Connecting With Content
We're going to be talking about establishing an authentic connection with your audience through your content and how we're going to get better at that. We're going to walk the talk that we're talking.
This article is mostly the result of the conversations that we're having with folks who are digital marketing experts. Not only will you eventually get the benefit of the learning if you watch the programs, but we're also taking those conversations and turning them into a book, and we're learning along the way.
We found one element that was common to a number of our interviews, extracted that, and turned it into a model that will work for us and you.
That way you don't have to wait until the Digital Marketing book is published to find out what we found out. We’re going to tell you right now.
We're just that kind of people. We want to share everything we know. We cannot have an unexpressed thought. It has to turn into something.
Oh, that's a nice thought. Let's make a presentation. Let's do a show!
We put out a new book and we are sharing it this week. It's called Livecast Life: the Content Creator Lifestyle. It is full of amazing information about how to start with a live stream to create videos, audio podcasts, blogs, and even your own book using the method that we share in the book.
So go get your book at book.livecast.life.
Here’s a great offer! Sunday through Monday, April 10-11, 2022 all our Kindle version books are free to download. Find all three books at books.agkmedia.studio. Please grab the books while they are free, read them, and write a positive, helpful review.
This is the third book we’ve written together and we're already planning our fourth. We're halfway through the next one. That's how fast you can write and publish a book when you use our method.
Digital Marketing Wisdom, Authentic Connection Through Content
This presentation is a result of conversations that we're having with digital marketing experts from all around the world, from the United States to Israel to New Zealand.
What We Learned from Speaking with Digital Marketing Experts
Toby hosted a panel with six of our digital marketing expert friends. We've also interviewed some of them again and others as well. After asking these digital marketing experts “What have you learned about digital marketing in the last two years?” And “What do you think will be effective for marketing in the coming year?” We're going to share with you what we learned from their answers.
Our shared experience, us and you, in the last two years has been impacted by the effects of the pandemic. It changed everybody's life in one way or another. In addition to changing our lives, it changed how people do business and how people perceive their business's existence. So we wanted to know from these experts what happened over the past two years, from their perspective as digital marketing experts. What had they learned?
The follow-on question is what do you think will work for people in the coming year? We're not quite through the pandemic, what's more, the effects upon us as individuals and businesses, small or large, will last beyond the pandemic. We're moving into the new normal.
What's the New Normal from a Digital Marketing Perspective?
What we’re hearing is a theme of connection. People want connection. That means there is a starting point of having an authentic conversation, which moves us into feeling emotions and gaining an understanding of each other.
That moves into feeling a sense of belonging and bonding with the people with whom we are having that conversation. That takes us into causing impact and transformation in each other.
Authentic conversations → Emotions & understanding → Belonging & bonding → Impact & transformation
Whenever you see a chart where there's one thing leading to another and there's a result, you've defined a workflow or described a process. That was one thing that we learned from talking with these experts. It's a process. Because it's a process, it is effectively a model that can be applied to anything. So if you're an individual, you could use this process to enhance your relationships with your family and friends. Or if you're a business, you can use this model to enhance your relationships with your prospective or actual customers.
We have a workflow that expresses a process that is a model that can be applied to various situations.
Here's what our digital marketing expert guests have said to us, that we brought together to give us this framework.
Tim Fitzpatrick said, “We need to identify who those ideal clients are within our market and really understand them.”
What do the words “understand them” mean? If I want to understand you, I have to engage with you and ask you questions. If you want to understand me, we engage in a conversation that enables us to start learning about each other enough to understand one another.
It isn't a process of gathering statistical data or examples. Statistical data characterizes the market in general. Our market is encore entrepreneurs. Within that, once we identify a suspect or a prospect, we want as quickly as possible to engage in a conversation. That conversation may start out one-sided. We're putting out a lot of content. Viewers and listeners see that content and wonder what to do next. Then the conversation goes from a one-way conversation to a two-way conversation.
Tim used the phrase, understand them, but the reality is that it's just as important for them to understand you. That happens best in a conversation.
We had an interview with Daniel Alfon, our new friend and LinkedIn expert from Tel Aviv, and he said, “Content is the new way to connect.”
This brings clarity to what's coming and what's been happening over the past two years. It’s the way we connect with people because we can't be in person with them.
