How B2B Companies Can Develop Content that Actually Performs
It’s a challenge that many B2B companies are confronted with – developing good, relevant content that performs. During this week’s interview, we sit down with Brad Smith (CEO, Wordable) to talk about why B2B companies need to be paying attention to the content that they’re developing, the key components of a B2B content strategy, the key challenges facing the industry, and some best practices when it comes to developing content that generates better results.
Topics discussed in this episode:
Christian Klepp, Brad Smith
Christian Klepp 00:00
Welcome to B2B Marketers on a Mission, a podcast for B2B marketers that helps you to question the conventional, think differently, disrupt your industry, and take your marketing to new heights. Each week, we talk to B2B marketing experts who share inspirational stories, discuss their thoughts and trending topics, and provide useful marketing tips and recommendations. And now, here’s your host and co-founder of EINBLICK Consulting, Christian Klepp.
Welcome everyone, to the B2B Marketers on a Mission podcast where you get your weekly dose of B2B marketing insights. This is your host, Christian Klepp. And today, I am thrilled to welcome my guests into the show who is not just a successful entrepreneur. But he also believes that companies don’t need more content. They in fact, need better content that actually performs. Well. Ain’t that the truth? Right. So coming to us from the sunny Hawaiian Islands, or at least I hope it is sunny today, Mr. Brad Smith. Aloha and welcome to the show.
Brad Smith 00:56
Thank you, Christian. It’s so nice to be here. It’s partly sunny. A little a little rain this morning. But it’ll be okay.
Christian Klepp 01:02
Little rains always good.
Brad Smith 01:04
Yeah. Yeah, at first, I was like, I don’t know. I’m gonna like the rain all the time. But it’s so hot year round, which sounds terrible to say to most people that have winters. That’s like.
Christian Klepp 01:14
You mean like us in Canada?
Brad Smith 01:16
It’s kind of nice in some days to like, be cloudy and a little cooler. You know, you’re like, Oh, I put jeans on today.
Christian Klepp 01:21
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Brad, I you know, I’m so happy to be connected with you. And I’m really looking forward to this conversation. So, you know, let’s dive in. Yeah, let’s focus on a topic. You know, you’re clearly, very passionate about and you know, you’ve built your expertise around it as well. So it’s content for B2B. Right? So talk to us about why you believe now more than ever, B2B companies need to be paying attention to the type of content that they’re putting out there.
Brad Smith 01:49
Yeah, I think there’s a host of reasons. I think that the big challenge, if we take if we really want to take a step back and actually look at like what’s happened in this space over the last decade or so, SEO has become a lot more challenging and sophisticated and difficult, content has become a lot more difficult and sophisticated. The amount of people and companies and alternatives producing content has become a lot better. So it’s not good enough anymore, unfortunately, for all of us to just do kind of like the bare minimum as it just put out a lot a bunch of average stuff. And what often happens is that when you do that, you not only not help yourself, and your don’t give yourself an actual chance for it to break through and to actually get the visibility you need and everything else. You also don’t get the soft or intangible benefits from a B2B perspective, meaning sales enablement, you don’t get that recognition from people from leads, you don’t get that trust, you don’t get that reputation, all the things that actually helps you close big complex sales over weeks and months. Generic kind of watered down content, if anything almost turns people off, because they can quickly see through it, savvy buyers, like B2B customers are, you can maybe get away with it a little more on the consumer side, but with savvy B2B buyers, especially in technical spaces, anything like that, if your content of stuff comes through as watered down generic, or even, like flat out wrong in certain areas, they’re gonna be the first ones to know and kind of turn off.
Christian Klepp 03:13
Yeah, and those are the those are really great points. And definitely in B2B, where people are always like on the lookout for companies and providers, especially those that they see, as authorities or experts in a certain area of expertise. I mean, it always helps to have content that is not just not generic, but also content that is either insightful, thought provoking, or helps put a different spin on things, right, like the people walk away from that and say, hey, that was a really good point. Like, I didn’t think about it that way before.
Brad Smith 03:49
Totally, yeah, I mean, most B2B, there’s a lot of service component in most B2B, even if we’re talking about B2B products, or software or whatever, there’s still a huge service component to most of those. And I think there’s a book called Selling the Invisible, and that’s kind of what you’re doing, you’re selling the intangible stuff. And unless you can do that, and unless you can bridge that gap, and actually, almost bring like a name and a face and a feeling and emotional feeling like B2B buyers are different, but they’re not that different meaning there still is that emotional underpinning, and people use their emotions to justify the logic. So even if even if someone’s, 5% more expensive, they’re going to they’re going to convince themselves well, these people are subject matter experts, and I like them better, therefore, that’s that extra 5% is value, you know what I mean that they’re going to turn it around in their own minds, if they trust it, and if they actually believe in it, and the way you do that is through again, content and those various touch points over days and weeks and months. Really.
