This episode of the Midwest Marketing Show was recorded at the KCDMA 2016 Symposium in Kansas City during the Content Marketing Panel, moderated by Jeff Julian. During this panel, former Midwest Marketing Show guests Tim Thorpe, Marcia Francis, Kate Favrow, and Brody Dorland discuss topics such as the use of video in 2016, finding talent, developing stories, and using data to measure impact.
[Female speaker] Next up is our panel discussion, moderated by Jeff Julian. Jeff will introduce his panel members for you. Jeff is a business owner, a thought leader, and he's a published author. He's President and Chief Marketing Officer of AJI, the digital agency based in Kansas City. He's also highly regarded for his work in implementation of content marketing. He also has a podcast called Midwest Marketing where he brings together some of the top marketing minds and one of his books, Agile Marketing, was just recently released and his next book, Explicit Content will be released at the end of this year. So, please welcome the king of everything Jeff Julian.
Hello. So, let's look at our survey results real quick and you can keep funneling those in as we go. But it looks like data. So, here it comes for you. And then company wide content initiatives. Audience development, our top one. But to get started, want to ask you guys some interactive questions so we can all liven up a little bit at the end of the day, before you go to the bar. The first one is, how long have you been a digital content marketer, if you said you were a content marketer? So, if you've been one for five years, I want you to stand up. Just like a cruise ship, they do this all the time. Like, who's been married for five years? No one? OK. Five years, good job. OK, 10 years. 15 years. All right, well it looks like I've got everybody beat. This is me. Circa 1995. High school. Comes around the internet is something that no one else thought was popular except for me. And I made sure my class schedule was up there. And there's a list of people and if you're on that list you're cool. But, exactly, right? So this is 15 year old, right? But you can see on the side, there are a few other items like music and chat lines. Who remembers the chat line? Right, you had to hit refresh, type, refresh, refresh, refresh, wait for the conversation. Well, I've contributed a list of these items. It was like, "Here's cool bands websites" and just like my portal into the world. So, I've been doing this content marketing thing for a while, but so have these guys up here. And so I want to introduce our panelists and then we'll get to the questions. So, starting to my right is Jessica Best. Thank you, Jessica, I see what you did. So, we have Marsha Francis, so she is the Marketing Manager, Digital Strategy, at the University of Kansas Hospital. So we have one of the largest hospitals represented up here. Then we have Brody Dorland who runs, Co-founder of DBHQ, which is one of the largest content scheduling, creating systems in the world. So much better than Co-Schedule. And then I have Tim Thorpe who is the longest title up here. Director of Digital Content, Global Marketing and Communications at Black and Veatch. So, the largest privately owned company in Kansas City, that has the coolest corporate headquarters. Got that cool tour. And then we have Kate Favrow, who is the Corporate Marketing Manager at Associated Wholesale Grocers, which is the largest distributor, right, in Kansas City. So they do like awesome stuff. You got to listen to her podcast sometime to see. It will blow your mind at how cool they are. But one of the things everybody up here has been on the show at some point and has told their stories. So we won't go in too much detail there. We'll get to the questions. So, since we've got data as a big one, I will start by asking, just the group in general, but probably Tim, 'cause he's definitely focused on that, can you provide some examples of where you have used data to make decisions about your marketing efforts? And Tim, I know you have definitely dig into the data and you kind of interact between the world of IT and marketing, so maybe we'll start with you.
Sure, sure. Can you hear me?
Let's just use that.
Oh, OK. I get to wear two? OK, all right. Jeff, I wanted to know, were you the kid on the Jet.com commercial, in the basement, that wasn't you?
No, no. I got that. I got a lot of that one, the kid from McDonald's commercial with the short hair.
All right, I wanted to cover that before we get started. So, we do use data to make marketing decisions, one of the big things that we've been doing, probably in about the last 18 to 24 months, is we've been collecting, really, all of the analytic type of data that we can pull out of different systems and work putting it into a cloud based data warehousing system called "NOMO" and it's a tool that basically we've created a range of dashboards that we have a monthly center of expertise team, that looks at and then we're using that to shape all of our content efforts. So, what type of content is well performing, the folks that develop the content have arguments with my team about how quickly something should show up in search and how quickly it should resonate and be something that the marketplace likes and it is being consumed to a higher degree. That is one of the big areas, another area is related to our Sierra M and marketing automation solution. We have a system that we pay for and it's cloud based called "Inside View" and we use it to enrich all of the data that's coming in to either marketing around the nation or CRM system to create an automated way so that we have as complete as data as possible, whether we're refreshing or bringing somebody new into the system that we're using a tool, basically, to make that data a lot richer, as opposed to trying to get people to do that. 'Cause I think we all know that's a hard thing to do, is to get people to do that. So, Jeff, that's a couple of ways that today we're really using data to kind of drive a lot of our decision making at Black and Veatch.
Hi, I'm Marcia.
