My guest this episode is Sujan Patel, a brilliant marketer with many years of internet marketing experience who has strategized for Fortune 500 companies such as Salesforce, Mint, Intuit and more. He is also an entrepreneur with his own marketing agency, Web Profits, and multiple Saas businesses such as Mailshake, Quuu and Pick. Listen in to our discussion about content promotion, why it is the biggest point of failure for marketers today, and how you can do it better.
Listen to this Episode:
Topics Discussed in this Episode:
- Tips for publishing written content frequently
- Preventing burnout while building a business
- Sujan’s work ethic and methodology
- Pros and cons of marketing automation tools
- Short-term and long-term content promotion strategies
- Sujan’s top marketing resources
— Sujan Patel (@sujanpatel) August 9, 2017
- SaaS Content Marketing: Why Education is a Powerful Approach
- Web Profits and Web Profits Blog
- Right Inbox
- Voila Norbert
- Ramp Ventures
- Content Marketing Institute
- Hacking Growth by Sean Ellis and Morgan Brown
- Good to Great by Jim Collins
- Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi and Tahl Raz
- Sujan Patel – Twitter
- Sujan Patel – Facebook
Louis: Sujan, thank you so much for your time. Thank you so much for being on the show. There’s one thing that I’ve noticed, having followed you for a while now, you publish articles almost everyday. You publish them on entrepreneur.com, Forbes, Inc., Business Insider, your own blog, your different softwares that you have on their own blog. You publish a little bit everywhere which is crazy. The first question to you is how many ghostwriters do you have?
Sujan: I actually don’t have any. I tried it, they all suck. It becomes just very copycat or just a very familiar sounding concept. I just have a really good process to be honest, I’ve talked about it in other interviews and in other articles, that helps me essentially pump out concepts really quickly. Let me just tell you the most time consuming parts about creating an article.
One is getting the facts right, getting the research. That part, it could take 10 minutes. It could take an hour, takes two hours. You don’t have that right. You pretty much don’t have facts. You’re giving your opinion and so I have a person that helps me with that.
The other thing that is a lot of our articles, especially early on, these days I’m much, much better at writing. I could crank things out really quickly. The end result would be a 3,000 word blog post. It usually takes me 20, 30 minutes. That’s because one, when I write, I’m just writing out my thoughts and I’m writing almost in bullet points. I’m creating this really in depth outline, which I’ll then go through and add audio, and talk through those main points. That audio gets transcribed. I’ll go and take the first pass at editing and then I’ll have a professional editor.
The research is outsourced. It’s outsourced before I even take a look at writing the whole thing. It used to be the other way around where I would write it and then they would have research but it would just create a long back and forth.
The second part is the editing. I suck at grammar and spelling. If you see any of my unedited work, you’ll see it but I don’t want to get good at that. I’m never going to be a professional freaking editor. I’m not going to be a linguist or expert communicator. I know what I know and so I’ve kind of outsourced that. I have a person I’ve been working with for eight years. She pretty much knows what I would say and how I would say it, like the slang I actually talk about. That’s because she’s had to transcribe me talking to her, at her, one way conversations for eight years.
Louis: Exactly as you mentioned, there are a few podcast episodes out there where you go through the process in more details. I guess what I want you to do in this episode is actually going through another part of what you discussed a few times which is the content promotion of it. That’s what I’d like to drill down with you in this episode. Before we do that and before we go through that, there’s a few other things I want to talk to you about.
First of all, thanks for being honest about it. I knew the answer because I knew that you talked about it before. I’m just curious actually, why do those people, those ghost writers, why did they suck so much? Was it just because you felt it wasn’t you or was it something else?
Sujan: A couple of things. One is nobody knows what I know. People may know more, may know different facts, and I think it’s very clear when the author has very little to do with the article. The other part is I have real experiences. I remember when I went to Romania. I went there for keynoting a conference. I got there at 11:00. My bags got lost. That could be a part of a story somewhere. If I were to talk about public speaking, I’ll talk about how crazy the travel is because there are always uncontrollable things. No ghost writer ever would know that information.