Christian Klepp 04:42
Yeah, I absolutely love that you brought up that point about like the emotional aspect of it. Can we jam on that a little bit further. You see people talking about it a lot online. There’s a couple of pieces out there online articles and what have you, but like, just from your point of view, how is the emotional aspect in B2B different from B2C and like what should folks out there be mindful of?
Brad Smith 05:08
For sure, I think the biggest difference maybe when it comes to emotion in the buying process is the impulse. So you don’t see that as much maybe, and you don’t feel that as much from the B2B side where an impulse decision plays a lot less. However, we still see that often, like our best leads, for example, for our own company, often closed within 30 days. So they might have known who we are, and we might have been… they might have seen our stuff and have been following our stuff for a long time before that. However, we are selling large contracts for something that’s subjective at the end of the day: content. And, and we’re often doing that fairly quickly. And I think one of the reasons for that is because number one, we try to make the process as everyone does, in B2B, we tried to make the process easy and concrete and simple, and all that fun, fun stuff. But the other reason for that is there before they reach out, their mind has already kind of made up. And I think that’s the big, like difference. And the big thing to hit on here is that with content, and I think Google calls it the zero moment of truth, people are finding out about your company and researching your company before you ever hear from them. And so by the time these people reach out, they’re already almost pre-sold.
Christian Klepp 06:17
That’s such an important and relevant point that you that you just brought up about, like how the B2B buyers, basically. They’ve almost I would say, 60 to 70% already made up their mind, but they just need to continue doing some research to get some further validation to ensure that this is in fact, the right decision that they’re making.
Brad Smith 06:38
Definitely, yeah, it’s funny to like, during the sale during our sales process, again, just as a personal example, we always see the same questions where they’re asking us for things that are like already plans on our website. So it’s almost like they’re just trying to reassure themselves a little bit.
Christian Klepp 06:51
Brad Smith 06:51
that they’re that they’re making the right decision, and that they’re not making a bad decision, that’s often likely. Or they might be comparing you to one other alternative. So by that point, they already have like their shortlist. And so they’re just trying to verify like the last 10%. A lot of a lot of the hard work, a lot of legwork already been done.
Christian Klepp 07:08
Yeah, yeah. No, it kind of sounds to me like a little bit of an all of the above scenario. They’re trying to like, just take off all those boxes.
Brad Smith 07:15
Yep. Yeah, for sure. And yeah, and make sure like these people aren’t crazy, or these people are gonna be like, good to work with, you know what I mean, going forward?
Christian Klepp 07:22
Yes, yes. Hopefully, hopefully. Yeah. Brad, you’ve been in the space for a while. So sort of stating the obvious, you’ve probably seen it all, like, the good, the bad and the ugly. But let’s just talk to us about some of the common mistakes and misconceptions that you’ve seen out there when it comes to content for B2B. But let’s give this a more constructive spin. And rather than like just highlighting all the mistakes, let’s just talk about like, what are some of these challenges? And what can people do about it?
Brad Smith 07:52
Yeah, definitely. That’s a good question. I think one of the big ones that always jumps out to me is like “short-term-ism”. So B2B sales take a long time. But also content to perform and to drive ROI takes a long time. And part of that is because part of its down to like how it’s being promoted, which we can get into, which is kind of like a whole other topic. But the other part of that too, is if we are creating content, for instance, for like search engines, it’s gonna take a while. And so often we see on B2B sites, they do a really good job with branded traffic, meaning everything on their website talks about them. It talks about their capabilities, their services, the events they’re going to, where they’re speaking it. So everyone, if you look inside Google Analytics, and you look inside, where are people coming from? And why are they coming here. It’s always like a branded search, meaning someone’s always using their brand name plus something else, like this brand case studies, this brand product, this brand services. That’s great, because it means they’ve done a great job developing that brand awareness over the long term. The bad news is you’re not bringing in anyone cold. And that’s a much bigger slice of the pie than the people who do know you. And so to do that effectively, it takes a long time, you don’t I mean, there’s no shortcuts, unfortunately. And to be able to rank well, and to be able to compete again against like savvy competitors now. All that stuff takes a long time. And so if you’re making, if you’re changing your mind, when it comes to content or content campaigns on like, a weekly basis, you’re probably going to go down a slippery slope, what I mean? It’s something you got to kind of commit to over six months, 12 months, because that’s really where you’re gonna start to see the actual results rolling.
Christian Klepp 09:28
Yeah, no, that’s absolutely right. And I’m glad you brought that up, because it was something that another guest spoke about in a previous interview a couple of months ago. And her point, which is very much correlated to what you just said, in the past couple of minutes is, it’s great if you’re doing stuff that gets that gets that visibility if you’re doing a branded search, but what about all that non branded stuff? Right?
