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Inbound Success Podcast

What do the most successful inbound marketers do to get great results?

You’ve heard the stories about companies using inbound marketing to dramatically increase sales, grow their business, and transform their customer relationships, but not everyone who practices inbound marketing knocks it out of the park.

If you want to know what goes into building a world class inbound marketing campaign that gets real, measurable results, check out the Inbound Success podcast. Every week, host Kathleen Booth interviews marketing folks who are rolling up their sleeves, doing the work, and getting the kinds of results we all hope to achieve.

The goal is to “peel back the onion” and learn what works, what doesn’t and what you need to do to really move the needle with your inbound marketing efforts. This isn’t just about big picture strategy – it’s about getting actionable tips and insights that you can use immediately in your own marketing.

Oct 14, 2019

How did Steve Sheinkopf and the team at Yale Appliance use blogging to grow the company's website traffic from 30,000 visits a month to one million visits a month while increasing revenues by 350%?

This week on The Inbound Success Podcast, Yale Appliance and Lighting CEO Steve Sheinkopf shares his company's journey from a small Boston-based lighting and appliance store that relied heavily on advertising for business, to the world's most trafficked appliance website and a business in the process of adding its third store.

Central to Yale's success was Steve himself, who blogged five times a week in the early day's of the company's content marketing efforts and continues to create key blog posts to this day.

Highlights from my conversation with Steve include:

  • Yale Appliance is the most trafficked appliance website in the world
  • Steve started blogging in 2007 and at the time, Yale Appliance was spending around three quarters of a million dollars on radio ads.
  • From 2007 to 2011, Steve blogged five times a week, but despite the volume of content he was publishing he wasn't seeing any results. 
  • In 2011, Yale was getting 30,000 visitors a month to its website and today, it gets close to a million a month - all due to the shift that Steve and his team made in the way they undertake content marketing.
  • Yale doesn't talk about itself on its blog - it talks about statistics and facts relating to its products, and that is what makes readers trust them.
  • Steve says blogging is all about building domain authority and to that requires a sustained and consistent effort when it comes to content creation.
  • Steve sees blogging as a core competency of his business at Yale and as such believes strongly that it shouldn't be outsourced.
  • Steve still writes blogs for Yale, but today, the company's sales people blog as well.
  • The company tracks the ROI of its content marketing efforts and can show, using data from HubSpot, that views of its blog and buyers guide have driven millions of dollars in business.
  • Steve writes all of the posts relating to reliability, "best of" lists, and articles detailing problems that frequently occur with certain brands.
  • One of the biggest benefits of Yale's content marketing efforts is that the leads it generates are very high intent. His team can see the content they've consumed on the website and it shows exactly what they are interested in.
  • The average appliance store in 10 years has gained probably 15 to 20% in revenue. We've, increased our revenue probably 350% in the same time. 37 about 122 million in a 10 year period. So that certainly plays a part of that in terms of stores. We've gone from one store to we're adding our third in November which will be our biggest store.
  • The average appliance store in 10 years has gained approximately 15 to 20% in revenue. In that time, Yale has increased its revenue by 350%, from 37 to about 122 million in a 10 year period.
  • They have also gone from one store to adding their third in November which will be the company's biggest store.

Resources from this episode:

Listen to the podcast to get learn how Steve Sheinkopf and the team at Yale Appliance and Lighting used content to drive traffic, leads and sales.


Kathleen Booth (Host): Welcome back to the Inbound Success Podcast.

I'm your host Kathleen Booth and this week my guest is Steve Sheinkopf who is the CEO of Yale Appliance and Lighting. Welcome, Steve.

Steve Sheinkopf (Guest): Good to be here Kathleen. How are you?

Steve Sheinkopf and Kathleen Booth
Steve and Kathleen recording this episode.

Kathleen: I'm great. I am excited to have you on and I can't wait to dig into our topic. But, not everybody who's listening may know who you are, so can you just tell my listeners a little bit about yourself and your business?