We're Black and Veatch, way down at the hospital, the University Kansas Hospital is using data in different ways than trying to pull it all together, so kind of in the journey. So we may have begun at one level, looking, finding our business services division, looking at a past year, determining what our strategies are gonna be, whether it's bandwidth or more business. Like, how many positions we have. I know you probably, when I came to the hospital, well, hospitals are like the service side, but there's a business side, too, of course, and where we have room and we know that we need to get appointments, but we don't want to drive customers, and that can change at any time. We have to be in touch with, we have a six week waiting period. If somebody calls for an appointment. So, you know, marketing an outer market so we're not driving consumers to, you know, for elective procedures or appointments. We know that they're gonna have a three month wait. That doesn't make anybody happy. So, you know, there's that mechanism, and then we're also looking on the other side at our CRM and starting to do some marketing automation and pull from that information and bring it all together full circle and try to put all of this together. In the meantime, we're all trying to get on the same business systems, that we get all data together so we can start to measure ROIs, like this huge being, you know, one day we were where you're at, and right now we're just at the very beginning part. But even in something like at Sports Marketing, the hospital is an academic medical center, so that is our niche. We're handling very complex cases where people may be sick in multiple ways, they're not just, may not come to have a baby, they come to have a baby because they also have high blood pressure and they have congenital heart failure, or they have some other issues, so it's a difficult to higher, but Sports Marketing is different. It's not we have that part, that initial healthcare provider, the world's weirdest human, as a term now, but that is a much more broad service line. So, we look at that differently, and we market the sports medicine differently because we're really, we're not just looking for a really location that may have a lot of complications, but maybe if the person just sprained their ankle and they want to get back or they want to increase their performance, it is important whether they're marathoners. So, using that information to market to different groups.
Yeah, so I'm gonna make everybody feel good that didn't have a lot of data because we do not have a lot of data, too. If you're not familiar with us, we do sell groceries, but we do sell independent to independent grocery stores throughout 31 states with their operations, so as you can imagine, if you work for a small brand or a retail location, trying to figure out how to gather as much data as you possibly can, is really crucial. But then, trying to figure out how you gather data four times a week when the customer's coming to the grocery store, is even more challenging. So, what we have kind of looked at is how we start to gather data in the ways that make sense for us, because there's so many touch points, as you all know, so what we're really looking at is from an online shopping perspective, and how many people grocery shop? Right, everybody, so it makes it a little interesting for us trying to figure out from an online perspective, who you are, what other demographics are identifying you, so it's not just your, we know that it's a female, we know you have two kids, but if I am single and I always buy strip steaks, is another single female always going to buy strip steaks? Not necessarily true, because you don't know whether my demographic information comes with me, so we're really looking at those purchasing histories and seeing how we translate those into other people to be able to then translate that into how you receive a grocery circular, because historically, especially in the small, independent world, it's always been a print circular, and our retailers were really holding onto that print, but if you're like me, and a vegetarian, you don't understand why you keep sending me the print circular with a T-bone steak on the front page, right? Like, I don't care. But those are the items that make sense for the broadest group of that, so what we're really, as I said, trying to do is understand, for me, personally, I don't want steak or the other options of people that are shopping like me, so we're trying to kind of garner all these different silos of information, and our other challenge is not all retailers operate on the same systems, so not only does it do this different systems not work together, it's literally we have three different CRM providers, and four different web providers, and three different e-mail providers, and all those different things that we're trying to merge that data together, and I was just having a conversation this morning about unique identifiers after I saw Theresa Becken Carter's and OshGosh presentation, does the e-mail work as a unique identifier from a grocery perspective better than a phone number? That's a question we have because phone numbers work really well, we can text people and say, "Hey, it's four o'clock, you really want to have "spaghetti and meatballs for dinner, "come on by." But if that's where you reach the largest group of people, so those are all challenges in the grocery world that we're trying to figure out how to solve, especially with independent retailers who are trying to merge all these data systems together.
And Brody, I want to ask you a different question. The next one that's most popular is content creation and the business unit, so as marketers, we can write content, how do we get our product development people, how do we get some of the executives to help us create content, or actually create content? And since you run this like, you probably have dealt with this question 100 times.
Yeah, well, you know, even when we had the conversation during the podcast, you know, we talked about this a little bit, and I think, you know, it's tricky because you know, certainly as marketers, especially as this world gets so much more content centric, you know, all digital channels that we need to fill with good content, good stories, good subject matter expertise, that kind of thing, we can and certainly pull from the expertise that we have as marketers, but maybe that only goes so far, maybe we need to extend out into the other subject matter experts, maybe we need to go outside, you know, maybe we need to kind of act like our own little reporting unit or little journalism unit inside the company, certainly you guys have probably heard of the concept of brand journalism, but you know, at the end of the day, or maybe over the course of time, you know, you can get tapped out, and your subject matter experts are tired of answering your e-mails, and you know, and that happens, but I think one of the things that we've talked about during that podcast episode, which I loved your whole scenario of incentivizing your employees and literally, in your case, is money. Paying them to write content for you. So, but obviously money might only be an incentive for a certain number of people, you know. Other people might want days off or you know, whatever the type of incentive is, I think it's good, certainly, if you have to rely on outside folks, maybe outside of your department, to help contribute to the content production effort, or even just even the ideation effort, getting ideas from other areas in the organization, be it sales, customer support, to incentivize that in some fashion, figure out what those mechanisms are, and if there's certain people that are always providing good stuff, figure out a way to incentivize them, figure out what they want, what they would like from you, be it money or a Starbucks gift card, which I got, thank you. Whatever you have to do to get folks to help contribute, you know, figure it out and just probably experiment a little bit and see what works.
Awesome. All right, Tim, question goes to you, same one because you deal with engineers, and we know they're people, people, they're always the ones running around, saying "Hey, let's have a conversation," right?
