial process.

Here is the Content Marketing Toolbox we put together for businesses that includes 25 essential content marketing tools to boost online visibility.


Is having a ‘hired gun’ approach to do all the content work for you a failed approach ie. someone else doing the social and blogging for you?

It’s important to have your own authentic voice when it comes to content, but there is nothing wrong in outsourcing some of your content creation and social media management.

As long as it’s what you want to say, its ok for someone else to help you write it, publish it, and share it. Social media and content marketing agencies and consultant can help you grow, but they cannot be you.

Be human. Both users and algorithms will smell a phony.


Are companies still too short sighted by wanting results ASAP with a campaign mindset rather appreciating than the long game?

Yes, but I think more and more companies realize they need to play a long term game.

A lot of it has to do with accountability, so if the goals are set, timelines established, and there are ROI measurements in place, I think it’s more acceptable for companies to take a long-term approach.

However, not many businesses take the time to develop a content strategy and leverage analytics to track content performance.


How would you recommend a company makes a content marketing approach with some SEO knowledge sing sweetly?

Content marketing and SEO often live in separate silos, but they’re really just two sides of the same coin. 

With about 160 million blogs online, and 4 billion hours of video being watched each month on YouTube, there is a huge opportunity for brands to connect with their consumers via the production and distribution of compelling content.

The problem is that most content marketing initiatives underperform because big creative ideas are rarely integrated with a data-driven, performance-based approach.

Great content can go unnoticed without SEO, while SEO-led content can do poorly because it is not compelling. That’s why brands need a holistic approach to content marketing that emphasizes creative and performance equally.

I recommend reading my post on Sparksheet that includes some timeless advice on how to integrate content marketing and SEO.

2nd Edition SEO Like 5 Cover_KindleHuge thanks to Matthew for his time and contributing to the Talking Content Marketing project.

Here are some spaces for more from Matthew:

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Inspiration for blog posts can come in all shapes and sizes and from the unlikeliest of places.

Here are my proven ways for you to have that greater sense of achievement when you press that ‘publish’ button. I am here to make you more fulfilled and ensure what started as a commitment never becomes a, ‘I did it a couple of times in March.’

One of the biggest questions that I am asked is, ‘how do you not run out of things to write about?’ The simplest answer that I have is that I am relentlessly curious about how the world of marketing is shaping for small businesses in the mid part of this decade.

However, you may not be in marketing and that answer may not mean anything to you. Lets just cut right to the chase; you may only be here to read bold headlines and answers.

How can you create a consistent bank of original work that you can trace back to a bit of inspiration or just by digging deeper?

These are the places that have helped me write new articles every week since 19th January 2012. This is your very own route for blog inspiration.



One of the biggest personal and professional changes for me was the moment that I started reading again.

Everything traces back to this book from Chet Holmes called The Ultimate Sales Machine (published in 2008). I picked this book up and since then reading has helped shape how I look at the world. More importantly every book I have read helps me become more creative and more strategic.

What I do is share what I have learnt and put my own interpretation on a theory into my daily life. Have a read of an article from 2013 that is simply ‘Why We Need To Read A Book’

Your Experiences

The week you experience is something that no one else can copy.

This provides the opportunity to almost create a diary of what you encounter and the people who are part of it.

No one is going to tell you that your week is wrong and whilst we are all being told to create original content, there is nothing more personal than documenting the challenges, rewards and frustrations you have. This is where your personality comes to the fore.

One of my quickest meetings to blog articles was from earlier this year when a company asked me, “Can Twitter generate an extra £150,000 per year?” This question made me think and realise the answer that I should have gave during the (wasted) meeting.

If you don’t want to read, the question made me realise that there is a new illiterate. It is our duty as businesses to adapt and continually learn.

a) Do Things b) Write About It

My whole human cannonball approach is to do things and then share what I have learnt.

I seem to have built a bank of blog articles that either link back to the Marketing Homebrew podcast, the Once Upon A Time event or the Content Revolution book.

This puts you in a position to document what you have done that no one else has achieved. This is the fingerprint that defines you and no one else.

See what I mean, it’s easy to tell someone how they need to create effective content, but even better if you can share what you have learnt by showing your own examples that doesn’t refer to Red Bull, Airbnb, Coca Cola or pulling out the Oreo Cookie ad.

Google Alerts

If we’re getting a bit into the Marketing 101 and travelling down the safe marketing path, setting up Google Alerts for your industry can uncover some hidden gems.

