Ep. 138 – How to Create Truly Differentiated B2B Content w/ Joe Sweeney

How to Create Truly Differentiated B2B Content

There is so much pressure for B2B marketers to produce content consistently that much of it ends up being uninteresting, generic, and not very helpful. A lot of content also immediately starts with SEO and this leads to marketers drowning in a “sea of sameness.” How can marketers break out of this mold to produce content that provides a unique perspective?

That’s why we’re talking to copywriter and content marketing expert Joe Sweeney (Content Marketing StrategistThe Content Marketing Commute) about how B2B marketers can develop truly differentiated content. During our conversation, Joe highlighted the pitfalls to avoid and why boring B2B content is a thing of the past. Joe also discussed the importance of conducting research and why B2B marketers should build relationships with subject matter experts (SMEs).

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Topics discussed in episode

  • Why so much B2B content is not differentiated [2:47]
  • How to navigate internal politics as a content marketer [6:51]
  • How to avoid the common pitfalls when developing content that provides a differentiated perspective [8:50]
    • Write a good brief
    • Extract the insights from the subject matter experts (SMEs)
    • Integrate those insights into the content
  • Joe explains how AI makes a content marketers’ job easier [11:23]
  • Joe shares how he conducts research: [14:59]
    • Use your proprietary data to build content strategy
    • Focus on the Voice of the Customer (VOC)
    • Leverage the knowledge of subject matter experts (SMEs)
  • How to convince SMEs to share their experience and expertise [20:03]
  • Joe shares an example of how he helped his client to come up with more creative content [28:03]
  • Actionable tips: [31:24]
    • Conduct a competitor audit
    • Identify SMEs in your company
    • Extract some specific points of views
    • Together with the personas, list out topics and create content pillars
    • Test the content out on social media

Companies and links mentioned



Joe Sweeney, Christian Klepp

Christian Klepp  00:03

Welcome to B2B Marketers on a Mission, a podcast for changemakers where we question the conventional, debunk marketing myths, provide actionable tips, think differently, disrupt the industries, and take your marketing to a new level, from improving your campaigns to making you a better marketer. These are the inspirational stories that will help us change the way we think and approach B2B marketing, one conversation at a time. This podcast is brought to you by EINBLICK Consulting, helping you to stand out in the market and drive revenue to your B2B business. And now your host, Christian Klepp.

Okay, welcome, everyone to this episode of B2B Marketers on a Mission. This is the show where we help you to question the conventional, think differently, disrupt your industry and take your marketing to new heights. This is your host Christian Klepp. And today I’m joined by someone on a mission. Hold on to your seats, folks, because this is a handful: to make B2B content helpful, educational, entertaining, interesting, valuable and insightful. I hope I captured all of that. But coming to us from Avignon France, Joe Sweeney, welcome to the show….

Joe Sweeney  01:16

Hey, Christian.

Christian Klepp  01:17

If we’re going to try it in French: Bonjour, bienvenue.

Joe Sweeney  01:20

Merci beaucoup. It’s good to meet you. Thanks, Christian.

Christian Klepp  01:24

Great to have you on the show. Joe, unfortunately, I was hoping that you would be on a bus with your microphone with your son in your lap. But you know, it is what it is right? (laugh)

Joe Sweeney  01:33

It is what it is today, I’ve managed to make my space a bit quieter. I know on our prep call, my son decided to come and be part of it. Lucky. He’s not here today. But he’s a great guy.

Christian Klepp  01:45

He’s a great guy. And I really would have wanted to hear his take on the topic we’re gonna get discussed today. But you know, let’s dive right in. Because I think that this is a very pertinent topic to anyone in B2B marketing, specifically dealing with content creation, right? So let’s say that you’ve been a professional B2B writer for a bit and you’ve been on a content marketing commute, no pun intended for several years now. Alright. But for this conversation, let’s focus on a topic that I think has become part of your professional mission. And that’s how to create great content for B2B with a unique point of view that truly differentiates you. I think that it’s worth repeating how to create great content for B2B with a unique point of view that truly differentiates you. Let’s kick off this conversation with this following question. Why is there so much B2B content out there that’s not differentiated?

