The Content Pros podcast is live – Episode 1 with Jay Baer

I’m really excited to announce that I’ve joined forces with Convince and Convert and Sysomos SVP Marketing Amber Naslund to create a brand new podcast, Content Pros. Each episode will feature one of the world’s best content marketers and we dive into their content marketing strategy, their content marketing plan, how they structure content analytics and much more.

We created the show because there is a lot of noise in the content space and not enough discussion about how people are actually successful. Especially, talking to the folks doing the actual work without unlimited budgets. I’m learning a ton every episode and I think you will too. You can snag the podcasts from iTunes or on Stitcher. Please leave a review and share with your friends (or enemies).

Episode 1: How to Embrace Collaborative Content with Jay Baer

Content Pros Episode 1 with Jay BaerJay Baer is the President of Convince & Convert, the digital marketing consulting company (whose blog you’re reading right now!). The Convince & Convert blog was named the #1 content marketing blog in the world by Content Marketing Institute. Jay is also a keynote speaker and bestselling author.

Jay’s #1 content trend for 2015 is this: embracing collaborative content. Finding customers, employees, associates, and collaborators will become more and more important for content marketers to produce content that is valuable.

Stream this podcast on iTunes  |  Download the podcast audio

5 things I wish I knew when I started my marketing career

Colleges turn out tons of business and marketing majors. Many campuses house marketing under Business Administration and some have specific marketing departments. Combining Business Insider’s most popular college major data for Business Management and Administration (#1), General Business (#2) and Marketing / Marketing Research (#4) totals 16% of all declared majors in the United States. Our college educations are slotting many of us into roles that fall under marketing.

But, most folks new to marketing have no clue what they’re getting into. I didn’t.

With that said, I’m sharing five of the things I wish that I knew way back then. It could have saved me some stress, heartache and helped to prevent me from looking as dumb as I did back then.

1. You will never be Don Draper.

Sorry. You’ll get plenty of free booze at events, but marketing is not advertising, pal. For some reason, much of marketing education blurs the lines between marketing and advertising. A very small percentage of new marketers will work at ad agencies. Most that do are not impacting any of the creative campaigns.

Managing creative delivery and execution is one of the most alluring aspects of marketing. It sucks us in. We see the great commercials. We notice stellar branding. We think we understand user experience because we use well designed gadgets. We know impactful copy when we see it because we scroll past memes on Facebook daily. We won’t be doing any of this for a very long time.

It would have been much more valuable for me to understand simple HTML, constructing an email campaign, learning how to manage ad spend or running an A/B test. You’ll spend more time filling out paperwork than you will wowing client execs with a new piece of creative in a boardroom over neatly poured Canadian Club.

2. You will get tired of events and travel.

You mean people will PAY me to fly, eat food and get free swag? I thought that. I was an idiot. Every marketer has probably studied event management or at least how to successfully execute an event from a marketing perspective. Many courses even have a trial by fire project where you structure events, fundraising or campaigns to give it a try.

Your flight will be delayed. You’ll be in a middle seat wedged between two people who are my size. You’ll have a hotel bed that feels worse than laying on the floor. You’ll get the hotel / airplane crud and fly back home hacking and wheezing. And your feet will hurt because you’re standing all day.

Events are a part of the industry and you’ll go to plenty, but it won’t be champagne dreams and caviar wishes. Learn better time management skills to squeeze in a workout. Expense a nice dinner. Connect with friends in the area. Sharpen your networking and public speaking skills. You’ll quickly become an event pro and recognize faces in every city. Make the most of your trips to avoid getting burnt out and never, ever, ever take a redeye. You’ll be miserable the day you get home and be worse off than if you stayed the night and flew back early.

3. You will always have questions without answers.

I’m a completionist. If I start something, my brain prefers to finish it… even if I start that something at 1am and it takes three hours. Leaving things in an unresolved state has always been a problem for me (yes, I’m a bit obsessive). In marketing, you will always have questions without answers. It requires a different mental framework to understand how to structure complex problems and data sets in a way to pull out and understand insights.

This isn’t easy. Remember the scientific method? Here’s a quick overview if you forgot.

  • Ask a Question
  • Do Background Research
  • Construct a Hypothesis
  • Test Your Hypothesis by Doing an Experiment
  • Analyze Your Data and Draw a Conclusion
  • Communicate Your Results

This is marketing. It is a blend of art and science, but you have to be disciplined enough to configure a problem in a way to start a test, understand the results and know where you go from there. Interestingly enough, you have to market your marketing. Learn how to pull out the useful takeaways and communicating that to others.

