Podcasting seems like the “it” thing lately. On top of that, podcasting for profit is growing rapidly on its own, and can be done without appearing too ad-heavy and spammy. It’s a great weapon to have in your arsenal and you might have thought about giving it a go but stopped short wondering, “Where do I start?” and “How do I differentiate myself in the vast podcasting world?” Well, my guest, Douglas Burdett asked himself the same questions and came up with some successful and profitable answers.
In this podcast, Douglas and I delve into the power of podcasting. Among other things, we cover:
- carving out a niche for your agency
- what it takes to get started and build momentum
- how to create a podcast that attracts
- how a podcast can help grow your business
- how podcasting for profit works
- the impact podcasting can have on your agency
Douglas Burdett is a B2B marketing agency principle and a former Madison Avenue ad man. His aptly named agency, Artillery, (he was a former artillery officer), helps agencies get found online, convert website traffic to leads, and nurture leads towards a sale. Douglas authors two marketing blogs, Forward Observer and Fire Support, and he hosts The Marketing Book Podcast.
To listen – you can visit the Build A Better Agency site (https://agencymanagementinstitute.com/douglas-burdett/) and grab either the iTunes or Stitcher files or just listen to it from the web.
If you’d rather just read the conversation, the transcript is below.
If you’re going to take the risk of running an agency, shouldn’t you get the benefits too? Welcome to Build a Better Agency, where we show you how to build an agency that can scale and grow with better clients, invest in employees, and best of all, more money to the bottom line. Bringing his 25-plus years of expertise as both an agency owner and agency consultant to you, please welcome your host, Drew McLellan.
Drew: Hi, everybody, Drew McLellan here. Welcome to another episode of Build a Better Agency. Today’s topics are going to be about carving out a niche for your agency, about how a podcast can help grow your business, and what it’s like to be an ad agency owner in 2015. I’m pretty excited about my guest today. Douglas Burdett is a B2B marketing agency principal. He is a former artillery officer, so we’re going to be very careful about what we say to him and a Madison Avenue ad man.
His agency, Artillery, helps B2B companies get found online, convert website traffic to leads, and nurture those leads towards a sell. Douglas authors two marketing blogs and hosts a podcast. His blogs are the Forward Observer, which is basic training for B2B marketers, and Fire Support, which is specifically aimed at defense contractors. We’re going to dig into that in a little bit. And he also is the host of the Marketing Book podcast, which I highly recommend. Douglas, welcome to the podcast.
Douglas: Drew, good to be here.
Drew: So, first, anything about you that I didn’t share with the gang, that you think they need to know about you?
Douglas: In lieu of a midlife crisis, I started performing stand up comedy.
Drew: Now do you wish you had the little red convertible or the blonde?
Douglas: Well, I have the blonde, and she’s been married to me for 24 years. Which, when you’re married to me, it actually seems longer than that. So, yeah, it was good. I did that. The other thing I always wanted to do was go bear hunting. And I did that. So, that kind of crosses that off the list. You know how important it is to have goals.
Drew: So you’re checking off the bucket list. I like it.
Douglas: That was about it, though, those two things.
Drew: I have to think that, in comparison to stand up comedy, running an agency is a piece of cake.
Douglas: Yeah, it’s maybe a little less frightening. I don’t know. And I just did it for a while. Maybe six months or a little bit longer, I think. But it was just something that had to be done, like climbing a mountain. I think it’s terrifying for some people, but it was just something I always wanted to do.
Drew: I guess both of them, there’s sort of a connection between them. I mean, you’re sort of hanging out there to dry all on your own and you either fake it or make it, right?
Douglas: Mm-hmm. And you deal with rejection. But I guess it is good training for presenting. And it’s also good training for marketing, I think, because you really have to think about the people you’re performing for and you have to make an impact quickly and get them to sort of understand the character in the play that you are acting in. So, it was fun and I have gained a great appreciation for what successful stand up comedians do, as well as the writing.
Drew: Yeah, that’s probably the part people forget about, is the prep that it takes to stand up on the stage. Probably a lot like sometimes our clients take for granted that we actually have to do some work before we can come to them with good counsel.
Douglas: Absolutely, yeah.
