Episode 41: Keith Reynolds – The Importance of Creating Thought-Leading Content That Connects With Your Audience
In this episode, the Social Sales Link team are joined by Keith Reynolds, the founder and CEO of Publi.io. Listen as Keith shares the importance of creating content that connects with your audience and why it pays to have an editorial strategy. Discover what kind of content is getting the most views right now.
Bill McCormick 00:00
What does making sales social mean to you?
Keith Reynolds 00:02
You know, I think it’s the power to build relationships in real life and online in a very integrated way. There’s not two ways to behave or act. It’s all one and it should come across in your relationships that you have personally and the relationships that you develop online. You know, that’s really, it’s the relationship that makes social work.
Bob Woods 00:27
Welcome to the Making Sales Social Podcast! featuring the top voices in sales and marketing. Join hosts, Brynne Tillman and Bill McCormick. As they discuss the best tips and strategies they are teaching their clients. So you can leverage them for your own virtual and social selling. You can also listen to us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and Google Play. Here are your hosts, Brynne Tillman, and Bill McCormick.
Bill McCormick 01:05
Hey, everyone, welcome to Making Sales Social! I’m Bill McCormick.
Brynne Tillman 01:08
I’m Brynne Tillman.
Bill McCormick 01:10
So Brynne, who’s joining us today?
Brynne Tillman 01:11
One of my, in-person, friends, I love this. This has been four years since we met, Keith Reynolds. I met him through an introduction through LinkedIn. So LinkedIn works and learned his perspective on content in a way that I have never heard it from any other marketer out there and I was fortunate. He brought me into Manhattan, and I did a presentation for his group and we’ve stayed connected. And I am just so excited because, you know, content is the heart of social selling. Thought leadership is how we show up with credibility and so I can’t wait for the insights that Keith’s gonna share. Keith, Hello, and welcome! Tell everyone a little bit about you.
Keith Reynolds 02:03
Yeah. Hi! So I am the founder of a company called Publio.io and we’re a content strategy and development organization. We help companies use collaborative tools and techniques to empower those who are innovators that are seeking to build influence in their space, differentiate themselves from the pack and grow their business.
Bill McCormick 02:25
Love, love, love to talk about how we can differentiate ourselves. But before we get to that, Keith, we ask every guest one question at the beginning of each episode and it is, what does making sales social mean to you?
Keith Reynolds 02:39
Oh, that’s a great question. You know, I think it’s the power to build relationships in real life and online, in a very integrated way. There’s not two ways to behave or act. It’s all one and it should come across in your relationships that you have personally, in the relationships that you develop online. And, you know, Brynne, you mentioned we met on LinkedIn and four years ago, I think, we’ve had a couple of interactions, and then now… You’ve got Clubhouse popping up all over the place. I think we were playing with Blab. As a matter of fact, (Brynne) I know, right? (Keith) And now it’s Clubhouse and my phone a week or two, I guess two weeks ago, said Brynne’s online, and I jumped into the room and here we are being social again. So you know, that’s really, it’s the relationship that makes social work.
Brynne Tillman 03:31
Absolutely. Sounds great!
Bill McCormick 03:34
So really, so you guys haven’t talked for four years, but it’s really only three because 2020 doesn’t count. So we’re just gonna erase that and take that away. So, I understand, Keith, you have these buckets. Talk to me about the buckets, what’s the deal about the buckets?