4. You should have paid more attention in Statistics class.

Go ahead and follow two folks: Tom Webster and Chuck Hemann. Both of those gentlemen are masterful with data, interpreting data and pulling out the insights. I’ve worked with lots of analytical folks in my career, but there aren’t many that can take things full circle. The most frequent gap is the very last step – turning all of the abstract data into the three most important things the C-suite needs to know.

Odds are, many marketers have had a meeting with some C-level folks that first highlighted this gap. It happened to me. You’re presenting a project or plan and start getting peppered with really good, very specific questions. Within a minute or two, you’ve reached a mental progression path where you get stuck. There isn’t full mastery of the data. The problem wasn’t structured properly. You presented lots of data, but missed the meaning.

Data driven, performance based marketing requires analytical knowledge. Spend some time sharpening this skill. I think that the rise of growth hackers is due to a skills gap in the marketing industry. The average marketer was incapable of testing, tweaking and mastering business metrics and it spawned a niche. The folks who could do this well became growth hackers. Half of the job descriptions you read mention growth hacking now. Buy a book about marketing analytics (Chuck’s would be a good starting place) and you could even go through Google’s free Analytics Academy training.

Also, be self-aware. If you’re not as strong with analytics as you want to be, start doing something about it and share that with your manager or in the interview process. There is no perfect marketer. We all have shortcomings. Know yours and work on them.

5. You should have tried Sales first.

Have you ever sold anything? If not, run and try it. Sell knives or lotion or used DVDs or vacuum cleaners or jewelry. Find an opportunity to go through the process of understanding the product you sell, pitching it, getting rejected 95% of the time and bouncing back.

If more marketers had tried selling, there wouldn’t be tension between Sales and Marketing. It is a tough job. Nobody likes rejection. Nobody likes to lose. That common ground from selling something minuscule and going through that yourself will help you understand and build rapport. You’ll know what it feels like..except for the fact that most of the Sales folks you work with are selling to pay for their houses and families. If you were missing a number and risked a mortgage payment if you didn’t hit it, what would you do? You’d put the heat on any person that could help make that a reality.

That’s the game. Sales and marketing go hand-in-hand and more than ever with the emergence of social selling. You want to know why you win. You want to know even more why you lose. You want to take that information and create better messaging, more effective collateral and new content that speaks to what is happening in sales meetings.

You can do this.

Marketers weren’t born. Practice will make you better. Find a solid mentor. Get out there and kick some ass. It can be an insanely rewarding job to see your work contribute to the bottom line or to launch a product that is a fit for the market.

I’m writing the next five things I wish I knew now, but let me know what I missed. If you’d like to read some of my previous ramblings, check them out at

This was originally posted on LinkedIn.

Why you should treat content marketing like parenting

The other day, I had the realization that the correct content marketing strategy looks a lot like parenting that follows the proverb – “It takes a village.”

The amount of content continues to grow.

The tiny little dot is the 1 trillion pages on the Internet that existed in 2008.


The growth of digital content

Creating all the content yourself is impossible.

To stand out, or have your company stand out – you need a village. Lots of people chipping in. Different types of content. Different opinions. Different lengths. Different styles.

Check out the full article at Compendium – a great content marketing platform and my new employer. 😉

The power and emotion of a well done use case

Use cases are tough.

You have to take the product or service you love and condense all of that goodness into a few quick stories or proof points. Many companies are doing a use case per feature these days.

To me, that doesn’t always work because you may have 10 “use cases” and only 2 appeal to the average user.

Google just nailed this. Google Now / Search is powerful. Maybe even all-knowing. It is easy to describe, but difficult to grasp.

Enter a well done use case and experience:

Now, all we have to is emulate this experience with all of our products. 🙂

Facebook Graph Search ‘gon find you

It is time to review your privacy settings.

Specifically, your Facebook Likes and activities. 

Facebook Graph Search is pretty awesome. Imagine nearly endless pivots for search criteria.


Now imagine all of the data captured through your Facebook use since you joined. Crap.

In college, tons of people liked (at least on Facebook) drinking, hooking up, smoking weed, partying, sleeping late, etc. Now, Facebook has given users the power to find which of those poor saps left that information public.

Here’s an example that could ruin marriages. A recent app, Bang with Friends, has been going viral on Facebook and in tech press. Imagine Hot or Not except you’re picking folks you would like to hook up with – by folks, I mean friends. Don’t worry… they’ll only see it if they want to hook up with you too. A little panic, but many are okay with that. For single folks, go for it. But, that would be too easy.

Suppose someone is married. They add Bang with Friends and remove it from their activity feed so their spouse doesn’t see it. Whew. Close one. They carefully prune through their friends to pick the potential hook-ups that would use discretion to protect the sanctity of their marriage (cough). Not so fast. Most relationship statuses are public. Facebook shares your app usage. Want to see what that looks like?

