InnovaBuzz Episode #45 – Chris Marr: Content Marketing Academy

Chris Marr Content Marketing Academy

Chris Marr: Content Marketing Academy

In this episode number 45 of the InnovaBuzz podcast, Chris Marr of the Content Marketing Academy gives us his philosophy around content marketing – educating your audience and constantly learning as well.  Key is to be consistently present and always delivering value as well as building a community.  Listen to the podcast to find out more.

Listen to the Podcast

We’re all in the same business, and it’s the business of trust.

Chris Marr

Show Highlights

Some of the highlights of this episode include:

  • Chris got his first contract as a consultant off the back of writing a blog!
  • Your website should be generating customers for your business and if it’s not then something needs to change. Your website has the potential to be the number one marketing asset. This is not about design. This is about marketing. Plain and simple. The purpose of your website should be to turn an anxious visitor into a confident customer.
  • The key to success is building trust quickly. If you can do it faster than somebody else that provides a similar product or a service as you do, then you’ve got much more of a chance of building a great relationship.
  • The Content Marketing Academy is directly a result of listening to the market, listening to the community that Chris had established and finding out how best to serve that community.
  • Building an audience or community is absolutely crucial in the day that we live in now. Our membership isn’t a course, it’s a community. You can learn, you can join our webinars, you can look back through all of the calls we’ve had in the past, and all of our premium content is there. But people don’t stay because of that; they stay because of the people and the community.

Wherever you turn up, turn up consistently and turn up to deliver value, every single time!

Chris Marr

The Buzz – Our Innovation Round

Here are Chris’ answers to the questions of our Innovation round.

  • #1 thing to be more innovative –Have a culture of ideas in your organisation – give permission to create ideas and make time for it.
  • Best thing for new ideas – Surround yourself with ideas people and be and ideas machine. Constantly exercise your idea muscles! Also learn about areas unrelated to your business.
  • Favourite tool for innovation – Audio books and podcasts, Evernote, Getting Things Done system
  • Keep project / client on track – Pick the right client in the first place!  Deliver what you say you will.  Communication.
  • Differentiate – Always be learning and learn faster than everyone else.

To Be a Leader

BE a leader, and believe what you do is important to people and be the best at it.

Reach Out

You can reach out and thank Chris at Twitter: @chrismarr101

Suggested Guest

Chris suggested I interview Joel Comm of InfoMedia and Kevin Kelly, cofounder of Wired, on a future InnovaBuzz podcast.  So, Joel and Kevin, keep an eye on your Inbox for an invitation from me, for the InnovaBuzz Podcast, courtesy of Chris Marr.

Links

Full Transcript

Click to Read…
Intro:
Hi, I’m Jürgen Strauss from Innovabiz. Welcome to Episode No 45 of the InnovaBuzz Podcast – designed to help smart businesses with an interest in innovation become even more innovative.In this episode, my guest is Chris Marr of the Content Marketing Academy in the UK. Chris shares with us his philosophy of learning and educating at the same time. His key to success is building trust quickly, in fact faster than any of your competitors build trust with the audience, and continue to develop those relationships by consistently delivering great value.

This is another fascinating interview, with a lot of valuable lessons, so grab a pen and notebook and let’s head into the Hive and get the Buzz from Chris Marr.

 

Interview

Hi, I’m Jürgen Strauss from Innovabiz, and I’m really excited to have here with me on today’s episode of the Innovabuzz Podcast, all the way from the other side of the world in Leven, which is a little seaside town in Fife, set in the east central lowlands of Scotland, Chris Marr, who is the founder of the Content Marketing Academy and a self-described teacher and student of content marketing. Welcome, Chris. It’s a privilege to have you on the podcast.

Chris:
Thanks, Jürgen. Thanks for having me. It’s a real pleasure to be here. I’m excited to get stuck into all of the questions you’ve got for me today.

Jürgen:
Okay. I’d love to talk to you about content marketing. Now Marcus Sheridan suggested we interview you on the podcast, so a big shout out to Marcus.

Chris:
Marcus is a great guy. It’s really good that you had him on the show as well. And yes, shout out to Marcus. Thanks very much for making the suggestion and the introduction.

Jürgen:
Now, I really like your philosophy of being an educator as well as a dedicated student. So, on two levels, because a commitment to your own learning and providing value to those you’re educating, and secondly having that attitude means that simply by teaching what you know, you also learn.

Chris:
Yes. It’s a really important step, I think. And any learning is to talk a lot about – but there’s the whole study, practice, teach sort of philosophy. That’s kind of mine. You know, you study the materials, you practice them, and then you teach them. And every one of those stages is a learning stage, right? You learn when you study, you learn when you practice, you learn when you teach.

Jürgen:
That’s really good. I love it. Now before we start talking more about content marketing and education through content and innovation and those kind of things, let’s find out a little bit more about you as a person. So when you were a young child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Chris:
As a young child…. You know, I think about some random things I wanted to do when I grew up. And I remember talking, like, being fascinated by the guys at McDonald’s because they had a hat. I’m wearing a hat just now. I’ve been obsessed with hats since a young age, and I don’t know where that came from, but there’s pictures of me as a child just wearing hats all of the time. And I remember saying to my mum at one point I wanted to work at McDonald’s because they had hats. And that’s not really a great aspirational sort of message to anybody, but I remember that. And I don’t know, it’s a really tough question for me because I think I went through, without going on too much, I think I went through most of my childhood and through high school even, you know, in like secondary school, not really knowing what I wanted to do. I mean one of the big inspirations, I was really inspired when I was about 15, and I started playing guitar. And I wanted to be a guitarist, I think. That’s probably like the moment in time I can remember actually wanting to be something, when I was about 15 years old, 14 or 15 when I really started to get a guitar. And so I think that’s probably the first moment I realized that I could actually do something and learn something and be good at something. So, yes, probably that was the most standout memory from being in my youth.

Jürgen:
That’s fascinating. Do you still play guitar now?

Chris:
I do still play guitar now, yes. I’ve been in a few bands, I’ve done some amateur recordings, and I’m sure I’ll do more and more as time goes on. But right now, for the last three or four years and starting a business, I’ve not really done much. But yes, I still play guitar.