Here is an example that this works. When recommending this for a commercial interior company, you have to see beyond the ‘contract awarded to key word for $50m’ or the ‘how name of person transformed key word into a multi million business.’

The ability to share and comment on something that brings everyone together becomes content gold. Something still related to the commercial interior world, but from a different angle within Google Alerts becomes an opportunity to comment on the world’s first character branded colour, Minion yellow.

Your Passions

Nothing flows easier than believing in something and standing vehemently beside it.

This is what drives your enthusiasm. What you started (or starting) doing has to be more than, ‘I am doing this to make more money than the job I previously did.’ There has to be a reason and a purpose for what you are pursuing.

The thing that ignites my spark is the ability for businesses to persistently create something with limited barriers to entry. Companies now have the ability to build an audience that they have complete control of, what a fantastic opportunity for all of us. When looking over the blog topics, the majority of my articles are centred on businesses marketing as though it’s 2015 and owning what is theirs.

If you haven’t yet read The Content Revolution, download the opening section by clicking here that explains the situation we are in today and the opportunity it presents your business (no need for you email address, just download the PDF).

Categorising Notes

I know that I have lost hundreds of great ideas over the years believing that I would remember them. Trust me, you won’t remember them.

I started using ‘Notes’ on my Mac and iPhone, but now everything is synced via Evernote into categories. This could be links for articles that I need to read (but haven’t got round to), to noting ideas that come into my head, through to pages from books that introduce an interesting thought process.

Embrace Analytics

Looking back at what you have created and how it resonates with others is important to finding a thread to what can progress into a much more substantial topic piece.

Have a look within Google Analytics – Behaviour – Overview to see which pages and articles resonate and what doesn’t. For instance, my thread at the moment could potentially build momentum into a finely crafted sweater. The thread is based on the role an owned media approach has for business and what you have to consider for it to work.

I promise you that if you haven’t done this yet appraise where you are. If you have spent hours crafting the ‘About Us’ page, no one is bothered anymore.

Repurpose What Has Been Done

I have always stated that when I started blogging I was rubbish.

There was no theme to progress and was a stereotypical business related blog that had no individuality ie. how to be good at speaking, making Twitter work. They were pretty flat and done everywhere else. However, what I noticed was that there were seeds from earlier articles that could be progressed into more substantial work.

This fits the belief that we are always looking for the next idea, when we need to take stock of what we have already created and look at new ways to develop. Lets not get so fixated on creation, but curation of what you have uncovered that hasn’t been said elsewhere.

The Power Of Asking

If you are inquisitive about your industry, the channels that are available today lets you reach out in ways that you have never been able to before.

All it takes is to ask and for others to recognise that you are pursuing something that is far greater than expecting someone to tweet a link once they have contributed. This is how I have created my ongoing Talking Content Marketing series, since November 2013. This is intended to show a snapshot of where marketing is in the mid part of this decade and bring in the voices of authors and influencers from within the marketing industry.

A good space to ask and to also use as your content curation hub is Quora. This is an endless space of questions and debate. Who knows maybe an answer someone provides either becomes a contributor to your next article or the topic idea for your next post?


Friends & Other Conversations

I don’t want to go all soft and twee on you by saying ‘friends’, but you never know where a throwaway comment from someone else can end up.

For instance, I have an article on Mark Schaefer’s {Grow} blog, titled, “No One Cares What You Know, Until They Know You Care.” Little did I know that this was a quote from former US President, Theodore Roosevelt, but that’s not the point.

What matters is that this statement was mentioned by a friend one evening over a beer and I took it from there.

It planted a seed for me to understand that to become a valuable resource to others you have to invest time, learning and understand how you can be of use to others.

Be Lazy (the cheat)

I’m not endorsing this 100% (as this article is about digging deep) but if you find yourself looking at a blank screen, don’t feel like signing up to anything and a quick tool to give that momentum, there are two places that I recommend.

Hubspot’s Blog Topic Generator

All you need to do is enter three words and the end result is a spark to ignite your writing.


Portent’s Content Idea Generator

Sometimes you just need to throw in your topic area and see what comes back at you (guarantee that you’ll keep clicking to see what ideas are thrown at you)



The sources for ideas and inspiration are all around you (don’t forget your in-box too).