Drew: So let’s talk a little bit about your agency, and we’ll kind of weave the podcasting for profit stuff in as well. So, as I understand it, correct me if I’m wrong, but you were more of a generalist B2B agency at some point in your evolution. Is that correct?
Douglas: Actually, it was very much B2C. So, I worked on Madison Avenue for 10 years in New York, and it was Toys “R” Us, Listerine, a lot of that kind of thing. Very little B2B. And then moved to Virginia, worked in an agency for four years. Again, more of that. And then started my own shop and was pretty much really traditional advertising, going after any business. Preferably local ones in Virginia, that had big ad budgets and then we could bolt on anything else that was needed – PR, websites, things like that.
This is the part that gets into the evolution, where, I don’t know, 2005 or a little bit after that, maybe 2008…actually, in 2008, the recession started and things were still charging along for me. And I remember thinking “Boy, there’s a lot of bombs going off, but none of them seem to be hitting me.” And then time caught up and it was this thing of noticing that media commissions were shrinking or going away. Clients here and there maybe wanted to hire somebody that specialized just in their vertical.
They started needing a lot more help with websites, which meant that I had to keep bringing a website guy to all the meetings. And I was starting to feel marginalized. They were starting to ask about social media and I was feeling more and more like a dinosaur.
And I then read this famous article in Fast Company. It was actually five years ago now. I think it was “The Future of Advertising.” Big article. And in the article, they talked about how the advertising industry is changing, particularly agencies. I had been getting a feeling along the way. Looking back now, I remember thinking “Oh man, this really is changing permanently.” It was a travel agent, so it might’ve been 20 years ago, saying, “What’s going on here? Why did the airlines stop giving us commissions? What happened here?”
That was one of those signposts for me along the way, and I was very sad, depressed, because I remember thinking “This is a business I really loved. I enjoyed it.” And I didn’t know what to do. Too young to retire. As you know, but the listener probably doesn’t, along the way, I discovered our mutual friend, Michael Gass, who is an ad agency new business consultant. And his website is fuelingnewbusiness.com.
If you Google “Ad Agency New Business,” you’re going to find him on the first page, because he’s written about 800 articles about that topic. As things were going badly, I started reading his blog more and more, about how the days of chasing clients and prospecting, those days were starting to sunset. The clients were finding the agencies.
Not specific to just us in the advertising world, although we like to think we’re so unique. The way people and companies were buying was beginning to change. They could go and find the information they wanted. Tom Martin, who owns an agency in New Orleans, he has a book called “The Invisible Sale.”
Drew: Which is a great book!
Douglas: Yeah. I’ve interviewed him recently for the podcast, and he talks about that. And Michael talks about clients or agencies using inbound marketing, content marketing and doing everything they can to get discovered. And building a niche blog away from your existing site, sort of like throwing a fishing line out in the water. And he talked about how…I think Barkley, that agency in Kansas City, correct me if I’m wrong, Jeff Fromm’s shop, I think they might’ve had like four of these blogs, where they target very specific things. Obviously, one of them is millennial marketing. He showed me a client of his in Oklahoma, an agency where they had a casino account, as well as a variety of other local accounts.
And they wanted more casino accounts. So, they built a blog all about casino marketing. Got a lot of traffic, people were hiring them for the workshop, that type of thing. What was interesting to me is, basically, when people would call them, they would say “What’s your calendar look like?” Because they already knew them. They already liked them. They already knew what their offering was.
Drew: They already established the expertise, so they didn’t have to do that dog and pony show.
Douglas: Yeah. So, that was an example of things that Michael talks about and many others. So, I finally contacted him and said, “What’s your calendar look like? I already know who you are. I know all about you. I want to do that thing you do.”
Drew: He had done to you what you wanted to do.
Douglas: Oh yeah! So, we met and as he traditionally did, I guess they still do something like this, where he spends a day with the agency and he spends the first half sort of dinosaur training, explaining probably like Copernicus did 500 years ago that the earth rotates around the sun instead of the sun around the earth. It’s an opportunity for him to help the agency people pull their head up out of the sand, take a breath and say, “This is what’s going on,” like any good consultant would do.