Keith Reynolds (3:50)
Yeah, that’s how I keep things organized in my brain. My crazy “ADD” brain, but yeah, so I built a big website that was not sales-oriented. It was a top of funnel, thought leadership piece for Kodak.In building it, we filled the sales funnel with $57 million worth of business by creating a magazine, and we called it “chief packaging officer” and we invested in thought-leading content about the packaging industry and we attracted and grew our database from eight to 16,000 people and when we went into our second year, we were told that your services aren’t needed anymore, because we just sold the division that you’re working for. And what it turned out was that the division that was sold in the negotiations, they wanted to purchase the online media, the content hub, in addition to the company, because they knew that’s what generated the sales. So that company is now been purchased and chief packaging officer’s still up and running. This stuff works. So out of that, I started doing some public speaking and talking about the “7 buckets that you need.” So you need to have a Northstar idea that connects with your audience. You need to have an editorial strategy and an editorial calendar so that you’re planning your content out over the long term. You can budget for it, you can assign resources for it. It’s basically the core of your content machine. You need to publish and distribute that content on social media and through email. And you also need to distribute it through the community in events but I make that something different than posting on social media, because when you’re out meeting with people, it’s also a really great way to connect with them, and have a source of content. Then, you need marketing automation, like, you know, I’m a big HubSpot, SharpSpring advocate, those kinds of products Marketo, Act-On, all of those are really become the way that you deliver content, but also through landing pages and email, and social. But also, because you’re aggregating everything on a platform. It becomes your reporting and analysis tool. It’s how you create a closed-loop system to be able to manage that great, unwashed audience to traffic to proposals to sales, right. And if you set up your marketing automation correctly, it just sets you up to do the monthly and quarterly analysis. So you’re always improving, then you need to have a sales model. I think this is one of the things that really differentiates Publio, you know, working content into your sales team, helping them understand what’s on your content, helping them learn how to share it with confidence, and what to say about it. So they become the thought leaders too and not just become an order taker. But we really want to build that confidence within the sales team and extend the content so that it’s in the CRM and easy to share. So that they know how to handle inbound leads, and what questions to ask, then how that, you know, when someone comes in from a piece of content, there’s a script that you can run off that’s different than if it was from a second piece of content. So there’s a lot of contextual cues that salespeople can use. And this doesn’t happen automatically. So it really is a partnership with our sales team, even to the point of putting, you know, embedded links in a PDF so that we can track what’s going on and see how they’re sharing and see, you know, the secondary and tertiary effects so that they get real information out of content, and it helps them do their job. And the last bucket is an ROI model. You’ve got to be able to go upstairs, talk to this C suite, you’ve got to tell them, you know, this is the value propositions.
Brynne Tillman 07:41
I love that and we think we resonate with the sales piece.
Bill McCormick 07:45
Tell me, I don’t understand this marketing and sales working together that totally foreign concept to me, I needed… (Brynne) we’re must be dreaming! (Bill) Help me, Help me…
Keith Reynolds 07:57
I’m the marketing guy from heaven coming down Capital.
Bill McCormick 08:01
You’re definitely are! Talk a little bit about how this plays out. Give us a real-life example, if you can, of taking us through this process of how this plays out.
Keith Reynolds 08:13
You know, it’s understanding the sales process. I’ve set up a lot of CRMs. I am a sales guy, and I’m a marketing guy. So I’ve worn both hats. And in setting up a CRM, you want to… (Bill)
So you are an alien, (Keith) Yeah, I’m an alien. I was IBM’s first collegiate rep demonstrating personal computers in college bookstores. I helped– I was hired to help write the manual and then I became a collegiate rep, you know, in painter’s pants and a rugby shirt in the 1980s thing. This is a personal computer, it has a spreadsheet.
Brynne Tillman 08:51
Bill McCormick 08:52
I had painter’s pants, (Brynne) I still do (Bill) Didn’t wear the rugby shirt.
Keith Reynolds 08:57
So, but sales is really important because that’s what we’re all doing this for. Right? And if we don’t have salespeople that are on board and really understand it. And when salespeople when you have that alignment between sales and marketing, it’s beautiful, right? And so sometimes it starts out in a contentious way. “Hey, marketing, you never give us any leads.” “What are you talking about? We sent you all those leads?” “Oh, those leads were crap.” “Well, did you call them?” “No.” “All right, so let’s work together. And let’s get through or you know, what, if they’re crap, tell me why they’re crap will try and go get different leads for you.” Right? So it’s that iterative process that I think is really important when you’re writing and producing videos, white papers, all those things. You want to test it and have your sales team in from the beginning, right, helping with the development of that to sharing it and getting some feedback from customers early on. It’s not like we’re running out to a printer these days and running a hundred thousand copies, right, we can make a PDF and test it. And our salespeople are really great partners for that kind of thing. Like I said, understanding the sales process and mapping out, you know, here, in the first stage of our conversation, if we, you know, the salesperson says, “I’d really love to have a white paper,” let’s write a white paper.
Brynne Tillman 10:18
So, I want to ask you this, because, so there are some things, there’s content that is about our company, and that, you know, helps people understand our products and services. And then there’s content that’s truly a resource and insights. And they’re used in different places, right, in the sales journey. What I’d love to hear is what is the content that you believe will start a first conversation?
Keith Reynolds 10:45
If you’re introducing something new, Introducing it different way, Right? If you’re, you know, you have to get to what is it that the product makes the customer’s life better? And then write some content that really helps make that point.
