If you only listen to ONE of my episodes today, I’d point you to E11. You know why? I connected with someone who was as equally as passionate about content marketing as me–and so wonderfully expressive about their passion. Brandon Schaefer is the bomb! He’s an expert growth and business strategist, as well as mentor; and has helped companies like BuzzSumo, Hashtagify and many others (that he can’t name for NDA reasons) climb to the top. He’s also founded multiple companies of his own, including MyVirtualSalesForce.com. Brandon comes from a family of entrepreneurs and is an avid proponent of content marketing–you can tell it all throughout this episode! I enjoyed having his passion and expertise (not to mention personality!) on my show.
In Episode 11 of The Write Podcast, Brandon Schaefer joins me for an epic discussion on content marketing:
- Why it’s absolutely essential to businesses of ALL sizes
- How brands can get started right now (hint: it’s as simple as writing, writing, writing)
- How Brandon came from a family of entrepreneurs
- What a “butt to the gut” is and how it applies to content marketing (basketball term)
- How to connect with influencers (don’t go for the jugular right away)
- Shoutout to Sujan Patel!
- How content types and mediums are like the ingredients to a cake
- ….& more!
If you like what you hear, please leave me an honest rating and review on iTunes here. It will help the show and it’s ranking in iTunes immensely. I appreciate it! Enjoy the show!
Transcript: Episode 11, Why Content Marketing is Like Eggs to Your Cake with Brandon Schaefer
Julia: Hello and welcome to episode 11 in the Write Podcast. I’m here with Brandon Schaefer, who is a business strategist and mentor. He currently owns and runs myvirtualsalesforce.com. He’s a business mentor at Score Mentors and he’s worked with multiple companies in growth hacking and brand awareness. He’s also the author of Wake Up To Win.
Brandon, I’m really excited to have you here today.
Brandon: Oh thank you so much. I really appreciate it. I’m thankful for the opportunity.
Julia: Absolutely. So let’s start. What would be your number one piece of advice or something fundamental for someone that’s looking to grow their brand?
Brandon: Get a plan, sit down with somebody. [LAUGH]
Brandon: I don’t even write stuff, I type, I don’t even carry a pen, but get a plan and sit down with maybe one or two people in your market segment that you can count on, if you don’t know somebody, find one or two people that aren’t actually trying to sell you anything. That they’re maybe in a similar market segment or somebody that you can sit down with and kinda share where you’re at.
Get an unbiased opinion and not from a wife, a husband, partner anything else like that. Get somebody that can sit down with you and be honest with you and say like, listen how I’m I gonna make this thing work? This is what I’ve done so far, this’s the amount of money I spent and this is the amount of money I have left in the reserve.
What can I do over these next three months and get a strategy together, because I talked a lot of people and they always dumped, like, $70,000 so far and they don’t have a website yet. So it’s like we’ve been launching the website and it’s like don’t wait for perfection.
All three of those, you need to really focus on. There’s not anything what, those three are my three magic portions there, strategy, don’t spend a lot, don’t wait for a perfection because none of them are, you’re not gonna have a lot of perfection, you’re not gonna have a lot of money probably when you start and you’re probably not gonna have a lot of strategy either so those three things are the triangle that will yield good results I love it.
Julia: That reminds me of how I started my company. Every point you said just reminded me of how I began. So four years ago, actually five years ago now, I started my company because I was a really busy freelance writer. I had too much work on my hands but I didn’t want to turn away any client.
So I identified the need for a writing agency that had really good writers because back then it was like the industry was more populated with non English writers so I just identified that need and then in five minutes I literally coined my business name and I wish I’d spent a little more time on it [LAUGH] because I just took that business and ran and now I’m like, oh, I could have been more creative.
Brandon: Yeah, I mean the thing is like with your story, it’s kind of like your sitting then your like, oh this just seems like good idea, just do it. You’re not like spending like a ton of money because you go out you hire these big firms to do these websites to look like Walmart and Target and stuff like that or some like site that spends hundreds or thousands of dollars.
