Hello and welcome to episode 76 of the Content Champion Podcast. On the show this time, I’m delighted to be talking with the founder of the Content Marketing Academy - Chris Marr.
Chris has fast become the leading voice in the UK content marketing movement - and the CMA Live conference he established, held annually in Edinburgh, Scotland - attracts big name speakers such as Marcus Sheridan, Chris Brogan and Ann Handley (and not forgetting Chris himself - who is an engaging and inspiring speaker and coach).
I wanted to talk to Chris about a great article on the CMA website detailing how content marketing leads to sales, and what resulted was a fascinating conversation. So let’s dive in...
Listen To The Show
- Learn about Chris' previous career & backstory
- Introducing the Zero Moment of Truth
- Understanding how your prospects buy online
- Formulating buyer questions to inform your content
- The process of how content marketing leads to sales
- Marcus Sheridan's 'They Ask You Answer' Framework
- The 5 main types of questions your customers always ask
- Why content marketing is a strategic part of your business
- Where we can find Chris online and access his resources
- The PS Question - Chris shares a great answer you won't want to miss!
[Podcast] How Content Marketing Leads To Sales With Chris Marr #contentmarketing
- Learn about Chris' previous career & backstory
Read the transcript
Loz James: Thanks for coming on, Chris.
Chris Marr: Awesome. I'm really pleased to be here. I'm excited. Thanks for having me.
Loz James: Okay. Now, before we dig down into how content marketing leads to sales, could you tell us your backstory, please, and how you got started in the industry?
Chris Marr: Yeah, sure. I think this is quite an interesting journey for me, because I never started off as a marketer as such.
So I was ... Wind the clock back to the ages of 19 and 29, I was working in management, a management role at the University of St. Andrews, and it was probably like mid-career that I really started to get interested in marketing, without really knowing that that was what I was getting interested in.
We had events, venues, we had bars, cafes, and things like that. And suddenly I started to change my role into looking at, like, you know, traffic and profits and, you know, sales and stuff like that. I got really interested in that. Social media obviously started to become a big thing back then. Facebook landed in the UK. Started to just really get interested in all of that stuff. Started a blog. And it just all kind-of got really organic, actually, just how it all kind-of came together. And so I just got interested in it from a personal perspective.
Chris Marr: And just, I'd read in the books. Gary Vaynerchuk was one of the first books that really sort-of lit my fire. Crush It. And it was really just from then on, really from about 2007 to 2008 that I just started to get really interested in marketing. And then, you know, organically over the years, I got my first contract helping a business and I started helping other businesses out in my spare time while I was working full-time.
And then a few years roll by. The next thing you know, I'm leaving my job to start my own limited company as a marketer. And yeah. It's kind-of ... It just all feels like that today, actually. You know, ten years on, I still feel like I'm still in that mode, reading the books, learning development, getting better, you know, all of that stuff. And the content marketing thing just really hooked me, because ... I think it's just my ...
Chris Marr: I think a lot of people feel like, when it comes to sales, they don't feel like sales people. And I think content marketing, you know, when you really embrace it and understand it, you can be a salesperson without being, like, a stereotypical salesperson.
So I think I kind-of, like ... When I first started listening to, like ... Marcus Sheridan was a big influence of mine really when I started to get deeper into content marketing. And that really ... that methodology and that sort-of philosophy just made me feel like I could be a really good business person without feeling like I had to sell my soul to the devil. And that's really how that sort-of affinity with content marketing came in.
Chris Marr: So, went from sort-of like general marketing strategy stuff to really just basically putting our heart on our sleeve. Even our company is called the Content Marketing Academy, you know, so we're really embrace everything to do with content marketing.
So like it's a real passion of mine, but also there's a real affinity there personally as well, and that it really sort-of aligns with my own personality in terms of how I want to go market and how I want to behave as a businessperson.
Loz James: Okay. Well, tell us a bit about the Content Marketing Academy, because your growth has been phenomenal. And from the outside looking in, you know, your personality really comes through in that brand, and it's sort-of really exciting and vibrant and positive. So, tell us a bit about the company.
