Episode 17: Content Marketing Secrets with John Bonini, Marketing Director at Databox

This is The Marketing Hero podcast by ClearPivot, turning marketers into heroes.

Maia Wells:
Welcome to the Marketing Hero Podcast. I'm your host Maia Wells. If there were only one episode of this podcast to choose, you tapped on the right one. You're about to hear from content marketing's best advice giver and genuinely engaging and helpful guy John Bonini. If that name does not sound familiar, you may be living under a marketing rock, but you're here now. So let's catch you up. John Bonini is the Director of Marketing at Databox and also runs the Some Good Content Podcast, blog and community for advanced content marketers. Basically, he knows exactly what he's talking about when it comes to content marketing for SaaS. So if you want to know why Systems Thinking is a superpower and why most content marketing advice is much too general to be helpful, I'm excited for you to come geek out with us right now. John Bonini, welcome to the show.

John Bonini:
Thank you So much for having me Maia. Thank you for that introduction. I have to live up to that. So thank you so much for having me. It's an honor to be here. Like I told you earlier to be a guest on a podcast called The Marketing Hero Podcast is like, you got to bring your A game. So thank you for having me.

Maia:
Thanks for being here and thanks for sharing your A game with us, because I think a lot of our listeners can benefit from what you know. So I'm super excited to jump into it. Let's start off with a question we like to ask every single guest, what's your favorite part of your professional life and how did you figure that out?

John:
You go real deep, right at the beginning. You start out with-

Maia:
Yeah. We want to know the juicy stuff, John. Yeah.

John:
It's like a hard question, but it also feels like it should be an easy one. I feel like the most rewarding part of my professional life would just be the constant learning. And that could also feel very frustrating at times. And I try to remind myself of that whenever there's a time where I feel like I don't know what I'm doing, or there's a new project that my team is taking on that I'm leading and I'm trying to plan it and maybe struggling to communicate how it should go. And I'm not even sure maybe what the right direction should be or learning new disciplines and things like that. The learning process can be very frustrating, but it's also really rewarding for me.

I've always tried to approach my professional life like a sponge. I try to connect with everybody I can. That's how I started podcasting seven years ago is I just started reaching out to people that I admired, wanted to hear just how they approach their day to day. And that's how I started podcasting. I have a pretty expensive book habit. As our CEO of Databox P Caputa recently said in a slack message, but I would just say the opportunity to learn day in and day out, especially when you're working for a company that's growing and has big growth aspirations. There's always going to be something that you're doing that you feel stretched, whether it's related to recruiting or setting a budget or planning or the actual work. And honestly every day, I feel grateful that I have that opportunity to keep learning and keep stretching myself. And I would say like at a high level that that's probably the most rewarding part of my professional life.

Maia:
Lifelong learning.

John:
Yeah. I think it's just being open to exploring things that you don't know or that you've never done before. And obviously we're fairly well conditioned to avoid those types of things because it'll make you feel inferior or it'll make you feel dumb or it'll make you feel whatever it is, right? And mostly things that aren't good. So but I think being open to that and embracing big projects that you've never taken on before or things that you have no idea how to do and just being like, you know what, I'm just going to figure it out. Let me do it anyways. Everyone else who came before me that did this also at some point, didn't know how to do it, or I'd never done it before.

So I think it's just being open and then just diving in and preparing yourself, reading everything that you can, if there's books on the subject, if there's people that you can connect with. And yeah, I feel like that that's been a competitive advantage for me throughout my career is just the velocity at which maybe that I not necessarily maybe learn, but the velocity of which I seek out things to learn, not necessarily that I look at it as a competitive advantage because I just enjoy it. But looking back it's, it's definitely something that's helped me along in my own career.

Maia:
Sounds like it's been a good approach for sure. Let's start by talking about Databox. What are some of the most important things that you've been able to learn and grow with there? So many, right?

John:
It feels like everything, yeah. I think when I came to Databox, I feel like I was very good at doing the work and what I had to learn was how to enable other people to do the work. And that part for me early on was tough. I had worked for organizations who were never really process-driven, never really did like quarterly plans, never documented processes for how things were doing. So that was all, believe it or not foreign to me. And then I came to Databox and working with somebody like Pete, who was, I mean, as far in the other direction, as you can go in terms of being systems driven and process driven. So working early on to first figure out what are the things that work and then documenting those processes, making them repeatable, recruiting, and bringing on the right people that could then take on those projects.

