Nick Larson, CRO & Co-founder @ Contento
Startup Grad School Stage
[00:00:08] Cool. Hello, everyone, my name is Nick Larson, co-founder of Contento. So first and foremost, we thank you to the team for creating such a wonderful community of bright people super jazzed about these the next couple of days here. So also, thank you for joining us this afternoon or 12 noon because I’m here in San Francisco. But whatever it is that you’re chiming in from on our beautiful planet, thank you so much for joining today. I have the pleasure of sharing some insights and some lessons that we’ve learned about the digital marketing space, specifically within social and Google.
[00:00:44] So before we start, here’s here’s what you’re up against as a business owner. It’s a quickly changing landscape and increasingly savvy competitive space. However, there’s also a huge opportunity with data and artificial intelligence. So it’s important that we approach this correctly. Let’s see. Cool little bit about the company. We’re almost three years old and we have a little over a few hundred customers for a global team. In fact, we have 17 folks on our team, just board three in the last month. So pretty stoked about that. And we’re all over it as well. So like I said, I’m in San Francisco. My co-founders are Belgin, our head of customer success. Lisa is that she’s in Spain. Our chief of design is in Norway. So really pretty cool all over. Let’s see, we race a little bit of money from Google and Green Park Ventures, a little bit about myself. I love teaching, surfing and surfing and traveling for that. So if you, if you find yourself in the Bay Area, let me know and we’ll get you. We’ll go paddle out. So if you use a little bit of what we can expect to to learn from today or here’s here’s what you’ll get out of today, we’ll start off with some deep thoughts, like just the current the current environment that we find ourselves in, the more defined, paid and organic marketing. Right. And why does it matter how specifically we’re so we can think like best practices and how do we get in front of your right target market so we can we can think of it almost like a fish. Right. So if we want to catch the right fish, we have to have the right bait. It turns out that’s that’s good content. Cool, sweet. So one of my one of my favorite artists is Bob Dylan, and he’s he famously wrote the line. These times they are a changin. And he is right. The global economy is lose lose almost three trillion dollars. But with misfortune comes opportunity. Misfortune gives opportunity to my favorite quote by Henry Ford so that we can start with empathy and bringing bring value through these through these channels, because these channels are a great way to build a relationship with your specific target customer. So it has definitely been an accelerant to the future. But the neat thing, and this is another one of my favorite quotes by by Wayne Gretzky, who’s the Michael Jordan of hockey, he said, skate to where the puck is going. That’s where the puck is. We know where things are trending. We know things are online and increasingly more personalized and engaged and valuable. So as business owners, we can approach it in that capacity. So let’s let’s jump let’s jump into this as far from a definition standpoint. So the organic content is consistent, it’s personalized, it’s relevant, and the goal is to build the relationship. We can think about it like you’re running a marathon, right. Paid. On the other hand, is it it’s like a new pair of sneakers or a shot of adrenaline. Right. We’re actually interrupting the right kind of people, hopefully with a compelling message. And we want these two things to work in tandem. So why why do these matter? Well, and like, why do we care? Well, a little bit how we said a moment ago, this is just like fishing, so we want to be consistent. We don’t want to have to take too much time, but done effectively, we can get in front of three different kinds of customers. So we’ll say diverse gal, maybe she’s not ready to make a decision three to six months from now. We could say she’s ready for an accountant or maybe an attorney. Right. The second fella, we’ll call him Bob. Bob is ready to rock and roll right now. He’s looking he’s looking to buy or sell a home. He’s looking for a business coach. Are you going to be available? Right. The third the third gal we could say that she’s your current customer. How is she bringing you leads and referrals, how are you continuing to empower her? How are you sharing things that matter to your customer? Because it’s at the end of the day, so it’s all about your customer. But the good news is that we know that, again, where things are headed, so digital interactions, according to a recent McKinsey report that just got published on April 7th, digital interactions for B2B sales are twice as important as as compared to pre coded. So let’s again, let’s let’s keep these separate. Like there’s we’ve got Google, which has paid an organic and then we also have social, which has Paisner. Again, it’s a good idea to keep these separate so we can we can clearly define them when you do a Google search. We’ve got the AdWords at the top and then echo underneath so we can think of AdWords as a paper click. So being able to bid on keywords every month and be able to get in front of the right people. So again, it’s like a shot of adrenaline as compared to the marathon, which is which is your content strategy. Organic content strategy. Right. Right underneath that. And we’ve got search engine