Chris Marr: Yeah. So, the brand that you see just now it literally a year old. I think it's a year old just in April. We started off as a company called Learning Every Day, which was nothing like the brand is today. And I thought ... It's funny when you start a business. I thought I had to wear a suit and a shirt and a tie and slick my hair back and put business cards in my pocket and go out and do all the, you know, the networking thing.
And looking ... Yeah, look at us now, right? So, completely different. T-shirts, jeans, you know, like much more relaxed. I took me a good three or four years to figure out who I need to be. And therefore, like, it took my three or four years to figure out what my brand needed to look like as well. So, we really embraced everything that I love about branding, baseball, American culture, Johnny Cupcakes, t-shirts, brand, everything I really loved about branding, and put it into our brand.
Chris Marr: And that's where the CMA kind-of really started to ... I feel like it's only really starting to become something that I'm truly proud of now. And this is coming up for our five year anniversary. So the content marketing started as a small marketing agency. And over the years ... We started a live event back in 2014. And ever since then, there was a moment where I was building an audience around our live events rather than an audience around our agency. Nobody really knew, I don't think, what we did to make money. All they saw was the live events. And that made that bigger impact.
So over a course of a couple years, we ran the live events, the Content Marketing Academy, and then we changed our business to a membership business and live events business. And we changed the name of the company from Learning Every Day to the Content Marketing Academy.
Chris Marr: So really what I think ... Looking back on it now, what we did was, we really followed out audience. Our audience were saying, "We love this about what you do, Chris. This is something that we can get behind. This is something we believe in." So we kind-of dropped the agency work. We completely rebranded. And that's where we find ourselves now, running a membership organisation instead of an agency and running three live events a year.
Loz James: Well, I'll put some links up on the blog to all that, because you've got some great speakers coming to the conference this year. But let's move on to the topic of conversation for this show, which is content marketing and how it leads to sales. So, we're going to break this down into sections. Firstly, let's back up a bit, look at the wider picture.
Chris Marr: Okay.
Loz James: This whole process starts with what Google calls the zero moment of truth. So, what is this and how does it apply to content marketing?
Chris Marr: I think it's worthwhile that every marketer and every entrepreneur and every business person ... You know, before you start doing any marketing, you've really got to kind-of channel, well, how do our prospects, how do our potential customers use information, find information, use that information, to make buying decisions. Right? So we need to think to ourselves. Even look at your own buying behaviour, right?
How do you buy things today? Like, you literally ... Do you use Google? You search online. You use, you know, recommendations, reviews from friends. Gone are the days where you think to yourself, oh, I'm gonna buy a car. You go round to all the showrooms over the weekend. That's not how we do it anymore. We get all our information online. And Google calls that the zero moment of truth.
Chris Marr: On average, 70 percent of the buying decision is made online before someone contacts a business for the first time. That may be higher in some industries and lower in others. But it doesn't take us away from the principle, which is that people use information that they find online to make their buying decision. Right? So they do all their research online before contacting a business for the first time.
I mean, its obvious why we do that. We don't want to be sold to. We don't want to be ripped off. We don't want to be in front of sales people feeling like we're buying something that we don't want. We want to feel confident. We want all the information to help us feel like we're making the right buying decision. And we can do that now, because all the information we need is online to help us to ... as consumers, help us feel more confident. We don't have to make bad buying decisions anymore, and we certainly don't have to put ourselves in awful situations dealing with sales people.
Loz James: So we control that as customers, that whole process. Give us a practical example of how that might work.
Chris Marr: Yeah. So, we do control it as customers, or we feel like we control it as customers. But obviously the other part of the equation is that someone needs to create the content for you to find it in the first place. And that's where you put your business hat on and you think to yourself, well, if we know that our prospects are searching for and using information to help them make a buying decision, we need to be proactive and create the content that they are looking for.
So, this is as businesses, we need to think to ourselves, well, what are our prospects searching for? How can we make sure that when they search, they find us and they can use our expertise and our information to help them make a buying decision?
Chris Marr: So, a practical example of that would be something like ... I don't know, say you're going to buy a summer house or a shed for your garden. You're sitting at home with your husband or your wife. You look out the living room and you think, I could imagine us sitting out there on a warm summer's night with a glass of Prosecco, enjoying the sunset with our friends, with our family.