You backfill yourself and then go work on bigger projects, that has been the biggest thing. And also like a superpower like processes and Systems Thinking is a superpower. But also it's something that has a negative connotation with most people, developing processes and making things repeatable to most people feels like, oh, okay. So this is just going to be an assembly line. Nothing good ever, nothing unique ever comes off an assembly line by design. But I think by having that approach to your content, to your marketing, to your business allows you to scale quality in a way that I never was able to do or enable others to do. So I think the biggest thing I've learned at Databox is forget... When I got here, it was almost like, Pete never said this, but paraphrasing, but some of the things you would say was like, we know you could do great work, but to scale and to keep growing, you can't be the only one, right?

We need to enable others, we need to empower others. We need to recruit others that can do these things at yours because my inclination was I would launch a new podcast or I would launch a new content asset of some sort and I would just want to take it on and he'd be like, great. How can we pass this off? I'm like, I want to pass it off. This is my thing. Nobody can do this as well as I can. You're thinking those things in your head. And he really helped me see outside of that and be like, all right, well, if you always have that mindset, you're never going to be able to scale a team and be able to grow. Because if you're the only one that could do it, it's never going to work.

So I think that was really the biggest lesson for me. And growing into that, growing into a Systems Thinker and developing processes, and it's over the last three-and-a-half years, it's become, like I said, a superpower for being able to achieve a lot with a small team. And yeah. I'm still thankful for that because not only is it helped with Databox, but that'll be something I take with me throughout the rest of my career. I mean frankly in my life, right? Systems Thinking is certainly a discipline that has applications across your whole life, personally and professionally. So I would say that's the biggest thing, honestly, since coming to Databox was understanding that great companies, successful companies, big companies, they get to where they are to that scale because they made something repeatable. And that sounds super obvious in retrospect, but coming in, I didn't think that way. And so that was really the biggest learning for me over the last three-and-a-half years.

Maia:
What's a process that's helped you?

John:
Yeah. I mean, so we have a lot. I mean, our content process at Databox I think is 75 pages so-

Maia:
Wow. They give us the cliff notes. Yeah.

John:
I mean, we have a lot of different content assets. We have our blog, we have the podcast, we have a video series called Data Snacks. So that's something I launched early on when I was referencing before that Pete was like, "Okay. How can we pass this off?" That was the content asset. It was a show that I started, it was called Data Snacks. And I would record these quick videos about like, I would pull the metrics like bounce rate by blog post or something like that. And I would, in three minutes or five minutes, hence the snack in the title of the series. I would show people what is it, why is it important and how to quickly track it?

And I was trying to basically break down, most content on analytics is so dry and clinical. I was trying to make it more accessible. That's been a big goal of ours from a content standpoint. And just from a product standpoint of Databox is make this stuff more accessible. And so that's what I was trying to do initially with Data Snacks was I'm going to talk about a different metric each time I'm going to really simplify everything and what it is and what are the three things maybe you could learn from it. And here's how to check it. You don't have to be a data analyst to be able to do this, and I'm going to show you how to do it using Databox of course. And so I put that together, obviously over time, as we continue to scale, it was difficult for me to do that myself, right? As you're growing a team and you're overseeing different projects.

So we've had a couple of false starts on trying to get that series back again, but we actually recently relaunched it. And the whole process for that is documented everything from developing the topic, we have a spreadsheet with different columns on how to come up with the right angle, everything from outlining, like here are the four distinct sections that should be in every Data Snack so it's repeatable. Some of the sections even have certain parts that could be the same in every episode. And so it really allows the team to start from a strong place from an outline perspective and then from recording, right? It makes everything easier. The whole process for that is really documented. And a lot of it goes back to that initial format that I started three years ago when I first did it and couldn't keep up with it.

