Why Content Marketing is Harder Than it Looks | Mitch Joel | AQ’s Blog & Grill

Why Content Marketing is Harder Than it Looks | Mitch Joel | AQ’s Blog & Grill


Recording: AQ’ blog & Grill. Alan: Hi everyone. Welcome to AQ’s blog and
grill. Today, we’re excited to have Mitch Joel, President of Twist Image,
join us. One of the most successful bloggers, I think, in the
whole blog ecosystem is Mitch for a whole bunch of different reasons.
We’re going to find out a little bit more about that. Welcome
Mitch. Mitch: Thanks for having me. Happy to be here. Alan: Thank you. Let’s just go to Twist Image.
Where does the name come from? Mitch: I actually joined this company 2 years
after it was founded by 2 of my other business partners, and we’re
actually 4 guys now. I’m going to presume that it had something
to do with back in 2000 when the company was founded. It was
this idea that because of digital media and technology, you could
now change things or do things with your image, and it stuck. Every
year, we think about maybe we should change the name or update
it. So we just stick. Alan: You guys are based in Montreal, but
also have an office in Toronto. Really because of the internet, you are global. Mitch: Yeah, we consider ourselves a national
agency with offices in Toronto and Montreal. We always say that it’s
one office with a very long hallway. We like to use the technology
as the connected factor, not the physical space. Alan: Which fits in with your new book, which
am reading on my Kindle and I’m loving it. The idea for this book came
to you in the shower. How did that happen? Mitch: Part of what happened was I had written
my first book, ‘6 Pixels of Separation’, in 2009, and I had
spent a couple of years wondering if I would ever want to write
another book again. It became very apparent to me in the
conversations I was having, both when I was doing a lot of public
speaking and in the work we were doing with clients and business
development, that there were these massive changes afoot
and they want just like, “Hey, be on Facebook and try Twitter
out,” but actually foundational things that were changing business
as we know it today. I was following a lot of these, I wouldn’t
call them trends, I call them movements; things that have already
happened, and I was trying to bucket them. They wound up bucketing
up into these 5 movements, these 5 areas of focus. I thought,
“This would be a really interesting book.” Period, hard stop,
let’s go. Then comes the shower. I was in the shower and
I was working through in my brain and like, “The 5, I get it. [inaudible:
02:29], I get it.” It became really clear to me that
once that’s done, we all have to go to work the next day. That was really the crystallization of the
book, when I decided that I was going to write it into parts. The
first part being, ‘Reboot Business’, which was based off of
these movements that have changed business forever, the brands
[inaudible: 02:45] nothing about, and then focusing the second
part of the book on us as individuals. How we bring ourselves
to work every day? I was really cautious in that, I didn’t want
it to become a book that was just . . . people think it’s a motivational
book; Tony Robbins-type stuff. That obviously, that wasn’t
the case here. Alan: The title itself is fascinating. How
did you connect your title to the subject matter? Mitch: I had had the construct of ‘Control,
Alt, Delete’ going back several years, actually. It was based off
of this story that I used to tell when I had just begun speaking
about this infamous story of Cortez whose widely regarded as the
person that discovered Mexico, and how as his crew was
moving inland, a couple of the guys moved forward to him and
said, “What’s the plan? When are we going back?” and he burned
the ships. I tell people, “In new lands, in new territories,
you need new strategies and new tactics.” Obviously that’s
the [inaudible: 03:43] that I was trying to use, and then
I modernize it for you. I don’t need you to burn the ships or
burn the buildings, but rather, CRTL-ALT-Delete, reboot. I had that concept, that construct, for several
years, actually, and it was always ruminating that this could
be a good title for the second book. As things had start coming
together, just all flowed really sweetly. Alan: You just had a recent post about the
new resume and what resumes are really about now. Can you share with us your
view of how people are going to get work and stay at work through
the new connectivity? Mitch: I was doing a speaking event not that
long ago out in Los Angeles for a very big corporation, and I
was staying over the night just because I couldn’t get my flight
back until the next day. They were doing an ‘Inside the Actors
Studio’ with the senior-most business leaders who were in that
room; it was 3 individuals. Got down to the last person and
it was a woman who had been a professional in this organization
for a long, long time. She was telling this story about how
when she first graduated university, she took a job at a
major organization and wasn’t really sure if it was the right fit.
She’s talking about it, thinking it through; wound up speaking
to her father about it. Her father said to her, “Whatever you
decide to do in any moment, just always remember that every single
day, you’re writing your resume.” If you parlay that into today’s world where
we have all these connected channels and you have the ability
to publish an idea in text, images, audio and video instantly
for free to the world, that your resume very much could be
a 3-dimensional perspective of who you are and what you care
about; that it becomes somewhat unbridled, that you’ve got
this opportunity to really connect who you are and what you are
about to people. For me, that was the idea; how do you extend who
you are through the digital channels in a way that makes a lot
more sense to the world? Alan: What feedback did you get, first of
all, Mitch, on the ‘6 Pixels of Separation’? How did your readership react
to the thoughtfulness of that book? Then I want to ask you the same
question about your new book Mitch: I think it’s been similar for both,
so you can kill the two birds with one stone. It’s hard to talk about
yourself like ‘I think people think’, it’s a weird thing. My
perspective is that the feedback I’ll get is that people will
say I’m the marketer’s marketer, I’m helping marketers really better
understand what is to be marketing. Being someone who doesn’t
have a university degree, I still believe in the platform of
education so I do spend a lot of my time and energy really focused
on, how to be better educate marketers about the industry,
and how to better serve clients and customers? I think the main thing that people hopefully
get out of the whole picture of it is that my idea isn’t
just about just marketing. I think marketing is as I call