Why is content the new way to connect?
Daniel was across the world from us at the time we were talking, but we could still connect. Before he came onto our podcast, he went through our content. This gave him a better understanding of who we are, what we talk about, who is in our audience, how could he help our audience, and what he could bring to the table that would be helpful.
Content was the way that we connected with Daniel.
Our book is content. It is the result of about 20 different live stream videos that we did that were then transcribed into text and edited. That's one kind of content we can produce that when people buy it, they start connecting with us. They look at this book and say, this is important. Toby and Shelley have taken all the knowledge that they've gained since they started livestreaming and producing content and they've put it into a single book, sharing years' worth of knowledge with us.
We're putting out the content first and we're sharing our hard-earned and learned knowledge and expertise. We're building visibility and credibility. The next step is to engage enough so that we can trust one another because business starts at the trust level.
That's why content is so important in that workflow.
We had Jen McFarland on our show and she said, “We know that people love video. They love to engage. They love to learn more.”
People enjoy videos so much more when they have the opportunity to express their opinion and have a two-way conversation, even if that's just by leaving a comment on the video or participating in a live chat.
One of the people that we interviewed for our Women in Podcasting book was Jen McFarland. Jen and Shelley began their relationship with a content-building conversation and eventually they decided to do a podcast together. Women Conquer Business was Jen's brand. Now every Thursday at 11:00 a.m. MDT they create a live podcast of their own, resulting in additional communications.
Visibility, credibility, trust, and the agreement that it's a partnership started with a conversation. Creating content can start conversations. Those conversations can go in a lot of different directions.
This week, we had a telephone call with a woman who knew Shelley from her Zoom meetings on Alignable. This woman saw what Shelley was doing. She set up an appointment. We had a very nice conversation with her about how she thought we might be able to help her. That will result in doing business together and that all started because of that initial connection that led to a conversation that led to engagement and trust.
We interviewed Barbra Portzline last week and Barbara said “People are craving connection and they are ignoring the noise. They want value. They want someone that cares.”
Zoom conferences and Zoom fatigue make us crave a connection that offers more caring and attention.
We went to visit friends a couple of weeks ago and we finally got to see their house and be in person with them after so many months of isolation. I think we appreciated it so much more because we hadn't been able to do it for so long. All we've seen are their posts on Facebook. We were waiting for the pandemic to subside in New Mexico so that we could visit with them. We missed seeing them. We craved that connection.
We interviewed Vince Warnock, the gentleman from New Zealand, and he said, “Who are the people who connected with us? And how can we take that off social media? How can we give them a sense of ownership in us, our brand, our story, and our business?”
A sense of ownership may be fostered by including people in a membership group or having them come on the show as a guest. He does all of that. Vince is one of the people that sparked my thoughts on this topic and the model that he uses is something that we're using and working to expand.
I was doing business in Washington, and I wanted to make the transition away from dealing with the government, I wanted to expand. I wanted to go into working with federal government contractors, the larger ones, not just individual independent contractors like myself. I learned you can make a living by helping them produce white papers and case studies.
I know from documentary making, that it’s an interview process. You make up 10 questions and interview 10 people. You have enough information for a documentary, a white paper, or a case study. In the process of conducting those interviews, I learned so much. Not only did I have to write a white paper or a case study, but I had to listen carefully to deep-level engineers on weaponry, to understand it enough to write a white paper or a case study on it. Intense learning was an element of my business and it gave me ownership of the information in the white paper.
We interview different people and ask them, what's the most important thing that they're going to do in the next 12 months. Many of the people we interviewed shared that we’ve got to get back to being connected with our clients because the pandemic has prevented us from doing that. Their answers lead us to enhance our business model.
Their advice tells us what to do, but not how to do it.
How do we provide conversations and connect?
How can we help people feel they belong and they matter?
We want to get to know you. We want to have a conversation with you.
Conversation is proactive. It's when you take the time to comment about what you did or didn't like within our content and add your opinion on how we can improve. It's got to be two-sided to have value and growth. There is a yin and yang in all of this.
