I currently serve as a fractional CMO to SMBs of all kinds supported by a network of consultants, freelancers, and boutique agencies.. Prior to CAMO Marketing, I spent 24 years at six different marketing agencies, a start-up, and an island. I've led marketing, sales, PR, strategy, account service, and creative. My career started in Kansas City, progressed to LA, then migrated to Raleigh, and I now reside in Austin with the rest of California.
In this episode
"If you're not creating revenue out of content, you're not there yet," says Chris Austin. You have to satisfy two equally important audiences. One is obvious and that's your customers. The other is Google!
“You can’t just think like a media company. You have to become a media company,” says fractional CMO Chris Austin in Episode 2 of Centricity's The Best Kept Secret show. Marketing requires every type of business to become a media company. It’s not about becoming the next Netflix, but your content must educate, entertain, and engage in attracting customers.
Great marketing requires great content, and great content comes from talking to your customers. They’ll tell you what they want to know. That should drive the content you create.
But it won’t matter if you don’t have a consistent distribution strategy. You’ve got to meet your clients where they are rather than expect they will come to you. LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, or Tik Tok - go where your clients hang out.
Listen to Chris’s Provocative Perspective on how to supercharge your marketing with content that engages, is distributed through the right channels, and what you need to do to make sure it’s seen.
A glimpse of what you'll hear
02:01 Become a media company no matter what your business is
03:20 Two audiences for your content but don't forget distribution
05:50 Three goals your content should achieve
11:58 Drive more revenues by acting like a media company in your marketing
16:12 Steps you need to take to drive your content marketing activities
21:14 Learn about Chris
Welcome to the best kept secret videocast and podcast from Centricity. If you're a b2b service professional, use our five step process to go from the grind of chasing every sale. to keeping your pipeline full with prospects knocking on your door to buy from you. We give you the freedom of time and a life outside of your business. Each episode features an executive from a B2B services company sharing their provocative perspective on an opportunity that many of their clients are missing out on. It's how we teach our clients to get executive decision makers to buy without being salesy or spammy. Here's our hosts, the co founder and CEO of Centricity, Jay Kingley.
Jay Kingley 0:43
I'm Jay Kingley, Co-Founder and CEO of Centricity. Welcome to another episode of our Best Kept Secret Podcast, where I'm happy to welcome Chris Austin, the CEO of Kimmo marketing. Now, Chris is a fractional CMO focused on small and lower, lower mid market clients that be clients under $25 million in revenue across a broad spectrum of businesses in a fractional CMO. Think of them as a part time chief marketing officer. So it's great for companies that need a real true professional executive that don't necessarily need or can afford to pay full time. And Chris is based in Austin, Texas. Welcome to the show, Chris.
Chris Austin 1:32
Thanks for having me, Jay. It's gonna be fun.
Jay Kingley 1:35
Yeah, absolutely. And one of the things, Chris, in our discussions that I really learned a lot about is you've such broad experience dealing with so many small and lower mid market clients, and you have some pretty strong points of view of some things that they aren't quite getting right. And what's for you a big thing on the list, that people really need to change how they're thinking about? Well,
Chris Austin 2:02
The biggest opportunity out there is to not only to think like a media company, but actually become a media company. And it doesn't matter if it's a if it's a SaaS developer, or the local dry cleaners, there's an opportunity there to be a media company and really pull users or customers in the door with great content.
Jay Kingley 2:25
So tell me a little bit more about what you mean, when you say, a media company. And obviously, I'm not turning into a TV production company, Tik Tok influencer. So how does your typical small business out there think
Chris Austin 2:41
You may and you'd be surprised, you'd be surprised at how many businesses under 25 million they're looking at that. They're looking at building out a TV production team or video production team as a way to get over 25 million so. But there's a lot of different weird things that that can mean and a lot of different things that you can do. And in its simplest form, it's two things. One is great content, like you, you, you need to produce great content. And I would define great content as material that people want to seek out that they're looking for. And that also does well with Google, you have to audiences for any piece of content, and that's a Google bot and your customer. So that's critical. And then the second piece, it's the distribution part, you can make great content all day long. If you don't have a distribution plan, other than posting it to a blog or putting it out on YouTube, you're probably not going to get too many views or reads of that content. So great content and thoughtful distribution are the key points there.
