I was interviewed by Xavier Mah recently. He sent through his questions and I recorded an audio of my answers. Below is the full transcript of my answers.
Ten Years of Content Marketing
Please, briefly introduce yourself and what you do.
Hello everyone. My name is Mike Pitt. I’m the founder and CEO of Marketing Fundamentals Ltd. Marketing Fundamentals Ltd is a content marketing agency based in London in the United Kingdom. My title, the title I use on LinkedIn is I help B2B business leaders with content strategy, content creation, and social media management, UK and international.
What sparked your passion in content creation and strategies?
From an early age, I would say five or six, I’ve always loved writing. As I grew older, I worked through, obviously school and university and achieved good marks in all my qualifications and all my educational levels, but I also came to believe that to be successful, you needed to be a businessman in a suit.
You need to be client focused and business focused. I followed a career in advertising and marketing, worked at large agencies, including TBWA and Publicis, global agencies and I performed roles there as account director and client services director.
I believed that you had to be a suit on the client liaison side, because this seemed more secure than trying to use writing on the creative side. It was a choice and there were clear demarcations between suits and creatives.
When I founded my agency in 2010, I wanted to go back and return to my love of writing. So rather than just writing reports and analysis and so on, I wanted to write content. I saw there was a massive opportunity around content marketing, social media marketing, search engine optimization, all of these new online skills that were needed by businesses, large and small. All of these online skills were needed very much by businesses as we move forward and I saw my opportunity to write again and to do that with a commercial focus.
How important is storytelling in content creation?
Storytelling is an important tool because it can get your message across much clearer. If I write a blog post and I tell you, you need to do seven things for your business to be successful. You may read it. You may be engaged with it. You may think it was a good post and start to act on it. But if I tell you a story, during which the protagonist has six or seven different obstacles they have to overcome and they do that by taking the action steps that could have been just bullet points, you engage more with the story. You remember the story and you remember the points. You remember the challenges that the character had.
So storytelling can make your message more powerful. That’s how important it is.
Can you tell us how businesses especially startups and SMEs can benefit from having great content on their social media?
Using social media professionally is very different to using social media personally. Lots of people are on Facebook and Instagram personally, but it doesn’t mean that they can necessarily use it effectively for a professional organization or a business. When you do have a coherent content strategy for the best platforms for your business, you start to elevate the positioning and profile of your business. For example, great content on LinkedIn will be noticed by your prospects. Great content on Twitter, also on YouTube, will be noticed by your prospects. Why would it be noticed? Because they will be searching using Google and other search engines to find the answers to the problems they’re struggling with.
And when they find your content, your video, your blog posts, answering their questions, they will immediately respect you personally, but also your organization, your company, because you’ve provided answers to questions for them, questions that they have and they have been considering right now, and you haven’t even spoken to them. That’s why great use of content and social media will elevate your startup, your SME to a position of leadership. And once you get to a position of leadership, that’s where conversion rates and turning people who are interested in your business into customers. That’s where it becomes easier, once you’ve got a position of leadership in your sector or your niche.
Next question, number five.
How does content on social media affect the sales or marketing of a company?
If you’ve got a company with no reputation, no online reputation and a company with a tremendously good reputation because of the content they’ve created, whether that’s podcasts, videos, blog posts and you have a decision to make, you have to buy services from one of these companies, company with no reputation and company with a very good reputation. Let’s imagine that the price is equal for both. Most people are going to buy from the company with a very good reputation. How do you establish a very good reputation? By creating content over a long period of time, by answering queries and problems, by being accessible to your target audience, your potential customers.
That’s how you create a great reputation. How do you communicate and convey that reputation? You can do it by the content that you upload to your social media platforms. These are not platforms for you to talk about all of your achievements as a person or as a company. These are platforms for you to answer queries, questions that your target audience has.
Okay, let’s continue. Question six.
For SMEs and startups that do not have a specific social media team. Do you have tips for them to be able to push out good content consistently?
If you are a small company or you don’t have the financial resource to hire in house, content marketing people, and obviously that would require salaries. So that’s full time people you may need. If you can’t do that, two approaches. One is to outsource to experts, find people who are content marketing experts. They’re doing this all day, every day for their clients. They are going to be specialists. They’re going to know the best tools. They’re going to know the best methodologies to use in your particular business sectors, if they’ve got experience of their business sectors. So outsource your content marketing and social media activities to experts.
That’s one approach. The other approach is if you aren’t going to do that, you need to share responsibilities. Divide the responsibilities, so who’s going to create content, who’s going to manage the social media platforms and then you will have to allocate those tasks to people within the team. So you may find somebody who’s responsible for writing articles at least once a week and somebody else who will have to be responsible for managing the social media platforms that you’re using. You don’t need to be on every platform. You need to be on the best, the most relevant platforms for your clients.
My preference and obviously my recommendation would be that you outsource social media and content creation, because if you want to get good results, reliable results, then you needed to go with somebody or a company that is expert and very skilled and very experienced at doing that, rather than someone who’s just on the team and has other responsibilities and is trying to fit in content creation and social media as well. Better to go with the experts.