And you think to yourself, well, that would be amazing. Suddenly, you both become aware that you'd love to have a summer house. Now, the first thing you're not going to do is jump in your car and look at all ... you know, drive round all the manufacturers in the area.
Chris Marr: You're gonna go online and you're gonna start searching things like summer houses, best summer houses, best summer house manufacturers in Scotland. What's the difference between different types of summer houses? Different wood, red wood, white wood. What kind of roof do we want? What kind of size does it need to be? How much does it cost? How long does it take to make and deliver? Do we assemble it ourselves? What do the foundations need to look like? And you're going to search all of this information online before you decide even who you're gonna buy from.
And that's the power of content, as if you are a shed manufacturer in this example, you absolutely should make sure that you have answered all of these questions that people are searching for online today. You show up in Google. They should read your content. They spend more time on your website. They know your brand. They start to trust you. And therefore, you have a seat at the table when it comes to, who's the first person we're gonna phone, whose showroom are we going to go see. And you have a seat at the table. Without the content there, You don't even have a seat at the table.
Loz James: Okay. So from a content marketing perspective, creating content, the fascinating thing for a nerd like me is, a lot of those searches you've just mentioned when we're trying to buy something, are gonna be totally unique to you, the way you phrase it and everything else.
So, you've gotta come up with some ideas for your content that positions you as the most helpful company in your niche to sort-of hoover up those searches. And there are some specific action steps we can take to do this, aren't there? You research it, document it, you act quickly you optimise for search, and you hit publish. So tell us about that process.
Chris Marr: Yeah. So, one of the big questions that people ask is really ... You know, we're in 2018 and internet's been around for a long time. There's ... I mean, I don't know how many blogs are published every day. Tens of thousands, probably, of new pages on websites published every day.
So naturally, somebody listening to this podcast might say, "Well, Chris, you know, I understand. It sounds great. It makes complete sense that we absolutely need to do this. But how are we going to differentiate? How will people find our content? How can we make sure that we stand out and have a seat at the table?" And absolutely, this process is absolutely key.
Chris Marr: First of all, obviously, you need to understand your niche, understand your customers, what they are searching for online. So doing your research is step one. So, you know, again, some of the most common questions we get asked are, "Okay, Chris. We want to do this, but where do we start? What do we write about? How do we know what people are searching for?" Well, there's lots of great ways to do that, and it doesn't have to cost you money. It's not expensive.
First of all, listening to your customers, your prospects. Check your sent box in your emails. What questions are you answering? Type it in to Google. Find out what people are looking for, and document what you find. First of all, the big question is, what are our prospects searching for, and how do we make sure that we create content that they can find?
Chris Marr: And going through that process, where you do that research, you act quickly ... Now this is a big one, I think. In most cases, acting fast or being first is potentially the best thing you can do. If someone else has not answered a question or has a piece of content that's the most helpful, is to act fast.
But, in some cases you might find that when you go online, you start doing your research and looking at what, perhaps, your competitors have created, you might find that a lot of the content has already been created. And that's when it sort-of comes to this optimising. And optimization isn't just about search engine optimization, but also about creating the best version of that article or that piece of content that exists online today.
Chris Marr: And that's something that we're really pushing our students just now as well, is to say, okay. There's a lot of content out there, but a lot of it is surface-level content that doesn't really and truly help people. It gives them an answer to a question, but doesn't take it as far to solve a problem for them. So how can you create the most helpful, transparent, honest, best article that exists online today for that question or that problem? And yeah, getting it out there as quickly as possible. I think a lot of people do tend to wait for some reason.
There's a lot of fear associated with content. You've probably experienced this, you know, in the conversations you've had as well. And maybe people listening are thinking this as well. It's like, well, what gives me the right to publish this? What gives me the right to say this? What if I annoy or frustrate my competition? You know, what if I get their backs up. And at the end of the day, I think it's either going to be you or it's going to be them.