Jürgen:
That’s fascinating because a lot of people I’m connected with that are in the internet business are also musicians, hobby musicians or pretty serious hobby musicians, I would say.

Chris:
That’s interesting.

Jürgen:
So what brought you around to an online business then and into the idea of education through content?

Chris:
I’ll try to keep the story as short as I can, but I think really the best, the key parts of the story is that in about 2010, I was working for an organization, the University of St. Andrews, a public sector organization, and I worked there from when I was 19 until I was 29. I left my job in 2011 to go to university full-time to do my degree. So, I kind of a bit backwards, a bit of reverse. But there’s key points here. Like I think 2007, 2008, 2009, that’s when social media and the internet were starting to take a little bit more shape into what we know it to be now, right. And there’s a lot of key things that happened at that time. And at the time, I was kind of like in a management sort of role and I had teams of people working for me. But I also served a huge audience of students in the department I worked in. So, I was massively interested in communications. So social media and communications kind of go hand in hand, so I started playing around with Twitter and Facebook and lots of other platforms and systems for communication surveys, that sort of stuff, like Google forums. And all that kind of stuff in those early days. And it led me to read a lot and to study a lot about what was happening. We’ve touched on that already. And the one book that kind of really kicked me in the butt was Gary Vaynerchuk’s Crush It! And I read that in 2010, and that was the reason I wrote my first blog article. And after reading that book, and Gary’s still … probably the most consistent messages that I can think of from anybody is from Gary Vaynerchuk. And he’s still saying the same things now as he was back then. And I read that book and said to myself, “You know what. I know I want to advance my career and learn and develop, but I don’t want to write another CV ever again.” That was kind of the whole message I got from that book. And I thought I’m going to start a blog, I’m going to get my ideas, my thoughts, the things I’m learning, and the things I’m doing, and my personality are there and if somebody wants to hire me, they’ll hire me for me and not because I’ve sent out 50 CVs to 50 different companies or whatever. So, that was like a big part of that, that whole journey. Little did I know at that time that that was the start of me being an entrepreneur or whatever you want to call it. And I got my first contract as a consultant off the back of writing a blog. The website was rubbish, and I don’t really want to go back and read those blog articles. But at the same time, it got me out there, people recognized me, someone got in touch with me and said, “Hey, I like what you’re doing. It would be great if you’d come and see if you could help our company.” It resulted in my first contract. And then it took me a few years just to figure out what my business was going to look like. I’ve worked with some businesses, I’ve signed a music promotional company and started thinking about … immediately the first thing we did was set up a blog and get really heavy into social. I helped companies in my spare time, you know, when I was still working. So there was a lot going on of me just trying to figure out. So it was like between 2010 and about 2013, when I actually set up my own limited company, that was a period, a journey of discovering through that whole three or four years of trying to figure out what it was that I kind of wanted to do. And I did that while I was a full-time student at university, getting my honors degree in business as well. So, that kind of, that whole period there, was me trying lots of different things out in the online world … So, it kind of like, I grew up with computers as well, Jürgen, so my dad was a computer programmer who had computers in the house from my very early, early memories, and so computers were always a thing. My brother, one of my stepbrothers, was heavily into computers and management. And it’s just a thing that I was always interested in. So, I think I just, social media and the internet kind of just lent itself to me, I think. And I’ve always enjoyed it and I love it, and I’ve put a lot of time and effort into it.

Jürgen:
That’s an interesting story. And I particularly like how you use that blog post to essentially replace all your CVs and get the message out there of what you were about and then presumably if somebody was interested in finding out more about you, you said go read my blog.

Chris:
Exactly. That’s what we still teach today, isn’t it. I mean, if someone says I really want to get myself out there more, I’m fed up in the job that I’m in and I want to be a freelancer or I want to start my own business, well, it’s like you need to get your content out there, you need to give people a reason to want to spend time with you. So, it’s the same principles, except I didn’t really … Reading Crush It! was my first piece of content marketing education, I would say. But it wasn’t really widely called that back then.

Jürgen:
And you wrote something in the Fife Business Journal that I’d read and I thought, “Wow, that’s really eloquent. I wish I’d said that because it’s so aligned with my philosophy,” and I’ll just quote from that because it’s so good: “Your website should be generating customers for your business and if it’s not then something needs to change. Your website has the potential to be the number one marketing asset. This is not about design. This is about marketing. Plain and simple. The purpose of your website should be to turn an anxious visitor into a confident customer. ” So, that’s just brilliant.

Chris:
It’s funny when someone reads something back that you’ve written before. Like “Did I really write that?” Yes.

Jürgen:
We position our business as making websites achieve more, and really that encapsulates our whole philosophy really well.

Chris:
I mean if you cut through all of that … I mean, this is something that you learn, I think, as you develop your ideas around marketing and business. I think we’re all in the same business, and it’s the business of trust, right. And I think that whether it’s your website or your content or meeting someone in person for the first time, or going to a workshop or whatever. The key thing that every single person that’s put on this planet to build a business or whatever it is they’re trying to do is to build trust as quickly as possible with that person, with that customer, with that audience member. Whatever it is you want to call them. I think that’s the key. The key to success is building trust quickly. And if you can do it faster than your competition, if you can do it faster than somebody else that provides a similar product or a service as you do, then you’ve got much more of a chance of building that relationship.

Jürgen:
Exactly. And I do a lot of training workshops on content because people kind of have this thing about writing content, and for some reason it seems to be difficult. I mean, I have to admit, I find it hard sometimes. But if you compare it to … you know, if you go into a physical store and you want to buy a small item, then the level of trust that you have to establish to buy a small item is fairly small. So you get that level of trust pretty quickly because it’s more about does the product serve my needs and there’s no big risk. If you’re going to buy a much bigger item, then the relationship thing becomes a lot more important. And we all find it fairly easy really to establish relationships with other people when we’re face to face, across from them. Now we might not get on with everybody, but we do all find it fairly easy to establish relationships. And if you get that relationship going, then you will likely buy the bigger item, if that’s what you’re looking for and need. And it really is the same online, isn’t it?

