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The State of Content Distribution with Brett McGrath
Episode 6012th March 2024 • Distribution First • Justin Simon
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In this episode, Justin talks about the current state and future trends of content distribution, the evolving role of content marketers, and the impact of AI on the marketing landscape with Brett McGrath.

Justin and Brett discuss the current state of content distribution in 2024, examining assumptions about distribution, how it can be improved, and the evolution of strategies from search and social to owned channels.

If you like distribution and repurposing playbooks, you'll love my weekly newsletter (it's free). Join 2,600+ subscribers here: https://news.justinsimon.co/

In this episode, you'll learn:

  • Why having internal alignment across departments is crucial for distribution.
  • How viewing content as a product can optimize distribution planning and resources.
  • Why focusing distribution on a core piece can free up time for premium content.
  • How building systems to provide brand omnipresence can expand reach.

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Transcripts

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Hey, everybody, before we get started, I want to thank my friends at Hatch for

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producing this episode. You can get unlimited podcast editing and

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strategy for one flat rate by visiting Hatch

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FM. All right, let's get in the show.

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Welcome to distribution first, the show where we flip content marketing on its head

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and focus on what happens after you hit publish. Each week I

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share playbooks, motivations, stories, and strategies to help you repurpose and

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distribute your content because you deserve to get the most out of everything you

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created.

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Everybody, welcome to this week's episode of Distribution first. Got my

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buddy Bret McGrath on the show this week and we're going to go

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deep into the state of content distribution in

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2024, kind of where everything is at, where

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distribution is moving toward what's changed, what's evolved,

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what should we be on the lookout for? What are some of the assumptions

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that we're still carrying around a decade later based on how some

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of these programs are being run and then how can we do it better? So,

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Brett Mann, welcome to the show. Thanks, Justin. Pumped to be back, excited about

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this conversation. When I saw the topic, it made me

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feel, gave me the warm fuzzies inside because I was like, all right, we've

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talked so long about content distribution 101, we should do

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it. And now we're taking that next step. It's like some of us are

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doing it and what is next and what is the future? And I think those

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are exciting topics to hit. Yeah. And I think it's important. And it's

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interesting because to me, and maybe this is even a good spot to kind of

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start is like, to me, content distribution is falling into two camps for

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people. For some people, it's the

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classic vitamin versus Painkiller. For some people, it's a

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vitamin and they don't realize they need the painkiller. And I think that's really

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kind of where I'm seeing the landscape at. I'm curious kind of what your thoughts

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are as far as that goes. Yeah, I think that's accurate. I

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think what else has been interesting to me is the more I think about

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it, is that we were on this path for so long,

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talking about, like, we need to do content distribution, and here's the

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reasons why. And there were adopters along that path,

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but at the same time, companies started to cut out

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content from their budgets and cut out resources

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to produce that content. So it's interesting because I

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think there is this road and these paths for content creators

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who are kind of maturing with their distribution, where

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some companies literally have halted their content process and I

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think don't realize it, but maybe will be impacted a few months from

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now when there's other companies and brands who are not only investing more in

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their content but then giving their creators or whatever

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role it is, the resources to focus more on

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distribution. So I think I have a guess on which brands

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will win that race. But to me that's like one of the interesting

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storylines that I'm observing and trying to follow as

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close as possible. Yeah. And it's interesting for me too,

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because actually I was looking the other day, I'm always kind of peeking

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around at different content jobs, not that I'm going to take one, but just kind

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of see where the landscape is at. For somebody who's looking for a director of

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content, head of content, what are the skills? What are the things people are

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needing? And it's wild because on one side I'm

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seeing still a sort of traditional

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content marketing role that's being asked for in terms of like

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SEO and blogging and weekly production and setting up

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keyword maps and that sort of side. But on the flip side, I

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just saw a few of them recently where explicitly in

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the job description was, we need you to lead

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distribution, the word like distribution and repurposing

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for our content. We need you to build the plan to be able to do

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that. And so I think for me that that's sort of like the glimmer of

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hope in my mind of like, all right, some companies are figuring

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out that this is important enough to even ask that of the role

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and where I'm at is hopefully this show, this

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conversation, a lot of the stuff that we like to jam on

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will help folks sort of understand, like, oh, okay. If I'm going

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to take this next step in my career, if I'm going to

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be a top content marketer, a top marketer, I have to know what to

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do with this stuff that we're creating. I love that you brought this up. And

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as a recent free agent who has been having a lot of

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conversations and also people send need job postings,

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job listings for content jobs, that is like one of the first

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things I look at are they calling out distribution? Is this the need?

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And to be honest with you, if it's not someone who I know really

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well and someone who's like, you got to go talk to this person. They're a

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great person. It's a qualifier for me. You have to have something

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about distribution in your job description because if

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you don't, then likely I can't do any. I'm not going to be able to

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help you. And I say that kind of like tongue in cheek. But also

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to me, I think those are the places that people

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who have deep career experience in

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content should be looking for or should be thinking, because those

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brands are progressive. And what I have noticed

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is what's encouraging about content distribution just in general, is

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that there are more companies that are upstream.

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We're talking 1000, 503,000 employees who

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are focusing on content distribution. Whereas three years ago

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I didn't see that happening. So something is happening in the

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space. People are talking and maybe bosses and bosses, bosses are

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seeing results with distribution. But for me, as someone who's out there right

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now talking with companies, that's qualification criteria.