Will there ever come a time when you are out of content ideas? What should be done to overcome that?
I remember reading about writer’s block being a luxury that only amateur writers can have. And I think that’s very true because professional content creators will never run out of content. We’re always planning 10, 15 steps ahead. And because of that, we know how to position ourselves and it’s not just for our own companies, but for the blogs that we write for our clients. We know how to position ourselves in such a way that we have a lot of topics that we can write about and that’s key.
And I think you need to be an expert in your niche, but you need to have a platform that is versatile enough to give you content ideas week in, week out. And there will be additions that come into your content marketing plan. So your content calendar will have future blog posts and future videos plotted marked on the calendar, but you should be able to take in new ideas as and when there are changes in the particular business sector that you’re working in.
If you ever come to a block, you should change activity. So what I mean by change activity, if you’re staring at a blank computer screen and you don’t know what to write or you don’t know what to record as a video, go for a walk, go to spend some time in nature, exercise, listen to some music, spend time with the family, close down all your devices. Just get yourself away from it.
And in the time that you do that, your subconscious will help you to come up with new ideas, new suggestions and it works all the time. Once you take away the focus of the cursor flashing on your computer screen and you don’t have any thoughts or words about it. And once you move away from that environment, take a break, you’ll come up with new ideas. So that’s one method that I’ve used consistently over the last 10 years, if ever I’ve had something, that’s become a block for me, the written post or the video. But as I say, it’s not a luxury I have. We have to create content every week for our clients and for our own channels and website.
Okay. Number eight.
Some content that businesses push out comes over as hard sell. What can businesses do to overcome that? Is hard selling, considered bad content?
If you’re making a sales pitch, it’s not content. Content is delivering value to your audience. You can deliver value to your audience and then reference a guide or a relevant product that you have within the products and services that you offer. You can do that, as long as it’s relevant. The positioning of the product must be relevant to the post. How do you eradicate a particular problem? Well, if you devise some proprietary software that helps eradicate that problem, yes. You can talk about the problem and how to solve it and then you can mention your product. But once you start doing hard sell sales pitches, you’ve crossed over from marketing to pure sales of the product, it doesn’t necessarily work. People switch off because they can see, “Oh, they’re just trying to sell me their new whatever.”
So I think you should always deliver value within your content and consumers are intelligent enough to make the links. They say, “Oh, who’s written this content? Which company’s it from? Oh, what do they do? What services do they have? What products do they have available?” When they’re interested, when your content is good enough, they will go ahead and check out your products and services. Hard sell content does not work.
If you’ve got sales pages where you talk about a particular product, that’s fine, but you must have more than just sales pages. You need to have value, value added content because you don’t know where people are in the customer sales funnel. Hard sell content is not a good idea and should be avoided, in my view.
Does one have to post weekly or even daily to build engagement on social media?
I’m going to come on to this point a bit later, again, in relation to one of the other questions, but you do need to be consistent. For a blog for a company blog, you need to post at least once a week. Ideally you can post twice or maybe even three times a week. But it depends on your resources, depends on whatever other activities you’ve got to be getting on with. So you should post on a consistent basis.
Now, YouTube also, ideally you should be posting at least once a week, a new video. But if you can do two or three, that’s even better, of course, because your audience comes to expect a new video from you every two or three days, which is wonderful and that’s how you build subscribers and build your watch time and start to have a more successful YouTube channel.
So consistency of posting is very important. The frequency, i.e., how many times you have to do that, will depend on your message, your products and services, but also depend on the audience. And if you get good engagement on one post, you need to make sure that you double down and continue posting. Don’t rest and think, “Oh, I’ve been successful with one post.” It’s the consistency that really builds success rather than just having good posts on a particular topic, because you could post on a very topical topic and have a great engagement and then the following week, you’re not being topical and you don’t have any engagement. So yes, consistency is very, very important.
Is there a specific way we can schedule posts on different social media platforms?
I remember looking at this point, this question many times. Well I’ve looked at it many times during the last 10 years and there are literally thousands of social media scheduling tools, thousands. Some of the largest being like Hootsuite and Buffer but there are other tools as well. Now is there a specific way we can schedule our posts? The ideal way is to use a tool that allows you to load in all your content and then post them automatically during particular time periods, which you set. So you set up posting schedule so that they run at specific times. So to give you an example, I use a tool called eClincher and at the bottom, there’ll be a link to all of the references that I make in this interview. But eClincher is a tool that allows you to schedule your posts on Twitter, on LinkedIn, Facebook, et cetera.
So that, you know every Monday to Friday, I’m posting tweets between 07:00 AM and 09:00 AM for example, if that’s a good time for your audience. So yes, you should use a social media scheduling tool. There are, as I say, thousands of tools. The one that I use, if you’re asking me that question is eClincher. I have a couple of videos on my YouTube channel and I’ll link to the YouTube channel. And I think you should all subscribe, but I have a couple of videos that describe or walk through how you should use eClincher. So please check those out.
