Simon Thompson on Building a Content Marketing Machine

podcast-69-simon-thompson

Background

Today, on Hubstaff’s Agency Advantage Podcast, I’m talking with Simon Thompson of Content Kite who shares how to build a content marketing machine for your agency.

Simon’s spent years working for agencies and big corporations, creating content strategies for major brands like Disney and BMW. He saw the power of content, but realized so few agencies were actually using these strategies to grow their own business that he launched Content Kite to do just that.

In our chat, Simon lays out how he builds lead generating content marketing machines for his agency clients, everything from coming up with topics and how to promote the content to the process for repurposing it.

He doesn’t hold anything back. This is a truly actionable interview.

If your content strategy is lacking, but you don’t think you have the time to change that, then this is the episode for you.

Grab the transcript of the episode here.

Key Takeaways

A content strategy for your agency

Simon seriously simplifies the content creation process by using what he calls the hub and spoke model. First, you come up with a central idea to base your content around, for example, a digital agency advising their readers on how to better their business through technology.

Once you have that central idea, you create spokes from it: ideas that spring naturally from the central idea. So, in our example, the digital agency might write an article about the advantages of a mobile-friendly site versus a separate mobile app.

Simon advises his clients to start with at least 12 ideas that branch off from your central idea. Then you have 12 weeks worth of content already started.

Promoting your content properly

Of course, it’s not good enough to just create content: next you have to bring traffic to that content. Simon argues that agency owners really miss the boat here. You can have the best content in the world, but if no one’s looking at it, it’s not generating any leads.

Posting links on Twitter or Facebook won’t help you if you don’t yet have a large following. So many agency leaders reach out to influencers in their field, people who have a large following, and ask them to take a look at what they’ve written, which really means, “Please share this with your followers even though you have no idea who I am or what this is about.”

According to Simon, this is a great way to get your content ignored. If you reach out to someone with a request that benefits only you, and that person doesn’t know you from Adam, they’re not going to want to help. What Simon suggests is instead to ask that influencer for a quote or a data point or some other juicy tidbit to add to your article.

Nine times out of ten, people are far more willing to do that. After all, you’re not just asking them to promote something for you: you’re saying you respect their influence and want their opinion on something they know a lot about. And if someone agrees to be quoted in an article or supplies a key data point, they’re more likely to promote it, since it enhances their brand as an expert.

Using content upgrades to capture leads

Many content creators subscribe to the idea of lead magnets, i.e. a little call to action at the end of the post, something like, “Want to see more of this? Sign up for our newsletter.” Simon argues this isn’t going far enough. General calls to action are great for more general spaces, like a homepage or a landing page. Odds are in that case the client came looking for your company and is more open to the idea of general information about what you do.

However, according to Simon, if a client clicks on your article from a different source, like Twitter or a Google search, the only thing you as a content creator know is that the client likes that article. Therefore, Simon argues for a far more specific call to action with that article.

Don’t just offer the client your newsletter; offer them something specifically related to the article, which will then hook them back to the newsletter. For example, white papers or an e-book related to the article topic is going to be far more valuable to your customer.

This might sound like a lot of work, but it doesn’t have to be. A checklist is great. So is even just a PDF of the article. The idea is to give your client different ways to consume your content based on your preferences, just like we post a transcript of the podcast for people who prefer to read the interviews rather than listen to them. Be creative.

Transcript:

Andy Baldacci:All right, that looks good. Let me just get a quick … Can you actually just say like hi to say something? Because sometimes then Zencastr I’ve seen where it doesn’t always pick up the other microphone.

 

Simon Thompson:Sure, well hi, Andy. How are you? Can you hear me?

 

Andy Baldacci:I can all right so I can see the little green bar, so it looks like you’re talking. All right, let me just get a quick sip of water and we’ll get started.

 

Simon Thompson:Cool. Me too.

 

[00:00:30]

Andy Baldacci:

 

Simon, thanks so much for coming on my show today.

 

Simon Thompson:Thank you for having me, Andy.

 

Andy Baldacci:Before the show, we were talking about a survey that you recently conducted where you looked over a thousand different digital agency websites to get a sense for how they’re applying content marketing in the real world. Because while everyone talks about content marketing, we know it doesn’t always get applied the way it should, so what was the survey and what did you actually find?

 

Simon Thompson:

[00:01:00]

 

 

 

 

[00:01:30]

The survey came about as a result of I was hearing a lot about just through our conversations with agency owners that basically, they’re just not doing content or they’re not doing content well, so we decided to figure out some facts and figures and see what that actually looked like. What we did is we had a VA go around to the website of 1,000 digital agencies, so by digital agency I mean web, app, mobile design, and development companies predominantly and we analyzed how often they were posting a blog post. I will say at this point it was based purely on frequency. It had nothing to do with the value of the content or the word count or anything like that. It was based on frequency, and I’ll get into why that’s important later in the [inaudible 00:01:42].