Joe Sweeney  02:47

Yeah, it’s a great question. And I think a great topic, Christian. And I think the answer to your question is, you know, there’s many angles to it. But one for me is just the fact that every B2B company knows that they need to be doing content. And I think a lot of B2B companies know that but haven’t thought through the “why” behind it. So they see all their competitors doing content, writing articles, whatever it is, making videos, but it’s like, are we just doing it because everyone’s doing it? Or what, you know, what are we actually trying to drive with this content we’re creating. And another big part of that, when, you know, when I was thinking about this was that kind of sense of content marketing, a lot of times gets very linked to SEO still in B2B. So when you mentioned you’re a content marketer, a lot of people’s first thought is to talk about SEO and go down that route. And in reality, content marketing is much wider than that. But the fact that it’s linked to SEO, for me really makes the content that’s undifferentiated, because what we’re trying to do is rank for keywords that are often quite, you know, popular, and we’re all trying to rank for the same keywords, which therefore means we’re creating the same kind of content as other people, other companies, for, you know, for the same keyword. So that for me is kind of a race to the bottom, if you’re going on the super SEO-lead approach. If you don’t do it right, and you don’t add your own point of view, and you don’t try and differentiate it, it ends up that all these B2B companies are writing the same, same articles about the same stuff. And that’s kind of where we’re at today, I guess.

Christian Klepp  04:30

Absolutely. Absolutely. I had one or two follow up questions for you Joe, just based on what you’ve said in the past couple of minutes. I tend to see this a lot in bigger organizations, and I’d like to get your take on it. But do you feel also sometimes that the reason why B2B content is not differentiated is because, well, they’re using the play it safe approach A. But B, they’re also creating that content, I’m going to say, for lack of a better description for political reasons. Please everybody internally, not necessarily to high five each other internally, but to make sure that they don’t rock, rock that departments’ boat and make sure that they maintain that balance and harmony internally as such.

Joe Sweeney  05:15

Totally I absolutely agree. And, yeah, it’s a mind boggling thing to think sometimes that content and a lot of marketing actions in companies at the end of the day, it becomes not about the audience. But it becomes about internal politicking, and even things like, you know, trying to attract investors, or like trying to impress the board, or, you know, a lot of times the marketing actions we take can become kind of like divorced from the audience that we’re trying to reach. And that’s when you sit down and think about it, you’re like, that just makes zero sense. Like, really, we should be the people, especially content marketers that understand their audience better than anyone. And that, you know, that’re fully 100% focused on like, on delighting them. So, yes, I fully agree with what you’ve said, there, I think if you can be in a company where you’re trusted to do your job to take the time to understand your audience, and just consistently delight them. That’s the kind of place you want to be as a content marketer. Yeah.

Christian Klepp  06:24

Absolutely, absolutely. So here comes the follow up question, Joe. So based on that unfortunate reality that sometimes these content marketers have to contend with all these internal politics, how would you… I wouldn’t say maneuver that, although you could say that, but how would you deal with that kind of challenge, right? To put out better content, you’d have to outmaneuver or deal with a politics? How would you deal with that?

Joe Sweeney  06:51

Yeah, yeah, I think, you know, the reality is, in a lot of companies you’re in, you’re not going to overcome, you’re not going to get rid of, I guess, internal politics. And my vibe in the past has been like, ah, you know, I don’t want to be part of that, I just want to ignore it. And I want to just get on with my job and do a good job. But I think as I’ve been, you know, longer and longer through my career, you kind of understand you got to play the game, in some sense, you’ve got to kind of, you know, depending on the company, not all companies like this, but a lot of times that the reality is that I think that the approach needs to be like, figuring out who, you know, who’s going to help you get to where you want to be, and who’s going to help you, more do the work that, you know, is valuable for the company, right. And, you know, potentially, I think the way to do it is like to if you’re early on in the company to get a few quick wins to build rapport or build some like good relationships. And you know, that might require doing some things that that are a little less interesting or potentially valuable in your own head. But if you can do that you build up the trust to to actually go for it on your on your own. And I’ve always found that, you know, getting those quick wins, showing that you’re good at what you do, gives you the space to then innovate, innovate in a bigger way.

Christian Klepp  08:16

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. It’s almost like an internal customer service, if you will.