And in the second half of the day, he works with you to help you identify a niche. A blog that you could focus on. Basically, it’s sort of like what fishing lure do you want to throw in to the fish? And what’s ingenious about this, I should add, it’s not like you’re having to change your agency name. It’s not like you will change your website. You don’t have to get your creative people or your IT people involved. You set up a WordPress blog and it’s basically about the content.
Drew: Let me pause you in this story here for a second, because I know a lot of listeners understand that they need to niche but they’re afraid to niche. How were you feeling about the whole idea of specialization, and in essence, saying, “That’s money I’ll take. And that’s money that I won’t take”? Because I think that’s a big fear for a lot of agency owners.
Douglas: And with good reason. I was very excited to get through the day because I went into it not knowing what my niche blog could be about. And the last thing I understood was, the idea of having a blog separate from your website, because at that point, I think maybe it was 2011 or something, I said “Wait a minute. Aren’t you supposed to have the blog on your website and that’s where the traffic is supposed to come?”
That shows you how much I knew at the time. And he said “No. Think of your agency website as your fishing boat, and the lure you’re throwing off the boat to the fish is this niche blog. It’s just full of great content and a little bit about you in case they want to get in touch or maybe hire you for a workshop.” So I think it is terrifying, but this is like having training wheels.
Drew: Yeah, it feels a little safer with you not having to change the whole identity of your website and your agency, but it’s a separate standalone entity. Michael’s advice is, if it doesn’t work, then you just scuttle it and try something different. You said at the beginning of the day you had no idea where or how you would specialize. So how did you decide that defense contractors were what you needed to throw your bait out into that pond?
Douglas: Well, he starts by saying, “What have you worked on and what would you like to specialize in?” That is probably where most of the answers come from when he’s dealing with an agency. I was talking to an agency recently that was thinking about hiring him, and they wanted to chat with me. And I was happy to talk to them. As just an example, they said “We’ve got a lot of experience in advertising recruitment marketing.” I kind of painted the picture of what this niche blog could look like, and they were like “Oh, of course.”
Or when he sat down with Park Howell years ago and said “What should we do this niche blog about, Michael?” And he said five minutes in, he already knew the answer. He said, “You guys, you’re all about green, environmental, sustainability practices.” It’s sort of like you’re in the forest but you don’t see the trees. What he said to me, he said, “What do you want to specialize in?”
I said “I don’t know. I’ve worked on everything from Listerine, to like I said, Toys “R” Us, Panasonic, and the local community bank and all that.” I just remember saying – not that this is relevant to your listeners – “If I have to work on one more personal injury law firm account, I will blow my brains out.”
Drew: Right, right. Well, and everybody probably has that. Sometimes we do stuff for money, that we’re not that excited about.
Douglas: Yes. Actually, I had a client that was actually quite good, but I had just broken up with a client. I guess my answer was, I’m not too passionate about all the stuff I’ve done in the past, but I was in the military for three years. And I live in Virginia, which I think has more defense contractors than any other state.
Drew: I wouldn’t be surprised.
Douglas: Even ahead of California. Some friends who were in the defense industry were always asking me marketing questions. Basically, they were straightforward marketing questions, but defense contractors, just like ad agencies, think, “Our industry is very unique.”
Drew: Right, right.
Douglas: And so, I said “But you know, I’m really kind of fascinated by that. I’m interested in that.” And so, we got to talking and we looked on our laptops, and nobody was specializing in it. We must’ve looked for 15, 30 minutes, trying to find something. There was nothing out there.
And he said “Douglas, look, you were in the service. You have a company called Artillery,” which you may have forgotten, “You’re in Virginia. Your dad was an Army general. You’re from this Army family going back to the Revolution. You obviously have the secret handshake with these people. Why don’t you try it? And if you don’t get any business from it, you will have gone through this journey of teaching yourself about a very big part of modern marketing and what agencies are doing: social media, blogging, content media, analytics, all that type of thing.”