It’s just like those stories, the voice, and really just the depth of knowledge. The depth is always missing and I’ve talked to a lot of others who use ghostwriters or have an editorial team around them. Everyone echoes the same thing, is that it’s impossible to get the voice unless you work with one person for a very, very long time and you’re very involved in the article.
Louis: Do you think there is any use case for actually using ghost writer?
Sujan: Not really. Might as well just give the person who writes it the credit. It’s better.
Louis: I guess people wouldn’t really outsource public speaking for example. That sounds stupid to say. You wouldn’t hire an actor to speak on your behalf, would you?
Sujan: Exactly. You asked briefly about content promotion. A lot of people I think are creating content that has nothing more or better than anything that’s out there. It’s the same. I would call it me too content. When you do that, it’s easy to get a ghost writer write it because they’re going to literally copy what everybody else is writing. You can do the research and write it in your “own words” but what I try to do is try to push the envelope of what works now.
Don’t get me wrong. I write for Entrepreneur. I write for a lot of different places and frankly, those articles are not the stuff I would read. I’m writing for that audience. My editors at Entrepreneur, they’re like, “Hey look, we want inspirational stuff. If you’re getting the weeds, no one’s going to even read the whole thing.” You have to write for the audience. What my friend, [00:06:47], I always see him on Facebook, I don’t think I’ve called it out on this. He’s always like, “I’m sure 10 ways to help billionaires think. I think I wrote this article on how to invest like a millionaire without being a millionaire.”
That’s because there’s like six or seven different services that you can use these days, if you have $50,000 ever to invest. There’s new, on demand crowd funding and things like that that you can do. That’s really how to invest like a millionaire, how most rich people do invest but without having that much cash. Is it rocket science? Is it things you probably don’t know? Is it not logic? No. But some people, that information is gold. That’s the audience that they have.
Louis: That’s something I really struggle with. I’m light years behind you in terms of being able to write content. That’s something that frustrates me. When I drill down to the reason why I actually struggle, it’s because I want every single thing I write to be new, original, helpful, and I put so much pressure on myself that I actually end up never writing.
I appreciate your honesty in saying that basically, what’s you’re writing sometimes is not for you necessarily. You wouldn’t necessarily classify the content as the best on the web for this particular topic but still, you write it because it’s for your personal brand, it’s for your business, and this is probably your promotion strategy, right?
Sujan: Yeah. I look at writing for third party sites. Not necessarily industry specific but the broader business entrepreneur ones as exposure. Whether you like it or not, it does help you have credibility, instant credibility. It gives you some clout. I write a lot for Content Marketing Institute. Those guys are like, “We have a really strict review process.” They had a really strict review process with me, and all writers. Those are more of what I call the awareness phase.
If you look at your website and your brand, if you’re trying to build a business or a personal brand, whatever you’re trying to do, let’s just say you are trying to get out there and make money, there are visitors to your website. That comes from creating content in your site if you’re using content marketing.
Awareness is visitors or eyeballs to popular industry sites in your space. Exposure is literally being on the top websites and being out there. The quality of people or the relevancy is far out on that exposure side but at the end of the day I’ve been able to make it work. I found a lot of people, they come and go. There are very few people that are actually consistent with creating content.
I know a lot of people hate on Neil Patel. I’ll give you two polarizing options. There’s Rand Fishkin and then there’s Neil. Those guys are the exact opposite in the spectrum of craziness of what they do. But at the end of the day, both of them have been at it for 15 years, maybe not 15, I think 12 years, just creating content, article after article. That’s because they figured out the value of content.
I see a lot of people come and go. Those people, I can see, they get what they get out of it. They see the downward before it really goes up again and they bail out.
Louis: That’s a good point. Consistency and considering this effort, this tactic to be your long term thing. It’s not going to pay off in three months or six months. Building your brand takes years or even decades. Before we drill down into actual actionable stuff, we already talked about quite a lot. But there’s quite a lot more I wanted to ask you regarding content promotion. There’s something that I picked up in learning more about you.