Jay Kingley 3:55
So let me just ask you a question on the content. I think we're all a little bit spoiled by entertainment. Yes. And I referred to tick tock earlier. And certainly, I mostly watch Tik Tok videos that are funny, and that are humorous. And I get my serious news elsewhere. But putting distribution aside, you're not suggesting that we've got to do crazy stunts, and become latest comedians. So where do you get that source of content that really your target market? Which is your audience, you got to focus on? Where do you get where's the source of that content? Where's the inspiration?
Chris Austin 4:37
Well, the inspiration should come from the customers and one of the things I do immediately when I get a new client or I come out on new projects, is go out and talk to customers. And I know that sounds overly simplistic, but you'd be shocked at how few people and C Level mid level are actually talking to customers. It's almost like they're insulated from them. Customers will tell you what they want to know, what their what they need to do their job better. If it's B to B, and, and there's, there's an easy way to do it, and it's have a conversation with them. And so that's the number one thing that I always recommend, or go out and do immediately. The other thing for creating content, doesn't have to be a blog, certainly doesn't have to be a TiK Tok video, it can be any of those things. And it really depends on on your audience. Is it a, is it a younger male demo? Well, then you probably should be doing video is it? Is it a scientific or engineer type audience? Well, white papers, long form blogs, more technical videos, those are probably going to be the right thing. And you're looking to accomplish one, two, or three, or all of three goals. And that's the content should educate, entertain, and engage and invite engage, I don't mean get a like or get a, get a comment, although those things are great. And certainly help algorithms engage, I mean, to help bring someone into a community. And, and that's really what you're looking to do all the content for, yes, it's to it's to bring a customer in, that maybe hadn't heard of you or to sustain a customer relationship. But more importantly, it's to build a community around your brand. And that's, that's hard to do. But once it's done, it's unbelievably effective for, for making sales goals and, and hitting revenue numbers and those kinds of things.
Jay Kingley 6:47
Now, one of the things, Chris, that I really talked to the centrist his clients about all the time, is, from my perspective, if you're an executive, and most of our clients, of course, are targeting C suite decision makers, you have to understand that the volume of information that they're being exposed to, is increasing exponentially. But the quality of that information is decreasing exponentially. And that gap, it goes by this really technical term called noise. And when you're in a noisy environment, you tune it out. I think, one of the things and just building off what he said, that's so important, and at the end of the day isn't as hard as people think, is understand your clients understand your target market, be those clients you have now or the clients that you're now trying to get, if you're trying to change that at all, but then leverage your expertise. There shouldn't be anybody correct, you know, when it comes to your domain, you need to know more than your clients know. Right? And leveraging that expertise, matching to the needs and the interests of your clients, really, I think, takes the degree of difficulty that we put in our minds way down. Yeah, and it accessible for any small business or lower mid market business to do.
Chris Austin 8:11
And I would suggest, if you're, you know, not everyone's a writer, we know that and maybe you're a salesman, salesman can talk and salesmen are used to drilling through a PowerPoint with a with a boardroom. There's no reason why that PowerPoint, and that sales pitch can't be combined into a video you can record right in PowerPoint, that's $0 in production, it's probably a speech or a presentation that that person is given hundreds of times and can be easily recorded, cleaned up and presented as original content, and then broken into quotes and stats and infographics and things like that, these integral piece of content that's easy to come by, you have to look at that as as kind of the mother of smaller pieces of content and the term that I don't like but I always end up using is snackable
Jay Kingley 9:05
Snackable. Yep, I get it. I get it. Talk a minute or so about distribution. You mentioned it does no good to have great content if you don't have the right distribution. So how do you think about getting your content out there?