I am sure that I have missed places that have possibly helped you. If I have, let me know or comment below. People are generating the momentum for something that they haven’t done before. When it comes to finding topics to write about, as you can see, there is an abundance of places. I can’t buy into the ‘but we have nothing to write about!’ lame excuse. I hope these are helpful to you.

Image at the top courtesy of Julija

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What are you doing that is actually different from everyone else? I say it’s time to show our hands.

My last article I stand by the belief that we have to offer the experiences that we have created, rather than just telling everyone the theory (here is the ‘Stop Banging On About Storytelling‘ article). Action and being present today, holds more weight than a thesis. It’s all about the value we create, rather than repeating what someone else has said (there is enough of them on your Twitter feed at this very second).

This article I want us to recognise that showing an approach and mindset, is how we become different from the crowd.

The One-Way Traffic You Can’t Overtake

It’s time for businesses to stop an approach that tells everyone that they know best. For instance, the company providing social media training, only to find that every Tweet they write is just a long list of links and barely any engagement with anyone, does not give someone the right to tell others what to do. A one-way barrage of what is effectively advertising is by no means an approach that creates a sense of community and sharing a belief system.

Our roles as businesses are effectively being part of the table on one big game of poker. To those who aren’t familiar with how poker works, the winner of each game is decided by the ranks of players card, where some are hidden from show until the end of the game. Betting starts on every round based on the rank that a person believes their hand is worth, compared to the other players.

A player can ‘raise’ based on the strength of their hand or they can fold. At the end of each game the winner is determined if everyone else has ‘folded’ or the hands are revealed when there is more than one player looking to win ‘the pot.’ The player with the winning hand, based on the order of rank, wins.

Why Companies Throw Their Cards In And Fold

This analogy is where we are today. Many businesses choose to keep their cards close to their chest and eventually ‘fold.’ All they can muster is weak product based messages on how good they are, stating the increase in turnover over the past 12 months and the ‘excellent bespoke service’ they provide the world. This isn’t a strong hand it’s just B2B service waffle that we have all become accustomed to.

Those who are ready to show their hand are the ones who are prepared to present how they have done it. The company that is providing social media training where their proof is merely links and one way traffic, is going to loose to a higher hand of a business that shows engagement, conversation and longevity of relationships (N.B. as an aside have a look at Trevor Young’s ‘Cultivating a Village of Support for Your Personal Brand’ Slideshare presentation). This is what businesses need to be prepared to do.

Taking A Different Approach

This is more than looking to differentiate; it’s about showing a more considered approach and having the evidence on show that will stand-alone. This is the ‘royal flush’ that will beat any other hand when there is evidence and proof that an approach works. The companies who provide pure methodology from earlier rounds are going to be trounced by the bigger hands that show proof, value and creativity.

To stay within the game of poker, businesses need to be committed and if what they currently have, doesn’t feel right, it’s time to fold. A low scoring hand of a couple of press releases, sporadic blog posts and thinking that the local business magazine ½ page ad is the answer to your new customer prayers, is sooner or later going to have to fold, with a minimum return.

Focusing On The Owned Media Approach As The Poker Metaphor

So now you get the poker metaphor. I know this is probably a pretty well used comparison with business, but I’m going to take it down the route of creating an owned media approach and more importantly, making it work.

Lets make it even more meaningful:

1) Show A Love And Genuine Enthusiasm For The Game

Those who are genuinely enthusiastic with how media channels work and looking to develop an owned media approach manage to show a love of the game. This is contrasted to those businesses that dabble, don’t have a good understanding but are prepared to waste money and time within spaces that guarantee no return whatsoever. It is important to remember that when it comes to playing the game, it’s much more than the cards you are dealt, it’s the persona you present to others.

2) You Can’t Win Every Game

The seasoned player acknowledges that they can’t win every game, but are prepared to study and know when it’s the right time to make that move or make the sensible decision to fold.

In a business context, there are moments when you just have to fold. A couple of years ago I worked on the If You Could Go Back project. This was a series of interviews with local businesses on three things they would advise their younger selves at the beginning of their professional career. The intention was a learning tool for new businesses or those looking to make that leap into self-employment. This was such a time intensive project that when it came to taking things to the next stage ie. print and finding a sponsor, it just didn’t materialise. It was time to fold.

3) Some Always Think They Are Dealt Poor Hands

Many businesses think that they are forever dealt poor hands and can’t seem to work out why they don’t get better cards.