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You must be thinking about it and that must be a part of the conversation

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or quite frankly, I'm not interested. Yeah, definitely. And

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it's an interesting spot because honestly, even how I have these conversations

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with people who come to me and want to work with me is typically they

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might have a content engine in place, they might have a particular way of

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doing things. And a lot of times it's not a complete

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overhaul of what you're doing. It's essentially

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assessing what you have going on. And then how does what you have go

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on match and fit to a distribution strategy across

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the funnel, across channels, across

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intent for that content, trying to not expect a performance

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piece of content to build your brand and not expect a piece of brand building

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content to drive leads or to drive media impact and

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revenue. So coming up with that balance is huge for folks.

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And hopefully we're going to get to that point where more and more companies are

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deciding that. And one more note before we move on with that is for

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the person who's starting in marketing or even in that, a lot of the folks

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that I talk to that are kind of in that maybe like one to five

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plus ish range of their career, how much more

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valuable are you going to be to your company if you can come to them

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and say, you know, this content we've been creating, I'm noticing we're not

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doing much with it, or I'm seeing, we're not like, it's not

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ranking or, boy, we're spending a lot of time doing

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this. Here's a plan that I think we can execute

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on to get this in front of people, or it's going to actually make

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them just flip their mindset in terms of, you know what, I tried repurposing some

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of this stuff to get it out. It's not very good. It's going to change

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how those people do stuff. Yeah. So I've been on this path of this

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proclamation that the next wave of

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cmos are coming from content people, and

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part of that came from some conversations that I've had,

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and there's plenty of people that have kind of paved that

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path. But I think about the distribution component,

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and if you're in your company early, five years in, and

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you go in and you build out and develop a distribution plan,

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you talk about attribution, you work with your sales

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team, you communicate internally. Those are all of the

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skills that marketing leaders possess in order

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to keep elevating their career. So that to me, distribution

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is a huge component of that narrative that I continue to push around

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content people being the next wave of cmos. And part of the

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reason, too is just there's so much green space to work from. So,

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yeah, I'm sure part of, or probably all this conversation is going to

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be gassing that up a little more because we're distribution people.

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But yeah, the opportunities are endless because not a lot of people

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aren't doing it or aren't doing it as well as they probably should

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be. Yeah, totally. So let's get into a little bit of

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current landscape on where we're seeing content distribution.

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I know we've touched on a little bit, but maybe talk to me about, in

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your mind's eye, how distribution has

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evolved. I feel like even in the last three

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years, stuff is starting. I mean, even if you look at specific

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platforms, like what's working has changed, the reach has changed, and

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I think people are honestly, there's a palatable desperation

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to me out there right now in terms of just grasping for anything that will

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work. Yeah. So I think this is

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interesting, and I think this isn't a linear path, but here are some things that

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I think here's like a timeline of the way we have thought about distribution

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and how that's changed. I think it all starts back to the like,

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all right, this inbound movement that we have where it's like, all right, we're going

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to create this piece of content and we're going to hit publish, and then the

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Google machine is going to find it, and then the algorithms are going to have

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it be seen by the right people, and then people are going to come to

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our website that literally used to work, that worked before everyone

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started to do it. Pre social media, too, by the way. I love

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it when the host has the segue. That was the next wave. Right?

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It was like it started to work less and then. So we started to put

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our content, feed it through our social media channels or had an

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email newsletter and we'd send it to our prospects and customers.

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Then I think we started to own

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channels. We started to focus in on, what is this?

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This is like a really good move, I think, and it shows maturity,

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but it's like, all right, where are the people who we're trying to reach? Where

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do they hang out? Where do they spend their time? And let's own that channel

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and own distribution on that channel. And that works to a

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certain rate. And then I think let's start

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incorporating and using our own people at our company

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to be a distribution channel on that channel

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or on another channel. And to me, like

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that, working with your team to share your content and

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share updates. To me, everyone should be doing it. And this

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conversation could be used cross functionally, because to me, if

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your people are consistently sharing your content, it is a

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reflection of your brand and also that is a

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reflection of your recruitment process. Like, I want to go work

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for companies where people are excited and they're sharing content

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regularly. So to me, that wave, there are companies

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that do it, and there are companies that do it really well, but still not

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enough companies, I don't think are doing it. And then kind of the

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rubber hits the road. And I think the highest maturity on the distribution scale

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are like, you own a channel, your company, your people are sharing

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your content regularly, and you have built this tremendous

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network of customers or collaborators or

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friends in the space who also share your content. So

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to me, the best distribution I see is I just look at

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LinkedIn and be like, all right, this content person is literally spending all their time

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on LinkedIn. Their team is bought in, and because they've spent

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all this time on LinkedIn, they've developed all these relationships. And so

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that content person isn't just producing content, but that content person

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is really like quarterbacking the process of making

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sure the content is being fed to the right channel. And

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also the people that should be sharing the content, or they want to be sharing

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the content are fully aware and fully on board. So to

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me, that's like the evolution, and obviously within that, there's a

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bunch of conversation we can have around repurposing and resharing and all of

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that. But to me, like 2024, where we're at,

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if you are a company or you're a content creator who is

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owning a channel and getting engagement, your team is bought in and

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other people are helping support that, then you're probably on the

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right path to having a really kick ass distribution plan.