You have 13 years experience in in-house and agency size businesses. Now, you have two businesses. You have Ramp Ventures, which is all the softwares, the SaaS businesses that you have, you have Mailshake that you launched recently, which is an email outreach software (note: if you want to know more about outreach marketing, check out this article), you have pick.com, which is a meeting scheduling software, and you have a few others that we can talk about in the next few minutes, and then you have Web Profits, which is your agency.
There’s one thing I picked up in your About page, particularly. Four years ago, you had another agency called Single Grain. You were very transparent about the fact that you burned out, right? Can you tell us what happened a bit more in detail?
Sujan: Now that it’s been a little over three years since I’ve exited, I’ve had some time to reflect, a lot of time to reflect so what I’m saying today may not match what I’ve said before. It’s just because I’ve levelled up as a human being or progressed further in my thoughts. Anyways, what I figured out was I just built the company wrong. I was very much involved in everything, too much of the business, to put it simply. I was in operations and managing employees. I had too many direct reports.
Mistake number one is I was just too involved in all things of the business. I created a video recently that will come out soon around the things I’ve learned, 15 lessons that I’ve learned from running two different agencies. Both grown to seven figures. The latter, Web Profits, is growing much faster. That’s just because we’ve found a good accountant, good bookkeeper, an outsourced CFO that pretty much makes sure we don’t do anything dumb because we’re going to always have dumb ideas. There’s no way around it. You have to vet it through.
I’m not going to be a CFO, I’m not going to ever be the best CFO, I’m never going to be the best at grammar, but there’s people that are smarter in that at me. It’s hiring those people in the right places. At Single Grain, I started the company when I was 22, 23. But really, I actually started when I was 19 but I went full time at 22, 23. I literally had no clue what I was doing. I feel like for some reason, every freaking marketer in the world has this pipe dream of like, “I want to start my own agency.” Because that’s what they think is going to make them a lot of money. What they don’t realize is it’s actually better to have a job. You can probably make more money in the short run, but it’s building wealth versus having income.
Anyways, I didn’t really have financial goals and things I was driving to, so last year, we hit 25 employees. One, we were spread out across multiple parts of the US. We’re distributed, which was good but also bad because I was managing too many direct reports.
So failing to hire managers was probably the second biggest mistake early on. It wasn’t for lack of trying. We actually tried from day one of the business to hire an SEO manager and a manager or director for every channel of service we provided. We just couldn’t find people who are good enough. We trained up people faster than we would be able to hire people that are that level. That’s just because a lot of habits and I don’t really think a lot of marketers are as good as they think they are. They’re just marketing themselves.
There’s a lot of people that I would call situational marketers. People who have worked at large companies or successful companies, who are probably successful because of the company and the product, not as much as their skill set. If you rip the marketer out of Facebook and you put him at some rinky dink, freaking small, little company, they’re going to fail because they don’t work well in operations.
Anyways, sidebar conversations. I’m ranting here. I didn’t know enough about running a business. I was smart and I did a couple of things right. We built a big culture, a big brand around the bay area. We worked with a lot of startups and whatnot at the time. I made sure everyone that gave us business, everyone that we worked with, because I was so perceivable, the think I made a mistake in scaling the business was actually the very reason we were getting so much business. Because most agencies had account managers, my agency had me. I can’t scale but at the same time, the quality was just greater, at least for the early days.
Louis: It’s really interesting to hear your thought about it because I actually had the concepting business up until a few weeks ago. Even though we didn’t reach the scale that you’re mentioning, we were four people working remotely and I did the exact same mistakes. I was way too involved in the business, I cared way too much of the clients. I burned out. That’s why I also wanted to hear your thoughts. I appreciate you being transparent on it. It’s really cool to hear you say all of that stuff.
The other thing I picked up is that you’re mentioning a few times that you work around 80 hours a week. Personally, I can’t work 80 hours a week. I tried. I cannot do it. I know that you’re going to say obviously it depends on week after week or whatever but in general, do you think 80 hours, in your definition, would it be productive hours or would it be more like 80 hours thinking about work. Do you know what I’m trying to say?