Facebook Graph Search fail

Search women, men, location, religion, etc. This ain’t gonna be pretty.

At the end of the day, don’t be stupid. Don’t do stuff like this. Here is a detailed guide to make sure you don’t get caught with your pants down.

Current job descriptions suck and you’re losing the talent war

Sorry Lebron, you don’t have 7 years experience.

What if Cleveland would have said that before they drafted Lebron? Clearly, you have talent kid! But, we’re really looking for someone who has done this for a professional team for 7 years or more. Also, a certification or professional degree is preferred.

You just passed up on the most talented person!

Job descriptions drive me crazy.

They drove me crazy before I had experience. They drive me crazy with experience.


As a company, you should want the best talent. The world is changing. While the best choice at the time could have tons of experience and meet all of your requirements, you may be missing out on the candidate who can make the larger long term impact.

What if professional sports placed a higher emphasis on a body of work than they did potential? Think about that for a minute.

Stare at this while you think for a minute.

Experience can often times be the safest choice. You can grab a veteran who has been there before. But, things start to get interesting when you take someone with a decent amount of experience and a much higher upside. Do you grab the veteran and milk them for a few years or do you try to foster and groom the potential franchise player?

Sticking with sports, this can burn you. There are flops. Some picks don’t pan out. But, if you stay in your risk averse world, you’ll miss out on Lebron, Kobe, Durant, Kyrie or any other young star.

Look for passion. Look for natural talent (even if raw). Look for someone willing to bust their ass for you. The filters you build into the job requirement could eliminate the person you need.

Here are some of my favorite job descriptions, the best job descriptions in my mind:

  • Cowpoke / Intern at Lowercase Capital – “Tony Hsieh calls you when he is feeling unhappy”
  • reddit engineer – “prove or disprove that P = NP”
  • Any job description at Woot – “It’s not just a job – it’s paid employment”
  • Any job with ze frank – “You should have sent at least one email to someone you have never met telling them that they should stop using tables.”

They’re looking for talent. Plain and simple.

Don’t misinterpret me.

There are *incredible* hires with *tons* of experience. My point is that you should not create restrictive requirements if you’re looking for the best person for the job. Throw an incredibly bright 26 year old in the room with an extremely experienced candidate and see what happens. Hire slow, fire fast. Note: I am much older than 26.

Talent is hard to find. It is even harder to retain. Keep that in mind (please).

Spoiler alert: Cleveland hired, but couldn’t retain Lebron.

Image via usfbps

Amazing Things Will Happen book review

Amazing Things Will Happen book review

Is “Amazing Things Will Happen” worth buying?

Yes. Feel free to skip the rest and buy a copy here – that isn’t an affiliate link because I live in North Carolina (wah wah wah).

First off, thanks to Jay Baer and C.C. Chapman for the copy of the book. I was selected by Jay via a blog post to receive a free copy and agreed to review the book. Pretty standard stuff. Thank you both for a copy of this great book!

A kick in the pants.

Possibly the teeth… A couple of questions to think about before I dive into the book:

  • Are you happy? Seriously. With life? Work? The balance between the two?
  • Are you passionate (a Passion Hit as C.C. calls it)? Do you wake up with enthusiasm to get your day going?
  • Are you challenging the status quo in a healthy way?
  • What are you leaving behind?

Think about those for a few minutes before reading further.

My guess is that most of the people reading this will answer “kind of” to the first three and may have a conflict to the last question.

I read this book in less than 36 hours.

Not straight of course… I read faster than that. I couldn’t really put the book down. The first reading session led me through 104 pages. The next day, I finished the book. It is a great read – and a quick one (in a good way). I have a busy job, a wife, an energetic 16 month old son, and we’re in the process of building a home. Things are busy. But, some things are worth making time for.

That’s an important premise in the book. Life is short. You live once.

Why settle for anything less than happiness?

Pause. Pause. Pause.

Where is the dramatic effect button? I’ve written a post about dealing with ambition. My last post was a video with Seth Godin about making art and leaving things behind. This was relevant to me.

I’m thankful. I have a great family. I have a great job. I have the ability to workshift within reason. I also have my share of challenges. Stretch goals. Internal conflicts. Doubt. Worry. Angst. Even finding ways to find an outlet for things I’m passionate about. This book will help with all of that.

Most of us cheat ourselves.

Yep. I do it. If you have a dream and a manageable set of objections you can work around, why the hell aren’t you chasing it? Objections can include finances, location, time, family obligation, risk, etc. But, many times these are excuses. Some bigger than others. Some more difficult than others to overcome.

