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Visibility Marketing

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Business branding speaker David Avrin joins Byron White for this week's Writer Podcast to talk about his upcoming book, Visibility Marketing. Listen in as David reveals what does and what doesn't work for your branding, and how you can make yourself stand out.

Byron:             Welcome back, everyone. I’m here with David Avrin. David, welcome.

David:             Thank you so much. Thanks for having me.

Byron:             We’re going to get visible today. Thanks for that in advance. You are a visibility coach and world famous and speaker in lots of different places around the globe. Tell us about your new book you have coming out called, “Visibility Marketing.”

David:             Sure. As you said, I speak for a living actually. It’s my primary gig. I do write books and I consult and coach as well but I’m around the world. Sort of what drove this new book was not only the changes, I think, in marketing and branding and how that sort of perceived and delivered in the market place not just here in the Western world, but certainly around the world. But also, my learning, I think, in working with hundreds of companies, thousands of CEOs around the world and, of course, tens of thousands in terms of audiences. In terms of their expectation for really relevant content. And I found that the more I cranked up the volume and cranked up maybe the controversy and cranked up that aspect of telling them not as much what they wanted to hear but what they needed to hear, the response grew exponentially. Twenty years ago is sort of the day of the motivational speaker and that age has passed. They need ROI. They need clear content, relevant content, great learning, actionable information that when we have an industry that’s being parodied on Saturday Night Live. You remember Chris Farley, the motivational speaker.

Byron:             Sure.

David:             “Living in a Van Down by the River.”

Byron:             Oh, I love that series.

David:             Isn’t that fun? But that day has passed. People are saying, “Listen, we’re having an annual meeting. We got 10,000 of our employees are flying in from around the world. We need somebody to come in and pump up the troops. Not anymore. Now they need problem solved, leaders developed, attrition reduced, competition is in their face every day. What I’ve found and I think is a great measure of my success and what has really driven this new book “Visibility Marketing,” is really saying what needs to be said. There’s a lot of basic information and that’s sort of a challenge with content marketing is there is no lack of information out there but information is a dime a dozen. But for something that’s truly unique, somebody who’s willing to go out on a limb and not worried about being popular, I think it’s their time right now. I think it makes it engaging. It makes you want to come back for more because you’re hearing something, you’re seeing something that you haven’t seen before and that’s what the new book is about. It’s that sort of a no-holds-barred approach to what works, what doesn’t and why and how do you build your brand and stand out.

Byron:             There are four billion pieces of content produced every day—a fascinating stat that I just learned recently by the way—and standing out from the pack is getting more and more difficult. It appears everyone has joined the content marketing revolution and is just banging out content. Everyone wants to be a thought leader. How do you stand out? How is it possible to be visible with your content marketing efforts, even yourself?

David:             Yeah. It’s very difficult because not only is there billions of pieces of legitimate content marketing, but there’s also tens of billions of cat videos and online rants of 12-year-old girls with other 12-year-old girls. And so being seen and heard above the noise is a significant challenge and, of course, there’s a couple of key ways to do it. First, of course, is you build your own audience and you build your direct path to those people and then you’re delivering content to them. They’re sort of self-selecting in that way. But I think if you look at a broader sense and this sounds very simplistic, but it is really probably the most important thing that I say in my presentations as I speak across the country and around the world, and it sounds very basic, but I say, “Whether you’re talking social media, whether you’re talking content marketing or traditional marketing and public relations. Here’s the key, ‘If you want people to be interested, you have to be interesting.’” And I know that sounds very basic and very dismissible and there’s a high “duh” factor to that, but I’m dead serious. And people say, “Well, how do you know what’s interesting?” Well, your readers, your followers, your engagement will tell you that. One of the most common questions that anybody in marketing and PR gets today is that sort of naïve, “How do I get something to go viral?” We get clients that go, “I’d love this to go viral.”

Byron:             Yeah.