This comes down to showing a genuine understanding of the game you are playing (see point 1). You can’t have the expectation that you can just show up to see a return. This is similar to the businesses that think that a smattering of a few blog posts, will result in either a burst of subscribers or the promise of converting prospects to customers. To then become frustrated that there is no return and then put their endeavours to an eventual close. This reflects more on a business who is not prepared to develop new channels rather than thinking that the audience aren’t ‘out there.’

4) Become Better Informed To Fold Or Push Harder

All players will at some point loose hands. However, if a long term, more patient view is taken, then it becomes easier to make a better judgement to stop or to progress. It is ok to take a steady approach, loose hands as long as there is a goal in sight.

The If You Could Go Back project could be considered as a loss, but the long-term goal was to look at ways to build an audience as well as the role for my business to provide useful information. Similarly, Ian (Rhodes) and myself have discovered that the cards we are currently being dealt with on the Marketing Homebrew podcast project are pushing us harder so we are in for the next round.

5) Some who play often can make a career out of it

Those players who move from enthusiasm, to study, to delivery, to wider recognition can become revered and respected players within the poker circuit.

This is similar to those who can build an audience, take ownership of channels that are theirs and become recognised as influential within their marketplace. This is a totally different space from a sporadic approach and thinking that the whole focus for your content efforts is within text on a screen. It is an all encompassing, committed mindset that can innovate, adapt and continually learn that will rise above the competition.

6) The buzz of the unexpected becomes a spark and an explosion

The player who enjoys being part of the game and does it with real enthusiasm, knows that learning and application can become a real buzz. To the business adapting to a content mindset the unexpected also means a hands-up acknowledgement that we are not experts, just people and businesses who are relentlessly curious with a goal to find the truth and give meaning to what we are doing.

The quicker businesses stop telling everyone that they are the experts, the better. It’s a reality check to acknowledge that it’s the journey we are on and the value we provide that is more rewarding than the finishing line of saying that we are ‘the one’. For instance, my graduation day at University was one of the most underwhelming occasions days of my life. I know this wasn’t the case for my parents, but sitting through a three-hour ceremony just to hear my name, after three years of having the most fun a person in their late teens/early 20s could have, puts it into perspective. My own living proof that the journey to get to that degree was more worthwhile than the degree itself.

7) If you are forever bluffing, you will get found out (MY FAVOURITE)

Those who make it through to the next round, but constantly bluffing as their sole strategy are sooner or later going to be exposed. In the role of business, this comes back to my previous article where I am seeing more and more people telling others how to do something and layout the steps when they haven’t dedicated time and effort in understanding how a discipline works. Just because social media is free to use, doesn’t give someone the right to tell others what to do, just because they spend more time on Twitter than someone else. Success comes with creating a strategy, exploring, evaluating and re-evaluating and being more creative than the competition.

To become accomplished at poker you have to be committed to study to then choose the right moments to attack. This is similar for the roles that we play within our marketplaces where we can now take complete control of spaces that we own and have the ability to create and share. This provides the opportunity to dominate the competition and take a larger share of the pot. It’s time to become an influential player that provides value and meaning to your audience.

Image at the top of the article courtesy of Pheezy

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Lets stop regurgitating buzzwords like we’re the new kid in school trying to impress a class full of strangers.

The buzzword I’m going to pick on, but not bully, is ‘storytelling.’

Lets Cut To The Chase

The last thing I want to come across as is someone having a rant. I believe that to tell everyone else to adopt a storytelling mindset (or any other mindset for that matter) is when you understand and adopt this within your own approach.

Seeing the word ‘storytelling’ at the moment feels like the interviews that I used to have when I was in my 20s and living in London. Trust me they were abysmal, truly awful experiences, not just for me but the companies participating in my company. For the majority of interviews I was part of, all I did was say to the person (or group of people) in front of me exactly what I thought they wanted to hear, in order to please them. I didn’t really understand it, or practice it, or experience a point of view, I just knew that my answers had to be what people were looking for and to repeat it with a warm nod of the head or saying ‘exactly, I know’ as an acknowledgement.

This is where we are today and the channels we indulge in and to tell others what they are supposed to do. Just because we share a tweet or cut and paste a point of view, does not demonstrate the knowledge we have accumulated. However, we are all guilty of jumping onto a practice as though it’s a discipline that started last week.