 

 

 

[00:02:00]

 

 

 

 

 

[00:02:30]

Our rating system looked like this, so we had one post a week or more that got a rating a four. Between one and three post per month that had a rating of three so a three or four we considered generally a good posting frequency. The rating of two that was one to three post per quarter and a rating of one what we would consider quite a poor posting frequency. That was between one and three post per year, and then there were [inaudible 00:02:11] which meant they just didn’t have a blog. We knew that we weren’t going to have an overwhelming majority of agencies that were posting on a weekly basis or more. What we found was that only 7% of agencies in our sample which was 1,000 digital agencies, so statistically significant 7% were posting weekly or more.

 

 

 

 

[00:03:00]

 

 

 

 

 

[00:03:30]

Yeah, so we were pretty blown away by that, and our first takeaway from that would be that there is a huge opportunity for agencies here to be posting more content. In every other industry, you hear so much about this content ether, and how it’s so hard for your content to stand out and in the digital agency space depending on what industries you work with et cetera et cetera that problem is not nonexistent, but it’s definitely less of problem. There is a huge opportunity for our agencies to be producing more content there. The most concerning finding that we found was that not so much the agencies that didn’t have a blog at all. They’ve at least decided that they don’t want to do content marketing and that’s fine but, 36% of our sample were producing a handful of posts every year, so there are a broad rating of one or two. Now, the value of the content is a very big factor. Sorry, did that just beep through the microphone?

 

Andy Baldacci:That’s all right.

 

Simon Thompson:

 

[00:04:00]

 

 

 

 

[00:04:30]

Okay, cool. Let me cut that out. The value of the content is obviously a huge factor. I don’t want to downplay that, but in our opinion, there is almost no point in producing content if you’re only going to be producing one or two or three or four posts per year. You’re just not properly leveraging it as an asset. I’m sure as you well know and most people who have written a blog post know it’s not just a short piece of work. It can take anywhere between two and eight hours to produce a well written a well-researched piece of content. Not to mention all the promotion and social media and leveraging that content that goes into it. That’s our study in a nutshell so a lot of opportunity and also a few concerns for agencies who are basically not producing enough content.

 

Andy Baldacci:

 

[00:05:00]

Simon, what I’m going to do your audio it gets a little distorted at some points. Zencastr does a good job of since it records on your end it feels like lag from the connection it shouldn’t be in the recording, but just to make sure that we don’t have any issues. Can you like double check to see if you have like Dropbox or any like Cloud storage or like anything running that could be also using the Internet and try to close those?

 

Simon Thompson:

[00:05:30]

Sure. I don’t have anything running. I’m going to close my email down. Somewhere I got a Google doc open, Spotify. Close that and cool. Let’s go. All right so that’s everything closed. Let’s see how it …

 

Andy Baldacci:

 

 

 

[00:06:00]

Honestly, the recording should be fine but just to give you a heads up like sometimes there were some like parts that like dropped off what you were saying so like if I awkwardly like don’t reply that’s why. We shouldn’t have any issues but like just keep that in mind so like if you don’t hear me say anything and you’re done talking just like say like, “Hey, Andy, are you still there?” Does that work?

 

Simon Thompson:Yep, sure thing. Sounds good. Hello.

 

Andy Baldacci:Yeah, okay. All right, so let’s go. I’m just making a note at this time and then just when we get back up; I’ll just talk about why they’re not doing more content. Does that work for you?

 

Simon Thompson:Yep, definitely.

 

[00:06:30]

Andy Baldacci:

 

So I think it’s interesting because we often hear about the whole cobbler’s kids have no shoes paradigm. Where people are so busy doing client work that they don’t have time to really work on their own businesses. Do you think that’s the case of why agencies aren’t doing more over the content or what do you think the reason is why so many agencies struggle to really be consistent with their own content?

 

Simon Thompson:

[00:07:00]

 

 

 

 

 

[00:07:30]

Yeah, absolutely I think you hit the nail on the head there. Agency owners more so than in any other businesses tend to be more involved in the client work. That makes sense. They enter the agency world and start up their own agency because they like being designers and developers and that’s a good thing. Where it falls down is they tend to focus less on the working on the business versus in the business. The other reason I think they’re not producing content is in short that they just haven’t had the need. Agencies again more so than most other business tend to be very referral based so they do great work and they get referred to another client, and they get more work that way.

 

 

 

 

[00:08:00]

I think the statistic is 90% of agencies rely on referrals as their primary or sole source of leads and that’s not necessarily a bad thing for a lot of agencies that tends to get them all the work that they could require. They tend to be the best sort of lead, so referral based leads know what you have to offer, they trust you, they convert at a much higher rate, and research also shows that they actually have a higher lifetime value than leads from other sources. It’s definitely a good thing. Where it can become problematic is when an agency decides that they want to grow past that because referrals do get to a critical mass.

