F#ck Content Marketing: Shifting Marketers Focus to Content Experience

Rhoan Morgan, CEO of DemandLab

 

We consider today’s guest a true rule breaker! Randy Frisch, CMO and Co-Founder of Uberflip, joins the Revenue Rebels podcast to share how marketers can evolve their thinking around content marketing and content experience.

Rhoan Morgan sits down with Frisch to discuss:

  • Why marketing leaders must prioritize content experiences
  • What a successful content experience looks like
  • The biggest roadbloacks that marketers are facing

P.S. We do drop an F-bomb or two in today’s episode, so turn the volume down or use headphones if you’re around children or in the office.

About Our Guest

Randy Frisch is the CMO and Co-Founder of Uberflip, a content experience platform that empowers marketers to create content experiences at every stage of the buyer’s journey. He has defined and led this movement, prompting marketers to think beyond content creation and truly put their customers first by focusing on the experience. He is also a host of Conex: The Content Experience Show podcast, was named one of the Top 50 Fearless Marketers in the world by Marketo, and is the best-selling author of F#ck Content Marketing: Focus on Content Experience (yeah, he swears sometimes).


Unable to listen? Read the full interview transcript below:

Rhoan Morgan: Hey, listeners. You are tuned into the Revenue Rebels Podcast by DemandLab. And we are here to spotlight rule-breaking marketing and sales leaders who are accelerating business growth with a fanatically customer-centric approach. I certainly consider today’s guest to be a rule-breaker. Randy Frisch, the CMO and Co-Founder of Uberflip. He is also a leader in the content experience movement, and the host of Conex: The Content Experience Show, which is a podcast. He’s also the best-selling author of F#ck Content Marketing, Focus on Content Experience.

Welcome to the show, Randy. I am really excited to have you joining today.

Randy Frisch: Thanks. I’m excited and I’m comforted to know that we can drop F-bombs on this podcast. I always have to ask that upfront.

Rhoan Morgan: You know what, we didn’t talk about it. And I certainly did contemplate whether or not I should do that as I have a nine-year-old who will likely listen to this. But we do talk about what’s appropriate and what’s not appropriate on the playground.

Randy Frisch: Yeah, I got three young kids too, and I promise I only do it when it’s appropriate. But having the book all over my house with the cover sometimes creates interesting conversations at home as to what language is allowed and not allowed, you know?

Rhoan Morgan: Exactly. Exactly. Well, it’s better to have the conversation at home rather than having them have it elsewhere, right?

Randy Frisch: I’m a good person. I don’t let my kids watch Deadpool, which I feel like is that line of acceptability to parenthood. It’s like, do you let your kids watch Deadpool before they’re 13 or 14? If so, you’re not a good parent. So even though I wrote a book with an F-bomb, I don’t let them watch Deadpool. So yeah, you can trust me now on this podcast.

Rhoan Morgan: Good, good. Okay. All of our listeners know he’s a good guy. No problem. Just a little bit of an F-bomb every once in a while. So I think that it’s great to be chatting, super timely because we just announced actually that we are a new service partner with Uberflip. And we’re really excited.

We’ve actually already got several clients that are clients or customers of Uberflip and several that are really interested in engaging. And I know that the team is really excited to be able to help them deliver exceptional customer experiences at scale. So just perfect timing to be able to chat.

Randy Frisch: No, absolutely. It’s great to have you guys on board and working with you. And I think it’s also a real reflection of the need that marketers have today to put that customer experience, that demand path that people are going through, at such a higher level of priority than we might have in the past, where doing it ourselves sometimes is not always feasible. And bringing in great partners like the team at DemandLab has been key for us in helping our customers succeed.

It’s a real reflection of the need that marketers have today to put that customer experience, that demand path that people are going through, at such a higher level of priority than we might have in the past.

Rhoan Morgan: Yeah. Well, for us, content is really at the core of everything that we do. While we are a MarTech Consulting agency, the technology is great, but you’ve got to send something out through it, right? Which has to be great content. You’ve got to get a way to send all of that out and reach your audiences. But I’ve been working in the world of marketing for over 20 years, and content has always been central to what we do. But whether we know it or not, I would say that we’re all creating content experiences. However, the challenge is making them great, right? Because if we’re not proactive about them, they just might kind of suck. They’re an experience, but it might not be a great one.

So I really like how you’re thinking. And by the way, I’ve been reading the book which is fantastic. Love the way that you emphasize a new thinking about content, not about content marketing or content creation, but really that entire holistic experience. The terminology is a little bit new maybe for some marketers. So I would love it if you could start just by telling us a little bit about what this means to you.