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Yeah. To me, and I know we'll touch on this a little bit down the

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road, too, but to me, a huge part of that is

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understanding how the ideas are getting

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shared, especially internal. When you talk about internal communication, so

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much of a distribution problem is a lack of internal

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sync, which is really sort of hidden

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distribution problem on teams. I would say, like even teams

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that I work with, it starts to become very clear very quickly that, oh, okay,

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you're not aligned with the other demand gen, or do you have conversations

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with sales about what they need? It becomes very clear kind of

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why those gaps exist. And I think at the end of the day, to

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me, it's not even about them rallying around the

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piece of content. So like, oh, we put together this benchmark report. Let's get

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everybody to read the benchmark report. To me, it's actually not about that.

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It's about, all right, sales team of the three people who are

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active on LinkedIn or who want to be or whatever, that we've built that up.

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Here's why the benchmark report is important. It's that internal

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education. Here's the main points, here's our points of view on it. Here's the different

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channels, and then let's have a discussion about what that

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might look like for content creation specific to that platform.

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Hey, demand Gen, here's all the main points in it. Here's how we

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can maybe drive some native ads around it or create a quick

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video about this particular stat or something that's in it

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to drive engagement. It's so much more than

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just, hey everybody, we launched this new benchmark report. It's really

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important. Go share it on LinkedIn. It's really

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a massive muscle that needs to get built within orgs.

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And I've actually never seen

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it work out perfectly in terms of that. I've seen it work

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in sort of fits and starts, but do you see the same thing at all,

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or is there any pushback on that? So back to my point of content people

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are the next wave of cmos. If you, as an

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individual contributor or a content leader within a business, are able

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to create a content culture at your company,

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then your career path is, there are no ceilings. You can

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apply that into whatever organization or role possible because most companies

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can't figure it out. So to kind of go deeper on your point,

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it is about getting your people to understand the why behind what you're

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creating. But taking it to the next level is like getting the individual

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functions to understand why that piece of content matters

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for their role specifically. Think about salespeople. Like

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salespeople are notoriously, they're challenging to get

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bought into what you're building, creating and have them use it because

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salespeople are trying to do their job, they're trying to sell. That's, they're like laser

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focused on that one prospect who's going to close tomorrow, which is we

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totally get that and we want our sellers to be focused on that. But I

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think it's to get buy in. It's doing things like, all right,

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hey, I created this report and this is the reason why you should

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care and you should distribute it. And as a matter of fact, those prospects on

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your list, that CMO, that vp of marketing, that director of content at those three

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brands, I actually got quotes from them in the report and we're

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featuring them. So all you have to do is take this report now that it's

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done, I haven't emailed them the finished product yet and go email them and say,

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hey, our team collaborated with you on this, wanted to give you this report

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before we shared it publicly. That's how if you can

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facilitate and quarterback those types of motions within your business,

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the sky is the limit. But like I said, none of this works if you

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don't have your team bought into the content and what you're doing. Because if no

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one internally cares about it, no one externally is going to care about it either.

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Oh, dang, nobody cares about it internally. I mean, that is at the heart

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of a lot of it too. Is like as a content marketer, a

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traditional, you're so laser focused on getting the next thing out

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and just honestly keeping your head above water,

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keeping your dang job, making sure you're not getting laid off,

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trying to just get x, y and z needs x, y and z thing.

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Sales needs this. I'm going to make them their white paper that they're never going

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to use or so, and so needs that request. I'm going to try to

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fit it in with this particular thing. And that's hard if you're

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just talking about even a head director of x,

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Y and Z, even a CMO, right? There's that balance, that ebb and flow of

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what this other department needs, what this other initiative

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has. But I do think it's interesting when you talk about distribution

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content, building that up. Just one key note there is, I

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think sometimes part of the problem when you don't have a good distribution

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engine in place and you're creating so much stuff is there's so many

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things, even internally, you can't keep track of all the things

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you have and if you can't keep track of it, what's the

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point? I mean, I guess in some fairyland world where you're

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creating, maybe you're creating so much content and it's all ranking so

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well in the background that you don't even need to bother for it. You just

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know it's working, I guess. But outside of

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that, I can't see a real purpose to building

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a gargantuan library. I would much rather build

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a better library that has really good stuff that we're

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all aligned with and we all know what we're striving for in that any given

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quarter. And then building campaigns and things around how to make

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that work to its maximum ability versus a little bit

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over here, a little bit over here, a little bit over here and try and

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hope that eventually it all matches in. This is the hardest part

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about distribution, I feel like, because as

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content creators and content people, we get

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satisfaction from creating brand new pieces,

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sharing our thoughts, going through the process and sharing them with

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the public. It's like that dopamine hit. We all know it, anybody listening knows

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it. The only thing that matters, it's just like a salesperson and their prospect

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who's closing tomorrow. The only thing that matters during that moment is that one piece

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that we're working on right now. So I struggle with

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this. I struggle with, I love to create, but I also love

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distribution, but there's only so much time. And I believe

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that content should be viewed by marketing

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teams as a product, just like your product is viewed

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by your team as a product. And when you can position your content as a

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product internally, then I think that's where you can get operate marketing

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ops and you can get demand gen to start thinking and working with the

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content person in a whole new way. And I think

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that's where you start getting organized around that stack of content that you have.