About Steve Sheinkopf and Yale Appliance and Lighting

Steve: Sure. We're a 97 year old appliance company located in Boston Massachusetts. We sell appliances, lights, we do a lot of service work, and our company's powered by really content marketing and not advertising. That's pretty much what we do. We sell all brands of different appliances, from Sub-Zero down to Samsung and we compete against pretty much 60 Brick and mortar competitors in a 20 mile area plus Online plus Amazon, Wayfair and all the people, Home Depot, that sort of thing.

Kathleen: You're being very humble and so I'm going to toot your horn for you because this is like a David and Goliath story. You guys do compete against 800 pound gorillas with huge budgets.

If I understand correctly you also in some respects, at least for content and search engine share, you compete against the manufacturers of the appliances that you sell. So on paper this story shouldn't be possible which is what I love about it.

But you guys have one of the most trafficked, if not the most traffic to appliance websites in the world. Correct?

Steve: Yeah. I think so.

Kathleen: It's amazing. So all right, for people who are listening, I have been bugging Steve and his team to try and get one of them on this podcast for about two years now because I first started hearing this story of Yale Appliance a couple of years back. It was before I joined IMPACT I had heard about it from Marcus Sheridan, who plays a role in the story. And then I had the opportunity to get to know these guys better through IMPACT and all along I've just been so impressed.

The reason, and it is a classic content marketing story, and I say classic because it's the things we're all told to do. Only you guys actually went and did them which is the big differentiator. But the reason I was so excited to have you particularly on is that most of my guests are marketers and they're already drinking the Kool-Aid.

The biggest challenge they tend to have, is getting the C-suite not only to buy-in, but my gosh for them The Holy Grail is to actually participate in the process. And you've been doing this all along. So that's really what I want to talk about.

But let's kind of rewind the clock if you would and start back from when you first began. I've heard the story a couple of times but I'm sure everybody hasn't.

So maybe you could just tell the tale of how did you guys first travel down this path? Because you're a 90 year old company and you were not always the most trafficked website for appliances in the world.

How Yale Appliance discovered content marketing

Steve: Oh, clearly not, clearly not.

It's a long story but really it starts in 2004. I went to this thing called The In-Planet and it was absolute genius. There's a bunch of it was I think Boston visors or the Bain or McKinsey guys, they were talking about the future of marketing and they were talking about how digital one day overtake outbound and to prepare for it, it wasn't happening yet. And they said. "The least you can do is get on the whole review side, that reviews are going to play a big part of how people are going to purchase from your company."

So that's the first thing we did is we got on with all the yelpers and instead of berating them for giving you bad views, we looked inside ourselves to say. " Maybe we're really disappointing people organically."

So we started in 2007 blogging. And at the same time it was doubling down on radio. We did a lot of radio at that time I think it was the final number was somewhere around three quarters of a million dollars. And we doubled down during the recession and the more we advertise it was like diminishing returns.

I used to ask the phone people anybody called them radio ads. When we started doing it in 2000 it was popular by 2010 no one really seemed interested. So we started blogging in 2007.

It was 2011 when I met Marcus Sheridan and I thought it was going to teach Marcus something. The first conversation we have, everybody loves Marcus. He's like a folksy guy and back if we rewind the clock in 2011, at that time I was blogging every day but I wasn't blogging by keyword. I wasn't-

Why the CEO of Yale Appliance dedicated himself to blogging

Kathleen: Now you yourself were blogging?

Steve: Yeah, I was.

Kathleen: I just want to clarify that.

Steve: I did that five days a week.

Kathleen: That's amazing. Did you publish, was it five blogs or was it?

Steve: Five posts a week.

Kathleen: That's great.

Steve: Well it's great when it's good stuff, not so great. And it was well-meaning, but it wasn't... Even when it answered the question I never titled it right, I didn't met a tag it.

