Our favorite thing about hosting the Actionable Marketing Podcast is picking the brains of marketing heroes. So, we’re absolutely blown away by the amazing marketers we’ve gotten to learn from over the past two years. To our listeners, you’re the reason we do this. It’s all about bringing the best of the best to you. To celebrate the 100th episode of AMP, here are some of our favorite guests, takeaways, and thoughts from more than 60 hours of marketing gold!
Janna Maron: No more frustration by banking content and scheduling it to auto publish; publish less, but at higher quality
Michael Brenner: The most compelling way to guide everything you do as a marketer - what’s in it for the customer, colleague, and company?
Brian Clark: His biggest marketing mistake was the curse of knowledge - a cognitive bias where you assume the audience knows certain things you know
Noah Kagan: Helped Mint scale to its first 100,000 users in less than a year; what’s your goal and timeline?
Andrea Fryrear: Marketers are asked to do new projects all the time, but prioritize and simplify backlog of projects to be successful; plan your work, work your plan
Joanna Wiebe: Describes how to go deeper than Calls To Action and into Calls To Value; clearly articulate the ultra-specific value on the other side of a click
Tim Soulo: You should write 2,000+ word articles to rank in search engines, but people don’t want to read - they want answers to questions to solve problems
Nir Eyal: Psychology of habit formation and how marketers can capitalize on it; every product you use is to modulate your mood and alleviate pain
Jeff Goins: Four qualities in best-performing posts - piece is well written, contains a compelling promise, keeps that promise, and wows reader with value
Rand Fishkin: Remarkable customer research determines TRUE influencer status and who to partner with for co-promotion; share what audience values
If you enjoy AMP, write a review on iTunes and send a screenshot of it to be entered into a drawing to win the 100th episode giveaway, which includes a $100 CoSchedule swag package, bundle of three marketing books, and $50 Amazon gift card!
If you liked today’s show, please subscribe on iTunes to The Actionable Content Marketing Podcast! The podcast is also available on SoundCloud,Stitcher, and Google Play.
Jordan: Hello and welcome to the 100th episode of the Actionable Marketing Podcast. We’re absolutely blown away by the amazing marketers we’ve gotten to learn from over the past two years. Today, we have a very special episode for you to mark the occasion.Nathan: That’s right everybody. You are the reason why we do this. Jordan and I absolutely love chatting with these brilliant minds and sharing their stories with you. Our whole goal is to help you become the best marketer that you possibly can be. It’s been just an amazing opportunity for us to help you and be there along the way.This is all about bringing the best of the best for you. To do that, today we’re going to be grabbing some takeaways from some of our favorite guests from the first 100 episodes. It’s a collective of over 60 hours of recording or marketing gold there.To celebrate the 100th episode, Jordan and I are going to do something really fun. Jordan, what are we doing?Jordan: Well, my friends, we are doing $100 for the 100th episode. Which means for you, if you like the show, and you want to leave us a review on iTunes, take a screenshot of that review, email it to email@example.com and you will automatically, one, get a free swag pack from us to say thanks but two, you will be entered into a drawing to win our $100 for the 100th episode giveaway. You will get a bundle of three of the best marketing books ever written; Nathan’s favorite marketing book ever, my favorite marketing book ever, and then a copy of 10x Marketing Formula that just hit the shelves this last spring from our CEO Garrett Moon. It’s an incredible book.You get three awesome books and then a $50 Amazon gift card, as our way of saying thank you for being along with us, for listening, for supporting us. All you gotta do is just leave us a review, send us a screenshot to firstname.lastname@example.org, and make sure you give us your mailing address so we can send your $100 bonus bag to your doorstep. We’re thrilled to have you here.Let’s get started. Nathan, what is the first interview you wanted to revisit?Nathan: One of my favorites is actually the first episode that we actually aired, and it features Janna Maron. Janna is the managing editor of Smart Passive Income, the blog and podcast is by Pat Flynn. You might have known him.Since we’re on the 100th episode, I thought it would be fun to look at the first ones from way back. We published this guy back in 2016, and it’s still one of my favorites two years later because of Janna’s brilliant ideas like this one:“Banking content, by that I mean exactly what I was explaining where at the end of the month… We just started the month of August when we’re recording this interview. At last week of July, all of my August content is 100% done and finalized and queued up for the month of August. That to me is all of August content is banked and done in the queue scheduled. It’s going to publish on its own automated publishing schedule now that we’ve already done all the production work.”I see so many marketers struggle with fire drills, and by planning ahead, Janna has