Content Marketing with the Content Viking
Be Courageous with Content!
Content Marketing focuses on creating, publishing, and distributing content for a targeted audiences. The key is targeted as the message from creative to copy to format of the digital media must resonate with the target! Good Content Marketing strategies will:
- Grab Attention
- Generate Leads
- Assist in Sales
- Define a Brand
- Engage an Audience
Here’s an industry secret: most of the people produce a lot content, but the key is to have the content produce for you!
Enjoy the show about Content Marketing with the Content Viking, it is about 20 minutes.
Also, if you like this and want to up skill our there is an entire module on Content Marketing.
The Host: Jeff Stanislow, CEO of Chief Internet Marketer
The Guest: Geoffrey Walters, CEO of Content Viking
Transcript of the Digital Marketing Podcast with Geoffrey Walters from ContentViking.com
Jeff S.: 00:02 Hello, this is Jeff Stanislow, the chief, at chief Internet marketer. We're here to do a podcast today with the content viking, and that's Mr. Geoff Walters. Good morning, Jeff. How are you doing today? And I just wanted to say thanks for spending some time with us.
Geoffrey W.: 00:18 Hi Jeff. Great name by the way, and it's a nice to spend some time with you as well.
Jeff S.: 00:23 Yeah, excellent. Except you spell yours the European way, right? With the g e o f f.
Geoffrey W.: 00:29 Well, I mean as a Brit I would say to you, we spelled Geoffrey the proper way.
Jeff S.: 00:36 I got the western part of that. I got the J. Yeah we got that covered. So anyways, I appreciate again your time. So, you're the CEO of Content Viking. Your website is contentviking.com. What is a content Viking?
Geoffrey W.: 00:54 I don't think I've asked that question actually because most people don't necessarily immediately associate vikings with Internet content. The fact being that the vikings kind of died out hundreds of years ago. The reason why we decided to call ourselves content vikings was just because my highest value is courage. So I am equipped with the backgrounds. I'm a five time entrepreneur, my first four businesses all failed. And I was able to set up what is now become content viking really just through courage and perseverance, not giving up. So yeah, it was important to me to kind of speak to that value system when we were branding our company.
Jeff S.: 01:41 Wow. That's, that's really interesting. I mean, you know, a lot of people, they look for cool and catchy types of things and you really meant...you really, you know, built something that based on a fundamental principle and, you said the courage to be in business, which I am as well. And I've had a one, I'm batting 3 33 one success and a couple of failures. So, I hear you in regards to the courage part to move on and be strong and persevere. So I commend that. That's great. So tell me a little bit about the company in itself. We've got a little bit of a call, we got a culture background, but what is it, what is it that you do?
Geoffrey W.: 02:25 Sure. I appreciate the compliment to the culture. We do get that feedback quite a lot, but it's, it's nice to hear it. So content viking started life as a kind of freelance content writing business. This was back in 2015. The business was actually founded legally in 2014 and I kind of did sort of a wide variety of marketing activities until I settled on content as a model. Initially as is almost always the case when you go into business for yourself as you'll know from your own experience. It was a one man band. So I was already doing everything from the content writing to, you know, finding customers, sales and marketing. I was doing invoice. I was doing client's account management. Just about everything you name it, which was obviously very taxing and very time consuming. There was a time, because I'm based in Europe as you can tell by my nice accent, there was a time when I was working with U.S. Customers and I was working from 4:00 PM until 4:00 AM local time here in Germany, which was completely insane. So I got to the point rather rapidly that I needed to start hiring people. So this was after about six months of getting doing everything myself. Yeah, and that's actually rather an interesting journey in itself. How I started hiring people. Would you like me to tell you a bit more about that?
Jeff S.: 03:59 Well, that's really interesting in regards to how it got started. I mean, I can understand focusing on and doing some work in the U.S. Market, but being based in Europe and so your days were, you know, long and your sleeping was short.