Chris:
It definitely is. I mean, I always use an example that I had recently was that I was going to buy a headlamp for running in the dark, right, because we’re in Scotland here, so in the winter time it’s dark all day pretty much. And so you have to … I was thinking like, I don’t even know the first thing about headlamps. What’s the first thing? What am I going to do? I am going to go online and I’m going to search what are the best headlamps for running in the dark. And lo and behold, a couple of people in the top ten, review of the top ten, or did a top ten list of reviews for headlamps, right. So someone had written this piece of content to help me make a buying decision. That was the key thing, right. It’s not a big ticket item; it was maybe 100 pounds or something like that. But I didn’t know anything. I needed to be educated about it. And it’s the same with a pair of socks, right. I mean, I can buy a pair of socks at a local store for 5 pounds or something like that and not care as long as they’re high quality. But if I’m a mountaineer, then I’m going to be studying the quality … You know, it’s a totally different level of interest required for a pair of socks, depending on the application. So, there’s people out there that are creating this content to help us to buy; to make a great buying decision, to make sure that we don’t get ripped off, we don’t make a bad decision. We don’t have that whole buyer’s remorse thing. yes, I think this is the way, this is what we do now.

Jürgen:
That’s right. Alright. So tell us a little bit about the Content Marketing Academy then.

Chris:
The Content Marketing Academy is … Again, I’ll make again a long story quite short. I think it’s been sort of three years since we’ve been in business and so what’s kind of happened in that time. So, we … Basically the Content Marketing Academy didn’t start as the Content Marketing Academy; it started as Learning Everyday, which was a general marketing company. And in that time we’ve changed a lot of what we’ve done, including the name of our business. And it all came from starting a conference, an event, in 2014 we started the Content Marketing Academy and really from that point we started to build a community around that single brand from our company. And the kind of signals were there from the marketplace. Our customers were talking a lot more about it, and it just made sense for us to go into that space. So I guess what someone in marketing might call it niching down perhaps, you know, we took our general company and we made it into a much more refined company with a different name and a different purpose, perhaps, as well. And it gave people a clearer understanding of what it was that we were setting up to do and how we were going to serve them. So we built a community around that, we built like a big Facebook group and then we went on and built our organization around that. It’s changed so dramatically in such a short space of time. So I guess the whole thing there for us was just listening to the market, listening to our customers, and kind of letting them lead us a little bit.

Jürgen:
So, it’s basically a training program or training programs that you run?

Chris:
Well it just kind of morphed into different things. So we started off as a, like running workshops and teaching and consulting, and some agency work as well to sort of get the work done for our clients. And then over a course of that period of time, we’ve turned into more of an events organization in some respects, but also into a membership organization as well. So we now have, for about the last year or so, not quite a year, maybe about ten months, we have had a membership element to our business. So, we have, it’s called the Content Marketing Academy membership community; so the CMA. And it’s for small business owners, small to medium enterprises, entrepreneurs or people who are really … they want to become entrepreneurs or are going to be in a job just now and they want to break out from that. And it’s a place for them to join and join their peers. It’s kind of a business support, or peer-to-peer support network. So, it’s almost like a business network, except it’s at a completely different level. And we basically started that about a year ago realizing that people wanted more and they want to be a big part of what we were doing. So we charge like a small annual or monthly fee to be a part of that community. And it’s a really … it’s just an amazing community. It’s really thriving. We’re getting … in the forums, there’s over like 1,000 messages a day. It’s really just, it’s been one of the best things. In fact, it’s been the best thing that I’ve done in the three years that I’ve been in business.

Jürgen:
It’s interesting. And so, what role does … You mentioned forums and Facebook groups, what role does that social engagement with the members amongst themselves play?

Chris:
Building an audience is absolutely crucial in the day that we live in now. If you don’t have an audience, you don’t have anyone to buy from you, so this is like the very first step. I mean, if you were to reverse engineer the last three years for us, building a community is probably the best thing that we could have possibly done. If we didn’t do that, we wouldn’t be where we are right now, that’s for sure. So, we just made it … I think we made it really easy for our potential customers and our customers to just be close to us at all times and gave them a reason to do that. So, like a Facebook group is a good example of that. We use Slack now more, and we have people coming into our Slack community all the time now. And it’s just a great … From a business perspective, you can see the conversations they’re having, the challenges they have, you can help them quickly, more directly, and you can just get a lot of information really about what they’re up to. And it allows you to kind of shape your business around that. So, that was the reason that we did it. We wanted to get closer to our customers effectively.

Jürgen:
Sounds fascinating. And you run a podcast as well, right?

Chris:
Yes, so when it comes to the content piece, Jürgen, we have to kind of practice what we preach, right. So, blogs, podcasts, videos. I mean a lot of the content I do now is live content, so it’s Instagram stories, SnapChat stories, Facebook Live, and then the kind of more chunky content that we do now is mainly … I mean we focus on how I can serve the community better, so a lot of the content I create is going into the private membership now because that’s where my main audience is, and I think it’s important that I serve them where they are.

Jürgen:
Okay, yes. Facebook Live, I’ve just started using Facebook Live. That’s kind of fascinating, and I’ve taken part in this 30-day challenge just to learn how to use it, but yes …

Chris:
Yes, Facebook Live’s really interesting and it’s amazing. I think that’s … The way the video is going is incredible. And if you’re listening to this and you’re not looking at live broadcasting, you definitely need to be researching it and following some people that are doing some great stuff there.

Jürgen:
And again, you know, it comes back to what you were saying earlier. It’s not just about getting on the video and playing with Facebook Live, it’s about getting the … taking your message to an audience, building that audience, and then delivering exceptional value in the form of information, isn’t it, education.