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And that's where demand gen understands where that content should be

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delivered. And that's as you as the creator who wants to create more,

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can create more, but you can also spend time with those roles

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in helping facilitate the process to make sure that each piece is

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getting maximized. I know it's like really freaking hard to do,

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but I think the punchline is your content internally needs

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to be viewed as a product. And once your team is bought

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in, once the content is viewed as a product, then you can start figuring out

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where do we need to spend more time? Do we need to create less? Do

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we need to spend more time in distribution. And at least it won't just be

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you, the content person that will be tasked to doing that. You'll have your

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other functional leaders or individual contributors helping

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support your process. So let's shift over

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toward kind of the always present thing in the

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background in my mind anyway, which is how the heck is

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AI changing distribution for better, for

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worse in your mind? Where have you seen that

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evolving? Especially? I mean, man, cat GPT wasn't even around

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18 months ago, which is just wild to think about and it's

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always changing. But how are you seeing AI affect

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how companies are either thinking about distribution, using it

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for good or for worse? Yeah.

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With all new marketing trends, like when the wave was hitting

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last fall, I was highly skeptical. Now, I

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wasn't skeptical at its ability to have an

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impact. I was just like, just like with anything, it's like everyone wants

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to rush to the new shiny thing and everyone wants to talk about create. This

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story of this is going to be the best thing ever. And then the other

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side, it's like this is going to take all of our jobs. It's like, let's

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just let the dust settle for a little bit and let's start using it.

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And let's start trying to figure out how we can use these

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things to either enhance what we're doing, or if it doesn't enhance what we're doing,

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let's not use it at all. So to me, when I think

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about AI, and I'm someone who I love to

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write and I love to go through the process of creating myself. And so

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I was less inclined to figure out how a new

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technology can help support or replace anything that I'm doing, because I'm like,

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you know what, I've got a pretty good process going. I don't need anything.

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Well, that changed when, as I took a step back and

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I started to get into these tools myself, and it wasn't like

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asking write this blog post or whatever, and it was just like figuring out

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the prompts and figuring out how these things could help me save time,

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because that's my biggest problem. My problem is time. I need more time

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in the day. And creating and distributing takes a lot of time. And

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for me, honestly, the moment where it enhanced my

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overall content process and distribution process. When I was introduced to a

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tool, it was called Toolflow. And so basically my

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process was like, create a podcast episode, use that to

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create a bunch of other content from, distribute it, continue to

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distribute it. And what I learned from toolflow, I just got like

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free access. Here's a plug for toolflow, by the way. They're not paying me

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or anything. They're not paying me either, so I'm going to block this out,

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Bret. So basically what I

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was able to do was able to just take my podcast episode

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and instead of going through that process of writing the

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blog post recap and everything else, their tool helped make

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that process easier for me. And did I have to go into the end

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deliverable and still make some changes? Yeah, but it literally went from

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it being like an hour thing to it being like a ten minute

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thing. And so that then gives me more time as the content

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person to focus in on distribution and take nuggets

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from what that tool is offering to share on social

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and that sort of thing. So it's not a one size fits all and it's

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going to be different for every, everyone. But I don't know. I think we're in

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the era right now where you just got to kind of get your hands on

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tools, you got to try it for yourself and you got to figure out what

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works or not. Because my problem was time. Your problem might be something else

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and the use cases will be different. I think it's always a time

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balanced with quality issue, and that's what I think people are concerned with

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a little bit. I do think as a creator type,

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like most content marketers are, I do think there,

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especially initially and even still today, I bet most people

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would say like, oh, I'd never use that to write a blog. But come on.

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Now I know for a fact there are marketers who are. I mean, the ones

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who are like, will actually admit, yeah, no, I use this to build the basis

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of emails. I use it to build the basis of newsletter content. I don't

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think there's anything wrong with that. Where I think you get in

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trouble is expecting it to do all your work for you. But as

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long as you are building something, and for me, it's always

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coming off of something else. It's coming off of a conversation like this, it's coming

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off of a video, it's coming off of a training. It's my thoughts

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that are getting then repurposed and remixed, using AI to just help

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me along here, right, get me started, get me going to where I don't have

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to look at a blank page. And I think that's a huge part of it.

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And like you said, for me, it's efficiency

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cost. These tools are not super expensive. Like, you can spend

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$20 to $50 a month on an AI tech stack

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that can save you six to 8 hours a

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week depending on what you want to do. For me, one of the things that

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I've started to do with some coaching clients too, is have them

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just pick a couple pieces of software and build

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a flywheel off of those things. So we sit down and it's like, all right,

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what's your main piece of content? Is it YouTube videos? It this and that. Okay,

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cool, you got a YouTube video. Awesome. Every single week we can build

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a workflow to where, when your YouTube video is done, plug it in

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here and you're going to get X, Y and Z thing. And if we spend

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some time to tailor the prompts, the start, spend some time to figure out what

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that looks like, you can get your summary email

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automatically after you upload it. And then you have to spend again, ten

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minutes kind of massaging the words and making it fit versus,

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because I used to do this for years, having to sit down low. Let me

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now relisten to this full episode. Let me find all this is

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the reality of how it was before. It's hard to imagine that's

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how it was, but there was no way to just throw a transcript in

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and be like, all right, give me all the main points. And you felt confident

