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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.

Jul 23, 2018

What's the quickest and easiest way to turn your sales people and subject matter experts into content creators?

On this week's episode of The Inbound Success Podcast, marketing agency coach Max Traylor talks about "The Rockstar Creative Method" - the process he's used to make reluctant sales people and subject matter experts into rockstar content creators by having them interview clients and then turning that into a video show.

Listen to the podcast to learn more about Max's process and how he's used this approach to grow his own business.


Kathleen Booth (host): Welcome back to The Inbound Success podcast. My name's Kathleen Booth and I'm your host.

Before we get started today, just one quick announcement. I'm excited to let everyone know that the podcast now has an Alexa skill. So if for some crazy reason you want to hear my voice talking at you for one hour a week out of your Alexa, now you can. All you have to do is go into your Alexa app to the skills and search "Inbound Success" and you should find it.

With that, I want to introduce my guest today who is Max Traylor. Max is an inbound agency coach, a marketing strategist and a product strategist. Welcome to the podcast Max.

Max Traylor (guest): Hello Kathleen.

Max Traylor Kathleen Booth Inbound Success Podcast
Max and Kathleen recording this episode

Kathleen: It's great to have you here.

Max: It's great to be here and I'm already learning things based on your Alexa ...

Kathleen: My Alexa skill. I'm not convinced there's anyone that actually wants to hear me talking for an hour every week in their Alexa, but should there be, we have provided that option.

I'm interested to have you here because every week, this podcast is me talking to somebody who's a practicing marketer, who's doing something really well, and we try and pick apart what they're doing well. Many of those guests have been inbound agency owners and a lot of people think, "Oh, if you run an agency, you must really be an expert" and many of those people really are.

What I think is interesting about this particular interview is, I'm interviewing somebody who helps the agency owner. So this is like "the expert behind the expert." So for agency owners that are struggling to take their business to the next level, you're a great resource, but you also yourself are directly somebody who advises on marketing strategy and the product positioning of services, which is an area that I think is just ripe for discussion.

So that's enough of me tooting your horn. Tell our audience a little bit about yourself and what you do.

About Max Traylor

Max: Well, your introduction sounded really good. I'll probably borrow from that. 

Kathleen: You can pay me later.

Max: Yes, thank you.

I ran an agency for about five years...very traditional, what everybody says to do. And during that time I really, I really fell in love with the strategy part, which was when clients paid me for my knowledge and not necessarily doing the work, but advising them on what was most important, creating plans that could be executed by other project managers.

So I fell in love with strategy and somewhere along the line, I accidentally productized what was in my head. We took our process for delivering a content strategy ... we took our process for delivering content marketing services and we turned that into a strategy that we called the Content Marketer's Blueprint.

After that, I was exposed to this world of licensing intellectual property, of creating online classes, these residual business models. And I always grew up with that with my dad working from home and he'd always say, "Digital, scalable, residual Max", and I had no idea what he was talking about until that day that I accidentally created a product.

So I like working with experts in their field that are really knowledgeable on a particular topic and have created processes of their own. For those people, I help them productize what's in their head.

For agency owners, I help them do more strategy work because for the people with the most knowledge and the most experience, I think that concentrating on delivering strategy and playing the role of the strategist is really the way they can provide the most value.

And then over the years, I've experimented with a lot of alternative marketing methods for myself and I like to package those up and work with marketing and sales software companies when I'm doing my marketing strategy work.

So definitely a problem with shiny object syndrome, but I've limited it to three. So that's nice.

Kathleen: I want to go back to what you said about "digital, scalable, residual" because as soon as he said that in my head, what popped up was my father. My father who was in real estate, unlike your father, and he always said it was "location, location, location." I feel like digital, scalable, residual is the location, location, location of marketing. So I love that.

Max: Yeah. Well, I always wondered why he was at home everyday and taking me to Disney World and now I'm able to provide value to clients by sitting next to my pool. So I feel like I've gotten at least a piece of it, but it's sort of a mentality that I've always had looking at the opportunity for marketing entrepreneurs and more broadly the opportunity for sales consultants and marketing consultants alike.

