He literally wrote the (best-selling) book on lead generation Lead Generation for the Complex Sale. Today, he’s the Chief Evangelist MECLABS Institute and MarketingSherpa where he has the unique opportunity to see 1,000s of marketing experiments each and every year.
He’s profiled and regularly quoted in publications including Selling Power, The Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur, Target Marketing, Inc. magazine, Marketing News, DM News, MarketingProfs, MarketingSherpa, Software CEO and CMO Magazine.
He’s an encyclopedia of best-practices in everything you want to know about: content, lead generation, sales effectiveness and more.
I had the unique opportunity to pick his brain and bring his wisdom to you. Among the insights he shared:
- How one company jumped lead capture 300% (and you can too)
- The secret of 70/30 content creation
- Why there is no buyers funnel.
- How to generate 9,000,000 impressions through a multi-channel content marketing effort
- Why your intuition is often wrong (and how to make sure it’s right)
In fact, the learnings were so rich, I split the interview up into two parts so you have the opportunity to digest it all.
Thanks for this Brian. The conversation was a pleasure as always.
Want to share any of Brian's wisdom? Simply highlight the passage you like and click share!
On What Makes the Most Compelling Content
Brendan: Based on the research you’ve seen, what do you believe makes content most compelling?
Brian: I’ll tell you the secret to all this – be useful. Enter into the mind of your potential customers and answer questions.
The biggest thing is relevancy with readers.
Think of it this way – Flint McGlaughlin talks about how there is no buyers funnel. It’s just a series of micro yesses and no's inside your buyers minds. Our job is to use empathy, to really look through the eyes of our customer and ask ourselves: Is what we’re doing helping them ask and answer their questions? The good news is that today, we can use science to help understand what’s really impactful for our audience.
On Generating Disproportionately Large Returns
Brendan: Can you tell me about a time when a single piece of content produced outsized results for an organization? And why?
Brian: One story that immediately comes to mind is Karen Thomas-Smith and her work for Optum – how she generated 9,000,000 impressions and generated over 8,500 leads. The key word for her was “reimagine.” So, like a lot of companies, she was trying to move away from one-off marketing.
So what she did was work on creating a comprehensive content strategy – and this is where things get interesting. One of the ways I see people become most successful is when they find ways to take a central piece of content and repurpose it – get it out everywhere.
One of their first big pieces of content was called “Moneyball Analytics.” Very clever title and great content.
But the kicker was – from this one piece of content she would reimagine 20 to 30 other assets. Blogs, ads, infographics, podcasts. Then she would focus lots of time on distribution. She also made sure she had lead nurturing in place to follow on. The results speak for themselves – she surpassed her goals by more than 250%.
On Optimizing Your Marketing to 10X Results
Brendan: If you were a start-up, or other organization that wasn’t getting the results they were hoping for from their marketing – what steps would you take to diagnose their problem?
Brian: So here’s my go-to process:
- Get a single source of truth through data collection. Look at your data to understand where your funnel is leaking.
- Use the data to help predict what tests will help address the issue.
Here’s an example to bring this to life. If I saw in my marketing I’m generating double the leads, but having zero impact on pipeline by reviewing my CRM – that would help me understand I have problems in follow-up, quality, conversion, qualification, etc. With this understanding, then and only then can I dig in and start to address the problem.
Start with your data first.