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that it could give it to you. Like that didn't exist two years ago, which

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is just crazy to me, the amount of time that

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saves. And so, yeah, to me it's all about becoming a more

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efficient marketer, becoming a more efficient content marketer and

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distributor of that content, understanding what outputs, what

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channels you need and then framing up a flywheel. Using AI to

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help you get that. I've used this example because I heard it and I loved

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it and I'm going to keep using it. It's from Daniel Priestley and he said,

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AI is like baking a cake. You've got this cake, but

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it's just the cake. It's not decorated, it's not iced. It's nothing

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like it's just going to give you a cake now. You would never just go,

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if you owned a bakery, you'd never just go sell that naked cake out in

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the shop window and be like, yeah, people are going to really want to buy

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that. No, you would decorate it. You would spend time. And that's our role, I

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think now with some of this AI type content is to add the icing, add

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the decoration, add the branding, add the flavor, make it your own.

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But hey, they're going to at least give you the cake to start and then

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you can make it work for you. Yeah, just final point on that is I

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think just as marketers, one of the most important skills that we can

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possess is adaptability and we need to just

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like this trend is not going away, I can tell you every

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company is moving towards and wants more. And

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so it's one of those undeniable changes that's coming in like

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a wave. And whether we like it or not, I think it's

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best on us and our career paths to understand what it means

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and what it means for us and our roles. And it doesn't need to be

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spend all day trying to understand AI, but I think finding those opportunities

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and apply and start to experiment, you'll learn a ton. I know I

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have just by little by little trying to use different tools

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and figure out how I can be more efficient, like you said. I mean, to

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me, and I thought about this, it actually probably is way more impactful

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than the social media era of a decade ago. Like, it's that same thing. Can

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you imagine now a company being like, no, we still don't do

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that YouTube and social media thing? Totally, we don't do that.

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Maybe there are companies who do that, but you're not going to be

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successful if you don't understand how these things work. You're just not like,

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that's the baseline know how these things work, how they can impact your business and

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make you more efficient. And AI to me is that it's literally

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how somebody like myself, a solopreneur, can

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put out a weekly podcast, emails, social

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media content, et cetera. At the scale that I'm able to,

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I couldn't have done it and still run the company

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at the same time, work with clients, do sales call. I couldn't do

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that and do a content machine without AI or I would be way more

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burnt out. But having that ability and when you understand what

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you actually need out of it, that's when you can free yourself up to be

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like, oh dang, this can be really effective and make me a

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much better marketer. I mean, we're just scratching the surface

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on some of this stuff. Even for me. I find new things. I'm like, oh,

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maybe yesterday I was like, just help me edit this post based

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on expert input. And they were like, gave me all these points about

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how it could flow better and how the headlines could be reworded. I'm like,

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dang, that's pretty awesome. Good for

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me. In 30 seconds I was able to get that input and be able to

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redo things. So it's not always about creation either. I think that's the biggest thing,

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no doubt about it. No, I think the stuff outside of creation to me, is

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the most interesting parts of AI at this point. So I think

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with AI, there's also this. It kind of bleeds into a lot of the

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distribution stuff. But I'm curious from your point, I tend to

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think about, when I talk to people about getting started in distribution, it's like,

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pick one channel and go all in on that channel, get really good at

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it. But I also do think there is this

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rising need for omnichannel. I mean, it's not new,

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but there's so many platforms, so many formats, so many

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things. It becomes overwhelming to think

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about how I've got this blog post. How do I make a

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blog post? Omnichannel, I've got this podcast. How do I make

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this omni channel? What are your thoughts on that, Brett? Yeah,

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so I think this becomes like a resource thing. And it

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also, I think the other thing that needs to be called out is the size

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and scale of your company and team.

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I think it is really challenging to ask

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one individual to create, distribute, then

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also have an omnichannel strategy. The chances

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of that working are probably slim to none. And that's why I think you

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need support in order to execute. Whether it's getting cross

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functional teams bought in to help support the vision of having an

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omnichannel strategy, or reaching out to someone like you, Justin, and say,

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hey, how do we do it? What do we need to do? I just think

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it's really challenging to ask one individual to do that. On

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top of that, back to my content is a product at your

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company. This is where, especially if you're a bigger company, I

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think it's almost like you need an individual, and it's almost like a

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product person skill set to be on board

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to understand the changes in everything that's happening

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across those various platforms, because you don't just want to be doing

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the work and feeding it to these platforms and not understanding how

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these platforms work. So ultimate level of

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sophistication. Yes, it's having an omnichannel strategy, but I also

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think you need those support layers and likely need someone

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who is maybe not like completely technical, but maybe has the skill

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set of a product manager role where they understand the

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business implications and understand the technical side to

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help support kind of that omnichannel distribution. Now,

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I think a lot of people maybe are like running away when they hear all

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those needs. When it comes to omnichannel, there might be a way to do it

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scaled back. But if I'm thinking about creating a content

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strategy that's going to literally transform the way your business

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works, I think you likely need more than just one

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individual on board running it. Yeah, I think if you're

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going to do a full scale, I mean, in an ideal

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scenario, and we're going to talk tippy top ideal, I think you've

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got somebody at a high level who can just see

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distribution, just see all the impacts on where

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this thing is. Know that, like you said, see the business impact

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of. They're the ones having conversations with sales, they're the one having