They're the best. That's a great question. I think a couple, maybe two answers. One is the answer like what we've done in the past that has been useful and that has worked, and that is, really, to, it's a lot easier to engage with the business when you're talking about some flagship content, whether that's one of our core, you know, content marketing, we have strategic direction reports that are talking about trends in the electric industry or the natural gas markets, those are things that our folks are gonna find much more interesting, in that they're gonna be much more engaged in being that subject matter expert that's participating. Obviously, if it's, you know, Bloomberg TV or you know, something that is really high profile, then usually there's not a shortage of interest in those type of content elements, as well. So, it just, historically, those are things that it just kind of depends, what we're trying to accomplish. The new world, I think, is two things. One is finding your champion within the business. Somebody that's passionate about content, somebody that wants to rally the troops and get other people interested in developing something engaging and something interesting to the marketplace, but in addition to that, it's turning it back to business wins. So, for us, really, a lot of our strategy today, when I talk about CRM or marketing automation or websites, it's about what are we putting out there that's gonna resonate from a search standpoint, which is about 70 to 80 percent of our activity is completely driven by search. If we're not putting things out there that are going to drive new leads into our system, then we're not going to be winning a business. So, as we've engaged with our businesses in a way where we're talking about, if we do this, people are gonna come here, and we'll know who they are, and you can talk to them about winning business, that really drives a lot of our behavioral shift into, I'm not reaching out to the business, they're coming to me. And then it becomes an issue of, how much volume do I actually have to help them and work with them to do the things that they want, and so, what we're seeing is that if we do that, there's really a lot more volume than we can handle, and we have to decide from a prioritization standpoint, how much can we help people, what can really do, how much content can we create, given the resources that we have?
Awesome. All right, Marsha. I grew up with a doctor, and so I know they speak a different language, but they like to speak, right? And so my stepdad travels all over the world, and he talks and I sit there and listen to it and I don't understand a word he's saying, but obviously it means something to somebody. What do you do with the physicians, the nurse groups, and the other clinical workers at the hospital to kind of get the content out to tell that bigger narrative?
I think one of the things that we're doing, trying to help tell the story, is that people know what kind of story to tell. Most often, just people doing what they do, because that's what a nurse does, and not realizing the extraordinary, sometimes impact is just, "This is what I'm supposed to do," because that's what, you know, that's the highlight of that patient and they don't realize how much of a difference that makes to every single patient, that that story is unique. And even when working nurses will say, "That's just what I do." And being able to help them realize that they have a story to tell and also about the they don't have to know how to do everything. They're good at what they do, and we can help them tell their story and it's not just incumbent upon them to like become a writer tomorrow. You know, or today. But we will help facilitate the process. So, we kind of reach out to the people that are the champions, just like you were saying, to find people that are super engaged, that we may have someone who is in something that has to do with nutrition and exercise, and how it can help someone along their journey. So that person is super engaged, and so we reached out to that person and did a video with them and were a video with web pages and social content to tell part of that story, but then to bring those all throughout the organization. We don't, you know, when you're sitting there in an office, in your cube, you know, their cube, and away from the hospital, sometimes it's hard to find all the stories that are out there, but the word that we get out is the organization. I don't know if any of you have ever had that problem, we have to get out to be with the people that are actually doing the business, and we've heard all these great stories. "Oh, you should talk to this person, "you should talk to that person." It's getting out and involved helps us to find the people who have the stories. And they're physicians, they have actually, they can be very academic, but they're very smart people, and they do have a vocation to go all the time, and they do have very good stories to tell and they use our writers who are interviewing them all the time, and take those stories and recontext that information into social quotes or eventually blogs. And other content.
Awesome. All right, Kate, we're gonna move to audience development. Because you were talking about, you know, helping those local grocers. So, how do you, because you guys do a very unique thing in your marketing team, because you're like kind of an agency inside the organization helping your customers with marketing. What kind of audience development tactics do you use for content to help the independent grocery stores have stuff they can roll with?
Yeah, so, kind of going off what Marsha has said, the way I see it, especially was, we stopped asking for content. We stopped using that word, because when we asked for content, they gave us a deer in the headlights look, like, "Oh my god, what is content?" So what we've started asking for is very specific things, so hopefully you all celebrated National Chocolate Cake Day yesterday. Oh, come on, yes. So, if you didn't know, every single day of the year is a national something food day. Sometimes more than one food at the time. It's a real thing that is signed into whatever. But it's a real thing. So what we stopped doing was, "Hey, send us content for National Chocolate Cake Day." What we started doing was saying, "Hey, we know people buy chocolate cake and they're "excited about chocolate cake, so what do you guys "have that is about chocolate cake?" We'll send them examples, and ideas, to our retailers to try and garner some of that content from them. But, as you guys all know with food, if you've seen Doritos, or if you've seen all these different things on food, people inspire other people to talk about food. So, we originally, for one of our private label brands Best Choice, originally were doing this, you know, great photography and it was all nice and everything, and what we found was when we snapped iPhone pictures that were sometimes a little bit blurry and it was in somebody's kitchen, people could relate to that, right? We all just watched the talk about having arms and legs in photos because they're realizing that they can be there. When we were doing these fantastically beautiful photos, people were like, "My kitchen doesn't "look like that," and that's definitely not what my casserole's gonna look like, that's definitely not what my chocolate cake is gonna look like. So we changed up content a little bit, because it could relate to the people that were throwing together mac and cheese and tuna in a casserole thing and the side of the dish isn't clean and, you know, getting that a little too overcooked over here, so that's the way that we started to reach out to those people. This is an everyday thing, we get it. Nobody's going to be perfect everyday, there are days that your filet mignon is gonna look amazing, and there's days when your mac and cheese with tuna is what you can get on the table, and there we go, so we're really trying to reach out to the different audiences that we know are there. Historically, it's always been about the mom and two kids, and she's always cooking for her husband or her partner, or whoever, but we changed that up, too, right? People on our content teams saying, "Hey, show us grocery shopping." In the aisle, a single dad. The produce, oh my god, the produce. Like, that's what matters, it's not just ramen, you know? Those are real things that happen. So, really, the way that we've kind of audience developed is that we look at our own lives and we're, you know, in all those different spaces on our team at ABG and our customer center and understand what's going across, what's on their Facebook feed, what do they care about, how do we get people to care about those things and talk about this stuff that's actually happening in the store.