David:             “What’s the formula?” I say, “It’s very complicated. Post something online that’s so interesting, someone would actually pass it on to somebody else.” And they say, “No, really?” And I say, “No. Really.” My colleague, Sima Dahl, who’s out of Chicago, speaks on personal branding and she’s just brilliant. She’s got a great line that she says, “Before you post a piece of content whether it’s social media, blogs, online, or otherwise, ask yourself this very simple question. Is it more likely to be forwarded or deleted?” And that’s a tough standard, isn’t it? I don’t know that I live up to it but I aspire to. Is it more likely to be forwarded or deleted? Is it information you can get anywhere? I think sometimes in this quest to create volume, in this quest to make sure that you’re blogging daily, the SEO people tell you all the time, “You got to blog every day. You got to do this every…” And I’m just not one that concurs with that approach. I think we’re training our audience to ignore most of what we have to say. It’s too much. There’s music groups that are… I love James Taylor. I’m an old guy. I’m a big James Taylor fan. I don’t want to hear James Taylor every day. One of the ways to, I think, make yourself largely dismissible is to overwhelm your audience. We just don’t have time. I don’t have time to read my own stuff let alone half the crap that I get in terms of newsletters or E-zines. I ask my audiences, because I talk about the importance of reaching out on a regular basis of having your newsletter or Ezine in the formulas in doing that correctly. I say, “Raise your hand. How many people don’t get enough newsletters or E-zines?” And, of course, they laugh because we’re bombarded. It’s a very complicated question about how do you stand out within in this vast overwhelming mass of content.

Byron:             And I hope you can help us.

David:             It’s the industry.

Byron:             Yeah. I hope you can…

David:             Yes.

Byron:             The good news.

David:             No, go ahead.

Byron:             I was going to say, there’s some interesting lessons that history have taught us with how we promoted products and I wanted to ask you about it because the word “visibility” just keeps coming in my head when I think about your book and there’s so many places that you can go with visibility. Here’s the interesting point. So, advertisers spend a dollar on creation and five dollars on promotion. But content marketers spend 85 cents on creation on average and 15 cents on promotion. Don’t you find that interesting? It’s easy to create stuff which is probably why we have so much of it. No wonder there’s so much noise. We can just bang out content wherever we want. But don’t you think that in the end of the day, these traditional channels of paid advertising and only…  What’s interesting about paid is you kind of won’t spend money on something that sucks. You know what I mean? And maybe as a consumer and a reader, we’re only going to trust things that somebody has paid to put in front of us to at least get through the clutter. Do you agree with that and do you think that’s an interesting point and does it play into visibility marketing?

David:             To me, it’s a great question and it’s a little bit complex. I think as an advertiser, I think you only trust what you pay for because there’s a guaranteed placement. Of course, as a viewer, consumer of that media, everything’s a little bit suspect when you pay for it. But you’re correct that the shift has been profound and largely driven by dollars. But the unintended consequence of that was just this plethora of crap. Do you remember the day when you used to hear that AOL voice that said, “You’ve got mail,” and we were excited?

Byron:             Yeah.

David:             Because there was somebody wrote us something. Well, of course, we were overwhelmed. Our mailbox used to be flooded with junk mail. It no longer is because everybody realized we can do it easier and cheaper online. But inadvertently, what it had done is it’s created an opportunity for traditional advertising to have a resurgence because it’s no longer overwhelming.  You know what’s making a comeback today, is door hangers because our doors aren’t filled with clutter, we don’t’ see it very much anymore. Refrigerator magnets, some of these traditional marketing mechanisms are actually making a big comeback because we’re not bombarded. I think the pendulum will shift back and forth. Yes, we can deliver it much faster. But I would also argue a little bit maybe the premise that the messages that we pay for, a big portion of this book is really highlighting the messages that no longer work. The crap that says, “At the end of the day, it’s about the people.” It’s not about the people. Everybody’s got people. These traditional claims of quality and commitment and caring and trust in people, none of it works anymore because everybody says it. The vast majority of what you’ve seen on TV and traditional advertising is terrible, because an ad agency was lazy. I did a blog the other day that talks about this commercial for “America’s Best Eyewear.” It’s got an owl and they keep saying, “Who? Who?” And I’m like, “This wasn’t funny a hundred years ago, and it hasn’t been funny the 87,000 times it’s been used since.” People are lazy. Marketing firms, advertising agencies are lazy. For the content marketers, people listening to this Podcast, the real opportunity is to acknowledge what has become commodity. What has been overdone again and again, and most advertising is crap. Let me tell you really quickly the premise for the book and it came from a conversation with my son. Three years ago, we were watching the Super Bowl. He was 10 years old at the time and we watching all the commercials and he says to me, “Dad, I got a question for you. If they can do such great commercials during the Super Bowl, why don’t they do great commercials the rest of the year?” And my brother looks at me and goes, “Yeah, marketing genius, answer that one.” And it’s the realities, of course, people can do great content, they can do great marketing, but when it’s really expensive you can spend more time holding yourself accountable and being creative.  But if we pretended that everything that we wrote, everything was on the line, that this wasn’t engaging and caused people to pass it on and to question things and to add comments that it’s a gun-to-the-head exercise, right? But what we’re writing today wasn’t great. We’re going to have to fire half our team, including our family members. How deep would you go? Now, I don’t know if you could hold yourself to that standard every day but that’s what it takes today. That’s what I’m saying.