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conversations with marketing leadership, they're the one having conversations with

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customer success, understanding where is everything at with the

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business, how are what's currently being created

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affecting this? And then you have somebody maybe underneath them, that's sort of

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in charge of content and understanding what needs to

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be created. And then I think ultimately you've got channel

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owners, you've got the YouTube person who's understand,

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and maybe this is somebody you hire externally or. I'm not saying you have to

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hire an internal hire to run YouTube, but don't

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be surprised when things don't work when you just band

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aid them. We're doing LinkedIn, but that

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doesn't mean you're actually doing LinkedIn. We have a

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podcast, but you're not building that

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properly. We've got a YouTube channel, but it's all product demos. It's

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like, well, who's going to YouTube to watch all your product demo and

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your feature. One? Just

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to double down on that point? I think companies set the most

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unrealistic expectations when they just throw all of

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these things at content people and say, go master this or

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go figure this out. And when I'm talking about like, channel specific,

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I have over the last four years, created

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just 600 podcast episodes. So that

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experience has allowed me to understand how do you make a good

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episode? How do you get people to listen? How do you build an audience? And

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I would consider myself, like, highly skilled at that. Now, you asked me to do

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that for YouTube and I'm going to fail completely. I don't understand how

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it works. I've never spent time on YouTube. And so I think

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having those diversity of skill sets used to mean one thing in

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marketing now, I think we need to think about that and think about it from

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a channel perspective, because it takes different skill sets in order to get

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your content not only seen, but consumed regularly across those

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channels. So that struck a little nerve for me because I think

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people who don't know content have completely unrealistic expectations about

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what content people who they're hiring should be doing and how

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quickly they should be doing it. Oh, yeah. I mean, I've heard the same. I've

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literally been on the calls before where the same thing has been said with community.

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Hey, let's just spin up, spin it up.

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I'm even experiencing now with building up my own membership. It's like the

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learning curve is so steep for some of this stuff where

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it's all right, don't try to build the ultimate thing on day one.

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I mean, if you are tasked, I guess maybe that's the flip side, right? Let's

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say you are. Yeah, that stinks. But learn the

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baseline levels of what makes YouTube

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successful. There's unlimited content out there to help you

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start that. Same with LinkedIn. Hey, we got to get our company going on LinkedIn.

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What is that? Google it. YouTube it. Find some resources. Ask

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a friend who you see. There's plenty of information out there about how to start

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it. And then you just got to start taking actions and figuring out what works

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and what doesn't. And I did that with YouTube when

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I was still at Texmus and we started building that up, that channel. We had

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a channel, but it wasn't like a content

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engine for us at the so. But thankfully I

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had a couple people who were kind of in charge of YouTube video

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guys on the team who figured it out. I was able to work with them

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in tandem and it wasn't this overwhelming thing of like, I'm

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worried about the blog and SEO and this over here and

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social and, oh, by the way, I've got to actually figure out YouTube. That's a

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recipe for disaster, 100%. So

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we're wrapping up here. We've talked a little bit about kind of where

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distribution is at. We touched on some of the key trends around like AI

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and trying to balance a little bit of an

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omnichannel approach, if you can. One thing I want to touch on before we

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get on kind of where this is all headed is a huge

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part of distribution for me right now is balancing quality and

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quantity in the creation side. And I think the

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reality of where we're heading is you

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have to have quality and you have to have it at

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scale. And I think that can be intimidating.

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But I also think it can be really freeing for a company

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to think that way versus I have to hit

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a two week production goal on this blog. I have to

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do this because of X, Y and Z, understanding the goals of the

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content and the why behind it matters so

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if you have to create and support bottom

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funnel demand, yeah, you probably do have to hit a certain

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production. There are probably a certain set of pages that you will have to

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create. But for top of funnel, like building

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a brand and getting you to be known, liked and

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trusted, you don't need a

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barrage of new content. What you need is a

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really good thing that people love and then scale

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that sucker out. Yeah, 100%. I think about just

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why I like podcasts, because you can literally like

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from a top of the funnel perspective, you can be tasked with. I'm going to

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do some formatting. I'm going to reach out. I'm going to have one conversation a

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week. It's going to be kind of our top of the funnel and it's just

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a conversation, right? It's an hour. It's what we're doing here. And that's going to

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go out and I'm going to do that every week. I'm going to do it

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consistently. And that can be our top of the funnel content where

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we then spend the rest of our time building

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something that is super premium, that is maybe

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once a quarter, that is going to take a lot

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more facilitation. Other people outside of ourselves are going to be

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involved. We're going to have customer involvement. And I think thinking about the

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creation of those quarterly pieces and also spending

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time thinking about not just the launch of those pieces, but then how do we

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keep the drum beat rolling on those pieces? Helps streamline

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your content process and your distribution process. It's

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really easy to change a gear where it's like, all right, over here, I'm going

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to have this conversation and on Friday it's going to be a podcast episode that

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we're going to promote and it's going to go in our newsletter and all that.

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And then the rest of the time I'm just going to be spend building this

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really kick ass piece that is going to drive everything we

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do moving forward. It's hard for companies to move

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off that and not say like, well, we need a new blog post every day.