Geoffrey W.: 04:19 Yeah. That's one way of putting it. My girlfriend at the time didn't like that very much. Yeah. I started out... I'm sure if anyone's listening to this who's a freelance marketing person a few years ago, if I had thought to myself, I'm going to become a manager and hire people and call myself a CEO, I would have dressed. I would have immediately thought, no, that's not possible. That's crazy. Why would you ever have a team of people? And that all kind of centers around the thoughts of you're not good enough to hire people. I struggled with that for quite a while, and of course you obviously hiring people, it also costs money. When you are a freelancer and you've had, as I said, you have full failed businesses. It's scary to spend money hiring people, but we come back to my kind of central valley of courage. I believe that in order to succeed in any type of business, perhaps, especially in marketing, you do need to be a courageous person. So my solution to this problem was to say, okay, I don't necessarily have the money to hire a freelancer. I definitely don't have the money to hire a full time person because that would just be completely insane at this point. But I can see myself hiring an intern. So I went to an amazing website called Erasmus interns. Do you know what the Erasmus program is? It's kind of a Europe thing.
Jeff S.: 05:43 No, I dont.
Geoffrey W.: 05:44 So the, the Erasmus program was set up by the European Union. I actually did this myself when I was a student and in 2010, and it's a way for students in one European country to go and study in another European country and basically you get paid a stipend. The European Commission has set up this website, Erasmus interns so that when Erasmus students are abroad they can find your contact with the labor market easily. And again, this is obviously advantageous for businesses because you don't necessarily have to pay your interns European labor law where it sits on such a way that you can swap their time for training. So that's exactly what I do. I kind of found that approach. I hired a mentor. Her name was Catherine and she was, if I remember correctly, half French, half Scottish, those nice exotic combinations. It worked so much better than I had expected. I was never expecting for the interns to enjoy it as much, for me to enjoy it as much, and that's kind of how I got started with the team and two weeks into that experience, I thought to myself, okay, I can now manage someone else, so why don't I start hiring freelance writers. And then from there I went for a year managing a team of freelance writers on my own. Then I had an editor and an accountant, and then the beginning of last year I also hired someone to do sales and some to do marketing. So it was kind of a step by step thing. I don't know, have you heard of a book called The E-Myth by Michael Gerber?
Jeff S.: 07:32 No, I haven't.
New Speaker: 07:33 Okay. I can totally recommend that book to both you and anyone listening. I recommend it to all of my clients and my business friends. It's really about how to escape the mindset of someone who, who believes they have to do everything themselves, moving towards kind of systems and hiring people. It's a wonderful, wonderful book.
Jeff S.: 07:55 Yeah, definitely. Email that to me and then when we post this discussion, we will set a link to that book as well cause I struggled with that as well. You know, I mean, being an entrepreneur, I think sometimes you just think you've got to work harder because you have to do it yourself but if you want it done right or you don't have the resources to go out and hire that dedicated salesperson and you try to do it yourself, even though you know you're not being as successful for it. So yeah, we'll definitely put that in there.
Geoffrey W.: 08:27 So I have a fairly strong opinion about what you just said that I very, very frequently hear this and the business community don't have enough money to hire people. My thoughts on that is that that's always a self-defeating way of thinking about things. And a better way of thinking about it is I might not have enough money to hire someone full time or even freelance, but there's always to be a kind of creative work around if you can find one. And as I said, yeah, my work around was to initially start with interns and I've gone from that to now a team of 10 people that were doing well. Now I have the money to hire people and pay them appropriately, but I never would have got here again to go back to what I said about values at the beginning of this conversation, I never would have got here had I not had the courage rather to experiment fundamentally. And to be clear some of those experiments are going to go wrong. I mean, you asking a 3.333, I don't know the exact American English way of saying that, that sort of analogy. So you've obviously got your own experience with failure, not all of your projects are going to work at, in business, and in life. I think a big part of being not only a successful marketer but a successful business person, genuinely, is to kind of be okay with that and to surrender to the fact that you are going to mess up probably more often than you succeed. I remember a time a few years ago where, there was an email marketer that was introduced to me by my network. I have a couple of mastermind groups and really interesting guy to talk to. He seemed very credible. He had really good testimonials and he made me an offer. I think he wanted me to pay him about three grand over two months or so. Quite a lot of money for a small business at the time. But I said, okay, you know you seem to know your stuff, and he really sold it to me in terms of ROI and I thought I'd give it a shot. The actual return I got from that investment was $200. So it was quite a substantial loss. But you learn so much from those experiences as I'm sure you know from your own set of failures.