Chris:
I think the key thing is that wherever you turn up, you turn up consistently and you turn up to deliver value, every single time. So, whether it be Facebook Live and you’re doing it for free or you’re doing it in your community, you always turn up and try to deliver more value than what people are expecting from you. I think the biggest challenge that we’ve got right now, especially with the … the buyers have never been so on to content production, right. So, you can go, you can swipe phone up, click record, and you can be on Periscope, Facebook Live, SnapChat stories, Instagram stories, and you can create content there. Now that’s a great opportunity that we all have, right, to do that. The obvious consideration to this whole thing, when you see the big picture, is that it’s so easy that a lot of the content is really poor, right. And that’s when it like started doing the blog and you could blog on LinkedIn. Suddenly everybody was blogging and it was just rubbish. So, there’s this problem… I think it’s going to be a big challenge and that if people’s experience with Facebook Live is not great, then they’re not going to watch any more Facebook Live videos. Just like Blab, Blab kind of died a little bit there as well. A little bit; died big time. And a big part of that was that people weren’t coming back to the platform, and they didn’t value the content that was coming in there. So, because we can create content for free, I think a lot of the content is low quality. But if you can turn up consistently and persistently show up with great value, I think that that will naturally catch the attention of the audience. And people are skeptical now as well, Jürgen, I think. You know, they’re not going to trust you just as quickly as perhaps they did in the past because they’ve been exposed to so many, you know, they’ve been ripped off or they’ve been exposed to spam and all of the rest of it. So, I think that you have to turn up consistently with high quality.

Jürgen:
The best online courses apparently only get about a 10% or 20% completion rate, which is kind of scary when you think that’s the best, that’s the benchmark. But I know that the ones that have a lot of social engagement and people supporting one another through that social media actually do a lot better than that.

Chris:
Yes. I think that a big part of this is about bringing the right people together. I mean, you know, if you’ve been in business for any length of time, you’ll have heard people talking about you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with and things like that. And I think that kind of really, that it’s really important to get around the right people. So, for example, we’ve built a membership organization as a part of what we do. And it was something that we started officially in October last year, we’ve been in it for about ten months now. And it’s been amazing. It’s one of the best things I think that we’ve done in our business as far as a business service is concerned, and I think it will be the future of our business as well, the foundation of our business and how we grow. And there’s lots of things, there’s lots of reasons why it works really, really well. You know, it’s a subscription-based business, so for us as a business, it makes a lot of sense to do that. But having people commit to something and get involved in a community, a business network, is really important as well. People want to be part of something bigger than themselves, and they want to be around people that have got the same objectives and the same, not just the same objectives, but the same values as them or the same mindset. So, my job as a facilitator is to curate those people, right. So, it’s kind of like joining a BNI or joining Weight Watchers or joining Avon or something like that, right. You join because you want to be part of this thing, you are with the values or you want to be part of the culture, or whatever. And it’s the same sort of thing that I’m trying to do with our membership as well, and it’s the reasons why you would want to build any community, I think, is to get people around the right people for them and allow them to learn together and to support each other and support each other in their challenges and problems. And that’s what an active, thriving community will do. Like for example, there’s probably messages being sent in the forum right now between lots and lots of people, and I’m not even there. And that’s when you know that you’ve got something really special.

Jürgen:
That’s absolutely right. I attended a two-day masterclass last week with two … there are actually two programs run by the same people, so I’ll give a big shout out to Troy Dean, and it’s Rock Star Empires and WP Elevation. So, the idea of the mastermind is getting a group of people together to work on each other’s businesses. And that was just such an amazing experience, and it was transformative for a lot of people, including myself, so I’m completely revamping my business model as a result of that. But you’re right, the community … So, there were only 20 or so businesses represented there, but the community within WP Elevation in particular is about 500 or so right around the world, so it’s the biggest WordPress consulting program around, and that community kind of runs itself essentially, and it really is quite amazing. And people, when they get into that kind of community, if they don’t already have an abundance mindset, they develop that. And it’s really great to be in there.

Chris:
Yes, that’s exactly it, I think. People … Like, for example, I talked about the whole 20% of courses are … you know, 20% of people complete courses and the other 80% don’t, and I think that that’s a key point, I think. Like, our membership isn’t a course, it’s a community. And there’s content there. You can learn, you can join our webinars, you can look back through all of the calls we’ve had in the past, and all of that kind of stuff is there. But people don’t stay because of that; they stay because of the people and the community.

Jürgen:
That’s right. And that’s the experience that we’re seeing, I’m observing that as a member in those communities.

Chris:
Yes, that’s really important, it’s a really important part. And a lot of people do miss that though. They want to do courses, but I think a big part of it is about building a community.

Jürgen:
Well some people think they can get to #1 on Google with a magic bullet as well, right. So, education is really the big message here, and I guess my process for content marketing, in fact my process for a lot of things, begins with what does your audience want and who is your audience and who are you talking to and what are their values so you’re not wasting their time. So, have you got any thoughts on that?

Chris:
When it comes to educational-type content, I think … We touched on it a little bit before when we were talking about helping people to make an educated buying decision, which is just kind of like one element of content, one sort of angle for content marketing. I think it’s not just understanding who your audience is, but what their problems are and what questions they have and how can you react to them, how can you be that person that they go to for advice, become that go-to person that they see as the person that knows more about that than everyone else or someone that’s willing to help them. I think that’s probably a bigger picture, is being someone that seen to be someone that’s willing to help is key. And you get that through your content, you showcase that by providing content that helps people. And I think you have to give a lot away to make that impact these days. So, I think it’s really important to think about your content. And even this podcast for example is like, well what’s, for someone listening today, what are they going to get from listening to this. You know, I think that’s a really important question when you’re writing a blog article or you’re recording a video or you’re producing a podcast is that you think to yourself, “Well, what’s the outcome for the audience?” Are they going to learn something or are they going to be entertained or is it going to be interesting, is it going to get them thinking, are they going to have a better life because of this or are they going to go into business because of it. You know, there’s got to be something for the person that’s reading, watching, listening.

Jürgen:
I have to laugh. Now, just for information, because we have had some technical difficulties and we’ve sort of resumed the interview. So, I’m going to splice some stuff in, so if we refer to something that doesn’t seem to be in the interview, it might be in that area that I’ve chopped out because of technical difficulties. But I mentioned earlier about the 30-day Facebook Live Challenge that I’m doing, and I did the second of those today. Part of that is me being comfortable using Facebook Live and learning how to use the technology, but also delivering some really good content doing that. So when I started the 30-day Live challenge, I thought we’ve been running these content workshops and I thought there’s easily 30 days of 10-minute content there, so I’m going to talk about that. And today I talked about the five success principles, and the first of those is know your outcome. So, that’s exactly what you’re just saying.