Brad Smith 09:51
Christian Klepp 09:51
Like for instance. I mean, then I believe this was to your point. What if, what if people are using these industry specific keywords. So just leave the brand name out of it for a second, right. But like, let’s talk about like, Okay, what is somebody looking for semiconductors? What if somebody is looking for a specific type of software that is, that is relevant to a particular application? Will your company appear in the feed? Right? So, it’s a it’s a question also of doing that, what I believe she called the “outside in” approach. Right?
Brad Smith 10:27
Yeah, definitely. Yeah, in the content space, too, we talk a lot about like stages of the funnel. So in other words, a lot of the branded stuff tends to be very bottom of the funnel, meaning these, these are people who are already searching, or already have made up their mind, in the in the decision making process where a lot of B2B companies need to focus is that middle and top of the funnel, so top of the funnel, if we go all the way to the beginning, it would look like things that are like education and information based or problem based. So like, if someone’s searching for CRM software, nobody needs a CRM software, instantly, they develop this problem or need, because “I have too many spreadsheets, and it’s too much of a hassle to share that information with my team”, or “I can’t see contact record history or whatever, when I email prospects. And I need to be able to hand that off to my whatever assistant or our coordinator, our SDR team”, like there’s some other problem or issue that pops up first. And so how do we talk to those problems and issues and be… because we want to get in at the very beginning of this person’s decision making process, we don’t want to try to swoop in at the end, after they’ve already planned everything out, looked at vendors, looked at comparisons, and done all that, again, that kind of almost like mental legwork, we want to position ourselves very beginning to kind of like almost help walk them through. Again, the good news, it sounds like a lot of work. But the great news about it is you don’t need salespeople to do it. You just need salespeople to do a lot of the prospecting closing at the very end. You don’t need them to like develop accounts 12 months ahead of time, because that’s what contents doing for you at scale, or at least it should be.
Christian Klepp 12:03
No, that’s absolutely right. And I think you laid that out so beautifully. is one of the questions I was gonna pop in there was yah Brad, that’s gonna take such a long time when we want to see some immediate ROI, right? I mean, like, that’s probably… these are probably conversations that you had with people in the past, or continue to have.
Brad Smith 12:20
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And we’re pretty upfront about it. And that like the payback, again, the payback period for content, the good news is content and investment. You look at ads and especially auction based ads, like everything aligned like Google like, whatever, it’s only gonna get more expensive. So you might be able to arbitrage it, you might be able to hire like a really savvy, PPC buyer, and arbitrage it and bring your cost down 5%. But that cost savings only going to last for about six months, 12 months. And then five years from now, it’s only going to be more expensive, because only more dollars are going to come in here because people are realizing, billboards help for one thing, but they don’t really help. We like we need to like put our money where it actually buyers come from. The good news is that there is a payback period for content. So if you look at it like an investment, like I’m going to sink in this capital expenditure, and I’m going to put in this amount of content very beginning and then my payback period of 6, 12, 18 months, and maybe hopefully shifts the mindset because, again, B2B buying cycles are very long in and of itself. And all that work is going to be a lagging indicator, meaning the new leads you see from a contact campaign, it’s going to be from actually the work you did 6 months ago, 12 months ago, it’s not going to be from the campaign you put up yesterday.
Christian Klepp 13:30
Yeah, no absolutely. And, I love that you brought up that, that topic with regards to arbitrage. And that’s definitely something we’re gonna, we’re gonna come back to in a couple of minutes. I think you’re gonna have a field day with this one. Talk about the biggest problem that you believe you and your team have been able to solve in the past year?
Brad Smith 13:50
Yeah, that’s a good question. I think, what’s really, we’re in this very hard space, like I said, where a lot of changes are happening. The other change that’s happening too is that places like Google, like Facebook, you think like, where do you get traffic online? It comes from just a few sources, if you really break it down, it comes from Google, largely in the search engine category comes from largely Facebook or Instagram in the and that holds true. By the way, like LinkedIn is still a big driver of referral traffic, but it can’t really touch Facebook, or Instagram from like a global audience perspective. And then you have a… so the problem is, a lot of these platforms are very slowly but very quickly, taking away your opportunities to actually perform and to get traffic from their site. For instance, Google is showing, like if you search for a recipe, for instance, Google’s showing that recipe on their search engine result page without someone needing to click in to find that stuff. So one could argue that that’s probably I don’t know, a copyright infringement or something of some sort. But the fact of that matter is like, I’m in no position to say anything to Google and most companies aren’t. So therefore, they’re going to kind of like scrape your content and show it to people and people can find answer and not even click on your, your site and they’re still gonna bounce away. Like this is a big problem because it’s also not just the competitors you’re after, you’re also competing now against Google themselves, you’re competing against Facebook themselves. So you have all these problems like, like people encroaching on your space almost. And that’s why one of the things that we talked about is like, yes, you should value quality over quantity. But you also kind of need both. And that’s really difficult to do at scale. So doing like, our agency, for example, code list does like three four hundred articles a month for a bunch of different clients. That’s a lot of work. And it takes a lot of people. And there’s a lot of writers and everything else we manage. It’s very very difficult to do that much content in that much scale, but still keep the quality bar really, really high. And so that’s one of the things I think we do well, for a number of reasons. But I think that is one of the challenges facing people. It’s like, we started this conversation by saying, well, don’t do average stuff. But then now we’re also saying, well, you can’t just do like one pretty good thing or awesome thing a month you like, it’s got to be kind of middle ground of trying to figure out a way to do both.