And so, I said “All right. I’ll do that.” What was funny was, he said “You know, if you can buy a URL for your blog that might include some keywords.” You know, that didn’t hurt. And so, we talked for a minute and said “Well, it’s probably like defense contractor marketing.” So I went on Go Daddy and it was available, and he said “Douglas…” at that point he had worked with 88 agencies, no agency had been able to buy their keywords as a URL. Which didn’t mean I was smart, it just meant that it was there for the taking.
Drew: Right, absolutely right.
Douglas: So, I started writing these posts, doing a lot of research. Full admission here, I had never worked for a defense contractor. I never had a defense contractor client but I was very interested in it. And I would inspire myself occasionally, knowing that, I don’t know if it’s true or not, but U2, when they started their band, they didn’t actually know how to play instruments. So I said, “Well, okay.”
Drew: If it worked for them, right? But you had decades of experience in marketing. And again, as you have said and other guests have said, everyone thinks that their industry is so unique. But the truth is that you can learn an industry. The marketing part is the tough part, and you already had that.
Douglas: I think you and your listeners are going to understand. You get a client and you learn their business pretty quickly. So this wasn’t that much of a stretch. And I could find papers from McKinsey or Booz Allen and they would be talking about trends in the defense industry. Or I could find something, like a research study, or something that was relevant to them, and then say “Here’s what’s going on. Now here’s how they can address some of these things.”
Drew: Here’s the marketing spin on this.
Douglas: Exactly. Just like Michael Gass does and any other blogger. I think he calls that a curated post.
Drew: Right. Where you’re grabbing content from something else and then commenting on it.
Douglas: Yeah. He said the best post he’s ever done out of all 800-plus, was…
Drew: His Steve Jobs post, I think.
Douglas: Yeah, like how Steve Jobs presented and as it relates to Ad Agency New Business.
Drew: Yeah, I think all of that was based on a book review that he read, because actually there’s a book, and I can’t remember the author now. We’ll find it and stick it in the show notes. But it’s a good book about how Steve Jobs presented and how other folks can sort of adopt his methodology. And the author breaks it down very nicely.
What Michael did was he just took basically what the author did and put an agency spin on it. So, you’re right, it is a curated post. So, you launched the blog, you are curating posts, you are starting to talk to defense contractors. What happens next? Because I know, in the fairy tale, people come rushing to you with money hanging out of their pockets and you just can’t do all the work that is coming your way. What really happened?
Douglas: Yeah, I was going to have to say, “Get the needle out of your arm there, Drew.” Well, after like five posts, I was on the first page of Google for these keywords. But again, it was just because it was a barren wasteland out there. First, you get about 30 posts written and then you really start promoting it. I did something that I wouldn’t do now, but I bought a list of email addresses from the defense industry.
I recently wrote an article about why, now that I know better, that’s such a bad idea. And it’s called “Why Marketing with Purchased Email List is Like Having Unprotected Sex.” But I did that. And you start using all the social media at that point to share, use a couple of tools like Social Oomph, and use a Twitter account, and you shared on LinkedIn, Facebook, and that type of thing. And then you keep writing maybe once a week.
First off, it takes longer than you think. And there was a great article by Rand Fishkin from Moz, talking about that’s why most content marketing fails, is because people give up. And he talked about his wife who has a blog. And nothing really happened for the first two years.
So, it’s like planting Christmas trees. But over time, I started getting contacted by all these people who wanted to at least connect with me. Around the world, too. Like, defense people in Brazil, Germany, and all over the United States. There was a company in a defense publication in the UK and they listed me as one of the top most interesting this, or whatever, defense blogs.
You start to get noticed, you start to get found. It was certainly very unique. And then that same organization did a big study about social media use in the defense industry and they quoted me several times in it. They even gave me a copy of it to read before it went out, to see if there’s anything else I could help with. And so, that sort of thing happened.
And then one day, I got a tweet from The Washington Business Journal here in Virginia. It was an article they wrote on seven Twitter accounts our editors think, you the reader, should be following. And one of them was me. So I get a call from a CEO of an aerospace company, saying, “I’ve been reading your blog for six months and it really makes a lot of sense.” That’s kind of how some of the conversations would start.
