On this episode of Marketer-to-Marketer, Joe Pulizzi, Leah Hammes, Demian Ross, and Melanie Deziel chat about their Content Marketing World experiences.Read More
What is the next big thing in the boundless world of content marketing? Where do we go from here?
Marketing is moving towards interactive vs. interruptive content. Intelligence over aggression is becoming the standard for our ever more discerning customers. It can be easy to get lost in creating vanity content, but sometimes a back to the basics approach, adapted to new media, leads to increased ROI. Going beyond text in your content marketing does not mean you can lose sight of your mission: to provide the consumer with brand building material. We must adapt to the ever-evolving climate while sticking to what works.
There seem to be two camps formed in content marketing: "home run hitters", and "10% optimizers". While both will flow money to the bottom line: not all marketers are multi-faceted. The splintering of techniques will give you a myriad of content to present to your clients. While your corporate identity and compass should be cohesive, fluidity within that structure is paramount.
As your brand grows, a community forms around your brilliance. Your clients become megaphones for content that radiates confidence. It is not the best content that wins: it is the best promoted that will take the day.
The premier agencies have a top-down expectation of creative excellence coupled with a willingness to fail. The merging of "small concept" optimization and "big-idea" confidence will grow your business. Content marketing shaped the landscape in which we work today. What was once the niche is now the mainstream, yet there are still some tried and true methods that work. Encouraging creative agility in your teams will never fail you. Build a pervasive culture of passion.
On this episode of Marketer-to-Marketer, Joe Cox, Doug Kessler, Andy Crestodina, and Heidi Cohen get together at the Content Marketing World conference to discuss evolution in the industry.
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Hey, welcome to Marketer To Marketer. We're here with Enterprise marketer here at Content Marketing World. I'm Joe Cox, and this is my first time here, but I get to talk to some brilliant people today about content marketing. So, I will start things off, okay. So, it feels like, from the vibe I get from the first time here, it feels like, in the words of Drake, kind of started from the bottom, now we're here. And in the early days of content, it felt very much like we were, really trying to say, 'Hey, content is the thing.' It does feel like content's now the thing. So the question this year, really, is what do you do once we've arrived, and once content arrived, and what's next around the corner? So let's start out.
That's a really good one, what's next? I mean, when you say what's next sometimes it implies a fad that has passed, and I don't think that's the case at all. I think almost the opposite where it would won. Like content marketing won. It is now how marketing works, basically, and it's dissolved into the mainstream, so it's not a thing anymore. A part of that is a little bit sad 'cause the mission of it all goes away. For first five, six, seven years of it, we had a mission to replace traditional, stupid marketing, interruptive shout-in-your-face marketing with something smart where you're bringing value to the table. And that was exciting. And now it's the status quo and it does leave me feeling like well, we need the next thing. What is the next thing to be excited about and to? I haven't though this, oh, here's the big thing coming down, it's more like, we now have to get good at a whole bunch of different things. And it's almost like a consolidation phase. You just have to get good at lots of things now. Data, and content, and promotion, and everything else.
I think if the degree to which it's saturated and we need to adapt quickly to get out in front of all these mega trends and this massive volume of content being published, is partly a function of how sleepy that industry is, because in this world of marketing that we are in, it's gotten way more competitive and more familiar with that, especially for North America. I mean, people in Europe have said it's not quite sprouted yet. Plus there's other industries where there's still lots of blue ocean. I think that it's not, we're gonna find what's next sooner because we are marketing to marketers. We are in the Olympics of this industry, and it's very competitive. We're competing against experts every day. But there's lots. I'm still excited for a lot of the people in the fields where it's not content shock yet. It's not totally saturated, and there's still so many niches where it's just blue ocean and lots of room, but it is fun to be out in front where you've got the Doug Kessler's, and the Heidi Cohen's, and the Doug. People who are deep within this and they've been doing it a while. And it's like, How can I beat Doug? That's my job now. I gotta beat this guy. I gotta be a better writer, a better at distribution, content promotion. Very hard. If you got any clues for me, I'll take 'em.
I'd say it's hard to beat you, Andy. Andy is the king of the one liners. You know, he's like, it's not the best content that wins, It's the best promoted content. And what I would say about this phase is, to Doug's point, I think we need a new mission. Is how do we build a bigger community? It's not, there's no mission. It's how do we embrace the community and make it bigger? I think that we've all learned that just shouting at people doesn't work. It's how do we bring them in and make them all a part of our collective? And it doesn't, it's even kids now. Kids don't watch TV. They want their games and videos and everything else to have advertising 'cause they're so used to seeing it, but it doesn't matter until it matters to them. This morning I was listening to Brad from Pinterest, and he said, 'What is the piece that is really interesting to you, and how do you go deeper?' And it's how do you niche down and find those things so that you have an audience? And I call it the inner circle. It can be, used to be the 16 people you wanna get email from. Now it's the people who are on the front page of your telephone. How do you get those people to pay attention to you? Because then you can deliver the consistent content, and they're willing to take your other content when they're ready to do it.