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And that's the challenge. And I think where we're moving

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is especially from just like a resources, time, energy,

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investment, you need to have one thing that's really easy and just

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goes like a podcast and where you can spend the rest of your

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time building something that's super exceptional, that's going to help not

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only get people to notice you, but it's also going to help drive the most

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important thing, which is sales pipeline. And that usually comes

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with more time and a more premium content piece.

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Yeah, I call it that core piece within the content

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strategy of like, what's that thing that can feed other things, but

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it's the consistent thing that your brand can become kind of

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known for. For some people, that's a monthly event. We're going to do a

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monthly event where we talk about x, Y and Z thing and we're going to

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bring people in and then we're going to spread things off of that for other

Speaker:

people. That's a YouTube channel, for traditionally, that's

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a blog. I'm with you. I think podcasts offer a huge kind

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of unlock in that area. If you set it up right, there's a lot that

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can go wrong with a podcast because we didn't even get into that.

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But if you've got bad content that you start to cut up

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and distribute, you just got lots of bad content now. So

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always thinking about that goes into the quality piece that we touched on, like

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quality at scale and how you can do that. Actually, I'm working

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with one company right now, and they have an event

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that is going to be going out in June,

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and we are right now building out the distribution plan

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before and after that. We're recording

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this in February. Right? They know this event is coming.

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They want it to be successful. So literally we just

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mapped out the start of the topics

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knowing they want to distribute it. So their

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keynote is going to be built, written,

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designed, created with distribution in mind. You know

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what I mean? The sessions are going to be built, created

Speaker:

and designed with distribution and repurposing in mind. So

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we can start building out that engine and then

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reverse engineer what's happening, topics, formats, all that type of

Speaker:

stuff into lead up content for

Speaker:

March, April, may to then when the event comes,

Speaker:

all of these ideas, these topics, these things have been seeded. And

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it's not like, oh, this is the first time I've heard about this thing. It's

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like, yes, that thing that you've told me about for the last three months.

Speaker:

Now I'm excited to show up and hear more. I'm going to play the role

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of content producer here with this idea or not idea. This

Speaker:

client that you're working with, all your content should be around

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packaging up. This is content inception. All your content should be packaging up

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what you're doing with this client. Record the podcast episode, write the

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thing, share that out, because I feel like that tells the story of the

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importance of distribution and the preparation. And then I'm sure the results will be,

Speaker:

obviously, I'm drinking the distribution Koolaid. The results are going to be great,

Speaker:

but you should focus in on telling that story after the fact

Speaker:

because I think it can be super powerful and it's cool companies are thinking that

Speaker:

way right now. Oh my gosh. Yeah. And I would say they are

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forward thinking in that. But that's the cool thing about working with

Speaker:

companies who are bought in and believe that way. Right? We're

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bringing in the community manager, we're bringing in demand

Speaker:

gen it's not just content in a silo

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trying to make something work. It is that cross functional team

Speaker:

with that thread, that line through. That's literally

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why they brought me in was to say, all right, we're all so

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focused on our things, but you can come in from the

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outside and kind of see where it's all going and get us

Speaker:

pointed in the right direction and to be aligned. And that's so fun to

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see that and really, like you said, build out

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campaigns to where the whole thing can kind of run together. So

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yes, I'll be talking about this more as it gets rolling because it's

Speaker:

really cool. And that's the thing. And that's been a mindset shift, I would

Speaker:

say probably for them and it's a mindset shift for a lot of other folks

Speaker:

is to be like, knowing this cornerstone thing is coming,

Speaker:

what can we do before and then how do we execute on that after?

Speaker:

And how does what we need to do after distribution first. How does

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that distribution first, how does that inform what the heck we end up creating in

Speaker:

the beginning? And that's the flip. And it's back to this content as a

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product. That's how companies think about products, right. And that

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keynote, they're viewing that as a product. Right. So I'm

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excited to hear more about the results from that one.

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Yeah. All right, let's quick wrap here. Kind of future predictions

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where you see stuff moving. We've touched on maybe throughout, but any big things

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where you see kind of distribution shifting and ebbing as we

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continue on through into 2024, past into

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2025, et cetera. So this one probably make people feel very

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uncomfortable because our jobs as content people is like, get more people

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to see our stuff, especially through distribution. But

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I see a trend in niching down

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and focusing on fewer but higher quality with your distribution. And

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so what does that mean from an execution perspective? I think

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it means whatever content you're creating being

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as specific as possible to a certain

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group of people, whether that's role type, interest,

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whatever it is. But like creating something super specific that can be

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super helpful to those groups and then

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creating something separate for them to get the delivery of that

Speaker:

piece regularly. So it literally can be something like, I've got an

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email list of 25 people, and when I send this out

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to that email list of 25 people, I know exactly

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what those people care about. So my content can be

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tailored to that. I see this happening just in social

Speaker:

media. I'm so tired of opening up Twitter or whatever

Speaker:

they call x these days and just like, seeing people blabber about stuff

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that I don't care about. Like, if I'm spending time consuming content,

Speaker:

I want it to be focused and tailored to what I care about. And that's

Speaker:

why things like discord groups are super popular. Group chats on

Speaker:

Instagram are super popular. And I think that trend continues. So I think if you're

Speaker:

a company and you're thinking about distribution, one

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cool angle could be to think about, all right, all these people in our audience,