Chris:
Yes, it makes a lot of sense. Start with the end in mind, as Steven Covey would say.

Jürgen:
Yes, exactly.

Chris:
I think that’s important. And I think the …. I honestly think as well, just thinking of, like, think about the question and what you’re asking really, Jürgen, as well is that if you’re not doing this stuff, then you’re missing out on a massive, massive opportunity. And it’s not even that you’re missing out on a massive opportunity, I think if you’re not doing it, you’re losing actually as well. It’s not that you’re just not gaining, you’re actually losing because you’ve got this risk now that your competitors or someone else in your space is entertaining your audience right now and you’re not. And they’re building that trust with that audience, and you’re not. And when it comes to buying something or a solution or getting more advice, they’re not going to be phoning you, they’re not going to be contacting you, they’re going to be contacting the person that’s taking the time to build that relationship with them. So, you’ve got this risk right now that your competition could potentially cannibalize your audience, right; they could take your audience away from you and through all of this stuff. And it’s more important now than ever to get involved in all of the things that we’re talking about, all of the other things that you probably cover in your other podcasts show as well, and make sure that you’re out there and you’re out there to do the right thing, which is to help people and to provide a source of information, education, inspiration, and motivation, all of that kind of good stuff.

Jürgen:
That’s right. And Marcus said on the podcast interview, which I did with him, he basically said the same thing. And he was talking about people being afraid of sharing information that they thought might be a secret or might inform their competitors or something, but he said exactly the same thing, if you keep it secret and your competitor is out there educating your audience essentially, then who are they going to go to when they need something.

Chris:
Exactly. yes the secret sauce.

Jürgen:
Exactly, yes. And at the end of the day, I remember this in the corporate world, there was a lot of issue around what … particularly what clients told us as a supplier, a B2B supplier, and they felt that they had all these secrets that they needed to protect and didn’t want to tell us, and I kept reminding people well, some of this stuff isn’t actually rocket science, you could figure it out. So, it actually makes things easier if you share the information.

Chris:
Yes, exactly. This is a common question for anybody listening, I guess, as well, is it’s a real thing, it’s a real fear. People think that they’re going to share their content and someone will steal it or the competition will steal it. And the reality is the competition could probably, probably know it already, and if they need to, they could probably find out quite easily as well. But Jay Baer said this to me on a call a while back, and he said to me having all the right ingredients and the best recipe for making a cake doesn’t make you a great chef. So, I think that’s always stuck with me. And there’s a lot more to it than just the recipe and the ingredients, you know, there’s other elements in there that make you a success or make you successful at what you do. So, you don’t have to worry if you’re going out there to share your content. People might steal it. They probably won’t because most people are lazy. And they don’t act upon the information you’re sending out there. They realize that through your education, you’re effectively showing them what you can do instead of telling them, and by doing that, they say that sounds really great, this person or this company know what they’re talking about; I’m going to go and I’m going to do business with them. That’s kind of like the long story short, I guess.

Jürgen:
Exactly, right. And the example of the chef is a good one because you’ve got all of these cooking shows, and you know Jamie Oliver I’m sure. I mean those guys get on TV and they share their recipes and they actually show you how to do it. Well, can I then cook something up like Jamie Oliver does? Probably not, so he’s still … well, he earns a lot of money, those guys earn a lot of money by presenting on television and so on, but most people are never going to be as good cooks as they are, as you say. And then the other example is we’re doing this podcast now, and I know you’re doing a podcast. I tell people how to do podcasts, so I basically give them the process and so on. And as you say, 90% of the people are too lazy to do it or don’t see the value in doing it and don’t want to spend the time doing it. And so it’s easy to share the information, but it’s hard to actually take it and translate it and make it work for you.

Chris:
Exactly. Yep. So, there’s no fear there. In fact, people have built their whole business around … There’s no reason to be afraid, is what I meant to say there. I think that there’s people who have built their whole business around giving it all away, and they’ve built a successful business because of it. So, yes, there’s too many good case studies out there to say that it doesn’t work. It’s just getting outside of your comfort zone a little bit.

Jürgen:
That’s right, yes. Alright, well, this has been fascinating, Chris. I really appreciate your spending time with us. And I love this podcast because I always learn so much as well. So, part of it is about delivering some good information to an audience, but I learn so much as well. So, I think we’re going to move on to the Buzz, our innovation round, which is designed to help our audience who … they’re primarily innovators and leaders in their field, with some tips from your experience.

Chris:
Sounds great.

Jürgen:
So, I’m going to ask a series of five questions, and hopefully you’re going to give us some really insightful answers that inspires everyone and gets them doing something awesome.

Chris:
So, no pressure then, right?

Jürgen:
Yes! So, what do you think the #1 thing is anyone needs to do to be innovative?

Chris:
That’s a really good question. I always think about innovation as something new, right, something that someone’s never done before. But for people in small businesses or small to medium enterprises, I don’t think that strictly could be the case. I think the #1 thing that you need to have for, to be more innovative or to sort of embrace innovation is to … or to be more innovative, generally speaking, is to have ideas, right; is to have more ideas and allow yourself and give yourself permission to create ideas, make time for it. So, I think that’s a key thing is new ideas, whacky ideas, any ideas really, and to have that as a culture in your life and your business and your organization.

Jürgen:
That’s great advice. I always say to people, you know, innovation is doing something different but not for the sake of doing it different, but for the sake of adding value and improving on something. So, it could be incremental or it could be transformational or kind of disruptive.

Chris:
Yes, innovation in a small business … You’ve got to think to yourself, well, what are … the majority of businesses in the world are small enterprises, aren’t they, they’re the ones that kind of make up the bulk of businesses in the world. And you think well what does innovation mean to a small business, and it could be simply to do something that other people just can’t, or aren’t doing. For example, like one of the examples that came up this morning in our forums was Twitter video replies, right. Now Twitter video has been around for a long time. You can tweet a video to someone, you’ve been able to do that for maybe a couple of years now. But nobody is really tapping into Twitter video replies. So, would you say that is innovative or just resourceful, right. Or as an innovative way to use Twitter. And it probably could be classed as somewhere in there, I think. You’ve not invented it, you didn’t invent the actual thing, but you’ve kind of done it differently, you’ve done something slightly different. And I think that … that’s what I think innovation means, I think, in small businesses is to kind of do something slightly different, but do it better, do it faster, do it with better quality, something like that.