Chris Marr: And I've had conversations with people in the past as well and said to them, like, "What if you know you need to do all of this, and then the next day your competition do exactly what you said you were going to do. How would that make you feel?" And the best thing you can do is to hit that publish button, get the content out there. And it's not set in stone. You can improve it. You can change it. You can make tweaks to it over time. So I think there is a process that you go through for content.
But really comes back to, I think the best, almost the best thing you can do that can help that whole process is getting really close to your customers, understanding them better than anyone else, researching the questions they're asking. And I think that gives you the best chance of success throughout the rest of the process.
Chris Marr: So it's not about your competition. It's not about your industry. It's not about being famous in front of your peers. This is about creating the most helpful content you can in your industry for your prospects, to help them feel confident when they're making a buying decision.
Loz James: And what's fascinating about that answer is that the word publish, thinking as a publisher. So you've got your brand. You've got your specific brand viewpoint. And you're publishing content that meets the needs of your customers. But it's also the differentation factor there - is that it's your version of that content. They want, your customers want to se you as a brand.
Chris Marr: Yeah, exactly. And I mean at the end, it comes back to the point we made earlier as well, is if you don't have this content, then they're not going to find you in that zero moment of truth when they're trying to make that buying decision. There's some content that you just absolutely need to have on your website and create and publish.
There's potential misunderstanding about content marketing, and especially when content marketers are talking about it, in that they think it's a marketing thing and it doesn't apply to, you know, other businesses. All we're really talking about here is how to market your business today. You know, how to get sales today. This is what it takes, right?
We have to think of it like we are publishers, and that we need to create and publish content, because that is how consumers, that is how our potential prospects buy stuff. Right? They watch videos. They listen to podcasts, They read articles online.
Chris Marr: People might even say to you, you know, people don't read stuff anymore. They don't listen to stuff. Yes, they do. When they're thinking about making a buying decision, they will research, and they will find content. And the content that they find will help them to make that decision. The sort-of $64,000 question is, is it going to be your content, or is it going to be someone else's that they find?
Loz James: I've just gotta put a plug in for a really great tool called Mouseflow. I'm not an affiliate or anything like that. But you plug it into your site, and just before people hit the "buy now" button, you can see exactly on a video recording what they've done before they buy. And it's fascinating just exactly how much content they've read, what they've consumed.
You can also go back through time and see recordings of them coming back to the site looking at different parts of the content, looking at all those trusts and authority building elements that you've got on there, reading really long form content to put their mind at ease, sort-of hand holding content as I like to call it, and then going back in and making that purchase decision. And if, as you say, that content wasn't there, they'd have just bounced off and gone somewhere else.
Chris Marr: Yeah. There's lots of tools out there to help you ... And they don't even have to cost you that much. To help you understand better what people are doing with your content and how they're using it. And the more information you can get on that, I would say the better.
You don't want to overload yourself with data points, but I think you do need to ... and it's something we probably won't have a huge amount of time to talk about today, but I think one of the big questions we get asked is, "Well, okay, Chris. I want to spend, you know, all this time creating this content. How do I know I'm getting a return on my investment I've put into this?"
Chris Marr: And what you're saying there is really, you know, having those tools will help you to see that your content makes a difference. Even if you can't track a single blog article to a dollar or pound value, you're able to see that people are reading it and they're sharing it, or they're clicking through or they're taking some sort of action from it.
And I think that's really, really important, especially for people that are just getting started with content. They need to know that it is making a difference.
Speaker 1: You're listening to the Content Champion Podcast, showcasing the best content marketing strategies across the web.
Loz James: We're back with Chis Marr. Okay. So, we've done all our background work, our research. We've documented it. We've got some content out there.
Let's drill down into specific stages of how content marketing leads to sales, and we're basically looking at search engine position, as you say, leading to more website traffic, leading to more leads and inquiries, then more sales, and then increased profits, which is what we're talking about there. So just go through all of those briefly if you would.
Chris Marr: Yeah. So, I think this is interesting, right? Because it makes complete sense that when we're talking about digital marketing or content marketing, that we are looking to, obviously, increase our traffic and turn that traffic into leads and sales, and, you know, obviously into profits. And I think content marketing is really a profit making commercial strategic activity. Again, I think there's a misunderstanding with content marketing in that it's a tactic.