Cool. And then it's Brody's turn, right? Brody, tell us about kind of DBHQ, because you're a start up and you're trying to build an audience of marketing.
Yeah, and it's tricky because it's a software tool that's basically helping to pioneer a completely new category, you know, in essence, so, you know, we're all about audience development because there's really nothing, historically, out there for this particular part of the process, you know, managing content. I shouldn't say that. Lots of tools out there, but managing the process of planning and production workflows, those types of things, so, you know, it's interesting because we do have the advantage of knowing, really digging into what you guys are doing now, in terms of your process, and I'm sure if I asked, well, I'll just go ahead and ask. How many of you, in order to manage your editorial schedule, are using some sort of spreadsheet? That's it? Oh, come on. All right, well, that's good. So, you know, in the early days, when there wasn't a whole lot of tools out there to manage these types of things, I'd ask the same question, and most of the hands would probably go up, and so, you know, just even throwing out something like you know, why your Excel editorial calendar will fail, you know, we can throw that blog post out, and offer a better solution, and whether it's an eBook, or a webinar that talks about how your Excel calendar scenario is just not gonna work and you know, there's a better way, those types of things will generate a lot of awareness in not only the product, but we can start capturing e-mail addresses, and all of the things you guys know how to do. And just really making a focus of creating good content assets that will drive that lead generation and we can start nurturing those folks that download an eBook or attend a webinar, and you know, over time, when we've made enough deposits in their trust bank, we can then, you know, fill out an Ask, hey, are you ready to sign up for a 14 day trial? That kind of thing, and if they're ready, great. And normally that's always generated business.
All right, Tim, you have projects that are gigantic, right? And you use really small purchase teams. Big city budgets and stuff like that, but they're putting large initiative. What do you guys do to kind of build those audiences to learn more about the product because it's not like you can cold call to see if somebody wants to put, you know, a microgrid into their town.
Right, we actually have a saying in our marketing team, that nobody looks at BV.com and then decides to buy a power plant or water treatment plant or anything like that. That's not how it works. I was thinking about that question a lot because for us being a big, in the B to B space, and like Jeff says, the really big projects, in some cases, you know, audience is not typical for what a lot of marketers are looking at. I think the thing that you made me think of is when I first came to work at Black and Veach five years ago, I heard about, I knew of the company, big engineering firm, you know, good brand, very well known, especially in this market, and so, "I know about Black and Veach." And so then I went to work for Black and Veach, and then within about two to three weeks, I figured out I have absolutely no idea what this company does, and it does some pretty amazing things that I still continue to be amazed at some of the projects. Our engineers are really the ones that are making successful and what I figured out as I was with the company longer is that my job is to create the right perception amongst the people that you're referring to, that were the ones that can do the things that they need and help them be successful, and so, how do you do that? Part of it is, are we this big successful company that does these amazing things? Yes, check that box, and we have the things that show that. Do we cover the risk? I even will tell people, "We're not really in the engineering construction space, "we're a risk management company, "and by the way, we're really good at "construction and engineering," but if we can't manage a client's risk, then it doesn't matter how good we are at engineering or construction, so what we've done, over time, to build our audience, what we found is, we produce so much really good meaningful content that is of interest to the folks that you mentioned, the city utility managers, you know, CEOs of energy companies, things like that, and their direct reports that are making these big decisions, we produce the things that they're interested in, we've not been very good at making those available, and putting those, you know, gating some of that content, so we find out who's consuming it. And right now, say for the last two years, that's our big push. When I talk to one of our business divisions, what white papers do you have? What things can we put on Slide Share? What things do we have that are you know, a subject matter expert, or a thought leadership thing that has been out there, maybe has existed for a couple years, is still relevant, and we can publish that and share that, and we've even looked at our, back to the data, we had a strategic direction report, we publish four of those a year, they're referenced in like USA Today and other, you know, New York Times, and other well known media publications. When we started publishing our historical versions of those over the last two to three years, the data very quickly started to indicate it was driving viewership of BV.com. It was driving registrations to download the PDF versions and driving information into Marceto, our marketing operation system. So, those are the things that we're doing, and, again, the data would indicate that they're being successful, and so a lot of our roadmap, at least in the near term, is to do a lot more of that, so that people see us as that, you know, that big massive company that can do these complex things, but leave you, at the end of your destination, with a really successful project in the process.
All right, Marsha, we've got two questions that are really high up there. I'm going to you because you guys have a really cool portion in the hospital now called the Medical News Network, so use of video and content and then storytelling, these are both high up there in interest to this audience. So, how do you guys pull those both together? Because I see the medium of video is one that can actually affect you emotionally, because it interacts with your hearing and your eyesight and you can easily, just like the video from the VFW, right? We all felt it. I would not have felt that way if they had an article written about it. Because you can talk about somebody who lost their legs in the war and just the words don't describe getting out of bed and the struggle. But you guys have this news network that your team and them, their team kind of collaborate together to get this information out there. So, can you tell us about it?