Sujan: Yeah. To answer your question, these days, it ranges between probably 50 and 80 hours. That’s just because my travel schedule is crazy. And so, literally, if I’m travelling for a conference, from speaking, I’ll try to do a couple of them in an area so it’s very productive. If I’m travelling, I’m working way more. I’m working 100 hours.
I’ll tell you about how those hours are broken up because there’s a lot of networking and meeting people and connecting with people. That’s probably half the time. But after those weeks, usually for two weeks, I am working less just because I need to recover mentally. I’m physically and mentally tired from talking to other human beings. I just need to be by myself for a bit. On an average week, usually I have two normal weeks and two crazy travel weeks every month, at least these days.
I break it up into three parts, my normal week. I have creative hours: writing, creating videos, sharing what I know. Soon we’re going to be doing this Facebook Live. Initially, we’re pretty much going all the way on Facebook Live video and interviewing other influencers and experts, pretty much taking what we do for YouTube and doing it live, which is incredibly hard because I’m generally polished when it’s edited but generally awkward when it’s not edited. It’s hard.
Creative hours, I spend probably 1/3 of my time but half, if not, more of my mental capacity. The second part of my hours is literally the minutia that it takes to run a business. We have six so even though there’s Ramp Ventures and Web Profits, there’s six entities within everything, mostly in Ramp. There are smaller businesses within it for each SaaS business. There are just a lot of details in there.
The other 1/3 is I would say relationships. That is relationship with my employees and making sure they’re growing. I like to surprise people. The other day, we just the team at Web Profits and like, “Hey guys, you’re working till 12:00 tomorrow.” We took them to the NBA playoffs game. It’s random stuff like that. Another one would be new people. Just trying to connect with new people and really build relationships because I found that’s so important.
Lastly is clients. I have the day to day client work which I would call the minutia. It’s just things that need to be done. This is making sure all of the things we’re doing, like taking a step back and making sure we level with the clients and saying, “Hey guys, we’re probably doing all this stuff and it’s going to work or maybe it won’t but is this the right thing to do? What’s the goal? Are we hitting the goal and really making sure they’re happy?”
Because there are so many things you can do, but I found very early on and I see this time and time again, action versus motion. Motion is doing a lot of things. Taking action and getting results is very different and it’s very easy to mistake the two.
Louis: Absolutely. In terms of the first part, just briefly, the creative side, you tend to do that in the mornings?
Sujan: Mornings, evenings, and weekends. Usually, either Saturday or Sunday, I’ll put in a half day of work or maybe even more sometimes. It just depends on what I need to do. At the end of the day, the hardest part for me personally is let’s just say I have to do something, I have to create a presentation, I have to give a talk, I have to create a whole slide deck, I have to put together what I’m going to say, it’s really hard to do in one step. I really suck when I have nothing to start with and there’s this blinking cursor that I have to type my first couple of words.
What I try to do is I split them up into two parts. I do the outlining. I do all of the ideation. I literally write it or Evernote and I just start typing my thoughts into organized, semi bulleted points and then I organize it later. Once I’m done with all my thoughts, I will go in a later time to make the final presentation itself because then I have everything done and I can just focus on how to best present that information. The same thing with every articles, videos. Everything I create, ¾ of the work is done at a different time than the final finished product.
Louis: Let’s go back to marketing a little bit. Thanks so much once again for sharing your process. I appreciate your transparency. There’s one tool that you use, that you developed in Ramp Venture, called Narrow.io which is an automated Twitter engagement tool, basically. I don’t like those, let me be honest with you. The reason why is I think, from the research I’ve made and talking to the people, it feels like this engagement that we get from automation is not as good and as genuine as proper engagement.
If somebody followed me on Twitter because he or she heard or listened to one of my episodes and just make the actual path to find me on Twitter and follow me, I almost guarantee that this person will be a much more valuable follower than somebody who followed me automatically because he or she tracked the hashtag growth hacking and I tweeted growth hacking once. Do you know what I mean?
I wanted to check with you, I don’t want to put you on the spot, I’m genuinely interested. Whether it’s ethical, whether it’s effective, what do you think is the effectiveness of this kind of automation engagement tools?