Randy Frisch: I’m happy to do that. And I think you lined it up really well there, by the way, because, and even just the partnership that we have between our companies now would not have been a priority five, 10 years ago. I think at that point, a lot of marketers, we were simply trying to figure out how to create content. And that’s not what we’re going to really talk about today. I’m going to assume that a lot of you figured out how to create content, and now you’re trying to figure out what to do with that content. And that’s a huge shift because, for a long time, we kept being told, well, as long as we create better content, then we will capture our audience. And it’s not that that’s not important, but what I want us to really put our mind to is this idea that great content is not enough. The way we put that content out to people and ensure that it’s something that they want to engage with, that’s what matters, right?

And wrapping that content together is not as easy as we may think. A lot of us have traditionally turned to the web team to do that for us. But the way they organize content doesn’t work with the way that our audiences expect to be greeted with content or search for content. Right? And you just think very practically to what we’ve done for so long, and it’s, you can all kind of cringe at this when you realize you may be doing this, but don’t worry, you’re not alone.

A lot of marketers still do this, which is we organize content by things like format or date, right? Think about your blog. Many blogs still have that chronological list, right? Whatever was written on May 30th comes after what was written on May 29th. But those two items, one may remain relevant over time, and one may be very suited to that time of year. So it’s important for us to make sure that we can surface the content that people want.

Similarly, some of us do it by format. “Here’s a page with all of my eBooks, and another page with all of my videos,” and so on into different formats of content, like blog, and infographic, and all these different formats. But when’s the last time that any of you listening to this tried to do research and said, “I’m going to figure out what these guys do by watching a video or by reading eBooks”? No, we say, “I have a problem. Help me solve that problem, and help understand what I may want.”

Rhoan Morgan: Yeah. I think what’s really interesting about the approach of a customer experience is that it puts the control back into the hands of your audience, right? A prospect, a customer, whoever they are, they’re seeking an answer, and it serves up, and I really like the way that you put this, how they’re greeted with content, it serves it up to them appropriately. And I think we could have a whole other conversation around how to connect the technology so that it’s not just based on a category or a date, but also the individual user, that one-to-one experience.

What’s really interesting about the approach of a customer experience is that it puts the control back into the hands of your audience.

I’d love to know, from your perspective, you’re a CMO, Co-Founder, you’ve been talking through this concept for a long time, you talk to a lot of executives, you guys have really big-name customers… Can you help explain to our audience why business leaders should consider sort of taking another look at their content marketing right now, and maybe prioritize this new idea of a content experience?

Randy Frisch: I think where it starts with is realizing that content marketing has certain connotations to it that are maybe a little more limited than what we wanted them to be. And as a result, don’t just think about it as content marketing, but think about who’s going to own this in your own organization. And I’ll explain what I mean there. The problem that we’ve seen kind of grow out of solving this is we solved content marketing by hiring content marketers, right? It’s pretty amazing actually when you think about the number of people with the job title of content marketing specialist, or manager, or even director level and beyond, that exist in organizations today that just didn’t exist 10 years ago. And what’s exciting there is that we have now the internal capability to go and create content.

But that’s the problem is that we ended up defining this content marketing role very much as content creation, right? So we went and we hired people who were journalists before, or who were editors, or who studied English in their undergrad, to jump into these roles. And I don’t want to take anything away from those very talented members of a marketing team. That is a very hard thing to do, to write or produce fantastic engaging content. But we kind of have to question whether those are the same people that should be figuring out how to mesh a buyer journey, or how to figure out what content should follow the previous asset, and how we’re going to distribute that content and get it in front of people.

And those are the things that, when you think about what I’m describing, Rhoan, you probably see this at DemandLab all the time, that those are the questions that the demand gen marketer is challenged with, is thinking, “How do I engage my audience? How do I put the right thing in front of them? How do I grab their attention? And how do I nurture them to the point where they are eventually pipeline, if not revenue, or retained as a customer?” So all of a sudden we start realizing that this term, “content marketing” that we so heavily associate to the creator also needs to be thought of strategically in terms of, once it’s produced, how can it be brought into our buyer journey?

Rhoan Morgan: Well, and so in terms of the journey, I think that part of this is critical in terms of the team. Right? So that’s what you’re talking about. Who’s ultimately responsible for success? Obviously, I think it takes a village, I would say. I’ve seen it. I think it does take a village. How does that begin at a company? Have you seen new clients coming into Uberflip, and what’s maybe the first couple of steps that they take to be successful?

