CoSchedule started the Actionable Marketing Podcast (AMP) in 2015 and has recorded and published more than 300 episodes. CoSchedule has worked with some of the smartest minds out there that share their stories with you through this podcast. This season, CoSchedule brings back some of the best of the best evergreen content.
Content marketing is a highly competitive space. Every single day, nearly 60 million blog posts are published and five billion YouTube videos are watched. Are you always trying to edge out search results to be on top? Discover how to reframe your mindset when it comes to content marketing.
Today, we’re talking to Garrett Moon, CoSchedule CEO, about how to handle such competition when it comes to content marketing and his new book, 10X Marketing Formula: Your Blueprint for Creating Competition-Free Content That Stands Out and Gets Results.
Marketers are responsible for bringing in leads, sales, people - big tasks - to support core business metrics. Garrett’s book describes taking the formula, process, tips and tricks, and things that work and don’t for CoSchedule and making them available to anybody to use and implement in their business and marketing process.
Gartner’s Hype Cycle: How new technology is adopted. When content marketing took shape a few years back, all of a sudden, everyone was adopting it and reworking their marketing teams, creating content, doing blogging, building email lists, and other tasks. Content marketing made a lot of promises to us.
Now, Garrett believes we are entering the trough of disillusionment. We adopted content marketing, but what about those big promises that were made? What about the results? Why are you not getting the results you were promised?
How do marketing teams provide business value? Content marketing needs to be reinvented.
Garrett describes the "copy cat" epidemic in marketing. There is so much free content online where pieces of strategies, tactics, and other items are copied and pasted. However, it does not create an entire picture or blueprint.
The goal is to create a framework from start to finish to find something unique to your business that only you can do and be successful with. Something that stands out and gets results.
Creating Competition-Free Content: Not only is your business and products in competition, but your marketing is in competition with other marketing. Find a way to break past that barrier created by competitors.
The book, Blue Ocean Strategy, refers to the Bloody Red Ocean, which is full of competition and where businesses are fighting each other to stand out - they’re at war with each other. However, the Blue Ocean is wide-open and uncontested. You're free to swim around and move about because you have successfully been able to differentiate yourself from the competition.
To differentiate your content marketing, focus on your topics, how you create content, and how to connect that content and share it with your customers.
10X reference: look at what you are doing and ask if what you are doing will help your team multiply results, including increasing sales leads and the number of visitors to your Website.
Marketing teams need to focus on 10x growth rather than increments of 10 percent improvements. Marketing teams are designed to produce results, not worry about risks.
Agile Manifesto: focuses on how software development could be better. A powerful way to cause engineers to rethink and reframe what they’re doing.
10X Manifesto: focuses on how so much of marketing is about mindset when it comes to how we do and approach things.
Results or Die: 10X marketers work in a results or die oriented business, not 10 percenters allowed. Many think of marketing as a process for things they do - marketing is the blog, social media channels, conference booth, etc. There’s all these deliverables that a marketing team creates and hands off to others, such as the sales and support teams. Marketers are not here to produce Web ads or build a Website. They’re here to help produce business results and help grow companies.
10X marketers understand that growth requires failure, strength is in progress, not perfection. Teams that embrace failure (fail fast) understand that it is not about failure but acknowledging imperfection.
Marketing comes with assumptions: assume methods used to get the message out will work; assume there’s the right mix of email ads; assume messages are right; assume the timeline is correct. Ever realize how much you are guessing?
The problem is in the marketing plan. It becomes a risk-removal tool that leads to pointing fingers and placing blame on others. Instead of a plan, start with a goal.
To start down the 10X marketing path, list what work you did this week. Are these 10X or 10 percent activities? Do any of these activities have the ability or potential, in a short period of time, to multiply results by 10X?
Jordan: It’s no secret that content marketing is a highly competitive space these days. There are nearly 60 million blog posts published every single day. There are 5 billion YouTube videos watched everyday and millions of search results that your content is trying to edge out, but that’s exactly why I’m so excited that you’re listening here because my guest has answers to these competition problems and so much more.
I have Garrett Moon, our very own CEO of CoSchedule talking to us today about his new book 10X Marketing Formula: Your Blueprint for Creating Competition-Free Content That Stands Out and Gets Results.