Just go to work, get something starting, blog or something, get something started, prove your model and as you prove your model, then you can start to spend some money, but you just don’t dive into the pool without knowing how deep it is.
You gotta out your toe in, feel it around, see what type of feedback you get like you did. An outlook. You got an incredible experience.
Julia Right. I spent $75 total to start my company. I coded my own website, I learned how to do it all myself, I learned how to post everything so [LAUGH] yeah, you don’t need much.
Brandon: I tell you what Julie, this is what most people that come to me I’m like, most companies, this is what I say initially.
I’ll sit down with you, I’ll go over the strategy, come back to me in 30, 60 days I’m gonna see how you’re doing. If you prove that you’ve done what I’ve recommended, then I’ll work with you. But until then, it’s not going to work because when someone jumps in, everyone has expectations that are like here because all we hear on the web is success stories.
All you hear is the tip of the iceberg, super success stories. Like hey I just started this, or hey I did this and this, we don’t hear about the 20 billion other people that just haven’t made a dime. It’s just shiny object syndrome.
But take the recommendations, start out slow and build it up from there and write Everyday, write every single day, I don’t care if you write 300 words, 500 words, what’s the guy, he posts everyday, he writes, Seth, who is it?
Julia: Seth Godin.
Brandon: Yeah, what’s he write? His posts are 100 words, I mean he has some more in-depths, I mean he’s an incredible guy, incredible resource, but his daily posts are like 200 words.
I mean that’s it.
Julia: They’re really short. Yeah that’s great advice. That’s something I do all the time, is just sit down and write. Maybe three fourths of my week is writing.
Brandon: Yeah it’s a diary. I mean for me personally I take the train on most days, so I just write on the trains. An hour ride each way on the train.
So usually in the morning time or afternoon, really in the afternoon I’ll take half hour and I’ll just write. And whatever I can write in a half hour, I write. And that’s me. I’m not sending this to get reviewed or anything else like that. I’m writing and publishing and firing. And I’m on to the next thing.
I know it’s not gonna be perfect. You hear me speak, I mean I speak crazily. I mean I speak with passion, I get loud, I get crazy.
Julia: That’s great.
Brandon: I jump up and down.
Brandon: Sometimes I have trouble talking, I mean it’s just because I’m excited. That’s it.
Julia: Right, well, your passion shows.
Brandon: Oh cool, thank you.
Julia: Tell me a little bit about your background as a business strategist.
Brandon: I grew up in business, my grand father was an entrepreneur, my mother is an entrepreneur. So I just naturally grew up around business strategy, around people always talking about that at thanks giving dinner, at holiday dinners or whenever, that’s all we ever talked about talked about was kind of business stuff, so he can say at some point it’s unfortunate, but kind of learned a lot.
I learned a lot about testing things, and failing, and that it’s okay and get right back up and tie those shoes on; you got to tie those laces on your shoes tighter the next day and get up and test something else out.
So as for planning, no. I always say failing to plan is planning to fail, right? So and that’s all that strategy is. It’s just taking the time to set out kind of a road map for yourself to go on.
Julia: I love that advice. So tell me a little bit about the companies that you’ve helped grow?
Brandon: Well I know one of them was BuzzSumo, I know you had mentioned that when you first reached out to me.
I recently worked with those guys. And I will tell you, that company does everything that they do 100% correctly. They have a small lean staff but they are truly an incredible model and if anybody on here, you reach out to Steve from BuzzSumo he will definitely talk with you. But yea those guys they do it, they do everything 100% correct and in the content world I guess, so much information is driven through content now that that market space that their in is a home-run because everybody is looking for content to share right? It’s perfect for everything for them right now. So it’s a really great company.
Hashtagify, for certain hashtags and stuff like that, that’s another home run of a company. Great brand that’s been around and is very popular in the social media space for attracting hashtags and searching to see which ones are most relevant, which ones are trending and stuff like that, and then we go all the way to sports equipment companies, you name it.