Randy Frisch: Sure. Yeah. I don’t think it’s one thing across every company. I think a lot of people listening here would probably sketch out their org structure and share it amongst the table and not find one other marketer with the same org structure. Right? All of our marketing teams work a little differently than each other. And they’re built in a combination for what works for us as well as what the leader at the top has seen work for them in the past.

Some of the things though, that we’ve seen in terms of different versions, and I’ll give you maybe three just to give some thought to, one is the idea of realizing and embracing that, yes, content marketers will be the ones to create content, but that it is often the demand gen individual, or digital marketer, depending on job title, that is really responsible for thinking more strategically about mapping that content to the buyer journey, and doing so in a very different way than they would have thought about content traditionally. Right? A lot of demand gen marketers can walk you through how they would optimize an email nurture thread in Marketo, or Eloqua, or Pardot, or another solution like that, with their eyes closed, right? That’s very natural for them.

But the ability to then say, “Okay, well, I got to take that same mindset, which isn’t that different, but take it to content, and actually own an understanding of what content we have in our organization, and understanding how do I accelerate it.” And the exciting thing there is, unlike email, just because someone reads your email doesn’t mean that you should go and send them another email later that afternoon. Right? We know, “Maybe that means I can speed up the cadence and send it tomorrow versus next week.” But the beauty of content is if they engage in one piece, right? And you see that you have the opportunity to present them with that next asset right there in that moment when they’re ready to do that research. And that’s the idea that demand gen marketers need to wrap their heads around, is that, if they take ownership over all these content assets, if they own the experience, then we’ll see a more accelerated buyer journey. So that’s that kind of the first approach.

If demand gen marketers take ownership over all these content assets, if they own the experience, then they’ll see a more accelerated buyer journey.

The more progressive approach, if you will, or companies that have been at this a little bit longer, I’ve started to see more people actually hire a content experience manager, which is really exciting to see. I’m not suggesting that everyone get off this podcast and go create the job title tomorrow, because it’s going to be a hard thing to sometimes advocate for, but we’re starting to see that more. And that person ends up often living as a bridge between the content creators and the demand gen teams because sometimes we start to see this drift beyond just pure demand gen into other areas of the business, like customer marketing, like product marketing. Because the reality is we’re using content at every stage of that buyer journey, even after someone’s purchased. So the ability to kind of see it more holistically versus just, “How do I get them to be pipeline,” but, “How do I continue to develop that relationship and educate the customer at every stage?”

The last one, just to throw in there very quickly, would be bringing in partners. And I think that’s ... We hit on that in terms of the partnership we have with DemandLab. This is new for a lot of people. So having that support to understand how to go to market and how to do this successfully is still very new to some companies.

Rhoan Morgan: You know, 10 years ago, when we started DemandLab, it was really around helping our clients use Marketo and Salesforce, and kind of understanding this whole new idea of nurture, right? Which is, I mean, we’re well beyond that now, but at the time, the content that they had was they were all sales slicks, and they were just pushing out sales emails. And so there was a huge education that needed to happen then. I definitely think people have advanced a lot.

Okay, so we are already at our halfway mark, actually a little bit beyond that. That means that it’s time for us to take a quick break to learn a bit more about DemandLab and how we help companies like yours accelerate revenue by integrating MarTech content and data. Stay tuned.
And we’re back with Randy Frisch, CMO and Co-Founder of Uberflip, and we are continuing our conversation around content experience.

So Randy, let’s talk a little bit about impact. At DemandLab, we’re focused on demonstrating tangible results. And that’s one of the reasons that we chose to partner with Uberflip, because I know that that is central to your values as well. Can you give us some examples of the impact that you’ve seen companies get, some of those real-world outcomes, when they get content experience right?

Randy Frisch: It’s a great question. And it’s one that is not always a single answer because I think it depends who we’re working with inside of that organization. Let’s start first, though, with the one that we kind of said should take more notice in kind of the first half of this podcast, which is the demand gen team, right? And, not to minimize anyone else’s impact or what matters to them, but I often, as CMO, think my goal and my role is to arm our sales org with enough pipeline and, ultimately, revenue, and find ways to retain customers.

So one of the biggest aspects of content that we hit on a bit just before the break there is, how do we accelerate that buyer journey, right? How do we move from the mindset where I’m going to email you, like we said, once every three weeks, and eventually get you to realize you’re ready to buy, to, when you’re ready to buy, I can put all the information in front of you? And the value of what we’re able to do as marketers today is not just deliver great content, but actually learn what content is as valuable as we think. So understanding and tracking that engagement.