Christian Klepp 16:03
Absolutely, absolutely. Man, that really sounds like a tricky piece of work.
Brad Smith 16:07
Yeah, it is. It is it takes a lot of people. Like I said, we probably have, I don’t know, five, six people on one account at like day one. And that doesn’t even include we use a lot of writers. Because there’s just so much involved. There’s subject matter experts and editors and designers, like there’s so much that goes into this now, to keep that quality bar high.
Christian Klepp 16:28
Well, absolutely. Because I’m sure everybody knows this. But when you’re talking about content, we’re not just referring to the written word. I mean you’ve got the visual aspect of that as well, right? Because that counts as content too, right?
Brad Smith 16:40
Yeah, exactly. Yeah, we’re doing video now. Like, I think content, like written content is still often like the basis for a lot of these things. So we still have to write like a script, for instance, before we do a video. I also think that the amount of really long detailed content how it performs currently in search will probably only get worse over time, cuz I don’t think real people, mortals, really want to read 10,000 word guides you know what I mean, like, that’s a lot. Yeah, like most people are really busy. And they don’t want to read, but it works. And it works well from search. And for a number of reasons. However, I think it’s only a matter of time again, before everyone’s eyeballs are going to video. And so how do we how do we still communicate and get across all that information? And that depth of information? How do we get that across in succinct videos or clever illustrations to like, kind of show people and not just force them to, you know, sit down and waste half a day reading our blog post?
Christian Klepp 17:40
Hey, it’s Christian Klepp here. We’ll get back to the episode in a second. But first, is your brand struggling to cut through the noise? Are you trying to find more effective ways to reach your target audience and boost sales? Are you trying to pivot your business? If so, book a call with EINBLICK Consulting, our experienced consultants will work with you to help your B2B business to succeed and scale. Go to www.einblick.co for more information.
You talked about some of these things already. But like, tell us about what you believe a solid B2B content strategy and approach needs to have. And please provide some examples where relevant.
Brad Smith 18:22
Yeah, for sure. So that sounds trite and obvious. But it definitely needs to be some something related to business objectives. So you’ll be surprised again, at how often people unfortunately separate out new things like new technologies and new platforms and channels, they separate that from like, the old school classic stuff. And so again, if we think back to marketing from like, how it was defined in the 60s. It was like product placement, like the four P’s… all distribution, same thing online, we think of distribution is like distribution channels placement, like how and where you’re going to put things. It’s actually not that different. So you still apply a lot of the same classic principles. So like revenue generate activities, business objectives, those are still the fundamentals. However, to our discussion earlier, there is this bottom of the funnel, middle of the funnel, top of the funnel progression that we need. So you got to kind of work backwards, maybe that’s the inside out that you were talking about earlier, where it’s like, it might start with the product or service, or the idea that we’re trying to generate ideas and eyeballs or to get eyeballs and traffic to, but then we got to go backwards and say okay, well, what’s gonna lead people to want to find out more information about this? And then what’s going to… so it’s almost like the 5 why’s working backwards. So why why do people care about this? Why do people care about what our product does? Well, it helps them in these five ways. Okay, why should they care? How are those five things different from competitors, XYZ? And then for those two things that are actually different, not the other three things that are all commoditized in your space… How can we make a bigger deal about those two things and still connected to these original problems and pain points, that people are having and start to like really work backwards and figure out how do we like draw this huge map because we often find too, stuff at the very beginning or top of the funnel that you thought didn’t make sense to do any content around, now does all of a sudden. So you’re able to kind of like open up and expand your horizons a little bit and get better… draw better like connections mentally between okay, now I can see how finding out about these original problems are going to naturally lead people into the discussion or at least position our brand and product and service as the solution to these problems these persons facing.
Christian Klepp 20:35
Yeah, that last bit was so spot on, because I was having this conversation with another gentleman the other day. And it all boils down to like, also when you’re coming up with this type of content you’re thinking about, okay, and this is almost like, content 101, but like, who are those… Who’s that target audience? Right, who is who are those personas that we are trying to reach out to and, and tap into and what problems are they facing? And it’s almost a question like categorizing, and to a certain extent also prioritizing those problems, because they’re not all urgent, right? So, and then coming up with coming up with content that’s basically designed to help address these pain points and challenges that that person is facing. And how said brand or set company is equipped to help them.