Joe Sweeney  08:21


Christian Klepp  08:23

It’s building that trust or finding those I suppose those advocates, those champions, people in that ecosystem, let’s just call it that. Right. Okay. Fantastic. I want to move us on to the next question, which are these famous pitfalls that B2B content marketers should avoid. And specifically on this topic of creating content that does provide a differentiated perspective?

Joe Sweeney  08:50

Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I think there’s a few things to this. So I think a big part of it comes down to the brief. So kind of like when I say brief, I mean, like the outline or the plan that you put together for a piece of content before you get started. And if it comes back, you know, coming back to point of view, I love that we’re talking about that today, Christian, because, for me, this is a huge part of what makes great content, like, as I said earlier, you can search any keyword, you’ll find 20 articles around about the same, but the great ones kind of have a different take on a topic or a different angle, or kind of like even some kind of contrarian approach in some ways. So I’ve always found, starting with that brief and that plan around the piece of content, whatever it is, and having as part of the brief, what it like a section that says what is our point of view on this topic, like really getting it extremely clear, in terms of we’re talking about this big topic that everyone talks about, but what is our unique take on it, is it that actually that’s not true. It’s the opposite or is it that it’s slightly different or whatever. And I think a huge part of that which is linked to this as being close enough to those subject matter experts in your company, to actually be able to pull that insight out of them. That will give you a strong point of view. Because that strong point of view can’t be coming from your own head as a content marketer, that’s not your… that’s not your role. You’re not supposed to be the expert in everything. But you need to be excellent at collaborating with people who are. And people like the CEO, are pretty well known for having strong opinions about things and the space that they’re in. So I’ve always found if you can get close enough to them and just hear those things, you can start to like, integrate it into a lot of your content.

Christian Klepp  10:46

Yeah. No, that’s excellent. That’s excellent. I was gonna try really hard to avoid this topic. But if we’re gonna, if we’re gonna talk about pitfalls, AI.

Joe Sweeney  11:00


Christian Klepp  11:01

And granted that there’s a lot of people out there that, like myself that don’t feel threatened or intimidated by the presence of AI and but over to you in terms of, if we’re going to like talk about the pitfalls to avoid specifically with AI, especially when it comes to content marketing? What would that be?

Joe Sweeney  11:23

Yeah, well, speaking of a point of view, this is huge, because AI is not going to give you a strong point of view about a specific topic, right. So I think I’m in the same boat as you. I’m quite excited about the reality of it, but probably for a different reason is that it’s going to, I think we’ve already found it… it’s put a fire under like, terrible content. And a lot of people putting out a lot of bland stuff. And so almost being able to stand out, becomes even a little bit easier. So I kind of look at it that way. And it’s like an opportunity. If so and so is pumping out 20 blog posts a day on this thing that are all like, very bland. And I can do content that’s, you know, high quality with an actual point of view. I think that’s great. And, you know, I think when it comes to AI, what we need to think about is, it’s amazing how it can be a tool for us to to go faster, and to do things that are like, tedious and manual and a pain in the butt right now like for for us to do. But it’s not for, you know, for coming out with a point of view or for actually creating quality content. It can get you started, but, you know, people who say they’re just writing x 1000 number of blog posts, it’s not the answer. But they can do it because it makes my job easier.

Christian Klepp  12:49

Yeah, no, absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, you hear every now and then people like creating articles using ChatGPT. Yes. To your to your point that the danger with completely relying on AI. A is the, you know, copyright issues because like, for example, ChatGPT doesn’t cite sources. Yeah. And B it’s aggregating data from all over the internet. And you know, this information was probably like, pinned by a different person. Right. So you can get into a lot of trouble there. Right. And to your other point, it creates this, like vanilla content, where you’re like, Okay, there’s, there’s no differentiation here. Right? Yeah. So I subscribe to that school of thought, where I’m not completely dismissive of AI, I believe that there’s a time and place for it. As you’ve said, I see it more as a tool. It’s something that you can use, for example, to help you to save time when you’re conducting research, maybe something that took you previously several hours, you can do it, hopefully in a shorter time now. Right. But to rely completely on AI, to develop content, this is the part where I’m not freaking out just yet. I think there will be there will be a need for quality content and quality writing. The likes of which cannot be replaced by AI. Not yet.

Joe Sweeney  14:17

Not yet. Yeah, just keep watching this space.