One day we were driving in the car together and we heard a man and woman on a radio show discussing topics of the day. They happened to be discussing the high price of gas and the Oscars incident between Will Smith and Chris Rock. It sparked something in me and I wanted to add to the conversation. I had an opinion on it. I'd seen those things happen and I wanted to talk about it too. But I couldn't talk back to the radio. They weren't going to hear me. So instead, we had a conversation together in the car about what they were talking about. Their conversation sparked our conversation.
That made me think maybe we need to be having more of that kind of interaction, where we're having a conversation about topics of the day and what's going on in the world on our show. Then people who are watching our live conversation can share their opinion by writing in the chat.
They can interact with us more easily because
- There are no stakes. They don’t lose anything by expressing their opinion on a general topic in a safe place where that interaction is encouraged.
- They've heard about the event or incident and they have formed their own opinion about it.
- They can talk back and forth in the chat room amongst their friends, as well as get a response from us. So they feel heard and know their opinion matters.
That's something we want to bring back to our content, our show.
At any given point in time, five things are going on around us, exclusive of personal things. Five things are worth talking about with other people so that you get a broad variety of perspectives. As a result, we learn more about it and the other person as well.
The idea is to do that in a way where I'm not trying to convince you that I'm right. I'm simply having a conversation with you to find out where you're at in all this. I can tell you where I'm at and then look for consensus.
There's this wonderful line that I learned in debate that you never get to use in a debate. We can agree to disagree.
The conversation allowing each person to speak in a way that they get to express themselves on the matter is important.
I would love to have a conversation with somebody else about topics of the day. I'm a news junkie and the news motivates me to have those conversations.
I have a very good friend, Janet Bridgers. About once every three or four days, I get an email from her and she shares a news article that she read and she says, “I need to understand this more. What are your thoughts?”
I write three or four paragraphs on what my thoughts are on the matter. Sometimes she writes back, but she wants someone else's opinion. She wants to know that there's not going to be a world war three. She wants the confidence of having somebody else say that.
At the end of each one of those, she'll say, “when can we have coffee?” That's the physical connection that everybody needs. Email is one thing. Having a video conference is another thing, but sitting down and breaking bread or having coffee is one way to enhance the quality and the integrity of that relationship.
It's important to her and because it's important to her, it's important to me. She believes I'm her friend and I am, and I believe she's my friend. The way that we improve that relationship is by engaging with one another and having a good, rational, informative conversation.
I learn from her, and she learns from me.
Our tribe members have reached out to us to say they miss the connection and the belonging. They miss the conversations and the stories in our chats. People are saying we like belonging to this chat room, this group of people. We miss that community. We want more of these conversations. That is another thing that has pushed us in the direction of opening up another show.
I get two to three messages in various forms, texts, emails voicemails, every week about a specific topic in which people miss our conversation.
We've taken a different direction. We've published three books since the end of the treasure hunt. We needed to do something else because we felt like we didn't want to be trapped in limbo as a one-trick pony. We had other things that we wanted to talk about. So that's why we ended up moving away from it.
We found a way to accomplish that. The result has been proven in the number of books that we've published and we'll probably publish two more this year. That for us is the way to fulfill ourselves because we're creating content to fulfill the needs of some of the folks around us.
As many messages as I get about we wish you were still doing this, I get an equal number of messages saying, I just looked at your book and this is such a wonderful story. It's very gratifying to get a message like that.
What they're all looking for are conversation and connection.
We have many shows in which there are a lot of outflows when we produce content. This content results in a video a podcast and several blog posts and a lot of audiograms and things like that.
But sometimes people just want the interaction associated with a connection that is a back and forth conversation. They want to be heard. That's why we decided to do the show that we're doing on Saturdays.
We published a book on Amazon. It's called Livecast Life, the Content Creator Lifestyle, and part of that content creator lifestyle is finding a way to give your audience what they want.
We hear you. We want to give you what you're asking for. We want to provide a place for conversation and community. Now that we've finished this book, we're ready to do that. We can change our focus and start widening our horizons.
We try to present what we know in a non-confrontational way. This is what we know. It's based on either fact or evidence and that's as much as we can do. We try not to speculate and we try not to hypothesize.