The current state of content marketing

Kathleen: You've been in this inbound marketing space for a while and you've been in it as an agency owner, as a strategist, as a consultant. You've worn different hats and I'm sure if you're anything like me, over the course of those years, you've seen inbound marketing evolve quite a bit.

When I first got into this business it was like all you had to do was throw up a 500 word blog once a week, and it was that old field of dreams "if you build it, they will come?" model and you didn't have to work that hard because not everybody was doing it.

Now the landscape has changed so dramatically and I'm curious -- as somebody who advises both companies on their actual marketing strategy, but also agencies on how to grow, I would love to hear your take on how that landscape is changing and what you see as the key drivers going forward.

Max: Well, in the beginning it was a land grab. Google changed a couple of their rules to where people actually had to provide value and the way most people interpreted that was, "I create a bunch of blog articles and I really increase my traffic, and then I put some little buttons on my website that gets people to fill out forms and I can call those people and generate some new business."

In the early days, that's what it was because it was the early adopters that really had all the opportunity in the world, and they didn't have to work too hard. It was very easy to provide more value than the black hat SEO folks of the past that were using trickery to increase their traffic. It was very similar to in the early U.S. when we were all moving west and the government would literally give you land grants. All you had to do was go out there and that's kinda what the early days of inbound were like. All you had to do was create some content people would show up at your front door.

But now we live in a very saturated market and every industry is becoming saturated. I talk to a lot of people in the manufacturing space that say, "Well, not a lot of people in our industry are creating content and all the other people are focused on inbound in our industry."

That's just not true. I mean google inbound marketing for manufacturers, google anything that a potential customer of a large industrial manufacturer would be googling. There's pages and pages and pages of content. So we're forced to get more creative, we're forced to provide more value.

In my opinion, what we're shifting from is organizations trying to make themselves attractive via content and we're shifting to an era of personal brands where it's real people that are creating the content. It's not some marketer in a dark room somewhere trying to repeat what you've said. It's actually the subject matter expert that's creating content and generating conversations with their target audience.

Kathleen: Yeah, I would agree with that. It's funny, I always ... People talk about setting a high bar or a low bar, and when I'm thinking of the evolution of inbound marketing, I always in my head think of it like a game of limbo. So it's almost like the opposite, where we started out with a really high bar and everybody could just slightly bend backwards and limbo right through it with their short little blogs. And the bar has gotten progressively lower over the years and now you have to bend a lot farther backwards.

It's a lot harder to do it and there's far fewer people/companies or brands that are putting in the work needed to make it through that bar and get to the other side and really see success. I don't know why in my head I kind of reversed the bar analogy, but yeah, it's harder work.

Max: No, that's an appropriate analogy. Not to be confused with, like you said, setting the bar high or setting the bar low.

Kathleen: We're setting a really low bar.

Max: Exactly. Obviously that's a broad suggestion to say, "Be more creative, create better content." "Great, okay. How do I do that?" The simple answer is focus more.

The more focused you are at providing value to a specific industry, or even a sub industry in a lot of cases, because of how saturated these markets have gotten, but also a horizontal practice area. And I see that the companies that are creating content for a specific type of target buyer with a very specific problem, are the ones having the most success. And the more you can dedicate yourself to that focus, it's almost like taking that bar and raising it up a little bit more, so it's just a little bit easier to get under it.

Kathleen: Now what do you say to people who hear that and say, "But if I get super specific, I'll be alienating all those other people out there."

Max: So you just described 99% of people out there.

Kathleen: Yeah.

Max: And I'm kind of thankful for it because that's what keeps the 1% having fun. The 1% ... You just have to do it. I mean, if you've ever invested for a year in content trying to generate opportunities and you haven't focused on a particular industry area, let me know how that worked for you.

Kathleen: Yeah. I work with Marcus Sheridan, a man who lots of folks listening probably know, and he is famous for saying "the riches are in the niches."

Max: Yeah.

Kathleen: And it's true.

Max: He's a smart guy.

Kathleen: Yeah.

Max: Why 99% of people don't listen to you, don't listen to him, don't listen to me? It's fear.

It's fear that they are limiting their opportunity, when in fact the exact opposite is happening. You cannot be everything to everyone, and I try to interview experts all the time in sales and marketing and startup consulting. No one has ever, ever, ever said, that I respect as a consultant, "Oh, you should go more broad."

