VIDEO: 5 Tips for Creating Content Marketing That Gets Bigger Results

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#INFOGRAPHIC: 5 Tips for Creating Content Marketing That Gets Big Results

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The Problem With Free Content Marketing

What’s the point of content marketing? What’s the goal? Why do we do it?

Some would say it’s to grow an audience. Some say it’s for search engine optimization. Some do it for lead generation. Some only care if it ultimately increases sales.

My problem with focusing entirely on freemiums and growing an audience with free content is that it can almost become “guilt-trip content marketing”…

“Hey, if we give them a whole bunch of free content, they’ll feel like they owe us and they’ll have to buy from us!”

Whether that’s consciously or subconsciously manipulative (no more manipulative than trying to sell people something), I’ll table for now…

Even if the freemium approach is “get-to-know-like-trust-us” and we’ll build-an-audience, it only works sort of well.

  1. So you’ve grown a list of 10,000 or 100,000 emails…
  2. And 20-30% of those people open your email- are you emailing daily or every other day or twice a week or weekly?
  3. About 8% of them click to the site and read more free content-
  4. How many of them are actually buying something? Are you tracking that?

Freemium, high quality content marketing is only PART of the answer because… we human beings are all a bunch of freeloaders!

We’ve Created a Bunch of Information Freeloaders

As content consumers, we’ve been trained now to expect a lot of free helpful content.

Marketers have been taught over the last decade to create free content that is as good as content people should have to pay for, but the companies that are creating this free content aren’t getting paid for it…

  • How many newsletters have you joined and then never paid that company a penny?
  • How many podcasters have you listened do and never given them a dime?
  • How many bloggers have you read and you’ve never bought their course?
  • How many blog posts have you read and you don’t even remember them or who wrote them?
  • How many whitepapers and ebooks have you downloaded and you didn’t fully read and you don’t remember where they are on your computer?

This freemium deal with the devil strategy only makes sense if you can monetize that audience- but are you monetizing that audience? How? Are you tracking it well enough to know it’s profiting you?

Sure SOME of this audience of freeloaders converts without you trying that hard. But how many more people would have converted, how much higher would your ROI be if you’d thought about converting them? If you were better at direct marketing?

So content and lead gen are just one piece of the puzzle and if you do them the wrong way you make it hard on the salespeople. Or if you’re an entrepreneur you make it hard on yourself to get sales.

You haven’t done all the work, just part of it…

Why Do People Buy?

Because we as people only buy when we are really excited or in really big pain we can’t stand one second longer or when marketers make us feel special or we think it’s a really good deal on a really valuable thing that’s going away forever (there has to be value and trust there for that to work, of course)…

  • Why should the potential buyer take action with you right now?
  • Why not procrastinate?
  • Why not ignore you?
  • Why not choose your competitor?

You have to sell. How?

  • Urgency
  • Scarcity
  • Pain relief
  • Gigantic opportunity now
  • Limited-time only

The difference between rich and poor people, billionaire and middle class, successful sales organizations and unsuccessful ones is understanding:

  • Pain
  • Value (which includes relevance)
  • Urgency and
  • Tribes

“Join our tribe now and we’ll relieve your pain and you’ll be special and have super powers like us but if you want in, you have to join now, for a limited time only!”

This is the difference in getting 2% of your webinar attendees to buy and 16% to buy.

It’s the difference between 1% of people interacting with your Facebook post and 21% interacting with it.

The difference is measurable and huge.

  • Why is your thing a new, big, limited-time opportunity?
  • Why NOW?
  • Why do you think Microsoft puts out new versions of Offce and Windows all the time?
  • Why are there always new iPhones?
  • Why are there new models of the same cars each year?
  • Why does the McRib keep going away and coming back?

If you’re too free and too available, you’re not that interesting. When they see your content there’s a lot of hmm and huh and meh. You can’t compete.

So- the biggest pitfall of the marketer is being too soft, not wanting to sell.

Don’t be soft.

Sell Something and Track It

Freemium is not bad. I do all kinds of lead magnets. They’re great. But you have to sell something too.