that cushion period of an entire month’s worth of content complete on her calendar as she works on the content to publish the following month. I just think that's a brilliant way to avoid frustration. Imagine no more frustration, imagine no more fire drills, and then tons of opportunity to plan ahead and shift future projects around easily if you need to.Jordan: I love too that when you get this breathing room, it’s really a chance to test your optimal publishing cadence so that you’re using your effort wisely. Plus, it really helps you focus on the value that you deliver in your content.One of the questions you could even answer is, “What if I could grow faster? Get more traffic? Get better results by actually publishing less content but at higher quality?” You get that room to breathe and think, and really get strategic with your content when you get that far ahead. That’s part of the ROI of organization I think, so I absolutely love that they do that.Now, next up, number two, I chose an interview with Michael Brenner. Michael Brenner is a big deal, he’s the CEO of the Marketing Insider Group, he’s a keynote speaker, an author, he’s the author of over a thousand different articles on marketing, like Harvard Business Review and entrepreneur.com, just like every big logo you can think of, Michael has been there because he knows what he’s talking about.I interviewed him about the most compelling way to guide everything you do as a marketer. Let’s take a listen to what he had to say.“Just asking those three; what’s in it for the customer, the colleague, and the company can really get you to a point where you’re going to end up not doing things that don’t work and serve your customers and only do things that serve your customers and work for the company.”So, by always asking those three questions, we can understand exactly why we’re doing something and whether or not it’s the best thing to be doing in the first place, which is such a powerful and motivating piece of information to have as an individual, but also as a team and as a company.Nathan: Yeah, absolutely. It sounds like a really classic marketing technique or question that we use here all the time at CoSchedule as a framework. It’s, what’s in it for me or with him—you might have heard of it as—and what is in it for me to read your content as your customer or prospect or audience member? What is in it for me to buy your product? Going back to that, and really trying to figure that out, seems like a really logical place to start. I think Michael just nailed it there.Up next for number three, I chose Brian Clark. Brian Clark is the founder of Copyblogger and Rainmaker Digital. I’ve been a fan of his since 2009-ish. This was a really fun episode for me personally, specifically something that was so cool with this conversation is that, Brian told me about his biggest marketing mistake when we’re off the air and he said something along the lines of, “I think the biggest marketing mistake that I’ve made is what’s currently known as the curse of knowledge, which is a cognitive bias where you assume the audience knows certain things you know. Therefore, you push past them in a way that is not serving their interest.”When Brian was talking to me about this, it was really fascinating to me because the idea was that he wanted to cover more advanced topics on the blog on Copyblogger, but the majority of his audience were not that advanced. That really reiterates this awesome idea he mentioned in the actual episode.“My philosophy is, be super generous because it’s competitive out there. You have to find a way to stand out. I mean there's more than just the amount of value in the content. There’s your voice, the way you connect with the audience, all of that is important. But value has got to be the first thing, and if someone else is giving away better information than you are, and they’re a competitor, they're probably going to win the business. That's just the way I look at it.”I think the biggest takeaway here is that, just because an idea may seem basic to you, it doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone understands it as well as you do, so give your ideas away freely to grow your business, and I just absolutely love that from Brian.Jordan: That really reminds me of this psychological principle automakers use all the time, it’s called the halo effect. The idea is, they choose this really amazing souped-up car, it’s the top-of-the-line amazing, beautiful model. They launch a new line of vehicles with it so there’s this brilliant car and then you see it, and then you see the rest of the line that us normal people will drive, but you’ve already seen the amazing one, so the halo effect comes in where you ascribe those incredible traits to the rest of the line.The idea with content or with value is that if you provide a ton of value with your content, you can capitalize on this halo effect and then they attribute that same value to your product as they get to know you, like, you, and trust you better. It also reminds me of this great quote from 10x Marketing Formula which—I want to invite you to do this again—if you leave a review for our show on iTunes, and send us a screenshot of it, you are going to get a copy of 10x Marketing Formula. If you win our draw then you get three amazing marketing books, including 10x Marketing Formula, you get a $50 Amazon gift card. Just