So our first conversation was just absolute beat down. It was pretty bad, but he was right. At that time we have 30,000 people a month going into our site, which on paper doesn't seem bad but we started blogging strategically and now we expect a million visitors a month, we were busy and somewhere out six, 700,000, we're not.

And with that comes certainly more leads, more traffic, more business and that's what this is about. And I can't believe that, I can't believe. But if you were to say to a CEO, look we're going to start this program that's not going to be effective in six months, then you probably not going get much buy-in on the C-suite. But if you say to somebody, I'm going to reduce ad spend to zero and increase revenues disproportionately to your market share - I mean, what does the bottom line look like? And it's a great learning tool and it creates trust and it creates distrust for your competitors that aren't doing this. They're selling products that maybe they shouldn't be.

That's a pretty compelling case so if you structure like that, I think people get more buy-in from the people that need to buy in to say this is a revenue expense game and it's what, how people really want to consume stuff. Because nobody really wants to listen to me say how great I am. In fact, we never talk about ourselves. We talk about statistics and facts and helping people make purchases because you go to all these content marketing seminars they talk about trust and that's how you really trying to do.

If they trust you and your pricing is good and your execution which is the back half of what I really work on is are we executing to, what our value proposition is? Because blogging without execution is just bad. Work on execution first then blog. So that's the whole story.

Kathleen: You raise a really interesting point and I've been in this inbound or content marketing game a long time. I had an agency for 11 years. Something that you said really struck me because you talked about if you say to a CEO, we're going to create blogs and you're not going to see any results for six months, that is what I would say the disproportionate percentage of people in this space say it when somebody says, how long will it take for me to get results? Which everybody wants to know, right? Because that's what it's all about is the results people will always answer with, well it takes time.

Six months to a year you'll start to see something. And while there are aspects of content marketing that that is true for, there are also aspects of it that that is absolutely not true. Where you can see some sorts of results right away. And I think you're right when you set that expectation that's going take a while. That's not exactly the best way to sell it.

Steve: Well, I mean, blogging is about domain authority. Strictly we use words to cover up what we really mean and you don't become an authority figure with one or two posts. You need to show over a long period of time that you know what you're doing, whether it's getting a client, business, life, whatever it is. You don't become an authority with one good post. That said, if you write about something that's brand new that nobody else's, you could probably rank high pretty quickly.

Kathleen: Oh, for sure. Yeah. I've always said that the best moments in my content marketing career have been when I googled a question and didn't find an answer for it and I was like, ha ha, I'm right that answer. So what I'm curious about is you actually were convinced even before you met Marcus, that just that blogging in and of itself had value now obviously there was a better way to do it.

Why you should insource content creation

Kathleen: But what I'm really interested in understanding from you is when you first had this realization that hey, we might need to blog as part of our corporate strategy. What was it that convinced you personally to write? Because I think most of the CEOs I know who have that Aha moment and realized blogging is important. Their first thought is, I'm going to assign that to somebody or we're going to outsource it. Very few think I'm going to do it.

Steve: Well, it's like anything else. You want to outsource things that either you're not good at or someone can do cheaper. If you want something to be a core competency you have to do it yourself, right?

You can't be good at something, outsource it and then hope it gets better. Right? If you want it to be a core competency where every year, like every month, every week, every, if you're part of it and you're interested in it and intrigues you and it touches the customer it's important. That's something you don't outsource.

So it's a matter of I think people that are outsourcing, the losing the whole kind of how do we get better? How do we read, what are customers asking and how are we better solve the problem? Goes into merchandising, it goes into everything we do, what lines we sell, what lines we don't sell. Because we have the finger on the pulse of what we think the customer reacts to. But you're never going to get good at it... Let's forget about if we call it something else, like social media or writing or customer outreach.