Christian Klepp  14:21

Absolutely. Absolutely. I’m gonna move on to and we know that this is super important. It’s about conducting research. But what I want to specifically dig into here, John, you’ve kind of mentioned it already. When you’re conducting research in order to create that better content that differentiated content that content or you have a different point of view or a unique point of view. Talk to us about like, what content marketers out there should be looking for so that they don’t go and research aimlessly. And on the topic of SMEs as well. Like how do you leverage those?

Joe Sweeney  14:59

Yeah, Oh, yeah, great questions. To your first point, I’d say one thing I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. And whether this fits into research or if it’s a slightly different mindset is thinking around really data-centric content, like what I’d call it. So, you know, right now I’m freelancing, and I’m working for a FinTech company. And there’ll be a lot of, you know, companies, whether you’re in tech or or some other space, where essentially your product or your platform has data within it, because of the way customers use etc. That is almost proprietary to you like, and I think that is an absolute goldmine to build your content strategy around, because if we’re talking about differentiated, this is data that is not publicly available online. And using it as the core of, of your content strategy is such a great opportunity, because it allows you to, to show that you have insights that no one else has. So for example, with this FinTech company I’m working with, we’re going to start to produce like reports around the state of B2B finance teams and, and how they’re using our tool and etc, etc. And I think, yeah, anyway, just starting with that is kind of like a perfect way to be, like differentiated because you’re not just going to 25 different sites through a Google search and pulling, you know, old stats from different things, which is generally how I’ve worked in the past. So that’s really, really important.

And then I think research wise, what else is important is, is hearing the voice of the customer, I think, as a content marketer, it’s almost like one of your biggest challenges and one of your constant battles, needs to be hearing the voice of the customer and getting close to the customer. Because if you’re not careful, and I’ve done this before, you start to get quite siloed, you’re kind of away from the customer, you think you know them, because you have it written down on a persona document, but really, you never talk to them. And you never, you know, see them. So there’s a lot of ways these days that are really amazing to do that, I think tools, you don’t necessarily need to be in a meeting or need to be face to face, there’s tools like Gong, for example, that I’ve just been able to start using, which is so brilliant in terms of being able to listen to calls, sales calls, or customer success calls that are recorded, and just like, just kind of like, breathe that in every day almost and try to understand how these people are thinking, I think if you can go back to like, really, truly understanding who the audience is beyond kind of like what is written on a paper, and not just ticking that box and saying yes, I understand them. But like, just regularly doing it, even if you think you know them. That’s my number one tip I’d say in in that research space.

And then working with SMEs like us, Christian, I think, I think this is massive, because like I said earlier, if your whole content strategy, and your whole kind of approach to content is coming out of your head, you’re definitely doing it wrong. And you and you really, really need to be thinking about your role as a kind of facilitator for the expertise that you have in your business. And I think if you’re starting a new role, kind of trying to identify who are those people who really, really know their stuff in this company, who are kind of like the thought leaders, I know, we overuse that term, so much a thought leader, everyone’s a thought leader. But like, you know, some of these companies I’ve worked in, they’ve got people who’ve done a PhD and the topic that we sell a product on. So getting close to them and using your skill sets in communication together with their skill sets and expertise in the space. That’s just the best way to work.

Christian Klepp  19:06

Fantastic. Fantastic. Yeah, I have a follow up question for you, Joe, on the topic of SMEs. Yeah, we know that it’s important to identify those thought leaders and those experts, right, because they’re going to really be helpful to craft that differentiated content. But I’ve run into these situations before, and I’m sure you have as well. Suppose you approach the SMEs, and they’re a little bit hesitant to talk to you for whatever reason, right? Even if you are not an external contractor, but even a member of the marketing department, and they’re kind of like, well, I’m not entirely sure I have time to talk to you, and why should I talk to you and et cetera, et cetera? Yeah. So how do you how do you…. I wouldn’t say deal with that. But how do you convince them that it’s also in their interest to share their experience and their expertise with you?