optimization or your organic search results. We’re going to dove into each one of these briefly with a couple of best practices and exactly how to how to go through it. But it’s important to keep this distinction right. OK, so pay per click, this is super valuable. So first things first, we can experiment, which is kind of neat, doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. For example, if you do a dollar per day on like a Facebook ad, it can be consistent and still only about 30 dollars a month or so. But paper pay per click for Google is this is best when people are looking for a service or product that you have, it’s not too niche. And also your your website has a clear story and a call to action. One of the other things, and this is where it’s not confusing, but interesting is Google is optimizing their algorithms to be able to search your website and see how simple and easy to navigate it is. And then there are optimizing exposure or opportunity. This is what this really is as a small business owner or startup founder of Four Greater Organic Reach. So which is pretty cool. Search engine optimization. This these are best practices and some some some strategies or approaches that you can you can have to improve your SEO. So maybe optimizing your images, making sure that you don’t have any links that are broken or excuse me, broken legs and increasing the number and quality of your backlands, having shortened links for for friendly URLs and making sure that it’s that your content is fresh. So I’m happy to send this out to in fact, I think this is going to be recorded. So so this will be this will be available.
[00:08:10] OK, organic, social. This is frankly, this is where our content got our start.
[00:08:16] So if we think if we think from us from a smart goals perspective, we want them to be scalable, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. Social is social is an interesting thing. It’s a great way to build a relationship with your customers. But you’ve got to be consistent. And we want to have really high engagement. Those are really the two most important. So if we’ve got like a daily beating heart of content on your channels, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, then your audiences can know that you’re there in long form content. It’s also really important to you can start many conversations in great form. Just write down your content. Let’s see. Typically typically you have a channel that performs better than than others. It’s going to be consistent on all of them because, again, these are these are back links which affect your organic search ranking, but be able to focus on what specific channel and double down on that. Is a good idea. All right. We’ve talked about this a little bit. It’s when we can it’s maybe we can interrupt your target market and we can get pretty we can get pretty granular on geographic location, how much money they’re making, do so and so forth and really focused. Right. And that can be that can be hugely helpful to again, hopefully working working in tandem. OK, blogs, blogs can take a while. I’ve recently been starting to to mess with this myself. I’ve been doing maybe maybe about one week when every other week takes like four or five hours. And frankly, it’s only for like a three or four minute read. But I’ve been learning a ton through this process. And just by virtue of doing research for these blogs, I learn a lot more about digital marketing. And then I get to bring those that those nuggets of wisdom and best practices to my conversations. And that’s how I can be educational. And frankly, that’s the best way to approach marketing. Gone are the days when when you could just put your your logo on a billboard. Now you need to bring something to the table. If I go talk to a girl at the bar, I can’t talk about myself. You need to say something funny or something compelling or something interesting to that person.
[00:10:47] It’s got to be it’s got to be relevant also to the narrative of what problem solving and for who it should be. It should be aligned with with your website and be consistent as well.
[00:11:09] OK, cool. The neat thing about the meeting that data is it’s kind of like a CIA or cover your rear end, so to speak, when you’re making decisions that are based on data, you don’t need to justify anything because the answers are already there. When you’re when you’re looking at your your content strategy and whether or not your monthly goals, be it new traffic to the website so you can convert prospects into customers or if it’s your monthly goals around growing your community, the right kind of people on your channels, well, your content strategy will dictate that. And depending on how close you get, we want to go back to the drawing board and say, OK, who did we tag? What was our messaging? Was it funny? Was it on brand? Was a personal, was hitting the right people, was hitting the right folks at the right time. This this can be these are all important considerations when you’re looking into accountability. And it’s great to have have clarity. We’ve got a current customer who they had a project, so it’s a software suite for consultant. So they have a product project management tool.
[00:12:22] They’ve got a time tracker, they’ve got a CRM. Right. And they’re trying to build all these things for the customers. But as it turns out, the only thing that their customers really cared about was a time tracker, and they had no insight into that so they could see how each of their posts were performing.