Brad Smith 21:27
Right. Yep. Yeah, I think a lot of these things sound basic on the surface, because most, most smart people are doing them. The problem often is they’re not doing them well enough or deep enough. So in other words, they have a persona. But it’s like the personas’ geographic location and income level… isn’t the reason why they buy from me. So why do they actually buy for me, like, really dig in and understand what are the key events? What are the challenges? Like what, what is the driving impulse? And the thing that makes them like, wake up at 2am? And jot something down on their phone? Because it’s like, they can’t get out of their head? Like, what are those reasons that make them buy from you? Don’t just give me a like one dimensional persona that tells me like, they’re married with three kids, you know what I mean, like, that doesn’t… it matters. It matters when it comes to the sale, and I need to talk to them and build rapport. But it doesn’t matter from a content perspective, because it doesn’t help me figure out oh, why I should write my stuff out this way, not this way. Like their familial status doesn’t impact like a headline, or a hook or anything like that. That’s the challenge. I think.
Christian Klepp 22:28
Exactly. You forgot to mention plays baseball on the weekends. (laugh)
Brad Smith 22:32
Exactly. Exactly. Yeah. And so it leads to like, semi-uncomfortable conversations a lot of times with companies because it’s like, because they’re like, no, no, we have that stuff. And then you go through it. And you’re like, yeah, well, it’s not great. Like it can be better. And so yes, you got to kind of like almost use the be like Socrates, you got to like, pull it out of them. You know what I mean? And once, once people really like, take a step back and consider it from that other perspective. it dawns on them, and it helps illuminate. Oh, actually, we do have some gaps here that we need to fill before we have the discussion of like, keywords.
Christian Klepp 23:04
Exactly. I’ll tie in. Right. Yeah. Yeah, no, no, that was awesome. I’d like to get your thoughts on this. So Content Marketing Institute, I think a lot of people in the space know them, they conduct this research, pretty much on an annual basis. So there’s this one particular article, where they highlighted like some key differentiators or they identified them in terms of like, what successful B2B content marketers do versus the rest, right? So, bottom line is that they found out through this research that top performers were more likely to use content marketing for goals beyond brand awareness and early stages of a sales funnel. It almost sounds pedestrian, but like to your point, it’s, it’s interesting to see how many people actually don’t that right? The article or the research rather, highlight a lot of points by just pulled out three of them, which I thought were really interesting.
Christian Klepp 24:00
So point #1, 73% of these top performers, nurture subscribers, audiences or leads.
Point #2, 64% generate sales and revenue, which is, which is nice.
And point# 3, 60% billed a subscribed audience, your thoughts on these? And what do you believe… Or how do you believe this landscape has changed due to the pandemic?
Brad Smith 24:27
Yeah, those are both good questions. That’s the first one, first, I think I would wholeheartedly agree with all those things. I think the challenges again, especially the larger the organization, the more siloed they end up getting. And then that what that means is that the, the Facebook team doesn’t talk to the content team, which actually the content team only does top of the funnel content, and they don’t talk to the salespeople who are doing the bottom of the funnel content or whatever. Like you have all these silos and I think what we need to think about from a conversion standpoint is a conversion means someone signing on the dotted line. But there’s probably like 15 micro conversions that are going to happen before that step. So in other words, just getting someone to from Google into a blog post, that’s like one micro conversion, another micro conversion might be, let’s get these people to stay on this page longer than 30 seconds. Another one might… and not exit. Like if the exit rate’s over 90%. That’s not good. You’re bringing a lot of traffic, but they’re all leaving, that’s not good. So how do we get them to like, read another blog post, so I just want them to read two blog posts now. And then I just want them to check out a… like a guide, something detailed, right? Because we want to like, we want to start infecting their thinking in a good way, and brainwashing them in a good way, that that we’re the experts here and that we’re… so it’s all these little like gates, or like checkpoints that you need to hit that are very small and tedious. And they need to somehow be cohesive though. It doesn’t always happen like that, where people are, obviously, of course, going to jump around where they might read three things and then convert, a week later that that happens too. It’s not always perfect, but you at least need to have that same things. Again, if you think about advertising 60 years ago, however long ago, the old stats of like someone needs to hear your brand message 10 times before they even like remember who you are. Same thing in the content space, like people need to hear about your brand, see your brand, see you somewhere 10, 15 times on LinkedIn, on an article they read on a big media site, on your own sites. They need to see you multiple places, multiple times, they even like kind of permeate their conscious. So I think I think that’s a big challenge, too. That speaks to what the Content Marketing Institute stuff and study says. And again, that takes time. But the good news, bad news, it works at scale like salespeople don’t. So and then like sales reps can’t, you know what I mean? So if SDRs are failing at cold email, because again, it’s only a matter of time before that kind of stuff just gets worse and worse and worse, cold email, open