Chris Austin 9:19
So the first rule with distribution is consistency is consistently creating content and putting it out there. The second rule is, you know, it has to be interesting so that I may click on it once, I probably have to click on it a second time if you didn't hit the mark on the first one. There's so many great platforms, obviously b2b. LinkedIn is going to be huge for you. And there's there's a lot of stuff out there and best practices for LinkedIn. Obviously, your own owned assets so your blog, your social media profiles, your staff or legal ship, their social media profiles. And there's the idea of creating Facebook groups or LinkedIn groups. And those are the platforms. But then the next piece of that is, is getting seen on those platforms and understanding how the algorithms work. So I know that YouTube wants long form videos, I know that LinkedIn favors high, highly followed people engaging with your content in the first 10 minutes. And these are little things that change constantly, and you have to be kind of keep abreast of them. But whatever that platforms, goals are, are probably going to be favored in the algorithm. So LinkedIn, for whatever reason, doesn't seem to favor video. So video doesn't perform that well. So I would look at other ways to other pieces of content, but on video, or go, okay, in order to go in and use YouTube, Facebook favors video, I would always use native video on Facebook. And then there has to be Can I get? Can I get PR to do kind of air cover for it and push that push this out there? Whatever the story of the blog or piece of content is, can I get my employees to share it early on and like it? You know, if I see something, as a user, I see something with three likes versus 30 or 300. You know, which of those Am I more likely to pay attention to. And the algorithm certainly pays attention to that. So it's just the idea of being thoughtful, as opposed to, ah, we got something done, let's get it up on LinkedIn and go on to the next thing. Right? That's, I really look at that as the front half of the job.
Jay Kingley 11:45
Right. So Chris, I think you're giving our audience a lot to think about here. So let's say they're sitting there saying, all right, so if I did what you're suggesting, he started to think like a media company put out content on a regularly scheduled basis that was of high quality, put it through the right channels, what kind of benefits Am I going to see to my business?
Chris Austin 12:07
And the, to me, the end metric, and agencies come from that world, we'll measure it and engagement and click through rates and, and return on ad spend and all those kinds of things. Ultimately, its sales, right? If you're not, if you're not creating revenue out of contents, you're not there yet. And that's a really tall challenge. And it's a tall benchmark. But it's the only one that matters to me. And I've seen content turn around and not turn around, quickly elevate revenue and sales in lots of different industries and lots of different places.
Jay Kingley 12:57
Any specific example that comes to mind where you could?
Chris Austin 13:00
Yeah, I've got a, I've got a luxury retailer that I work with. And that is an industry that you wouldn't typically think is a content. There wouldn't typically be content but beyond, you know, pretty Instagrams and things like that. But we've built out a video production team with, with built out internal photography, resources, writing resources. And it's really a production studio that we can do any kind of content for social media. And we've seen huge spikes in the typical content and social media metrics. But we've also seen dramatic spikes since the, since the time when I think it was about, well, it was right before the pandemic. So, you know, there's there's a retail, I didn't have the best run all the all through the last 18 months, right. But yet, every month of 2020, and every month of 2021 is the best month we've had on record in a in a 7 year plus business law. If you look at that, the owner had a priority in content and a way to make it happen and put his money where the Met where his mouth was. And you're seeing 60% 70% 80% percent in sales month, a month, year over year, it's it's surprising to even me and I preach this gospel. And the other great example that I always use and it's what got me got me going in this direction years ago. And 06 and 08 for a cruise line. We were creating educational content and we quit We saw a community forming around the educational content. And this was what shifts in what markets what restaurants are what shift what activities you can do in a destination, really basic Cruise Line kind of stuff for travel agents. And once we started telling them, how to use Twitter, how to how to upsell, how to sell the luxury clients how to best practices for direct mail, the things that they had to do in their business that maybe weren't directly related for the cruise line. And you immediately saw double double-digit percentage gains with the travel agents that have engaged with that content. And the year over year was staggering. And that's a business where market share, as you can imagine, is unbelievably hard to come by. And so if you're gaining market share on the individual travel agent level, which at the time was still 80% of all cruise sales, it's probably about between 50 and 60. Now, you're looking, you're looking at the revenue numbers that you want, right, and that's the distribution piece as well, in a certain way.
Jay Kingley 16:12
So I think you've made an incredibly compelling case for how you have to think and how you have to behave. So what would be the steps if I'm that small business owner? Right? What are the steps that I need to take to make this happen?