But I think content marketing done properly is actually a strategic and commercial level within and organisation or business. So I think that's important to recognise that, because content marketing done well does make an organisation more profitable, and that means decreasing costs or being more effective with the resources that we have.
We do want people to feel like the content makes a difference. And there's ... When you're measuring the return or the effectiveness of content marketing, you can measure it at three or four or five different stages, right?
Chris Marr: So first of all, you can measure, well, is our content being found and Googled, right? So we're creating all this content, but can people find it? So we want to measure search engine position, right? So we want to be on page one on Google, absolutely, and we want to track and measure that. So that means that we do need to understand ... And this is, again, another misunderstanding with marketing, I think as well, that SEO is no longer like a separate kind-of practise within marketing anymore. I
f you're a marketer or if you're an entrepreneur or a business person and you want to be a better marketer, you are gonna have to do some SEO. You're gonna have to do some education, and you're gonna have to understand how it works, because that's what makes sure your content can be found in Google. So measuring search engine position is really important at the first hurdle, right? The first rung on the ladder is, can people find your content when they're searching for it.
Chris Marr: And then obviously, measuring traffic, right? So it isn't always the case that if you are position one on Google, that anybody actually searches for that and goes to your website and visits the website. So we want to make sure that people are not just searching and finding us, but they're actually clicking through as well and visiting our website.
So we do want to measure traffic. We want to measure our top performing content, and we want to see how people are converting from traffic into leads as well. So based on my experience, this may be different for you. We find that there's usually a gap at this stage, right? People are pretty good, I think, in measuring search engine position and traffic, and then they're just [inaudible 00:21:14] the gap is like, "Well we've got all this traffic, Chris, but it's not really turning into leads. And therefore it's not turning into sales."
Chris Marr: And something I've realised over time is that some ... They make a big mistake early on, is that they aren't writing content for the people who have the ability and willingness to buy from them.
So the traffic that they're getting to their website isn't relevant traffic. So, coming back to our earlier point is that research stage, your prospects, what questions they're asking, is so important, because when it comes to converting traffic into leads and sales, you need to make sure that the majority of traffic that you're getting to your website are people that do want to buy the thing that you offer.
So having calls to action ... I know that this is pretty common knowledge, but you've got to get ... you've got to build that email list at this stage, and it's something that I want to talk more about in the future, is just how inbound or content marketing, getting people to find you and use your information, email marketing is like ... It's not a secret. Everyone understands it. But it's not a priority, I think, ina lot of businesses, to then secure the sale.
Chris Marr: So a lot of people are coming to your website. They're reading your content and they download something or they fill a form out, you know, they take a step closer. They become a lead or an inquiry, perhaps. And then using email marketing sequences and content in that sequence and those sort-of like sales processes to secure your sales.
So I find that that is the biggest gap just now in the UK businesses that we're teaching, is that they've been great at getting the search engine positions, great at getting the traffic. But then turning that traffic into leads and sales is the biggest challenge. It's almost like, that could break someone in terms of thinking, actually, you know what?
We've done this content marketing thing and it's not working, because we can't turn traffic into leads and sales. So this is like our biggest challenge with businesses, is to make sure that they're doing the right things from the start, so when it comes to this point that they've got the best chance of success.
Loz James: And it is again ... I love all this stuff. That's why I do a podcast on it. But that fusion of content, copywriting, SEO, email marketing, and then someone buying something, when it works perfectly and you see it going from start to finish as you engineered it to happen, kind-of, based on that research, it's a wonderful thing.
And it does help business punch above their weight online. You can compete with other, larger companies, with limited resources, just by getting these steps right and linking them together. And that's a really important point about the email marketing, 'cause it is that gap-bridger between the two that helps all those pieces to fit together.
Loz James: Okay. From a content marketing perspective, it can be hard to know ... We mentioned those questions that we ask, the types of questions we ask to find out what people are typing into Google and reading reviews about to find our website. So let's bring in Marcus Sheridan again and his "they ask, you answer" framework.
I know he's a content marketing hero of yours and mine. I've had him on the show before. He advocates sort-of five main types of questions that we should research into that our customers are asking, so we can organise our content to attract those searches. So go through those if you would.