rates, and click rates aren’t getting any better anytime soon. Sorry, drop that bombshell on people. But if we’re doing if we’re doing things, if we’re like inverting the funnel a little bit and doing things in a clever way and bringing people in, at scale, I think that’s a better long term approach. The pandemic has sped everything up. So the pandemic took, I think the most profound thing is that the pandemic took internet adoption, forward, like 10 years, 5, 10 years. And again, much smarter people than me have said all this stuff. So I’m not claiming I’m saying anything new. But I think the important way to think about that is like things like zoom call is part of everyone’s day now… where it wasn’t before, you’ll still have a lot of physical meetings, a lot of in person meetings, we still will, I don’t think any of that that’s going away, I think what will happen is, again, scale. So it’s much easier for me, if I’m a sales rep to sit here and to do 10 back to back zoom calls, than it is for me and develop rapport like face to face. And that’s going to be better than like sitting on the phone, or trying to go nail down like two meetings in a day, I can… over the course of a month, my output is, you know, night and day. So I think those things are really important and that people’s… people are becoming a lot more comfortable making key decisions online and in this kind of remote asynchronous world. So you guys might be out of the office and sleeping, but someone on the other side of the world is reading your blog articles. And they’re gonna make that decision again, without even talking to you guys or calling in. So I think I think those are the important shifts where this new reality, something that was probably gonna take another 5 or 10 years for like, older people or the rest… we’re just generalizing older people, older generations, or the rest of the world, or C, even C suite people, like they’re all kind of forced into this new digital-first reality now.
Christian Klepp 28:46
Yeah, no, absolutely. I mean, that was such a great answer. And there was something that you said, in the past couple of minutes that just, that just made me think about something else. And I know that… I’ve read a couple of things about it, you’ve probably read it all over the place as well. So I’m just gonna throw it at you. How many touch points or how many pieces of content do you think, generally, that potential buyer looks at before they make a decision to go with a specific company or service provider?
Brad Smith 29:17
I think it’s a good question. I think it’s important to that we talked about like, well, what is content? Because again, a lot of times we talk about content, they may not say… I think it’s a lot. So I think it’s probably like a dozen, at least. That being said, it’s not like they’re sitting down reading a dozen 2000 word articles. Yeah, I mean, that’s, they might read like three, or they might read like one, they might read one. And it’s exactly what they’re thinking or exactly in line with what they’re looking for. But they probably had other things in front of them. So that might be a podcast episode. It might be an offline speech, too. I’m not I’m not disregarding any of that stuff. You can and should repurpose a webinar with offline speeches and vice versa, like all these things should be related. So it could have been, they saw you at a conference last year, and then they are in a group on Facebook or LinkedIn… there’s no group anymore. Facebook group though, like we’ve seen a lot of B2B buyers in Facebook groups, because that’s like one of the few places where you can actually get, you can actually still get a lot of a lot of visibility. Whereas on a Facebook page, you can’t anymore, it’s… without paying. It’s impossible, but then you can still use retargeting ads. And so that’s going to be a piece of content. A retargeting ad, get to get them back to your website, when they checked out… what they saw you speak, they heard… they went there looking for vendors six months later, and they saw you in a Facebook group. And then they come check out your site, and then they leave. And then a week later a retargeting ad hits them and brings them back to a webinar you’re running. Like all these things can and should be related. And I think that’s types and styles of content that people are saying, and that’s when I say probably like a dozen at least, I don’t think that’s crazy, we’re out of out of this world.
Christian Klepp 30:56
No, no, no, not at all. I I think a lot would have probably already been a satisfactory answer. Because, like you said, they’ll probably like… if they download or if they looked at a blog article, they probably read a couple of like, maybe the first paragraph or so… if they don’t little white paper, maybe they looked at the first two pages. So and it’s just to get a feel and get that information like those those answers to those questions that they have that they’re looking for. Right?
Brad Smith 31:25
Yeah. So a lot of times too, it’s not even like the first degree content. So it’s not like not just putting out content, it’s other people then talking about that. So they I can’t tell you the amount of conversations I have both for our software product, and also on the client side where I talked to someone and they found out about us, because they were in one of these groups, a Slack Group, a Facebook group something, and there was like 10 other people already having a conversation about vendors in the space. And three of them were talking about it and then recommended it or recommended them to us. And it was like, I’d never talked to this person. They didn’t even read any of my blog posts. But it was that network effect of like being in the right communities and having and making sure that we are still answering and this goes back to the non-branded traffic idea of we’re still in the conversation in these spaces. Well before someone knows who we are necessarily.
Christian Klepp 32:18
That’s right. No, like, so word of mouth really. Right.