But again, we live once. 1. One. Uno. Once.

Regret is a bitter pill to swallow.

C.C. talks through this in a masterful way. You’ll read this book and feel like you need to switch some things up. Some of you will make drastic changes. All of you will be energized.

Then you take the keys.

What are you doing with your passion? If you can plan around your objections, what next? How can you start to do something about it?

That’s where I’m at now. I have a plan. A loose one :). But, once I can start making some progress on it… I’ll share. I’ll probably share it first with my family and inner circle. And hopefully C.C. if he wants to hear it.

I’m putting what I’ve learned into action. I’ll take the ripple approach as I can’t really make the big splash at this time. But, any amount of progress is progress.

The book is awesome.

Go read it.

College students majoring in social media? 5 reasons this is really bad.

College students are now declaring majors in social media.

I haven’t looked over the curriculum for a major like this, but I have concerns. Why should you care about my concerns?

  • I’m a social media dork and work in digital marketing.
  • I’ve co-founded a course on social media for MBA candidates.
  • I only write about things I do. I’m not great at pontificating.

It’s a blended major of graphic design, communications, business and marketing, psychology and statistics.

I agree with this approach. I’ve blogged about it recently. Marketing requires a diverse set of skills. But, I think this is a bad move.

1. There are already too many marketers that don’t understand marketing.

Social media is a marketing tactic. You can’t only do social media. A social media strategy without a solid marketing strategy around it is doomed to fail. It’s like ordering salad dressing without the salad.

Marketing is already watered down.

73% of CEOs think marketers don’t understand basic business terminology and objectives.

Scary, right? (data is here)

Why in the world would we continue to stretch our profession even thinner when we are dealing with a perception problem?

2. Social media does not work by itself.

You can’t make a rock sexy. If your product doesn’t meet customer needs, social media won’t help you. Marketers need an understanding of the functions of product management, sales, customer service and operations. Silos aren’t very successful.

The primary goal of marketing is to drive sales.

Period. Exclamation point. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. There are millions of ways to do this and they don’t all involve spamming promo codes and limited time deals. You can drive sales by being customer focused (Zappos, Gary V, etc.). You can drive sales through content marketing (Hubspot).

But, if you think for a second that bringing in dollars doesn’t matter, keep collecting those LinkedIn endorsements for your pending job search.

3. The bread slicer wasn’t a huge success.

The sliced bread was. You’re majoring in the usage of tools and tactics deployed on those tools. Tools change. You need to understand the core concepts of marketing and how to apply them to any medium.

Understanding and execution trump knowledge of the networks.

The best SEO / SEM guys understand content and storytelling better than you do. Mastering the tools by which they deliver content is secondary to the mastery of manipulating the content to be user-focused.

4. Many executives will always fear social media.

This isn’t changing. No matter how many books, keynotes, studies, or infographics are created. There is an inherent fear of entering a world where there appears to be a greater loss of control for many folks. The way to overcome this is by having a thorough understanding of traditional marketing and being a change agent within an organization. By establishing that comfort level and shared knowledge, you can gradually do more with social media.

For most organizations, it isn’t either / or. It requires a tactful mix of old and new.

5. There will be another social media.

The .com bubble happened. Everyone loved Web 2.0. Social media is the latest darling. The biggest shift has already happened though. Surprisingly, not a ton of folks are paying attention to it.

You are defined by your product and your people.

Revolutionary? Nah, common sense. But, if your product sucks, customers think you suck. If your people suck, customers know you suck.

Who you hitch your career to is extremely important. More than ever, I’d argue. You’re defined by the experiences you have. You can do something you consider to be exciting and sexy for ACME, Inc. or you can bust your hump showing that you drive value and try to start doing more exciting and sexy things at a great company.

Communication is a constant. Social media is changing at a rapid pace. Something better will come along. It will become more and more seamless. Soon, you’ll be naked. People will know who you are. They’ll know what you’re capable of. They’ll know the warts of your product. You’ll be standing in front of the classroom naked. Tweeting. Sharing. And, eventually crying when you are asked to show the value you’re adding.

This isn’t new stuff. A class in social media should be required at every major university. I’d argue that a major is the wrong approach though. If we had mastered our output of great marketers and the business world was saturated – sure, go ahead and make them social media majors. But, most marketers still don’t get it.

Can we fix that first?

It may not dramatically increase applicants as fast. It may not bring in the immediate tuition dollars. But, if companies see that you’re producing results-driven marketers, that’s the boat you want to be in.

Who is even hiring these social media “experts” without solid business or marketing experience?

Image: mindaugasdanys