Joe Sweeney  20:03

Yeah, it’s a fantastic question. Because there’s gonna be, I think, just to start off the answer, there’s going to be some people who don’t want to do it. And that’s fine. I think sometimes you can spend a lot of time trying to convince someone who doesn’t want to do it. And that is… the way I’ve always approached it, you know, for example, showing people, showing those people, other people like them online, maybe it’s in a different space, but say, on LinkedIn on other spaces, that are sharing their insights, and trying to like package, you know, here’s so and so who’s an expert in AI, and look what it’s done for their business, like, look at the following, they have look at how many people commented on their stuff, you know, tried to sort of package like what this might mean for their business. And I think that’s quite a good way of, of kind of convincing people. And then and then just try and start baby steps, like, try to be like, you know, don’t, don’t be like, Hey, we’re going to meet every day, and you’re going to talk to me, like, just start baby steps be like, Hey, maybe we could start to put together one little piece together, and then show them, I think what we always… we often lack is showing them the outcome, right? Because you’re always trying to get stuff from these SMEs. But you need to close the loop on it, you need to show them, hey, you gave me your time, you, you helped me do this, and this is what’s come out of it. And you’re not going to change the world with every little piece of content, but just show them that that is actually worthwhile, you know, send them the comments, or send them little snippets of information of what’s coming back. And I think if they, if they get it, if they start, if they understand the value in that, they’ll start to think, oh, yeah, I can, you know, I can easily talk to you for 20 minutes, it doesn’t take me much time. And you can produce something that actually is of value to me into the business. I think that’s the way to do it. And you build from there, you definitely got to make sure it’s it’s not a heavy lift for them. Like don’t ask them to go away and write a white paper or something themselves, like, you be the one to facilitate that and to do the heavy lift. But that’s always… that’s often worked for me. Not with everyone. But if they start to see the value, then it’s great.

Christian Klepp  22:26

Yeah, fantastic. Fantastic. So let me just reiterate what you’ve been saying here. So I suppose it starts with being intentional, right? Like you have to go in there with a plan. Clearly communicate, you know, the classic, like, what’s in it for me, right? Like, well, what do I get out of sitting here and talking to Joe Sweeney for an hour? Right? So it’s that, okay, this is the reason why we’re doing this. Perhaps one approach could be we’d like to feature you or we’d like to, we’d like to showcase your expertise, right? So make it about them versus like, oh, you know, we were we were told to, you know, write a white paper and just ask your opinion on it, because you are your subject matter expert, right. So turning that the other way around and packaging it in such a way that hey, listen, like, you know, we’d like to feature you and this is where it’s gonna go. And these are the as you mentioned, like the format’s right, we’re going to create a white paper out of this, will this be a video snippet? Or where or what are we going to turn all this stuff into? Right? Yeah, where is it going to be distributed? And I think I love the bit where you said, show them the outcome. So it’s kind of like an indication of progress. Right. So this is what’s going to, this is what’s going to happen to it, I find more often than not, with some marketing folks that I’ve worked with in the past. They’re not very transparent with the subject matter experts about what what they plan to do with all this information. Right. Yeah. So there’s that lack of communication, there’s that lack of transparency, and hence the hesitation from the other side to well, set aside half an hour of their time to actually talk to a marketing department.

Joe Sweeney  24:14

Yeah, totally. Yeah, I think it’s, it’s like anything in life. If you kind of, if you’re asked to give something you want to know, you know, where’s it going? Or what’s it going to lead to or whatever. So that’s just yeah, that’s just common sense. I think and, and also, just, I feel as marketers, we’re so focused on the next thing, a lot of times, we’re so busy, and we’re just like, get something done, moved to the next thing. Whereas working with SMEs, I think it’s really important to go back and, and you’ll have more success by really kind of like, yeah, closing the loop on it, I think.

Christian Klepp  24:48

Closing the loop. That’s exactly, that’s exactly. Okay. I’m gonna move us on to the next question that you and I talked about, I think before I hit record, there’s a camp out there on platforms like LinkedIn. And who still adamantly believes that boring content in B2B wins the day. Agree or disagree? And why?