Chris Marr: Yeah. So, this is an interesting philosophy of Marcus's, "they ask, you answer." It's what we've been talking about this whole time. Marcus has created a methodology for this to help people like you and I and the people listening to the show as well to know exactly what to do, and it's been something that he's designed over, say, ten years or so, but then also taught to thousands of people all over the world who've had success with it as well.
And what we've found is by through teaching the "they ask, you answer" philosophy to our students, they are having massive success with it as well. In fact, the content that they create that fits right into what we call the big five is their best performing content. And it's logical and makes complete sense why.
Chris Marr: The first thing we talked about today was the zero moment of truth, that people are searching for information online to help them make a buying decision. They're making their buying decision online before they contact the business for the first time. And naturally the question is, "Okay, Chris. I understand that. What content do we need to create, then, in that case, to attract ... so people can find us?" Right?
Chris Marr: And it comes to this big five. And it's the big five that Marcus talks about in "they ask, you answer," is the price/cost, problems, reviews, comparisons, and best-of. Those are the five big areas in "they ask, you answer."
And if you think about it, when you are buying something today, you're obviously concerned about price and cost, and it's not just about the price of something. It's about, well, what influences the price? Why is some stuff more expensive and some stuff cheaper? What makes the price go up, what makes the price go down?
As a consumer, I want to understand better how pricing works for this product or this service. And honestly, this works in B2B. It works in B2C. It works across the board for all types of organisations. So price and cost is one factor.
Chris Marr: We've got things like problems. Like, this is such an interesting little space you can get yourself into. And I ask myself this question so often and I always come up with ideas for content. The question I ask myself is, why are people not buying from me? Right? What is stopping people from purchasing something from me?
So the question you should ask yourself is that same question. Why are people not buying from me? And you can always come up with three or four things. You know, we're too expensive or people don't understand what we do. Or, you know, it could be anything, right?
Chris Marr: For example, I had a recent one, which was, why should I join more than one membership organisation? That's a reason why people aren't buying from me. That's a problem in our industry. So I have to write about that and talk about that. It's almost like taking the problems that exist in your industry, and instead of avoiding them or not talking about them, you open up and you sort-of own that conversation and you talk about the elephant in the room. So problems are a really interesting space.
Everyone's had a bad experience. Everyone knows someone who's had a bad experience with your product or service. But very rarely will you find a company be so honest and transparent to talk about it and discuss it and help people understand how they avoid this problem from taking place. So that's an interesting space.
Chris Marr: And then we get into things like best-of, comparison, reviews. Those are kind-of like the similar space that we all ... You know, I think we could all agree that when we're buying something today, it's amazing how much influence someone can have on us, even though we don't know who they are and we've never met them before, but then they wrote a review about it and all of a sudden it helps us and influences our buying decisions.
So, reviews, best-of type articles or content and comparisons really help us to make our buying decisions. The only thing in that space, I think the biggest factor there is that typically, organisations and businesses and marketers leave that up to third-party websites to do that for them. They leave it up to, like, the comparison websites, the review-based websites.
Chris Marr: But as an expert in your industry, you have an opinion. You do have thoughts about these two new services that have just come out or these two new products that have just come out in the market. Or perhaps even comparing the services or products that you offer.
You almost have to forget that you're trying to sell something here and that you want to help your prospects to make a good buying decision, a confident buying decision. And I think some of this content, to be totally honest, is very difficult for people to get their head around at first. They're like, "Why would I write about, like, my competition's products or services on my website? You know, I just want people to phone us, Chris. If I can get more people to phone us, I know we can sell to them." But consumer behaviour has changed dramatically.
People don't pick up the phone anymore. They're doing that research online, and we have to be prepared to talk about this stuff online now. And I think the businesses that do this and do it first and do it well are gonna be the ones that get rewarded.
Chris Marr: So the big five. The big five is "they as, you answer." You should pick up Marcus's book if you're remotely interested. If this is triggering something in your brain, you're like, I need to know more about this, then pick up ... Marcus published a book on it last year, about a year ago now, and it's there. It's available for you for, you know, 15 pounds or something like that. So you can get stuck right into it.