Kathleen: Right.

Max: Never. Not once. 

Kathleen: I would be willing to bet that inbound agency owners are some of the biggest violators of this because the agency space has gotten very crowded and there's lots of general, "full service inbound agencies" out there. So I'm sure that they are not necessarily practicing what they preach all the time either.

Max: So that's the weirdest thing about agency owners. Most people can sit there and bask in the fear and say, "No, I'm not going to go that specific because I'm afraid that I'm giving up all these opportunities." But agency owners are the only ones that day in, day out tell their clients that they need to focus without focusing ourselves.

Kathleen: Yeah. I would agree with that. So one thing is getting specific in your content. How important it is it also to have a strong point of view?

Max: I mean, when have you ever enjoyed a conversation when somebody didn't have a strong point of view? Like I said, this is becoming more about individual conversations. It's becoming more about a personal brand and somebody's actually enjoying listening to somebody.

Regardless of if your opinion is met with a rejection or if it pisses people off or if people are really refreshed by your point of view, you have to have an opinion. And if you don't have an opinion, it's just boring.

Kathleen: I think I know the answer to this question, but I'm going to ask it anyway. Do you also find that 99% of people come back to you with the same response on that as they do on getting specific? That they're afraid that if they take a strong stance, they're going to alienate a lot of people.

Max: A hundred percent, which again is ... It's sort of a natural market defense for the people that are willing to take those risks and be specific and have a specific opinion. If everybody was doing it well, then it'd be much harder to stand out.

Luckily, there still exists a land grab today. We haven't gotten all the way to the Pacific Ocean. We've reached like, California, and California is still reserved for those that will focus and have a clear opinion as they provide value for that specific marketplace.

Kathleen: Excellent. All right. I'm taking over San Francisco.

Max: Yeah, right. I'll meet you on the beach.

The Rockstar Creative Method

Kathleen: So when you work with folks these days, obviously you're evangelizing the need to continue to produce content, but to do it in a way that is very focused, that it has some sort of point of view. If I were your client and I said, "Okay, I'm ready to go." How would you generally advise me to get started? What's the best way to produce that content?

Max: Well, the content is about answering questions and there's a lot of very smart people that have written books about that. That's what inbound marketing content is. It's taking the most burning questions, the most valuable questions when answered, and projecting that out into the marketplace to attract people with those problems.

I've found that over the years the best content -- if you think about content in a broad sense, not just what we sit down and write on our blog -- the best content being created is between the actual buyer and a subject matter expert. And we spend thousands of dollars and years trying to recreate that magic. And I've come to the point where I've stopped trying to recreate that magic and instead encourage more of those conversations.

My advice to somebody getting started with inbound marketing, is do not pay someone to blog for you. Reach out and have a conversation with your target buyer. Call it research, call it an interview, call it you're writing a blog and you want their opinion. But if you're creating content and you aren't speaking with your target buyer, you're doing it wrong.

That is what inbound is all about, is answering people's questions. Why not start a new relationship, get someone's real question and provide value right then and there? Capture it on video. Capture it on Zoom. You get an audio automatically, just like this podcast that we're doing on Zoom today, and there's transcription services at ten cents a minute that gets you 80% accuracy.

There is a blog right there. You do an hour long interview. I never do hour long interviews, but if you do a 20 minute interview at ten cents a minute, that's $2.00.

Kathleen: Yeah.

Max: It's going to take you $2.00 and a little bit of elbow grease and putting your fear aside to reach out, interview someone in your target market and get a video resource, audio resource and text. Post that on your blog. And the only-

Kathleen: And that's funny that you say that because that's basically the process I follow for this podcast. Like Max said, we're on Zoom right now. I don't actually use the video. It's something that maybe we'll evolve into at some point, but I sometimes use stills from it. But I send it off, it gets transcribed by and it's amazing the accuracy and yeah, that's how the show notes come about. It's super easy, fast and inexpensive. Totally worth it.

Max: Doing it video is probably the most difficult thing that you can do. I happen to love doing video, and I really like the relationships that get created as part of these interviews, so I choose to do it on video, but the concept is including your ideal customers in the content creation process.