So, to the background, while you were doing that I was in television broadcasting, so my first way of telling stories was in video, it was show me, don't just tell me. So, like you said, being able to see how someone is going through their life, it's not saying "this person has this," it's showing them in their life. Being able to see that person and being able to see those scars from what really he has externally and give an indication of it. So, storytelling, of course, is the main powerful form that connects us. YouTube, you can connect with whoever you want to connect with. We all can have these stories, whether it's, you know, making a tuna casserole and having it be like, hey, I love that, I share food stuff. And actually our newsletters, recipes are useful content. And chocolate cake. Made with potatoes or whatever. Everyone wants chocolate cake. But Medical News Network was something that we set up with our public relations firm a little over a year ago. A year ago, November, to be correct. And typically, what had been happening before, was, you know, the media has something that they want to cover, they give you a call, they come to the hospital, you take them to go talk to someone, they interview the physician, they get some B roll, and they go. So, in order to kind of create an opportunity, back in the day, sometimes you would get a story from someone who wanted to promote a health story, say, for example, when I was a producer. And it would be a story with a reporter's soundtrack on it, and it would also have the script inside and just to have the natural sound and the interview bites, and your reporter could cover it. That's what you went to on Saturday when there was no news, and you pulled it out of your bottom drawer. But, of course, news has evolved a lot since that time. So, how did we create demand for the content and people wanted video. So, we created a mechanism, the Medical News Network is an online website where producers and assignment editors can go on at any time and look at stories that are trending and see video, and it may have a blurb about what the topic is about, and it's sound bites, from physicians, or other care providers, and then B roll, and they can make stories out of it, they can do whatever they want. They can download high def video. They view it online, on YouTube, then they can log in, download high def, that is perfectly usable for them for broadcasting purposes. So, that was kind of like a huge gamechanger for us, because you know, they didn't have to come to us, we had it up there and the could pull it down whenever they wanted. Any time of day, 24 hours, seven days a week. And if they do have something that they're interested in, and they can come do that. And we also have archive footage, so when somebody needed some B roll of a had heart surgery, it would be up there already. If they needed it at 11 o'clock at night, it was already there for them to use. So, it's kind of enabling the news media, enabling them to tell our story by being available all the time, and it's been pretty successful. We're pretty excited about it. It's really been well received and helped with all the other media. Now, for my team, which is in the kind of communications marketing area on the web, we started looking at, well, now we found all this great stuff out there, and if the media can take this down and edit it, why can't we? It's already been approved, it's out there. Yeah, I can use it. So, we started doing that recently. Just in the last three or four months. So, we empowered our team, we got the equipment we needed, we got the skill set, and we started talking to our marketing managers, they go on Medical News Network, they look at the video that's been shot, and like, "Oh, wow, this is gonna be great." And we edit it for our purpose, so we can take that down and tell a story around whatever we're talking about social media, or whatever our patients might be interested in. From a different perspective, not just from not necessarily from the news perspective, we're telling the story in a way that we think the patients might be interested or potential consumers or family members in learning more about something. Like, ebola, for example. Or some other thing that might be coming up for our doctor to speak about. The physician in chief and we can write around that and write around it, and have it be the right length for us, because when they put it up on the news network, there might be 10 minutes of unedited video up there. We can't use that. But we can use a 30 second sound bite. That's kind of it.
Yeah, so for us, video has really been one of the aspects, and that's kind of interesting thinking about food, but it's challenging for us to take that video to the consumer, because we have to reproduce it in so many different ways for all of our different brands, but what we've done, from a B to B standpoint is, when we start asking, once again, for content or telling people to tell a story, they kind of lock up a little bit until we tell them, "Don't worry, "it's not gonna be on the broad web," it's just gonna be for the retailers, so they can see it. So what we've been doing recently is our produce guys are talking about being in the field, whether it's in Chile, or whether it's in California, or whether it's in Florida, and here's how they're picking produce, here's why they're picking the produce the way that they are, here's why they're seeing the way things, that no, we're not going to take these oranges, but we are going to take these, and really kind of translating their knowledge to the retailers. Because retailers will always purchase from, because our team, internal team, we choose the experts that they do. The produce guys that have been doing produce for 20 years. They're always figuring out what's everybody's favorite apple on the internet the other day. Red delicious did not win, but instead, I'm going to go back and ask my apple guy what the ranking of apples is. So, I went back and asked him that question, and he's not thinking of it as content, or he's not thinking of it as a story, or a video, but they're just things in everyday life, so we're really trying to get them to be more comfortable talking about their expertise. Whether that's what the apple ranking is, or the content of, like a brick content of grapes, those kind of things, it's just getting them comfortable with translating their knowledge in different ways. Because they think, "Well, everybody knows "the most popular apple is," I can't remember what it was, Fuji, I'll tell you, I'll figure it out, because I know it's a hot topic, people get really excited about apples. Honey crisp is up there when they're in season, so that one's tricky. But it's really just talking to them about how they translate their knowledge. And those have worked really well in video format because there's no, you know, it's not a presentation, they don't have to worry about putting on paper the words that sound right, they can just be on video. And we have also used, to then translate that further. From a storytelling standpoint, we get lucky because they get to tell about local families donating to local grocery stores, and a few years ago, when locals started to become the thing, we've always been saying, "Hey, this grocery store's "been in this town for 60 years," but we were never, not never, but rarely would we pull out those pictures of 60 years ago, and remember to post them all the time. So, Throwback Thursday obviously became a big thing, but then we started using those in different ways. Why did Grandpa decide to put it on this corner? Or why did, you know, Mom's meatloaf recipe start to become the one that people used all the time in the store? And then you could pick that out to tell. So, the stories, when they come out in video, are great, but for us, it's really just about translating that knowledge in whatever either knowledge or just, "Hey, this is why we are locals, "this is why we are on the corner." To tell those stories to consumers differently, to tell those stories to our retailers, about how to be chooseable.