  • You need to track which of your leads become sales.
  • You need to track which of your customer targets are not just great lead sources, but which ones are great buyers.
  • Which of your lead magnets create customers, not just leads?

Use AdWords and Facebook pixels and conversion tracking. Make sure you have a way to trigger a conversion for the purchase not just the lead. Then you can track all of that back to the content.

If you can’t do that, your content marketing and freemium work will always be off target, and you’ll be at a competitive disadvantage.

The More Ideas You Test the More Likely You Win

You’ve got to test more ideas in digital marketing and social media.

Because if you only text one post or one post a day or one ad a week, you’re only going to discover so much stuff and you’re only create so much stuff and you’re only going to get a certain level of results.

The more stuff you create, the more ideas you force yourself to have, the more likely you are to find that idea that your customer goes crazy for.

I’m talking about…

  • Gigantic engagement rates,
  • Gigantic click through rates,
  • Gigantic sales,
  • Gigantic leads,
  • Incredible conversion rates.

Here’s my analogy. Let’s say, in any sport, like my sport is the NBA. I love basketball. When I watch these guys, I’m like “Wow, there’s some amazing players.” Historically we got Michael Jordan, we’ve got Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, we’ve got Magic Johnson, we’ve got Shaq, we’ve got LeBron, Kobe, Durant, Steph Curry, Steve Nash, all these guys are one in a million, one-in-a-billion, right, because they’re freaks of nature in one way or another.

There have been thousands of guys in the league over the years but if we had only had 10 guys in the league, if the NBA hadn’t been so big and hadn’t been so popular and hadn’t been so much money going into it, probably wouldn’t have that many guys and those guys would have done different things with their lives. They wouldn’t have been basketball players. We never would have found those genius basketball players.

If you don’t put enough money or time into your content, you’re never going to find that exceptional outlier of content that performs super well.

I’ve got this post that has a crazy dog in it that gets me 6 likes per penny I spend on it, because I’ve tested hundreds and hundreds of posts.


The more stuff you create and the more you test, the more likely you are to find that exceptional, you know, the Michael Jordan of Facebook post, the Michael Jordan of Facebook ads.

It’s probably not the one expect it is. That’s the other thing that’s weird about it.

There’s research that shows that marketing experts, even after 10 or 15 years of experience, do not get better at guessing which content is going to win with the customer.

You could say, “Brian Carter’s a great marketing mind. He’s amazing.”

He still can’t guess which one is going to work with your customer.

All he can do is say, “I think I analyzed your audience and I understand ’em pretty well and based on what you’ve said, you and I are going to figure out some ideas. We’re going to put them in front the customer and we’re going to see which one it works.”

If we only put 5 ideas out there, our chances of success are much lower than if we put out 100 ideas.

Then we’re going to find one or two that really perform amazingly and your customers are going to go nuts for them. That’s not only going to drive down your costs…

  • Cost per engagement
  • Cost per lead
  • Cost per sale…

It’s also going to:

  • Create much more enthusiastic customers
  • Who will love you and your brand more.
  • More excitement and loyalty

But you don’t get that if you don’t test enough ideas.

So many companies out there are just doing the bare minimum. They’re doing checkbox marketing. They’re like, “Yep, we put out our content calendar. Yep, we ran an ad.”

It’s really easy to do. I know. I’ve done it myself. You get tired, you get busy and you’re like, “I created an ad. I’m done. I’m going to go watch Netflix,” you know? “I’ve got so many meetings today, I don’t have time.”

Okay, but you got to figure out how in your process to make this possible.

And if you’re a manager, you got to figure out how to make this possible for your marketing team, give them more time to brainstorm. Figure out how to help them create more ideas and get more stuff out there. You’ve got to do it.

This is a competitive advantage, to be able to create:

  • More ideas,
  • More creativity,
  • More unique, different ideas.

It’s very important today because the better your ideas are and the more you test, the more likely you are to win.

Geeky Data Increases Customers and Loyalty

If you’re going to do digital marketing or social marketing you have to have geeks or you have to get a little geeky. What does that mean? You need to get into the analytics, you need to look at your metrics, you have to start keep a track of these stuff.

You can’t just put on a content calendar that you think is full of content that you like or your marketing department likes or your CEO likes because what really matters is what your customer likes.