Sujan: I’m glad you asked. You sure put me on the spot because as an owner of an automation tool, I have a very specific view, is really you cannot automate 100% of things. I think there are tools that go and follow, they’ll DM you. Let’s just talk Twitter specifically. They’ll follow you. They’ll like you. They’ll DM you. It’s pretty obvious this is fake.
I’ve tested those. I used to use Socedo and it’s a great tool. It goes even one step further. You can follow, like on Twitter and then it will add them on LinkedIn if they engage, which is crazy. And then you can message them on LinkedIn, which is this crazy automated flow. The same month of doing this, one person called me out because the tool messed up and I followed them and then I accidentally unfollowed them and they wrote an article about me saying I’m doing some shady practices. I have no freaking clue this is happening. The tool just literally messed up. I had no clue.
The other part was the same exact campaign got me invited to be a guest lecturer at Stanford University. They’re same thing. There are pros and cons. Some people, it works on. I think these days, you have to be careful with automation. I think a little bit of light automation is good to always have what I call things running in the background that are working for you.
That’s really where Narrow stops. We’ll like. We’ll follow. You can adjust how aggressive you want to be. Even when we on board customers, we do a lot of concierge onboarding. The thing we recommend is go engage with Twitter hashtags of conferences or events that are in your industry, popular hashtags, specific people. I have Neil Patel, I have Rand Fishkin, I have Growth Hackers, I have the big brands that are talking about marketing, 99% of the time, they’re creating great stuff and they’re sharing good stuff. I’m only engaging with people that are engaging with them.
It’s just automation. You have to be careful. I don’t believe you should do fully automated. Look at Instagress. It just got shut down recently. That’s because if you engage with people on Instagram and you start liking and you start commenting on their stuff, dude, it’s really obvious to know that you didn’t comment. I like this. I get a lot of people. I’m going to call it the latters, like the latter. I don’t even know what they do but they have this awesome growth hacking tactical kind of guide.
My Instagram is literally pictures of my wife and I doing fun stuff, living our life. The whole Instagram is dedicated to my wife and I just doing cool stuff in our lives or at least we think is cool. They started liking and commenting on my stuff saying something stupid like, “Check out our website.” I’m like, “Dude, really? Is that going to work?” You can’t be stupid about it. You have to have a lot of filters in place.
That being said, when I was recruiting for my replacement at wheniwork.com, that’s what I was doing before Ramp and Web Profits. I set up a bunch of automation to view people’s profiles that were similar criteria. I would just view them and when I would view them, my profile bio said, “I’m hiring a VP of marketing.” Simple things like that. Non intrusive stuff, I think it’s okay, personally. Maybe people don’t like it but it works. With Narrow, we literally 4x my following. It was just doing lightweight automation and publishing really good content.
If you publish good content, then you add value in social media and you do automation, I think it works. If you just do automation and you expect amazing results, you’re going to be the annoying spammer.
Louis: Exactly. What I don’t want is people to think that using in automation only, they will manage to build a business. It’s a tactic that can be used, as you said, in the smart way but I think people have to be very thoughtful about it more and more because people get used to this kind of tactic and they get used to it so much that they don’t really engage with them anymore. It’s always about trying to find this next growth hack that’s going to work for a month and then it’s not going to work anymore because people got used to it.
The reason why I’m talking to you today, it’s not because of your Twitter automation skills. It’s because you create good shit, you’re transparent, your tools are very good. That’s what I think people should focus on way more than trying to automate their stuff, right?
Sujan: Yeah. It should be an ancillary strategy, not a primary strategy. Same goes in life. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. I would say that with fully automated stuff.
Louis: I’m just curious about another thing. You’re into growth hacking and you define it as a mindset. I kind of agree with you. The only difference is I would say I wouldn’t call it growth hacking. I would just call it marketing because that’s how it is. I think in other days, good marketers do growth hacking even without calling it this way but there seems to be a rush in people in businesses to grow as fast as they can, to innovate as fast as they can. Why do you think there is such a rush at the minute of people don’t seem to take their time anymore?