[00:12:38] So since then, they’ve tightened up their messaging, specifically the problem that they’re solving for who. And they’re getting a lot more sales now because of it. So it’s target targeted approach and a very specific problem solving. That’s that’s pretty great. That’s a great strategy. In fact, we could even think of a couple of famous examples, right? Amazon started with rare books and then books and so forth. This is this is the horizontal growth. Now they do everything and they nail the market and they expanded the land and expand sales force, do the same thing, but not the B2C space, but the B2B. So if we think they just started with a CRM, now they’re an entire ecosystem. So that’s a that’s a pretty thoughtful way to to expand to expand your your reach. Speaking of reaching, who who are we trying to reach and who are we empowering? This is this is good. It means that we can be focused in our approach.
[00:13:44] That doesn’t mean that we can’t take business when it falls in our lap. But but having a having a structured, consistent, focused approach to who you’re reaching and what problem solving. Super valuable.
[00:13:58] There’s three different kinds of folks that we should be reaching. I guess I should say three different tiers of influence or spheres of influence.
[00:14:09] The first one would be your your car customers, your network, your friends, your family. We want to inform. We want to be consistent. You want to be valuable so minimally three times a week also that you’re that you’re sharing again, the lion’s share of the time should just be bringing value.
[00:14:29] If I’m a real estate agent in the Bay Area, the kind of content that I want to share as well.
[00:14:38] Maybe if it’s like a younger my target markets, a younger family could be a top ten questions on the FHA loan or industry trends for Bay Area real estate or top ten places to take your family hiking in the bay. Again, we want to we want to build a relationship, it’s a it’s a marathon, but the good news is because you’re investing in yourself, in your business, it continues to build on this foundation, which is which is create the second tier of folks we can think of.
[00:15:09] This is the network of your network that you’re connected, the community.
[00:15:17] So original, compelling content is important, engaging outside of your network every morning I take about 15 to 20 minutes, I like a few posts, I tag a few folks, I’ll share something. It’s it doesn’t have to take a lot of time, for example, with the content of engine. And this is this is what we what we build is in the process, have artificial intelligence and have human intelligence. So it’s kind of a neat approach to holding your hand because this is can be daunting. A lot of small businesses, they they they have trouble articulating how they’re different and to who and what channels and when so and so forth. So it is good to be consistent and structured in this process and using your place can be pretty powerful, too. And by the way, they’re getting a little ahead of a few sites ahead of myself. But because we can productize but I mean as a whole, not just conceptual, but but because we can productize operations through artificial intelligence and automation, we can we can be far more efficient, takes maybe 20 minutes a week to approve and personalize content, get it out to the right people at the right time. And HootSuite on steroids, I guess you could say. And the third circle is this is where paid ads comes into play, because we are we are interrupting the right kinds of people, getting really granular and continue to engage and optimize your website. This kind of touches back on the on the stops as well. So a few pieces in conclusion, then I have some some kind of fun best practices and things I’ve learned, I crashed and burned for startups. I’m on number six. The last two are kicking butt. But I’ve learned a lot both through that process and also through wonderful mentors like Coach Mark, Mark Tajani and all sorts of great people strongly recommend you get some some wonderful mentors in your life. Three main takeaways that we want to touch on visibility and consistency. This is an opportunity. It sounds cheesy, but we’re we’re in a global world. We’re in a post product, post product and service world. My buddy, can you give TriNet and thank you can for for give me some feedback on the presentation here. He mentioned that he goes for the post product was fascinating. Does that mean he said, that it’s no longer just to provide an amazing product or no longer sufficient just to provide an amazing service? Consumers now in the B2B and B2C space are trained to connect with brands that they align with. How are you communicating what’s important to your company, how are you bringing value to your audience like these are things that matter? I know the title of the talk was paid versus organic, but in fact, they should be they should be working together. And your content is the fuel. So, again, being able to act like an agency, but scale with technology, this is a pretty a pretty neat approach. And I think, frankly, a lot of businesses are going to a lot of businesses are going to be headed towards is this more holistic approach. So prioritization through tech, really cool stuff, because then we get to be fairly low touch. But when the customer needs us, we can still engage and provide that that personalized the person’s experience because we want to still have a human in the loop. There’s been cases like, for example, Adidas a couple of years ago, they did an automatic retreat without checking what was happening to some terrible groups. That anyways, point is, we always want to keep an eye out on how we’re communicating. So we have a human in the loop, as they say.