Brad Smith 32:23
Yeah, same again, same old, same old stuff. Just new mediums.
Christian Klepp 32:26
Exactly. Exactly. All right. Brad, I’m gonna ask you to like get up on your soapbox for these next two questions. (laugh)
Brad Smith 32:35
Christian Klepp 32:35
Yeah, probably not. What is a commonly held belief or a status quo in your area of expertise that you passionately disagree with and why?
Brad Smith 32:47
It’s so hard to say… it’s so hard to just think of one.
Christian Klepp 32:50
Just zero in on the one that really like irks to you.
Brad Smith 32:54
There’s, there’s a few. There’s two big there’s two big ones on top my head. One is this idea of arbitrage. And the other one before I forget it, is this idea of creativity. And so I’ll try to touch on both. So feel free to remind me if I forget one of them. But the arbitrage idea – Exactly we talked about with paid ads a little while ago, you can bring down just by doing like the best practices, you can often bring down and get better results on a very small scale. So you might be able to make like a 1% improvement, or a 2% improvement. Another perfect example of that might be… if you think of like the opt in rates for webinars. I’ve been doing webinars for like, I don’t know, almost a decade, probably a decade. And the opt in rates haven’t really changed that much. There are around 30%, or excuse me that I should rephrase that the attendee rate from opt ins. So the people that all sign up to attend to the people that actually attend the webinar, we can run ads to those people, we can send them reminders, we can text them, it doesn’t matter. It’s always fluctuating when we look at like on average across everything over the course of a year. It’s always around 30%, give or take. So it’s just one of those things where it’s like, people, especially in the B2B space, they do this on LinkedIn, and it drives me bonkers. They’re like quasi motivational, like trite message, and then like, it’s there. It’s so blatantly like their colleagues. So they’re just bugging them internally on Slack. Like, Hey, now can you guys can comment on my posts, and then that little artificial bump, like helps to increase their visibility by 1%? Or 10%? Like, do you really think that’s gonna last 10 years from now? Do you really… and you know what, Jeff Bezos said something and like as Amazon one of his like old, his old sayings is, they’re in the business of what’s not going to change. So what’s not going to change 10 years from now, and that’s what they tend to focus on. And I think it’s so short sighted to spend our mental energy and money and time to search out and seek out these little 1% optimizations when over the long term we could be shooting for like a couple 100% optimizations? I think it’s almost like shiny tactic syndrome, where it’s something new, something different, something that someone’s telling them. And it’s like FOMO. Woah if they’re doing it, we should be doing it. And it’s kind of like that echo chamber on LinkedIn too. It’s where everyone just kind of copy each other. So that’s one soapbox.
Brad Smith 35:18
The other one around creativity, especially in the marketing space, is that good marketing doesn’t necessarily mean more creative marketing. And the missing ingredient in most marketing teams isn’t creativity. Like they usually have that. It’s processes and it’s operations, and it’s productivity and output. And so I think that’s a big missing thing that people, especially online, because again, I think people, when they think of online stuff, or digital stuff, they tend to get too into like the mysticism of it. They tend to get too into like the oh, well, it’s new, and it’s different. It’s, it’s people react differently today. And it’s like, Yeah, that’s true. But they were, people were, mad at you before social media, they just were talking to their friends, they weren’t using a social platform to do it, they’re still they still hated your cell phone contract. And you’re like draconian policies, they still hated you. They just like complained to their family. So none of that stuff’s really changed. And so what I think often holds people back. And again, you see this with bad marketing content, where they say, 101 ways to do XYZ. And it’s like, you don’t need 101, you need two or three. And you need to do them really, really, really, really well. And much better than everyone else. And if you do that, you’ll win over the long term, again, over what doesn’t change, if you do those in the right things and apply that work, to the stuff that isn’t just searching out these tiny little arbitrage opportunities. I think that’s what works over 5, 10 years, maybe not next week. But again, if we’re in this for the long term, if we’re in this for like, 8 figure, 10 figure, a lot of a lot of growth, that I think that that’s where you’re going to get better results in the long term.
Christian Klepp 36:54
No, absolutely. Absolutely. And I think you really hit the nail on the head there. I mean, like, this is a long game, right? I mean, it’s not always like, or, in fact, it shouldn’t be about just short term wins or short term games, you got to think about the big picture, too, right?
Brad Smith 37:09
Yeah, I mean, short term stuffs great, it’s important, but to me, it’s like the cherry on the cake. So I’m optimizing our stuff for the long term. And if we get short term bumps, and they do come, amazing, I’m not gonna like say no to it. I’m not going to not try to go get them. But I’m also not going to like that’s also not my promotion strategy, is to get my colleagues to form a LinkedIn mafia posse and comment on everyone’s… like, if that’s my long term promotion strategy, I’m in trouble. Like that is.