It is actionable and action packed. We cover a ton of ground that will really help marketers reframe their mindset on the entire enterprise of content marketing specifically, without further ado, here is my conversation with Garrett.
Garrett, thanks for being on the show.
Garrett: Hey, glad to be here.
Jordan: Your new book, 10X Marketing Formula, is launching soon which we’re all really excited about. For those who aren’t in the loop on that, can you give us an overview of what it’s about?
Garrett: 10X Marketing Formula is all about results. I always think that as marketers we’re given this big task of bringing in sales, bringing in leads, bringing in visitors, building traffic, and all of these different activities that support the core business metrics, and what do you need to do to build to produce results on a regular-basis.
10X Marketing Formula is really about taking the formula, the process, the tips and tricks, the things that work for us like CoSchedule on going from 0-300,000+ subscribers on our email list in just a few years, packaging it up into making it something that anybody can use and implement in their business and in the marketing process.
Jordan: In some ways, you’ve kind of been writing it for a few years then over the course of just experience.
Garrett: Yeah, learning the hard way. We learned a bunch of lessons, we tried things that worked, we tried a bunch of things that didn’t work. In the book, we cover both of those. We kind of say, “Here’s some things that work, here’s some things that didn’t work for us.” We give you a blueprint to save a lot of the trouble and the frustration. Or if you feel like your marketing is going okay but just not generating the results that you’re looking for, this book can really help focus your efforts and make sure it does.
Jordan: Why did you decide now is the time to write this book?
Garrett: I think when I look at the content marketing industry as a whole, I think we’ve reached a pinnacle. In the book, I talk about Gartner’s Hype Cycle which is just an interesting way of looking at how the new technology is adopted. It goes to this process where when something comes out, content marketing really started to take shape a few years back. Everyone was really excited about it, there was a lot of energy, a lot of hype behind it, and a lot of big promises that content marketing made to all of us.
Teams began adopting it, they reworked their entire marketing teams. They shifted everything in order to be able to adopt this process of content marketing. They’re creating content, blogging, building email, all those types of things.
I think at this point now, we’re entering what I would call the trough of disillusionment where okay, yes we did all of that but what about all those big promises that content marketing made to us? What about the results that we’re supposed to get? What about the leads that should be pouring in to our coffers? Marketers are starting to look around and say, “What happened to that? Where are the promises? Why am I not getting the results that I was promised when I adopted this new thing?”
If you’re a marketer, your boss is looking at you saying, “Hey, I thought this was really gonna pay off. Where are the results?” I think it’s just come to a time in content marketing where everyone’s reflecting and saying a little bit of like, “Okay, if we’re gonna really double down, if we’re really gonna continue doing this, how do we really make it sing? How do we really make it pay for itself and become a true part of our results?” Short story. More and more marketing teams, they’re looking at how do we provide business value, how are we helping the business that we serve. I think there’s also a lot of marketers that are coming up short in terms of how to answer that question. Content Marketing needs reinvention. 10X Marketing Formula really tries to do that.
The other thing I would say is we have this epidemic in marketing, we call it "copy cat" marketing in the book which is there’s a lot of free content online, blog posts, people sharing what works for them. I think there’s just this process of take a little bit here and there, take a few tips here, take a piece of this strategy, copy this tactic. Those types of things we’re pasting together, our content marketing strategy and our marketing strategy, and it’s not really giving us a complete blueprint. That’s the other piece of it that we really wanted to solve is we want to help marketers get past this trough disillusionment, help them get results, and then give them an actual framework that’s a full package.
Start to finish, this is a type of process that will help you find something that’s unique to your business that only you can do and yet you can really be successful with.
Jordan: Yeah. I love that. I think your subtitle really speaks to that. I wonder if you can tell us more about it. You say, “Finding your competition-free content niche.” You create stuff that stands out and gets those business results you’re talking about. What is the competition-free content idea?
Garrett: Sort of this acknowledgment that your marketing is in competition with other marketing. It’s really easy for us to think about our business being in competition with other business, or our product being in competition with other products. As marketers, we’re dealing with that all the time as we’re going about formulating our pitch and helping our sales and our marketing teams convey our message.