So, that happened and I started getting requests to come talk to groups. And then what happened was, in the course of this, you know, blogging and any kind of adventure, is never completely linear. So, this was like a byproduct that was a benefit to me, that had nothing to do with the defense industry. And that is, as I was…blogging can have an enormously positive effect on your professional life. Seth Godin talks about this, and Tom Peters talks about how it’s just like the single thing that most affected them. And it sharpens your thinking and you get smarter about things.
So, as I was doing research about marketing, I started learning a little bit more about marketing. I never thought I knew everything anyway. And along the way, I downloaded some things from HubSpot, from their website. And as well as Marketo and any place I could find that was useful information. That’s what they want you to do.
And one day, I got a call from HubSpot and I couldn’t take it, but I saw it on caller ID. The following week, they called again and I saw the caller ID and I said, “I recognize that name.” I had no idea who they were. They called and said, “Hey, we noticed you downloaded some stuff. You said you’re an agency. Did you find what you were looking for? Is there anything else we can get you? Can we tell you what we do?”
And I said, “Yeah, I have no idea what you guys do, but I really like your stuff.” So, it turns out I was already using sort of a website platform type of thing and HubSpot was that and about 20 things more. And it was almost the same price. So a week later, I was a customer. That had to be the shortest sale cycle for HubSpot.
Drew: But again, to your point, it really wasn’t. Because you’ve been downloading their stuff for a while and reading it. You just gave the example, which is exactly what agencies need to know is happening, which is, your prospect, your next client is on your website today and has been there for six months, you just had no idea. And by the time they pick up the phone or shoot you an email or you are using your analytics and reaching out to them, they’re 85% into the buying decision, even if they don’t know they’re 85% into the buying decision.
And that’s the way business is done today. That’s the huge shift for agencies, is the idea that you are out there spreading your Johnny Apple seeds, spreading seeds all over, and you’re never sure which one is going to actually grow up into the really healthy tree that bears a lot of fruit for you. But one of those seeds, or several of those seeds are. I want to stop you for a second and then we’ll get back to the story. We’re how far into your blogging now? At what point did you actually get your first paying client that you can associate back to the blog?
Douglas: That might’ve been two years later. But in full disclosure, I wasn’t working as hard as I should have and I wasn’t actively prospecting. So it was really kind of a passive thing. Because what happened was, I then discovered HubSpot and I said…remember how I talked about how depressed I was when I realized that whole ad agency was changing?
Drew: Yeah. Right.
Douglas: I looked at this and I thought “This is so cool.” I loved it! I still do. And I felt like I was getting a second bite at the apple. In other words, a second wind, another prize on my career. So then I realized that most of these articles I was writing for the defense blog could be rewritten. In other words, the same concept. They were also applied to business-to-business marketing, a lot of the topics that I had there.
So, what I was doing, was I started blogging. In other words, I looked and said “What I’ve done in this defense thing, that’s the direction I want my business to go in and that’s what I want to help clients with, just like Michael said.” And so then I started reusing some of the content that I had published on my defense blog, but it was different enough. But it would be like talking about a particular marketing concept, I would then write a similar article on my other blog.
And then what I started doing was, writing two different…in other words, I jump-started my agency blog and got going in that direction. That’s how I got into the business-to-business marketing that you asked about earlier. So, both of these things I was doing later on in my career and jumped in. As David Meerman Scott, the author of “New Rules of Marketing and PR” always says, “On the web, you are what you publish.”
Drew: Yeah, absolutely. So you’re now, what, two or three years into this, and it’s starting to bear fruit. Yes?
Douglas: Yes, to a certain extent. But again, it’s not like, as we joked and we said beforehand, I’m not the guest on your show that is saying “My biggest challenge is returning calls from companies that want to send me money.” Like the fairy tale you talked about, or “I just can’t hire enough people.”
So, what I’ve done is, the agency approach, the Artillery, the B2B marketing, has really taken center stage. And I’m still keeping that other blog out there because I do get a lot of leads off of it, inquiries. And it’s kind of neat. So I’ve kind of got two lines in the water now. Does that answer your question?
Drew: Yeah. I think what the listeners are thinking is, “That sounds like a ton of work. Is it paying off?”
