The Importance of Authenticity in Effective Content Marketing with OpenView's Meg Johnson
Lindsay Tjepkema: Welcome to our new show, The Amplified Marketing Podcast, where we get into the challenges content marketers face and look to the brands who are already knocking down obstacles and raising the quality of their content with a little something called amplified marketing. It's what we've preached here at Casted from the very beginning, how to create the most meaningful content and then get the most traction from that content by ringing it out across channels. These interviews for our first season were recorded as part of a special event to officially kickstart this new approach to content marketing, and we dive into the components of amplified marketing, the strategies that work best, and we reveal just how much of an impact this approach can have on your business. But we also explore all the ways that amplified marketing makes life easier and more efficient for the content marketers out there struggling to be creative and relevant and cut through the noise. This is where the change begins. I'm Lindsay Tjepkema, CEO and co- founder of Casted, the first and the only amplified marketing platform made specifically for B2B marketers. And this is our new podcast. Our guest today is one of our favorite content marketing experts in the world. Yeah, I said what I said. As a multimedia marketer at OpenView, Meg Johnson is a pioneer in the amplified marketing space and one of our first colleagues who, like us, saw how complicated and discouraging the life of the content marketer has become. Meg knew that there just had to be a better way to create all that content that she needed without sacrificing quality or creativity. And that meant she needed a revolving source of content, a content carousel, if you will. And she likes to say that it allowed her to repurpose and reuse some of OpenView's most valuable content across many different formats and multiple different channels. But don't let this reusing and repurposing of content allow you to think that amplified marketing is all about quantity. No, no, no. No, my friends. Quality is king here. And from Meg's perspective, there is a simple way to ensure that this whole approach creates quality content every single time. In this special session for our Amplify event, Meg goes a little deeper beyond creation and discusses the dos and the don'ts of brand building, with a special focus on how vulnerability is the raw material that we as marketers should use to forge authenticity and trust with our audience. Oh, it's one of my favorite words. She's also a big believer in treating people that they're people, they're humans, not transactions. What a concept, right? And if that's not enough, she also talks about horses, rabbits, and dragons. I mean, what more could you want? So without further ado, here's Meg Johnson and her session from our recent Amplify event.
Meg Johnson: Company social media accounts are getting less attention than ever, and it's for good reason. It's because people care about people, not your brand. In fact, eight times more people... No, that doesn't make sense. People are eight times more likely to engage with content that's shared by a person versus a brand. It's no longer enough to just brand your company. You need to brand what it means to be an employee, an ambassador, and a champion of this company, because, news flash, no one wants to work with a sleazeball. And I don't blame them. The idea of branding a person within an organization to elevate the organization's overall brand awareness is nothing new. We see it all the time in influencer branding, but normally, it's kind of gross and artificial. So what makes a good brand? Building personal brands doesn't have to come with huge egos, the over the top paid partnerships with Fabletics, the inaudible, or the RGB room lights. I believe that the best way to build a brand is through authenticity and trust. First, let's look at the definition for authenticity. Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we should be and embracing who we truly are. So what does that mean? And how do we do that with content? The best way to build authenticity for your brand or your personal brand is to focus on what people are most excited to talk about. Harnessing that enthusiasm is the best way to get engaging content. Like I said, people care about what other people care about. Having that common interest point to get excited about builds that relationship in an authentic way and makes people coming back to say, hey, what is my friend Meg up to, and can we talk about roller skating or sloths sometimes soon? Hell, yeah. Your audience should feel like you are best friends with them without even ever having to meet you. That's the beauty of the internet and content. On that note of building what seems like a friendship with your audience, the key part of any friendship is trust. Trust is choosing to make something important to you vulnerable to the actions of someone else. I want to zoom in on that word, vulnerable, because vulnerability is the biggest pillar of trust and of building an effective, authentic relationship. And now that we have these definitions for trust and authenticity, how do these connect to branding? Well, I have two more words for you, and that is consistency and support. Sort of a hard pill to swallow, but you're not the main character in everyone else's story. And what I mean by that is that no one's waiting on the edge of your seat for you to drop that one launch post about that piece of content. You need to give people plenty of times and options of when they can see this content in their feed by posting multiple times over an extended period of time. Content has a way longer shelf life, but people only post it once, because they assume everyone's on the edge of their seat, just waiting for the next content drop, when that's just really not the case. When I joined OpenView, our podcast had a different host for every season. I found this extremely confusing. I was looking at old seasons, saying, who are these people? Where did Ariel go? I thought she was going to be the host. Where did Kyle go? I thought he was going to be the host. And it's very confusing. Having