 

 

[00:08:30]

If you’re not even at the critical mass point and at the very least, it can tend to be an inconsistent flow of leads and something that you don’t have much control over. A lot of agencies that we talked to talk about this feast or famine cycle so they either have too many leads that they can’t even take on all the work or they don’t have enough work to sort of fill up referral for the month in certain circumstances.

 

Andy Baldacci:

 

[00:09:00]

 

 

 

 

 

 

[00:09:30]

Something aware the feast or famine it’s like when things are good, things are great and that work keeps coming in so a lot of times people will if they’re doing some content marketing. If they’re doing this, they’ll stop doing it because they’re like, “We don’t have the bandwidth to handle any more projects right now,” so they just stop whatever efforts actually got them there. Then when things dry up, they go “Oh sh*t what do we do now? We have to start writing some blog posts,” and as you know with content marketing, it’s not going to work right away right overnight. Whether that leads to as big ups and down but say, that’s you’re with an agency or talking to an agency who actually has found the time to consistently apply themselves to the content marketing. What are the common mistakes that they make even at that point?

 

Simon Thompson:

 

 

 

 

[00:10:00]

I think, and this wouldn’t necessarily apply to an agency who is already producing content, but I do want to say it because it’s an important point. I think so many agencies that are producing content are not doing it with a strategy in mind and I can hear people cringe when I say that because this is such a sort of common thing that comes up. You have to have a content strategy, and I think a lot of business owners and agency owners when they see this online they sort of switch off because it seems like a lot of work and a lot of stuff they don’t know about. This whole creation of the strategy and working by that.

 

 

 

 

[00:10:30]

We like to simplify it, and the framework we use and follow is something called the Hub-and-Spoke Model, and it’s basically there are a lot of variations but the cracks of it is that there is a central idea or a topic that you’re content is created around, and then you create different spokes around that as it were. For example, if you were a digital agency you might use a central idea of the better use of technology to grow your business and then around that central idea you might have an article about using a mobile responsive website versus a mobile application and a case study of how much revenue grew when X business built a mobile application for current customers or something like that.

 

[00:11:00]

 

 

 

 

 

[00:11:30]

The key thing I would say is have a central idea. Create 12 topics around that central idea and creating topics is as much easier to do by the way when you have that central idea and then schedule them out over 12 weeks. That is a content strategy, and there is a lot more that you can do with that, and we suggest with the clients we work with that we do do more than that, but if you do that you’re doing a lot more than a lot of other agencies do. Once that strategy is in place, and you have a central idea that you’re writing about. I think the number one problem that people run into is they’re not properly leveraging the content.

 

 

 

 

[00:12:00]

What I mean by that is they’ll produce a content, and in a lot of cases it’s a great piece of content, and they assume that’s going to be enough to drive traffic to it, and it’s just not. Content promotion is something that is talked about a lot, and there is a certain way that most people do it, and it looks kind of like this. You write the article. You’ll share it on Facebook, share it on Twitter. Maybe one time if you’re doing it well you might send it to a few influences; people that you’re linked to, and you’ll say something like, “Hey, I wrote this article. I thought your audience might be interested in it. Let me know your thoughts on it.” Which is code for “Could you please share it to your audience.”

 

 

[00:12:30]

 

 

 

 

[00:13:00]

That used to work to an extent, and it still does work to an extent, but it’s getting less and less effective. I know I’ve heard you say on your show that you get tons of those a day and it’s just like “I don’t have time for this.” What we do when we are working on an article is, we’ll reach out to those people before the article is published and we’ll ask them for a quote or additional insight or an extra data point or something of that sort that may not have been included in their original article and people tend to have no problem sharing that information.

 

 

 

 

 

[00:13:30]

People like to be helpful if it’s not a whole lot of work for them, so a quick reply to that email with a quote is much easier to do that sharing it to their audience in whatever fashion. Now, you get two things out of that. A, you get additional insight and a quote et cetera but B when you come to promote it that person is sort of invested in the article, and the success rate of asking that person to share that article is significantly higher, so we get a really great response rate when we ask those people.

 

Andy Baldacci:When you do this are you creating like a round up post or is this just a standalone piece of content, and you’re adding a couple of quotes from experts to it where there is still more material outside of the quote but how do you look at it?

 

Simon Thompson:

[00:14:00]

The article is going to be more or less what we’ve decided to write the article, and we’ll just ask for a quote or something additional that we haven’t mentioned already in the article that we can look to.

 

Andy Baldacci:

 

 

 

 

[00:14:30]

That makes a ton of sense. Because you’re right. I think of anyone out there listening runs a blog of any size or they have any sort of social following like you’re getting inundated with these really generic messages from people you have no idea who they are and they’re just sending you a link and saying, “Oh what do you think about this? Would you mind sharing it? Could you like to it? Could you do whatever?” It’s like, “No, I’m not going to do that. One I don’t know why this matters I’m already busy.” Like, “Why should I care about this?” and so if you can create that customized, personalized pitch that’s not directly asking for something from them that only benefit’s you? You’re asking for their input in the form of a simple quote to help give and create a more complete of content. I can see immediately why that works and why that’s a much better strategy than just spamming out a link to everybody.