This Is Where The Answer Lies

It’s not in what you say; it’s the experience you gain. Rather than jump in feet first with everyone else and shout from the rooftops that storytelling is what we all need to do, lets put the brakes on slightly. Before we say ‘wow…you’ve got to do it or you’ll be out of business next Thursday’ we need to show that we have a deeper understanding rather than a superficial dabble.

Here’s an example of a local business that applies a storytelling mindset that is now becoming a route for differential advantage, whilst the industry still adopts a product/service based attitude.

Others Experiencing It

michael_grubb_studioMichael Grubb Studio are a lighting design consultancy based here in Dorset and their approach to lighting within public spaces is to make a connection with the people and the places they are part of. In turn, ownership feels part of the wider community, so if things start to become unloved and left, then it is the community who have a voice, not a company who dip in and out of a project.

For Michael Grubb Studio, storytelling enables a way to engage, think and make a message more poignant. The recent Westminster Bridge Road project (in London), gave a purpose for a locality rather than pulling out the box a ready-made lighting solution. Each of the four tunnels under Waterloo represents a story that creates a unified narrative for each bridge. This is from a digital/immersive world to the connection to the wilderness of Lambeth Marshes. All concepts are drawn from a story that is relevant and will remain relevant to the environment that they are part of.

The Deeper Understanding

This is what I mean by having a deeper understanding of the subject matter any business is prophesising. It is not just a case of telling people to consider and eventually adopt, but it becomes part of the overall business strategy, or the heartbeat of what a business believes in and stands beside. It becomes an approach that is adopted and practiced, not taken and then thrown all over LinkedIn like a box of confetti.

I truly believe that a storytelling approach creates value purely because it helps us make a connection with others and in turn build relationships. However will people still be shouting loudly that we should all be ‘doing storytelling’ in ten years time? It’s a bit like jumping in a time machine and seeing first hand that back in 2000 everyone’s new favourite band was Coldplay. Fast-forward to today, it’s not really a band that people want to shout about. Lets just keep last years Ghost Stories album on the Spotify backburner.

Explaining It

A story helps put us in the picture and strike a chord in a way that we can interpret, understand and remains relevant. When the iPod was launched in 2001, it was not about the 5Gb music storage capacity that looked like a pack of playing cards that stuck a chord. The feature that connected people was ‘1000 songs in your pocket.’

Have a look at the ad from 2001. This was the thing that everyone bought into. The buyer was now well and truly in control.

If businesses can demonstrate evidence for how a story telling approach works, then they have every right to showcase. Just telling people that they should be doing it, without a deeper awareness, just feels false.

Lets Bring Back In Another Analogy

A good way to sum the world up today and the persistence with the word ‘storytelling’ is to get back in the time machine and go back even further (perhaps) to the days when you were at college or sixth form.

I remember when friends were telling everyone else at college what sex was like. The step-by-step approach for what you had to do, every minute detail was told from someone else who had made that step into a more revered space ie. from virgin to full blown testosterone filled men. However, those people who were recalling what had happened, hadn’t actually ‘done it.’ I can count at least four friends who gained bragging rights, only to be cut down in their prime.

Coming To A Close

This is what is happening today where people are telling others to adopt an approach and to layout the steps when they haven’t really dedicated time and effort in understanding how it all works. My answer to everything here is simply to do it before you talk about it.

The only way to transform from a buzzword to a legitimate practice is to understand and immerse yourself within a discipline. When you can offer experience hand-in-hand with the theory (and remembering experience holds more weight) then the door is open to proclaim your space.

Image at the top of the article courtesy of Pascal

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Whilst the Talking Content Marketing travels have taken us overseas, it is good to come back to home soil back in the UK and welcome Ian Brodie.

Ian is a consultant and author of Email Persuasion and helps businesses gain more customers, particularly using online marketing strategies.

Ian helps independent business to champion against the big competitors and works for others to deliver real value to their clients rather than flashy “get rich quick” merchants.

The focus for our chat is using email as a valuable owned media tool for your content armoury.


Where do companies go wrong when using email as a channel to build an audience?

Ah… so many problems it’s difficult to know where to start!

The first problem is not being willing to invest over the long term. So they buy a (bad) email list and blast out promotions to it rather than building their own subscriber base and nurturing relationships with those subscibers.

Or they get tied up in the technology rather than focusing on the business value they’re going to get and how to maximise that

Or they just don’t prioritse email marketing and so their sign up forms are buried at the bottom of big long pages and never see the light of day.