Jürgen:
And adding value to somebody.

Chris:
Yes, hugely.

Jürgen:
Alright. What’s the best thing you’ve done to develop new ideas?

Chris:
Yes, ideas are key; they’re currency. I think the best thing I ever did was read Become an Idea Machine by James Altucher. I listened to it in audio, I read the book a whole bunch of times. And one of the exercises in that book is he gets you to write down 10 ideas every single day. And I did that, I don’t do it every day now, but I did it every day for a long time, and I still do the practice now, which is … Like, for example, messaged me on Instagram today saying that they would like to think about how they could incorporate subscription into their business. So one of my tasks for later on today is to give them 10 ideas. So that, those 10 ideas, I’m giving them away, but by just exercising the idea muscle, I can think of ideas really, really quickly now. And over a period of time you get better at thinking of better ideas as well. So, the idea, Become an Idea Machine by James Altucher was kind of like a catalyst there. Just me, kind of like really sort of understand just how important ideas are. And you know how you get, you meet people who are just ideas peoples, they’ll just fire tons of ideas at you. Like those are the people that you need to be around, and it can have its own problems because you need to figure out which ideas are the best ideas, so that’s the next step. But you can allow yourself to think of crazy ideas. Like just allowing that muscle, that idea muscle to be exercised is really, really, really, really important, especially now when everybody’s done everything. So how can you do something just a little bit different. You’ve got to get the ideas. And the one thing I’ve learned by doing this is that, so when you’re thinking of ten ideas. When you get to idea 7, idea 8, 9, and 10 are really hard. So, but that’s you doing the exercise, that’s you pushing yourself. So, I think that’s a great exercise to go through. So, for example, I do it all the time, I do it all the time now. I’ll even go into SnapChat sometimes and say, hey, give me a challenge you’re having just now, I’ll come up with 10 ideas for you. I put it in my proposals for consulting. I’ll come up with 20 ideas for you or whoever. So, it’s kind of like … I think it’s a really good skill to have, and it’s a skill that anybody can do or anybody can have if they practice it. But I think it’s just massively important for innovating and to come up with fresh and new approaches.

Jürgen:
That’s great advice. So I’ve just opened up the Amazon Kindle store here, Becoming an Idea Machine by Claudia and James Altucher. And I think Claudia is the author, according to this. And yes, so we’ll have a link to that in the show notes. But I see that cover, and it looks familiar, so I wonder if I’ve got it in my collection, but I don’t recall reading it. It’s the sort of thing I would probably download and add to my collection. I’ve got probably hundreds of books in my Kindle thing and there’s about 80% of them still to be read.

Chris:
Yep, I know the feeling.

Jürgen:
I actually find it easy, I actually find the first couple of ideas hardest. Once I get going and then the, I don’t know, my mind seems to work that way. Once I get going, there’s more ideas keep popping in. It’s a real problem when something comes into my head when I’m, in the middle of the night when I want to get back to sleep, and then I can’t sleep because ideas start to come in.

Chris:
Exactly. I think we all kind of suffer from that as well. But I think the key thing is just try to think of different things. I think you’re probably going to speak about it later on as well, but I think you need to get out of your own, sort of like your own frame as well. I think a lot about content marketing and business, but you’re not going to do anything different there if you’re not exposing yourself to different things, you know, like different books, and different podcasts. So instead of listening to content marketing or business podcasts all the time, I should really go out and listen to something entirely different or read a bunch of books that other people just wouldn’t read, you know, a book on art or a book on, like someone’s autobiography that’s not from a business background or just anything really that’s going to inspire you in a different way. And it can be really interesting and you’ll learn something, but it also kind of like gets you thinking just a little bit differently as well. So, I think having ideas is great, but having ideas from different sources are good too.

Jürgen:
Alright, that’s great advice. So, what’s your favorite tool or system for improving your productivity and allowing you to be more innovative?

Chris:
Ahhh, so many tools, so many tools. For being productive … productivity is a tough thing. I’m not sure what the answer to that is. I think like there’s a couple of things that help me to be more productive. One is really taking advantage of time driving. So, audiobooks and podcasts. I know it’s not a tool, but it’s dead time where you can really, you’ve got a lot of time there to learn or do something. So, audiobooks are really key. I’m trying to think what really transforms productivity. Ah, that’s a really good question. Tool-wise, I have to say, I don’t know, Evernote has probably been the one tool I have used for five, six years maybe. I use it every single day to capture all of my notes. Getting Things Done, the book GTD by David Allen, I think has probably had a massive impact on me as well over the years. I read that back in 2009 maybe, maybe earlier than that. And that had a massive impact on me about how, you know, only having paper being touched once in the office and making sure you’re capturing everything in the right places. So mostly philosophies have probably been more impactful than any one tool has been because I think, this is a big thing actually with, especially in the entrepreneur space or the businesses spaces, the tools, there’s so many tools. You know, and at the end of the day actually it’s nothing, productivity has got nothing to do with the tool that you put in place, it’s got everything to do with your own systems and processes and then how the tools can actually help you be better at those things, I think. That’s the first step. The first step is to be productive, and then the second step is to put systems in place to help you be more productive, I think.

Jürgen:
Yes, that’s great advice. And I’m a huge fan of Getting Things Done. I think I discovered that in the early 1990s and I bought one of the first editions. And I’ve been practicing that since then, although if I have a look at my desk at the moment, I probably need to have one of those …

Chris:
I honestly believe that productivity is that one massive resistance that we all suffer from. Like you could go a through a period of months of being really, really good, and then all of a sudden, you’re like, that falls away for some reason. And you just need to get back, pick up the book again, you know, you get back on it the next day.

Jürgen:
That’s right.

Chris:
I don’t want people beating themselves up all the time for not being productive, you know, because you have bad days.