If you're outsourcing it as a methodology, nobody's going to know your business better than you do. And it doesn't matter which content conference we go to whether it's Impact or Inbound or HubSpot or whatever those. Anybody that's outsourcing with writers from whatever, what Fiverr from Indiana they're just not getting the results they could if they did it themselves and treat it like a crucial pillar of our business of ,your business which it could be, which it should be.

Who creates content at Yale Appliance

Kathleen: Now in the beginning you were writing five articles a week. What does that look like today? Are you still actively writing or are there other folks in the company that are primarily doing it?

Steve: Well, it really depends, but the sales people. Sales people write blogs to varying degrees. I still edit most of them and I still write the important ones. And again, some of the ones I've written have, there are two that are over 2 million, 20 million views.

But forget about the views, we have a report that shows people that go into our buyers guide from blogs and how much money we derive from that on a monthly, yearly basis. It's certainly well worth doing financially to do that, be part of it.

And again my time spent at the CEO and culture and metrics and enforcing standards, after that really social outreach which I can reach a whole market of people by writing a blog. It's just so worth my time I think.

Kathleen: And you mentioned that you write the important posts and that there are certain posts that really take off. What are the topics that you feel like best come from you?

Steve: Well, the ones that resonate are the ones that are reliability posts that we were ranked manufacturers based on a service in the first year. I think some industry problem ones, are best from me, I think some of the comparisons other people can do. Again, when you look at blogging, if you want to figure out if your sales people know what they're talking about, you read their blogs.

And if they can't tell you what the five best gas range tops are and in a blog they probably won't be able to sell if the customer comes into the store. So is a good learning tool for new people to just read Wiskott-Aldrich. So the time to get a new person up is much quicker. But I write reliability, best and problems ones.

Kathleen: Were you always just really comfortable with writing? Is that a format that you gravitate to?

Steve: Not initially, I realized the value of it but if you look at what I wrote back in 2007 versus what we write now, it's much better, much different. And that's true of anything. Everyone always says. "I'm an awful writer." Everybody is awful. This saying that every expert starts as a beginner.

If you stick with it and you write three articles a week every week, if you're new, by the time one year rolls around, you've written 152 articles. That's enough for authority, but you're going to be much better after a year than you are in the beginning. Everything you do that you practice you work hard on you're going to get better at. Whether it's blogging or anything else in business.

Kathleen: Now, do you find that you've gotten faster also?

Steve: Yes. I think in blogs now. I've been doing it for since 2007 .I think in blog posts like comparisons and invest because I've been doing it for that long.

Kathleen: How long does it take you to produce a blog?

Steve: Me?

Kathleen: Yeah.

Steve: I can produce a blog in probably a couple of hours.

The ROI of Yale's content marketing efforts

Kathleen: That's great. I think it's interesting because a lot of CEOs would hear a couple of hours and think there's no way. My time is too valuable for that. So you mentioned that you guys have systems put in place to track how he is this content turns into revenue. Can you give me a sense of what that looks like and what that's produced? I don't even know if you can get it down to like what is a blog worth? I'm sure each of them is worth a different amount, but I'd love to understand better what kind of ROI you're seeing.

Steve: Well, let's forget the fact that basically the path to purchase goes to the Internet. It has since probably 2005. Alright? So but the way we do, we use a very crude metric. I have Google analytics where I can... that our time on site jumps when you talk about a blog posts really, time on site pages views equal to consumers. But we can talk about store visits, but in terms of share revenue the number that we look at over a 12 month period is anybody that's downloaded a buyer's guide.

So let's say you download a buyer's Guide and get 20th. If you come into the store buy with that same email address, we track them and let's just say your friend, partners, significant other, spouse buys under theirs, that's not tracked. So just from the people that download buyers guide, they buy it comes out to be about a million or a million and half per month in revenue. Yeah, that's just that not including... What we tried to do when you look at when anybody looks at Google analytics, typically Marcus said for his pool company, once they hit pages 30, his conversion goes up.