That geeky approach, the scientific marketing approach … Facebook is a digital marketing laboratory.

You put this content out. You can get ideas from a bunch of different places, from anyone in your company, anywhere. From customers, anywhere.

Throw all those ideas into your internet digital laboratory aka Facebook see what metrics come back, get a little geeky, look at those numbers and figure out what people like and what they don’t.

It doesn’t matter what YOU like. It matters what your customer likes.

You need to get geeky and figure out what that is.


Get More Business: Nothing Succeeds Like Success

This post started as a podcast, so feel free to listen instead… or listen AND read along!

Business & Marketing Success Requires GIVING

I was getting ready to go to the Ukraine to go speak at a B2B conference. It’s kind of interesting because I went to Egypt not long after their revolution and Ukraine just had one, and still there’s some conflict going on in the eastern part of the Ukraine.

There’s this great app called Duolingo that teaches you other languages and I was surprised to discover that, though they don’t have every language, they have Ukrainian, so I’m sitting there learning Ukrainian, which is crazy; the Cyrillic alphabet, you’ve seen those crazy Russian words and stuff. It’s the same. They’re totally different symbols, totally weird. Hard to learn.

If I can just come up with a few words or phrases to say… It makes a big difference to people if a foreign guest speaker can learn their language. That you would care enough to speak their language.

As always, marketing’s about putting yourself in other people’s shoes. Caring what they care about.

That’s a big part of relationships in general and social media, as well.

Can you put yourself in other people’s shoes? Can you make deposits in their emotional bank by being giving and generous and nice? All that stuff comes back to you.

Business & Marketing Success Requires POSITIONING

I’m doing that, getting ready to go speak and working on a course idea with Garrison Wynn to teach experts how to get paid to speak. He and I are both getting a lot of business and a lot of inquiries.

The speaking market is not very good right now, actually. It’s a tough market right now. But Garrison’s a guy that gets 90-100 deals a year. He’s probably one of the most employed speakers there is out there if you look at sheer number of speaking gigs. He’s helped me out a lot in the business. I had more paid gigs this year than ever before.

To succeed in the speaking business you have to focus on positioning. Positioning’s an interesting part of marketing. It’s the competitive part of your branding…

  • How does your brand look compared to other brands?
  • How do you position it in the marketplace?
  • What is it for? What is it compared to other things?
  • Who is it for? Who is it NOT for?
  • What makes it better than your competitors?

That’s really, really important in speaking. It’s important in any competitive area, and there are a lot of experts that want to get paid to speak.

Business & Marketing Success Requires ATTENTION GRABBING

I love marketing and figuring out what works for different brands and different niches and different industries. It’s always different. Going over to the Ukraine it’s going to be all B2B, business to business. Often you’re dealing with lead generation and boring companies and boring services. How do you make it interesting? How do you convince an audience that although you may not want to use images that include bacons or dogs or cats, even though that would certainly touch a human cord in your prospects?

Content is important because you need to get people’s email for lead gen. Can you give them a white paper or an eBook or something? It’s a gift, basically, in exchange for their email. A lead magnet, right? Can you create an eBook or a video series or a white paper that solves their problem or addresses a pain point, gives them some tips, helps them avoid certain mistakes that you know about, position yourself as an authority? These are all things you want to do in the B2B world.

B2B people want to “remain professional,” right? The problem is that often that’s an excuse to do something really boring that’s easy to ignore.

Hopefully you’ve seen what Marketo did in the past. Jason Miller and Dayna Rothman spearheaded a lot of that stuff, did some really cool things. The Marketing Activity Coloring Book was really cool…

They sent that out to a bunch of people. My face is in there. You could color me if you want. It was pretty cool. They do weird things like that. It’s important to grab people’s attention when you’re marketing and doing weird stuff like that will grab attention. That’s important. We live in the world of Angry Birds, Call of Duty, Game of Thrones, the latest horrible thing the news is talking about, etc. You have to be interesting if you want to compete with all that- if you want any attention at all.