Brody? Video storytelling.
Video storytelling. I don't have a whole lot--
Or just storytelling.
Yeah, well, storytelling, I mean, I've always been fascinated with neuroscience and you know, what? I was.
You thought I was bad, wait until he goes nerding out over here.
And the concept of, you know, our brains, when we're either reading things or hearing things are always making pictures and gosh, video allows marketers to actually, you know, produce the pictures before they can think of them, and then, they'll actually remember them. And certainly storytelling, you know, crafting all of that into a narrative is gonna help the memory. But, you know, talking personally, or at least on the other side of things, obviously a software tool, you know, people that are using our software tool want to know how to use it better, and if we can even simply grab kind of a screen capture video that is me talking through a scenario that, you know, comes up all the time, and throw that out on YouTube, and even just thinking about the words that I'm using and the way that you title the video, and those kinds of things, you find that people search that, even if they're not customers, because they're wanting to figure out how to do a process better. And they happen to stumble across your video that talks about that process and, oh, by the way, it's really easy to do with our software, and that helps them understand, OK, well, maybe I should give this software a look. So, those types of things come up, and then, I mean, obviously everyone here understands the impact that YouTube has had, but I mean, it blows my mind when we realize that that is literally the second largest search engine on the planet, and when you actually think about that, and understand the ramifications of that, you know, we all use Google, you know, just to search pretty much anything and understanding that people, us included, are probably even going to YouTube when we're looking specifically for something visual, like a how-to. I don't know about you guys, but I just, I moved recently, and of course, you know, a move dictates a lot of house projects, and so I'm doing stuff around the house and I can't tell you how many times I've just looked up something on YouTube just to find out how to do something. And you know, a lot of times, those how-to videos were showing me a specific product that's at Home Depot that I need to go buy. I mean, gosh, Home Depot just lives off YouTube. But, you know, how can you relate that to your business? And certainly in the same vein, from a search engine optimization standpoint, you know, we're optimizing our content on our websites, but if you start taking those same content or concepts and translate that to video, how might people be searching on YouTube and wanting a visual demonstration of something related to your products or services? Can you produce that, and if you produce it, maybe you get a nice search bump just because you put one video out there.
And then Tim. We'll end with you on my questions, and we'll go to the audience. So, I visited Black and Veach this week, and Tim goes, "Oh yeah, "look behind this door," and, again, another new studio in there with green screens and lights and cameras and I was like, "Seriously, an engineering firm?" So, why don't you tell us how you guys have embraced video? And especially that Rube Goldberg machine.
Yeah, yeah. Well, I thought about this question. There's really two main groups of people that we want to tell a story to. The first is, obviously, our clients. As I talked about before, create that perception that we can really solve their problems. But the other big group, and really, what it represents, a huge amount of traffic to our BV.com website is the people that would like to work for Black and Veach, and so, recruiting and hiring, that is really a big focus of what we do, both with all of our content, but especially with video. So, related to those two groups, I think there's really three things that we do with video that are about storytelling. One is our project success stories that are really just showing what I talked about a moment ago, and that is, here's what we do that is this huge project, and it's amazing, and it's successful. And so, using video to tell that. One of our best performing ones is the Cucili Power Plant, it's outside of Johannesburg, South Africa, it is one of the largest power plants in the world, currently under construction, and we have a lot of content on it, but we have a great video that tells a story. Not just about the fact that we can do that project, but how we're making a difference for those people that live there, and the people that are gonna run the plant, and will operate it, long term, are the people that live in South Africa, not Black and Veach, and that's one of the big stories that we're telling. That's gonna resonate with a client or a career seeker and so forth. The other area, more specifically related to career seekers is our holiday video this year, which is really cool, our engineers built a Rube Goldberg machine, if you watch our holiday video, it is really cool, I admit, those engineers are pretty smart and we also had a follow up video, though, that was the "about the Rube Goldberg "machine," and how we did it, with school kids, and our engineers, and some of the kids were from the ones that were in our camps, with our sporting KC partnership, and that whole video was really, or set of videos, if you will, was really about how, not only are we reaching out and having this connection with the community, and STEM education, and all of these things that we want to do to build up the interest in STEM within young people, but also, wow, if you're somebody that is already out of school and is thinking about where you would go work, and you're a career seeker, what a cool company, and look at the things that they're doing. Partnerships with Sporting KC, all these outreach things in the different communities. That's something I want to be part of, if I'm a career seeker, and so, through video, we just continue to do more and more things like that that are telling the story that make people think, "Hey, that's something really good." You know, "Let me hire you, or let me join you "and do good things."
Cool, all right, so people in the audience. I'm giving away books, they're autographed by the author, and so that means you get to take it to Half Price Book and get a little bit more money for it. And so whoever wants to ask a question gets a book, and I have six of them, so. Jessica, anybody else? All right. Jessica already gets a free copy anyway, so. Here you go. And here's the mic.
[Voiceover] This is a very general question, any of you can jump in. I'm an educator, there's the students out in the audience, so what advice would you give someone who's starting their career in marketing? And more specifically, maybe in the digital arena, with content.
Good question. Start a green website and put your picture on it first, right?