But one thing that we fail to consider pretty often is that our marketing is actually in itself competing with the time and attention of our readers and our audience. Competition-free content is really about finding a way to break past that barrier that those competitors are causing you.
In the book I talk a bit about a book called Blue Ocean Strategy. This is a business book, it’s a few years old now but it talks about two different oceans. One is the Bloody Red Ocean, the ocean that is full of competition where businesses are fighting each other to stand out, they’re fighting each other to get noticed by the customer, and they’re all basically at war with each other and it’s draining all of their resources. You contrast that to a Blue Ocean. A Blue Ocean is this wide-open expanse of uncontested ocean. You’re free to swim and move about. The reason is because you’ve been able to successfully differentiate yourself from the competition.
Competition-free content really takes that concept, which is a business concept, and related to the business model and many other things and starts to back it into how content marketing works, how content is created. It goes to the topics that you create. It goes to how you go about creating the content, goes to how you end up connecting that content to your audience and sharing it with them. It covers that whole everything. It’s basically a way to start looking at, “Hey. Does our content marketing differentiate itself from all of the other content marketing and the other noise that’s in our industry? Can we really stand out and compete with them?”
Jordan: That really seems to me like what lies at the heart of getting 10X results that the book’s all about, 10X Marketing Formula. There’s lots to talk; 10X results, 10X projects, becoming a 10X marketer. Throughout the book, readers are gonna find those. Can you talk about what the 10X idea is all about now?
Garrett: Yeah. We contrast 10X versus 10%. That’s two different ways that you can look at the projects you’re taking on as a team. We have a whole system for analyzing this and brainstorming this with your team but it’s really about looking at the things that you’re doing and asking yourself, “Is this thing, whatever I’m gonna be doing here, does this potentially give our team the ability to multiply our results, multiply the number of visitors through a website, multiply the number of sales qualified leads that we give to our sales team, multiply the number of email subscribers by 10X?” A magnitude, a massive growth versus 10%, versus, “Hey, can we increase our email list by few hundred or a few people per day?”
A lot of times, what we see is once you start really looking at what we do as marketers, a lot of the things that we do in a day-to-day basis end up being these 10% tasks. They’re not bad per se but they’re only going to be helping us increase results by 10% or so, by a little bit. They’re incremental improvements versus what could be 10X opportunities, instead they are gonna multiply our results by a magnitude.
Now, we take this concept from CoSchedule. CoSchedule is a startup. Like any other startup, there was a day when CoSchedule was very young, we had to prove our existence as a product so to speak that customers want to actually buy what we were selling, that our product actually solved a need that marketers had on a day-to-day basis.
We also needed to do the simple things like turn our profit so that we could pay for the lights, the computers, the salaries that we have every single day. For us, it was results or die. We had three to four months to figure out how to get customers coming in the door or we’re gonna have to shut things down and go back to the starting block on a new business, or go take jobs, or whatever.
In those situation, when it’s a results or die for a startup, that startup has to find ways to survive. They have to find ways to produce results. If they spend any time focusing on a 10% project, they’re gonna miss the boat, they’re gonna die. We’re really looking at how do we apply that intensity to marketing teams, how do we cut the croft and focus on 10X growth versus just incremental maintenance based improvements to our marketing programs.
Jordan: How do you think that mindset would translate well for marketers who are maybe involved in a more traditional marketing team, they’re an agency, or they’re more established, how do you think that mindset shift could help them?
Garrett: I think more and more the larger organization you tend to be in, the more concern there is for risk and more resistance there is to taking on risk. I think when a team start looking at what they’re doing, how their process are built, one thing that they tend to find is that much of what they’re doing is based on mitigating risk versus generating results. That’s a really important distinction and something that you really have to identify as a team.
Even in an agency you can have that same concept, particularly if you’re working with clients and stuff. There’s a lot of things that you get worried about or you don’t do or you don’t go after because you don’t wanna damage that client relationship so you end up tiptoeing around it.
I think the key is learning to identify what’s a risk-based process or thing that you’re doing to avoid risk versus something where it’s solely focused on producing results. At the end of the day, your company has an internal marketing team in order to produce results, not avoid risk. At the end of the day, your customer, your client is hiring you to help them produce results. You have to find ways to get around that so-called risk that is out there.