 

[00:15:00]

Simon Thompson:

 

Yeah, definitely and I think yeah there are just so many of those emails sent today. They’re just so get lost in the ether.

 

Andy Baldacci:One other thing I know you had mentioned. I know that it’s part of the process that you guys follow is about content upgraded. Because of many people their blogs if they do anything the most common thing they’ll ask for is just an email address to join their newsletter but that’s really not getting the most out of their content they can so can you speak to how content upgrades help?

 

[00:15:30]

Simon Thompson:

 

 

 

 

 

[00:16:00]

 

Definitely so yeah content upgrades is something that we now consider a mandatory for creating content. Like you said in a lot of articles you might see a call to action at the end that says if you want more content like this sign up to our newsletter and there is no real value being added to that article. Just the vague promise that they may be able to consume more content like it. The next level up from that is producing what’s called a lead magnet which listeners may be familiar with so that might be something like an e-book or a white paper or some long form piece of valuable content. Or it could even just be a cheat sheet or a checklist but it’s general, and it’s vague that users can download at the end of that article.

 

 

 

[00:16:30]

 

 

 

 

 

[00:17:00]

It’s not necessarily related to that article. What a content upgrade is it’s essentially a blog post specific lead magnet, so the reason why this is important is because when a user lands on that article, the only thing we know for sure that they’re interested in is that article. We can’t make the assumption that they’re interested in your e-book or white paper that’s not about that article. What we do know for sure if they’re interested in the article so if we can create more value based on the content in that article then you can significantly increase the email subscription rate by factors of 50% up to 1000% so two to ten X and a lot of people listening might go “Wow that seems like a lot of work. I have to create a whole additional piece of content.”

 

 

 

 

[00:17:30]

 

 

 

 

 

[00:18:00]

It doesn’t have to be. You can use something like Apple Pages or even PowerPoint. You can create a pretty basic well-designed checklist or cheat sheet or take away. In a lot of cases, we create just a pdf of that article, and people may say, “Well where is the value add in that?” To them, I would say the statistics are 30% of people that land on your article bounce within five seconds. 50% will read the first 100 words. 80% will have bounced before the end of the article so really only 20% of people are reading your article in full. If you can produce something like a takeaway of the article or a checklist related to the article or something snackable that they can just take away.They don’t have to read their article then and there. There is value in that, and there is enough value to receive an email address from them. Hello.

 

Andy Baldacci:

 

[00:18:30]

Yeah, all right. Sorry about that. I wasn’t cut out for a second. I got the rest of it and so what I’m going to do from here. One second. We’ll just talk about, so there is two questions I’m going to go into. The first one is … I’m trying to think of how it is. No, we’ll just go right into the other question where it’s about like when lead magnets should be used? The more general like e-books that kind of thing. Is that work for you?

 

Simon Thompson:Sorry, what was your question? What kind of content upgrades?

 

Andy Baldacci:

 

[00:19:00]

The question is more because there content upgrades are more related to like this is directly related to the article that you’re reading right now and whereas opposed to like lead magnets are a bit more general where it’s like an e-book. People aren’t always interested in those things in the piece of content, so I’m going to ask if there is a time and place where lead magnets still makes sense?

 

Simon Thompson:Yeah sure.

 

Andy Baldacci:

 

[00:19:30]

 

 

 

 

 

[00:20:00]

Let’s just make one more note for the time. All right. Simon that makes a lot more sense to me, and it’s something when you’re asked that question like where is the value there that? I had the same exact question because when we were doing the podcast, we started adding transcripts we had those in there. Obviously, things are like 12, 20 pages sometimes so they’re pretty long and so we’re like, “All right if people aren’t even living the show notes why are they going to want to get something way longer that or why are they going to get something shorter on the other side if you want to do a cheat sheet or a checklist?” We found that both ends of it work because they do appeal to people who just want either a bite-sized bit or who want something more and don’t want to listen to the audio, don’t want to watch the video, don’t want to do whatever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

[00:20:30]

I think it just speaks to the point for the upgrades if you can hit different angles. If you can hit people who have different expectations, different ways they want to consume the content then it can really be powerful and still provide value even if that’s not the way you want to consume the content. To build on that though, you had earlier mentioned about more traditional lead magnets like e-books and white papers, and I know a lot of agencies have these. A lot of companies and their clients have these. Is there still a place for this more general type of email capture where instead of promoting something specific to an article, I’m promoting something more general like an e-book. Does that still have a place in the content marketing strategy?

 

Simon Thompson:

 

[00:21:00]

 

 

 

 

[00:21:30]

Yeah absolutely. E-books, white papers, things like that we love to producing those. There is a lot of value in creating those. The reason I mentioned content upgrades is because we only know based on the person reading that article that they’re interested in that article. Where lead magnets come into play of the things like landing pages or perhaps on a home page. Maybe where you have a more generalist audience that the lead magnet may appeal more to. The cracks of it is the more data you have, i.e.; we know someone is interested in this topic because they’re reading this article then we can create a more specific lead magnet for them. When we don’t have that data available, then the general lead magnets tend to go a long way in capturing email addresses as well.