And now I've codified it and empowered others in the team to do it. So Monja who's our Product Marketer at Databox has taken on the recording of those. And we have a couple other folks on the team that helped with the outline and in research process. And I'm just overseeing and giving it the final blessing at the end. And certainly three years later, I much enjoy that part now, being able to see the end result, see that it's high quality, but I didn't have to record it. And I didn't have to write the out like that. That's a great feeling to empower others, to be able to do great work like that. So that's just one example of one small content asset that we've developed a process for that. We're going to be scaling up this quarter and beyond.

So that one's top of mind, I would say. But yeah we have everything from the blog posts that we publish, how we get responses to those blog posts. I mean, everything is documented. So we have people in different time zones and it's just so important to have all that stuff documented. So people aren't waiting around for you to tell them how to do the work, because if that happens, everything slows down, you're not going to hit your publishing frequency, all kinds of things break down. So for us, it's critical to have all that stuff documented. So no, and everybody is empowered to do the work themselves and do it at a really high quality.

Maia:
It sounds like there's an element of empowerment and also an element of trust there where your documented process, people can follow it and you're trusting them to create a great product from that. How do you build that trust among the team and between yourself and the team? Tell me a little bit more about that process and how that feels for you.

John:
Yeah. I think it's just about being intuitive and recognizing people's strengths and their weaknesses and things that they enjoy, things that they don't enjoy. For example, those people on the team who love recording the video, because people on the team who hate doing the video, maybe that wouldn't be their strength anyways. Not only do they hate it, but they just wouldn't be very good at it. And they know that and vice versa. There's some people on the team that love and are very good at writing and outlining and some people that's not their strength or their passion. So I think that's another thing I've learned and I'm always getting better at is learning how to be more intuitive and recognizing who on your team, where those strengths are, where their passions are and trying to align as much as possible, their work with those projects.

And that part is, the folks on my team I've been working with for quite a while now. So it's certainly gets easier over time and you know and they almost expect it too when you launch new projects. They know like which ones they align with. And so I really think it's from a management perspective, you really have to know, not just the strengths and weaknesses, but passion. Some people are really strong at things that they're not passionate about and vice versa. They're passionate about things that they might not be very good at. And so obviously, when you're recruiting, you're trying to look for these, the skills that you need, right? But then needs change on the team, right? The company scales, the team scales, you take on different projects. People are going to move around.

And I think it's up to the manager at that point or whoever's directing the team to recognize where people's strengths and passions are best aligned to help the team. And that is like, that's the whole job when you're leading a team is continually auditing that and seeing like, is everyone in the best position? And then when they're in those positions and they're doing the work, resisting the urge to jump in and do things yourself, that's certainly something that over the years I've had to get better at is just like how do you coach up people without doing the work for them? Because it's all about the learning experience, right. And if you could teach them how to do it, well, this time, the next 10 times, they're not going to need you, and they're going to kick asset and it's going to make them feel that much better and more empowered.

And so, yeah. I just think it's about recognizing who on the team would best be served to work on specific projects and then coaching them up so they can get to the point where they're teaching you how to do the project or the best ways to do it, or the best approach. Because I do think there's some element that not everybody is going to be the best fit for a specific project right at the beginning. But you know, that they have the raw skills to be able to eventually really nail it. And I think that, yeah, it's just a constant balance of being able to recognize those things and then help others just level up to be able to reach the full potential.

Maia:
So it sounds like you have a great thing going with content marketing for Databox. How does that fit into the overall marketing picture there? And talk to me about what that does for gaining users producing results for the company.

John:
Yeah. I mean, content is marketing at Databox. From the very beginning when I came on three-and-a-half years ago, and Pete Caputa took over as CEO, I think maybe a year before that. We've been really thoughtful about the way in which we're growing so rather than the traditional raise a ton of money, right at the beginning Jack the expenses up, advertise, hire 50 people on the marketing team, whatever it is, right? We haven't gone that route. We've been growing off profit for quite a while now. And I think content obviously is a channel that requires a little bit of time upfront. And so three-and-a-half years ago, it was driving traffic, not what it is today, obviously, but having this approach to growth has allowed us the space and the time to really build a marketing engine around content. We don't spend a dime on advertising yet.