I'll answer that question. I told a few folks before the session, I'm actually an IT guy. And so before I worked for Black and Veach, I was always in IT, and I was doing technology projects, I don't have a marketing background or did not come up from a career standpoint in the marketing space at all. What I would say is, and I think everybody in this room would largely agree, is that marketing in the future is going to be about technology. And so, when I get asked about what things should I investigate from a student standpoint, I always talk to people about how technology savvy are you? Do you understand how these different systems work together? Those are the things that I see today. When I'm hiring somebody right now for our CRM role, I'm looking for somebody that understands how all of this stuff fits together from a technology standpoint, but then also has a broader understanding of how to use these different things from a marketing standpoint, so, if somebody was asking me, I would say, you know, definitely get into the technology and understanding how all these things work together to drive revenue, especially, if you're talking about a for profit enterprise.
So, this is kind of a cliche, but definitely pay attention to what you put on your own channels, and I don't necessarily mean, like, don't put crazy stuff on there, what I mean by that is, what I've looked more at when I'm hiring people is how they translate what they're understanding or hearing into something that matters to me. Right? So, just reiterating what other people say or just throwing stuff up there just to have something there is not really of interest to me, I'd rather see one post a week than 15 posts a day and have it be stuff that doesn't add value to me as a person reading that. So, that's what I challenge my team to do when we're live tweeting conferences, or we're doing things, it's not just, "Hey, here's what somebody said," but why does that matter to the reader? And how does that translate into something that makes sense, that's hard in a tweet, it's easier when you have a long post, or something like that. But really, it's not just about saying, "Oh, yeah, I was there and I heard it," it's, "I was there and I heard it and this "is how it applies either to the rest of "my university experience or that further," so you know, it's not just about content quantity, it's really about quality. I know that's cliche, but it's really what I look for when hiring people on my team.
Yeah, I just want to piggyback on what Tim talked about, certainly from a general technology perspective, that's, I completely agree that an overall understanding of how everything kind of works together, but even drilling down into, certainly from a marketing or creative standpoint, I think I was always lucky that I just happened to, you know, throughout college, take even elective classes with things like digital photography, or graphic design, you know, they weren't necessarily required things in my curriculum, 'cause a journalism major, so I know how to write, you know, and those kind of things, you learn those skills from your journalism classes, but all those other things were just electives, and I just had them to say, "well, they seem like fun, "I should probably go learn that." Well, in those classes, you learn things like Photoshop and Illustrator and InDesign. You know, you learn the tools of the trade, and then you become so much more marketable when you get out in the real world because you now write on your resume, you got that big long list of software programs that you have some sufficiency in. So, and now, you know, a lot of my previous world was working on the agency side, and being kind of in the hiring role, you, you know, certainly, you're looking at all these kids, either coming out of journalism school or you know, most of the time journalism school, but you can tell the folks that have been through certain curriculums because they were either didn't have much actual software experience, or they did, you know, based on the schools they came from and how much emphasis those schools put on all the other software tools. So, the more, even if your curriculum doesn't lean towards a lot of the software tools, if you can force yourself to learn them, even after the fact, you know, there's, I hear there's schools around here that might be able to teach you some of those things. Yeah, you know, do the extra work and spend the extra time to learn those software platforms.
So, like, my friends over here, I did not start out being a marketer, I was a communications major, and that sort of like partially was journalism, also storytelling, and broader communication, I've worked in government and education, and for profit, non profit businesses. I would say that the number one thing for me was passion. And really feeling passionate about what you're doing. Passion trumps everything. If you feel passionate about it, you're gonna pick up the other things that you need, whichever avenue, I feel like you come from. If you start in technology, and then you start to realize you really want to connect, you know, you may come to that storytelling place, if you start in the number crunching part because it's really fascinating, because it is, the marketing part where you start to make that, you can follow the data, you can connect the dots and you can see where you did something down here and you have a result down there, and was that successful and then how can you turn around and make that better, or if it didn't work, what can you do to change that? That's really exciting, too. But then, you come back to like, "Oh, how can I connect that and really connect "with my audience?" And follow them through that. When I went to my employee orientation, our CEO Bob Cage wanted to come to speak at every orientation if he can get there, and 99 percent of the time they do, and he said, "When you come here everyday, "you're gonna have a good day, because "you're never having as bad a day as you think "you're having, if someone else is coming through "our door." So, being able to connect to that experience, whether you're doing a whole marketing piece, or we're telling a story for a print publication, or we're doing social media, really listening and making connections with because we're really passionate about helping people, that's sort of the bottom line, that building a power plant in South Africa, or helping somebody get food on the table that day, and trying to make it fun by, "Hey, an apple a day, but what apple?" I like people. Similar to you. Or helping someone through a really bad experience when they just found out they got a diagnosis that they weren't expecting and how can you improve that experience? And take away some of their worry, like don't worry, we'll help you with the financial part, as you go through that, because the last thing you need to think about when you're trying to get well, so, for me, being able to understand the story and then relate it to the technology, I think that the people who are coming through school today know way more about technology than I ever, I had to learn everything right from the beginning. But it's almost like, integrated into our lives everyday. So, there's things that you have to learn, like you probably already know how to put a video together if you're nine years old. Or you know, you can pick up one of my friends, when she first, she got her first iPhone, she's like, "My two year old was using it before "I could figure out how to use it." So, you know, the technology part, it's always out there and it's always changing, that's another thing that's really exciting about marketing or storytelling or anything that's connecting with people is that the marketing parts and the digital parts and the technical parts are changing so fast. You have to really not be focused on like "I have to be an expert," because we're all learning all the time. You get to be an expert as soon as you are, you're not anymore, it changes. So, being able to embrace new technology and be willing to change with it.
All right, we're going to limit to one response so we get the amount of time, and I get rid of these books, because I don't want to take them home.