Or they don’t put enough focus and thought into really understanding their ideal clients, what they care about, what their big goals problems, challenges and aspirations are, and what they would need to know and feel to be ready to hire the company. Without knowing those factors it’s really difficult to send emails that engage your audience and get them to take action.


Should we treat email as more of a conversation and not just ‘read me and now buy from me’?

You’ve hit the nail on the head really. The emails that people get that they pay attention to and take action on are almost always conversations. Emails from our husband or wife, our friends and our colleagues are all about interaction and conversation. And they’re the ones we look forward to and take action on. Our brains are pretty well trained these days to ignore obvsious adverts and sales pitches.


Is becoming better at using email (to eventually persuade) when we start to use our personalities more and not get bogged down in trying to sound important and use corporate speak?

For us small businesses and solo practitioners, absolutely yes. Our big advantage, perhaps our only advantage against huge corporate competitors is our own unique personality and experience.

The emails I’ve sent that have generated the very best response both in terms of people replying to me and in terms of people buying from me have been when I’ve been brave enough to open up and just be me in the emails. When I’ve admitted my weaknesses and failings (and what I learnt from them). From when I’ve shared what I care about, or just personal stories with a little embedded lesson. The day you stop saying “we” when there’s only really one of you in the business is the day you grow up and start connecting with your potential clients honestly. And they’ll love you for it.


Should we become more focused on being more meaningful to those people who matter? 

One of the most common concerns I hear from people doing email marketing is when they begin to get people unsubscribing from their emails. But the truth is that it’s much better to be loved by a few people (and perhaps even hated by others) than it is to be just mildly liked by everyone.

If people love you, they’ll spend money with you. Just liking you a bit isn’t enough. And to stir enough emotion to be loved, you also have to risk being hated. Not everyone will love what you do or what you say. You just have to ignore the people you don’t connect with and focus on being the perfect match for the people who love you.


Are companies too quick to jump into using email as a marketing tool ie. ‘lets use Mailchimp, it’s free’ without understanding why they are using it in the first place ie. inform, educate, advise, sell?

I think there’s a lot of truth in that. The particular technology you use for email marketing is much less important that how you use it. And pretty much every major tool does a decent job of basic email marketing. 

Ideally you want to figure out what you want to do with your emil marketing first, then pick the system that matches. 


Who’s email newsletter would you never press the ‘unsubscribe’ button?

For me that has to be Richard Koch. Author of the 80:20 Principle and founder of LEK Consulting. Richard writes on topics from management consulting to history to philosophy and religion. And he’s consistently thought provoking and insightful on each of those topics: a true renaissance man.

Huge thanks to Ian for his time and joining the Talking Content Marketing family.

If you would like to delve deeper into using email as a key part of your content armoury and insights from Ian on email marketing and access the free resources from his best-selling book Email Persuasion, head over to www.emailpersuasion.com

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Having a business is irrelevant if you provide no value.

We all have a goal for potential customers to see us, like what we do, connect with us and to eventually invest in us. If you cannot deliver value to someone else than you are not worthy.

Proving That Businesses Merely Promote That They Exist

Here is my roll call of examples to show you that have with a resolute ‘No Value Guarantee’ and the only goal is to sell a product. To many businesses, social media represents a place to purely promote what a company does. It serves no wider purpose.

If we didn’t have the internet the equivalent would be having a phone book repeatedly crammed through your front door.

We all see this type of post everyday on our feeds:



Any value for this audience?


Nope…can’t see why I would want to come here.


Making someone’s life easier?


So, someone has connected with you on Twitter, you now want them on Facebook


We can even do it on LinkedIn…


….and in the local press.

Each post you see above represents businesses advertising that they merely exist. Whilst businesses have responded to technology, many have not responded to the evolution of the customer and a responsibility to be more purposeful.

This is the problem we are currently facing. Businesses are opting for the quickest routes possible to shove as many messages down someone’s throat, rather than accepting that they are in this for the long term to grow a customer base. Sometimes it feels like businesses have one week left on all social media channels before it’s taken away, so best run as fast as you can and tell everyone you come in contact with.

Social Is Only To Distribute

All that social media represents is a distribution channel, so lets become better at using it in a way to disburse a viewpoint and encourage others to discover more ie. click a link back to your space. Social media is not the stick of dynamite that is going to explode where others are going to come flooding to you, all it represents is the fuse and the examples seen above are just a wet match trying to ignite.