Jordan: One of my favorite parts in the book is toward the end. You described what marketers will look like if they adopt these frameworks, if they work the formula. It’s a section called the 11 Traits of a 10X Marketer. You described what this is gonna look like. What are a few of your favorites out of those 11 traits? Can you unpack them for us to paint the vision of what could this look like for me as a marketer?
Garrett: Yeah. This was based on one of the stories that inspired me as an entrepreneur which was something called the Agile Manifesto. I think a lot of people are probably familiar with the term agile as a product or a project management methodology that’s used for developing software and we use for software teams. I don’t go through great strengths in the book till I connect every bit of the marketing process to agile. But there’s some things that we can learn from that process, in particular, why they invented or developed that project management process in the first place.
One of the cool stories from that is we had a group of engineers, software developers, and software builders that were frustrated with how projects are managed and they thought that there has to be a better way to do this. This process that we’re using doesn’t really take into account the creative process that frequently comes to a software, that doesn’t take into the account just the nuts and bolts of how software’s actually built.
They ended up having this retreat over the mountains and a bunch of engineers go out there and spend the weekend, I believe, they were in Colorado somewhere skiing and talking about software development and how it could be better. They didn’t come out of that meeting with a specific process but they actually came out with something called the Agile Manifesto. It’s just these three or four lines, very short, that really is very powerful in the way that it causes an engineering team to rethink and reframe what they’re doing.
I thought it would be appropriate to try and attempt something like that in the 10X Marketing Formula and that we called that the 10X Manifesto.
Of course, these guys are super smart. Obviously, there was a big group of them and they developed this overtime. For me, this 10X Manifesto is really just the first run. It’s just my thoughts and my way of boiling it down. It’s maybe not quite as a grandiose as theirs.
I think what it tries to accomplish though is that so much of marketing is about mindset in terms of how we really frame what we’re doing or how we approach things. I always talk about focus is really a big piece of it, that’s something that I cover a lot in the book, just how to get the team to focus, how to keep yourself focused as a marketing manager or whatever, your role in the team, and simple tools like the 10X Marketing Formula and the 10X Manifesto, I think they’re just there in the background to keep our eye in the ball, so to speak.
Jordan: If you’re getting as much out of this interview as I am, I’ve got some great news for you. You can head over to coschedule.com/10xbook and grab your free copy of Chapter 1 in Garrett’s new book, 10X Marketing Formula. It really lays the foundation for the entire formula by pressing that big reset button on your mindset and really can change the way you approach all of your marketing. That’s 100% for free. Head over to coschedule.com/10xbook for your copy of Chapter 1. Let’s get back to my interview with Garrett.
You said this a little bit earlier but you mentioned this phrase, results or die. That’s one of these bits of the manifesto. Let me read the line, you say, “10X marketers work in a results or die oriented business, no 10 percenters allowed.” Can you talk a little bit about what that means?
Garrett: Oh man. So much is in that little phrase for me because I think it goes back to a lot of what I think is wrong with marketing much of the time. A lot of times, I think it’s very easy for us to think of marketing as a process of things that we do. Marketing is the blog, marketing is the social media channels, marketing are the sales brochures or the tear-sheets that your sales team needs. Marketing is the booth that your sales team is gonna stand in front of at the conference. There’s all these deliverables that a marketing team creates and hands off to the sales team, to the support teams, to whoever is conducting the day-to-day business.
It’s so easy to think of marketing as those things. That is actually the tangible results of marketing. Maybe it’s an ad, a radio ad, or web ads, whatever. But to do that, it’s the wrong way to think about what we do as marketers. Marketers aren’t here to produce web ads, we aren’t here to build a website, we aren’t here to write sales copy, we’re here to help produce business results. We’re here to help grow the companies that we work in to help expand the client list of the clients that we serve on a day-to-day basis if we’re in an agency. That phrase is about we know, we need to be thinking results or die.
In order for me to prove my value as a marketer, in order for this marketing team to be worth the investment that my employer or my client has put in me, I need to create results. I need to create 10X results, not 10%, not minor improvements, but 10X results.
I think it’s just, again, mindset, reframing how we approach our day-to-day work and making sure we’re locking that in as we approach our projects.