Douglas: Yes. But as we talked before, I have not been…this is a thing I struggle with still. It’s sort of like the Ed Sullivan Show, for the older listeners. They had the guy with the stick and the plates, and he would spin them. I’ve sort of gotten all these properties set up now, like with the defense thing and the website. And I’ve had other clients. I have clients. But there’s no hockey stick action going on yet. And the reason that’s going to change, is I’m now very much focused on the prospecting.
Drew: Why all of a sudden the change?
Douglas: Just because I feel like I had the others under control, and I want to grow more. I want to start to build that agency that I envision.
Drew: And I think your story and what I appreciate about it is, your candor. What I think the story is, I think a lot of people – and no fault to any agency consultant, myself or Michael or anybody – I think it’s easy to talk in absolutes. But the reality is that that’s not the world that agency owners like you and I live in.
We have to figure out how to get it all done in a day. It always sounds better than it ends up being. Which doesn’t mean it’s still not a good choice, it just isn’t as easy or as seamless or as linear as it sounds when you’re reading the blog post or reading the book or listening to the consultant. There are going to be bumps in the road which are called reality and you just have to know that it’s going to be slower going and you have to slog your way through it.
Douglas: Yeah. I’m not the only one in the world, but I wince a little bit when Tom Martin says he’s never made a cold call. Or Michael Gass at the conference we were just at, his Fuel Lines conference, he said “I’ve never made a cold call.” Or Paul Roetzer, author of “The Marketing Agency Blueprint” and “The Marketing Performance Blueprint,” he talked at that and he’s got a phenomenal agency in Cleveland. He said “We’ve never made cold calls,” and I’m just saying “Guys, don’t say that! Even if it’s true.” It’s like saying “I won the lottery. You can, too.”
Drew: I eat cake everyday and I’m as fit as a fiddle. Same thing.
Douglas: So I think I just haven’t connected all the cords there. I think I probably could’ve had more action going on a little bit earlier. But I’ve been busy working with clients and trying to keep the content machine going. I had some help here with some of that. It’s just becoming my focus.
Like, last year, I really wanted to start a podcast. Well, at the very end of last year. And I spent, I would say, the first quarter of this year getting that up and running. I’ve learned a lot. It’s really successful. Okay, got that squared away. That plate is spinning on that stick. I’m trying to add that last leg of the stool.
Drew: So let’s talk about the podcast and how you go about podcasting for profit. Other than you thought it would be fun, and it probably aligns a little bit with your love of being on the stage or your desire to do that, what about starting a podcast made business sense to you?
Douglas: Well, I always loved listening to podcasts, particularly marketing podcasts. And I really liked it when an author was interviewed. And then I heard from a number of folks like Chris Brogan, Michael Hyatt, and Michael Stelzner from Social Media Examiner that podcasting was a great way to go.
And I thought “Well, you know, I’m not this big agency. I can’t just be cranking out blog posts every week.” So it’s sort of like a passing game. I can try this different approach to creating content. I also thought that it would be a great way to ensure that I have my own professional development program. So, each week, I’m…nobody told me …
Drew: You have to read the book.
Douglas: Yeah, I didn’t know that. I did. So, I did that. As soon as I launched it, there was a lot more traffic to the site. Here’s one of the things about podcasting that I didn’t like. There was a guy I knew, another agency guy, and he was interviewing marketing people or business owners that I had never heard of, but they were all his prospects. I stopped listening after a while because that’s all he was doing.
Hey, did it work? Yes. But I just didn’t like that. So, it’s not like I’m going to be selling to anybody that writes books. But I just thought it would be helpful. And whenever I’ve given talks about marketing, people’s heads explode because it’s just changed so much.
And this is something that I thought would establish more credibility. It makes me look smart by interviewing smart authors, so there’s some reflected glory there. And it makes me smarter about marketing and it drives more traffic to the site and awareness. People generally say, “Oh, I listened to your podcast.” They never say, “I read your blog.”
Drew: Yeah, interesting. I would guess also that the guests of your podcast, especially being authors trying to promote their book, are more than eager to help you promote the podcast episode that they’re in, which also drives new and fresh content and people to your site, right?