You could get on the phone and interview them and write down what they're saying. I don't know why you would do that because there's ... You just shouldn't be doing that, but regardless of how you do it, creating a new relationship in the beginning of the content creation process, it's taking inbound -- the typical process for creating content, where you put in all the work, hopefully to get paid off at the end -- and it's turning it on its head and saying, "Wait a minute, I'm trying to generate relationships with my ideal customers. Why don't I do that first and let the content creation come as a natural byproduct?"

Kathleen: Yeah. I love that. And just to be clear, I don't have anything against video. In fact, we're big fans of video at IMPACT, but I selfishly don't use video for my podcasts because then, every time I recorded one, I would have to put a lot more effort into looking good, and I personally feel like I have a face for audio.

We have a lot of really great webinar guests at IMPACT, and we did a webinar recently with Mari Smith, who, if folks haven't heard of her, she's this amazing Facebook marketing expert, and she did the webinar in a way that you could see her via a live feed through her DSLR camera, and everybody on my team was just like, "Wow, she has set a new bar," in this case, a high bar, "for how to look phenomenally camera ready." And after that I was like, "I can't be on video ever again until I get a stylist and a wardrobe consultant," so...

But I think there's something to that. When it comes to creating content, I've always said go with what you're most comfortable with, because if you try to put yourself in a position you're not comfortable, you're not going to do it and you're not going to stick with it. So for me, in this case, I really love the audio format. I'm comfortable with it. It's easy for me. I don't have to blow dry my hair and put on makeup for an hour before every podcast interview. I can just show up and have a great conversation, you know what I mean?

At the end of the day, the most important thing is that you get great content out there, and if that means video, great. If that means audio, great. Whatever you're going to really love doing, I think is the best format.

Max: Kathleen, that is so important. I hadn't really thought of that before you were mentioning it, but the most important thing with content is that you're consistent with it. And people will say, "Well, it's not about writing 10,000 blogs a week. It's about getting great content." Yes, but in some respects you do have to be consistent. That's the nature of the personal brand. That's how you're going to continue to grow your audience, continue to provide value. You do need to be consistent, and the one thing that prevents people from being consistent is they hate doing it.

So here's a tip. Write down all the things you hate about creating content, and simply don't do those things anymore. If I had created a list back when I was writing blogs, it would be speaking with an editor, trying to write what was in my head. So what did I do? I removed that. I no longer write articles. I do video interviews, and I don't need to try and write down what's in my head because of these great transcription services. So the number one thing, to your point, is it's got to be fun.

Kathleen: Absolutely.

Max: Boy, what a cool rule to follow.

Kathleen: You said earlier, "Don't ever hire anybody to write blogs for you," and I would just caveat that and say that I have seen that work, but really it only works well where the person or the company that's writing the blog for you is phone interviewing you. So if you were my client, and you just said you don't love to write, and if I was like, "Max, we need to get written blogs on your site," the only way that can work in an outsourced scenario is if you and I do a 30 minute phone call and I record it, just like you're talking about doing, and I give that recording to a writer, because then what they're really doing is just massaging your own words and turning them into a written format. If you're not doing that, it's really, really difficult to get an authentic sounding, detailed, meaty piece of content that works really well.

Max: Yeah. And maybe that's the opinionated me having an opinion on it that isn't always going to be right. I think there's definitely a place for professional writers that have developed knowledge and expertise in certain areas. That's my caveat to it. If you're going to hire somebody to do your blogging and actually be the one contributing the expertise, they have to be experts.

If you, yourself, are the subject matter expert, and it's your expertise, then the more you can make it easy for your writer to not have to reinvent, to not have to make up, to not have to sound like an expert, to literally take the words out of your mouth and provide the flow, provide the organization. But the words, the insights need to come from the subject matter expert, and we have the technology to very easily capture those words exactly.

Kathleen: One hundred percent. So, all right, let's go back for a second.

You started talking about how everybody should start by talking with their actual customers, or somebody who's a representative of their customer. Walk me through that. Give me examples of where you've done it or where somebody that you've advised has done it, and what does that look like when that content is produced and published?

Max: Yeah, so I actually did this by accident. When I went out on my own as a consultant, I knew that I wanted to have fun, and I knew that having beers with people that were truly experts in their space was something that I did during marketing events in Boston once a year, and it was a great time. So I said why not do that like all the time? 