I’m not gonna go on and on with this stuff, for those who are probably two of the ones that would hit home most with your audience. I mean obviously they’re on all different types of market segments.
Julia: Yes you’re right, I use and I love both of those tools and BuzzSumo has been huge for content marketing.
I look at it like an essential content marketing tool, you can’t do much better than that. I haven’t found one that’s really better and you mentioned that what they do they do the best. I’ve reached out to Steve, he’s actually been on my podcast and I love—
Brandon: Oh my goodness okay.
Julia: Yeah and you’re so right about that, one thing he told me was that he has stayed up later than the competition, and that’s been like their number one secret.
Brandon: Oh and they’ve also got another secret, her name is Susan and she does all the web access and all kinds of stuff. She is a phenomenal lady. I feel like well I work with a lot of people but she is a phenomenal phenomenal resource for them.
Julia: That’s cool. It’s often people behind the scenes that are doing so many neat things and you don’t know them, but they’re there working really hard.
Brandon: Well that’s the key with business, actually probably a good point to bring up is that in business there’s always these secret hidden weapons, these secret weapons right, these people that really can get you to where you want to go or can help you along.
And we all see this bright shiny object and everybody especially when you’re trying to get into an account or something else like that, or get a guest post or something else like that, you always go right for the jugular.
Like we’re on an African plain like a lion trying to take down a hyena or something. You don’t look for the jugular, you hang out in the car, in the Jeep or whatever, see who does what. You’ll see that there’s hidden influencers behind all the big influencers or figures. So, if you can aim and start to hook up with some of these type of people, and whether you’re selling or in type of big sale, or whether it be an enterprise or a big company or whatever, whatever the case is, there’s always these hidden influences.
I always try to find a hidden influences or form relationships with them and then they can lead me when the time is right.
Julia: That’s really interesting, I love the advice. So how do you find someone like that?
Brandon: Well it’s, you gotta have, I call it butt in the gut, right? So, it’s like physical, like if you play basket ball, you will always butt in the gut, I’m not, I’m not like a basketball guy but I know my son plays basketball so he’s always coaching me on stuff which helps.
But yeah, it’s by paying attention, it’s by listening, because we all want to, and not just speaking for myself here and you know it’s like, I wanna say how great this is or what we can do or what problems we can solve and how great we’re gonna do it, but people want to really know what’s in it for them though? Like what effect is it going to have on us? Like if we do this service with you, then what results can we expect? What can we, what’s going to be different in our company? So, it’s important to stay focused on always providing value to the client, keeping them first.
Julia: That is so true and that’s funny, because I just published a blog today about how to stand out as a blogger and one of my number one tips is to focus on your audience, and sort of just you and, your brand whatever you’re selling and if you can focus on your audience and talk to that person, that’s so important, because that draws them in and they feel engaged and they’re probably more likely to go to your site and do something.
Brandon: Yeah and you’ve gotta get active, I mean, as, just as you know, you gotta go out to the conferences, if you can’t afford to go out to the conferences, then get involved in online groups, or Facebook groups, there’s lengthy in groups, there’s Twitter, you name it, just get engaged, get involved, with these different types of people and just give, give a response every once in a while, if they write something, I’m more into e-mail, I will rarely comment on an actual blog but I will get an e-mail address for them and send them a personal note like hey this is where this really hit home for me, thank you so much, like this is really cool, I was just thinking about this, like that type of stuff, so, I’ll take it actually offline right away, in most cases, if I’m gonna take the time to read a comment I’ll actually take the time to find their e-mail address and send them a personal e-mail and that’s, you wanna get your butt in your gut, that’s really get’s you belly to belly with somebody.
Julia: Exactly and that reminds me of how I touched base with you, I think it was just through a tweet.