Business & Marketing Success Requires SUCCESS

The thing I really wanted to talk about the most was that we’re getting a lot of new business, we’re getting a lot of new clients for Facebook ads, marketing funnels, helping people get lead gen, setting up email autoresponders (so that after they get the email there’s a series of programmed emails that all do different types of things to condition the prospects, nurture those leads to make them more likely to buy). All those kinds of things. And we’re getting new clients for that and we’re getting speaking inquiries.

We started getting a lot more business back in September of 2015- more than normal. I did five speaking gigs within the space of a month, which is higher than average for me and was pretty intense.

We’re looking for people to hire for Facebook ads that can be really good. We don’t want to do the agency model where we have too many lower quality or less experienced people doing work on our clients. We want to maintain high performance so we’re trying to find really good people we can train to be experts. We’re going to try out a virtual assistant to do even more of our work. We’re scaling up.

And during all of that, we’re telling people about our activities via social media.

One of the reasons I think why we keep getting more work is that people love a winner. Success breeds success.

When I put a post up and say, “Hey, one of our clients is a music cruise company and they got 15 cent leads for a giveaway to promote their new Def Leppard cruise,” people get excited because I’m talking about a client and I’m talking about a success.

Nothing succeeds like success. People love a winner. They want to go with the winning team.

It’s inertia. It’s momentum.

When you’re not moving and you don’t have clients and you have nothing to talk about, it’s difficult.

Business & Marketing Success Requires BRAGGING

Once you do get clients and you do get success, you need to talk about your case studies.

It’s tough because what works to a degree is bragging. A lot of people don’t like to brag. You have to be careful how you do it.

You have to when you’re a personality based business. Obviously I’m out front in my business. When I’m saying…

  • “Hey, I’m I’m getting booked to speak.”
  • “People are entertained by me.”
  • “People laugh at my jokes.”
  • “We’re helping people get results.”
  • “I’m teaching my audiences to get profits on social media and they love it.”

…It feels weird. You can fear that other people are going to judge you for being a braggart. That’s an uncomfortable part of the business.

Facebook is weird because you go on Facebook and everybody’s talking about their positive things in their lives. A lot of times are not talking about the negative things.

If you go on Facebook in a bad mood and you see all the positive things you’re like, “Gosh, everybody’s doing better than me,” and “I’m not doing well,” or “I don’t feel good,” and you’re comparing your insides to other people’s outsides and that’s always a bad idea.

It’s a weird phenomenon. You’re trying to show your success online.Why? Because we help people, we help businesses, and we want to help more of them.

We can’t help people if people don’t know that we’re able to help them, or how we help others, or how many we help, so we want to post these things and show our successes so that more people know that we could help them.

So do that, but try to do it in a way that’s just factual and specific about the results.

If possible, be humble in an honest way so that you’re not just saying you’re awesome.

Business & Marketing Success Requires FACEBOOK

That’s the main thing I want to talk about. Case studies can be boring. They don’t have to be. You don’t have to give so much information that you bore everyone to death. You can just talk about the high level results. You really don’t have to give a lot of information.

A Facebook post that talks about high level results with a picture is enough to get into somebody’s head.

That’s the thing about a Facebook post, right? You want to be able to impact someone’s brain within 3 seconds, maybe 4 or 5 seconds at the most.

You can just give them super high level information like that and they’ll see your success. That is more likely to get you more business in the future.

All right. That’s mainly what I wanted to talk about: Nothing succeeds like success, so if you’ve got successes make sure that you are shouting them from the rooftops.

  1. Put your successes in Facebook posts.
  2. Put your successes in blog posts.
  3. Then, promote those posts with Facebook ads. If it’s a blog post, talk about your case study in depth but then create an ad that’s real top level about it.
  4. Make sure you’re doing that from the Facebook Ad Manager. If you just BOOST post, you might get likes, comments and shares but you’re not going to get a lot of traffic or results on your website. That Facebook ad might be a traffic or a conversion ad, but in the news feed people can like and comment, share if they want, but it will mostly be about driving traffic to your website…
  5. …where you’re going to have things like popups so people can sign up to your email list or information about how they work with you, a form, a lead magnet, etc. Once you’ve got them in your domain, then you get them onto your email list, you do your lead nurturing, and you’re converting clients, right?