I created this show, this video show, called Beers With Max, and all I knew is I wanted to interview people that were experts in their industry and that had a business model that was more than delivering a service one-to-one, they had some type of productized intellectual property, because I wanted to motivate and give confidence to people that were stuck in a traditional one-to-one services model.

That's how it started, and what I realized is that, by reaching out to people with that genuine message and saying, "Look, I want to have a beer with you online, and we'll ask some questions, and here's the people that I'm trying to motivate. What do you think?"

I just kept getting more yeses, and so I started raising the bar in the traditional sense of the analogy, and I started to reach out to established authors and speakers and CEOs. And it turns out, people are very willing to have an open conversation sharing their challenges, sharing what they've done to be successful in their own right. Good people are sort of naturally motivated to give back, and that's what I'm trying to do with my show, is get people to talk about what they've done to try and inspire others. And what happened by accident is a lot of those relationships turned into new business, because I wasn't trying to sell people things.

I was actually talking to my grandfather last night, having dinner, 93 years old, and he goes, "You know, I was never ..." He made a lot of money, put it that way. He said, "You know, I was never able to sell things, but people bought from me," because he never tried to sell them anything. He just created a relationship, and I think that's what naturally happens when you're including people in your process of educating the marketplace.

So, that's how I get all of my clients today for product development. That's what I use Beers With Max for. And then I started to say, "You know what? Maybe I'm not the only one." I had a client that was a marketing agency focused specifically in providing services to the publishing space. So we created a show happy hour, and we reached out to distributors who we knew had relationships with hundreds of publishers, and we said, "Great, we're going to have a cocktail and we're going to interview you about the biggest challenge in publishing companies." And magically, every time we interview a distributor, that distributor sends out a message saying, "Hey, check out this interview that I did," to the hundreds of publishers that they work with.

Bam, new business created.

I've got a technology client who is a differentiator, and their opinion is that people that are investing in sales enablement and sales coaching are being failed by technology. They don't feel that the current sales technology landscape is supporting sales enablement and sales coaching. So that's what his show Technical Difficulties is about, and he reaches out to CEOs of his target audience, interviews them, and the magical part is, anyone that says yes to that interview is, by default, his ideal ideal customer. They have to be investing in those things or else they wouldn't agree to an interview about investing in those things.

Social Mixers is a show by an agency I work with that specializes in social media. Again, I always try to have an alcohol theme because I think it says "no prep required." It's going to be fun.

Kathleen: You know what it reminds me of? Have you ever seen Jerry Seinfeld's show Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee?

Max: Someone made that reference when they heard about Beers With Max. I haven't seen it myself, but yes, I've-

Kathleen: It's awesome. He has these other comedians, and they literally ... Every episode is him driving a different car. I don't know where he gets all these cars, but he matches the car to the person that he's with. And so one week it'll be ... It was like, I think he did one with Garry Shandling. He's done one with Sarah Silverman. They just literally film him in the car, getting coffee, and talking about, as Jerry Seinfeld does, random things. So it sort of reminds me of that, but I love it. I love the concept.

Max: Well, I wonder how much a collaborative ... I'm sure Jerry Seinfeld makes his money through relationships and through different gigs that he's interested in, so I'm sure he's got a very similar payoff of interviewing different comedians.

Kathleen: Yeah. And every comedian he interviews is pretty high profile, and as you say, they share it, and that just amplifies the audience that much more for him. So that's neat.

Now, they've got all these different shows. Are these all video shows?

Max: They're really whatever. In the beginning I was like, "Wow, you need to do video because video automatically makes everything more productive." Google likes video more in email -- higher click rates and such.

But what it comes down to is what people enjoy and what they're comfortable with. I can force a client to do a video interview and it's awkward and it's weird, and that's just not sustainable. So sometimes it takes the form of research, and it's not a video conversation. Sometimes people are writing books and they want to gather opinions.

It's whatever they're comfortable with, and it's whatever they want to naturally produce. I want to produce a show because I'm charismatic and I just love getting on video. Other people like writing books, they're serial authors. Great. You've got another book coming out, go interview people that you want to feature their insights in your book. So whatever makes you tick, include your customers in the ticking.