Douglas: Yeah. I don’t know, I didn’t think it through with a SWOT analysis like I probably should have. It was more of a gut move. But I just thought that it was something that I could do, that I would enjoy doing. And there wasn’t one out there. And here’s the other example. I bought marketingbookpodcast.com, which redirects to that podcast section of my site.
Drew: Yeah, you’ve had uncanny good luck at Go Daddy these days. That’s crazy. So, I’m assuming that all of this is a challenge to get done on a day when you’re also serving clients and trying to get a couple hours of sleep and all of that. What tips or tricks do you have for juggling all of those plates and keeping them all spinning? Do you have some magical organizational system, or do you use a tool that helps you curate content so that you have a library of stuff that you might want to write about? How do you find the author? How are you doing all this?
Douglas: I think the key to creating content is reading. So, as Michael Gass had said to me when I first started out, he goes “Look, the key to all this is reading and writing. Don’t worry about all these social media bells and whistles that come and go. That can all be dealt with. If you know how to operate Microsoft Word, you can pretty much handle anything like that.” A lot of my social media is automated, so during business hours…I have two Twitter accounts. One’s for my agency, and one’s for the defense thing.
About every hour during business hours, it’ll tweet out a link to an article, an evergreen article I’ve written in the past. And then it also tweets out news that’s relevant to those two particular audiences. So, in other words, there’s a few defense publications that are talking about the industry and every one of their articles is really, really good. You go through and you have to scan them all.
So I actually tweet those out, even before I’ve even read them. And social media purists will say, “You shouldn’t do that.” But on the other hand, Mark Shaefer, author of “The Content Code,” he talks about this. He goes, “No.” I trust those so much.
Drew: If it’s a reliable source, that’s the key, right?
Douglas: Yeah. And my readers really appreciate me basically helping them do this. Then also both sites have a daily news section which is done through Paper.li, P-A-P-E-R.L-I. Which, again, curates extremely helpful, either marketing news or defense news, and it publishes everyday at three. Completely automated. Some journalists are saying “How do you find time to do this?” I’m doing it right now, Drew. So, I got that. But otherwise, when I get up in the morning, I usually try to sit down for a while and go through my Feedly, which is a RSS reader.
Drew: Yeah, it’s a great tool.
Douglas: Yeah. And that’s where I can pretty quickly go through and scan hundreds of articles and see what’s of interest, and basically educate myself and then get ideas for content. I think also having a calendar is real helpful. And all the content marketing experts will tell you the same thing, “You just need a calendar.”
So, in other words, I know who the guests on the podcast are going to be now through January. Well, three months out, I should say. And we just work towards that. And the same for the others. In other words, trying to create content about a quarter out, just to try to plan. Other things will come up, but just so you can say “This is the week I got to write about that.” So you’re not trying to do it all at once.
So that’s one. And then what I do on the podcast is, now I only do one interview a week. So it gives me time to read their book in the week. It’s really good if I can read their book just before the interview. And then I do the interview, and then my assistant gets it all produced and prepares the blog post and all the social media.
So now I’m at the point where all I’m doing is reading the book and doing the interview. And I’m still writing the other blog posts. Sometimes I let the fire support, the defense one slack off a bit. As far as productivity, I use an app that I learned about from Michael Hyatt called Nozbe, N-O-Z-B-E. That’s helpful. There’s lots of others out there; I just thought that was good. I think Michael Hyatt has a lot of great…
Drew: And what does Nozbe do? Is it a project manager? How does that work?
Douglas: It’s a task manager.
Drew: Okay. Sort of like a Wunderlist or anything like that?
Douglas: Yes. And then for clients, we’re using Basecamp.
Drew: Yes, a lot of agencies do.
Douglas: Yeah, I love that. The clients like it. It’s pretty simple. But you know what? I have one client. He’s never been on Basecamp. He just replies to the emails. And that’s fine. We can all find this stuff. And then for communication within the agency and with the people that I have working on behalf of my clients, we use Teamwork.
Drew: And that’s a collaborative software.
Douglas: Yeah. It includes file sharing and time tracking and estimating capabilities, things like that.
Drew: Does that plug into an accounting software then?
Douglas: No. We use QuickBooks.
Drew: Okay. So you have to pull your hours and stuff manually over?