Joe Sweeney  25:09

It’s an interesting question because I’d struggled to understand like, it depends how you’re defining boring because if we’re human beings, we all know what boring is. And very few human beings like boring, like, my boring might be different to your boring and to someone else’s boring but generally boring is not good. So if the question is sort of like, boring content for me as a marketer, but for the audience who’s in finance or something that’s super interesting, then yeah, boring content might win the day, because it’s, it’s not boring to them. But it’s boring to make, you know what I mean? So, so I totally agree with that. But I think if we come back to the, you know, to the, maybe the real thought behind this is like, there is a sense that business to business has to be really professional and kind of clean cut, and like, all this sort of stuff. And I think more, you know, this is not a new thing, but more and more brands in B2B are showing that that’s not the case that you actually can entertain, and you can, you know, make someone laugh, and that actually can be part of B2B. And I think there’s, if you think about, if you want people to engage with, say, a post on LinkedIn, or, or with a piece of content, making them laugh is like one of the very best ways to engage, like, if you can see something in your feed, and you kind of crack up on it. Like that. For me, that’s even more powerful than learning something from it, like, Sure, there’s, there’s learning but then there’s like, I’ve literally had a reaction in my face that’s like, Oh, that’s funny, you know, and the fact that that can come from your brand, and there’s more and more B2B companies leaning into that, I think is brilliant, like, yeah, I’m really big one for like, pushing the boundaries, you’ve got to be brave enough to do it. Because chances are, majority of your competitors are not doing it, because it’s kind of this race to the bottom of like, let’s play it safe. But that makes it even more powerful. If you can step out of the box and do something a bit different. Potentially funny, or, you know, more interesting. That’s how you that’s how you really win, I think in content today.

Christian Klepp  27:30

No, I think you just inadvertently opened the door there to a follow up question. (laugh)

Joe Sweeney  27:35


Christian Klepp  27:36

I mean, on that, I totally agree with you. And my follow up question would be what could you give us an example of, you know, from your past experience, or any current experience… Where you’ve been able to get a client to buy into a… I’m not gonna say an outrageous idea, but something a little bit more creative? A little bit more unconventional? You know, where you’ve helped them to call Gandalf the Grey, give them that nudge out the door?

Joe Sweeney  28:03

Yeah. Yeah, I’ve got a good example lately of this company I’ve been working with in the FinTech space. So we did you know that, you know the whole concept around “celebrities read mean tweets”. So I think it was a Jimmy Kimmel thing where it’s kind of like, celebrities sit down, and they literally take camera read nasty tweets about themselves. I saw, I saw a company on LinkedIn, do the similar thing. So I just, you know, there’s nothing new under the sun, I basically copied their idea with a twist. But it’s essentially, employees read negative reviews. So from G2, and essentially, we just got some of our employees to sit down and read some reviews from G2, to that are like, you know, it doesn’t have this feature, or I don’t like the colors or kind of funny, funny bad reviews that that were on there. And that was really fun. And I don’t have like a, I don’t know, I don’t have necessarily a silver bullet to how I convince someone to do that. I think a lot of times, it’s about finding someone who can trust you to do it. And the only thing I’d say is, you know, getting some quick wins under your belt before you put an ad like that forward. And if you know, if you’ve shown you’re good, and you have good ideas, and you think through things well, it’s not just some random, funny, weird thing. I think the right people will trust you to do it, even if they’re not marketers. And there’s more and more examples online as well. Where you can show big brands doing stuff like this, like, you know, sales loft, for example, as a sales software. They literally employ a guy. I think he’s called brand awareness manager to just make funny memes and like funny videos of himself on a green screen and stuff. So there’s like serious big brands who do this stuff now, and it’s becoming more and more not this, like, out of the blue thing so you can also show your uplines that type of thing.

Christian Klepp  30:11

Yeah, I love it. I love it. Yeah, I do. I do remember the mean tweets from I think it was Jimmy Kimmel. Yeah. And people like…  and all these people like, I even think Obama was on one of them as well. Yeah, if I remember that correctly.

Joe Sweeney  30:27

It’s really good. It’s really well done.

Christian Klepp  30:29

Yeah. No. Fantastic. Fantastic. I originally had two different questions set up, I’m going to try to roll these into ones for the interest, you know, in the interest of time. So we get to the point in the show where we’re talking about actionable tips, and you’ve given us plenty already. I mean, I’ve been writing furiously, this past half hour, and I’m like… but let’s just appreciate that, you know, especially when it comes to developing a differentiated perspective and content marketing, that’s not something that you can actually do it in a hour. Alright, that takes time. But if somebody was out there, who is struggling with coming up with this differentiated content marketing… Someone, someone out there is listening to this conversation. What are like maybe three to five things that you’d like them to take away from this that they can take action on, right now? Not in six months. Not in six weeks. Like right now?