email the review to us, email@example.com.Brian’s comments reminded me of this quote from 10x Marketing Formula. Garrett wrote, “If you help people be successful without you, they’ll be dying to be successful with you.” I love that idea of giving a ton of value up front so that people understand how valuable your product or your service is.Number four, I chose an interview with one of my very favorite marketers. I’ve been following him for a long time. His name is Noah Kagan. Noah is the founder of sumo.com and AppSumo. He was also employee number 30 or something like that at Facebook. He’s been in the tech scene for a long time, and had a front seat to a lot of what’s happened in the tech startup world and has had a lot of success and has some big failures. He’s just super interesting to talk to, and he’s really funny too.It’s just a great episode, but I interviewed him specifically about his time at Mint. He helped Mint scaled to its first 100,000 users in less than a year, which is crazy. We’re not even talking about an email list of 100,000 people. We’re talking about 100,000 people actually using your product. Let’s listen to his advice and how he got there.“Mint was an interesting story because I started marketing nine months before they launched. Basically, it was like within 12 months, get 100,000 people. I think with marketing, that’s really stuck with me, and I still do it 10 years later which is what’s your goal and what’s your timeline. The moment that marketers don’t have that stuff in place is the moment I already discount them. I would bet at almost against every single one that doesn’t have that stuff set up.”Yeah, and it’s a simple as that for me, goals attached to timelines are really the number one growth process.Nathan: What’s interesting about you saying that is that we did some deep research last fall and actually you were the one who was spearheading this. We found out that marketers who set goals are at 429% more successful than those marketers who don’t. Just hearing it reiterated a different way from Noah makes a lot of sense. We also know from that same research that 81% of marketers who set goals, make them a reality. This is fascinating advice, and I absolutely love it.Again, I wanted to reiterate that we are doing the 100th episode of the Actionable Marketing Podcast, and if you write a review on iTunes, then take a screenshot of it, and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org, we will give you for sure an awesome swag packet from CoSchedule because we love you guys. You are the whole reason we do this, and you will also be entered into a drawing for a $100 value package that includes three books and a $50 gift card to Amazon. So definitely hit us up and do that.Next up though is number five, is Andrea Fryrear. Marketers get asked to do new projects all the time. Marketers see new tactics and want to try the new and shiny thing immediately at the time they see it, but Andrea Fryrear from Agile Sherpas says that prioritizing a backlog of projects will make you more successful and here’s why.“Really limiting our work and focusing in is the only way we’re gonna get to the point of doing really good, high-quality work that’s focused on the audience. Otherwise, we’re always gonna be a slave to the next deadline and just trying to get stuff out the door which has gotten us into a pretty bad mess at this point. There’s always more that we could be doing. One of my favorite Agile values is to maximize the amount of work not done, really talk about what’s important, and to only do that. To be able to push back sort of gently so you can say things like, ‘Yeah, that’s a great idea. I’ll put it in the backlog.’ Instead of, ‘No, we’re not doing that.’ The conversation is a little bit different.”Something that we talked about here at CoSchedule all the time and a framework that we follow is plan your work, then work your plan. I think that just really applies to this idea of Agile project management as applied to marketing. You can plan your ideas into a sprint backlog instead of just jumping from one thing to the next, to the next, to the next. If there’s one thing we know is that multitasking is a lie, and I think Andrea gets at it really well in her episode.Jordan: I loved too how she talked about limiting yourself is a really important goal even. It speaks to the fact that it’s a myth. I think that big-impact ideas are always the most complex ideas too. One example here is, recently, we’re doing some conversion rate optimization work, and by simply removing steps between our audience and the action that we were inviting them to take, we actually doubled our leads in an area in the span of a week just because we made things simpler.It was like writing a few lines of code and then pressing play, whatever developers do, but it was incredible. The simpler we made something, the less complex we made something, the bigger our impact was. I think the idea that big-impact ideas don’t have to be complex. They can actually be very simple and very limited.My next favorite interview is probably my number one marketing crush, it’s Joanna Wiebe from Copy Hackers, and Airstory. When I first got into marketing and started learning copywriting and stuff, Joanna’s the first person I found, and she really has taught me a ton about it. Our CEO, Garrett Moon, interviewed her about conversion psychology for 10x Marketing Formula. She described in this episode how to go deeper than calls to action and use what she labels calls to value which is a really interesting distinction. Check out what she had to say.