Brynne Tillman 11:03
Do you think product content upfront is okay? Or do you think other insights?
Keith Reynolds 11:09
No, it’s like, you need to get above the product solution and talk about how life is better? right. And what it would be like if life was better, you know, you would have save lots of money or increase your sales or improve your quality. And so you can write a whole piece on improving your quality. And the endpoint of that thought leadership of quality improvement could be that our product is actually really helpful to customers to do that.
Brynne Tillman 11:37
99% of that. So we call that vendor-agnostic content. Call that content that is valuable even if they never talk to you.
Keith Reynolds 11:46
So I’m a big believer in your whole content hub should be branded You don’t want to have the word blog on your website, give it a name. (Brynne) Like what? (Keith) Like, if you go to my website, it’s called the “hub.” Because I’m helping companies create content hubs. The content within that branded content hub should look and feel if you’re in a B2B space, like an industry magazine. Like you’re literally competing against the trade magazines in your market space with the quality of the content. And yet, it can be your VP of sales, or your President and CEO. That’s the one that’s, you know, getting the byline on the article, even though we all have writers that write for us, right, but we can just as our executives go out to trade shows and they get the fireside chat, or they do the keynote speech. You can also now have a media property that’s as competitive as anything you’d get from the trade press and you know, again, that’s why when Kodak sold the division, they want the chief packaging officer, there were over 100 articles and thought pieces and interviews with industry executives, that all, you know, made this really rich content and every piece of content, it’s the design is changed very much because it was very much designed in the HubSpot, you know, funnel, get everybody to draw them in. And it was very well designed. So we did we had a lot of conversions off of that. And yet it positioned us like the thought leader. And oh, by the way, Google loves you too.
Brynne Tillman 13:20
Yeah. so one of the things we just started doing is creating the influencer of the week. So going out to the sales world and identifying people that are making an impact. So I think that sounds a little bit about like what you’re talking about, you’re talking about the quality of the content is, like magnificent. It’s not just a blog.
Bill McCormick 13:41
Correct! And it’s put in a place that’s not just the blog page, you know, on our website, we have that Brynne, but you think about our member’s area, we have the content library. So that’s kind of branded in that way, it’s a place…
Brynne Tillman 13:53
Yeah, that’s private though not SEO.
Bill McCormick 13:56
True. True. It is I want to… so a lot of the folks listening to this are part of organizations. They don’t have control over whether they can get marketing to talk to sales or, you know, or to have a hub, what they’re concerned with is creating content and getting content into people’s hands. I’m curious about one of the buckets, you talked about where it was events and getting content into people’s hands at events. People aren’t having events now. How are you having folks get content into people’s hands at virtual events? Is that working for you?
Keith Reynolds 14:28
So one of the things I do is I’m on the board of Stanford Innovation Week, which is a festival of ideas kind of you know, we call it “North-by-Northeast,” kind of… (Brynne) Ohh, I love it! (Keith) That’s great, you know, they only had 300 people at their first event at South by Southwest so we had more than that in our first but we’ve got a long way to grow to become that but it celebrates the talent that we have locally and then the network we have globally and we bring thought leaders together, once a year in the fall. So it’s attending events, it’s doing speaking on events, it’s putting yourself out there as a public speaker because everybody’s content-hungry. I mean, that’s, I think one of the things, even if you’re the salesperson in your example Bill, where they don’t have control of the marketing budget, they’re not determining what is being created at a company-wide level. But every salesperson can have their own content plan. So they know what content that is corporate that they can use, they also scan industry press and find things to share with customers. And then you can do things like live, you know, live video on LinkedIn, and just do a two-minute thing, “Hey, I’m at a coffee shop, and you know, sitting outdoors, and I’m just was thinking about XYZ.” And, you know, your marketing automation platform is LinkedIn in this case. So it really, it’s a scalable ID, in fact, all 7 buckets work for you as an individual, as well as they do for a big company.
Bill McCormick 16:03
Yeah, and it’s kind of like Fred Diamond said a few weeks ago, when he was on, you know, “You are the president of your brand.” You are the president of you, and what you have to put out there. And so for all the salespeople that are listening, rather than pointing the fingers at your sales leadership, because they’re not providing the right training, or to your marketing department, because they’re not providing the right content or the best kind of content, you really have to grab hold of it, grab those 7 buckets and start carrying them to the well and filling them up and working on your own content. So in your experience as a marketer, what content are you seeing right now, that’s getting the most views, the most ROI?