Jordan: Yeah. I absolutely love that. It pumps me up listening while you talk about it. The other one I wanted to ask you about is related to that one. I’m gonna read this, you wrote, “10X marketers understand that growth requires failure, strength is in progress, not perfection.” I think when we start talking about something like results or die, it can make some of us marketers start to get a little nervous maybe like, “Geez, that’s a high bar.” Maybe some of us haven’t held ourselves to that before but this next one that understanding growth requires failure, strength is in progress, not perfection is sort of a counter balance to that.
Garrett: It is. I’m attacking all the pillars of marketing here. I’m attacking the marketing plans that we spend hours and hours writing in these multi-page documents. Maybe not everyone does it. I know many people don’t but certain industries and certain types of marketing teams, particularly larger organizations, they kind of live by these big documents. This is exactly what we’re going to do, this is exactly how it’s going to work, this is how the campaign, this is how the year is going to work for the marketing team’s perspective.
What’s interesting is once you start looking at the marketing plan, even once you start looking at many, just break it down into smaller things like just how we plan out a campaign; even if it’s a multi-monthly campaign to highlight a specific benefit that your product provides, we come to those things, there’s so many assumptions built into them. We assume that the message that we use for getting the message out are going to work. We assume that we have the right mix of email, of ads, of content, of sponsored posts or whatever those types of elements are. We assume we have the right messages, we assume that we have the message going into the campaign that’s gonna really trigger the emotions of the customer and get them involved in what we’re saying and have them invest in what we’re doing. We assume that we have the right timeline, the right time of the year. There’s all of these things.
If you don’t get overwhelmed when you’re planning a campaign at all the options and the variables, and the A/B test, and the difference in email headlines, and all those things that you could be doing, you’re probably not aware of how many things you’re just guessing at, or how many things like assumptions that you’re walking into. It’s absolutely overwhelming the difference that some of those things can make.
But my point isn’t that the problem is in the variety or the variables is a better way to say it, the variables that you can choose in putting together a campaign. The problem is in the plan. What I mean by that is when we make a plan, we write it down, we pre-decide, “This is how something is gonna work for the next three months, six months, six years, whatever.” We set ourselves up for trouble.
What that document becomes is a risk-removal tool like it says, “If we made a plan and I got my boss to look at that plan, or I got my client to approve that marketing plan, then it’s on them.” “I made a plan, they had the opportunity to give me feedback or tell me what’s wrong but they didn’t do it, so I ran the plan. If it works, great, if it did not, hey, it’s not just my fault, you own part of this too.” They become these de-risking documents. It prevents us from shouldering 100% of the risk.
All that adds up to, what this line in the Manifesto is talking about means, our strength as marketers is not in our perfection. It’s not in our ability to write out a marketing plan as if it’s a medical prescription. If we follow that exact medical prescription, we will have all the business results that we need, rather, how we need to see our jobs as marketers is teams that embrace failure. Live the phrase, “Fail fast.” It’s hard to imagine what does fail-fast mean and that sounds really like a bad idea, like why are you failing all the time.
I think basically all you’re doing, it’s not about failure, it’s actually about just acknowledging imperfection more than anything. It’s about saying like, “I don’t know all of the variables. I don’t know if we have the exact right mix here of paid versus unpaid content response or content. I don’t know if we have the exact right formula. But I have a list here of all the things that we need to consider and that we need to try. I have a general idea of how we’re gonna do it. But here’s the thing, on day one, we’re gonna start running these ads. They’re gonna use this phrase or they’re gonna try to connect with the customer in this way. These are the results we’re looking for, these are some of the benchmark numbers that we wanna hit. If we don’t hit that, we’re gonna change everything. We’re gonna try something different. We’re gonna do that every single week for the next however many weeks it takes in order for us to find the right combination that’s gonna work for what we’re trying to accomplish.”
Really what we’re doing is like we’re flipping around rather than saying as marketers are not gonna start with the campaign and the plan, but rather we’re gonna start with the goal like what’s the KPI? What’s the number that we’re trying to hit? We’re gonna work backwards. We’re gonna do whatever it takes to get that number and we’re gonna be willing to fail. We’re gonna be willing to release ads and send emails that don’t convert so that we can learn and write better ones. Get the emails and the ads that convert so that we can achieve our goal.