Byron:             Indeed. Great points there. I want to ask you about your other book as it relates to WriterAccess. You wrote a great book called, “It’s Not Who You Know, It’s Who Knows You.” Here’s my question, I’m really sensing that we’re reaching a point in the content creation world where you need to have followers and fans and people that actually read your content to really make good money and make a living at writing. And do you agree with that and do you think in the end of the day, even Google’s algorithm that often determines top listing positions in the search engines are you in this single-handedly in the mechanical robotic way, do you think who writes a piece of content and how popular they are will be a better barometer for what get listed on top of Google’s search engine results?

David:             I think absolutely. That is what is… As Google continues to modify and tweak their algorithms primarily to weed out those who are trying to gain the system with particular words, I think they are going to gravitate more and more towards true engagement. True engagement comes from those who are interesting. And much of what content marketing and the writing, I think the trend and I think it will continue, it very much mirrors what happens on broadcast television, you look at those who capture the lion’s share of the eyes and the ears is those who are not afraid of being fiercely opinionated. I’m not being saying being an ass for the sake of being an ass. But if you look at those who have risen to the top, Dr. Laura, Dr. Phil, Gloria Allred, Donald Trump, whatever else. What they have in common is they don’t say, “Here’s information, what do you think?” They say, “Here’s what I think…” and they invite you to agree or disagree whether you want to or not. They are unabashedly opinionated. This is an assertion, this is what I believe, this is what’s happening. I think the challenge in those who are being less successful in this world are those who are sharing wise, relevant information. Information is a dime a dozen. It doesn’t mean there’s not a place for it. It doesn’t mean that it’s not important. But whether it’s “Top ten mistakes people make when doing ‘blank’” or you look at your cellphone and “What’s the ‘click bait’?” What are the things, the headlines to get somebody to click? It’s the things that you maybe didn’t know before or the hidden dangers of X. And I’m not trying to lower this to the least common denominator or going to realms of sensationalization, is just recognizing there’s a reason why Donald Trump gets the lion’s share of the news coverage. Some may call it a train wreck; some may call it because he’s saying what other people are thinking. I’m not taking a position. I am saying it’s interesting. You can’t turn away. And if you’re developing content with that in mind, like, “Would anybody say this?” or “Am I really adding something new to the mix?” And not afraid to take a stand, to have an opinion. This is the old… Who’s the sports… I can’t remember. I can’t remember his name. But the radio guy, his whole rule is…

Byron:             O. J. Simpson.

David:             Yeah, right, yeah. The radio host.

Byron:             That was sports on the radio.

David:             But he says, “Have a take and don’t suck.” That’s his rule. The audience would say, “What do you think about this note?” “Call in, here’s what I think, here’s what’s going on, have a take and don’t suck.” It’s a great sort of rule to live by. A little crude, but I think, you know what I mean.

Byron:             Well, storytelling is all about what will happen next, right? And so that art of storytelling is clearly something that the writers listening in are very in-tune with. But I wanted to ask you, I wanted to go just as we close out. What are CEOs thinking these days about content marketing in your opinion? Are they drinking the Kool-Aid or are they concerned that there is an ROI? There’s wonderful stats out there that suggest that content marketing is delivering 3X, what paid is delivering? If you look at organic and paid. As I pointed out earlier, it’s going to get much more intertwined. But what are CEOs thinking out there? Because you really speak to them, those are your people.