Brandon: Oh yeah, that’s exactly how it works, you send me something today this is like this or whatever, we took it offline, and it’s a message I said hey send me an e-mail, and a couple of days later we were talking so.
Julia: Exactly, it’s amazing how quickly that can work. You know it’s like something, something so simple just to reach out directly and there’s so many platforms now like you mentioned going to events and Blab is huge.
Brandon: Yes, yeah.
Julia: For the networking, it’s been enormous.
Brandon: And there’s one thing that I always like to do too with these influencers, just kinda circling back on the, influencer stuff.
Brandon: Find out what platforms they hang out on and hang out on those platforms that they hang out on. So you try to get in front of somebody, but if someone’s big on Blab or someone’s big on Twitter or anywhere else and always on there, find out where they hang out the most and then communicate with them on that channel because there’s so many different channels as you know, we’re all kind of flipping back and forth, we’re getting with stuff.
I mean most people use tools, I know we use a bunch of tools to monitor tracks and hashtags and direct messages and email. There’s all day long there’s stuff coming come again, but if it’s sincere outreach, we’ll immediately respond back to that. Or if it’s something bad, we’re gonna immediately respond not that that happens a lot but wherever, but we’re prepared to take that conversation offline immediately as well.
Julia: Exactly. That’s so true about finding the platform where they I remember I was trying to reach out to someone on Twitter, when I was looking for someone to write my book for and I finally got Sujan Patel to do it but whenever I was looking for people, I reached out to someone on Twitter and they were like, well I don’t know you, so this was an influencer there.
Julia: He’s like I don’t know you, but why don’t you come join my Blab and then we’ll get to know, to know each other and then yeah, maybe I’ll do it.
Brandon: Oh, that’s cool. Is it Sujan—Sujan?
Julia: Sujan Patel.
Brandon: Susan, okay. Does he run Contentmarketer.io or is that-
Julia: Yeah, he started that.
Brandon: I’ve actually reached out to him real quick about how to actually do something. I’ve actually tested out that software, it was pretty cool. He’s got a couple of different things going. He seems like a pretty cool dude, I like his profile picture and if he’s ever in Philadelphia here I’ll be sure to catch up with him.
Julia: Oh that’s cool. Influencers connecting with influencers.
Brandon: That’s [LAUGH] that’s it, is it.
Julia: So Brandon, I just wanted to touch on as well content marketing, in your experience as a business strategist and growth hacking, how important would you say content marketing is to a business that’s looking to grow?
Brandon: Oh man. It is vitally important.
If I like don’t answer you right away is because it hits directly to my, it’s like you stab me in the heart with a knife because it hits so close to home with me, like I’m actually catching my breath before I say something so-
Brandon: Oh yeah content marketing is vital to any size business, any size.
I don’t care if you’re bricks and mortar, Mom and Dad shop, that you’re 70 years old and you’re in some small town. Content marketing, first it’s free. Well I don’t know if anything’s free anymore because time costs money and you know here and there but if you don’t have the advertising dollars to actually pay Google or pay Facebook or pay Twitter or any of these other platforms to run ads on or banner or whatever and you’re a happy writer, even if you’re not a half decent writer, but you’re writing about making saddles for English riding and horses in Wyoming, if you’re very specific, there’s a very, very good chance and you’re offering some information that’s unique, there’s a very, very good chance that your content is going to get seen by people and have some type of you’re gonna get more leverage and more opportunities to talk to more people.
Not only that but you also have the opportunity to get back lengths like qualified backlinks—
Brandon: Not like junk crap backlinks that don’t mean anything. It would be like me linking to you linking to you know and that shows basically free SEO so and there are so many types of different content to like get on a blab you can do a blab then you can transcribe what you went over and what you talked about you can do portions you can do quotes from that you know there is just you can make it into a SlideShare then you can make it into another video on YouTube, there is 15,000 things to do so there is no excuse you know?