that lack of consistency made me wonder why should I care about what any of these people say, if I haven't really been given a chance to get to know them, see them consistently, and build that trust. So what OpenView did was we made Blake Bartlett the host of all the podcast seasons going forward, so that way, when someone goes from one season to the next, they're like, oh, hey, that's Blake. Hi, Blake. I know him. I trust him. I've seen him on all seasons of the podcast, so I trust his opinions and want to come back for his content. And you know what, maybe I'll head over to LinkedIn and watch his video series that he does every week. That's what we do. And for the last three seasons, we've seen great success with that. Remember a few seconds ago when I was talking about the definition of trust and really zooming in on that word vulnerability? The way that I see it is that your audience is coming to you for support, and they're putting themselves in a vulnerable spot. They need insights, they need inspiration, they need something. And how you treat them in that relationship when they're that vulnerable and they're asking you for help is absolutely everything when it comes to your brand, and it's your job to build that trust and deliver value to them long before you ask them to do anything for you or ask them for money. That's what a good friend does. For consumer products, this could look something like creating content around one of your strongest values. So say you are a sustainably made clothing shop and you want to highlight how dedicated you are to ending fast fashion, and so you release a content piece describing what fast fashion is and how people can make a difference, and really educating them and empowering them to learn more about this community, connect more with this community, by also showing how you're making a difference in this community. It not only shows that you're making a difference, but also that you truly care about this community more than just, hey, I want to get money from it. Another thing that I love to see when I'm shopping on consumer brands is when I am looking to buy clothes and I see that they have a real people wearing this item section, whether it's an Instagram feed or whatever it is. I absolutely love being able to see whatever clothes I'm going to buy on a real human, non- supermodel body so that I can say, huh, people actually are living and loving this brand, so why wouldn't I? And for software, obviously PLG, product led growth, allowing people to try your product before they buy it, is crucial. They get to see the value long before they have to put up a credit card. And that allows them to not only use your product, but also share your product. Both of these examples have one thing in common. They're putting the customer first. By leading with empathy, you are building trust with that end user and you're treating it truly like a relationship, not a transaction. People are people, not transactions. You're probably like, all right, that's cool, Meg, but how do I do any of this? Like, all good in theory, but how do I actually do the damn thing? First up in making great content is, well, making great content, making something worth listening to. And that really goes back to what I was saying of harnessing people's enthusiasm to create engaging content. If you're not excited to talk about it, people aren't going to be excited to listen to it. And not only do you have to create content that is engaging, but it also has to have purpose. And so the way that we do this is we use a show positioning template. I adapted this from Wistia's show positioning template in their Brand Affinity Marketing Guide, and it has been extremely helpful. It focuses on three main topics, audience, insight, and theme. For audience, we focus on who are you trying to target? And the questions you should ask yourself are, who are we trying to talk to? What message are we communicating? Why should our audience care? And the second section is insight. Think about what problem you could help your audience solve. Ask yourself questions like, why are we doing this? What problem are we solving? And what's our goal? And three, the theme. The theme is the solution. You should ask yourself questions like, well, what is the solution to this problem? And what does the solution look like? My next piece of advice for you is to identify three key takeaways in the first three minutes of your podcast episode. We live in the age of short attention spans, and I got this kind of three key takeaways in the three minute rule from Jay Acunzo, who is a phenomenal writer, podcast producer, and creative thinker who just knows everything about this subject. I highly recommend that you check out his ideas on podcast structure, as they're amazing. TLDR, this structure stresses the importance of a cold open and the idea that you need to hook someone within the first three minutes of your episode to get them to want to listen to the rest of it. Your listeners should know why they're listening, what top insights you have to share, and why they should identify with your community. My favorite example of a cold open is the beginning of any episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. The show always opens into some kind of chaotic scene where you're dropped into the middle of the action, you're kind of filled in on what's going on, and before the iconic music even plays, I'm hooked. My next piece of advice would be to do prep calls before the actual podcast recording. Building and maintaining relationships with your guests prior to and after your recording is crucial to the success of your podcast episode. Again, people care about what other people are excited about. Treat that like a relationship. It's not just a one and done transactional task. It's we're building this relationship and building this piece of content together, which is pretty awesome. I know time is of the essence and a lot of schedules are tight, but I promise you, it'll make such a difference in your content if you can get on the phone and really make that connection before you hit the record button. That way you can ask insightful questions, play off of things that they're already interested in, and it's less awkward