Jordan: I love that. Especially today because in fact as we record this, it might even be happening now. I think SpaceX has a launch today. They’re launching the Falcon Heavy or something and Elon Musk said something like, “This is either going to be the most phenomenal launch you’ve ever seen or like the best fireworks display ever.” He was just like, “It’s gonna be amazing or we’re gonna fail but we’re gonna learn a ton.”
Garrett: Right, and the gut-wrenching feeling that he still feels if that thing explodes on the launchpad. It’s millions of dollars up in smoke. But Elon Musk is a great case-study on that. You’re absolutely right because you’ve seen all kinds of tweets. I think even they really see even a video of all the different failures that they have released. You think that $5,000 ad buy that you did was a miserable failure, try the million dollar rocket that blew up on a launchpad or fell into the ocean.
The stakes are high for sure but SpaceX isn’t a company that launches rockets perfectly every single time. SpaceX is a company that has big goals, big KPIs, and is willing to fail because it accelerates their learning. I think that’s really the key.
We talk about failing fast and that’s all fine and well. But the goal isn’t failure, ironically. It’s just sort of a punchy way to say it. It’s really more like iterating quickly which is super boring and not nearly as sexy as failing fast like I said doesn’t work. It’s about learning. It’s about, “Hey, we’re gonna try something. We’re gonna test it and we’re gonna learn from it. We’re gonna go into this thing knowing that we don’t have all the answers but we do know is that we have the process to figure it out.” That’s really what I love about some of the things that we put in the 10X Marketing Formula is that it is the process to get the results because it takes away the assumptions into the guessing and puts into place a framework for finding the results, finding success, how to make it repeatable, how to scale it once you get there and really making those KPIs sing.
Jordan: Alright. Pardon the pun, I always like to bring this in for a landing by just asking this sort of sage wisdom…
Garrett: I see what you did there.
Jordan: I know, I know. I have been waiting to drop that all day.
Garrett: Failed fast, man, failed fast.
Jordan: That’s right. Ever the marketer.
Garrett, what is your best advice to any of our listeners who would like to start down the 10X Marketing path? What is step number one outside of buying the book?
Garrett: Download the free chapter on the website. Is that good? No, that’s too much.
Jordan: It’s a good start.
Garrett: It’s a good start. That’s right. I think a really good place to start might just be taking the most simple idea here, the 10X versus 10% concept. Maybe take out a piece of sheet of paper, jot down the things that you worked on today or this week. What were the main focus areas? Just start to ask yourself, are these 10X activities or are these 10% activities? Any of these activities have the ability or the potential in a short period of time to multiply the results I get as a marketer or my business receives by 10 times. Ten times, that’s a lot of multiplication. That’s a big number, or these 10% activities.
I think what many marketers are gonna find is that there’s a lot of 10% stuff on that list. There’s a lot of, “Oh, go update this little line on the website,” and that one line on the bottom of your website hasn’t converted a customer everyone wants in the history of time You might tweak a pop-up, you might adjust an ad campaign. Those things are nice little improvements. They’ll probably move the goal line a little bit but they really have the ability to multiply.
Once marketers are looking at what they do, you’ll begin to start seeing the [inaudible 00:27:05]. There’s a lot of stuff in here that’s that 10% world where I’m making improvements, they’re not unhelpful, but they’re not gonna give me the results that I really, really want, and I really, really crave and that our company deserves.
I think seeing that sets you out for, “Okay, we gotta find something different, we’ve gotta find a way to get past this 10% stuff and get to some really big things that will move the needle..”
Jordan: That’s so great. It’s really freeing to think about that. Just freeing to pursue the stuff that’s really going to get us those results and stick all the other stuff to the side and enter this maybe new era for some of us in marketing. Thanks so much for being on the show today. This was fantastic.
Garrett: Oh, lots of fun, I could talk about it all day long.
Jordan: Yeah, well there’ll be plenty more. Stay tuned, everyone.
Garrett: Thanks, Jordan.
Jordan: Thanks, Garrett.
Nathan is the Head of Content & SEO at SimpleTexting. He's a demand generation enthusiast, content marketing advocate, and team player. He enjoys spending time with family and friends, running ultra marathons, and canoeing in the Boundary Waters in Minnesota.
Connect with Nathan on LinkedIn.