Kathleen: And I imagine that there's so much you learn in the process. As marketers, we always come back to one of the cornerstones of any good marketing strategy is your audience persona -- understanding that target audience. I imagine even if you never got any new leads from doing this, you would still reap so many benefits from learning more and more about your target audience and that would make you better in other ways.

Max: Yeah. You know, my grandfather said one other thing last night that really resonated with me. He said, "Nobody's going to buy from you unless you know what you're talking about."

If I was ever asked, "Max, what gives you the right to charge me money, to charge money for what you think we should do?" I would say, "Hey, you're not getting it from me." I spend every day thinking about new leaders in the market to interview, and that's what I do. That's the only way I can have some relevance in this fast changing world. So unless you've got somebody having the amount of conversations with different experts, unless you've got somebody that's that dedicated to learning, maybe we should listen to me.

Kathleen: What makes any consultant qualified, right? When you first start consulting, you've got to start somewhere, and it's about, I think, innately being able to connect dots. I used to be a management consultant, so most management consultants I know don't come from a deep level of technical expertise in the industry to which they're providing their consulting. They are people who know how to connect dots and who know how to research and learn quickly and package that information in a way that's useful for their client.

Max: Yeah. Well-

Kathleen: Not saying that you're not an expert, just saying that I think that's an interesting element of pushback that you got.

Max: Well, you know, that's an interesting thing, the concept of an expert. I look at a strategist as a dot connector. A strategist will help a client identify what the most important opportunities are and come up with a plan to pursue those opportunities, but then you've got a very different type of expert, and that is an expert that has focused their lives and their learning on a particular practice area or a particular industry, and those experts are the tools that a strategist has available to them.

So like in my strategy work, for example, I pitch it in three ways, but one of the ways is I am going to help you build your A-team, because if somebody is a Linkedin expert, but is also an SEO expert, but also knows how to do Facebook advertising, guess what? They know how to do a bunch of things relatively well. It's like a bed of nails. If you'd lay down on a bed of nails, you're not going to get pricked. It's dull. It's nullified.

Kathleen: Jack of all trades, master of none.

Max: That's so much more prominent today, as you've got thousands of technologies, and the different practices in marketing are just ... The complexity is skyrocketing, so what we need is a group of people that have focused in particular areas, and as a strategist we can identify when it's the most appropriate time to bring in those experts. And again, creating focus is the best thing you can do in this increasingly complex marketing landscape.

Kathleen: Yeah. So you've had your show Beers With Max for how long now?

Max: A little over two years.

Kathleen: Okay. And you've already mentioned that that has resulted in new business opportunities for you.

Max: All of the business opportunities.

Kathleen: And how have those come about? Like if somebody is listening to this and thinking, "Okay, I'm going to test this approach," is it that old "Field of Dreams" thing, like "If you build it they will come," or are there certain things that you advise people do in order to maximize the likelihood that listeners will turn into leads?

Max: I'll use the Field of Dreams analogy. It's kind of like going out into the cornfield, finding somebody, and dragging them by the hand back to your house and going, "Look, here he is." I don't have to build the shit. He's right here. And excuse me, I don't know if you're-

Kathleen: No, you can say that on here.

Max: I won't say it too many times, but I got excited. Yeah, it's, what is the downside of having a conversation with your ideal customers? I think the thing that holds people back from trying it, is the fear of reaching out.

It's the same reason they do in marketing and wait for leads to show up. We have to combine reaching out with the noble idea of.inbound marketing -- educating the marketplace and actually providing value. So it's a combination of reaching out and actually having a conversation with the people you want to work with, but as my 93 year old grandfather would say, "Don't try and sell to them."

This is about learning. This is about educating the marketplace. And people that are willing to collaborate with you on that and share that vision oftentimes are your best customers and they're a joy to work with. So it comes about, again, this was an accident, and it was probably the best accident that ever happened to me, but I'd reach out and I'd start off with a 15 minute conversation before the show about what they were up to, what challenges they'd seen in the marketplace, what they've done that's unique, and then they would ask me that and now we're introduced.

Now we know who each other are, and then when do an interview, and we have a beer, and it's fun and people show up. Maybe some relationships are created. But we're having an interesting conversation, and what happened was nine times out of ten people would say, "Hey, I'm interested to learn more about what you're doing. That was a fun conversation. I'd have fun having another conversation." And that never happens when you're trying to sell something to them or to somebody.