It doesn't mean we won't. I think actually there's probably a really good opportunity for us to do remarketing at some point for all the people who visit our blog or all the people who sign up for our free plan. So that might be something we explore at some point, but up until now, we've been 100%. The marketing has been 100% driven off content. And growing from 20 something thousand monthly sessions to north of 250,000 monthly sessions now in the course of a few years. So that is our marketing strategy.

And our strategy at the beginning has been much different than everyone else's in terms of content. Most companies do the whole single point of view content. Hire some writers, whether it's freelance or internal, have them write about a bunch of subjects. They probably haven't done themselves. And this isn't to criticize the writers. Logistically it's hard to, if you are in any company, to hire people to cover all the different subjects you want to write about that actually also have subject matter expertise in those areas, right? It's hard.

Maia:
Exactly.

John:
And so early on our approach to content was like, okay, well, we're not going to do that. We're going to take a more journalistic approach to things. We're going to have our topics, the same topics we might normally write about from a single point of view perspective. But instead of writing those ourselves, we're going to create a survey in SurveyMonkey, ask one open text question and three to five, multiple choice questions to get some quantitative data. And we're going to open that up to dozens of people who actually do this work, and then we'll create the narrative of the posts and the structure around those responses.

So for example, if we're writing a post about how to improve your cost per click on Facebook. Obviously that aligns well with our tool. You could connect Facebook ADs to Databox and track all of your performance data in Databox from Facebook ADs. We have over 70 integrations. So we write about a lot of these tools and the metrics you can check on these tools and the insights you could pull from them and they're things that you could do to grow your business, using those tools. So there's no shortage of topics, right? Because we integrate with 70 different tools. So for talking about how to improve your cost per click on Facebook, we'll create a survey that says, the OpenText question might be, what's one effective way that you've reduced your cost per click at your company? And then the three multiple choice, we might ask the multiple choice questions that say like, what's your typical cost per click at your company?

We might ask another one that says like, how much do you typically invest in Facebook ADs every month? Might ask another about what type of industry they're in. And so when the post goes live and we have 80 responses, we have all those qualitative responses. Like here's what 80 people say works in terms of reducing your cost per click. But then we have those quantitative responses to say, X percent of people, their cost per click falls in the $1 to $2 range. Or and then here's the rest of the breakdown. X % of people are spending more than five grand on Facebook ADs every month. X % are spending more than 10 grand, and then you can break it down by industry. So there's so many opportunities to use the data that we collect to create really, really good content.

And that's really been our approach. It's much different than like I said, most companies. And there's a single point of view content approach, but it's allowed us from a very early point to create content at a high frequency, because you're getting a lot of the content from your contributors. But also every post you create is inherently viral because now 80 people are going to go share that post that they're in. Who among us is featured in a podcast or a blog? And then it's like, yeah, I'm not going to share that, right? You're going to share it, whether that's on your social feed or maybe in your newsletter, or you're going to link to it on your own company's blog. So it gave us a viral component baked in right at the beginning. And I feel like really gave us a headstart in terms of being able to build up a good presence from content and yeah, all of that stuff aligns with the product as well.

Because like I said, we're writing about things and tools and metrics that can all be tracked inside Databox. So there's a really close tie in, not only from the people who find the article and read it, but we've also been very, very deliberate about who we get to contribute to the articles. So we usually reach out to people who would be ideal fits of Databox to contribute. And it's a very warm way of introducing people that would be good fits of our product into our ecosystem without saying, "Hey Maia, have you tried Databox? How are you currently tracking all of your performance data?" Like all those crappy messages that you get in LinkedIn right now. So it's a really warm introduction if I reached out and said, "Hey, Maia, I saw that you published this blog post on your blog about cost per click, and we're actually publishing a report on it.

And we're reaching out to people that are experts in it. Just want to get a few words. Would you mind submitting a quote to this article?" Most people are flattered. They're like, "Oh, sure. Yeah." I'm going to get a back link to my website. My name is going to be in. Sure, yeah. We never pitched, we never tried to sell them on Databox. We never pitched them on it, but they naturally become familiar with us. We become more top of mind. They're obviously visiting our website. And so that has been a good like growth lever for us, although a little harder to track really since the early days.