Douglas: Yeah. I should add that a lot of agencies are obsessed with the tools, and they should really be focused on their process.
Drew: Yeah, agreed. The tools will come and go, and there will always be a better tool around the bend. And quite honestly, a lot of times the tool you have is just fine for what you need and you don’t need to keep trading up tools. It really is about how do you support a good process.
Drew: Yeah, absolutely. So we talked about lots of stuff today, and I appreciate, like I said, your candor in that this is not all sunshine and roses.
Douglas: It beats the old way.
Drew: Well, I’m sure you have friends that were in the business, and I certainly have lots of friends and clients that were in the business, that were not willing to come over to the 21st century. And odds are, they’re working for someone else today because their agency doesn’t exist.
Douglas: Let me go back and answer one question you asked earlier. You said “How long did it take before you got business from that defense blog?” It just occurred to me, it was maybe two years before a defense related company sent me a check. But before that, other prospects saw what I was doing on that defense one, like a big construction company, and they said “What you’re doing there, that’s what we want. We want one of those.” It became a floor model. It was not what I had planned, but they see “Okay, all we need to do is reach this particular group of people.” Yeah, do that.
Drew: I think a lot of agencies that are using a HubSpot or a Sharpspring or a Marketo or whatever the tool of choice is, are finding too that when they use it for themselves, that becomes the demo, if you will, for prospective clients who go “Okay, the thing you’ve been doing to me for six months, I want to do that to my prospects.”
Douglas: And as it should be.
Drew: Yeah, absolutely. So I always try to wrap up the podcast with some action items that our guests can take. So, I think you did a great job at outlining the blog methodology that you followed, which is really right out of Michael Gass’s book. I want to talk a little bit about the podcast. If agency owners are interested in exploring podcasting for profit, what would you recommend the first couple of things they do, just to kind of kick around the idea? What did you do first? I’m assuming you started with listening to other podcasts.
Douglas: Yes, I did that. And that’s where I realized how much I really liked them. What I would do next is, go to iTunes and find the podcast series by John Lee Dumas, who is the creator of Entrepreneur on Fire. He has a separate podcast which has maybe 20 episodes, and it’s basically how to do a podcast. It’s free. Listen to those.
That would be a great way for you to think through about how to do it, if you want to do it, and what’s involved. Now, why is he doing it? Because he has this program called Podcaster’s Paradise, which I purchased. It is an extensive gated training offering.
Drew: It’s a great course. It is a deep dive into how to podcast and how podcasting for profit works. He literally will tell you what to wear when you’re podcasting, practically. It’s that detailed. It’s good stuff but it’s not inexpensive.
Douglas: Right. That’s why you don’t have to get that. But the reason he’s doing this is because his…and this thing is constantly updated so we’re always made aware of the very latest in podcasting and technology and all that type of thing. So I was sort of buying into a community of maybe 1,500 people.
But I then listened to his whole episode, his whole series afterward, because he created it after I was in. And I found that it was a very good sample of what’s in the Podcaster’s Paradise. But I think that that would be the first thing I’d do, just listen to those free 20 episodes.
Drew: Good counsel. Any last words that you have for the listeners? So, agency owners just like you, any words of encouragement or anything else you’d like to share?
Douglas: Well, if any of them would like to get in touch with me to commiserate or to answer any questions, I would be happy to speak with them.
Drew: So give them your contact information, Douglas. That was going to be my next question.
Drew: That, and diarrhea probably, I think are the two. Which would not be a good name for a blog, I don’t think.
Douglas: Interesting word association you have there, Drew.
Drew: My friend, thank you very much. I appreciate your time. I know you’re super busy taking care of clients and creating content and continuing to evolve your agency. I highly recommend to our listeners that they check out Douglas’s podcast. It’s great to listen to if you’re interested in podcasting and podcasting for profit. It’s also a great way to sample some of the best marketing books out there and decide if there’s something you should read or not. Always great in conversations. Authors, as you can imagine, are always happy to share their knowledge. So, really, really great listens. So, Douglas, thank you very much. I appreciate it.
Douglas: My pleasure. I hope it was helpful for your listeners, and encouraging as well.
Drew: I think it was. Thanks much.
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