It's not a trick. I don't think it's a trick.
It's a challenge.
I disagree that it's a trick. I think it's a challenge.
Yeah, that word. I see what you mean. So generally, what I was talking about this morning was, in the session was that one of the ways to go above and beyond what others are doing, and to be more relevant, and to stand out and be more original, is to produce original research, which I've been advocating. Produce that, find that missing statistic, that soundbite, that missing stat in your industry that people. When people frequently say but rarely support. So for my survey every year, actually, I'm voting again. It's like, how much time does it take to blog? Answer that question. It's three hours and 20 minutes is the average amount of time to create a blog post. Publishing that state makes you the primary source which is immediate differentiation. Also upgrade to visual formats, Pinterest knows this. Go beyond text, very helpful. Go into it, be like graphics and diagrams and infographics, video.
Format, like what we're doing now, right. Explicit pod, you know explicit content podcast. And Jeff, look where we are and what we're doing. We are 10 X-ing everyone who's writing tweets and blogs behind us here, right. This is the, so those are two ways, I think, that it can help. Upgraded formats and original research, but, I don't know.
It's like a splintering of tactics and techniques. So the first few content marketing worlds, I wasn't at the first, probably two, but, what's this thing called content? What's content marketing? How's it different than traditional marketing? And then as it's gone on, it's splintered into specializations, and it's been granular. And each of them is making real progress. So there's innovation on every front at once. But for me, when I say bedding down and becoming mainstream, I don't think it's slowing down. I don't think it's getting more boring or anything. It's really the opposite. There's tons happening at every front. And keeping ahead within the discipline, for me, is as challenging and as exciting as it's ever been. But I still think what we're doing is the discipline we've all agreed to be in content marketing. There will be lots of innovation, ways to spin things, ways to bring new stories to the table, but I wonder will there be, is anything quite as exciting as, like in a way, digital was when it came? Digital was hugely exciting. And then it convert huge advantages to whoever was early. And then those advantages went, and it was still benefits, like huge benefits just like with content, but the advantages are fewer and further between. Now the advantages comes from being great at it, not just from doing it.
No, but I think you're right. It is on longer terms curve. So just like you said, there was digital, now there's voice, there's real life. But I actually would argue that you have to go back to the basics, and the basics hold that they haven't changed over time. So I think Mark Shaffer wrote this that he went back and actually went onto eBay and bought his first version of Right? So I still say, I say that the core things that were always important still are. You still need a mission. You still need to know who your audience. And now instead of talking about where we're publishing, you're talking about the context. It's a much broad way of looking at it, but it's not just which medium I'm placing but where's that person, what kind of content do they want, what type of device are they looking at it, how many devices are they using. Then where's my content, and how am I gonna distribute that content, Right? Before, when we first started doing content, it's like, 'Ooh, I'm published, yay me!' But now, it's not just publishing it. It's like, okay, I published it, and I guess is my little peace for mind is that I'm talking about amplification distribution. Well, without amplification distribution, guess what you get? ROI of zero. So you do that. You've gotta make sure that you've got amplification distribution. You've gotta make sure that metrics are built into it. It's not just something that those finance people and the geeks looking at your data do. Everyone has to understand it so you get metrics, so you get ROI, so that improve your resource utilization. and you'll ultimately go back to what I said, it's like, you built an audience, an addressable audience, and at a higher level, you create a community around your brand.
So I sit here and I listen to all this, which is great, to kinda hear from other content marketers. It's great 'cause I'm used to not having that. I'm used to have clients. I'm used to having. Coming from an ad agency type of world, where it was always kinda fighting that fight and bringing in content into the conversation. Why is it so hard? And I'm just asking 'cause I really would love some point of view. Why has it been 10 years of us saying this, and now we're just getting to this point. The conversations I'm having with clients, many that you know, surprisingly large, as well as in the agency world still grab zero. Why do we, like how, is it a complexity issue? Is it because it is really changing things completely from interruptive to really pulling people into it? Why do we think the number one point of struggle is? Why are we still so?
Well, I think, inherent challenges. The number of new tools and technologies creates noise that makes it more difficult for marketers to focus on strategic outcomes. Lack of focus, we heard that this morning. Another problem is digital monopolies have throttled back organic reach and will continue to do so. Distribution's not easier, there's a duopoly. Two giant advertising companies. One starts with an F, one starts with a G.
I actually think that's gonna become a three-way game and you're missing the big one.
With an M.
No, the big A.
Amazon. Amazon, is killing it behind the scenes
So it will be the same issue, gatekeepers who are
And in not quite that, only that Amazon's actually got huge in rows in terms of financial controls. They've got all that data.
Oh yeah, that's amazing.
They've got more data than Google and Facebook.
Yep, just hit a trillion.
But this thing about audience building, maybe that's the next big thing even though it's the same, it isn't the same in the sense that you can do content marketing in a more, one off way, and not ever really build a loyal audience. It feels like the challenge today, if I were running B2B brands, what we say to our clients is build that audience. Build people who will come back for more of it, who signed up to get it. So keep giving value to an audience. That is actually the next big challenge. Some are doing it already now, and it's called content marketing. But really, you can do content marketing and fail at building. So every time, every new piece, you've gotta promote as if it's fresh to a whole new, unknown audience.
And it, first of all, it is. Not everybody gets your message the first time. And I think there's a really big key that people miss, because most content marketing, there's two things. One, it start at the beginning. You act like you have to build your audience. It's your point. You have to act like you have to build your audience, but you need the metrics, which Andy's the king of, building metrics and SEO so it keeps coming. But the other part that most people stop is like they get to purchase, and they're like, 'Oh I won!' And the reality is you don't win at that first. That is not the win. That's your first, you just went by the first round on your thing. It's like you went around the Monopoly board once, but it's, the win is when you have people keep going. And it's that retention marketing, for an old fashioned word, somebody's going to come up with a new word for it. But it's basically retention marketing because the savings is like, I think the data is five to 25 percent. Your ROI increases higher because you don't have the acquisition.
From getting somebody to re-buy and getting current customers.
The second or third buy is where. You don't make the money on the first one. Most people don't even make back the cost of their marketing, so it's that initial part. You don't get the lifetime value if they only buy once.
It's definitely true that the further down the funnel you focus, the higher the ROI. A lot of marketers are too focused on the top of the funnel. And your point is, it's even below the bottom of the funnel. Current customers. Below the bottom. So current customers to be your number one audience, which turn into advocates. You can get social proof from them, you can get referrals from them. You can, they are more likely to engage with you than anyone else. You can turn internal content, not marketing content into things that are more public. And then above that would be the bottom of the actual funnel, conversion optimizing, your forms, your thank you pages and forms, your contact, lead gen forms. Above that it's the sales. The next most effective would be the sales pages. Adding evidence, adding question answering content, addressing sales objections on your sales pages. And then way above that becomes the blog content, the off site social content. The stuff that is so far above the funnel. It's insane how many marketers, people here, focus a lot on those and get likes and comments. Things that are so high above the funnel that, what's the ROI?
They don't even, there's no ROI.
You get lost there. I mean marketer can easily get lost and feel like that is something they want to get done, and it's not.
But here's what I would say, I don't think it's necessary. You can call it vanity metrics, but here's the thing. First of all it's easy. Because if you don't build it, going back to think. If you don't build the metrics in, all you're left with is the vanity. You're only left with the vanity and the sale. So Surge has been doing this for years. They get lots. They get a huge amount of budget because they can prove it. Last piece touch, which would go to the earlier question, is why are we not spending more money on it, and we're not worrying about it? Because, first of all, if the old stuff works, you want budget to go elsewhere. It's hard to move that. And it's so much less. If I'm used to spending tons of money on television ads, or print ads, or whatever I've been spending that money on, it works. It's like the old days of buying technology. Nobody would fault you for using a brand name. When I was at The Economist, brand name research versus Mr. PhD, not much difference in money. I'm going with Mr. Brand Name. So that's what you have to go against. You have to be able to prove it.
It also feels, and this for me has been over the last few years, that because this was new and there's a new stack that goes with it, text stack, and new techniques and tactics, and that all of the attention goes to the new, at the expense of some of the fundamentals that you were talking about. So it's almost like we're all paying attention to the plumbing of Demand Gen as if plumbing alone will make it happen. And something has to be running through all this, and has to be ideas. There have to be some ideas that light people up. You gotta have some point of view, and a stand on some issues, and something to say. And there isn't a lot of attention on that anymore at all because so much attention is rightly taken into things that we need to learn. We need to learn how to put a text act together and instrument the journeys so we can measure everything and do attribution. We don't know how, so we have to focus on learning. But in the meantime, you can get all that right, and if you don't have a big idea behind it, a point of view, a bit of attitudes, something, it will just sit there. Whereas if you do all that great, putting all of it just lights up into some very powerful stuff.
This is something that I have been thinking about, and is a gap for me in my marketing and strategies because I'm mostly an optimization guy. I'm like a 10 percent marketer. I'm trying to get a slightly better result from last time. We're talking about in psychology and philosophy of a 10 X marketer. It's 10 X versus 10 percent.
Home runs we call them. And your right. The optimization of it all, because I think it's an incredible skill you've clearly mastered, and it's data driven, and you can show it, and it's great. 10 X's is like a lot of home runs. A lot of striking out before you hit the home run. That when you get the home run, you may not be able to reverse engineer to make it repeatable. Where as your techniques are quite repeatable. It's like I can optimize. You show me a website, you'll optimize it. Where as show me a brand, I'll hit a home run. It's not every time.
No, it's different for each. It's not prescriptive. 10 percent tactics are prescriptive, and you can teach someone how to follow these steps and you'll get, you'll rank higher, you'll convert higher, you'll get 10 percent better results. 10 X is not prescriptive. It's very hard to teach.
It's very hard to study. It's very hard to, but the returns on some of this 10 X stuff. Look at it. We had our early day slide share stuff, was doing five, 6,000. I thought it was great the month. We were thrilled. Then we hit a home run one. And all of the others went six, seven, eight times higher without a touch of promotion. And we could show it all,. That the past content grew and then every subsequent one. So even though the buzz from that one settles a bit, it settles at a way higher level.
Right, and that's the home run with even optimization.
Yeah, and home runs. So I've been trying to study home runs since this all started. And there's not a lot of formula to squeeze out of it. One of the things that definitely comes out is. So you look at the best content. Some of it is just super analytical, super generous, super funny. super moving. All of those, all different, but it's all confident. So there's one thing, anyway, which is in marketing that is, confident that says, 'I'm good at this. I'm enjoying this. I like my world. I like doing this job' and
And this is who we are. This is who I am, and this is what we believe.
There's this kind of spirit under it that, you know, that confidence, for me, is a hugely important part of marketing. And it's an attractive thing.
How do you help someone become more confident in their marketing?
Well that is one of the big things. I think one of the big things philosophy brings into it is sometimes if its the only thing, I think it's still worth it, is that you've got to be confident. You've got to come from a place of believing in yourself and your work, that the product is really gonna help people, that this solution really is gonna solve problems. And that the things that are holding your prospects back from success pisses you off, and you're passionate about it. So there has to be that caring about it. And when the caring isn't there, it's very hard. But when it is there, you just have to kind of tap into it. Who in this company really gives a shit about this? And let's find them and use them as our source of confidence in our belief.
What you're both saying, though, I think is really key. I think it's that you combine the two, which is a very hard thing. Most people don't have. It's kinda like a soft versus hard skills that you need that brand. I never understood how powerful brands were till I worked for The Economist. Little budget, big brand. But I still needed the 10 percent to prove that I could make revenue.
You hit it on the head. It's too often, I'm seeing this a lot lately. It's either one school or the other school. And it is a lot, and I've heard this in conversation within the week. Which is, 'the big idea. I get the big idea, but I'm going to show you proof. I know proof, and the bid idea. It's not going to show me what I need to.' And there are people that live in either one. And the key is going to be bringing those together and building a marketing team that has the left and right side of that team.
With the data driven marketer would tell you is when you hit the home run, analyze that, repeat that. This is Larry King Live. When you find there's unicorns and donkeys, when you find the unicorn, your job is to make baby unicorns. So whatever that thing was, What was the point? What was the topic? What was the format? What was the channel? What was the, and then that thing worked. How can I give it a different angle? And now you, slowly, abandon the things that didn't work. So your using data after the home run but the problem with the if you start with a 10 percent mentality, is you haven't conjected enough chaos into your data or inspiration into to cover --
Or optimizing from flat.
Right. It's like 10 percent of one is one point one. It's like you're not really, you need the --
We tripled our conversion rates. Yeah but they suck 'cause nobody came because you had nothing to say.
You need to is know a similar to Larry King. Noah Kagan says that OkDork and Sumo is that, I think only like one in five experiment, is like you say. You've gotta do lots of experiments. You've gotta be willing to take, to invest. Make sure that you give them enough to try and succeed. But only one our of five, at most, is gonna succeed. And then when you find it, you double down on that to be successful.
If all your stakeholders are okay with that ratio, you're in a different world. When they're not, for a fail, you're in trouble. And really the optimization world is way more supportable. It's like we started here, not my fault that we started here, we started here, and now we are getting better and better and better. Great, you're a hero. But the thing that gets me is no one's even aiming high, or very few people are. I feel like the old fart in the corner going -- But really, if you look at most peaks,
Because the stakes are too high.
Greatness, aiming high, isn't actually even part of it. So you think, well, if you're not even trying to hit a home run, your chances of hitting one just got really low.
Well it's like aiming to be number two. Nobody ever talks about aiming to be number two. But the problem is that when you look at the longevity of a Sumo, it's small. It's short. Nobody has long term goals. So until you get to the point where you say, 'Yes, my brand is important. What we stand for is important. And yes, you're going to do this, and I don't care what happens.'
And I'll add to that. It is if you're going to have that big idea, it has to be CEO. This is that land of the consultants, right. That's where the relationship comes from. Your idea better not, it can't be marketing B. You can't stand for something and say, 'Hey we're gonna do something really big' Any longer, we cannot just, that idea must live throughout the company. And I think that's another one that if it lives within a campaign, you know you're doing it wrong. You need to go deeper, and it needs to radiate more --
It's what you really do as a company.
But it's everybody. It's the person that answers, your customer service person, so we can have that person below the funnel who's bought from you X number of years. Well, you get a new person comes into the job, and the person on the phone is pisses them off. Boom. You're done.
And you'll never be able to afford to get them back. I mean it's done.
Well maybe brand is coming back in a way, too, because I do think with the plumbing and everything, there's gravity toward Demand Gen, for obvious reasons. And so, content marketing has been pulled into that Demand Gen orbit, and rightly so, and it's great at it. But it's forgetting there's a whole other thing content can do. And a really exciting level is brand level content. Tell the world who you are in a great way, in a way better than any of the old brand advertising. And I feel like it's coming back. I feel like maybe it's because people are starting to get good at the plumbing stuff. They're getting good at Demand Gen, and now they're realizing the winners have great brands.
This is fun. So as I got a question. I have all kinds of thoughts now. So I'm just gonna concede this, in a way, and say I'm a 10 percent marketer, 'cause I'm an optimization, SEO, and all this guy. And, as such, I could imagine tactics and optimization, things that work at different levels in the funnel. Conversion optimization at the bottom. Research optimization at different levels. Is the 10 X marketer, which we've got some here. Is there a stage for that? Do you do 10 X marketing at the top of the funnel, or the bottom of the funnel, or is it, like, bigger than the funnel as a brand?
I think you can do it anywhere. I think, and also I used to think it would always be kind of a motive and super share. Sometimes I think it can just be super hard working, utterly helpful. And I think you can have a 10 X case study that's at the bottom. I guess, I guess, you feel like they happen more at the top. You see more of them at the top. But I can imagine a incredible how to stuff that is just definitive. Let's say the Marketo Definitive Guides for their time. They were middle funnel, I think, and they were super hard working, super definitive about some. So they owned that. Now I would call that 10 X content. I think for them it did perform that way, but it may not have been the emotional and moving and that kind of thing. It just slammed up.
But the emotional stuff works. I mean, I can tell you I've worked for lots of, a number of large organizations, from Citi Bank to Bertelsmann, and I can tell you that living in Manhattan, I can tell you that the word white people would refer to Citi Bank starts with an S, ends with a Bank. And then I went to The Economist. And I would walk around and say to someone, wherever I was, 'Oh I work for The Economist.' And they would tell me, if they didn't read it, they would explain, they would come up with whatever reason. Like here's a brand that stands for something bigger, they would tell me why they didn't subscribe.
They would feel guilty for not consuming, the brand was so strong.
So if you were of a certain level, certain, you fit our demo and you weren't reading it, you had to, you felt like, compelled to explain why you didn't do it.
No, it wasn't almost. They were apologizing.
The great brand is that 10 X plus. And I hate when people go, 'Well that's fine for Nike.' It's like, what made Nike, Nike? That's what made Nike, Nike. They weren't always Nike. Now they are 'cause they paid attention to their brand. They made it the most important thing.
And we need that guiding line. What, to me, it is a compass. It is for everyone to have that compass to know, are we testing the right things? 'Cause if you just go into the world of testing, and we're just testing to test, then how do we know we're getting momentum? And the 10 X should, I believe, lay inside and be part of every part of the funnel. I think it has been part of the top of the funnel for a long time. I believe that it can go all the way through, and really that idea. It's really, are you the bearer of the idea? And making sure that it's happening, that it's actually happening throughout the entire, every part of the experience., and that's your job.
The viral piece, the amazing press hit, the kick ass influencer collaboration, 10 X top of funnel. The definitive guide, the ultimate guide, the middle of funnel, the Marketo stuff, the we own this, explanation how to, middle of funnel 10 X content. Is there such a thing as bottom of funnel 10 X content?
I would, I was going to say, I would argue, first of all, that marketers, if you stick to that funnel idea. First of all, the funnel is not a flat thing. The funnel, even a real life funnel is round, but nobody goes straight down a funnel. They go bing, bong, bong, bong. So actually post usage, I think that there's one of the places that, particularly content marketers, under right, is how you can take that same content and reuse it. So that middle of the funnel stuff and that how to comes back. Nobody does it. What you should be doing is, once somebody's gotten something. By the way, instead of just sending that Amazon post purchase, 'How do you like the purchase?' Is, 'By the way, you just bought this new thing, first of all. Here's these how to guides, or whatever you need to help you, here's the how to put the toy together, here's what you need. By the way, do you need these other things.' There you get it back.
I feel kind of in the category of 10 percent where do really well as you go forward, and you'll get more and more as you go. Is there a 10 X down there?
I could think of one.
What are you thinkin'?
Go pro, be deceived. It's user generated so it's post, right, it's a customer. And they are creating --
And it becomes top of funnel.
It's insane, right.
I was thinking demos when you said it, and those are demos. User generated demos. Like the ultimate demo would be, maybe, the equivalent of 10 X where you finally got there, and you say, 'Yeah, show me their software.' And you get blown away by it.
It's hard to do if your working in a company. I mean, I've built software, and it's hard to do.
How about 10 X, bottom of funnel. I'm just throwing them out there. Tell me if these sound right. A user conference where a percentage of attendees are prospects. And they're submerged in a live experience, which is literally surrounded by conflict.
That's bottom of funnel 10 X.
And that's like 100 X. If you go there, it's like, the Kool-Aid is being mainlined.
And there's the award show that, it's like, you are a performer in for 10 years.
You're not a customer.
No, but I think you're right. But that is community at it's core. You're not just part of the community, you're one of those cool kids in the middle. So I actually believe that that's right.
Maybe that's an example.
You see now for me, there's individuals can be conservative. And when you get two, their conservatism almost averages. And then three, four, five. And in an organization, they're just incredibly conservative. And they get more and more and more conservative. So you might have a few super ambitious confident types in that team, in that organization, but organizationally, systemically, it's going to be deadening and pulling. I always think of it as gravity is the metaphor for me. Is pulling down of things, and trying to break the gravity. Try to get some skate velocity out of that.
I was about to say, that's like your brand. Is that the company's name that's partially a reference to this inertia you're overcoming?
Yeah, you know what? I'm going to pretend that was how, that's my new origin story. But yeah, but this is the thing --
I'm not a branding guy, but that was --
You just did it. But fighting gravity feels like our number one job. I've come from the creative side of it, I'm a writer. But more and more I realize success or failure has nothing to do. It's happening way before I get to start typing. It's happening in the stakeholder alignment. It's happening in the organization and the group dynamics even. And that these things aren't being paid attention too much. And so, the work is the victim of it. Instead of controlling for it, trying to manage it, trying to realize there's no alignment here. And so for me, more and more of my energy is starting to be spent on those things, which are not particularly creative at all, but allow for amazing creative. Like create the conditions for it.
You know and it makes me think of a lot of times where we went for clients or with different work, it's always discovering the idea instead of creating it, and that is where it is. Tell me the thing. Let's get to the bottom of what you really are DNA wise as a company, and what's really interesting, and what people love. And let's start there, instead of going into a room and trying to create something you know the market needs or you know you want to go. Do you have the editorial authority to get there. Do you even, do people want me there?
I agree with you. It's the DNA. Which goes to your point, how are you. And it goes back to how are people compensated and what do they do? In most organizations, you're not compensated for that breakthrough. You're compensated for playing the game.
Right, and executing. So that in order to find that DNA, if it doesn't exist within the organization, it's not there. Everyone kind of comes down.
It might have to be like a CEO thing. Like why Nike --
I think it has to be greater than one person.
Yeah, but if it doesn't start from a, if it does start from up there, then everyone knows, this is what's expected here. And if it doesn't, then you can still get it, but it's a lot --
It's a lot more inertia
If you have that buy it in advance, I think, I heard it this morning, Joe said your first ideas should get shot down 'cause they're so far out there. It's like, your not 10 X enough, but you gotta proved on the first try. You should have offensive. They should hate you at first. You should get shot. You should have to go back to a second and third meeting --
Where we get a lot. We make the mistake of presenting what we think are wonderful ideas. Next are safer ones, which we're also proud of, but they're safe. And so, Pete was like, 'Oh, and that would be great, that would be great.' And they put it right, like that would be so great.
This would be great.
And then we push it back to the middle and go, 'If it would be great, why don't we do it.'
And here are the realistic ones.
'Great, I love this, great.' And they, no. But wait, why? And if it's making you really nervous, like you could never do it, now we are probably onto something. The ones that make you most scared are the ones with the seeds of something amazing.
I saw that example yesterday in a session. It was a Kmart, I shipped my pants.
By far the best. Like 30,000,000 views. It's like free traffic.
I used it in my talk about swearing in marketing, 'cause it's like if they can do it, anybody can do it. And it's brilliantly executed. It's funny. It's the kind of thing you would have sworn would get killed by the culture, but it didn't. So, for me, it's almost little miracles of gravity defying. It's like those things that just come out of somewhere.
The antigravity idea.
I'd love to know why, like track it down. Say, 'Alright, who did it? How'd they do it? Did they produce it before they asked permission?
I would've betta that a consumer did it, and then they owned it.
Well, Fred Hall was the one that talked about it. And I don't know how much data he had behind it or the background, but he said it took many tries for the agency, or the internal team, to get that accepted. And that there were layers of people who shot it down over and over before they finally agreed.
So just sheer, bloody minded persistence.
Yeah, I think it was persistence.
One thing I do think as we give into our stakeholders too quickly and easily. It's like, 'Oh, he's Senior VP of blah, blah, so he said no.' It's like, 'Alright, let's go away.' He's like, 'No, get back in his face. Tell him why he's wrong.' And actually, what these people really want is conviction in everyone. They wanna see you believe and love this thing. If you went away first time, well then they were right. It wasn't that good. So I just think we should be way tougher on our stakeholders. We should be in their faces.
Yeah, that's what they're paying us for most of the time is they want the person that has the point of view. Not the, 'Ah, well, you didn't like it that way, and I'll come back with something that's more palatable.' On Kmart, I really wish we would've seen more. It really tells you that it did get pushed through, or snuck through, whatever it was. If we're still talking about it, because I know it very well, and that was five years ago, I would've loved them, and this is what I really look for brands now is, did you do something in a point in time or are you, were you able to see what you did and then pull more equity? Wendy's and their Twitter. To me, they do it consistently. And that is kudos to say, you saw something, maybe you weren't planning on, and it hit. It hit the unicorn. Let's make a ton of little unicorns. And I think that's for us, in our eyes. We can start looking for brands in that viewpoint.
There were no more baby unicorns for Kmart.
Well, they were in a corner, at that time. And really, that was the kind of actions they needed to do to be relevant.
That's confident. I mean, that was a beautifully confident thing. And you just think, you don't have to imitate it to say, 'Well, what's the mojo? What's the confidence that came from it? Where else can we apply that?' And just the lesson to the brand and to all brands that that's possible within the brand. You would've thought it was not possible. And the brand gatekeepers are great at saying, 'Off brand, off brand, off brand.' Brands are as fluid as human beings. And they can do wacky things. They can do all sorts of things and get away with it, you know, if you do it with confidence. If you tip toe, and are apologetic, and then withdraw as soon as anyone sneezes, then no you can't. But I think brands are way more flexible and fluid then they're allowed to be.
Well with a great brand has to be. Because, here's the deal. A great brand has to stand the test of time. And maybe, you know. I didn't work at The Economist for, you know. I worked there for two years, but there was a brand that was over 100 years old when I went there. And I remembered they were doing, like, they were reviving their brand. They were change, they were doing a refresh on their brand, a refresh on the magazine.
I'm thinking blue.
I'm thinking blue.
Right. But here's the thing, I went through some of the research that they did in New York, where they actually did panel research, and people showed up, just like the people would tell me why they didn't read it. People showed up with their stuff, and they showed it before people had meet ups and things like that. There was a group of people in the Wall Street area of Manhattan, that literally would meet on a, like every Friday, to discuss The Economist. This is before there was enough technology to do it. They just did it themselves. That's owning the brand. And if your audience owns the brad, your customers own that brand, it has to be fluid because then it's standing for something greater than you are. And it can, you don't have to tip toe around. It's there, and people will support you. And I think that's where service brands have a hard time in today's world. Because that service isn't the big brand. It's that last one percent. It's not even 10 percent. It's that last one percent. And if that person in the store, that person on the other end of the phone, that person in the chat, makes mistake, they're gone. And they're gone with a megaphone.
So it's fear versus courage. It's small idea optimization, consistent with small volume versus big idea. Possible home run, fail most of the time. Fail most of the time. The 10 percent versus 10 X. Is it fair to say that we are, are the marketers you know in one of these two camps? I really feal like I'm, I need to break out. You guys are really encouraging me. I really feel small today, and you're making me want to be bigger guys.
You were never small.
I've always envied the other side. Like when I first saw Marcus Sheraton's thing about just answer every question, I thought, 'Oh my God. I'm doing content so wrong.' Here I was trying to light up audiences, and he's just working hard for those audiences. And I felt like, actually, if you can do both, they're not mutually exclusive. Why should they be? And a good team ought to be able to have someone who can optimize and keep it getting better, and better, and better. Which is an unbelievable skill, a very, very difficult one. But, I just think institutional ambition would be great. Ambition for all of this.
And let's hope I'm never the executive who shoots down the ideas. If nothing else, I'm committing to you guys now. That if I'm ever the big brand CMO, I'm not going to be the --
The hippo, what is the term? The highest paid person --
And this is on camera.
I'm going to be brave in that moment. At least be open to you 10 X'ers coming up with the inspiration.
Probably a lot of 10 X'ers look really stupid early on.
They're nobody. When you start failing up front, you talk about Marcus. Marcus Sheraton, when he was doing it, he was at a point of no, he didn't have a choice. If you hear his back story, there were a whole bunch of other factors there. And he was actually ahead of the buss. Like, here he was and showing this in ground swimming pools. When did his business take off? It took off in 2007, which is like a lifetime ago for most people. But 2007 was really when the bust of it happened. And he's selling these things, and he's starting to have the biggest time, be one of the biggest years, 2007, 2008, for things that were, the mortgage business in the United States is going, boom. Instead of going like pop, it's going boom. And because of this consistent, step after step, giving people what they want. Not because he's, you know. It's like, he had to learn it. Because otherwise, he's a great sales guy, but he wasn't going to be. Without doing that, his business, he wasn't, he has like four kids. He has to bring home the bacon.
You could've said no amount of brand would have done that, like brand play. But you could also say, which is more of what I believe, is that his brand became that which was helpful. He became the brand that was going to help you the most. And that's a brand. I mean, that's not just a bunch of answering questions. That's a company that really cares about it's customers. That's something powerful.
Yep, and that's a brave man. He is, it's not just, FAQ content. It's the F content that's never answered. It's the frequently asked but never answered. He answered the price question.
Rarely asked question.
And somehow I think we've just scratched the surface with each other. We could probably go on for another hour and a half and still make great conversation.
Are you seeing someone doing this? I'm just don't have a transition until the end. I would say I think that's a good place to end. I wish more marketers, I wish for myself, to be courageous, and to be brave.
I want to be an optimizer, I want to be like you.
I wanna do the Freaky Friday --
Let's switch roles --
I think this is the time of, if you want to say the future of marketing to circle back around. It's the age of duos, of power couples, of teams.
We got somewhere here.
I feel like I've done really well.
Welcome to Password guys.
Thank you very much.
Here's your word.
You may go first, Joe.
[Narrator] The Password is Analytics.
The pressure's on.
Masters, you masters
What was your guess?
His clue was masters, and her guess was content.
So we guess, that word?
No, no, no, no. You're having him guess the word that's on your card.
I got the right --
It was analytics. The master of --
Oh, I see.
The master of, I needed two words. It was analytics. They were both for analytics.
We both had the same word.
Trying to push the 10 percent.
Our next word.
[Narrator] The Password is Email.
Andy, you can go first on this word.
Now I know the rules.
You can't say any part of the word.
This is the, this is the duo. I think we have the power couple right here.
Tried to set the don't overthink it tone.
The Password is Renaissance.
And you guys get to go first again.
I'm, I'm horrible at this.
Did you hear his clues?
Rebirth. Does that break a rule?
What did he say?
He said rebirth.
It's the same word as that clue?
They go together really well.
Wow, uh, I need a 10 X idea right here.
It's a hard one. What happens now? Oh, you gotta say something.
Yeah, Kevin, do you have a guess?
That's a good word for those clues.
Once you have the word it's super easy.
[Narrator] The Password is SEO.
Okay, last one, and you guys will get to go first again since you're behind.
Heidi's gonna --
I hope I'm better at guessing.
What'd you say?
She said Google.
Correct. So, we have our winners, Andy and Doug. Thanks for playing Password with us guys.