Nothing succeeds like success, so shout it from the rooftops.

That’s my message for you today and I wish you all the best in business and life.

5 Keys to Social Ad Lead Generation For Cloud Hosting & IT

Not long after keynoting for Microsoft, I was contacted by a leader in a Microsoft team that helps their partner companies sell MS hosting services. They had me design a digital marketing training program for these partner companies.

We also did a number of pilot programs with cloud hosting companies.

For one of these, in 2013, we wrote a whitepaper, guided them to create a lead gen download page, and we ran Facebook ads to generate leads. It was quite open-minded of them to do this, because even now on the doorstep of 2016, many B2B companies aren’t sure Facebook is right for them.

The results were:

  • We reached 467,000+ CXO’s and I.T. Sysadmins
  • We generated leads from $29 to $59 apiece.

Overall, it was a success.

Could it be better? Yes. These are definitely some of the more expensive leads we’ve seen… in B2C, leads can go below $1.00 CPA at times, and even in B2B I’ve seen them below $10.00.

I believe these leads cost what they did for several reasons, all of which we’e addressed in our marketing processes since, and here’s how we do it better now:

  1. TARGETING: Targeting chief executives can be more expensive. However, testing more ways to target the same groups helps you find lower costs, and Facebook has added more targeting options since we ran this campaign. We recommend testing at least 5-10 targeting criteria audience variations per target customer.
  2. PASSION: Whitepapers are boring and the way to lower costs on Facebook is to find the customer’s passion. The more interesting and stimulating you can make the content, the better. We’ve learned that selling to the intellect only is not as good as also selling to the emotions.
  3. DESIGN: There wasn’t a budget for design, so the graphic design of the whitepaper wasn’t that attractive- again, low excitement leads to higher costs. We recommend the budget include design work if you don’t have an in-house designer.
  4. SPECIFICITY: I also believe that in the whitepaper writing, instead of covering 11 I.T. problems, which is general and vague and gives you nothing to grab onto, we should have chosen the most painful specific problem and homed in on that. Then perhaps the name of the whitepaper itself would have evoked more interest.
  5. SPLIT-TESTING: The client insisted on using their own website for the landing page, which meant we could not split-test any creative; we’ve found that the best practice is to test at least three if not five versions of the squeeze page, and this can increase conversion rate by 50% – 200%. That means we might have cut the cost per lead in half right there. We now have platforms on which we create and run split-tests for clients.

So, if you are looking to grow new customer leads in the I.T. space, or any B2B effort (we’ve done other industries), reach out and let’s talk about achieving your goals!

Where to Get Your Next Awesome Marketing or Brand Idea

It’s a noisy world and a noisy marketplace. Content marketing is driving almost everybody to create more stuff. But you need to stand out to get attention for your products and services. And to stand out you need a great brand and great marketing ideas.

Where do they come from? How can you reliably generate a lot more great ideas?

Kathy Klotz-Guest, Gary Ware and I have found that the games and exercises from improv comedy can generate great marketing and branding ideas. That’s right, the same games that make you laugh when watching Whose Line Is It Anyway could power your next business success!

Yes, some are funny, some are serious and some are too over-the-top, but you usually get some truly viable ideas… one of which just might be the next Old Spice “I’m on a Horse”, Gangnam style, or Blendtec.

Here are some of our previous sessions:

10 Sure-Fire Strategies to Boost Your Reputation and Become an Expert

This is a guest post from Ben Fanning, author of The Quit Alternative.

Maybe you’ve fantasized about quitting, but you’re not ready to give up your steady paycheck, 401k, or insurance?

There is a quit alternative.  Transform your current job into a job you love by engaging with it’s full potential, marshaling the resources around you, and seizing the opportunities that are there for the taking.

Ten Strategies to Boost Your Reputation and Become an Expert

A great way to start transforming your current job is to boost your reputation and become an expert at work that inspires you, as discussed in The Quit Alternative:  The Blueprint for Creating the Job You Love…Without Quitting. This provides job security and even leverage to negotiate on your own behalf to create the job you love.

Here are ten strategies for becoming an expert at work that inspires and motivates you. Some of these strategies might seem over the top for someone working within an organization, but the good news is that you don’t have to do them all to establish yourself as an expert. Taking on one or two will set you apart.