We want to have a deeper connection with our audience. Not just talk at you. We want to talk with you. We want to have conversations about general topics. We want your participation. We want you to share your opinions. We want you to feel heard, and we want to give you something fun to do on Saturday night with some friends that you've met in the chat room. You can all gather and have conversations in the chat room, you can have conversations with us. When we have a conversation, it sparks conversation for you as well. You can have a conversation at home with your family and your friends.
It gives you some mental activity that sparks new things to talk about.
Those of us who have been married for 37 years, sometimes we run out of things to talk about. We need that spark to juice us up, to give us something to chat about.
We talk every day, sometimes several times a day, even when we're not working together. Those conversations result in ideas that eventually result in action. We had a conversation yesterday about what we were going to talk about today. We knew we didn't have an interview.
I threw an idea out there.
Shelley didn't like it.
So I said, “you come up with something.”
Last evening, I got an email that said, “check out this presentation. This is what we're doing tomorrow.”
That's the result of that kind of interaction. It results in some really good stuff.
A couple of weeks ago, we were discussing what to use for the photo on the cover of our book. Shelley said, “I've noticed that a lot of the Amazon books that are in our market have a picture of the influencer author on the cover.”
My first reaction was, “yeah, but I don't want to be that person. I know I'm not a cover person.”
Then she said, “why don't we put me on the cover?”
My reaction to that was “then you're going to have to spend the rest of whatever conversation you're having about this book on Where's Toby?”
So what we decided to do was create a photo with Shelley on the cover. Then we had her hold up the smartphone and we took a separate picture. I used Photoshop to put an image of myself on the smartphone. So we're both on the cover of the book. But that was the result of a multi-event conversation.
I was happy with it and we accomplished what we wanted and it looks great on the front of our book. This particular photograph, you'll see a lot more often because it's a great photograph to use in promoting a lot of other things like our shows, our books, and everything that we're doing on Instagram.
It turned out especially good because there was this great conversation between the two of us.
We want to have that kind of conversation with the folks that we care about and who are willing to spend time with us.
Become Known and Build an Audience First
A book that I was motivated to read because of Vince Warnock's comments is called Content Inc. by Joe Pulizzi. He is also one of the editors of the newsletter called The Tilt. He said, “the absolute best way to start a business today is not by launching a product, but by creating a system to attract and build an audience. Once a loyal audience is built, one that loves you and the information you send, you can most likely sell your audience anything you want.”
This is a way of looking at business differently. Instead of building a product and trying to sell that product to people, you build an audience, find out what the audience wants, and then you produce what they asked for. Rather than just giving them what you imagine they might want, you ask them what they want.
Listening to the audience and producing what they want automatically gets you to the credibility level.
We've learned a lot of lessons and we've certainly learned a lot of lessons about the social media environment and what you need to do to protect yourself and protect the people that you care about.
To protect ourselves, we have to do what makes us feel happy and feel good about ourselves, but at the same time produce content that other people can use. We tried the treasure hunt thing. We did the best that we could. I would call it a success in that it resulted in a book and a treasure hunt.
But there were other things that we wanted to do. It makes us feel good that we can produce and publish our books, but it’s even better when somebody picks up that book and says in the comments on Amazon I really enjoyed your book. I finally learned all the things that I need to get comfortable with livestreaming or podcasting. Because that's what this book does.
If all we did with the rest of our lives was create content and publish books on Amazon, we'd be perfectly happy with that. Because we know people find it useful and informational and they get results from it.
Brian Clark, the CEO of Copyblogger Media, said “A minimum viable audience is the point when your audience starts growing itself through social sharing and word of mouth. Even better, it's also when you start getting the feedback that tells you what product or service your audience actually wants to buy, and it tells you why they came to you in the first place and what they expect from you.”
It's very helpful when you get to that level of the minimum viable audience.
I can take any video that we've created over the lifespan that we've been working together and you can see how our channel grew through exactly that principle. At one point, we were at 6,700 subscribers on A Gypsy's Kiss, which was very much about the Forrest Fenn treasure.
Since then, we've lost about 600 of those subscribers because we've changed what we talk about on our shows. It’s good for people to make those self-selecting judgments. But at the same time, we have a responsibility to ourselves to do what we do best and to produce content that other people can use.
When you put that many people in a room, they start sharing our message on social media. You need to be there on Saturday night, Toby and Shelley are going to open up the chat! Let them do it for you and then deliver on the promise.