For us I think it's seven minutes or 10 and a half pages and blogs play a big part of that. You want to get trust and then you want to execute. And that's kind of how businesses and the blogging is in marketing is half that or say a third of it, the sales and execution, delivery, install, all that stuff has to be in order for this to work. Certainly the articles have to be good, but the delivery experience, the installation experience and the service experience of what we do, which is our differentiating factors have to be as good if not better.

Kathleen: So this has had a major implication for your overall business. Obviously it's not just revenue, clearly you're getting a lot of traffic and that's turning into business for you. But can you talk a little bit about some of the new directions that you're thinking of heading in as a result of this?

What Yale's success with content marketing has meant for its business

Steve: What we've been able to do certainly on the revenue side. The average appliance store in 10 years has gained probably 15 to 20% in revenue. We've, increased our revenue probably 350% in the same time. 37 about 122 million in a 10 year period. So that certainly plays a part of that in terms of stores. We've gone from one store to we're adding our third in November which will be our biggest store.

But really what we've done is we've taken that 2% that we normally two or 3%, we normally take in marketing and we put it in customer touchpoints and really the customer touchpoints, are systems and people. We've been able to keep good people because instead of blowing it on $3 million worth of say, Glow Buds or radio spots or something, we have a better medical, we have 401k matching.

To me that's... You market to your people first and those people market to your customers. So we've been able to take that wasted spend and put it into areas that people really appreciate. And that's people, systems, displays, warehousing, all that stuff, that's the other half of it. Is to take that money you would have spent and put it where people really want it.

The first thing during the recession when we change management, first thing I said is we're going to answer the phone, right? We're going to answer the phone and we're going to be good on the execution side. And we put our money towards that rather than putting money on marketing. And it wouldn't take off if we didn't have some kind of social profile, which that whole blogging is a part of really, if blogging is a core competence that helps people come into the stores and then it's the execution side. It's two parts to this it's not just blogging that drives the revenue. It's the execution that keeps the revenue.

Kathleen: It's funny because there's lots of buzz that I hear at least that we could be due for another recession sometime in the next couple of years. When you think about the evolution of the company and how you've done marketing and consider that there is this prospect that we may get hit again with another recession. How do you think the company will fare given your new marketing approach? Because it's very different than what you did the last time around.

Steve: I think we'll do a lot better again because one of the things is we're not wasting money. We all know that outbound marketing is a negative ROI deal. I think as long as you understand who your customer is and you're straight and transparent with them, I think you have a leg up over people who do not do that. And that's pretty much everybody in our space. There's some people that are doing it, some people that are doing well, but they don't understand the whole execution side.

Kathleen: Now the other thing that I think is interesting is historically you've been a local business. You're in the Boston area and well that's a big local market. It's still a local market and now you're getting all this traffic. I have to imagine a considerable amount of that traffic is not from the Boston area. Some people might hear that and think, well that's great that you have more traffic, but it's not really, that's not valuable traffic because they're not going to be able to walk in the door and buy from you. How do you look at that?

Steve: Oh that's very true. 88% of our traffic we cannot sell to. Because delivering an appliance it's not like delivering Sharmane tissues.Especially in Boston because we got brownstones and walk-ups you need very specialized delivery people. That's why we pay the delivery people well because we're not spending it on marketing. But the worst thing you can do is ruin your reputation by not execute.

It's a fair question a lot of this traffic is not really valid traffic. Let's take a million people say that we got last month on the blog or 800,000 or whatever it was, say it's 800,000 we'll minimize that means 12% of 800,000 in your market. How many people... We write to a specific audience. So how many people? 12% of a million or 800,000 it's still a lot of people that's still you're writing to 70,000 people. They're not reading your blog because they want to get to something else.

It's still a significant amount of people in the market. There's no way to hit, it's like the old days they talked about radio ads. It's like they sold it to you. There's 100,000 home owners but only 2% of them are in the market and only 2% of those will listen to ad. The people that are clicking on a blog posts are showing intent, right? So those are 70,000 people showing you intent because they're clicking on something. It's not like the old radio or TV metrics. So that's still a lot of people looking to buy from you.