Jeff S.: 10:49 yes, you do. You do learn from that much, and I do understand like, you know, as far as being a small business right now, I'm gonna pivot. So I spent, you know, I had several different businesses, but I've always had a digital marketing agency and now I'm not an agency anymore. You know, I'm out there doing training certifications and consulting and working with agencies. So, you know, I understand what it is to take that pivot and take that courage, but, you know, it's hard to say no to a client that wants to do a project or someone that wants to engage you to, you know, to do something. You've got to say no to stay focused. And, you know, that's why I'm at doing right now. So, pivoting the content, let's talk a little bit about content. You know, give me the 10 cent tour, where, where was it, where is it going, and then maybe we'll do a little deep dive into some stuff that's going on right now.
Geoffrey W.: 11:44 I like to think of content as a three part process. I'm a very kind of systematic guy, hence why I talked about the email before. I think it's good to sort of break down the big picture into sort of subsystems. So I like to think of content in terms of, I'm talking about written content here, first of all, ideation, writing and promotion. Those are kind of three different steps. I find that it's very, very rare that a business, especially a small business, does all three of those well just because the amount of time you need to invest to do even each, even one of them well systematically often is a barrier to starting at all. I'm sure you've seen that from your own experience. So for those who are less experienced with content marketing, let me define those terms individually. Ideation is the coming up or with topics and ideas and angles to talk about in your content marketing. Preferably things that you've got data that suggests that the people reading your contents are going to be interested in this. Writing I think is fairly self explanatory, but also incorporates things like keyword placement, which perhaps is a little bit more tricky. Then content promotion. In my experience is maybe, I don't know whether it's the most ignored. I think content ideations is maybe even more frequently ignored by most small businesses but content promotion is the idea that it's not sufficient to just write really well written content where you know, that your audience in question is interested in this content. That content also has to be promoted accordingly. So you're way that businesses do this well if they analyze where their target market is spending time online at the moment. And Yeah, you can do that through surveys, through interviews and stuff like that. Then you go and promote the content in precisely those places. It's rather a nice technique whereby you get your content strategy directly from the horse's mouth as it were. I learned that technique from a really, really awesome marketing company called Grow and Convert. So shout out to them. They've mentored me quite a lot.
Jeff S.: 14:13 That's, that's awesome. So recap here on this ideation, writing and promotion. I think everybody comes to some point and struggles with a little bit of content, but what are the things that in the industry that you always get is like from a client's like, "oh, we'll write our content, we'll get that to you," you know, for if you're building a website or something like that. What's your response on that? And then, I've been reading a little bit about this ideation stuff. So, maybe this is a two part questions. How do you respond to a client that says, "we'll get you the content, we'll write it, we got a couple of brochures from a few years back that we'll send your way." Tell me a little bit about more about ideation.
Geoffrey W: 14:53 I think I'll have to do those one at a time because there rather complex question. The first question, how do I deal with a customer that is admin and wants to write their content themselves? So there are a number of different ways to approach this. Firstly, I'd say that if someone really wants to write the content themselves and you can't stop them, like you have to, you have to say, okay, well that's what you want to do then then go ahead and do this. It's happened to me several times before that I've had that conversation with a lead or clients, and then you're six months down the line, they come back to me and say, "Hey Jack, can you help us out with this?" I don't tell them, yeah, I've told you so, but I do think clients underestimate the amount of work that goes into writing good content. So, that's probably the way I would tackle that question. The second question was about ideation?
Jeff S.: 15:56 Yeah. I think we had talked prior to our call here, a little bit about where we might be able to talk, provide some value to someone who might be in content marketing, who's listening to this and, and you'd mentioned them ideation is where it's at right now and you had some thoughts on that.