So the whole thing created this miniature flywheel of the people contributing would be good fits. And then the content that we're publishing based on their contributions are attracting other people who would be good fits. And then it's just been really effective for us. So we've just scaled out over the years from like one of those a week to, I think recently we've been doing seven of those a week. So that's been in and obviously we have other assets too, but that was like a big one for us. So yeah. Content is marketing for us and we haven't done any paid really whatsoever.

Maia:
That's incredible.

John:
That'll probably change, but yeah. We've been fully bought in and scaling it now for three-and-a-half, four years.

Maia:
What approach do you take to planning that content? So you've mentioned some different channels that you are on and some different, the video series that you mentioned, for example. How do you strategize around specific keywords or specific features or specific audiences? What's that process like for you guys on planning out how that all fits together. Because it seems like there's a lot of moving parts. There's the whole contributor situation, there's things that you guys are putting out yourself. Talk to me more about how you plan that.

John:
So this is a two part of it because we're actually evolving that as we speak, but up until now, yeah. We've had these different current assets and they had had their own editorial funnels, if you will. And so, yeah. We usually start from some sort of input, whether it's a keyword volume or it's something our support team hears frequently, like a use case that comes up a lot, like chucking your life cycle stages and HubSpot CRM or something like that, right? Something that they get asked about a lot. Some sort of qualitative or quantitative input like that will help us put together like it. All right. We have a topic now, but then we've always as a team, tried to go a little deeper, do some research, what are some good angles we could take on that topic?

One thing we've tried to do is something that I talk about is the use this, what I call a search motivation framework to come up with different angles for one topic. So that one topic let's say is, let's say Instagram ads, you know, maybe that's the topic or Instagram ads for businesses, for B2B businesses. Let's get more specific. Instagram ads for B2B businesses, right? You see a lot of B2C on Instagram, but can B2B businesses actually have engaging ads that drive sales on Instagram? Like that would be at angle, right? And with that we've done before. But what we're trying to do is that's only one topic. That's only one blog post. How can we actually get more from that? And so what we try to do is break it up into three different things.

The search motivation framework is basically like my thesis that people search for three things when they're in Google. They want to get inspired by something, they want to learn something or they want to, they need to do something right now from a professional standpoint. From your personal standpoint, you want to be entertained. There's a lot of other things, right? But from a professional standpoint, that's pretty much it. So you can take that topic, Instagram, B2B Instagram ads. And the inspiration would be 25 B2B Instagram ads of like the most engaging Instagram B2B Instagram ads. And it's just a Roundup of ads from 25 B2B companies that are really engaging. That's the inspiration, right? It's inspirational posts are usually examples from other people. The educational posts would be how to. X ways to write a highly engaging B2B Instagram ad. That's educational. That serves that person. That's looking how they want to learn something.

That's a completely different article about the steps that you would take, how to write the copy, how to think about your images, right? The last one, the execution. So inspiration, education and execution. That one for the person that's just looking to get something done right now. You might have something that's like B2B Instagram ad templates, has everything like how to phrase your copy, everything right? How long it should be, all that stuff. So you've served all three different areas. So that's how we try to approach the editorial up until right now, which we'll still continue doing from an angle and topic perspective. But now what we're doing is we want to align all of our content assets together, our podcasts, our Data Snacks, our blog.

And the way we're doing that this quarter is basically for every blog post we publish, what we want to do is like, we're going to have four different topic areas, you know, Google Analytics, Facebook ADs, HubSpot, I'm giving you inside baseball right now. We're going to have four main topic areas. And those topic areas we'll create, say 10 to 15 blog posts this quarter for. Those 10 to 15 blog posts, we're going to have dozens of contributions. So that's what we're going to get our podcast guests from is whoever gave us the best contributions, like go through each one who are the five people that gave the best contributions, let's get them on the podcast. And then the Data Snack episodes will also be inspired by what are the metrics talked about in those blog posts? What are the specific things that we're talking about?

How can we record how to track those things in a quick video? And so this way, our podcasts, our Data Snacks, our blog posts will all be pointing and rowing in the same direction and promoting the same gateways into our product. And it's not something I've seen done really well before. So it's hard to go anywhere and find inspiration. And, but it's just something that we're really trying to nail down. And I think will allow us again, just to move even quicker, produce even more relevant content as a small team. So it's evolved certainly over the years, it's evolving right now, but that's how we're currently thinking about it.