Chris Austin 16:25
Obviously, the things that I've talked about talking to customers, looking at your resources, a lot of times there's someone in your organization, and these are not huge organizations, 30 50 70 people, there's someone that might have a podcast on the side that knows how to podcast, there's someone that's an amateur photographer, I guarantee in 30 people, there's a writer in there, and they may not have the expertise, they may not be able to host the podcast, but somebody in your organization is or someone adjacent to your organization can. And so that's the easy, quickest way. And I also like the interview the experts, so the easiest piece of content I can create, is I can interview you have whatever your expertise is, I'm recording it, I otter is a great app to do that. I think it's five bucks a month or something, you know, really, really economical. And I've got an interview I spent, I spent 30 minutes interviewing with you, I spent another 30 minutes cleaning up that content, I send it to you to read once make any changes, particularly around industry jargon expertise. In a 90 minute span, I've got a blog post, I can usually take pull quotes out of that make them pretty for Instagram or a LinkedIn image. Because LinkedIn performs better with an image. And I can post two or three poll quotes that lead into a blog. And I've got the blog itself. And that's, that's an interview format. And then I can take single question and answers and I can push them in different places. So it's a 90-minute span, I can get five pieces of content that I can post to Twitter, LinkedIn, and my own blog, any other social media spots that are right for the company, or the brand. And it's as easy as that. Now, can that be the only thing you ever do? You need to do some other things. But that's a good start. There's also a lot of reporters out there, and young reporters, journalism school graduates that either doesn't have a job yet are freelancing or can always use some extra money. So dipping into that pool makes it really easy if there's not someone inside of your organization.
Jay Kingley 18:47
Right? Well, I love the interview with the expert because that's what I feel I have been doing. Yeah, that's what we're doing right here in case, you really put your expertise out there. I think that's great. So we're going to come back in a sec. And then we're going to focus on learning a little bit more about Chris hanging.
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Jay Kingley 20:09
All right, Welcome back, everybody. Before I move on, to learn a little bit more about Chris, there's one thing that I think he wants to share in addition, Chris,
Chris Austin 20:18
yeah, it's just a fun one. And it's something for a smaller company where there's not as many resources inside, but you've got a lot of expertise. And I've done this in the past, and I've seen it work well. And that's capitalizing on pride. So get all your executives in a room, all the leaders, and either assign them a blog, have them create their own blog, whatever, or their video, whatever it happens to be, and, and put some money on it, whichever one gets the most, gets the most views gets, gets that $100 bill or whatever, you know, maybe it's a $1 bill, creating spaces style, but you'd be surprised at the pride level. And then the desire to share that article across personal social networks and in personal communities that they belong to. I found that pride can be an unbelievably effective motivator. And if that's not enough, a little money on the side doesn't hurt either.
Jay Kingley 21:20
Healthy competition. Gotta love it. Alright, Chris, let's find out a little bit about new talk about, you know, in your role as a fractional cmo, working for small businesses over mid market size companies across a range of industries. What are the types of problems, pain points and issues? Do you find yourself really focusing on?
Chris Austin 21:42
Well, this one's tough for me, because it feels a little bit like the magician, revealing the secret behind a trick, but I've been at agencies or was at agencies for the better part of 25 years. And I continually got frustrated with how they were run on the inside what my limits were when I was running them. And now that I'm on the client side or brand side, the number one issue always is the agency. And sometimes it's the prior agency, and I replaced them. And sometimes it's the existing agency and I will augment their services or replace their services in some cases, but how to get the most out of an agency is unbelievably difficult. How to get the right agency is is a tough thing to do. And how to make it cost effective is really the biggest challenge there. Because agencies are, you know, they're trying to make money like the rest of us. And it's, it's unbelievably hard for them to do so with any kind of margin or scale. So it's a place where I see myself coming in and helping with that relationship, helping a business owner understand how to get the most out of the agency, and other ones right now that I see. And this is related to me in the marketing department in internal staffing, but staffing is unbelievably hard right now. And there's a real disconnect on what's needed for a roll and to be successful, and what a lot of people are willing to do. And I'll leave it at that. But it's alarming. It's some of the things that I'm hearing coming out of interviews that I would have never, I may have thought I never would have said, I certainly wouldn't have demand it. So staffing is a big issue. And then managing so many platforms, so many outlets, so many types of advertising. You know, when I came into the business, it was print, radio, TV, maybe events, outdoor, and, you know, well, I couldn't even begin, you see those charts that are all of the social networks out there and all of the platforms and ways to advertise and where's the places to post content? It's huge opportunity, but it's also very difficult to manage and very difficult to manage a budget around it.