Kathleen: Do you ever foresee that there might be an opportunity for you to somehow monetize that other 80%?

Steve: No, unless we're directly involved in the actual fulfillment of the order. I don't want to be involved. If we look at... There's a lot of really good online appliance stores that have really good interfaces. They put their money on the front end, but if you look at the reviews on Yelp or Google, they're so bad and over time that'll catch up to you. Right? Because really, the one thing that I always tell the people in the marketing department is don't forget that your consumer and the path to purchase is okay, you'll read a blog everyone talks about what's the one thing, it's all about attribution.

You'll read a blog post, you'll go online and you're mobile, you'll sit on your tablet, but somewhere down the line you're going to read reviews before you decide to purchase from that company or not. And you don't want everybody loves Impact because you guys do good work. But if you had a two star reputation on like Yelp or Google, we wouldn't be having this discussion. Right. So, I'm willing to... First of all, there's enough business in a local market.

I want more, it's cheaper in, and easier and better to be in the Boston market. Than being partly in Boston, in somewhere in L.A. which is actually our biggest market for the blog, New York. I think it's better logistically to stay where you are.

Kathleen: I was going to say maybe someday you'll have... You have three stores now maybe you'll someday have 30.

Steve: The way it works from a business standpoint, this goes a little bit back to blogging is you have a warehouse. You want to maximize that warehouse, then in a third store you need a bigger warehouse and you want to maximize that warehouse and then you run stores up that warehouse, that's where it becomes the most efficient to do business. Going to L.A and having logistics there and hiring and hiring service people in a whole new network is much more difficult.

Steve's advice to other CEOs

Kathleen: It's a good problem to have too much traffic and more than you can sell to. I want to go back to this issue of most CEOs don't necessarily see the justification for being personally involved in this. If somebody is listening and they are a Content Manager or the Head of Marketing and they're passionate about creating content for the company and they want the CEO to be involved, As a CEO yourself, do you have any advice for the best way for that person to approach the CEO and get them excited about taking part in this process?

Steve: It's like we said in the beginning, there aren't too many opportunities to increase your brand in the profile of that brand. There's not too many ways to create trust and there's not too many ways to raise revenue and reduce expenses at the same time. What is your bottom line look like by raising revenue and reducing expenses? And that's really my job is to... We used to be happy if we reduced expenses by 30, 50, 60,000.

Well now we're talking about reducing expenses at our level 700, a million, $2 million in increasing the top line revenues by since we'll be doing it anywhere from eight to 15% a year in a highly competitive market. There aren't too many opportunities to do that. In fact, there aren't any opportunities to do that.

And if you're a CEO and your other face of the brand of the company and it comes from you and you're answering people's questions and handling people's problems, that goes a long way in building your brand there. If it isn't that, what else would you be doing? I could sit there and run the warehouse, but there are people that run the warehouse better than me. I could sit on Ops, the people that run operations better than me.

It's important for a CEO to understand the metrics of success in the company, but terms of really the overall of really the fundamentals of a P&L we have revenues, we have expenses. If you raise one and lower the other one, that's what we're paid to do. And this is a unique opportunity to do it. Now, do you have to do it to my extreme? No, clearly not.

I got involved 12 years ago but if you were to do a post or two a week and maybe handle a couple of dicey problems and show that you have kind of deep seated knowledge of the industry. Especially if you're selling services, which many people do and you show that you handled that problem, a person with that problem is probably going to give you due consideration. Right. That's the way it works.

Kathleen: It's very interesting that you brought up the thing about personal brand because that's something that I've been giving a lot of thought to lately. There are so many companies creating content now. You were fortunate or had the incredible foresight to start doing this very early when this wasn't as ubiquitous. I just went to HubSpot's Inbound event there were 26,000 people there who are all drinking the Kool-Aid of content marketing.