“So a call to value, when you complete the phrase I want to, is instead of the I want to download an ebook or download the ebook. Well not really. I don’t really want to really. Who wants to? So what do I really want to do? What’s the ebook promising me? Has it promised me that I will learn how to create a content strategy in 10 minutes, like a back of a napkin content strategy or something? Then the button becomes I want to create a content strategy in 10 minutes. And then the button copy is, create a content strategy in 10 minutes.”I love the idea of clearly articulating the ultra specific value on the other side of the click. I think that’s so smart.Nathan: I definitely love that too. You’re making a promise, and then you follow through on that promise. She gets at it right from the button even, and that’s just a really great way to go about that.For number seven, I chose Tim Soulo. We’ve all heard that you should write 2000-word articles to rank in search engines. It’s just like, "It has to be a high word count, and that’s what it has to be." It’s really interesting thinking about this because I had to ask an SEO expert about this. Tim is that expert and his thoughts on the topic are just incredible. I knew it provides some amazing insight from his perspective of working at a keyword research tool, Ahrefs and here’s what Tim has to say about that.“People don’t want to read. They want to get the knowledge. They want to get the answer to their question. They want to solve their problem. If you’re solving their problem with 10,000 words, they would be reluctant to solve it this way. They would give preference to an article that would solve their problem in 500 words. It’s not about length. It’s not about trying to crank everything you can into the article. It’s about delivering the value and persuading the people that you can solve their problem in as less words as possible.”I love this advice because it applies to all kinds of content, it applies to e-commerce web pages, it applies to blog post, videos—you name it. It’s all about answering the question that your searchers have. His classic advice too on length is, don’t bury the lead. If something’s really important, don’t make it at the end of your article or at the end of your video, put it right at the beginning and provide value from the start.Jordan:I’m so guilty of that as a content creator. I get really in love with cool examples or interesting things that maybe people didn’t know about a topic, but that aren’t necessarily actionable. I had to learn the hard way not to confuse interesting with actionable and not to bury that lead because it’s crazy how fast word count can bloat when it doesn’t need to. You need to take that other advice, be willing to kill your babies, those things that might be interesting but not actionable. I think Tim absolutely nails that and honestly, who better of an authority to hear that from, to get off the hook like, “Listen, just solve the problem in however many words you need to.” “Okay, Tim. I believe you. I think you know what you’re talking about.”Number eight, I chose an interview with an author named Nir Eyal. Nir is the author of Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products, he’s a behavioral designer, he taught at Stanford, he was one of those people who, as he was talking, I was listening intently but also, I was like, “You are so much smarter than me. This is incredible to be listening to you.” His book just blew me away.I interviewed Nir about the psychology of habit formation and specifically how we as marketers can capitalize on it. He shared something super interesting about why people take the actions they do. Here’s Nir.“The internal trigger is the very first thing we have to look at. Not many people understand the fact that every product you use, everything you use, you use because of one reason only. That one reason is to modulate your mood, to feel something different. It’s called the homeostatic response. That when we feel discomfort, it prompts us to action. In fact, all action is prompted by discomfort…Where we always start is what’s the user’s itch? What’s their pain point that occurs frequently enough to build a habit around?”He reinforces that all action we take is based on alleviating pain. What is the current pain someone has, then they will take action to alleviate that pain. This will mean that the most effective calls to action or even calls to value—like Joanna had talked about—will capitalize on this fact.Nathan: An idea that this reminds me of is status quo. There are forces driving change, and there are forces restraining change, and that leads people to be happy with status quo. As a marketer, it’s something to understand that that is the case with most people, and to try to help them solve that why is moving past status quo is the best option for them. I just think that Nir is an amazing guest, that episode was super cool by the way. You did a really good job.Again, I want to tell you guys that this is the 100th episode of the Actionable Marketing Podcast. What we are doing as something pretty fun is giving away $100 for the 100th episode. You leave a review on iTunes, take a screenshot