So create as many accidental conversations, but just have faith that creating value and speaking with people that you might eventually want to work with is gonna build some lasting relationships. I'll never forget the conversation I had with my grandfather. Literally last night, he was like, "I built really incredible relationships with people I happen to do business with." And that's how he was able to be so successful whilst being a terrible salesperson.

Kathleen: One of my favorite things about this interview is that I have gotten so many little knowledge bombs secondhand from your dad and your grandfather.

Max: Well they certainly don't come from me, so -

Kathleen: It's great, I love it! There was a famous twitter account a few years back called Shit My Dad Says. So there you go, I'm saying the word, too. And I feel like you have a "Shit My Grandpa Says" opportunity, because there's so many great little tidbits of advice there.

Max: Well, if I had to learn from people, it would be people in their 90's. They tend to have a lot of experiences.

Kathleen: Yeah. That's great. So you have a great name for this approach to creating content. Can you share that with everybody?

Max: Well it's really if you take the approach of doing a video interview and then you get the audio as a natural byproduct and you get the text as a natural byproduct, I look at that as the pinnacle of what you can do in creating content and it's worked so well for me.

I call it the "Rockstar Creative Method," because you kind of have to have that rockstar mentality to do a video show. You don't have to be a rockstar, but that's sort of the persona you take on is that you're going to host a show and it's about the person you're interviewing and there are other ways to do it but rarely do you get all three consumption formats. You get video, you get audio and you get text.

So if you want to be a rockstar, there you go!

Kathleen: I like the Rockstar Creative method. You heard it here first.

Kathleen's Two Questions

So changing gears for a minute here, I always ask my guests the same two questions and as somebody who's been in this industry for a long time, I'm very curious to hear what your responses are going to be.

The first question is, company or individual, who do you think is doing inbound marketing really well right now?

Max: Well, you know, I knew you were going to ask that and I was hesitant at first, but you guys are probably -- and when I say you guys I mean IMPACT Branding -- probably one of my best examples of doing this. Because Kathleen, you don't just have your show. If you look at all the shows and podcasts that IMPACT is doing, you're taking all of the most valuable personal brands within your organization and you're applying this method.

From everything we've talked about about personal brands and creating content and including folks in the content creation process, I mean you guys are doing it perfectly.

Once you understand what you're looking for, you could do content marketing really well without this. It's that traditional way of creating content and hoping for people to show up. If you got in early enough, if you're one of the early movers west, congratulations! Because you probably have a lot of traffic and you generate a lot of opportunities, but for individual entrepreneurs that are just getting into this or companies that were a little late to the game, they need a golden ticket. They need something different.

You look at new companies that just started out that are so successful like DataBox, pretty much overnight they've created an incredible blog and the whole strategy was to use their partners to generate content. And guess what? That's exactly what HubSpot did. They took their content team and expanded their efforts by using their partners and their ideal customers collaboratively to generate content.

And now that you're looking at it through this lens, you look at all the most popular blogs, and the blogs and the content isn't being created by one person or faceless marketers. It's being created by real subject matter experts in collaboration with the people that would potentially buy their products or services.

Kathleen: Well thank you for the very kind words about IMPACT's content. I mean, I will say that we're very fortunate, because we're an agency full of marketers, that we have so many people on our team who are very comfortable creating content, and so with almost 60- employees, we have a very deep well from which to draw that content out.

Pretty much everyone in the company contributes once a month to our blog, but we also do -- as you noticed -- we have a lot of people that are even more prolific and have decided to start podcasts. It's kind of funny, because we didn't set out to have whatever it is, five or six podcasts that we have now. It's just that we had a lot of people who said, "You know what? I'm just gonna do this." And the company said, "Great, go ahead and do it!" And we wound up with almost our own channel of podcasts, if you will.

Max: It's a collection of personal brands which I love to see because I think people are buying from people, and people are attracted to people. Is it the IMPACT brand that's so attractive or is the cumulative of the six personal brands that are doing shows all the time and the other 60 personal brands that are experts in their own right creating content as well? I'd tend to say the latter.