Jay Kingley 24:19
Right. It's certainly overwhelming. And I think this is a big reason why in my view, we're seeing the rise of the fractional executive. Yes. When you're the owner operator, and you know, we all start mom and pop and then we become sort of a bit of a real business very quickly you realize to get to the next level. I need some real seasoned veteran help, but my business isn't going big enough yet. And you know, way back, you know if I go back 20 years, we used to call it no man's land, and you'd say okay, you got to get through no man's land as quick as you can get to the next level. hope we don't get killed doing it. Half the people did get killed, businesses died. Now, people like yourself and In the other major executive areas of a business, you know, we can bring someone like you on whether, you know, be for a day, a couple of days a week, and really tap into not just your expertise in marketing, but you're an executive, you've got a seat at the table, if you talk about all those internal issues, unless you have that background in marketing, you're really going to struggle to manage that on your own. So
Chris Austin 25:23
Yeah, I look at my job is to simplify. If I can, if I can do that for a business owner, and kind of distill the information down both the opportunities that are out there from a marketing and brand standpoint, as well as the data coming back from those activities. If I can make those single screen or single statements, that person's world is a lot easier.
Jay Kingley 25:49
And Chris, you've I think anticipated my next question, but ask it anyway, just in case you want to augment your answer, which is, I don't really spend a lot of time trying to understand what people do. Because I could talk to 100 people, and they all sound the same to me, I like to instead focus on what makes you great at what you do, because I think all of us who are looking to bring on help want to get the absolute best or budget can afford. So you mentioned one thing, which I think enables you to stand out from the crowd, which is your ability to take massive complexity, simplify it down so that it becomes actionable and constructive for the business. You know, beyond simplification, anything else that you think that you have in your skills and toolkit that really makes you outstanding at what you do?
Chris Austin 26:43
This is a soft skill and probably underrated. But over 25 years, I kept my mouth shut and listened to a lot of times, particularly the first 15 or 20 years and learned was able to learn a lot and use that experience to my advantage. And that that makes usually what I say have a fair bit of validity and then right now it's that same skill of listening to customers listening to CEOs listening to salespeople, that is an unbelievably underrated information channel. You know, what are the objections that you're hearing back? Why are you getting no? Why are you getting a yes, like those, that's unbelievably valuable information to run a business for on my level of marketing campaign.
Jay Kingley 27:35
Right? Fabulous. Now I encourage everybody to go onto LinkedIn, type in Chris's name and connect with them. And when you do that, Chris, we're gonna we're gonna see your career arc, you know, the typical LinkedIn resume. But when I'm interested for sort of my final question with you is, what are the things that you've done or decisions you've made in your personal life professional life, that give the reason why not only you've done what you've done, but why you're doing what you're doing today? So what were those key milestone events for you, um,
Chris Austin 28:12
It's a moment in time that, that I remember, I made the observation that every place I was at, and at some point, it became a necessity and it's, it's fear based, which isn't usually how good decisions are made, and something that I always want to be aware of, but I wasn't at agencies and from when I was 22, to now and I didn't see a lot of people over 40 with their name on the door. And that always concerned me, it seemed like there was an exit that and not not the good kind past 40 and I knew that I needed my name on the door somewhere along the way. So I found that opportunity and went and became a part equity partner at an agency and it's a great shop that we grew from nine people to close to 40 and again to the 40s now and that decision to do that helped me kind of round out my toolset. So where I'm able to do what I can now and I was a copywriter a creative director strategy lead, I ran accounts, which very few people do both of those things, right creative and the suit side and, and I knew a lot I learned a lot but until I took an agency from small digital shop to full service and really heard the clients versus working with big brands and being a small part of what they were doing. That gave me the tools and the skill set to be really good at what I do now I think
Jay Kingley 29:58
Okay, fabulous. So Chris, you've really educated us. I think you've demonstrated both your expertise and experience. I'm sure we're gonna have some people that want to reach out, connect tap into you, what's the best way for people to get ahold of you?
Chris Austin 30:13
I'm, I'm active on LinkedIn. And that's the best place for sure. And it's, it's Chris Austin in Austin, Texas. So that's certainly easy to remember. I think there's a few of us, but only one CAMO marketing. And then I'm on Twitter @realchristaustim. So that's, that's an easy one as well.
Jay Kingley 30:33
You know, if you have arrived, when you get to put the real in your handle,
Chris Austin 30:36
It might have been aspirational at the time, but it works
Jay Kingley 30:41
That's excellent. We'll put all that in the show notes make it easy for everybody. But Chris, I want to thank you. You're a fabulous guest. Learned a lot. wish you much success. And with that, guys
Chris Austin 30:56
Thank you Jay.