And the way we do that is a combination of keep analytics inside of, the Uberflip platform in our case, but also, even if someone’s not using Uberflip, or of course, if they are, there are ways to pass those activity records into your marketing automation database, into your Salesforce instance, or CRM that you may be using, so that you can start to track that engagement path of your audience. And that’s the real key that we want to be able to understand is, what content moved things around? What content got them to the point where they were ready to pick up the phone call, or got them to start to binge on three or four pieces of content on one visit? Because that starts to suggest that you’re making an impact and you’re influencing that buyer journey.

So the terms that we probably hear very often as demand marketers are things like “attribution,” or “engagement,” or perhaps the lead scoring, although a lot of us are even moving towards understanding the account more holistically, and how different buyers are starting to get involved in that purchase decision. Remember, not all of them are going to be the ones picking up the phone with your sales rep. A lot of them may be doing research on the side. So our ability to track that, and track the overall health of that account, or engagement of that account, really helps us to understand where that pipeline is coming from.

Rhoan Morgan: Yeah. And I think that you’re touching on a couple of things, account-based marketing, I know that you guys are able to create experiences for the sales org, for your sales teams to use so that there is more personalization. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Randy Frisch: Yeah, absolutely. So as we said, it’s not always the one thing we do, it’s which part of the marketing org, or the org as a whole, and what are their goals? So if we turn our attention to sales and the way we’re engaging our audiences through salespeople, we have to be able to deliver them an email that is relevant. In the lead-up to this podcast, I had five minutes to check my email, and like all of us, I had a ton of outreach from different sales reps. And the emails that feel personalized stand out, plain and simple. It’s a combination of how they speak to me, but also what they’re directing me to. Now, if sales reps are directing me to something that feels very generic, versus very personalized, there’s a difference in terms of just my general intrigue.

So what we do at Uberflip is we make it really simple for a sales rep to stay within the email client they’re in, say Outlook, or Gmail, or other solutions, of course. But say they’re in Gmail, the ability to pop open that email and say, “You know what, this account, I want to send certain content to.” But instead of saying, “I want to send and drop six hyperlinks or six attachments to that email,” which we know on the receiving end is very overwhelming, is “How do I create a single call to action,” right? We know in marketing, a single call to action drives people to a single goal. And when we get them there, then we give them selection, then we give them choice, once they’ve engaged in that first piece. So what the sales rep can do is actually build out a dedicated stream for each account, or even each contact in the account that they’re talking to, with specific blog posts, eBooks, as suited to the stage of the buyer journey.

Rhoan Morgan: Yeah, I think that is really the direction that most sales orgs should be going towards. And even in terms of customer success, there are a lot of different ways that you can use those little sort of mini-hubs if you will. But I just think that’s absolutely critical this day and age when people are being inundated with content, with information, with requests.

Randy Frisch: Rhoan, you’re so right. And we kind of often talk about being inundated with content as a negative, but sometimes, as consumers, we are more than open to be inundated with content. And there’s certain ways where it works, and certain ways where it doesn’t. I’ll give you some examples of where it works. We all know them, we use them every day. Things like Netflix, things like Spotify, things like our LinkedIn feed, or our, Twitter feed, or our Instagram feed. We are open to that infinite scroll of content that those all provide us because we expect that each piece of content that follows will continue to be relevant. It will be personalized. They know me, and as a result, they’re not going to suggest a kid’s show, Back to the Beginning, or they’re not going to suggest the Deadpool episode to my kids. Right? Unless we’re crossing streams on our Netflix account.

Now, if those apps can know that, why would you think that you’re clear from being held to that standard? If we want to break through those same push notifications and emails coming through on people’s phones, well, then we have to figure out a way how to capture people’s attention and show that what we’re going to offer is just as personalized to them as a buyer, as their organization, as a buying group.

We have to figure out a way how to capture people’s attention and show that what we’re going to offer is just as personalized to them as a buyer, as their organization, as a buying group.

Rhoan Morgan: Yeah, and I would say, you don’t have to have a platform to do this, right? You don’t have to have something like Uberflip, which is a really impressive and big platform, big undertaking for some companies.