Sujan: I think it’s just the way the world is going. I think snapchats of the world and just instant gratification. I would blame Snapchat and Uber for that. 24 hour messages and the fact that you can get practically anything on demand. Literally, when I travel to a new place, I usually get sud, which is on demand massages before I speak or after I speak at a conference. I just do that.
You can do anything so I think it’s just the rush of getting things quickly. I also think it’s always been this way, but now, with the technology that’s available, everyone always wanted things quickly. Now, I think people can actually do it because if you’re a marketer, you can literally use 10 pieces of software and you literally don’t need any dev work after you implement that.
For Mailshake, we just implemented Drift. We can now do in-app messages. I can pretty much communicate with all my customers and set up anything I want without my co founder, my developer getting involved at all. It’s actually possible these days to grow really quickly but I think you have to think about growth as where you stand. I think a lot of people just read something and they’re like, “Oh, I’m going to do the same thing.” You might not be in the same stage in your company.
Mailshake, we literally spend $0 on marketing. Our customers come from full disclosure. We have 200, 300 customer that come a month right now. Most of them come from word of mouth and the other 1/3 would come from literally reading an article that references Mailshake or whatnot. That’s it. We don’t have the economics yet because we’ve been out for six months as this brand, as this tool. We don’t even know our true LTV.
If we were to go say, “Let’s go spend our money on a bunch of advertising.” Because we know like, “Hey, our competitors did it or this other company did it, I’m sure we can make it work.” But it would be stupid because we still have a lot of work to do. We don’t want to do that yet. I think it’s growing at the right stage. Most common mistake I see is early stage startups or early stage companies that are still, I would say, channel market fit, where they haven’t figured out the channels that are going to help them scale try to go at it or maybe they’re not even past product market fit.
If your product is not done, your company is not fully baked and polished, imagine going in front of five million people and saying, “Hey, look at our product.” Of course, you’re going to have bad feedback. You want to save that for the right time.
Louis: That’s a very good point. One thing at a time, one stage at a time and not rushing is definitely great advice. I’d like to get a little bit deeper into what we started to discuss about at the start of the podcast. You mentioned how you create content and how you have a researcher and an editor that really helps you to create content on a regular basis. You also said quite openly that some content that you create on entrepreneur.com and that kind of third party website wouldn’t necessarily be what you read but you know that other people read it so that’s quite cool.
Let’s say now that you have created a very good piece of content. To name one from yourself, you’ve actually created this email outreach playbook as part of the launch for mailshake.com. I actually would advise listeners to take a look at it. 100% free, no need to add an email to it or whatever. You have access to it right away.
Anyway, let’s assume that you have this playbook or this very good piece of content. How would you advise people to promote it? What will be the process?
Sujan: This is the single point of failure when content marketing doesn’t work or why content marketing doesn’t work. First and foremost, you have to think about promotion of the article at the inception of the idea. When you actually come up with the idea, think about at that point what are you going to do to actually promote the thing?
The simple, hard, and fast rule, if you can’t come up with enough ideas, you shouldn’t write the topic at all. Because if you can’t promote it, it’s not going to get as much value as you think and you’re going to leave it up in the air for it to provide an ROI. I’m always thinking about what am I going to do to promote it. There are simple things. Recently, I did a Facebook Live video with Hubspot and we made a checklist of 18 things you can do and I’ll share this with you afterwards but literally, there’s short term things you can do and long term things.
The short term thing is make sure you’re doing internal linking to other content. Have remarketing campaigns going out. The remarketing should be of your latest article. That way, at least, people who have visited your site, you show them more value from that information. If you don’t have an email list, stop everything you’re doing and make sure you’re collecting emails and create and set that up. Every article you send out, make sure you email your whole list or that list.
If you have an email list, and some of this is really basic, I’ll create a custom audience on Facebook and even a lookalike audience and I’ll start advertising to them. I actually spend somewhere between $25 and $100 for every single article I create on Facebook specifically. That helps me, one, it gets my content some life immediately.