And you look at crowds like that and you think, wow, all these people are bought in. It's getting harder to stand out and I really believe that one very effective way to stand out is through personal branding. Because anybody can kind of copy generic content, but you can't copy a personal brand that is inherently individual. So I'm curious in your experience for you personally, aside from the business results, what have you experienced as you've put your personal brand behind the content? Like has that resulted in anything for you?

Steve: First of all let's not give me so much credit. I ran out of money. I didn't have a choice. Most good content marketers will tell you during the recession, we all ran out at doe. That's why-

Kathleen: I owned a business in the recession. And I can definitely second that. That's why I started blogging too. I was like, I have all this time and no money. I'll write.

Steve: Exactly. I could've just as easily destroyed a 90 year old company, which I was very close to doing. That's it I'm not really interested in my own personal brand. Really having gone through the recession as both of us have, it's more important for the company to have a strong balance sheet than it is for me to build a personal brand.

And personal branding is, brands are like sponges. They can't they get everything, they keep everything that's good and bad about the brand. And the fact that my personal brand, your personal brand impact Yale, we don't know own the brands anyway. It's what's being said out there that really shapes what the brand is.

Kathleen: Don't they say that your brand is what people say about you when you're not in the room?

Steve: Your brand is what other people say. We've lost control of our brand when the Internet became popular. So, really personal branding... I think people appreciate I still answer most of the questions on the blog and I think people appreciate the fact that it's not me I'm not building my personal brand. I think a lot of people need help they're not getting in other places. And what I do is just, I give them the what to do and how to do it. And it's not about building a personal brand at all.

Kathleen's two questions

Kathleen: So interesting. I love your story and it's unbelievable what you guys have done. We don't have too much more time, so I want to make sure before we wrap up that I asked you the two questions I ask all of my guests. The first one being we're all about inbound marketing on this podcast. Is there a particular company or individual that you know, who you think is really killing it with inbound marketing right now?

Steve: Obviously great adversary Marcus Sheridan his killing it. I think back to our first conversation, there were two thoughts and went through my head as A. I need to do this B. I want him to eat his words. And you know the funny thing is it's like I want it to be better than him. But it never worked out that way because he was on other things it's almost like you go into the battlefield and you get a note from guys saying. "Hey, the land is yours and by the way I love what you're doing and all the rest of it, but I'm busy taking over France or whatever."

His journey into his personal brand of videos is really compelling and I think his role with the pool company. I think they do a great job. The person that I liked the most in this space is a Crystal Cornea and what she did at Block Imaging I thought was fantastic. She made buying refurbs cool. She made people in that company feel cool writing about it. For me, I tell people it's good to do because it's good for your personal brand that I shouldn't control your brand. But she made it cool to do that.

I've kind of lost touch with Block and what they've done since but I know she's left and she works as a consultant for other people, but I really love the way she goes about it. She's very inclusive and she did a great job with Block.

Kathleen: Yeah, she's really impressive and you know, Marcus is, you're right. I interviewed him I think he was my first episode of this year. And the thing that I love about Marcus and you totally hit the nail on the head. He's constantly evolving. And the reason to me is that he's such a student of human nature, which is what makes him great at content marketing. He is not a marketer. He is a student of human nature. And so that is what led him to realize that, hey, we just have to answer people's questions. Right.

This isn't super scientific it's almost once you tell somebody they sh they're like, Duh. But it took somebody who wasn't a marketer to figure it out. And somebody who's a keen observer of people. And that's the same thing that he's doing with video. He's a very keen observer of people and how they interact and communicate and so it makes them incredibly successful.

Steve: Oh yeah. I think I the fundamentals to content marketing is the same fundamentals of everything else is. A. Do know what you're doing? B. Can you communicate it? And that'll come if you know what you're doing and C. And this is the really important part, this is like the C-level stuff is, are you executed once you've said that? And those three, if you put those three together, you have some special.