Joe Sweeney  31:24

Yeah. Yeah. Cool. So I think, first of all, I’m thinking about creating differentiated content, I would look at… I would take a quick look at what my competitors are doing. And there’s different schools of thought in this space of like, you don’t want to focus too much on what competitors are doing blah, blah, blah. But I think there’s still value in doing a little bit of an audit on, you know, who are those main people in my space? And how are they presenting content? Or how are they presenting their point of view? Hopefully, they’re pretty bland, and they’re pretty basic. And that’s going to help you find kind of your niche, or like, where you might be able to differentiate yourself. So I think doing that kind of audit initially is really helpful. And then, and then a second step would be getting close to those SMEs, like I said before, so once you’ve identified say, you know, 2, 3, 4 people in your company, who, who really have strong opinions and strong expertise around your space, it might be the CEO or other C suite people, I think trying to define and get it down on paper, like, what are your specific point of views, points of view, sorry, on the topics that you’re going to address, and I would always include it in my content strategy planning, like, the way I would do it is kind of, I often have my personas initially. And then I list out my topics and kind of bundle that into, you know, content pillars, and against my content pillars, I make sure that planning stage to have, you know, what am I… What are my strong points of view on those content pillars? Like, if we’re in HR software, for example, and we’re talking about hiring, like, what is what is broken in hiring today? That’s often a way to frame this as like, what is the enemy? Or what’s not working today? And how are we the… how are we the solution to that? So I’d get that down on paper. And then, and then I think the third thing is like, don’t just settle there and say, that’s, that’s it forever. That’s our point of view forever. I think it’s really important to test how your point of view, kind of, is it compelling to your audience, maybe internally, you’re like, This is amazing. But as soon as you communicate it to your customers and your prospects, they’re a bit like, that’s not very interesting at all. So I think social media is a fantastic way to test messaging, and probably not used in that way enough to be honest, like, you can actually get almost real time feedback on on messages that your company is pushing. And like worst comes to worst you delete stuff. Like that’s the beauty of it as well. I think a lot of people don’t use it in that way. But say you had point of views based on your on your themes, you could start to put together, you know, some test posts on like, try to communicate that in a strong way. If it’s really engaging for people, you’ll see that and you can sort of build on that. So that would be my kind of key advice on those.

Christian Klepp  34:37

Yeah, no, that’s super helpful. Super helpful. And I I agree with you, I’m a true believer of testing out what works, right. Both be tempted to be like working in a silo where everybody again is high fiving themselves internally. Yeah, this is great stuff, and then you put it out into the world and completely tanks. Right?

Joe Sweeney  34:57


Christian Klepp  34:58

We had this conversation before I hit record, but I was interviewing this respondent for our client last week. So it’s basically part of the customer research. And we did some testing on brand messaging. So I’d actually, like taking the customers current brand messaging and come up with different options. And you know, we ran them past these respondents and then get their points of view. Right. And it’s amazing how much interesting feedback was generated from just that exercise. Right? Well, yeah, sure. They’ll rip into the work. But you know, I mean, it’s part of  the research, right? Like don’t take, you know, the thing is, you shouldn’t take it personally right, it’s all because the thing is that respondents were saying, Well, okay, that doesn’t resonate with me, because of this reason, or that’s too generic, because I saw that somewhere else, yeah, cetera, et cetera. That one resonates with me, because of this reason, but perhaps you should change the wording, because I feel like in my space, somebody would look at that and not be entirely sure. Whether that is, you know, whether that message is being communicated to them or somebody else, you know, and I think that was your point, right? It’s just so important to get that kind of feedback from the actual customers.

Joe Sweeney  36:08

It is, it’s so important. Yeah. And, you know, as a marketer, you got to be so comfortable with feedback. It’s probably one of the, it’s probably one of the jobs where you’re gonna get the most unsolicited feedback, ever. So just lean into it and embrace it.

Christian Klepp  36:23

Yeah. And leave your ego at the door, as they say, right.

Joe Sweeney  36:26

Yeah. Totally.

Christian Klepp  36:28

All right. Joe, I have a feeling like you’ve been on your soapbox throughout this entire conversation. But I’d like to ask you to stay up there a bit longer.