Geoffrey W.: 16:14 Yeah, well, I chose the topic of ideation when we were talking before the call just because I'm noticing that there are an awful lot of companies out there that do this very badly. So, I would say that for lots of companies, constant ideation, especially small businesses it's done in a very intuitive way. In other words, the business owner or perhaps the marketing manager ask themselves the question, what do I think, based on experience that my audience wants to read? And then they just go and execute it, and to be honest, in an age where the internet is saturated with content, that's just not good enough anymore. It may well have been good enough. You said you've been doing this for 20 years, so you maybe when you started. When the Internet was in its infancy. Perhaps if you were an SEO guy, not even Google was around back then probably, but you could have got some traction online by some kind of intuitive process like that. But really these days you need to be much more data-driven. Have you heard the term data-driven decision making?
Jeff S.: 17:22 Yeah, certainly.
Geoffrey W.: 17:23 Yeah. I mean, is that something that plays a part in how you work as well?
Jeff S.: 17:30 Yeah, I mean it ties in a little bit of the keyword research to before you're coming up with, an idea for content, looking to see a subject matter how well is it read? How well does it resonate? You know so you're writing content that has a better propensity to get picked up in search engines than writing trying to buck that trend.
Geoffrey W.: 17:59 Yeah, sorry. I mean it sounds like you know what I'm talking about here. So level one is the sort of improvised approach, and I'll sort of guiltily confess and say that we were doing this for quite a long time in terms of ideation before we kind of understood what the problem was about ideation. Yeah, we, we didn't get this either. So, you know, no shame in admitting to this as far as I'm concerned, that was a mistake we kind of made on the fly. So level two, this is why I would say the sort of average to goods content marketers they do a keyword analysis. You were kind of speaking to that before. So, this is using tools like [H- drafts?] offering to do things like a keyword analysis of your competitors. In other words, to see what keywords they're ranking for. And then if you find some of those keywords with low traffic you can create a content strategy that is key words lead. I'm assuming you're familiar with that suited strategy already. So, that I would say is what the majority of decent content marketers do. I'm going to go a level deeper and again to, to sort of give credits to grow and convert for teaching me this, that the marketing guys at Silicon Valley. I've been applying this mathematic for about a year and I'm about to tell you and it really is groundbreaking stuff. So level three is called Pain-Point SEO. Have you heard that term before?
Jeff S.: 19:32 I have heard it, but I don't know that much about it as far as like a, a strategy to implement, but I've heard the main points
Geoffrey W.: 19:41 It's super interesting I think. I think you're going to find this very interesting. So Pain-Point SEO is the idea that it's a better strategy instead of gaming the search engine to... and yeah, and gaming the search engine and making your ideation on the back of that ultimately keyword research a better strategy is to do a deep market analysis of the people in the audience in question. Use data to find out the specific pains of that particular audience, and then SEO becomes instead of the thing that's driving the strategy, it becomes the icing on the cake. So in other words, if you were to uncover pain points and say you're working in the electric industry and there is... I've chosen an industry, I don't know very much about that wasn't very good, but say you uncover specific points specific pain points in the electric industry like people are struggling to wire a light bulb at home. That's just a pain point that's coming up in the audience. Well then you would do some keyword research in order to find that. How are people searching for that particular [unintelligible]? So then when you're writing your content, you are informed not only by your market analysis, which I'll tell you a bit more about in a minute. How we do that content and , I think it's quite a cool process, but you're being formed only by the marks analysis. In other words, the human analysis of the human needs that but you're also being informed by SEO and you kind of combine those two approaches together, this very old school marketing approach of understanding the needs of an audience deeply together with like the latest SEO tools, like [H- drafts?], and that strategy just blows everything else I've seen out the water to be completely honest. Let me tell you a bit...
Jeff S.: 21:48 You're trying to uncover the problem in the buyer's journey. Usually it's like, you know, awareness and then so you're trying to uncover the... Solve a problem by doing the research and analysis to figure out what the problem is first, then you kind of back in from there.
Geoffrey W.: 22:10 That's exactly right.