 

Andy Baldacci:

 

 

[00:22:00]

That makes sense and one of the other things that you had mentioned and that we had talked about is that like most common email capture is just “I want to hear more like this. Give us your email address, and we’ll keep you in the loop.” That’s obviously not super compelling, but that’s what people have and so while that needs to be improved upon that how do you … Let me reword this, sorry. What place do you see newsletters and email marketing play in the whole content marketing system? Because I know you do a lot with marketing automation and all of that. If we want to still have an email newsletter how do we make sure we do it right?

 

Simon Thompson:

[00:22:30]

 

 

 

 

[00:23:00]

Definitely, so I don’t want to discount the value of an email newsletter to a business and the customer. It’s just when you’re offering that as extra value to an article that that can be slightly problematic. When you’ve offered a content upgrade, the person has by proxy opted into your email list. The constant flow of emails so if you’re producing an article weekly you send an email weekly and that can be as little as 50 words, 100 words in an email. You’re just creating another touch point that reminds the person that you’re there, and you’re a business that can potentially help them and while you do that you’re creating value and adding value.

 

 

 

 

[00:23:30]

Yeah, it’s definitely an important thing to do. I don’t have the exact statistic on hand, but the majority of people who visit your blog are never going to return again so if you do want the opportunity to sell them on your product or service lay it down the track. It’s incredibly important to, first of all, capture their email but then to continue the relationship and I say that doing figure quotes. Because it may be a very one sided relationship but a relationship nonetheless. It’s definitely better than having any touch points so yeah it’s definitely an important part of what we do and what efforts they should definitely think about when they do content.

 

Andy Baldacci:

 

[00:24:00]

Then do you see the email as obviously you want to have a corresponding email for every piece of content you’re creating but beyond that are you only contacting them via email when you’re putting out new content or are their ways to more directly move them along deeper in the funnel to try to get this person, this lead to become a paying client?

 

Simon Thompson:

 

[00:24:30]

Definitely. They definitely are, and that’s probably a topic for another podcast entirely. Marketing automation platforms something like a drip or infusion soft are incredibly sophisticated, and you can get a very good idea of the strength of a lead based on what they’re clicking on. How much time they’re spending on. This page of your site versus another. You can get a very good idea of what customers are interested in and the likelihood of them going on to become a lead.

 

 

[00:25:00]

It does make a lot of sense to create extra content around that and funnel users down the sales funnel as a way based on their lead strength. That tends to for a lot of agency owners really over complicate things, so we say just at a minimum if you’re just sending a weekly email that is the 80-20 of email marketing. You’re creating another touch point, and you don’t have to invest a whole lot of time into all these marketing automation software which is incredibly valuable, but it’s a whole another kettle of fish.

 

[00:25:30]

Andy Baldacci:

 

Right, that’s sort of the if you want to go deep or something. If you really want to make sure you’re squeezing every ounce out of your content system then look into that but if you’re writing a blog post once a quarter don’t let the idea that “Hey, I don’t have time to get marketing automation stuff.” Don’t let that stop you because there is a lot of ways you can get that by just getting the basic foundation in place. Would you agree with that?

 

Simon Thompson:Exactly right yep.

 

Andy Baldacci:

[00:26:00]

 

 

 

 

 

 

[00:26:30]

Before we get into specifically how you applied this system for agencies and help them get more clients. I just have one more area that I want to talk about, and that’s content repurposing, and this is something that I think really helps agency owners who think that they don’t necessarily have a lot time to do content. Because they say like all right I spend eight-ten hours maybe more on this one blog piece and then next week I have to do it all over again, and next week all over again and it just seems like it never ends and while you need to have a steady flow of the blog content. How do you work with your clients to combine some of those, to repurpose some of those pieces of content into something bigger, into something that it can be used in multiple places?

 

Simon Thompson:

 

 

 

[00:27:00]

Yeah, it’s a great question because it is a quick win, an easy win. You can create another entire piece of content that does add value without having to creating something entirely new so for an example using this Hub-and-Spoke framework that I talked about before. You have this central idea, and then you have a whole bunch of blog articles written about that central idea. Where you can create an e-book or white paper or a longer form piece of content that just includes all of those other pieces of content. It is an entirely new piece of content, but it’s made up of pieces that you have already produced. Where you can add value is things like e-books tends to be well-designed. They’re much more readable.

 

 

[00:27:30]

You can make it a much more visually appealing mediums so you can add pretty graphics and things like that. Plus as you said before some people just prefer to consume an e-book rather than read a series of 12 blog posts. They’re maybe more convenient for them to do that. There are a million ways that you can repurpose content, but the cracks of it is that you don’t have to create something new to create something new. [inaudible 00:27:51] a better word.