Joe Sweeney  36:38

I’m feeling good up here. Don’t worry. Christian. (laugh)

Christian Klepp  36:41

Fantastic. Because this is a soapbox question. Actually. It’s a status quo in your area of expertise that you passionately disagree with. And why?

Joe Sweeney  36:52

Yes. Yes, I think, I think maybe going back to something I said earlier in the episode was around the link between SEO and content. And I personally, I’d see myself more as like a social media-led content person, if that makes sense. And I think for many people, SEO is like, what it is to be in content marketing. And for some companies, that’s, that’s cool. But I think that’s gonna change a lot. I think, given AI, ChatGPT, Gemini, all the stuff, search and  search engines are about to get like… already, we’ve just seen Google change a bunch of stuff to kind of limit the impact of AI content on search and improve quality. But I think that’s only the tip of the iceberg, in terms of how search is going to change. And so this whole piece around point of view and quality, and actually thinking through like expert content, is going to become so much more important. And I think, and I think I’m so I’m so excited to be to be playing that game and to be in this space right now. Because like you said, the status quo is just about to explode, I think.

Christian Klepp  38:17

Fantastic. Fantastic. That’s a that’s a really interesting perspective. It’s an… actually also great segue to the bonus question. So I don’t want to give too much away here. But you know, short of stating the obvious, you have a bit of an unconventional way of interviewing people for your own show. Right? Yeah. And for the benefit of the audience that’s not aware of how you do it is basically you know, you go out on the street with your equipment, or you ride a bus or you’re riding a bike. So it’s, you’re not in this, like me, for example, you’re not in your inner sanctuary in the recording studio, where nobody’s bothering you. Right. So the question for you, Joe, is that if, you know, given the nature of your own show, if you were given the opportunity to interview somebody, anywhere in the world you like, right, in that kind of open environment, what place would you pick and why?

Joe Sweeney  39:19

Wow, that’s such a good question. (laugh) Man, what would I pick and why? I think it’s such a good question. I think maybe… what I loved about it is the fact that it kind of has people a little bit off guard. And, you know, it kind of puts people in a context. They’re not maybe used to doing an interview. And so maybe like skydiving or something, you know, like you’d have to be high enough to give yourself a good amount of time. But like, I think if people are like terrified, they’re going to give you an amazing different answers to the questions that they’re thinking about. You know? Yeah, it’s a really mean thing to say. But…

Christian Klepp  40:05

It’s a huge logistics exercise. So I’m just trying to think about how to make that work. You probably have to hold each other’s hand because otherwise he’s gonna like, that person’s gonna drift off and then figure out the answer. Right, like… (laugh)

Joe Sweeney  40:16

Yeah, totally. I might have to become like a, like a skydiving guide. So they were like, strapped together.

Christian Klepp  40:23

Yeah. Tandem.

Joe Sweeney  40:25

Tandam yeah, and then… but you’d have to have some really big like, you know, muffle things over the microphones. I’m sure that would make a lot of noise. Anyway, we’ll deal with that at the time.

Christian Klepp  40:36

Yeah. I was kind of hoping that you’d say you’d be like on a on a rowboat or something like out in the middle of the lagoon in French Polynesia or something like that.

Joe Sweeney  40:45

Oh, it does sound nice to the person would be way too relaxed.

Christian Klepp  40:51

Yeah, that’s… they’ll have to roll their own boat in the water. So you know, they have to pay attention.

Joe Sweeney  40:57

Yeah. (laugh)

Christian Klepp  40:59

That’s fantastic. Fantastic. Joe, thank you so much for coming on the show and for sharing your expertise and experience with the listeners. quick introduction of yourself and how people out there can get in touch with you.

Joe Sweeney  41:10

Yeah, well, it’s been fantastic being on, Christian. Yeah, I’m Joe Sweeney. I’m a content marketing strategist Freelancer, live in the south of France. As you mentioned, I run this podcast called Content Marketing Commute, where I interview experts essentially on the way to work, whether it’s on the train, bike, bus, whatever, has been really good, fun. Best way to get in touch with us on LinkedIn. I’m, I’m literally on there all the time. You’ll always see the green circle on my face. So let’s get in touch.

Christian Klepp  41:43

Fantastic, fantastic. Joe, once again. Thanks for your time. Take care. Stay safe and talk to you soon.

Joe Sweeney  41:48

Thanks, Christian.


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