Jeff S.: 22:11 Yeah, that's fantastic. That's exactly, that's really cool.
Geoffrey W.: 22:15 It's so satisfying to do as well. I can't stress this enough. Like I'm often... I think as marketers we feel like we're kind of forcing things to get attention from people. I know I felt this way for a very long time and I've been doing marketing for quite well now I think to get about six years, but when I, since I started doing this process, it just feels so much more natural and authentic because you literally, when we're doing this analysis of our customers client base, we are going into the client base and actually asking them directly for the rest the resurvey or you're actually literally speaking to them on the phone. What do you want to read about? And you know, you can then take it a level deeper because sometimes people don't know exactly what they want to read about. So you can ask them questions like, "what problems are you facing in your day to day work? Then maybe uncover some pain points that way. Let's see what else was on my list of questions. You could ask them what are your goals for your business in the next six months, that could also elicit some interesting responses that you could then use to inspire some ideation. So there's a little bit of creativity involved you can't just ask someone what you want to read because that's a little bit too obvious, but as I said, I find that the results from this processor are really cool frankly, because you really are getting your content ideas from the horse's mouth. When I say this, the businesses, they love it because if there's literally 100% guarantee that the target audience are going to resonate with these subjects that we're writing about for them, and then we can take it a level deeper as well. Most marketers think of audiences in terms of your kind of demographics. What's the typical target audience? Again, something I've learned just through experience is that if you're gonna go a level further. You should think not about the typical target routines but about the best ideal customer. So, you are finding out the pain points of those specific people and you have the confidence to, again come back to what I said about courage, you have the confidence to then say, okay, if you will not an ideal customer, we're not going to be marketing to you. Now it's easy for me to say that as a marketer selling that to customers can sometimes be quite difficult because you then they have to take that leap of courage as well and say, we're only going to focus on market research on the absolute best customers. We found that when customers who have you sort of trusted us to do that, the results have been great.
Jeff S.: 24:55 You know, that, that's fantastic. I think content marketing is a core to digital marketing strategy. And I think I probably would have to say, maybe you would have to agree with me, maybe 20% of the industry does it well, maybe even less than that. You know, they really understand it and value it and spend the time, energy and put the resource towards content marketing.
Geoffrey W.: 25:22 I actually think it's less than that over that without wishing to be too cynical about our industry. I presume you're talking about the content marketing industry as a whole, right?
Jeff S.: 25:30 Yeah. Certainly as part of a digital marketing strategy that you know, that companies or organizations that do it right and really put time, energy and effort and resources towards having a content marketing person or strategy in their plan.
Geoffrey W.: 25:46 Yeah. I see a lot of companies fail at the first kind of hurdle when it comes to content marketing. I was speaking to a prospect a few weeks back and this is a guy who is the CEO. He'd been in business for about 13 years and his idea of content marketing was just like direct product promotion. And it's like, no, that's not all that, that's completely defeating the point of content marketing. Content marketing is, this kind of indirect sell such that you are informing your potential customer, you are giving them something of value and you're looking to build a relationship with them. This old school style of here's a product, buy it, here's a product, here are some benefits buy it, that died a long time ago. And I think that's a very good thing.
Jeff S.: 26:35 True, true. Very true. Listen Geoff, I really appreciate your time. We're going to wrap this up. So it's contentviking.com correct?
Geoffrey W.: 26:47 Correct. Its Contentviking.com.
Jeff S.: 26:47 I think, you know, obviously you know what you're doing, you know your stuff here and hopefully that some of our listeners got some value out of it, especially when you talk about the types of levels and the process and, the three cores, ideation, writing and promotion. So, I appreciate your time and we're gonna wrap this up and then we'll get the transcripts up and the page up and we'll share it amongst both of our socials here in the probably next three to five business days and we'll look forward to continuing our dialogue.
Geoffrey W.: 27:24 Great. That sounds great. Well, thanks for that to be on today, Jeff. I appreciate it.
Jeff S.: 27:28 Yes. And we'll do it again. We'll do, we'll follow up. I appreciate it, Geoff.