Jürgen:
It is a case of focus though, isn’t it. And you kind of hinted at there’s so many shiny tools out there for a small business to kind of get distracted by.

Chris:
Yes, one of the things I’ve talked about recently on that one was really … Like, for example, we’ve got a membership site there and everything, and people are saying things like you should use InfusionSoft, you should be using Hubspot, and all the rest of it, and I’m like, I don’t even know what, I haven’t even figured it out manually yet; how am I supposed to figure out, you know, I haven’t figured it out manually yet, so how is a system going to help me right now. I need to map this, I need to figure out what works first, and then I’m going to make it look good, you know. And I think that was … I can’t remember whose quote that is, someone did say that, is make it work first, then make it look pretty, basically is what they kind of …

Jürgen:
Well, that was actually one of the big messages that was given to us at this mastermind last week that I mentioned. And I hope that’s in the good part of the interview, not the bit that I end up cutting out. But the message was don’t automate stuff and don’t use a shiny new tool to do stuff until you’ve figured it out manually. Do it manually first, get it right, get the process right, and then when you need to scale it and you can’t get on top of it manually anymore, then put it into a tool.

Chris:
Yes, because the danger is you start putting all these systems and processes and tools together, and you haven’t solved anything yet. Like that’s the worst thing you could possibly do. So, you need to make sure that the market actually wants what you have first, and then you figure out a way to scale. Absolutely. I think that’s absolutely key.

Jürgen:
And that’s a good message, too. Make sure you can sell.

Chris:
Yes, that’s a solid message.

Jürgen:
Yes.

Chris:
I’ve seen it too many times.

Jürgen:
Yes, figure out what the market wants early on before you invest a lot of time and money into building something.

Chris:
Yes. The key book, there’s a little too many books in this probably, but there’s two books that popped into my mind there. One is The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. That’s a fantastic book for anybody that wants to touch a little bit more on what we’re talking about there and the whole building as you learn cycle and all that and the minimum viable product. That’s like the key, absolute key lesson for anybody in business is testing the market and making sure you don’t put all your resource into something that’s not going to actually sell. And then the other book I was going to mention, Jürgen, as well is The War of Art by Steven Pressfield around the productivity side of thing and resistance. I think if you haven’t read that book and you’re listening to this show, then you should absolutely go and pick it up right now.

Jürgen:
Okay, and who was the author of that?

Chris:
Steven Pressfield.

Jürgen:
I’ll look that one up and put a link to that in the show notes as well because I’m not familiar with that one.

Chris:
Well, once you’ve read it, Jürgen, send me a message; tell me how you feel.

Jürgen:
Alright I’ll do that. Will do. Alright. So what’s the best way to keep a project or a client on track?

Chris:
You sent me this question beforehand, and I was like I don’t know if I know the answer to this. I think for me it’s … client work’s hard, it really is. It can be really difficult to keep on track, keep on the deadlines, making sure your team are performing, and making sure that everything is on track basically. Especially if you’ve got more, if you’ve got multiple clients, right. Now, I was … I’ve had a really good think about this over the years. I thing the key thing for keeping a client on track is picking the right client in the first place; someone that really believes in what you are doing, really believes in the value that you want to bring to their organization, is willing to work with you. I think that that’s where the relationship really starts, I think, is picking the right clients. That’s the main thing. And if you can get the right client, then there’s a good chance that relationship is going to work out really, really well for you. I mean, at the end of the day, the client’s paying you to deliver something, and if you say, if you deliver what you say you are going to deliver and you meet their expectations, then that’s good; most people can’t do that these days. I think that should work. And if you’re trying to keep them on track, then it’s about communication every single time. Trying to predict what might be, where problems might arise, trying to keep in regular communication with them, so using tools. For example, you could use Slack; we’ve used Slack for our clients before. It works really, really well. It gets off the email and it opens the communication. Skype or whatever, video calls are really great for that too. So I think that one is getting the right clients in the first place, and then secondly is having a good solid communication strategy for that relationship to blossom.

Jürgen:
Well, you know, a lot of people answer that question with communication. That seems to be core to that, but you’re the first person that’s actually said pick the right client in the first place. And if you think about it, that just makes so much sense, doesn’t it?

Chris:
Yes, I’ve been … For anybody that’s got a client service-type business, they’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. You know, you have that client and it could really ruin everything. Like you can ruin every other relationship you’ve got with your other clients as well because you’re putting so much energy into the one that’s taking up all of your energy and it can.

Jürgen:
Exactly. And you’re resentful of it and … yes.

Chris:
Kind of a detrimental impact on your whole business.

Jürgen:
Yes, that’s brilliant advice. Alright, so the last one is what’s the #1 thing anyone can do to differentiate themselves?

Chris:
The #1 thing you can do to differentiate yourself is to learn faster than everybody else, I think, is to make sure that you are always learning something; you’re continuing to advance yourself. Most people don’t do that. And I think that’s absolutely key. If you want to differentiate, you’ve got to continue to learn. Keep looking at things with a critical eye, you know, what’s happening here, how is this going to affect my business, how can I help my clients with this, what the trends are, and just be open to learning new things and be open to …. never think you know enough, you know, always be humble and learning, I think. I think that’s the #1 way to differentiate yourself. And if you can do it faster, if you learn faster, I think that will have a massive impact on your business and your life. And I think it will differentiate you from other people.

Jürgen:
Yes, I love that. I love it. That’s great advice. Two things there, always be learning and learn quick and be adaptable, I guess, around that because take the lessons on board and apply them.

Chris:
Absolutely.

Jürgen:
Yes, I really love that. Alright. So, what do you see as the future for the Content Marketing Academy and the things that you’re doing there?