So that's what we're doing with our Saturday night. It's not going to be a presentation. It's going to be a conversation.
If you are interested in doing this yourself, we’ll help you get started with a good content strategy. If you are going to create a show or a podcast, you want to know What should I talk about? What should my content be about?
Think about combining your knowledge or skillset with something that is a passion for you, but it's also valuable to others.
For instance, there's a man who created a media business based on teaching people how to farm chickens in their backyard. He was called the Chicken Whisperer. He had the knowledge and skillset of raising chickens in his backyard. He enjoyed doing it and had a passion for teaching other people to do it. It was valuable information to those people who had a desire to do it. So that became his content strategy.
Create a strategy that can position you as the leading informational or entertainment expert in your content area.
When we did the Forrest Fenn treasure show, we positioned ourselves as the leading informational and entertainment experts in our content area. Other people came along and they did shows as well, but we had already set an example first. We were very entertaining so people would return again and again to watch.
The key elements of good quality content production are the combination of education, information, and entertainment. If you can do that in one program on one topic, you're going to be successful. I can point to a dozen YouTube channels that over the last few years have evolved into million subscriber channels and built a business as they've created content about their passion.
Turn a passion into something that becomes useful to another individual. It can be satisfying from a financial perspective and gratifying from an emotional perspective. There's nothing better than seeing comments on your video that say “Great job,” or “Would you do this one next?”
Silver Fox says “you were the number one YouTube channel on the chase for a long period. Many people cherish the time they shared the chase with you.”
We cherished that time but realized we had to do something else and we were willing to break away to do that.
We talked a lot about our passions and valuable expertise. We liked digital marketing and building a community through content. So we combined those two passions into what we're doing now and making a living at it. We feel that more people realize the benefit and value of us sharing our expertise with them. We hope that you learn something to apply to your business and personal life that makes it better.
The audience is wrapped around your knowledge, your skillset, your passion and value that you're offering, and your unique presentation, which means you have a different take on things.
There may be a hundred different people out there who are offering the same kind of coaching that we do, but we specifically offer technical advice and a system tailored to encore entrepreneurs. We are encore entrepreneurs. We write books. We can write and publish a book in a couple of months with the process that we have developed. We come at it from a unique point of view. We have something that we do that's different than what other people do.
Your content must be different. It must fill a content hole that is not already being filled by someone else.
That's how you become popular and sought out. If you're just going to be copying what other people are doing, you're not going to get the traction of the first person who did it, unless you have a different way of doing it.
We need to find a problem area that no one else is solving and exploit that area with content by providing information in a customized way that they can't get anywhere else.
I'm going to use another example for you. There is a genre on YouTube of folks that are restoring Hot Wheel toy cars. I took an interest and started doing that and there were a lot of other people doing it. I was watching other people who had started about the same time I did and we were growing at about the same pace. We were dependent upon what other people established because you always learn from the competition. But you had to decide what your schtick was. My schtick was sandblasting and powder coating. I started building a set of subscribers based on that.
I put that aside when we got serious about Messages and Methods. About a week ago, I went back and looked at that market segment to see who was doing what. One of those channels that started about the same time I did had about 300,000 subscribers and it was a full-time business for him. Another was up to 55,000 subscribers and was producing enough income through YouTube to be able to buy better equipment.
Over the past two years, they’ve grown to where they're producing enough income to satisfy their needs. They were creating content consistently in an area where they had the expertise and constantly improving the conversation they were having with other folks that were watching.
Based on their knowledge, their value, their passion, and the unique way in which they were presenting it, they were able to build an audience that found them interesting enough to engage with, subscribe to, and continue watching.
The conversation starts there. We're good examples of that, but anybody can do this.
Please join us Saturday night, at 7:00 PM, MDT. We're going to be having a conversation. There's no specific topic. We're going to let the chat room inform us what we are going to talk about. We are going to bring some topics of the day along with us that we would enjoy talking with each other about. We hope that our conversation will spark your conversation. We plan to do it every Saturday night, as long as we're both available.
We would appreciate you leaving us a review, let us know what you like about the program, and how we can make it better for you. Leave a review at https://www.livecast.life/reviews/new/ or write to us at email@example.com.
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