Number two is it makes me a better writer. Because I’m writing Facebook ads and shorter punchier versions, I’m usually just getting smarter about how to market to my audience and over time, that makes me a better person. I also try to include people in the article. I either quote them or include data, or research, reference other articles, people so that I can reach out to them. The goal there is to build a relationship. Not to promote that article. It’s to build a relationship. I’ve built a lot of relationship using that specific tactic but it’s a great way to connect with people.
You ask for feedback. If you’re new to blogging or you have a brand, that’s okay too. What you do is instead of asking for a quote while you’re writing the article, you quote them and then you let them know after the fact. You pretty much remove any work people have to do.
And then, I use one of the services we have, our own, quuu.co. On one side, it’s people that are filling up their social media feeds, we’re curating the content. On the other side, you can actually pay to submit your content there. If it meets our editorial guidelines like a human reviews it and it’s good, we can submit it to that category.
Usually I found with Quuu, now speaking as I’m taking my founder hat on and speaking as a user from my actual data of promoting content there, it gets anywhere between 50 to 200 shares. Again, that’s a lot of shares. It’s a lot of noise. It’s automation a bit. But, it gets in front of people. You do this over and over again. While doing this, you build more relationships. You’ve figured out places you can syndicate.
One powerful place to start would be Google, whatever industry you’re in. Let’s just say you’re in data science or big data, that’s a pretty big industry. Google top big data email newsletters and find all the people who are curating content or sharing good content and keep adding value to those guys and build relationship. At some point, they’ll start sharing your content and you’re going to get in front of a lot of people. You’re essentially getting on other people’s email list.
Lastly is guest post. That was what we call epic article. It’s like a 10x post or a really, really big piece of content, of great user experience ungated but with the option of download. When we do that, we typically create between 5 to 30 ancillary articles that we will use for guest posts for the coming months. We’re still writing guest posts related to parts of it. I have a couple of videos I’m creating, I’m talking about maybe one zoomed in part like one part of the guide is follow up, one part of the guide is literally making sure your subject lines are great. Those are individual guest posts that we’re doing elsewhere. We’re pitching that there too.
Now, those guest posts are things we identified early on, we found the places we want to guest post when we came up with the idea. What we did was we googled all the different, think about the table of contents for that, the outline for that, all the headings and subheadings for that article, for that guide, we literally googled those keywords and found all the blogs that are writing content about that. We planted to pitch those sites after we launched. That’s exactly what we did. We’re still working on it. The guide has been out for probably six, seven months, way before the company was out.
We have about another 10 articles that are probably unwritten even and that we’re still pitching out guest post.
Louis: That’s amazing, all the stuff you shared. Thanks for that. I think if I could extract two that I know will work in 10 years or 20 years, or even 50 years, will be the number one you mentioned about mentioning about people when it’s relevant time and mentioning other resources within your content so that it’s the best opportunity to actually reach out to them and say, “Hey, I added you to my piece of content, to my blog, to my video, to my podcast episode. Here it is and tell me what you think.” If you’re beginner, as you said. If you’re not, if they know you, then you can actually ask them for a quote before or ask them to contribute beforehand.
I think number one, that’s probably effective, that will always work because it’s based on the core of human relationships. The second one is what you mentioned last which is about planning ahead with very good content and actually extracting every single point and promoting that somewhere else because now that you have a good personal brand and also that your companies are very well known and respected, you’re able to guest post pretty much anywhere and that’s a great way to get eyeballs, to get people looking at your stuff and discovering your business. That’s really cool.
Thanks so much for sharing all the steps. I’d like to move onto something a little bit more in the future. Let’s talk about the future and say that in 10 years or 20 years, those tactics will still work. To you, if you have to take a guest, where is the future of the internet going? Where are we going with internet?
Sujan: First of all, I don’t think I’m qualified to answer that question.
Louis: Nobody is qualified.
Sujan: Exactly. In my opinion, I think one, there’s going to be a slew of content and people are changing behaviours. It’s happening now or it’s actually already happened where their new source is not Google. Search engine is not necessarily the first place people find it. It’s finding it on platforms like Facebook, Instagram. People are just changing to social as their form of content. This has happened progressively over the year. I think it’s going to get even crazier. I think content is going to be a great place to actually build your brand and market your business. Meaning, you’ll lead with content something of value that can be shared and your business gets the credit.