 

[00:28:00]

Andy Baldacci:

 

 

 

 

 

 

[00:28:30]

 

No, but I also think this speaks back to the importance of having a content strategy because if whatever your schedules are publishing if every time you’re writing a new piece of content. You’re just picking a topic out of thin air. You’re just looking maybe at a new keyword or whatever just sparks your attention that week you probably not going to be able to easily combine a bunch of these posts into an e-book because they’re not going to be very related. If you do have that Hub-and-Spoke Model and you have these 12 topic, you’re going to be covering, or you’re going to be covering one topic for multiple angles. It’s much easier to take those and create a longer format piece of content. Would you agree?

 

Simon Thompson:Exactly right. Yeah, I definitely would.

 

Andy Baldacci:

 

 

 

[00:29:00]

One thing I want to talk about now is how you actually apply this to agencies. Because I know there are so many inbound agencies. There are so many content marketing agencies out there that do this for their clients but struggle to do it on their own, not because they can’t find the time. Not because any of those reasons but because they don’t necessarily know how to apply it to actually get more of their own client. How do you think agencies should think about content in a way that will actually lead to more business for them?

 

Simon Thompson:

 

 

[00:29:30]

I think the number one thing to do is just sit down and think about this question, and it is what is the number one goal my customers want us to help them achieve or what is the biggest challenge that they want us to solve? When you answer that question, it become much much easier to create content around that, and that content is going too valuable to your customers because it helps them achieve the goal or solve a challenge. I’m sorry. I’ve just lost my train of thought.

 

Andy Baldacci:That’s all right.

 

Simon Thompson:Just give me one sec.

 

[00:30:00]

Andy Baldacci:

 

No rush. If you were thinking about for your own business like for content Kite. What do your ideal clients what do you they care about? Like what type of content are you going to be creating for that business?

 

Simon Thompson:

 

[00:30:30]

The number one problem or goal that agencies we work exclusively with digital agencies is they want to generate more leads consistently. To go back to your question before one of the main things we see a lot of agencies or business doing, in general, is they write a lot of content about themselves or the work that they do, and that is not necessarily interesting to your ideal customer. For example, the agency advantage, hub stuff podcast is all about helping agencies run a better agency and getting more leads in. It’s not about time tracking software.

 

[00:31:00]

 

 

 

 

 

[00:31:30]

Because with the greatest respect that may not be a very interesting topic to talk about but what it does is it brings in the target audience, and it provides value to them. Then somewhere along the way that listener is going to get the idea that they need of time tracking software, and you’ll be the first one they think of because you’ve provided all this value along the way and generated trust. When we think about content. We think about what problems do our customers have. Not what do we want write about to make us look good or make our customers know that we know a lot about a certain topic.

 

Andy Baldacci:

 

 

 

[00:32:00]

 

 

 

 

 

[00:32:30]

Right and I think that is one of the biggest mistakes that agencies have when they write content because they say like, all right, I’m an inbound agency. I’m going to write all about inbound marketing, or I do PPC. Let me write all about PPC and what it misses is the fact that clients are usually coming to you because they really have a dying need for more content. It’s because they want more customers. They want to make more money. They want to save time whatever it is there is usually an underlying reason in your specific take on how to get them there isn’t what they care about. They just care that they get there and so if you can focus in on what matters to your customers and keep that in mind you’re really going to get far ahead, and I want to ask you now about you’re actually going to be releasing a podcast. I think by the time this is out the podcast will be live. How does the podcast fit into your overall content strategy?

 

Simon Thompson:

 

 

[00:33:00]

Yeah, so it’s exactly that. It’s part of our content strategy so like a blog post. It’s there to provide value to our target audience which is digital agencies, so it will be a fairly similar set up to the agency advantage podcast. We’ll interview agency owners throughout the world. Talk about what their challenges are but with a focus on business development and what they do to generate more leads and propose more business, so that’s what that will be about. It’s called the Growth Level Podcast.

 

Andy Baldacci:Will that be primarily interviews? How often will you be putting it out? Where are you seeing this go?

 

Simon Thompson:Sorry, the audio just cut out for one second.

 

[00:33:30]

Andy Baldacci:

 

Sorry, let me just mark down the time. Make sure I got it all right.

 

Simon Thompson:Sorry, about these audio issues if it’s from my end. I think my Internet connection is strong.

 

Andy Baldacci:

 

 

[00:34:00]

Yeah, and that’s the thing is that like honestly it’s the same on my end. Like I have closed everything I can. Sometimes you just can’t predict it. It’s just one of those fun things you’ll run into as you go deep down the podcast rabbit hole. Are you on a Wi-Fi connection? Like, are you in your office, at a desk, like where are you?

 

Simon Thompson:I’m actually in my bedroom at the moment. I’ve got a little desk set up in here. It’s just the most quiet part of the house.

 

Andy Baldacci:Is the router close to you? Are you like wireless right now?

 

Simon Thompson:It’s a couple of room away actually.