Kathleen: Yeah and what you said about DataBox is very true. I had Pete Caputa who is the CEO on as one of my earlier guests and I think the title of that episode was How to 6X Your Organic Traffic In Six Months, and exactly how he did it is what you said. He used all of his network, his audience, his ideal customers as contributors and it made it much easier for him to create content. It made it easier for him to go faster with a small staff, and now his staff is getting much bigger because they've been successful and it's been like this kind of cumulative effect. So it absolutely does work.

Max: Well it was actually Pete that made me realize what I was doing, what I was accidentally doing. It was a webinar that he was on, and he said, "If you're not creating content with your target audience you're doling it wrong."

Kathleen: Yeah.

Max: A light bulb went off and I was lik, "Oh, yeah. That's what I'm doing. That's why this is so great."

Kathleen: Well, and the funny thing about Pete -- I think he said this when I interviewed him -- he was like, "I talk about this all the time, about how people should be doing this and how it's worked for us." And he's like, "You would be amazed at how almost nobody actually does it. They hear me say it. They know it works, but they just don't go do it." So he's like, "I want to see who's going to be the first one to listen to this episode and do it themselves." That's why.

I think you have the opportunity for that last number of people to get to California as you were saying earlier. They know what it takes to get to California. Somebody has told them where the path is and how to get there. They're just not doing it.

Max: All you gotta do is follow directions. The directions are right there.

Kathleen: Yeah.

Max: Yeah, no, he's very right. That's been my experience as well. Even when people pay for this advice and strategies to lay out exactly how they should be doing it, the resistance is a lot more than you'd expect.

Kathleen: Absolutely.

Well, you talked earlier about how you advise companies and what they're buying is not only your expertise, it's the cumulative expertise of you plus all the people that you're regularly talking to. And so that leads me to my last question for you which is, with the world of digital marketing changing so quickly, how do you stay up to date?

Max: Talk with experts all the time. My favorite book right now is by David C. Baker, it's always on my desk. It's not today. The name of the book is Business of Expertise. He sort of addresses this question in that an expert won't know everything. An expert will know what he's not an expert in. That's what defines an expert. But he will have an opinion on everything.

So it's this process of, how do you consistently build your opinions on different things out there in the marketplace? And for me, the best way that I've found to do that is to actually speak with the experts. They tend to be pretty willing to share their experiences and the biggest insights that they've gained over the years.

So I would say get out and talk to the people. You can subscribe to their blogs and this and that, but nothing beats actually speaking with somebody that's dedicated their life to a particular practice area or industry segment and just listening to them. And having no preconceived agenda on what you're going to talk about. Just, "Hey, learn me something! What are you up to? What's going on in LinkedIn these days?"

You'd be surprised at what you'd hear and those conversations make that bag of knowledge, that list of opinions that you have so valuable for somebody that doesn't know where to start.

Kathleen: Absolutely, that's exactly why I do my podcast. For me, it's all about learning. I learn something new every single time I talk to somebody, without fail.

Max: Yeah, like when I was paying for a college education, why didn't I have a different professor every day?

Kathleen: That's a great point.

Max: That would have been amazing.

Want to get in touch with Max?

Kathleen: Yeah. Certainly would make it less boring sometimes. Well, this has been so great, and if somebody wants to get in touch with you and ask a question about what you've discussed here or wants to talk to you about helping them with some coaching, what's the best way for them to reach you online?

Max:, it's very easy to find the little button that says "Book a time," and there's some videos on me if you haven't gotten enough of my opinions. It would be a fun conversation and given the nature of my learning, I'm really interested in talking to anybody that's got something on their mind because I typically learn from it and sometimes create some content out of it.

Kathleen: All right. Well I'll put a link to your site in the show notes and so if you're interested in reaching out to Max, make sure to check those out.

Have you reviewed the podcast yet?

If you listened to this podcast interview and liked what you heard or learned something from it, I would really appreciate it if you would consider giving the podcast a review on Stitcher, iTunes, SoundCloud wherever you listen to your podcasts.

And if you know somebody who is doing really kick ass inbound marketing work, tweet me at workmommywork because I would love to interview them.

That's it for this week. Thanks, Max.

Max: Thank you, Kathleen. This was a lot of fun. I appreciate the invite.

Kathleen: For me as well.