Here’s a video I made about using eclincher – The title is eClincher Review – Key Features Summary
Is LinkedIn necessary for a business leader?
If you’re a B2B business leader… I’m going to start with B2B, because that’s my core focus. You definitely need to be on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is your number one platform.
My LinkedIn profile should be in the notes at the bottom of this interview, but you can connect with me there, also connect with me on YouTube, connect with me on Twitter as well, if you’re on Twitter.
Subscribe to my YouTube channel: http://bit.ly/1BuKsoM
Actually, you can find all of my relevant links on my YouTube About Page which is here –
If you subscribe or follow, please comment, ‘Xavier sent me’
Thanks for doing that.
LinkedIn is the number one platform for B2B businesses. It’s now got over 690 million members worldwide and I’m using LinkedIn to grow my influence on LinkedIn, but also to pick up leads and prospects who engage with my content and then send me direct messages or connection requests and then direct messages. And then we start talking about their particular projects that they need help with. So LinkedIn is absolutely essential. It’s something that you should be doing as a business leader.
Even if you’re a B2C business leader, you may not be aiming at other businesses as your customers, you may be looking at consumers, you still should be on LinkedIn because there will be advantages of networking with other business leaders in your sector and striking up partnerships and supply arrangements and so on and so forth. So yeah, LinkedIn is essential for everybody.
That’s the question.
What is the most important social media platform for businesses?
If you’re in the B2B, it’s LinkedIn. If you’re B2C, it varies. It depends on the sector. So if you’re in health and beauty, could be the Instagram is the most important social media platform. For outwardly facing, i.e., targeting consumers, LinkedIn may be your most important social media platform. Could be Facebook. It really depends on sector. The only thing I can be certain of is the B2B side, which is LinkedIn. On the B2C side there could be more variation.
How do you build and maintain engagement on social media platforms?
Well, you need to have engaging content. You need to think about the issues of the day. Think about the challenges that your customers are facing and how you solve them. You don’t want to give away all your expertise for nothing, for free, of course not. But you need to give people who are reading, watching, listening, an indication that you know how to solve their problems. And that will drive great engagement and also build your business.
Amidst the pandemic, many organizations turn to CSR to not only help others, but also to create awareness and publicity for themselves. Do you think CSR is a good idea or are there any other content that organizations can explore during these times like this?
I think that for people who are from a business perspective, corporate social responsibility is important and you should be engaging in that all the time, not just during a pandemic. But I think if you were taking what’s a good business approach to the pandemic? It is to help people as much as you can. Some of that, you won’t be able to commercialize, but that’s fine because people will remember those businesses and organizations who help them when they’re in difficult times.
For many people at the moment, there are difficult times because maybe they’ve lost their job or they’re under a lot of restriction because of the pandemic and then how they have to operate.
Whole businesses are being closed down, whole sectors are being closed down. So if you can help out as much as you can, people will remember that and you’ll build up a much stronger connection with potential customers and prospects because of the way that you acted for the community rather than acting just for profit. It’s very important that you do that. You act to help people and then when things improve for everyone, people will remember the actions that you took. Often you can document those in your blog as well and on your YouTube channel, if you have one as a business.
Okay, question 15.
Can you give us three keywords to excel in content creation?
Okay. Sure. I’ve hinted at one already. The first I would say is consistency. So if you’re on YouTube, you’ve got to be up loading those videos on a regular basis, once, twice, three times a week, week in, week out. That’s how your audience believes in you and shows up to watch your videos.
You’ve got to have creativity. So that’s the second word and that means that you can’t just make videos, the same videos that everybody else is making. You need to have some original thoughts. You need to have some original videos and take a different approach, otherwise, people can just watch other people’s videos. You need to develop your own voice and then communicate that. So it’s consistency is the number one. Creativity is number two.
Number three, collaboration. You can’t just act in a vacuum. You need to be working with other partners. So that might be other businesses. You make videos with them. Might be you have interviews as part of your content to engage people and then to merge audiences. So the interviewee may bring their own audience and your audience may be introduced to somebody new. So collaborating with other content creators, collaborating with other businesses and organizations who share similar goals and a similar vision is very good. So collaboration was my third point, a third key word that will help you elevate your content above all regular, normal content.
And what I’d like you to be obviously is to be content leaders and to be thought of as leaders within your sector, within your niche. So those are the three words that I would focus on.
Hope you have found this interview very useful. If you have, please visit my YouTube channel. I should say, in relation to LinkedIn, I have a dedicated playlist called LinkedIn advice to B2B businesses. Here’s the link to that playlist –
So if you want to be more effective on LinkedIn, subscribe to the channel and then watch that. I think there are 58 different videos, all about LinkedIn and how to be more effective on LinkedIn.
Thanks for reading this interview. I look forward to connecting with you online, either on YouTube, on LinkedIn or Twitter. Thanks. Bye bye.
Did anything I said during the interview inspire you to act? Is there any new approach you are going to try now? Let me know in the comments section below. Also, let me know if you would like my help.
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