[00:19:17] This is so fascinating.
[00:19:18] I just saw this maybe, I don’t know, a month ago. Here are the top five biggest companies in twenty ten. So a decade ago, Exxon Mobil, Apple, Microsoft and so forth. But look at it. Look at where we are now. These are all tech companies and they’ve grown like, what’s it like for X five X plus in value? Pretty, pretty wild stuff, but again, just like Gretzky says, skate to where the puck is going. We know things are increasing, more digital and things are increasingly more value driven. Consumers know how valuable their time is. They’re not going to give you the chance to talk about your profits unless we earn the right. And we could do that with good content. Also kind of crazy, but there’s four billion pieces of new content every day that’s made most of it’s garbage. But by getting the right content in front of the right people in a personalized way, we can again invest. We can invest ourselves. One other thing that’s kind of neat to speaking of productize operations or delivery, and we got a customer a few months ago that said, wouldn’t it be cool if we could have a future where we automatically send the post to 50 people, hundred people that are your champions, your employees. So we’ll get a text or an email and then they can like or they can share or comment what this does, because, again, we’re just convincing algorithms this will get this initial traction where the algorithms say, wow, OK, there’s this initial push, must be good content. Let’s give it more exposure and authority again. And consistently doing this, we build we build a good foundation. Oh, so anyways, we got that feedback from a customer building that should be ready and probably maybe like a month or so. We’re calling it the My Fans feature, which is just pretty cool. And so we have some great partners. Would love to answer questions that you may have specifically around getting in front of the right people at the right time. Strongly recommend you check out the content. Dot com gets its yellow content dot com. There’s there’s a pretty neat resource that we’ve been putting together just again, purely around education. That’s a that’s some good stuff there, too. Maybe a couple of quick suggestions is I assume a lot of our a lot of our viewers right now are early stage founders or investors or something of that ilk. A few things that I’ve learned are to to create your own CRM. And that sounds crazy, but for the past five or six years, when I meet somebody that I like or that I trust, I’ll add them to my own CRM, which is just a just a document, just a word document. And I’ve got obviously saved to the cloud and it’s it’s delineated by vertical. So if I find somebody maybe who has connections to the Taiwanese government or somebody who’s an EdTech or somebody who is doing really cool stuff in FinTech or an investor that loves working with with founders from Europe, for example, great opportunity for you to not have to rely on your random access memory up here. But but being able to provide an introduction so strongly recommend you keep your own CRM. It’s like a snowball. It’s kind of a pain in the ass to start it initially, but it gets its own momentum going. It comes. It’s been incredibly valuable for me in building my network and being valuable for to my community. The other thing that has helped is it’s just kind of more of a same organized I’ve got how to folder with a number of different documents. So how to incorporate, how to scale your company, how to close the deal, how to hire, how to create a company culture. These are things that I’ve learned bits and pieces of about. And when something really resonates, I’ll add it to that document. And when I’m mentoring teams or talking to all sorts of different people and they have a question about how to do that, I can just share that document and they get a ton of value. And that’s what it’s all about. It’s all about over delivering with value. The last thing that I think might be helpful to share with everyone is please check out Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk. Her last name is called Why We Can Change Our Emotional State By Changing Our Body Language. So phenomenal stuff. In fact, before I do talk or anything like that, I’ll put my hands above my above my head. It’s kind of fascinating. We can actually rewire our brain for success in dopamine because that’s a natural it’s a natural thing that we do if we run a foot race blind people included, if they win, they throw their hands in the air. So if we do this and kind of walk around, get the blood flowing before you have to give a big presentation, you’ll absolutely crush it. Another part I know that was a lot of information. I really appreciate the chance to share a little bit about this big tech savvy asset team. Check out Hello Contactor Dotcom. We’d love to chat further. And thank you, everybody, for the chance to the chance to connect.
Ascent Conference 2020