Randy Frisch: Absolutely not. To be honest, I talk a lot about the reality that software is the last thing that people should buy. A lot of us are familiar with the framework of people, process, and technology. It’s the three pillars. My mindset is, tech is usually the last thing you want there. We all need to start with great people. People, especially in marketing, are the key to a successful execution. Our partners are a big part of that as well. The process is the next thing. We need a process that scales. And jumping to technology before you have the process in place is often a big mistake. There’s terms that are built into our marketing platforms, like the word “marketing automation,” that create such a fallacy in terms of what we should expect. They don’t automate anything. It’s the people and processes that we put in place in them that allow them to work at more scale than we may be able to when we outgrow our people and our processes.

So a lot of what we’ve talked about today, and in fact, if people go and grab the book that we talked about, F#ck Content Marketing, I don’t think I mention Uberflip more than a handful of times, is what someone told me, in that book. And usually, when I am, I’m just talking about what my team does in terms of how we operate marketing. A lot of the ideas that are in there, including the framework, which is known as the content experience framework, that’s a big part of it, it talks about ways to hack away at this, right? To organize your content on day one with something as simple as an Excel spreadsheet, or to build this out to a point where you can, with these dedicated personalized streams, for say 10 accounts, before you think about doing 100 accounts.

Rhoan Morgan: Yeah, and I think that once you ... What I really like to see is, and I’ve seen this with a lot of our clients, especially the smaller ones, the larger folks, it’s a bit of a bigger bundle to manage, I think. When you’ve got larger and larger sales teams for instance, or marketing teams that are worldwide and all trying to do this. One thing is that we’ve seen them do proof of concepts, first of all. But then also, when you are just starting, if you can develop, you’ve obviously got to have great people, but if you can develop the process, and it’s really good, and you’re able to measure, and you know what’s effective, and then you’re sort of bursting because other teams want to do it, or it’s so effective that you know that you need to be able to do more and more of it, that’s when you bring in the platforms so that you can just scale like crazy.

And so, I completely agree with that approach. It makes a lot of sense. And oftentimes, you’ll see people, they’ll buy a great platform, and it’s like, “Yeah, now we’ve got this awesome, whatever, marketing automation, content, experience,” whatever it is, but they weren’t really ready for it. And so, for us, we’d like to help people sort of ease into it and make sure that they’re ready. So I think it’s a really responsible approach also, that you’re taking when you talk about that.

Randy Frisch: Thank you.

Rhoan Morgan: So, as our time comes to a close, I have one more question for you. I’m really curious, what do you think is the biggest roadblock to success that leaders should be aware of before they decide to take control of their content experience?

Randy Frisch: I think we hit on it at the beginning, and it really comes down to ownership of this. I think, in too many companies, we throw all of this on the content marketer. It’s not to say that there’s not those exceptional content marketers or unicorn content marketers who can do both the creative and tell a great story, and then can also do all of the demand gen that we need with that content. But the reality is, is that we have to realize that content itself is the responsibility of the entire organization. It’s pulsing through these organizations. And people just have to take responsibility for that and use it more effectively. So coming up with an understanding of who’s going to own that, who’s going to direct that.

Content is the responsibility of the entire organization. It’s pulsing through these organizations. And people just have to take responsibility for that and use it more effectively.

Again, in the book I wrote, that’s a big part. The last part of the book is the challenge of who owns the content experience in your company. So I know you’ve started to read the book, you’ll probably get there and have, not necessarily the answers though, because that’s the reality like we said, it’s going to be a little different in every company until we start to see this content experience role more prevalent.

Rhoan Morgan: Really take off, yep. Absolutely. Thank you so much for joining us today, Randy. I have thoroughly enjoyed the conversation and looking forward to more. Can you share with us the best way for our listeners to reach out to you?

Randy Frisch: If they want to connect with me, best place to do that is often LinkedIn. I post a lot of content there too, that’s hopefully helpful. I’ve also got a personal site at b-rand.com, so that’s b-rand.com. If you’re interested in Uberflip, go to uberflip.com/hub. We’ll give you a lot of our content ... Or sorry, hub.uberflip.com, I should say, we’ll give you a lot of our content, or uberflip.com, you can watch a really fun video where we have some fun with our category on the homepage.

Rhoan Morgan: Cool. Very good. Okay. And a big thank you to our listeners for tuning into Revenue Rebels today. I am your host, Rhoan Morgan. And you can find me on LinkedIn by looking up DemandLab, or visiting our website, demandlab.com. While you’re there, don’t forget to sign up for our monthly newsletter and check out our other resources, including podcasts like this, as well as tips and tricks, and how-to guides. And keep on checking back because, pretty soon, you guys will see our own hub as we deploy Uberflip. And I am thrilled to see how we’re progressing through that process.

Thank you so much, Randy. And now, back over to you, Paul.

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