of it, and email it to email@example.com. Jordan and I will hook you up with three of our favorite books and a $50 gift card to Amazon for a total of $100 value. Definitely hit us up, just let us know it's from this episode.Next up, number nine is Jeff Goins. Jeff, if you don’t know him, he’s the author of The Art of Work, and he’s the founder of Goins Writer. His team helped him understand four distinct qualities in his best-performing blog post. That’s what he talked about on this episode, and he was fascinating to me. The goal there was to replicate those four same qualities in all of his future blog posts to deliver the most value to his audience.If you’re getting anything from this episode, how many guests talked about providing value? It’s really interesting to think about that. Call to value. Value, value, value, like if we’re thinking about Tim earlier too.By the way, if you’re wondering about these four qualities and before we listen to his soundbite, the four qualities for Jeff’s best pieces are that they need to be well written, they need to contain a compelling promise, they need to keep that promise, and those articles need to wow the reader with value, that’s from his own words, and he calls those standard his content scorecard. This is what Jeff has to say about it.“After we instituted that, we started basically hitting home runs almost every time with one new blog post every single week. Instead of it being a crapshoot, instead of it being gosh, we’ll see how this does, right? Throw it against the wall and see what sticks. It became this consistent way to publish content that was effective.”What was really cool about talking to Jeff about his content scorecard is that it’s really similar to an idea that we had here at CoSchedule. We borrowed it a little bit from Jeff, and a little bit from the book, The Score Takes Care Of Itself by Bill Walsh. What we did was, we came up with an editorial standard, and we called it the standard of performance. For CoSchedule content are things that we look at, that our topic for articles are really well-chosen for the people who will read them.We want topics our audience will love. We need to make sure that those pieces are optimized to be discovered through search engines. That’s how we try to get new people to discover CoSchedule. They need to be well-researched, everything needs to be factual, backed-up by data and well-analyzed, and they need to be comprehensively actionable. Jordan was talking about interesting versus actionable. We want all of our content to help people solve for problem step-by-step as much as we can.The last point we’re trying to do is make sure that there’s extra value in every single piece that we create by giving a free download that helps put that advice into practice. If you see any CoSchedule blog post, you will find those five qualities in it and it’s just really interesting with Jeff’s experience with content scorecard, whether you call it that, whether you call it an editorial standard or standard of performance, it can help you create consistent content that your audience will want to come back to. It’s a consistent experience.Another part of this is exactly going back to that value point, is that you really figure out what your audience truly wants from you. Creating content is about giving people something that they actually want. The way that we do is make sure that they actually search for it, that they find it for themselves, and helps them solve a problem of some kind.Jordan: I absolutely love this interview, and after all the talk of value here, I think we’re probably going to change the podcast name to the Valuable Marketing Podcast, I think that would really take us to the next level. But I like the idea of a standard of performance. I’ve worked on a ton of different teams, and as I reflect through this lens, I think no standard of performance generally means that your work will sink to the level of your laziest day or your lowest performer or your weakest link. This is how status quo gets crappy, and just digs in, and hangs on. That’s one thing it prevents. I think it’s just like work that’s on a slow line of decay.But the other thing it helps you do like this guardrail on that side, but then this other guardrail puts up as it also prevents you from spending too much time to perfect something, to make something perfect where—Tim Soulo talked about that—it doesn’t need to be 10,000 words if 500 words will actually deliver the value that people need from you. I think this scorecard really helps you balance that. Don’t underdeliver but don’t sink so much time into something that you actually get diminishing returns.And number 10, this is the last one we could pick, and this was so hard. This was so hard to just pick our top 10 favorites out of these last 100 episodes because there have been so many good ones, but fortunately for you, you can listen through all of them. The last interview that I picked, that I wanted to recap, was from Rand Fishkin. Rand, of course, is the founder and former CEO of Moz, and now the founder of SparkToro. I interviewed Rand about how to do remarkable customer research, which was an exciting angle for me to talk to him about, beyond SEO is, how do we actually get into the minds of our customers. Here’s what he had to say.