Kathleen: And I always say also, can you get out of your own way? Because often marketers are their own worst enemies and they take their human hat off and put their marketing hat on and they write like robots and it's just, it's interesting.

Steve: So they write and a lot more people are starting to write for search engines and that's troubling too. And they can't basically answer the question. There's so many people that... Everyone talks about tips, hacks, it's got to be 2000 words now or whatever it is. But the person that answers the question that best will get ranked because Google's not stupid they'll give the best experience wins. And if you can answer the question on a 1,000 words and is more compelling than the person writing 2000 words and you'll win.

Kathleen: Right. The only correct answer to how long does an article need to be is as long as is required to answer the question. Second question is, the world of digital marketing is changing really quickly. And obviously your a CEO, you're not wearing the marketing hat in the company, but you're somebody who is keenly aware of marketing. How do you stay up to date and make sure that you're not falling behind the times with marketing?

Steve: That's a great question now that I'm in Boston now I've commuted to stores. I actually have a commute. So I podcast a lot and there's some good marketing podcast. Patel has a very good one, Tony Robbins has a good one, some of the paid search guys have good ones. There's five or six, I'll listen to I'll read blog post and then I'll go to some conferences. Impact has become important over the last couple of years.Certainly HubSpot, we've been going to HubSpot they used to have it at the, at the Hilton hotel and [Copley 00:37:51] two rooms. When I was there initially I think it was 400 people in two tracks.

And RF, which is the Retail Foundation in January they put a good one in New York, such marketing conferences and other one I'll go to like four or five conferences a year. If there's a good class I'll do that, Linkedin learning is apart, Social Media Examiner, they have to get some good stuff too. So it's a constant because everything changes and you want to be on top of that certainly.

Kathleen: It Can be very tough to keep up with but I do think it's a matter of picking your five or six sources that you really love and just sticking with those and you've got anything else on top of it. That's gravy.

Steve: The one thing is it's you can only be especially if you're a small team and I think this is geared more to a small business maybe, but you've got a small team or if you're a single person, like me and Pat were initially. You can only be very good in it one or two aspects. You can't be great at blogging, great at Instagram, great at Pinterest, great at Google ads. You can't be great at like there are 10 things that you can be really great in marketing that can move the needle, but pick one or two.

That A. Figured out where customers are and you learned Google analytics for that. And two figure out what your passions are. If your passions with photography, like I'm not, Instagram would be a good one for you, Pinterest would be a good one for you. Wherever you think you can really dominate a certain aspect, rather be just mediocre at everything. You do not need to everything you needed to one or two things really, really well.

Kathleen: Right. That's the old Jack of all trades, master of none problem. Right?

Steve: Very true.

How to connect with Steve

Kathleen: This has been so great if somebody wants to learn more about Yale Appliance or connect with you, what's the best way for them to do that?

Steve: I don't really know.

Kathleen: Visit your website I would assume, right?

Steve: Yeah. I'm on Twitter I guess like everybody else. I've got 3000 followers. I have no idea who they are.

Certainly LinkedIn, my email address, you can certainly give

This community it's been really good to me and I'm happy to really answer any questions that anybody has. About marketing or inbound marketing or anything else. So email, Linkedin. My name is Steve Sheinkopf obviously, Twitter that type of stuff. I'll get back to you eventually.

Kathleen: Great. Well, I will put the links to all those things in the short notes. And of course you already said that you answer all the questions on the blog. So I would think that people could go there and if they have questions about appliances, they know who to ask.

You know what to do next...

Kathleen: And if you're listening and you learnt something new, or you liked what you heard, of course, please leave the podcast a five star review on Apple Podcasts. That's how we get funds. And if you know somebody else who's doing kick ass inbound marketing work, tweet me @workmommywork, because I would love to interview them. That's it for this week. Thanks Steve.

Steve: Alright. Thank you Kathleen.