like that time you ran into that weird guy from high school. Onto the next one, read the room, the internet room. What do I mean by that? It's extremely crucial you understand the wants and needs of your audience. And by doing that, you should be aware if it's a good or bad time to release content. If the entire world is burning around us and everything seems absolutely chaotic, no one gives a shit about your ebook. So maybe just hang tight to that. There's a delicate balance between being a good marketer and being a good human. Be the good human first. The next piece of advice I have for you on content marketing is to reuse, repurpose, and repeat. And by doing that, you create what I like to call a content carousel. Now, you might be familiar with this topic as I did go on the Casted podcast to talk about how OpenView does this. So there are deeper examples in there, if you want to go check it out on their blog or on their podcast, but I will give a brief rundown of what I mean by content carousel. The way that I look at it is that all of the pieces of our marketing strategy are like horses on a carousel, or dragons or rabbits or whatever theme carousel you want to have. The first horse is the content, so whatever you're building this content carousel around. In this case, let's use the example of the Build Podcast with Blake Bartlett. So horse number one is the podcast, which focuses on bringing in people who are excited to talk to us and share their insights on something that they're very enthusiastic about. Horse number two is our blog. And so, as you can see, our content fuels our blog. Horse number three is our newsletter. This newsletter then points to horse number four, which is our social media channels. Then, see where I'm going with this, our social media channels, horse number four, goes all the way back to horse number one, which is the content. And that's completing one cycle on the content carousel. The idea here is that you'll get someone to hop on your carousel wherever they see fit. Maybe they're a blog reader. Maybe they're a podcast listener. Maybe they're following you on social. Wherever they find you, again, building that consistency, and wherever they hop on, they're able to continue that journey around the content carousel. And now, before you know it, they're singing your tune. Then, once you have this content carousel, you're able to add a horse, take away a horse, experiment, iterate, and improve upon it, while already having these people happily on the carousel, giving you feedback all along the way. My final piece of advice for you is to find your people, your community, and learn from them. One of my favorite podcast communities would be the amplified marketing Slack group hosted by Casted. There's so much you can learn by talking to folks who have the same pain points as you and are solving for the same problems. We go in there and we chat, share really good hyper specific podcasting memes that you don't want to miss out on. Overall, I would say that consistency, authenticity, and acceptance is what builds a thriving community and a great brand. I believe the best way to build an authentic brand is through community. The goal of any brand is that their audience feels truly heard and accepted into this community that they're trying to build. And the best way to build a community, in my opinion, is through a podcast. It allows people to feel like they're part of the conversation and that they're, again, your friend, your ally, someone that you can turn to and talk about the stuff that you're excited about. They should feel genuinely connected to the mission of the company and the people behind the brand. They should be able to trust your opinions and turn to you for help. In closing, I have three main takeaways, which I guess I should have put at the beginning of this video, if I took my own advice. One, put the customer's needs before your own and lead with empathy. That is the way to build authentic relationships. Consistency is the key to building trust. And empower yourself and others to embrace their true self at work. By doing this, you'll learn so much more about each other and create way better content than the marketing SEO robots on LinkedIn. Basically, a good brand should feel like a friendship and a good friendship is one where you feel like you're listened to just as much as you listen to them. So listen to your audience, and let's be friends.
Lindsay Tjepkema: Well, that's our show. Thank you so much for joining us for today's session. And to learn more about OpenView and all the amazing things that Meg is doing over there, along with her team, make sure to visit openviewpartners. com and check out the amazing work that Meg and her team are doing to amplify OpenView's podcast, product led growth. Learn more about how Casted can help you. Visit casted. us, and be sure to subscribe to our newsletter to be the first to get all things amplified marketing, B2B podcasting, inaudible video, and so much more.
Our guest today is one of our favorite content marketing experts in the world. As a Multimedia Marketer at OpenView, Meg Johnson is a pioneer in Amplified Marketing and one of our first colleagues who, like us, saw how complicated and discouraging the life of the content marketer had become. Meg knew there had to be a better way to create all the content she needed without sacrificing quality or creativity, and that meant she needed a revolving source of content, a Content Carousel, as she likes to say, and that allowed her to repurpose and reuse some of OpenView’s most valuable content across different formats and channels.
But don’t let this reusing and repurposing of content allow you to think amplified marketing is about quantity. Oh no no no, my friends. Quality is king here. And from Meg’s perspective, there’s a simple way to ensure this creates quality content every time.
In this special session for our AMPLIFY event, Meg goes a little deeper beyond creation and discusses the dos and don’ts of brand building with a special focus on how vulnerability is the raw material that we, as marketers, should use to forge authenticity and trust with our audience. She’s also a big believer in treating people like they’re people, not transactions.