 

Andy Baldacci:

[00:34:30]

That will be just going forward like for other interviews I would try to just see if there is like better … If it is on your end. It could be on mine as well, but I would just see if there is better locations for you to be. If you could like maybe even set up, they have like little Wi-Fi extenders you can get to improve the signal.

 

Simon Thompson:Okay, yeah sure thing.

 

Andy Baldacci:

[00:35:00]

No, I think we should be good so far. Once we finish up. I’ll double check the audio, let you know but I think with a bit of editing work we’ll be fine but so what we’ll do is we’ll get back into things. What I want to ask you about next, so you understand what we’re going to be going is a bit of like the nitty gritty with the podcast like are you planning on repurposing the podcast content? Are you going to be applying some of these same things to that?

 

Simon Thompson:Yeah, absolutely so everything we’ve talked about in this podcast … I’m I?

 

[00:35:30]

Andy Baldacci:

 

 

 

 

[00:36:00]

 

What we’ll do is we’ll talk about that … Sorry, yeah we’ll talk about that and then after I might have some follow-up questions, but then after that, we’ll do parting advice for agency owners. Like what can they do to get their content marketing plan in place and just get started and then we’ll talk a little bit about the email course. Just so I make sure I have the notes right, what exactly is the email course again?

 

Simon Thompson:Yeah, so it’s a seven-day email course on maximizing ROI from content marketing. It goes into producing the posts and things like that, but it’s a lot of rounds. We have content upgrades and promotion and all that kind of stuff as well.

 

Andy Baldacci:

[00:36:30]

This will basically walk them through it. Honestly, the two questions like what can they do to get started in the email coursing is probably pretty related, so I’m guessing what we’ll do is we can give them a little overview of what to think about what to do and say to go really deep on it check out the email course. Does that sound good?

 

Simon Thompson:Yeah definitely yeah.

 

Andy Baldacci:

 

[00:37:00]

We’ll just talk about the podcast and then where to go from there let me get a quick sip of water. With your podcast I’m guessing you have a lot more planned other than just sticking to audio only, putting it up on the iTunes, maybe doing some shout outs and just leaving it alone. How do you see this driving other forms of content in terms of repurposing and all of that?

 

Simon Thompson:

 

 

[00:37:30]

It’s a good question, so we will be practicing what we preach and doing all those sort of things that we’ve just talked about. We will repurpose the content into a blog post where we’ll produce a transcript. We’ll create it into a whole lot of other forms that the people may want to consume other than the audio, and we’ll be creating content upgrades so quick takeaways that people who don’t want to read the transcript, don’t want to read the blog post, don’t want to listen to the podcast can just get a few snackable takeaways from that podcast.

 

Andy Baldacci:I’m curious what originally led you to decide to launch a podcast because you have a ton of experience with more traditional written content so why go the podcast route?

 

[00:38:00]

Simon Thompson:

 

 

 

[00:38:30]

 

I listen to a ton of podcasts myself. I do notice myself having an affinity towards podcasts hosts that I listen to so there is sort trust built along the way without having to actually have a conversation with every single one of your listeners, so there was that. The second part is what we just talked about. You can create a ton of content just based on that 30 to 40-minute audio recording. You get a whole bunch of blog posts and content upgrades out of it that way. Those are the two main things.

 

Andy Baldacci:

 

 

[00:39:00]

It’s interesting is that when we started with the podcast, it was really a way to just we couldn’t speak to the agency owners as well because we’re not experts in the field and at this point I’ve learned a lot. I’ve talked to so many agency owners that I wouldn’t necessarily consider myself an expert, but I have a good idea of the problems that they face, what works, what doesn’t. That type of thing but coming into it I didn’t, and so this was a way for us to put out content for our target audience without kind of speaking down to them. Because so many times when you outsource content, you’re having someone who has no expertise write content for people who are already experts in the field.

 

 

[00:39:30]

 

 

 

 

 

[00:40:00]

Now it usually just doesn’t work out, and so we came up with the podcast idea for that reason, and it has so many benefit’s in terms of creating content for people who want to consume it differently. Also, for building more of a personal connection with our audience and I’m excited to see more people in the agency podcast space, and I definitely recommend for listeners to check out the podcast which I’ll get linked up in the show notes. Before we start wrapping up though if listeners want to get started. If you’ve motivated them a bit to turn the things around with their content. What is a good first step, like where did they even begin?

 

Simon Thompson:

 

 

 

 

[00:40:30]

The first thing would be what we talked before getting that strategy in place, and the easiest way we know how to do that is by coming up with that central idea that is based on what your target customer would like to consume. Not what you want to write about what they want to consume. Then start with 12 topics around that central idea, and you’ll find that much easier to come up with topics when you have that central idea in mind and then schedule those out. It might be once a week. Once a fortnight. You might even want to start at once a month and then ramp up from there, but the important thing is get that central idea, come up with 12 topics, and schedule them out over your desired timeframe. If you do that you are much much much more likely to succeed with content than most other businesses who aren’t doing that.