Maia:
I wonder if you could talk me through some of the mechanics of this going from, let's say that B2B ads for Instagram idea that we were just discussing.

John:
Right.

Maia:
Let's say I find that blog somewhere. I'm curious, I find the inspiration blog. I'm looking through this Roundup posts. How do I go from that to becoming a customer of Databox? What are the mechanics of that journey?

John:
Yeah. Again, work in progress. But up until now, what we've had is we have a lot of prebuilt templates of Databox on the website so of all of our integrations. So for example, Instagram ads, we have prebuilt templates with metrics already in it. All you have to do is connect your Instagram ads account. And those metrics will visualize. You can edit them later. You can mix and match, put different metrics in there if you want, but it allows people to get set up and get started quickly in tracking data.

So we embed relevant templates in the blog post. So if you're that Instagram ads blog posts, you're referring to, will have relevant templates embedded in the post. If you want that template, click the template. And it'll take you to the page where you sign up and there you go, right? You'll be able to connect your Instagram ads account and visualize your data in minutes. So but what we're doing now is our support team who I think is the best in the business. And I think we're doing things that no other company does because we do so much for our free users. What they do is they help people get set up and build their first dashboards for them. And you don't have to be a paying customer. So you can be on the free plan. And if you sign up and you want to visualize something in Instagram ads, they'll help you build it for you to tell you what metrics are the most commonly tracked. If you don't already know which ones you want to track.

And so we've created landing pages for these like setup offers, and we're going to be starting to use those and test those as calls to action in these blog posts. And we actually just hired a growth marketer. We're going to be coming up with a variation of different things that we could test in blog posts to get people to convert at a higher rate. But up until now, yeah, it's been primarily driven by the templates. And we've seen diminished returns from that over time, not because they're not effective obviously, but because I just think we need to introduce not everybody is at that point yet, right?

They might see the template and be like, I'm not even sure those are the right metrics to track. I need help. I don't know which metrics to track. And that's where the different offers and different levels of CTAs will come into play in these blog posts. So that's actually a project we're working on this quarter is to map out different gateways into the product beyond just download the free template into the app. But up until now, a direct signup or the template signup has been the primary ways of converting from a blog post into a paying customer.

Maia:
So John let's transition. I want to talk more about your efforts with some good content, because it actually is really good content. And I want people to know about it. Can you tell us more about what you're doing there and how people can find it?

John:
Yeah. So Some Good Content is basically just a community for content marketers. I want it to get really specific into an area that I'm passionate about that I feel like obviously is aligned with my strengths as a marketer and a leader. And at the same time, I feel like most content advices is way too general to be helpful. Even the so-called influencers, talking about whether it's storytelling or just create content and distribute it here, here, here. None of that stuff is actually helpful and helps you build a successful program. And I felt like I couldn't really go anywhere to find the really nuanced discussion around how do you build a team? Who do you hire first? What's their role? And what should the job posting template look like? How do you format your editorial process and calendar?

All this really in-depth stuff that I like to geek out about. And I feel like I have a lot of knowledge and experience from, so I've just created it, a Patreon group to start and start to publishing some of the stuff. I have come to experience over the years of some of the frameworks that I've developed and things like that. And my goal initially last year was to just get 100 people. And I would have been thrilled with that. And now we're 620 or 630 or something like that. And so it's certainly exceeded my expectations, but it's been a blast. And then the other big part of it now is there's a Facebook community where with all the members in it, and that's been something that I've been mindful of is I want to allow members to learn from other members, not just me.

I think that's where the true magic lies and in building out this community is how do I enable everyone to learn from each other? And that's really started to take off. And that's been really exciting to watch is just, I'm learning from others. They're learning from each other. It just adds so much more value to being a member is not only are you going to get stuff from me, but you're going to learn from all the hundreds of other content marketers that are as nuanced and love to geek out about this stuff as I do. And so that's really just been the fun part is building a community around people that are just super passionate and thoughtful about content marketing. And so, yeah. That was really the inspiration behind it was just creating a space for people who wanted to go deep on content and really, really get into the nuance.