[Voiceover] First of all, excellent panel, and of course, moderator. For smaller companies that don't have a department for this, what's your advice? Do they outsource it or see where we're at? Help me understand who could do that in the company?
I think Brody, that's you.
Yeah, yeah, it's tough. And certainly, a lot of my career has been in small companies, so I completely understand. The best way to say it, I say would be understand the, say it this way, the content output that would be ideal for your organization, what is that gonna take? How many people is that gonna take, how much resources, and if you don't have the resources that you can dedicate to it today, there's two scenarios. Either don't do it, and just maybe narrow in on the thing that you think would be the most effective, and do that really well, you know, the one thing that you know you've got the resources for and you can get it done on a consistent, sustainable basis, that's gonna be awesome, then just focus in on that, or do that plus, maybe, throw some resources at an agency who can be dedicated to it. I think the one thing that, the trap that a lot of companies get into is you know, maybe they'll go through a strategic process, where they understand, OK, it would be ideal for us to do e-mail marketing and social and blogging and webinars and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, all these things, and they start down that path, and they start, you know, their new e-mail newsletter, and they start their webinar series, and they start their blog, and they start all these things, and then they realize they just do not have the time to sustain that. There's no way. And at least sustain it in a way where you're still always consistently putting out high quality content. So, but the other thing I would say is, if you understand what would be ideal, and you can start building that team that will be able to do that, and you know, maybe it will take a few years for you to get all of those people in place, kind of your internal core awesome team, then start working towards that. Start, you know, one of the questions, I think that was on our list, but we didn't get to, was the notion of getting resources, getting buy-in, from your executive team, and a lot of times it comes down to, can we hire more people to do this content so that we can, you know, either keep up with the industry, you know, in general, or you know, there's a huge opportunity for us to leverage content to grow. So, if you can maybe start with a small experiment, like one content channel that you feel really good about, you can own that and you can make sure that you got the right metrics and reporting tracking mechanism in place, where at the end of the day, you can go back and say, "Look, look how awesome this was, "look at the return that we got on this. "Now, I'd love to scale to that to this, this, this, this, "but we're gonna need more people." But understand that the revenue growth that we saw from this, should be able to cover those costs. And, you know, and then some. So, yeah, that would be the approach.
[Voiceover] So, several years ago, Google really started rewarding blogs, and companies started blogs, and they just sort of became zombies and nobody goes there, but I'm curious as to whether any of you see any trends with blogging or finding more effective ways of creating that content that sort of gets to the spirit of the blog and shares new information, yet in a more effective and palatable way, and that doesn't require that every, twice a week, updated fresh content.
OK, I'll take that one, as well. So, loaded question. So, I would say, first and foremost, you know, what is the business objective for your blog? You know, if you think about the blog as a channel, certainly there's going to be some tried and true best practices for the best ways to leverage a blog, but you know, a best practice in the overall marketing world might not necessarily be relevant to your specific business case. For having that channel. So, now we know that there's, you know, there's gonna be some consistencies in terms of a blogging mechanism, or text based content. Certainly, you can use it to post videos and certainly all kinds of other types of things, and it's typically a blogging engine's going to be highly search engine friendly, you know, so there's those typical things, but I think it's really important to understand or to formalize what the mission of that blog is going to be, who you're specifically going to target, and you know, some companies get themselves into trouble with this, because they think, "OK, our corporate blog is this one size fits all thing "that we're just going to throw a whole bunch of content "out there and kind of maybe see what happens." But that is really the wrong way to think about it. You really should try to focus on a specific target, maybe, if you think about all your audiences, is there one core audience that makes the biggest impact on your bottom line? And focus, try to focus 100 percent of the content for that blog on that audience, and certainly, the more that you dig into that, you will understand their persona left and right, and you know their story, you know the things that they care about, their needs, desires, skepticism, all of those things, and you can create a good story narrative for that blog. Then you know that that ideal audience for you when they come to your blog, it's going to be relevant to them, 100 percent of the time, and they're going to want to subscribe to that and get those new insights that you put out on a regular basis. So, that would be the way I would answer that. You know, certainly the biggest thing I think is, or the thing I would throw out would be, you know, if people are coming to your site, specifically your blog, and it's irrelevant to their specific situation 95 percent of the time, they're probably not gonna come back. So, relevance is huge and you have to have a mission and target for that particular channel.
[Voiceover] So the general trend has kind of been to go away from traditional media channels such as television or direct mail and spend those dollars on digital marketing. So my question for you would be, do you believe that that is a good idea or do you think that those more traditional channels are still viable as a way to drive consumers to your digital content?
His grocer is like the king of "Let's send for an print ad." Which, I know the room, so, trust me, I believe in print ads, and I actually believe in them more than I ever have before, I just think that understanding how the print ads can work in conjunction with those digital channels those digital channels have to be there because there's different consumers looking in different ways, but for us, those traditional drive to digital, whether it's the visits or the content that's there. So, we're optimizing in a way that print is done, so we're changing it, so it's not just going out to everybody and hopefully people will pick it up, but it's really just, I think, vehicles going back I mean, billboards are still super relevant, you see them driving along the highway, maybe not so much in New York, but in Kansas City, you see them all the time, so I think just reunderstanding how all those things work together.
Great, well I got the wrap up sign from Merritt. I thought she was doing a disco dance or something, I'm like, "What? Hustle?" So, anyway, we will put this video up for you guys, you can get that information from the survey, if you gave your e-mail, or you can give us your e-mail by texting "content" to 66866, that's a cool tool, by the way, super cheap to get onto those. So, let's give our panelists a round of applause.