Christian Klepp 37:45
I think they’re calling that pods these days, aren’t they?
Brad Smith 37:47
I don’t know. Yeah. I get it. It works. But again, for how long? Like, if I know, if I… look back at AOL, like this all happened back….
Christian Klepp 37:58
Oh, gosh, everyone’s like ancient history here.
Brad Smith 38:01
Yeah, exactly. Everyone built company pages, or company profiles, or whatever they were called back then it. And then AOL, it became this closed little garden, then they started slowly taking away your ability to reach these people. And then where’s AOL now? I don’t know, like, good question. Look at Facebook. Yeah, we used to do like, like, back in the early days of social media, we used to do, like gating. So you had to we put up a coupon or put up an offer or campaign, people had to like our page to actually see it and to get it. And so we can build the bar our likes on our page to give us like opting in to get access to them. So we can eventually spam the hell out of them. But guess what, like that organic reach now is zero. And we use paid ads. And same thing happens on Instagram, like it, none of this isn’t new. And same things happening on Google. Like I said, they’re removing the ability, your competitors are better, but also they’re removing what they’re showing. And they’re trying to promote, paid offerings more, because guess what, they make a lot more money on paid offerings than they do on free things. So none of this stuff is like new. It’s just it’s history repeating itself. And you got…. and technology, you got all these very small micro cycles were just happened so much faster. So that the life cycle, the life cycle of AOL, back in the old days, might have taken 100 years to play out. But now it’s a 20. And it’s… I’m not saying Facebook’s going away, these companies are too big. And they frankly are all monopolies now. So I’m not saying any of them going away anytime soon. But your ability to exploit arbitrages on their platform will go away in the short term. That’s the problem.
Christian Klepp 39:31
Right. No, exactly. Exactly. Now, Brad, this has been absolutely amazing. Can you do us the honor of just telling us a little bit about yourself, and there is a big hint in your LinkedIn profile, and I love it. Slaying awful content, one blog at a time.
Brad Smith 39:47
Yes, yes. Very, very slowly, painstakingly. Yeah. So I, one of the owners and CEO of a software product called Wordable. It automatically exports and formats and optimizes content for publication and people’s content management systems or websites. So we have this problem. What else I do, I also own Codeless, a content production company, as I alluded to earlier, we produce like three, four hundred articles a month for a lot of big SaaS companies. And we have this problem where we’re spending all this time creating all this content, and it gets approved. And then it just sits in Google Docs, because it takes like 30 to 60 minutes per article, to manually upload format, optimize that content and publish it out on someone’s site. We see this with a lot of clients, too. We deliver like 20 articles to them. And we’re like, hey, why isn’t live yet. And they just don’t have people to go in and do all the kind of tedious, painstaking work. And so that’s what we’re Wordable does, it’s going to automate all that stuff. So that’s just workable.io. Codeless, as I mentioned, is one of the agencies and then and then uSERP is our PR and link building agency. And so it’s kind of like just different, it’s all content marketing related, but it’s kind of like different stages, or different parts of the process. In other words, so Codeless often creates the content, we use Wordable as a customer, and, and to help publish that content faster and better. And then the PR and link building unit distribution at the end of the day to get content to be seen and ranked and all that fun stuff. So yes, it’s one big kind of… one big process.
Christian Klepp 41:15
Yeah, no, no, exactly, man. Absolutely amazing. Thanks so much, again, for sharing your experience and giving us these hopefully, the listeners will get a lot of value out of like these great tips and recommendations you’ve given us. What’s the best way for people out there to get in touch with you?
Brad Smith 41:36
Probably on either going through Wordable, I’ll often be checking into people going through Wordable too, because we’re doing a lot of work there. And when we’re trying to get it, we’re trying to make it a daily habit for people and so we’re often talking direct, I’ll, I’ll probably reach out. We’re often talking directly to marketers and people on a daily basis in there. And then also on LinkedIn at “bsmarketer”. Those are my initials, but also like sometimes, marketers are full of BS, so I thought that was funny. But those are my initials as well. So it’s not just… not just me any amateur.
Christian Klepp 42:10
No, no. Absolutely. (laugh) Brad, man, this has been so much fun. Thanks again for your time, as the Hawaiians say Mahalo.
Brad Smith 42:20
Thank you. Mahalo, thank you so much.
Christian Klepp 42:23
So, sir, take care. Be safe. And go grab that surfboard and hit the waves, man.
Brad Smith 42:29
I’ll try. Yeah, I’ll try to get out there this afternoon.
Christian Klepp 42:32
Thank you so much for your time. Talk to you soon.
Thank you for joining us on this episode of the B2B Marketers on a Mission podcast. To learn more about what we do here at EINBLICK, please visit our website at www.einblick.co and be sure to subscribe to the show on iTunes or your favorite podcast player.
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