Julia: Exactly I totally agree with that and that’s something I found just launching a podcast is in the amount of content I can re-create out of this podcast. You know we’ve done transcriptions for every episode, and the transcriptions have been like 6,000 words, and we post that as a new piece of content on our site and that’s huge attracting already new rankings.
Brandon: Yeah of course it works and it’s important there are so many companies that are still kind of not believing in it And I mean listen you can pay I was just doing a guest post for Tor Refsland, he just picked me yesterday about a guest post for something similar to this so I sent it back yesterday but you got to believe in it right so there are so many companies that are paying Google. And when I pay Google I mean I’m just guilty of it as well right so it’s like when I go to the water falls and I turn the water falls and then water comes out right it’s the same thing with Google when I pay Google traffic comes, right? And then when I stop paying them the traffic stops coming and it just still be a little bit of leakage here and there every once in a while.
But when you implement content marketing and you do it good and consistently and when I say consistently it’s not just like once a week or you can do whatever is comfortable for you like I just share like once a day, once every other day, I’m just here like a business experience that I’m going through I won’t mention any names because we always disclosure agreements but I won’t mention any names but I’ll just share like a similar story or something else like that and it works it’s a way to get it to work.
Julia: Right. So how would you look at different mediums of content as like for example being more important or more essential than another, like blogging I suppose, to doing a video or different mediums like that. So how important is a blog for business in general?
Brandon: Again you are stabbing me in the heart because these things hit so close to home. Always on my mind. You are doing a great job.
I look at it like this right so when you make a recipe at home not that I cook a lot and stuff like that my wife thank goodness for her does that, but so when we cook or something when we do we need all the ingredients right we need something like mushrooms.
We need some onions, we need some oil, we need some butter. We need some chicken if we’re gonna put in there or whatever. So those are all the ingredients, and no one type of content is good for everybody. So you gotta take a little bit of each one of the pieces, whether it is video, whether it’s actually an infographic, whether it’s by chair whatever platform it is you need to fold them all into the blender right and you need to hit, it just gets you, you need to touch on all basis and then once you do that for like a month for like 30, 60, 90 days then you can see which one is giving you the most ROI right and then you can start to really focus on that one, but you can’t leave the rest of them out of the picture right because all of them equal to pieces of puzzles.
So if you find one piece that like yields you better results than the others then always have that issue of primary focus but still make sure you are always hitting on this other types of content as well.
Julia: I love it that reminds me of a phrase I’ve seen a lot, like the eggs to your cake. That’s like—
Julia: The content to your marketing.
Brandon: Yeah that’s exactly what it is.
Julia: Thanks so much for being here Brandon, I really appreciate it.
Brandon: Anytime and I’m available any time anybody wants to talk, anybody wants to chat in whatever, I’m here to help.
[MUSIC] Thanks for joining today’s Write Podcast. For more online content, tips and strategies, visit expresswriters.com/write-blog and now here’s your host Julia McCoy with a final message.
Julia: I hope you enjoyed today’s episode, I absolutely loved connecting to and talking with Brandon Schaefer, you can find them at myvirtualsalesforce.com or on Twitter @MyVSF_Brandon.
I’m really excited because my, book So You Think You Can Write, The Definitive Guide To Successful Online Writing came out April 19th and I’ve seen it already hit #2 and 3 on the charts on Amazon. And even better than that, I’ve been hearing from so many people including people around the world that are telling me how much my book is helping them create better content online, and that to me is so inspirational. That’s why I wrote this book, I really think that the hands-on skills involved in online content writing are not taught or talked about enough in a way that everyone can understand. It took me over five years of self teaching to learn all of this skills after a lot of trial and error and finding out what works and what doesn’t. So I’ve put everything I’ve learnt into a book, So You Think You Can Write, the Definitive Guide To Successful Online Writing and you can find it right now on Amazon, Print and Kindle as well as Barnes & Noble and iBooks. Go to www.bit.ly/soyouthinkyoucanwrite for all the links.
Thank you so much for joining today’s Write Podcast!