  1. Do the motivating work exceptionally well. When you perform very well, you become known as the person to turn to for similar assignments in the future.
  2. Talk up your motivated work wins. Share your excitement over wins doing work you love in meetings, conference calls, lunches, and happy hours.
  3. Write and present on your motivating work wins. Volunteer to write a case study for your company’s website or newsletter.
  4. Quantify, quantify, quantify. Numbers often speak louder than words inside an organization. Measure and calculate the impact of the work. These become great points to emphasize in your annual review, resume, and LinkedIn profile. Even if you’re not a huge Excel fan (like me), it’s time to dust off your skills and get to quantifying. You can quantify and call out impact in any of these areas to make a powerful statement:
  • Revenue: How does your motivating work increase revenue for the company?
  • Cost savings: How does your motivating work save the company money versus what was spent in the past?
  • Cost avoidance: How does it avoid cost increases that you anticipate in the future?
  • Pay terms: How will it help your company get paid more easily or more quickly?
  • Customer satisfaction: How does it help retain customers or encourage them to buy more?
  • Employee retention: How does it reduce employee turnover or increase their engagement? How does it increase their productivity?
  • Idea generation: How does it increase creativity, ideas for new products, or potential solutions?
  • Cycle time: How does it affect the speed to market of new products or processing of new orders?
  • Quality: How does it get better products out more consistently?
  1. Share how it helps your boss, department, and coworkers. In addition to quantifying the impact, it’s important to underscore the benefits to the people you work alongside. When they benefit from you doing motivating work, they’ll be more likely to support you going forward.
  • Visibility: Does it promote other accomplishments of the group?
  • Ease: Does it ease the work day for those around you?
  • Bigger and Better: Will it lead to even bigger results for the team?
  1. Speak at town hall meetings. Offer to share a case study (code for the story of a win in your motivating work area) at a town hall meeting in front of the organization.
  2. Contribute to company forums. Share helpful news and tips about your specialty area on the company’s forums, including the intra-web and company LinkedIn group. (Consider starting one if the company doesn’t have one.) The beautiful part is that you can just share industry news or articles in the area you want to move into, and this will boost your expert status.
  3. Build your network in an area outside the organization. Look up LinkedIn groups in your interest area and mix it up online. Seek out related conferences so you can build relationships with experts outside of your company.
  4. Get interviewed in the media. Sometimes you have to run this by your company first, but doing interviews in your area of expertise builds your reputation internally, too.
  5. Speak at conferences. Public speaking in general boosts your reputation as an expert, but speaking on a larger platform helps it grow more quickly—especially when you speak with other experts at a conference or on a panel.

For instance, Annie’s most motivating work occurred when she worked directly with external vendors and customers to solve problems. The challenge was that most of her job was sitting behind her desk on the computer. She was an introvert and had a reputation as someone content to stay in her office all day, but this just wasn’t the case. Her campaign for getting more of the work she loved started when she volunteered to speak on an industry panel at a conference. Then she forwarded the conference link around her organization. Her colleagues began to perceive her as an expert, and she started to receive invitations to participate in more external meetings, which she loved. She began to find her work day far more motivating.

Note that although I list strategies to build your reputation both inside and outside the company, organizations often place greater value on building your expert status outside the company. The takeaway is to work through both channels.

Now, select one of the strategies above and notice the difference it makes.

Get Your FREE Digital Copy of The Quit Alternative!

This article is an excerpt adapted by Ben Fanning from his forthcoming book, The Quit Alternative: The Blueprint for Creating the Job You Love….Without Quitting. Ben will be giving away a limited number of digital copies at launch time. To get notified when they’re available, sign up at

StoryHOW with Ron Ploof and Kathy-Klotz Guest [Video Interview, StoryDNA]

Kathy Klotz-Guest and I talk to Ron Ploof about storytelling for business and his StoryHOW Pitch Deck… Ron Ploof is a professional business storyteller who teaches how to transform messages, ideas, and presentations into memorable stories… he worked with Epson America and other companies… and he created this really cool deck- so let’s talk about it: