Chris Marr, founder of The Content Marketing Academy, joins in on the conversation to help us freelancers become the experts in our field that our leads and clients will come to for all their answers.
Chris was a freelancer when he started out providing services and quickly learned how content marketing is really sales and marketing.
[clickToTweet tweet="Too much short term thinking is going to ruin your business. via @chrismarr101" quote="Too much short term thinking is going to ruin your business." theme="style3"]
In this episode, we deep dive into the conversation about removing the words "content marketing" from the content marketing conversation. It is all about understanding your customer and making it all about them.
Chris shares his expertise in:
- What types of content to focus on
- How to measure content marketing ROI
- What to do if you are just starting out
- The 7 mistakes to avoid when writing an article
Episode Take Away
Take one of The Big 5 topics and craft a blog post.
Run through the 7 mistakes and make sure that you didn't make any.
Then share your post on Twitter and tag myself and Chris to have a look.
Jason Resnick: 00:03 Welcome to Live in the Feast. I’m Jason Resnick and for the past decade I’ve been helping businesses translate their goals into online success as a freelance web developer. In order for me to accomplish my why as a freelancer, I needed to live in the feast. Now I’m turning the tables around so you as the freelancer can do the same and build a sustainable business to achieve success so that you can ultimately live the kind of life you want.
Jason Resnick: 00:34 If you’re struggling with content marketing either for your business or your client’s business then this is the episode you need to listen to. Chris Marr founder of the Content Marketing Academy and I stop having discussions around content marketing and talk about the consumer buying behavior, the science and psychology and how an article, podcast and a video can grow your business. Chris talks about how your role is being a teacher not just a service provider as a freelancer. You need to be able to articulate your ideas and concepts, the things about your industry that you know really well and that you are an expert in a way that helps your potential customers understand why your service or product is important.
Jason Resnick: 01:24 Then we dive deep into the numbers and metrics to pay attention to during the various stages of marketing and we also talk about what mistakes people make when they write a blog post. The takeaway from this show is simple, listen to what Chris shares with us. He gives us so many ideas for you to walk away with to be able to create some content and help your customers create an educated buying decision about your offering.
Jason Resnick: 01:57 Welcome to season two, episode one of Live in the Feast. This season is all about marketing. Yes, marketing. Many of you out there struggle with it. I too have struggled with it and want to know exactly how it’s done. So I’m going to help you along this road this season. Today I’m very excited to be bringing onto this show someone who I’ve followed for a long time and had the opportunity to meet him here in New York couple of weeks ago, Chris Marr. Welcome Chris.
Chris Marr: 02:29 Hello, hello. It’s good to be here. Hopefully everyone can understand my strong Scottish accent but I’ll try and speak slowly and clearly and I’m looking forward to talking about marketing. Important subject.
Jason Resnick: 02:41 Hey, people struggle with my New York accent so we’ll see how it goes. If anyone following me on Instagram, they could see the epic shorts that Chris had on during our meeting, it was awesome. Chris is the founder of Content Marketing Academy and from reading there’s really no better marketing strategy for the long game than content marketing. I know Chris is a firm believer in this as well. It’s in all of his blog posts, his podcast, live workshops, conferences, tweets. All the things that he does I know he’s a firm believer in this. For those that don’t know who you are Chris, who are you? What do you do?
Chris Marr: 03:26 What do I do? I’m Scottish. I’m 35 years old. Looking out of my window of my office here, I’m on the east coast of Scotland. It’s a beautiful day for once. Normally it is dull, gray, raining but today it’s a beautiful day. I have been in this office for a couple of years now. Have been in business for four years. My career started out in leadership and management role at the University of St. Andrews. A lot of people will know St. Andrews as the home of golf here in Scotland. I lived there for 10 years. Grew up in this area called Fife. This is where I grew up, went to school here, went to college, went to university even here as well. I started my business here.
Chris Marr: 04:09 Now fast forward that 15 years or so that I’ve been in my working career, the last four years has been spent building out my own, this business, CIA. Been involved in a couple of other entrepreneurial ventures. A network marketing business, I had a music promotions business where we put on events in the local area. I just keep myself busy. Marketing, sales, business, personal business development all that stuff is a massive interest of mine. It keeps me, it’s every day of my life basically. Breathing, learning, moving forward, trying different things. Also challenges, failures, successes, all of that kind of good stuff. Yeah, that’s what I do.
Chris Marr: 04:54 Right now my day job, very quickly, is really focused on our membership. That’s really where our foundation is. Really my job is about curating talent and content and connecting great people together. Our business is built on network and content marketing so we have our own blog. Have for years. We have the podcast, we do a lot of Facebook Live videos. We’re basically content driven business as well. But everything works hand in hand. Network growth, the networking, the community, content, all of that stuff just kind of really seamlessly works together. Yeah, I’m involved in pretty much everything and I know that your audience a lot of your audience, are freelancers and essentially that is what I am.
Chris Marr: 05:38 I run a business, it’s a limited company. There’s me, full-time in this business. I have someone else in this office once a week that does all of my books. So the reconciliation of the accounts, all of that kind of stuff ‘cause it’s like a part-time job. It’s not my job to do, it’s their job. So they come in once a week. They’re employed by me to come in once a week and do all of the accounts basically. Everything up to almost an accountant’s role actually now. You’ll know there’s been a big change in that industry. And I work with other freelancers to do things like video edit and branding and design and stuff here if you’re watching the video. We use, I have a business manager that works for me 10 hours a week. She’s also a freelancer or virtual assistant but she’s really a business management role. Even my accountant, I’ve never even met my accountant. They’re a freelancer, virtual assistant type person too.
Chris Marr: 06:32 Not only, I would never call myself a freelancer but essentially that’s what I am. It’s just I’m not running a client services business anymore which is something that we used to do and then we had this transition from client services into membership. I’m sure we’ll talk about that. That’s really an insight into what is happening day to day in the office. And wherever I’d say to run to my business from.
Jason Resnick: 06:58 Let’s jump into the client services ‘cause I’m definitely interested in that. I know that your focus isn’t on that anymore but that’s kind of where we all get our start is strike out our own, do some client services and things like that. How did you do content marketing for folks and prove to them that it was worth doing? I feel like a lot of people struggle with content marketing because it’s not like what you put in is what you get out. Like paid ads and things like that. You put in dollar you could kind of calculate what’s going to come out the other end. Content marketing I know is a long game and it’s a long play. The ROI on that for me is immeasurable in my opinion but how do you position yourself as somebody that can help a company and prove that ROI to that company?
Chris Marr: 07:57 There’s quite a lot in there actually. I’m trying to unpack it a little bit here. The key thing is is that just like any business freelancer we could do. Let’s take an example. The biggest problem in this industry is you’ve got people writing blog articles for 50 or $60 or $30, or whatever. That’s fine. In the UK someone might be say, “Oh I charge 50 or 60 pounds per blog article. It takes me two or three hours to do the research,” blah, blah, blah. I’m like, is that how important content marketing to a business that they’re willing to pay $50 for it? That’s nothing basically. That’s a major problem. The issue here is how we communicate and how we talk about content marketing to organizations is the problem. We’re not just writing a blog article. This piece of content if it was written in the right way will be exactly what you’ve just said there, is an asset. An asset is the find, is something that increases in value over time for a and organization.
Chris Marr: 08:58 This is really, really important that content marketers, marketing freelancers, consultants need to elevate this whole conversation away from the bottom end of this marketplace and by doing so it will help all of us to have a better conversation about it. The key thing when it comes to ROI with content marketing is you gotta stay away from the words content and marketing together in the same sentence. The reason for that is because nobody really understands what it means and there’s a lot of misunderstanding about it as well. Someone may have heard of content marketing before probably, a business, an organization or a company that you want to work for as a freelancer. You can’t pitch content content marketing to them though. You have to pitch as a sales conversation. If you’re a business and you’re going to spend money on a B to B service, a freelancer, a copywriter, a content marketer, a consultant, whatever it may be, it has to be in the language that your potential customer going to understand.
Chris Marr: 09:55 Even when we talk about content marketing, I talk about sales and marketing, the future of sales and marketing, how to communicate with the digital consumer, how does consumer buying behavior, how has consumer buying behavior changed so that we understand how we need to change the way that we communicate as a business? If you embed your conversation and consumer behavior and science and psychology and you say, “Well if this is how consumers want to be communicated to, then as a business we need to think about how we change that.” And the way that we do that now is something that we call content marketing. Let’s talk about that. I think that this is, the issue is understanding your role. This could be beyond content marketing Jason, as well. Doesn’t have to be about content marketing. Understanding your role as a consultant or a freelancer with an expertise in this particular subject is that the language you use isn’t the language that you’re potential customers are going to use. And your role isn’t just to deliver on the services, your role to be a teacher.
Chris Marr: 10:56 You have to be able to communicate and articulate your ideas and your concepts and the things that your industry know really, really well and you’re an expert and in a way that helps them understand why it’s important. It’s not about even going in and showing them SI, telling them, you’ve got to go in there and share stories and prove to them that there’s a business case for the thing that you want. Don’t expect people to pay for something just because it’s on trend. We have to go in and say, “Look, if you’re going to spend $2,000 a month on this instead of $20 a blog article and then want to spend two grand or five grand a month on something and get a really good contract.” This has to be about how does this activity grow our business? How does this activity get us new customers?
Chris Marr: 11:42 Because if you’re a CEO of a company, why would you spend some money on something that isn’t going to grow your business? It has to be about sales. I think this about elevating the whole conversation to a level that we actually are challenging to ourselves to think about how does content marketing, how does a blog article, how does a video, how does a podcast, how does that grow our business? I think we do need to talk about that. I know it’s a long game, I get that. It is a long game. But advertising is a long game. You don’t just advertise for a month then stop. Everything you do is a long game. Going to the gym and getting fit is a long game. Training a dog how to sit is a long game. You don’t expect things to happen overnight.
Chris Marr: 12:22 Funny when it comes to marketing that people think that there’s a silver bullet or there’s this really quick solution that all of a sudden is going to change our business. We’re all in business for a long, long time. As soon as we start to understand that we’ve got time, you don’t have to move fast. You can move slowly and just build and build and build and build. Too much short term thinking is going to ruin your business not save it. I think as marketers and if we’re talking about marketing which we are, and if you’re a freelancer, your role, you got to help teach this philosophy to business owners. Help them to understand that the philosophy of marketing and how important it is and why it’s one of the most important business activities and why sales is changing and why consumer behavior’s changing and why we need to communicate in a different way.
Chris Marr: 13:13 As soon as you can get that across and be able to teach and get them to buy into it, then you’ve got a great opportunity to secure a great client and someone that appreciates the value that you offer to the marketplace.
Jason Resnick: 13:27 That’s so on point because as a developer, I’ve been helping eCommerce businesses for so long, building online stories and that kind of thing. But I’ve kind of moved into more of leveraging your current assets, your current email list, making sure that you’re selling to them in a proper way that they want to buy from you. I had Kai Davis on the podcast last season, I don’t know if you know Kai, but he’s I call him the outreach guru. He basically helps businesses reach out to folks, do networking. That kind of stuff. Help with some of their marketing. And he said one thing that was great, he said in quotes, “Does my marketing reflect my most current understanding of my target market?”
Jason Resnick: 14:17 That for me was great because you really do need to understand who you’re serving. The problems that you’re solving for them and be able to communicate it in a way where they understand the service that you provide to them. I think that that’s so important and what I tell my clients all the time is, “Don’t just write a blog post about your thing, the features of your service. Talk to the benefits of somebody owning your thing. What’s the ownership benefits? What problems do they have that your thing is solving? You gotta understand your customer rather than just speak to them.” That’s for us as well.
Chris Marr: 15:05 I think we all need to be reminded of this time and time again. When it comes to content, it comes to it could be video podcast. Let’s go for video, podcast, blog, the three main sources of rich sources of content that you’ve got ownership of and that can really influence people. I think the key thing here is that it’s never about you. That’s the key thing that goes with content marketing, it’s not about you. This is not about your ego and it’s not about your amazing products and it’s not about your amazing services and it’s not about how many awards you’ve won. It’s got nothing to do with you. This is about your perspective customer having a challenge around trying to figure out how to navigate your industry and how to make an educated buying decision about the thing that you offer.
Chris Marr: 15:52 It’s about them. It’s about them feeling confident about making a buying decision and they’ll be asking loads of questions. They won’t understand things like price. They won’t know the difference between you and your competition. They won’t know the difference between your app and the other five apps on the market. They won’t understand the different between you, your freelancing services and somebody else’s freelancing services, someone somewhere has to explain all of that and teach them about the industry so that they feel like they’re not going to get ripped off and they feel like they’re paying a fair price or they feel like they’ve got the right person or they feel they’ve asked the right questions. That’s our job because we’re the experts. And if we can do that then the great thing that content drives is educated customers and if you’re doing content marketing the right way what will happen is you’ll start to get inquiries, qualified people that aren’t asking these ridiculous questions anymore, they’re actually coming to you and saying, “Look we understand exactly what we’re looking for.” And you get good clients basically.
Chris Marr: 16:52 That’s what you’re really looking for. And if you see the long game like you said Jason, if you see the long game of content marketing, it’s about teaching people over a long period of time how to be the best client for you. And you do that by answering their questions, solving their problems, removing your products and services and you from your content, moving your ego from it, getting right to the basics and getting very specific. Honestly that’s the best type of content you could create.
Chris Marr: 17:17 The challenge with this Jason is that a lot of people talk in their own language and their own industry and they forget that most people don’t know what it means. They don’t understand it. You can never go too basic. And you can never get too specific with your content. I think it’s one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that most of the content that people create is the stuff that they would say, “That’s just really so basic. I thought everybody would understand that.” Nobody knows and it becomes one of the best pieces of content they’ve ever written because educates people and teaches them about the thing.
Jason Resnick: 17:49 Yeah, that’s, I’d love to just end it right here.
Chris Marr: 17:59 Might drop that. When it comes to you’d mentioned ROI, I don’t think we can close that loop off. You know what’s one of the biggest challenge with anything in business is ROI? Return on investment. How much money did we make from the money that we spent on that thing? Content marketing if you can do it well as a small business, as a freelancer, it can cost you no money. One of the challenges that we have, that I set myself and CMA, was to never spend a single penny on advertising. To date we have spent tiny little bit amount on advertising but mainly nothing. We have build a business on content marketing. We’re able to do that because we’ve given it the focus and the priority that it needs.
Chris Marr: 18:42 When it comes to return on investment, if you’re not giving content marketing a focus whether it’s for you or for your clients or just marketing in general, if it’s not really a priority, then the ROI’s going to reflect the amount of time and effort you put into that. I say time and effort very specifically here because that’s usually what makes the difference. You can’t buy effort. Time and effort is like really key to this. If you put the time and effort and the focus into something it will grow. And the number will change. Something that people need to understand about marketing is that you need to measure the right numbers for the right stage that you’re at in your business.
Chris Marr: 19:18 For example, in the first year in business a lot of your marketing efforts might look like likes, shares, comments, traffic, that sort of stuff. What we call user metrics or user numbers. Does anybody care about our content? Are they reading it? That might be the first year. The second year might be more like oh, we’re getting way more opt ins now. Email subscriptions, much more conversations, serious conversations happening in our inbox here. We’re getting some inquiries. That the content metrics change. Now we’re not really measuring all those user metrics, we’re measuring what we would call like an action, a call to action. Something that actually says that people are interested. Then maybe bridging into your third year and you’re working in content marketing you might start to find actually your content is resulting in pounds in the bank or dollars, dollar signs.
Chris Marr: 20:07 I think you’ve got to get realistic about where you are on that journey. If you’re just getting started with a client or in your own business with marketing and content, then there’s a good chance that you measuring how many customers you’re getting is going to make you feel depressed about your activities. You’ll be like, we’re doing all this activity but we’re not getting any customers. The best thing you can do that stage is we’re doing all this activity and people care about our content. They are reading it. They are sharing it. There’s signals that they’re doing the right thing and you have to see this longer term play that what you’re doing right now, ’cause this is the thing about marketing, cause and effect are completely separated. That works in two ways.
Chris Marr: 20:49 Just had this discussion with someone recently where the business was going well. They were like, “Woo, the money’s coming in, we’ve got lots of customers,” and it wasn’t conscious, they just stopped doing their marketing. And then they’re like, “Why are we not getting any customers? What’s going on? We’re losing customers, we’re not getting any new ones.” It’s because you stopped doing your marketing a few months ago. Now if you start it now, you could hope that maybe your customers will be back up to where you want them in three or six months time. This marketing and this is what content marketing is great for I think, is not campaign driven. It’s like this constant turning up, this constant creation of content and publishing of content that you don’t do just because you need customers. You do it because that’s how you run your business. This is how we build our businesses. We do our weekly articles. We’re doing our videos, we’re doing our podcasts and we’re going to do this forever because that’s how we grow our business. And that’s how you want your clients to think. That’s the things you want to teach.
Chris Marr: 21:48 Marketing works like that. You stop you’re doing your marketing because things are looking great, which is what happens unfortunately and then three months down the road you’re like, “What’s happened?” Marketing is a constant activity. It’s so, so important to understand that 70% of the buying decision in made online before someone makes contact with a business for the first time. I know you’ve talked about this before. If you understand buying behavior today, just look at your own buying behavior, you will see that marketing is actually more important than a sale activity. That marketing is actually sales. That we have think like that now and it’s so, so important to create awareness of your business and educate your prospective buyers about the thing that you offer. I can’t see any other way. Once you learn that you can’t unlearn it. It’s like times have changed and we need to change with it. I think that rant is now over.
Jason Resnick: 22:49 That’s great because like you I’ve build my business and now I’ve been in business for myself for over a decade.
Chris Marr: 22:58 Well done man, that’s cool.
Jason Resnick: 23:00 It’s like I’ve never spent a dime yet on advertising. The only thing that I do regret is that I didn’t start content marketing earlier because as a developer myself once you get heads down on a project, you stop all the tweets, you stop all the everythings. All the stuff that goes out there. If you don’t have content out there to start off with then what? How does somebody know that you exist?
Chris Marr: 23:28 What’s the other option?
Jason Resnick: 23:30 When that product’s over, now it’s like, oh like you said, like great, now I start ramp up my marketing efforts again. That means there’s that gap and now I have to do all of that legwork again and I think a lot of freelancers don’t see that initially. I didn’t. I had to learn that lesson the hard way. It’s so important to be consistent like you said, every week or at least get something out every month or every two weeks. Something where it’s very consistent and people can predict that you’re going to be putting something out there.
Chris Marr: 24:04 The truth of this is that the consistency’s the thing that’s going to make or break you. The question is how fast do you want to move? If you’re like, right, if you’re starting your business just now or you’re kind of like in a period where you’ve got no customers, you have got tons of time. You shouldn’t be messing around right now. You should be like, “Well we haven’t got any customers and we’ve only got one project. I’m going to use 30 hours a week to do my marketing. And I’m going to just do as much as I possibly can and prove to people that we can be a success.” And get really enthusiastic about it. Don’t be like, oh God, I have to do another blog article. Oh God. Make it exciting for yourself.
Chris Marr: 24:41 Content marketing should be fun and exciting and it’s about business growth and it’s about making impact and changing people’s lives and there’s so much to marketing when you start to really unpack and get really deep into it. The best entrepreneurs in the world are really, really great marketers. They are the best marketers as well because they know just how important marketing is for the growth of their business.
Chris Marr: 25:01 One of the things you could do to get yourself a little bit more excited about this is to take note of when good things happen. We talked about ROI. Measurement is so important even in any stage, you’ve got to measure something. What you measure improves. Measure everything of significance. Even if you just take your first dozen metrics and just put them on spreadsheet. We’re going to measure these for the next six months and we want to see them change. We want to see growth in these areas and maybe give yourself a target. And just measure them and you will see the growth honestly. If you put those numbers on a page and you measure them every week, you will see them grow. I think that you need to know that you’re moving forward all the time just for your own sanity more than anything. But it does help you to get a little bit more enthusiastic about things where you can see your business growing as a result of some activity.
Chris Marr: 25:56 Back to the activity. I think it really comes down to well this is a question I ask all the time, how quickly do you want to move? Where do you want to be in six months? If you don’t do this activity over the next six months, where will you be? People start to realize right, okay. If I spend an hour, 60 minutes a day, could I essentially take five hours of my week and put it into our marketing and our growth? Is it possible for me to do that? The answer is typically yes. I just have to find the time somewhere. Make the time somewhere to make that happen. Soon as they start to realize just how important the marketing is for the business, you start to prioritize that time and something else has to go. Whatever that is is just not as important. Figure that out. Wherever your priorities are, make marketing one of them. Put the time in your schedule and make it happen.
Chris Marr: 26:52 I literally just recorded one of my own socials about this and just saying, “Look, marketing, sales is your responsibility, you absolutely have to be doing something every single day that contributes to the growth of your business.” You’ve got client work, I get that. You’ve got events to go to. You’ve got client projects to work on but sales and marketing cannot stop at, in fact you’re really doing everybody a disservice if you stop your sales and marketing, even your current clients. A lot of the excuses we get is like, “I’ve just got too much client work to do my own sales and marketing.” Well you’re failing as a business owner. Your business needs you to do the sales and marketing otherwise you’re not going to be around long enough to actually serve more people.
Chris Marr: 27:36 If your business is about serving people, you want to be in business for 10 years, 15 years, whatever it may be, 30, 40, 50 years, for the rest of time that you’re going to be on this planet then marketing needs to be one of the core activities in your business because you won’t last long without it. And therefore you won’t be able to make the impact you want to make on the world. It’s just as simple as that.
Jason Resnick: 27:59 One of things that I get often is that. People tell me, “I have too much client work and I don’t have the time to write blog posts or do Facebook Lives or any of that kind of stuff.” And my answer’s very similar to what you just said, is like, “You don’t have to find the time, you have to make that time. Figure out what the priorities are and you always have to move the needle of your business. Whatever that takes.” One of the other things that I hear and I’m interested to your thoughts on this is, we talk about measuring results. A lot of people are like, “Look, I’ve blogged for six, eight, 10 months and my traffic’s not increasing, I don’t see more leads coming through the site. I’m doing what you’re saying to do spend five, 10 hours a day or a week on this stuff and I’m not seeing progression.” What would you say to that?
Chris Marr: 28:55 I guess the question you’re asking is like, where’s the typical, what typical mistakes do people make with content? And what challenges do they have? Why is it not working? If someone came to me and said, “I’ve been blogging for 10 months, I’ve been writing blogs every weeks for 10 months and I’m not seeing any activity.” Then there’s maybe four or five things that they’re doing incorrectly. It comes back to search engine optimization every single time usually. I’m not an SEO expert by I know what takes for content. So usually, usually, the title of blogs are not geared towards what someone would type into Google. It’s usually the biggest mistake. The title of the blog is just very poor. Like it’ll say something like, “My top five podcasts.” Or I can’t think of an example of the top of my head. But the title is wrong. It should say something, the best podcasts for content marketing would be more specific. Usually the title isn’t specific enough and it’s not associated with something that someone would search for when they’ve never heard of you before. Those are the key things.
Chris Marr: 30:04 It needs to be typically a long tail search usually based around a question ‘cause that’s what people type into Google. Just look at your own behavior when you’re searching for stuff. A lot of people do how to content. There’s nothing wrong with how to content but typically doesn’t drive a lot of sales. They want to start looking at, the one person that influenced my massively just to kind of cut a long story short here is Marcus Sheridan. I think reading his book, They Ask, You Answer, and understanding the big five content areas and topics that move the needle in any business is what you need to really truly understand. It is about cost, price, comparison, reviews, best solving problems. Those are the top five. And then how would be like number six. Those are the things that people are searching for and asking questions about when they’re looking to buy something.
Chris Marr: 30:55 Let’s take an example, imagine you were going to buy a new outhouse or summerhouse, a shed, a wooden box in your back garden. I don’t know what they call that in America?
Jason Resnick: 30:55 A shed.
Chris Marr: 31:07 A shed, a summerhouse, somewhere nice that you can sit out there at night in summer months drinking a glass of Prosecco with your partner or whatever. If you become aware that you want a summerhouse, you’re not going to suddenly just get in your car and start driving round all the different manufacturers. The first thing you’re going to do is Google it and say, “Well how much is a summerhouse or a shed? Do we need different foundations? What kind of roof do we want? In fact do we need to get planning permission? Do we want to have some decking out there? What type of wood do we want? What size does it need to be?” Tons of questions about this new thing that you want. You haven’t left your house. You haven’t even looked for a manufacturer but you’ve used Google to find lots of answers to your questions. That’s what people are doing every single day.
Chris Marr: 31:51 And when it comes to back to the mistakes that people make, they’re not thinking like the prospective buyer. They’re not thinking about that and thinking well what questions, what specific questions are they asking when they’ve never heard of us before? How can we help them to get to that 70% buying decision that we talked. The zero moment of truth faster than someone else and be the ones that educate them. Could we be the ones that answer those questions for them? And that’s the key is to kind of understand that whole buyer’s process. So when it comes to the mistakes that people make, it just is really obvious to me. The titles are poor usually, they’re not geared around what would be found in search. Their opening paragraphs are again, poor. The opening paragraphs need to get across why someone should be reading this article. Why they should trust you. So there needs to be some sort of credibility there as well what you’re going to cover, all the rest of it. It’s usually very poor.
Chris Marr: 32:45 The articles are typically too short. They don’t use subtitles and I say subtitles specifically so those people that are on understand probably I guess what each one tags and each two tags and all the rest of it are. There’s a SEOC credit to be found for other searches and that is to use those subtitles as if they were blog titles and make sure you’re getting other keyword searches in there as well and really maximizing the opportunity in your blog articles. Those are like, and the URL because the title’s wrong, the URL’s typically wrong as well. Those are honestly, if you can’t look at a blog article and understand immediately what the keyword, the main, primary keyword phrase is going to be for that article to be found then there’s you’re just never going to be found. And that’s when people come and say, “Why are we not getting any organic traffic? Why is no one visiting our website?” Or you get something where you look at the Google analytics and someone’s website and it kind of just peaks all the time. Like this, like a little heartbeat monitor. A heart monitor. And it’s because they’re sending out an email shot every two weeks with their blog article but there’s no organic growth and it’s because they haven’t geared their content so that someone can find it when they’re looking for it. And it’s a shame because you’re missing out on a ton of opportunity there. I would say that those are the fundamental mistakes that they make. They’re usually not doing it often enough as well. Frequency does matter.
Chris Marr: 34:11 The reason that these mistakes come to be is because they don’t know what they don’t know. Some people think they already know enough. We’ve been blogging, we’ve been doing content marketing for 10 months, we know exactly what we’re doing. When in fact they haven’t really been doing content marketing at all, they’ve just been writing blogs which is not really the same thing. Or they’re not measuring the results so they don’t have the right tools for measurement. They just don’t know that it’s just not working for them and I think if you really are focused on improving on content marketing you have to know the truth. You have to know how bad it is. It’s never as bad as you think it is honestly. Get into the numbers, figure out what’s not working and then educate yourself or find someone that can teach you to get better at this stuff.
Chris Marr: 34:56 When I first realized that content marketing was going to be my profession, I read every book. I just got all the books and I read them all and I studied it and I’ve tried to meet all the influencers in that space and just really start to understand what content marketing was because I knew that it was going to so important. Not just for my business but for other people’s businesses as well. There’s so many mistakes that can be made. I still make mistakes today, let’s just make that clear as well that you’re always going to be improving with this. Marketing is fastest changing landscape in business today. That’s why it means it’s so important. All you need to do is just get your head out of the sand a little bit and be willing to learn complacency is the killer. If you say to yourself, you know it all, you’re not willing to learn, you may as well shut your business down because it’s going to be dead anyway.
Chris Marr: 35:44 I just want to emphasize that that is a big part of it is your personal and your professional development in this space is digital search engine optimization is going to matter until search engines don’t exist. The written word is going to matter for a long, long time as well until people stop reading which is probably going to be never. All of these things matter. There’s just you’ve got to get back to the principles of it. You just start to understand just how fundamental this activity is in your business. I don’t have the time is the biggest excuse that people and it’s the adult equivalent of the dog ate my homework. I think it’s just not a good enough excuse, it really isn’t. If you come to me and said, “I really want to grow my business but I don’t have the time to do marketing.” I’d be like, “Well you really don’t want to grow your business then do you? You’re really not that serious about. It’s not a priority for you.”
Chris Marr: 36:33 So it’s a shame that there’s people out there that are willing to take that opportunity on board, they’re willing to try something new, they’re willing to come out of their own comfort zones, challenge themselves, face their fears, those are the people that will grow their businesses. Those are people that will be here in five years time telling their story about how successful they’ve been.
Jason Resnick: 36:51 Yeah, that’s fantastic. We talked a lot about catering to the clients. Now I want to know something about you. Why did you start your own business?
Chris Marr: 37:04 That’s a great question. Couple of little things I can share here that really mattered that were like forks in the road for me. This goes back to my time when I was working for someone else. I used to work at the University of St. Andrews in a management leadership role there. It was about 2007, 2008, ‘cause we were in the University of St. Andrews, that’s where Facebook landed in the UK for the very first time. So you had to have a .ac.uk address. Like an academic email address to get a Facebook account. I don’t know if you remember this or not.
Jason Resnick: 37:34 Yep totally.
Chris Marr: 37:35 We jumped on early. And then I started to start to communicate with our customers using social really early on. Started to help businesses in my spare time. Started a blog. Read all the books. Gary Vaynerchuk’s Crush It was one of the books that really influenced me at that point to start my own blog. One of the phrases from the book, I’m paraphrasing here but it’s something about in the future the CV will be dead or the resume will be dead. I thought, I need to do something different then. I started the blog, took Gary’s advice, started a blog and said to myself, “If I’m going to get another job in future, won’t be because I’ve applied for it, it’ll be because they found me and I will get the job.”
Chris Marr: 38:13 I didn’t know at that time that I was really talking about being an entrepreneur or being a freelancer or being consultant. I didn’t know that at the time but that exactly what happened. And I got my first contract from that blog. It was terrible. Really, really bad. There would be WordPress designers shouting at me for the state that it was in. It was disgusting. But, it worked, it worked. It did exactly what I wanted it to do. And I said to myself at that point, “I’m never writing another CV ever again.” This was when I was still in employment, still unsure about what I was going to do. That was number one. Never write another CV ever again. Ever since I started my own business, no one, only one person has asked me for my CV. Only one. Never has it been a problem. ‘Cause your credibility’s based on the results that you get not what your qualifications are typically.
Chris Marr: 39:04 That was a big deal for me that back then was just deciding that a CV was just going to be part of the past for me. And the blog became my way out. It became my way out into the world. It wasn’t honestly, I started studying part-time at the University of St. Andrews to get my business degree because I had it in the back of my head that if I wanted to progress my career, become a consultant in a large organization or whatever and earn lots of money, I needed to get my degree. They just don’t look at you if you haven’t got your degree. If you want to go work at a big consultancy firm you need your degree. That opens the door or gives you a seat at the table at least. I knew that.
Chris Marr: 39:41 What happened interestingly enough was I did my part-time degree while I was still working and doing my blog and doing all this other stuff and it wasn’t until I walked into the office one day and they were doing some restructuring, let’s call it that. I looked at the new organizational chart for these 300 employees and my job wasn’t on it. So I’m like, “What’s going on here?” Got the papers, signed the papers, took a severance agreement, gave me some money and I left. But what I did was I went to university, I left and went to uni. And I wasn’t until I left my job that I realized that I didn’t want to work for someone else ever again. It wasn’t until that moment but here I am at uni for all the wrong reasons now because I wanted to go there to get my degree so I could become a consultant. Instead I’m at university thinking, “Why am I here? I should just be starting my own enterprise.”
Chris Marr: 40:35 So I just kept on with the blog, I kept going to conferences, educating myself about marketing and sales and business growth while I was university. Year four at university I changed my subjects so they were much more driven towards entrepreneurship. I took marketing modules, advertising modules, entrepreneurship modules. Stuff that were actually going to help me to be a better business person. The day I graduated university in 2013 was the day that I became the director of my own company. Even when I was at uni, I’m not kidding, I was everyone was 10 years younger than me. So they’re all 19, 20, 21, I’m sort of 29, 30, 31. And they’re all going to apply for jobs at Accenture and McKenzie and EY and all these big consultancy firms. I even felt myself being pulled into this world again of applying for jobs.
Chris Marr: 41:26 What happened was is I knew a friend of mine, it wasn’t a friend, it was a contact who had a job opening and I thought to myself, “That would be a really good job for me, I’ll apply for it.” It was the day before, the day before the interview, I phoned them and I said, “Look,” I’m friends with him now, Gavin, Gavin Oates and I said to Gavin, I said, “Look man, I can imagine you even offering me the job and me turning to down. I don’t want to waste your time, don’t want to waste my time. There’s no point in me coming to the interview tomorrow, I appreciate everything you’ve done for me but I need to do my own thing.” And he just said to me, at the time he was like, “Look man, totally get it,” ‘cause he’s an entrepreneur as well, he’s like a business owner and he’s like, “I get it. You just go do your thing and be awesome.” And that was it. And we’ve been friends ever since. It was a great moment for me. I had, I shed a tear, in the car I was a bit emotional about it because there’s something happened in that moment. I decided to not get a job. A job was not an option. I don’t know if you’ve heard people like this who’ve got a plan B. They never really take the risks. They never really put everything into it. The day when I had one pound 63 in my bank account, I had to ask my mom for money to pay my mortgage.
Chris Marr: 42:34 And my mom said to me just recently in the last, it was the last six months or so, she was like, “I understand now Chris why you’re so driven to take these risks, to make these sacrifices because you have got it so deep within you that you don’t want to work for someone else ever again that you will make this thing work. Bleeding nails, bleeding eyes, you will lose the sleep, take the risk and make this thing work because you just have such a drive to not work for someone else ever again.” It’s almost like I just in that moment when I was speaking to Gavin, I decided I had to make an adult decision that getting a job was not an option for me and I went and I did my own thing. Instead of saying to myself, “If it fails I can always get a job.” Failure wasn’t an option for me. I was naïve. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing but it felt like the right thing at the right time for me.
Chris Marr: 43:27 That’s the story. That’s how it all kind of kicked off. There’s a lot of emotion in there, a lot of big decisions to make but I’m glad that those things happened in the way that they did. It gave me four or five years to really figure out what I wanted to do and a lot of people say like if you’re going to go into to business you need to jump. You need to take that leap. I hate all that stuff. Jump off the cliff and build the parachute, you’ll build the parachute on the way down. Don’t do that. You’re going to, that leads to your death. You know what to do? Is build the best parachute you possibly can and then jump off the cliff. That’s the best thing. That’s what I did. I built it up over time.
Chris Marr: 44:03 I was at university, great opportunity to explore without risk. I had a loan, pay my mortgage for two years. I had a chance to do my music promotions company, a network marketing business, I had to chance to travel over the UK to go conferences, learn, I read 40 books one year. That was only because I had time to do that. I was a full-time student. They do nothing. So I had time to do all that. I built my parachute before I jumped.
Jason Resnick: 44:29 That’s awesome. That’s a great, fantastic story. It’s funny that you mentioned Accenture. I worked for Accenture. It was actually Ancit Bank and Ancit Bank was absorbed by Accenture. It was funny because very similar to your story about you walked in one day and restructuring. All of a sudden you’re just looking for your job. And I’m like, okay, so when the writing’s on the wall.
Chris Marr: 45:01 That’s the story. That’s how it all came to. It’s quite nice to have the opportunity to share it because it reminds me of what’s happened as well. It’s important.
Jason Resnick: 45:11 Yeah, definitely. This has been awesome. I appreciate your time and everything. Before I let you go, I just have one more question. What’s your number one piece of advice that you would give a freelancer, somebody that’s striking out on their own? Whatever you want to call it. Consultant, freelancer. What would be that number one piece of advice?
Chris Marr: 45:32 Geez, that’s a tough one. I think don’t give up. I think that is the key thing is that there will be challenges along the way. They’re there to test you. You will make mistakes as well and you’ll make big mistakes, things that you wish you’d never done. All of it will make you a better business person. Don’t give up when you’re hit with an obstacle and appreciate that that obstacle there is there to as a teaching. It’s going to let you to learn something by getting over that obstacle. We’ve had financial problems, we’ve had tax problems, we’ve had customer acquisition problems and it’s all made me a better marketer, a better salesperson, a better numbers person in my business.
Chris Marr: 46:18 All the weaknesses I had have been tested and I’ve had to become stronger because of it. If I’d given up, I would learn nothing. Don’t give up at the first hurdle, don’t give up at the second hurdle, don’t give up at the third hurdle. See it through. And appreciate that all these mistakes and all these challenges are there to help you to be better at this thing. And test you to see how much you really want the thing that you’re building.
Jason Resnick: 46:44 Yeah, that’s awesome. Great. At the direct I thought you were actually going to say, “Don’t forget to be awesome.”
Chris Marr: 46:48 And don’t forget to be awesome.
Jason Resnick: 46:54 That’s fantastic. Well this again Chris, thanks for doing this. Where could folks reach out and say hi to you?
Chris Marr: 47:00 If anyone’s got any questions about anything that we’ve covered today or they want to pick my brain or just say hello. I on Twitter @chrismarr101. That’s C-H-R-I-S-M-A-R-R-1-0-1. You can get me on Twitter, Instagram. You can email me, firstname.lastname@example.org as well. Some people like to communicate privately and that’s totally cool as well. That’s where you can get me.
Jason Resnick: 47:25 Awesome. Thanks Chris. And everybody this has been oodles amount of information. I have a bunch of different takeaways that you can do for this. I’ll put them all in the show notes for you. And yeah, reach out to Chris. If you’re not following him, definitely follow him and check out CMA as well. I’m going to make it my effort next year to come to CMA Conf. That’s just one of my big conferences. I’ve got two on the deck and that’s one. Everybody go check out Chris. And your time to live in the feast.
Season 2: Marketing
More episodes in this season:
S02 E00 - Marketing For Freelacers
S02 E02 - Rise of the Youpreneur with Chris Ducker
S02 E01 - The Future of Sales and Marketing with Chris Marr
S02 E03 - How to work with agencies as a freelancer with Lee Jackson
S02 E04 - How to build a service from the ground up with Ruben Gamez
S02 E05 - How to increase the number of leads and clients with Brennan Dunn
S02 E06 - How to specialize your business with Sara Dunn
S02 E07 - How to close a deal as a freelancer
S02 E08 - Step by Step Guide to Specialization