Loz James: And the great thing about all this is that your customers are already doing this anyway, so it's up to you to get in front of them and answer their questions with content.
Chris Marr: Everybody does this, right? When you are buying something, we're gonna compare it to something else. We want an anchor on price, we want an anchor on quality. You know, we end up ... rarely will we buy something today without experiencing something else. We need to know what the benchmarks are. As a business, as a marketer, if you know your consumers are doing that anyway, why wouldn't you make it easier for them? Why would you not make it easier for them to get to the buying decision, right?
So we know that people are doing most of their buying decision online before first contact anyway, you're right. So they're gonna go look for the information. Could you make it easier for them? Could you make it faster for them? Could you help them make a buying decision and own ... like you said, own that conversation. So yeah. I think at some point, everybody comes over to our side, I think, and says, you know what, it does actually make sense.
Chris Marr: If we want to be the most helpful organisation in our industry, then we absolutely have to think about ... You never worry about your competition. Your competition aren't paying your bills. You need more customers. So let's focus hundred percent on our customers and give them the information that they need. And if that affects our competition, if that annoys them, if that frustrates them, then so be it. We have got a job to do here, and it is to be the most helpful we can be for our prospects.
Loz James: One thing I've gotta mention here as well. You talked about the phone ringing there. We're finding that in our e-commerce business, the phone does ring, but it rings further down the funnel.
Chris Marr: Yes.
Loz James: So in the past, it would have rung at the top of the funnel when they were doing that sort of research stage, or your team went out and interrupted them by using tele-sales or whatever and tried to bring them into your brand.
But what we're finding is, people consume all this content ... I'm making some sort of thing and no one can see me because I'm on a podcast. I'm making a sort-of triangle down of a funnel. We've seen people who have consumed all the content, and then just made a little phone call when they've absolutely decided to buy and they want help with the actual process of the mechanics of buying it.
Chris Marr: Absolutely. This is like the big picture of content marketing. It isn't just about getting more customers, it's about getting better customers. Higher quality of customers. They come in highly qualified, educated, confident. They trust you. They spend more. They stay for longer, they tell everyone about you. They become your biggest advocates.
I think one of the biggest wastes of time in business is dealing with inquiries, and content marketing deals with that. You might get less phone calls, but the phone calls you're getting are turning into sales, are converting to sales at a higher rate.
Chris Marr: And this is why we need to talk about content marketing as a sales process. Rather than the people assuming that it's just this tactic ... You know, how does a blog article turn into sales? I think people in business, marketers, need to think more like this now, is that content marketing is sales. It's a sales process we're doing. We're helping people at the very early stages of education.
We're taking them through their consideration stages into decision stage. We're taking them through to the sales. We're helping them stay as customers and buying more. I think content marketing is absolutely bleeds directly into the sales process that we all need to have today.
Loz James: Yeah, brilliant. And if you don't want to acknowledge that the two are intricately linked and you can create sales qualified leads through the whole process we're talking about, then you're kind-of not even on the field. It's not a case of you're not playing the game - you haven't even made the field of play, have you?
Chris Marr: Yeah, you don't have a seat at the table. I mean, this is it. I think, back to what I mentioned earlier is that we're not talking about anything complicated here. We're talking about how do you grow your company and your business in 2018 and beyond, right? How do you get more sales today? How do we make sure that people can find us when they've never heard of us before? Right? How do we do that? This is how you do it. This is how we do it.
We go through this process, understanding what content marketing is, how people make buying decisions. We create the content that people are looking for. We educate them. We be more helpful than anybody else in our industry. And we give ourselves the best chances at success.
Chris Marr: As you said, they are ... If we're not doing this, you don't have a seat at the table. You're not playing the game. And I don't know what's gonna happen to those businesses that don't really do ... If you don't do anything over the next two, three, four, five years in this space, I don't know what's gonna happen, but it's not gonna be good.
Loz James: Okay. Well, tenuously, I'm now going to link from a seat at the table to a seat at the conference table. So tell us about Content Marketing Academy and the exciting conference you've got coming up.