it in the second book, it’s not vertical, it’s a horizontal; it goes
across all business units. How do you better do that
in a world where most marketers are really just advertising people? Alan: Isn’t that the case where advertising
is being so diminished and rightfully so; even marketing for that point,
where it really is becoming this customer connection, sot anything
so formal from the company-out, it’s from the buyers-in.
I wonder if anybody’s really changing their business model, fast
enough to take advantage of that. Mitch: I’m not sure if people are changing
the business model fast enough. I’m also not sure if people even look
at it from that perspective. I think a lot of the work that
I’m trying to do is to shine a light on new way of looking at
things. If you take marketing at its core, as the 4 Ps: Product,
price, promotion, place; we’ve lost the farm. They’re basically
just doing promotion. How do you bring marketing back
into the fold and make it that relevant again? It’s not an easy
question to answer, and I think it requires a lot of the
harder thinking that can go . . . that has to go beyond the
Tweet, a column in the Harvard Business Review, or having a post
that contribute to all of those places. I get a lot of passion,
I get a lot of excitement, and I get a lot of energy out
of doing it. At the end of the day, I think there’s merit in spending
the time and focus on a bigger piece of content. In this
case, it happens to be two books. Alan: Isn’t this the most exciting time right
now in 2013, to be in this business? Mitch: I think it is, not just because I’m
in it, doing it, and trying to leverage these channels to better connect
ideas to people. I say this because I think about what life was
like prior to the internet and I remembered very well, I think
about what magazines and publishing looked like prior
to the internet. The fact that we have this ability to connect
so directly to people, whether it’s for a brand, whether it’s for
media purposes, or whether it’s just at a social level, is very,
very profound. We are learning together as a society what that
means. When I wrote that book and I wrote that subtitle,
‘Reboot Your Business, Reboot Your Life, Your Future Depends
on It’, people are like . . . it scared them. I was really
taken aback by that because I wrote it with exactly the attitude
by which you formulated that last question, which is I
felt that it was the most exciting, amazing, and opportunistic
time to be in almost any industry. Isn’t that amazing? Then you
get the reaction of ‘No, we do not like change.’ Alan: Interesting. We’ve both heard the proclamation
over the last 3 to 5 years, which is content is king. How do you
feel about ‘Content is king’ as a slogan or a proclamation? Mitch: I think content is something; I don’t
know if it is king. I think content is the ability to put information
out there that isn’t tailored in an ad format, that isn’t
interruption-based in terms of where it is placed in the consumer’s
playlist; opportunity to dive deep, opportunity to speak
in a more human voice, opportunity to connect, to have a user’s
opportunity to bring in the more light users, people who
are on the fence about something. Alan: Yeah, it’s an excellent point. I think
the best reaction to ‘content is king’ that I’ve heard is Gary V. Gary Vanderchuck,
last year at Hubspot said, “If content is king, then
context is God.” To your point, it has to relate to people, it
has to resonate, or otherwise, it’s concrete in its relationship
to the landscaping. Mitch: It’s easy to say these things; the
real challenge is in doing them. I think it’s easy for Gary to say it,
it’s very easy for me to say it, but to tell a brand, “It’s not
just about creating video content. You have to contextually know
where your consumer is.” Creating a YouTube video, if the vast
majority of them are watching it on a smartphone, versus they’re
watching it on their TV, their Apple TV, their Roku, versus where
they are in a sales funnel. You can make a brand a bit crazy,
too. I do believe that we have to be very cautious about how we move
forward with this. There is a lot of content out there, there’s
a lot of passionate people who are trying to make better content
out there. It’s not easy to do it; it’s not easy to build those
ties and those relationships. I don’t know if brands have
the real intestinal fortitude it requires to see it through. Alan: What’s going to be next in terms of
this connection and ‘I’m going to reboot my life and I’m going to reboot my
business?’ What can I expect because of that? Mitch: A lot more rebooting. It’s easy to
say. I nod my head and I love it. It’s not easy to just do, it’s not
easy to wake up every day and think about how you can blow
up your business and try the next greatest thing. It’s not easy
to figure out where you want to be on the cycle. Do you want to
be the pioneer that’s getting the arrows in the back or do
you want to be the settler who’s long after all the violence
is done? It’s tough. It’s a very challenging world. If you are asking me about an intersection,
I think that that must be it; where physical meets digital and
digital becomes physical, where devices very much are all
connected, communicating, and sharing. Does that make
it easier to talk about or something that’s tangibly ‘This is
what you should do as a marketer’? No, we’re still terrible at
getting a good web experience going in a world of mobile. We’re
terrible about creating great social experiences in a world
that’s very social. We’re terrible at transactions. I’m not trying
to Debbie Downer on brands, it’s just if you look at most brand’s
digital strategies from what they’re doing on the
web, to transactions, to social, to mobile, they’re not superfluous
yet. We’re still in the early days of this. Alan: Yeah, you’re right. Those are great
insights, Mitch. I’m going to recommend that everybody read, first of all,
‘The 6 Pixels of Separation’, which was an excellent book.
I still quote from it. Then your new book is a thought-leading experience.
We are actually going to offer our subscribers a
chance to win an autographed copy. Thanks very much for helping
us out with that, and thanks for spending the time with us today.
I think we’ve have all learned quite a bit. Mitch: My pleasure. Alan: Good luck, and I’m sure we’ll see you
at the next conference. Mitch: Great, see you. Alan: Thanks Mitch. OK everybody, Mitch Joel,
a thought leader. Make sure you tune into his blog; it is one of the best
on the web, great podcast and some really thoughtful postings
and writings. Let’s take advantage of that as fast food for thought
in branding and entrepreneurship. Thanks for watching, and
we’ll catch you on the next episode. Bye for now. Recording: AQ’s Blog & Grill.

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