And because a lot of content teams, they start small, they start as like one person doing it all. And so they don't have a lot of people inside the company to go talk to. And even on bigger companies like Zapier, right? Like 2 million sessions a month, their content team is like a handful of people. It's like less than five people, same thing with buffer. So it's not like you have dozens of other people to go connect with on what to do. So it's a space for marketers to really get super nuanced and learn how to do their jobs better and see how other people are approaching the work and learn how to scale their programs beyond just that crappy advice that most of us see out there on other blogs or on Twitter feeds. And so, yeah. That was really the inspiration behind starting it.

Maia:
Is there a reason behind your choice probably related to that as to why you decided to go with Patreon rather than like a Facebook group, for example, do you feel like the people who are joining it are more serious about what they're trying to learn?

John:
Yeah. I wasn't interested in starting a free blog, not just from the standpoint whereas I wanted to make money.

Maia:
Right.

John:
But it was, yeah. You wanted to have some friction there. You wanted to have some barrier where it kept the quality really high. The fee is 10 bucks a month. It's like a cup of coffee, right? Starbucks, right? It's like $6 for fricking coffee now.

Maia:
We need to get your Starbucks order at the end of this conversation, because I want to know, I need to know.

John:
So yeah. So it's like the fee is minimal, but I knew that it wouldn't be high enough where it would keep people out but at the same time, it's going to keep out the casual folks, the ones that would link drop maybe the ones that aren't as serious. The ones that are as passionate about it. Somebody who's going to spend 10 bucks, even though it's only 10 bucks, somebody who's going to take out their card or bother their boss to expense it for something like that is serious about content and enjoys it. It's not just a job to them. It's not a 9:00 to 5:00. And so I wanted to create a community around people like that and then starting the Facebook group and making it exclusive only to members it's like night and day.

Like I'm in other Facebook groups. I never have engaged before. And yeah, this is my group. So I have to engage. But it's different. Like the conversations in most Facebook groups are, "Hey, what CRM do you guys use? Does anybody have a recommendation for a project management software?" "Hey, how do you guys build internal links?" That's not the kind of discussion that goes on in this group. It's like super nuanced. Like, "Hey, I need to backfill my position so I can focus more on strategy.

But I also don't know if I'm ready for that yet. What skills do I need and how do I know that I'm ready to be ahead of content?" That's such a meaty question and the responses that people give in there, it's just like, it's just mind blowing. It's like, that's the kind of stuff that goes on in there. And that wouldn't happen if I just created a open community for any content marketer to join. It would quickly devolve into another place where people would try to slowly go to and try to drop their own links to their content and things like that. And that's just, I'm not interested in doing that so...

Maia:
There's enough of those out there already, I think.

John:
Right. Exactly. Yeah.

Maia:
Yeah. All right. So give us your Starbucks order. I'll start with mine, which is normally an Iced Almond Milk Latte. What do you get for your $6 coffee?

John:
Mine used to be a lot more exciting, but I've switched to decaf and most people would be like, oh, that's blasphemous. You go to Starbucks to get decaf? Which they don't always have it, which is a pain that they look down on us decaf drinkers, but I switched to decaf so my order is not as exciting anymore. I usually just get a hot decaf or I'll get crazy and throw some French vanilla in there. But, yeah. I switched to decaf. So my orders aren't as exciting anymore, but-

Maia:
Keeping it simple is good. Well, we definitely appreciate all the advice that you've given us about content marketing and what you've got going on. Do you have any shout outs you'd like to give before we sign off here, perhaps to somebody who has a birthday coming up?

John:
Somebody who has a birthday coming up. So, yeah. My daughter is turning one Saturday. So for those listening, we're recording this on a Thursday. So two days from now, my third born, my little girl is going to be one. Basically her whole life she's been in quarantine and not even known it. And but we've slowly as our family has started to become vaccinated. I started seeing everybody and she's like this whole new world opening up and she's just been rolling with it. We thought she would be terrified of other people and not want other people to hold her, but she just goes with it. She's a real chill girl. And yeah, she's turning one in a couple of days. So that'll be my weekend and I'm really looking forward to that.

Maia:
Well, happy birthday to your little girl and John, thanks for joining us on The Marketing Hero. We'll talk to you soon.

John:
Thanks so much.
 
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