 

Andy Baldacci:It’s something we’re having a …

 

[00:41:00]

Simon Thompson:

 

Sorry, go on.

 

Andy Baldacci:

 

 

 

 

 

 

[00:41:30]

That’s all right. I’ve just got to make a note for that. It’s something; we’re just having a plan in general. Like knowing what your next steps are, knowing what you need to do. Setting a schedule to it is a really good way to not just hold yourself accountable, but to make it clear what we need to do. Because if you don’t have something in front of you, that’s saying, “All right, this week I’m writing about this. Next week I’m writing about that.” It’s really hard to make those decision, and it’s really easy to get stuck and just paralysis by analysis just “I have so many different ideas where do I even begin?”

 

 I think starting with that content strategy is definitely the first step but one thing I do want to make sure we mention is that you’re talking to me before about an email course that you put together. A free email course that goes into detail about the actual steps of how to do this beyond just strategy. Can you speak to that a little bit?

 

Simon Thompson:

[00:42:00]

Yeah sure. Like you said it’s a seven-day email course. It’s free. We’ve put it together basically to help digital agencies create content in a way that is well leveraged, well promoted, gets into most email subscribers and ultimately drives more leads so people can go to contentkite.comforward/hub, and they can sign up for it there, and they’ll receive the first lesson instantly.

 

Andy Baldacci:

[00:42:30]

Awesome. I’ll make sure to get that linked up in the show notes but before we do wrap up before I say goodbye. I’d like to ask everyone rapid fire questions. They’re going to be quick, but you don’t have to have short answers. The first one is just right now what are you spending too much time doing?

 

Simon Thompson:Email.

 

Andy Baldacci:That’s probably the top answer that I hear.

 

Simon Thompson:It’s got to be done right, but yeah I find myself sitting there for hours at a time sometimes and just checking through my emails.

 

Andy Baldacci:What do you not spending enough time doing?

 

[00:43:00]

Simon Thompson:

 

Delegating which seems counter intuitive because once it’s done, then I never have to do it again, but I have somewhat of a need for control and tend to do too much myself that I could easily delegate to someone else.

 

Andy Baldacci:Then in the next quarter what are any specific goals that you have that you want to achieve?

 

[00:43:30]

Simon Thompson:

 

The next quarter we’d like to grow by 20$ in MRR. We want to bring on another content manager, and we want to give listeners a bit of background. We use a vetted pool of contractor writers, and we want to run our sort of testing mechanisms on five more writers so that we have more of an army to dive into.

 

Andy Baldacci:

[00:44:00]

Nice and then the last thing is just right now obviously you have a plan to get there but if there would be one obstacle you could single out that could potentially get in the way of you achieving those goals what would that be?

 

Simon Thompson:I don’t have an answer on hand.

 

Andy Baldacci:Are you there?

 

Simon Thompson:Yeah. Can you hear me?

 

Andy Baldacci:Yeah, did you get the last question about the obstacle?

 

Simon Thompson:Yeah, I got the question, but I don’t have a ready answer on hand.

 

[00:44:30]

Andy Baldacci:

 

That’s okay but is there anything like is hiring easy? Is there anything that you see like any growing pains or any potential just issues of scaling to that point?

 

Simon Thompson:Yeah, actually now that you mention it hiring is I think it’s a pain point for just about every business owner. The interview isn’t always as telling as you might think it is so yeah we just want to focus on getting the best ties we possibly can and getting the best people on board.

 

[00:45:00]

Andy Baldacci:

 

Awesome, and so Simon, I want to say thanks so much for coming on the show today. Listeners, if you want to learn more about how to apply this to your agency definitely check out that email course. It’s going to be linked up in the show notes and before we do say goodbye entirely. If the people want to follow along and see what you guys are putting out, see what you’re doing for your own content, for the podcast, for all of that, where are the best places for them to go?

 

Simon Thompson:

[00:45:30]

Yeah sure so the first place I would direct listeners to is contentkite.com/podcast, and they’ll be able to our listen new podcast episodes there so by the time this goes out there should be between five and six episodes they can listen to.

 

Andy Baldacci:Perfect, Simon, thanks again for the time. It was a lot of fun chatting today.

 

Simon Thompson:Thanks so much for having me, Andy.

 

Want to learn more?

Simon offers a free, seven-day email course to help digital agencies create content in a way that is well leveraged, well promoted, gets the most email subscribers and ultimately drives more leads. Go to https://contentkite.com/hub. Sign up for it there and receive the first lesson instantly.

Be sure to also check out Simon’s new podcast, The Growth Lever Podcast, at https://contentkite.com/podcast.

Resources mentioned:

Agency Advantage 65: Michael Gass on Fueling New Business With Content Marketing

Agency Advantage 63: Johnathan Dane on building a $3.6mm/yr (and growing) agency in 2 years

Agency Advantage 24: Johnathan Dane on Building a $1M Agency in Less Than 1 Year

Thanks for listening!