The dynamite lies in your source (the source I refer to is the space that you can create, curate and is yours) and when it’s accepted can potentially make an almighty explosion.



Creating value equates to an audience who are responsive and grateful for what you deliver. However, it’s not getting easier in the quest to grow an audience.

Where Are We Today?

It’s time to realise that you need your audience more than they need you. Here is a snapshot for how the world looks today:

683 million tweets per day

3.6 billion searches on Google per day

3.4 million blog articles posted per day

922 million active websites

57 million internet users in the UK (population 63.5 million)

See what I mean, let me say it again, the fact that you have a business (and a social media presence) is irrelevant. All you are is a tiny noise that is rarely heard at the bottom of the world’s deepest well.

However, there is hope and rather than this being an article that points at others (well, I guess it is, but that’s to demonstrate), it is here to highlight three things:

  1.      become more relevant to an audience
  2.      relevance equates to association
  3.      association means exchange of value

Become The Driver For Value

You now have a better opportunity than ever before to create value that converts into customers. Imagine a street full of terraced houses and on the end of the street is a police station. One represents a community that has a purpose to serve people, the others are just there.

Here are some pointers that I have applied to become more than just the same looking house.

1)   You can’t throw everything at a wall

It just doesn’t work thinking that you can mix everything up by offering competitions (trust me, people only want something for free, rather than engage with you), promoting what you do and then looking to provide value. It’s a bit like going to a barbeque and once you feel comfortable chatting to those you know and haven’t seen in a while, you’re then told to join in with a game of rounder’s and then all go inside to watch Game Of Thrones. You just can’t jump from pillar to post.

It is more important to find your voice and what you stand for first, to then how understand the role you play for others.

2)   Change a way of thinking

There were 581,000 new businesses start-ups in the UK during 2014 (according to Start-Up Britain), the majority will act and think the same. Whilst the herd mirror each other, we now have more spaces and channels than ever before to express our views, how we can make a difference and more importantly add value to others. The way we look at the world and expressing an opinion is more important than receiving an email saying that I have until the end of the week to take up a website audit review.

 3)   Content spreads because of an idea, not frequency of posting

Content that represents value and meaning for an audience is far more likely to spread, than thinking that you have to be relentlessly creating content.

People spread content they find compelling, not a rehash of someone else’s work or blatant advertising. I know the ‘quality v quantity’ mantra is regularly used, but to get to quality you have to understand the problems you can solve and the advice you can give. Quality does not mean paying for someone else to create an infographic that takes two weeks to design.

4)   Technology has made things easier, but people change too

We can’t just put messages out there and expect people to react. We have become better filters than we were 10 years ago with the information that we receive.

I can remember when I became more interactive with email since setting my @gmail account in 2004 (you can see when you set yours up by clicking on settings, Forwarding and POP/IMAP to see when you started). Every email that entered my in-box, was treated as a Royal Mail Special Delivery. The companies that had received my email address and sent me noise, were almost virtual friends and for some reason, they had found my email address and I felt special. Fast-forward to today and we all feel a lot more comfortable when clicking the ‘unsubscribe’ button.

5)   Attention has to be earnt, not bought

To have true meaning to someone else, takes time. We can’t expect that just because we have a section on our websites called ‘blog’ then we can sit back with a sense of accomplishment.

I now realise that if time is finite and we look for the quickest routes possible to earn trust, paying for Facebook ads, investing more money on an Adwords campaign, is akin to going to the end of year school ball. In the build up you have spent the money saved from the Saturday job working in the supermarket on new clothes, you’ve had the hair cut and the probability of impressing someone from the opposite sex is higher than it was. In reality all it meant was that you spent the money you had earnt to be a hit, but the next day you’re back to you. If impressing a girl was based on stuffing the sink in the school loos with toilet tissue and then letting the taps run, then it doesn’t work (trust me, I know but the school never found out it was me, so I win).

Rounding Up

Yesterday cost a lot more than today. With the ability to communicate and deliver a message, shouldn’t we now be understanding that we all evolve as people?

Whilst we now jump into different spaces to see how they work (hello Periscope), to understand our audience takes a lot more than interrupting a flow of someone’s day. If we can understand the value that we bring and appreciate that the evolution of our customers (and potential customers play) is happening at the same time, then we can start to see some clarity in the roles that we play as businesses and also individuals.

Image at the top of the article courtesy of Andrew