I think the rise of influencers, not necessarily book authors, or myself, or people who are consciously building their brand for B2B marketing. I’m talking about the random people in Iowa posting in Instagram who have like 50 million followers. There are five people in Iowa that have a lot of followers. There are little things like that that are essentially going to be on the rise.
Now everyone has their personal reality TV show. That’s Snapchat, essentially Instagram Stories, whatever, but that’s going to get even bigger and more popular and that’s going to replace a lot of these large media companies.
Lastly, search, the good ol’ paid search as well as organic. Obviously, it’s going to become more and more difficult but it’s not going anywhere. People still do it. It’s the bread and butter. At the end of the day, the best marketer is the one who started 20 years ago. Age is very, very important. Slow and steady, at the end of the day, I think is going to win that race.
Louis: Yeah, absolutely. It’s going to get more fragmented. TV is dying and being replaced by channels that people control and can watch stuff when they want to, not when they are downloading things they choose to feed themselves. I guess that’s one thing that marketers would have to think about a little bit more. It’s how to create their own personal brand because as you said, it’s their own reality TV show at the end of the day and people strive for that. People love to connect with other people. That’s the truth that is not going to change. That’s really interesting.
One of the last question I wanted to ask you is if you have to choose three resources, they could be tools, books, podcast, whatever you want to recommend to digital marketers and listeners of this podcast, what would they be?
Sujan: I would say definitely Hacking Growth by Sean Ellis and Morgan Brown. Great book on the fundamentals of growth and addressing things like Airbnbs, dropouts of the world, but distilling it into a framework people can follow. The way I immerse myself or recommend people to immerse themselves into learning something is go to GrowthHackers, go to Inbound. Just follow all the links and follow the people. That’s going to be way faster than reading any books.
But there are great business fundamental books, Good to Great by Jim Collins, Never Eat Alone, Keith Ferrazzi, That is probably one of my favourite books. 80/20 Rule, I follow that, I’m very religious. I would say, this is partly having an inside joke. I do the 80/20 of the 80/20. He calls it 96/4 because I only do the things that are going to move the needle and everything else, someone else on my team does it or it gets swapping around and we never do it. Those are probably some good books to start.
At the end of the day, one of the things I learned from burning out, coming back, and I think being on top of my game, maybe there are people who are smarter than me but I feel like I’m always pushing myself and getting smarter, is never stop learning. Whether it’s a good book, bad book, whatever, always learn. Knowledge without execution or knowledge without action is a waste so always be executing.
Louis: Yup. Totally agree with you. Sujan, you’ve been amazing. Where can listeners connect with you, email you, or follow you?
Sujan: Probably the best place is my blog, sujanpatel.com or the Web Profits blog, webprofits.agency. I’m on Twitter, probably the most active, Facebook as well it’s /sujanpatel. If you have any questions or have any specific places you’re stuck, just ping me. I’m usually fairly responsive in answering questions and helping people get unstuck as long as you’re very specific. How do you make money online? I have no clue. That’s a broad question. If you’re stuck doing a specific business and how do I grow it, that’s more of something I can answer.
Louis: I can vouch for that. You’ve been really responsive to me. I know from other people that you’ve been helping them for free. Hopefully, a lot of listeners will email you, not too many but a few. I’m sure they’ll have questions for you.
Sujan, thank you so much once again and I’ll talk to you soon.
Sujan: Thank you.
How to stand out: 9 bullshit-free lessons from world-class tech marketers
Insights from Seth Godin, Rand Fishkin, David Darmanin and 6 other world-class tech marketers.
I’m a no-fluff marketer living in Dublin, Ireland (but yeah, I’m French).
I believe you can treat people the way you’d like to be treated and still generate results without using sleazy, aggressive, hack-y marketing. This is why I’ve started Everyone Hates Marketers – a no-fluff, actionable marketing podcast – as a side project in April 2017.
I’m also the Content Lead at Hotjar – a powerful way to analyse people’s behaviour on your website or app and understand how you can improve their experience.