David:             You maybe not surprised to know that those who get it, get it and those who don’t, don’t and that sounds overly simplistic. But there’s a tremendous lack of understanding of the specific verbiage by terminology within the industry. They hear content marketing, they think social media. And so many organizations have been burned by the promise of social media. And of course we all know, it can be tremendously effective if the strategy and tactics are correct. So often times, they will lump content market into the overall realm of social media. We’ve tried that. We got burned. We keep trying at that. Where’s the ROI? I think for those who are engaged in content marketing, I think one of our challenges is to really educate the market place of what content marketing means. It’s the infographics and the web pages and the books and video and the “Why” papers. And of course speaking, and each time we’re delivering that there’s a reason why if you go to YouTube right now, anywhere in world and you type in “Marketing Speaker,” I’m number one in the world. If you type in “Best Marketing Speaker,” I’m number one in the world. Not because I’m the greatest marketing speaker in the world, it’s debatable, no, it’s because I have the content, I’m findable. You search “Marketing Speakers,” you search “David Avrin,” it helps you be findable. My colleague Heather Letizia talks about the findability formula. I think it’s incumbent upon us to really separate out and help them understand what content marketing is. I think we have an understanding or an expectation that they understand it. It’s like people in “Corporate America” think that everybody understands what vertically integrated means. And they’ll spout it out left and right and it’s astonishing how many people don’t because we live in this realm every day. They hear content marketing, they think Twitter, Facebook, whatever else. While it may be an element, content marketing is helping people find you by being where you are. And I want to throw this out really quickly because this is sort of the key to what the title of my new book, “Visibility Marketing.” Traditional marketing in yester-year was whoever had the biggest and brightest sign, who had the colorful building or the kid standing on the corner dressed as a bunny waving a sign. It’s like, “Look at us. See us in our building.” Visibility marketing is about being visible where they are. We’re your customers, prospects, and audiences. Visibility marketing is being visible on the websites that they visit and the events that they attend and the apps that they’re accessing and articles on their phone. Today’s visibility is about being visible everywhere where you aren’t, because of course, we are visible everywhere. So I think CEOs, when they get it, they get it. It’s not just about explaining the ROI. Honestly, we have to explain what it is. Every article that they read, they need to know that’s content marketing. If it makes you go, “Murphy, get these guys on the line, I just read this article,” right? That’s content marketing. They don’t really get that, but they’re smart. So as long as we don’t’ make assumptions and look at a big part of our challenge is to explain what it is and so much of what they already see with that’s content marketing and they go, “Oh,” and the lightbulbs go on. Make sense?

Byron:             It does indeed. Do you think… One final question for you and talk with us about the challenge of being visible on multiple channels. Do you think that you really need to get specialists to truly understand these different platforms? I mean the language you use on Facebook is much different than the language you used on LinkedIn, obviously.

David:             Absolutely.

Byron:             Twitter, Pinterest, and on and on and on. Do you think in the end of the day, we’ll have writers that are experts in particular channels or do you think that we’ll have writers that are creating great amazing content and rising to the top of the list but have the ability to understand those different channels and are adapting their own work for those channels? So you go horizontal and vertical, but what would be your pick?

David:             I got you. I think most people who are smart enough to write and to capture somebody else’s concepts and they put it into reasonable, valuable, relevant content, I think they’re smart enough to do multiple channels. That’s a marketing challenge. Probably more than a skill-set challenge or to be able to position themselves. But I think in terms of marketing themselves as an outside resource to help people be more effective, is absolutely what needs to happen. The problem is, so many people have under-performed before us. And so many organizations have been burned. And they are once bitten and twice shy. So part of the challenge is is virtually every organization’s had a negative experience with what they consider social media and content marketing and their mind is part of all of that. So I think for professionals within this realm, I think they’re plenty smart enough to write with a different voice across different platforms. I learned a long time ago on Facebook and I’m very active. When I talk about my business, nobody cares. But when I’m very revealing and very irreverent, my feed lights up. LinkedIn, of course, is something very, very different. I use outside resources, absolutely. But one of the things that I preach is I never relinquish control of the content even if someone else is writing, nothing, nothing, nothing goes out or is posted without my approval, without my voice, without my… And I write my own materials because it’s part of what I do is I write. But even for those who don’t, I have no problem with outsourcing. I encourage them, “Even if you don’t know how to do this, it doesn’t absolve you of the responsibility to be there. You need to be visible online. If you can’t do it, you need to hire somebody else that is or that can do it for you. But don’t relinquish control of that content because your name is attached to it.” So I advise them to work very closely in concert with those writers and those content managers to make sure that we’re very clear that it’s supporting our strategy and then the tactics fit. But I also say you can’t do everything. I mean being really active on three to four platforms is far more valuable than being everywhere but not revisiting your blog for a year.

Byron:             Aye, indeed. Listen, you’ve been fabulous today. I want to thank you for being on the show.

David:             Sure. Well, absolutely. I’m thrilled to be here. Once again, if you want to look me up online and see who I am, go to visibilitycoach.com and see who I am and what I do.

Byron:             Not only did you have a great take, not only did you not suck, you actually helped us be more visible with content. It really needs to redesigned for readers or reading at high speeds. It’s a great thing you’re doing. When is “Visibility Marketing” out?

David:             The new book should be out worldwide in July and the current book, “It’s Not Who You Know, It’s Who Knows You” is available everywhere. Audio book, Kindle, everything.

Byron:             Terrific. Thanks again for being with us. Thanks again for being with us, David. Right on, talk soon.

David:             Alrighty.

Byron:             Thanks for tuning in everybody, we’ll see you next week or next month, or whenever you tune in. Thanks for tuning in. See ya.