Chris Marr: Yeah. Back in 2014, like I said, it started. We started this live event called the Content Marketing Academy. My mission at that point was to bring more education. That was all that really was at the heart of this. I was like, if I can just help more people to understand how marketing works, then people will spend more money on marketing and then want to buy, you know, from our agency.
That was kind-of like the thoughts behind it. But things changed drastically from that, and we started off with like a small workshop, really, conference. And now it's a full two-day conference with international keynote speakers based in Edinburgh.
I don't think there's anything really like this in the UK the way that we've done it. It's very community led. It's like a ... It's hard to call it a conference, to be honest, because it's kind-of ... It doesn't feel like a conference when you're there.
Chris Marr: One of the best things that people have said about what we do is that they feel at home. They feel like they're with their people. And this is business people and marketers and entrepreneurs coming together. It's not just for marketers. It's very much about business growth. We have the speakers there. They're not in a green room. They're sitting round the tables. They're talking to people. They're hanging out. They're at the pub for drinks.
You know, it's an amazing experience, and it takes place in Edinburgh sixth and seventh of June, 2018. CMA Live is what it's called. It's one of the best things we do every single year. It's our flagship event. And it's guaranteed to be an amazing experience for everyone. And I hope to see a few more people there.
Loz James: And you also mentioned your Academy online, the sort-of membership side of the business. Just tell us about that.
Chris Marr: Yeah. Yeah. So I think based on what we talked about today, I think that's the context, is this is what we teach. It's exactly what we're talking about today is, the number one thing is, you're not got just get content marketing advice in teaching from us. It's about seeing that whole process. Very early on when we started the membership organisation, I said, we said to ourselves, this can't just be about creating content. This has to be about business growth.
Chris Marr: So we're called the Content Marketing Academy. We teach content, but it's very much about business growth. It's about helping people to create the right content that gets the best results, and we're trying to fast track people through that, you know, as quickly as we possibly can.
So instead of dithering around on your own, trying different things out to see what things work, we've got pretty much all the ... the whole track. Like, how do we do the research? How do we, you know, create the best content from the start? How do we make sure it's working? How do get the results? We can take you through that step by step, as quickly as possible, so that you're not messing around and you're not wasting your time, and you are able to grow your business with content marketing.
Speaker 1: Wait for it, listeners. Here comes the P.S. question.
Loz James: Could you please share one advanced content marketing tactic that we can get started with right after the show?
Chris Marr: Yeah. Good. So this has taken me by surprise. I knew you were going to ask the question but I forgot. So, one advanced technique. Right. So this is interesting, right? Advanced. What's advanced? I would say one of the most valuable things you can do ... And if we're talking about advanced, this means that you're already creating content, probably, and you're already trying a few things.
The best thing I could say you could do that really drives results quickly and gets better results faster is to drill down through your website analytics to your top performing content. Right? So pick out your top five or ten blog articles that you have that drive the most traffic. And then optimise every single one of them for better results, basically. Right?
Chris Marr: So we've got a checklist of about 30 points that you would do to optimise or what we'd call re-launch a blog article to make it more in-depth, more helpful. Add more images, more research, quotes, links to other articles, calls to action on there. And optimise those landing pages. If that's someone's first experience on your website, optimise them to be better than they already are.
That's a very good thing to do, and a lot of people don't do it. I'm not sure if it's advanced, but it certainly goes a ... definitely a lever or two deeper than most people are willing to go to. And it takes a lot of time to do that, but if you look and find your top performing content and optimise that for better results, I think that's one of the best things you could do with the content that you already have.
Loz James: Fantastic. Well, that's a great answer to the P.S. question. A fantastic podcast in general. Love what you're doing, as I say, at Content Marketing Academy. It's a really vibrant and exciting brand. I'm certainly going to be coming along to the conference in future. I advise everyone to go and check out all these resources and what Chris is doing there. And really, that just leads me to say, I wish you every success in future. Thanks very much for coming on, Chris.
Chris Marr: Thanks for having me. It's been absolutely amazing. I hope the audience get a lot of value from that. And if anyone's got any questions about anything, feel free to grab me on Twitter @chrismarr101. Wanna pick my brain, ask a question, or shout at me about something, I am there.
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