Keith Reynolds 16:48
I think it’s, you know, content that helps you learn “How to” is, you know– it’s very practical, that you can use, you know, shareable on LinkedIn. I think that if you’re able to take a big problem, and summarize the “How to solve it,” and the “Why,” and you know, answer the “Why” within that, I think that’s very successful for a sales kind of relationship.
Brynne Tillman 17:15
I love that. What about the medium? Is it a video? Is it white papers? Is it PDFs, ebooks…What’s the medium that’s really working right now?
Keith Reynolds 17:26
I think the most successful content marketers are organizations that come up with a calendar, and then really exploit all of those mediums. So there is a white paper, and then you interview the CEO, who talks about the new, you know, white paper, and then there’s a blog post about the white paper. And then that blog post is posted on social and given out to all the salespeople to share. So it just, you know, you get benefit from concentrating efforts. If you just put it out there, you know, it’s left to accident.
Brynne Tillman 18:00
What’s your favorite to start with? We start with video, and then transcribe that and create everything on a video. But what’s your favorite?
Keith Reynolds 18:08
I’ve been doing that a lot lately, because of Zoom. But my go-to is a white paper or ebook. I create– probably the reason I’ve transitioned more or gravitated more to the marketing side is that I love to write and writing is a way to figure out so you can test and see what messaging is working. So I’ll write a really sloppy document in the beginning. And then I collaborate with people and I get something that’s really tight and then that becomes a blog post, that becomes an ebook, that becomes a video and the themes just you know, so I’ve been creating content around the same ideas now for four years, since I put my book up on Amazon. Actually, before I put the book up on Amazon, and it’s always the same ideas just found many ways to express it. I think that that’s when you get something that’s thematically good, you want to continue to build it. Oh, in a bigger company, you’ll have several, right, your small company like mine, I have one and I just stay in my lane.
Brynne Tillman 19:04
It’s interesting. I don’t know why I’m thinking about this. But I had heard an interview with Billy Joel. And he talked about how he write his music first, and then his lyrics. And I went, “That’s crazy, I would have written the lyrics first and then the music.” And so I think some of what I’m hearing is, everyone’s gonna do it differently based on what makes the most sense for their brain and the way they do that. (Keith) That’s fascinating! (Brynne) But start with one thing and have a plan on how to leverage that one thing to get out to everybody.
Bill McCormick 19:37
So I’ve got a practical question because I know the questions that we get, and it’s what I wonder, is there an average size for an ebook like, number of pages, that’s kind of the sweet spot?
Keith Reynolds 19:49
Well, let’s see. So my book is 100 pages on Amazon. And I purposely said I want it to be 100 pages no more and we brought it in, you know, even with all the filler pages, it’s at 100 pages. And if somebody told me it’s a quick Saturday morning read, and now I’m making a derivative of that. And I think it’s going to be about 20 pages. And it’s just around owning your media. So we’ve taken the material out of the 100-page book, we’re making, I don’t know, I’m not done yet, but a 20,30-page book in that range. And it’s going to be a lot more open and have a lot more pictures around it. From that, I want to make a video, right. But that’s just again, this idea of continuing to mine, your media.
Bill McCormick 20:34
So what is the name of your book?
Keith Reynolds 20:37
Thanks for asking. It’s called The New Content Culture. It is available as Kindle. And it’s also available in hardcopy.
Bill McCormick 20:47
Alright, and we will put a link in the show notes for that for you for sure. We’re just about out of time here. How can folks stay in touch with you and connect with you?
Keith Reynolds 20:58
Yeah, so the book on Amazon, you can Google Keith Reynolds in the new content culture, that’ll get you right there. Also, my website is Publi.io. And you can download a free ROI calculator that has a budgeting sheet, and then a sales funnel sheet. And the goal is to figure out what’s every company has a different business model around content. And this is to help you figure yours out.
Bill McCormick 21:27
Great. Well, thanks so much, Keith, for being on Making Sales Social. Thanks to all of our listeners that come every week. Thanks. We’ll see you next week. Thank you so much!
Bob Woods 21:37
Thanks for watching. And join us again for more special guest instructors bringing you marketing, sales training, and social selling strategy that will set you apart. Hit the subscribe button below to get the latest episodes from the making sales social podcast. Give this video a thumbs up and comment down below on what you want to hear from us next. You can also listen to us on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Stitcher, and Google Play. Visit our website socialsaleslink.com for more information.