“Another thing that I urge folks to do is if you’re at a social network profile, don’t just report on follower count, go look at the last 20 or 50 posts—whatever that is Facebook post, or Instagram post, or tweets, whatever—and then report on how much engagement did each of those get. Are there lots of likes? Lots of shares? That’s a good sign, that’s a sign that that account really has engagement. If those numbers are low, and the follower count is high, probably they’re not reaching very many of their followers.”This is such a great way to determine true influencer status and who to partner with for co-promotion. In fact, I actually just came across a study yesterday, and it was about the massive waste that happens in influencer spending. There are brands that are spending as much as 80% of their influencer budget on fake impressions and fake profiles because all these people have bots that follow them. By looking at follower counts, they’re actually just wasting millions and millions of dollars instead of looking at engagement counts.I thought that was such a great, almost hack from Rand. Look at those last 20 or 50 posts and then see how much engagement did they get because maybe the person with 10,000 followers gets a lot more engagement than the person with one million followers. That will help you decide what kind of micro influencer or influencer co-promotion you might want to do.Nathan: I think you can also use some of this to apply to your own strategy. If there’s anything that you should do, is that use data from your past stuff to influence what you do in the future. I just love the idea of using that data to share more of what your audience values and less of what they don’t. After all, it’s all about them. If you’re seeing things being shared [...] engagement, obviously means you’re not sharing the right stuff or if you’re applying it to how Rand was talking about this, like they aren’t sharing things that are actually worth anything to their audience. When you’re trying to tap into that from a collaboration standpoint, it’s definitely something to keep in mind.Jordan, we’re wrapping this up now.Jordan: Wrapping up the 100th episode. That is crazy thing to say.Nathan: Yeah and to wrap this up, Jordan and I just wanted to share a couple of things about our favorite parts of hosting this podcast for you guys. Number one for me is just being able to pick the brains of super brilliant marketers. This has been a fascinating way to connect with other people who have similar problems and are approaching the solving of those problems, drastically differently than I could ever imagined. It’s like I’ve gotten 100 different mentors along the way, so I can help myself become a better marketer. This has just been a complete joy. I’m extremely humbled to be doing this with all of you and to be able to share these stories from really smart people with you.That’s been my favorite part of this is that, honestly, we’re talking about providing value, all of this is for you. We’re trying to think of these questions, think about the angles with these guests, to choose guests who we think you can learn from and who can actually teach you something actionable, at least one takeaway from every episode that will help you become a better marketer. It’s just been an absolute pleasure to do that for you guys.Jordan: My very favorite thing about the show is, in line with that, it’s just been really cool to talk to some of my marketing heroes. To some of the people who have had a huge impact on my career, on how I think, on how I work. They didn’t even know it because they don’t know who I was but then we talk a little bit before the episode, and obviously during the episode. It’s cool to me to just get that one-on-one connection but then also to let them know how big of an impact they’ve had on me.The really pleasant thing too is been they’ve all been super nice people. You get nervous sometimes if you’re like, “Oh my goodness, I’m going to to talk Neil Patel,” or, “I’m going to talk to whoever this person is who’s this marketing legend," and then they end up being just this super nice, approachable person who want to help, and makes you realize, “You know what? That’s the kind of person I want to be, the kind of marketer I want to be. As someone who’s here to help, and the more I can help other people, the better marketer I’m going to be, the better off my company’s going to be, and I think the happier I’ll be.”I think for all of you listening as marketers, just take this away like if there is someone who’s had a big impact on you, at a minimum, just write them a note and let them know, and maybe even tell them what they did. It’s incredibly encouraging, I know, for people to hear the impact that they’re having. That’s what a lot of these folks want to do is have a positive impact. Let them know if they’ve had a really big impact on you.The other thing is if you want to learn from them, if you want to ask questions to them, don’t be afraid to reach out and connect with them on social media, or even emailing them and following-up. A lot of these people were a lot more approachable than I thought and were so happy to share and so happy the help, and I just learned a ton. Talking to my marketing heroes has been a pleasure for these last 100 episodes, and I look forward to 100 more episodes.That’s all we have for this 100th episode. We will see you for episode 101.
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.