Chris:
This whole Content Marketing Academy stuff is really interesting to me right now. I mean, we went from doing client work to event stuff and workshops, and all of this kind of stuff. I tried loads of different things in such a fairly short space of time, I think. And the one thing that’s really exciting me more than anything is the membership. The guy, the clients or the members that we have in there are getting the best results that we’ve seen from our clients. They’re doing it in their own way, they’re learning, they’re developing, they’re learning from each other, they’re doing things that they never even thought they were going to do. And then, to be honest with you, they inspire me in my business as well, they’re keeping me on my toes. So, I think the future for our business is to grow and develop and build a solid membership organization. I think… I don’t think, I know that is exactly where our business is going to be. So the future for our business is membership. And I’ll still, we’ll still do client work and consultancy, but that will all come through … Like, we’ll go back to that question about picking the right clients, our clients will come through our membership instead, so they go through a whole heap of education first before they even get to the point where they need us for the work that they need to get done. They know the more help that they need from strategy or whatever that might be. So yes, I think that’s where our business is going.

Jürgen:
Okay, that’s great. Alright, well this has been really great. I appreciate all of the time you spent with us because we’ve redone a large part of this interview, and hopefully I won’t chop out any bits that we’ve haven’t duplicated. But just in conclusion, what’s the #1 piece of advice you’d give any business owner who wants to be a leader of innovation in their field?

Chris:
Is the #1 piece of advice I’d give to any business owner who wants to be a leader in their field or a business … a business or business owner?

Jürgen:
Let’s go with a business owner.

Chris:
I think the best thing you can do for yourself is believe that what you do is important to people, the work that you do is important, and believe that you’re the best at it. I think that’s … and leadership is not, it’s not like a title or something that’s given to you. You can be a leader; anybody can lead. It’s a set of skills and communication skills. So, if you’re able to communicate like a leader and behave like a leader and believe that the work that you do is important and believe in yourself that you are the best at what you do, then I think that anybody can be a leader if they have that mindset. So, I think it’s all about mindset. Absolutely.

Jürgen:
That’s wonderful advice. I really love it. So, be a leader. Because like you say, it’s not something that’s bestowed on you or that you’re born with, it’s a behavior and it’s a belief, isn’t it?

Chris:
Exactly. yes. So the first thing to do, the #1 thing to do if you want to be a leader in your field is to be a leader. Yes. That’s kind of like, that’s what it is, really is to behave like one, essentially. So, yes, I think that’s it. No it’s been great spending time with you, Jürgen. And like I said, we’ve had the technical issues, so thanks for being patient with me on that, and I hope that everyone that’s listening has got some value from it today.

Jürgen:
I’m sure they have. I certainly have. So before we finish up, where can people reach out and say thank you for all that you’ve shared with us?

Chris:
Well, thanks very much for that. I think if anybody really wants to reach out and say hello or ask a question or perhaps debate any of the content that we’ve covered today, you can get me on Twitter @ChrisMarr101. And that’s probably the best place to start a conversation with me, to be totally honest. So, ChrisMarr101 on Twitter and any other social media platform.

Jürgen:
Okay, so we’ll post links to that in the show notes as well. So, finally, who would like me to interview on a future Innovabuzz podcast and why?

Chris:
Alright. I had to think about this actually on the way in today to the office, and I thought that if it’s innovation you really want to talk about, like and this is shooting quite high, I think, is someone like Kevin Kelly would be a great interview. I don’t know him, so I can’t give an introduction, but I think he would be cool to have on your interview. I don’t know if you’ve heard of Kevin Kelly before, but he’s a really interesting guy and very much at the forefront of all this stuff. Maybe someone like Joel Comm would be cool because he’s kind of like at the forefront of live broadcast and social media, and he’s kind of like a real tech. He would be really cool to have on your show as well. He’s sort of a heavy hitter as well, so he’d be cool. yes, they would be cool guys, I think.

Jürgen:
Alright. Well, that’s great. We’ll reach out to Kevin and Joel, if you’re listening to this, which they probably won’t be, but you never know. So, if you’re listening to this, we’re coming to get you for a future Innovabuzz podcast, courtesy of Chris Marr.

Chris:
That would be cool.

Jürgen:
So, thanks again so much for your time today, Chris, and your insights. It’s been really wonderful. I’ve enjoyed this immensely, and I’ve learned a lot. And let’s keep in touch, and I wish you all the best for the future of the Content Marketing Academy. I think that you’ve got a great model there and I’m going to read that War of Art book and I’ll give you my feedback.

Chris:
It’s a good book. You’ll definitely get stuck with it. Thanks for your time today, Jürgen. I really appreciate it. I’m going to check out your Facebook Live stuff as well, so I’ll jump onto that this afternoon.

Jürgen:
Okay. Well, they’re kind of a bit rough and ready at the moment, but I’m learning.

Chris:
It’s all good. You are. You’re out there, you’re doing it. So, it’s good stuff.

Jürgen:
Alright. Thanks.

Chris:
Thanks very much for your time today.

Jürgen:
Bye.

Wrap Up:

Well, that certainly was another valuable and educational episode – I hope you took notes and that you’ll take some action as a result of some of Chris’ advice. You might also like to check on Chris’ Facebook Live posts, in which he shares more, valuable information.

All the show notes for this episode will be at innovabiz.com.au/chrismarr, that is C-H-R-I-S-M-A-R-R, all lowercase, all one word, innovabiz.com.au/chrismarr, for all of the links and everything we spoke about in this episode.

Chris suggested I interview Joel Comm of InfoMedia and Kevin Kelly, co-founder of Wired, on a future InnovaBuzz podcast. So, Joel and Kevin, keep an eye on your Inbox for an invitation from me, for the InnovaBuzz Podcast, courtesy of Chris Marr.

Thank you for listening.  Pop over to iTunes or Stitcher or Pocket Casts and subscribe so you’ll never miss a future episode.  While you’re there, you might leave us a review, because reviews help us get found and your feedback helps us improve.  If there is anything you’d like us to cover, guests you’d like us to interview, or questions you want answered on a future podcast, please send them to us.

Until next time, I’m Jürgen Strauss from Innovabiz.

Remember, if you don’t innovate, you stagnate, so think big, be adventurous and keep innovating!

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Jürgen

Jürgen is the chief innovator and founder of Innovabiz who partner with innovative, exceptional business coaches to enable you to acquire more leads and more business by reaching your ideal target prospects with your message, so that you will achieve growth and be able to make a difference to more ideal clients. You can find Jürgen on LinkedIn, as well as on Innovabiz' Twitter, Facebook and Google+ Pages.

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