Speaker:

how do I get more focused and create something that's more exclusive and

Speaker:

special for those groups? What is holding people back from

Speaker:

doing that? Bret? It's the classic. It

Speaker:

starts from the top. It's like, we want more of x. And it's really hard

Speaker:

to shift people's mindset and leadership's

Speaker:

mindset to not pass a wide net and instead

Speaker:

fish with this beer with your content. But I don't know,

Speaker:

I think that's what's holding people back. But I would encourage anyone

Speaker:

who, whatever I just said, if that resonates at all,

Speaker:

just go start, try experiment, something. Because the results

Speaker:

you'll get from that email, you'll get people to respond back. They

Speaker:

will respond and they'll start a conversation where, as opposed to the

Speaker:

results of your normal email is just let me go look in my marketing

Speaker:

automation and see what happened where no one was like, who cares? So I

Speaker:

think I would much rather have the three people respond back and

Speaker:

starting the conversation there than just looking at my dashboard in my fancy

Speaker:

CRM to see, oh, this is how many people clicked on it. Who cares?

Speaker:

That's what I think. That trend, I believe it. We'll see

Speaker:

if it happens. But I can feel it. I feel it personally, so we'll

Speaker:

see. But that would be my recommendation. Yeah. I think for me, it

Speaker:

comes down to fear. I think people, because

Speaker:

I've been there, even as an in house content

Speaker:

marketer, the fear of pushing back and being

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like, nobody will care about this. We've all been

Speaker:

given an ebook to write or a thing to produce

Speaker:

or, hey, we should try this and it's fun for us

Speaker:

to sit here on this podcast and be like, oh, yeah, you should

Speaker:

just go do it. And there probably are ways to do that.

Speaker:

But man, it's so scary to try

Speaker:

and have those conversations at times. Or I think it's honestly,

Speaker:

even as the creator, it's a little bit

Speaker:

scary to create something super specific

Speaker:

to start because, you know, it's not going to have as

Speaker:

much like, I know I could probably have more

Speaker:

reach on LinkedIn if I talked about generalized content

Speaker:

marketing topics, but I talk about

Speaker:

repurposing and distribution, and there's only so many people that care about repurposing and distribution

Speaker:

even in content marketing. But the people

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who want to talk about it and want to listen to this stinking show

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and watch videos and

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interact and reply to emails, those people are

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bought in to the system and to the idea and to the

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framework. And isn't that what we want at

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the end of the day for our companies? We want people who know, like and

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trust us are bought in, enjoy us, engage with us, want to hang out with

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us. That's what we want. I mean, ultimately, we want revenue, we want business, we

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want all those things. But in 2024, if we're talking about

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predictions, that is how you do

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that. You are not going to pull the blindfold

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over somebody and lead them into a sale. And if you do, they're

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not going to renew, they're going to churn, they're not going to have a good

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experience. It's the classic case for a lot of these SaaS

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companies is like, we got all these people in, but the infrastructure is not set

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up, the product's not great, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. All these reasons, the

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audience might not be a perfect fit. They're not using it right, and they, oh,

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now we're back to square one again. And so, yeah, I'm with you there.

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I think that's a big shift for me. The biggest shift in sort

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of content distribution heading forward

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is sort of omnichannel. But I think it's like,

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what's your omnichannel floor? How can you

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provide the illusion that you're everywhere without

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being everywhere? And I think that's maybe the trend that I think

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companies, and we see this right. There's a few companies on

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LinkedIn. I think even when I was at metadata, we kind of had a little

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bit of that where it was like, man, I'm not quite even sure what you

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guys were like. I'm not ready for it. But when I am. I'm going to.

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And it's because I'm seeing you everywhere. I feel like you're doing all this stuff

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and you're doing cool, unique things. There was a three person marketing team at that

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time before we expanded out. So it's not like this massive team of people. So

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how can you distribution shift is how can you

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appear bigger than you are and do it in a

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way where you're not. Again, if we're talking about content,

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not keeping your head above water to do it, either build out

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a floor system to where we touched on the core content. We touched on that

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thing. Like, what's that thing you can create every single

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week or every other week or every month? And then how do you build

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a plan to where that's so good you can distribute that and

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it can feel like, literally, I could do this podcast once a month. I could

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do twelve episodes a month or twelve episodes a year of this show

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interview twelve really cool people and I would

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have enough content to run the entire year. I can

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guarantee you that I don't have to do the show every week to run the

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content engine. And so I think for companies that

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to me should be really freeing because what I would say with

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distribution is have that

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engine working for you so that you can

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go do other things. When I was a solo content

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marketer at Metadata, I repurposed the crap out

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of our demand event selfishly,

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a, because I thought it would work, but b, so it would free me

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up to be able to focus on other things because it's just

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me over here and we have to sort of build an

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SEO plan and I have to set up for this. And, oh, by the way,

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we need to build this podcast. And how do you do that if you don't

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have something that's sort of running? So I think having that thing that's

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consistent, that's a flagpole that you can count on as a marketer, and then building

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out that system that can free you up for everything else, that's kind of the

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future for content in my mind. I love it. I feel like everything we talked

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about here should and probably would make

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anybody listening uncomfortable to try, but

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those are the things that create breakthroughs. Is being a little

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uncomfortable and trying something new. And also to your

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.1 of the greatest compliments you can get is someone coming up to you and

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saying, yeah, I thought you had a marketing team of 20.

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You guys aren't that big. It's like, no, it's just like me and another person

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or whatever. So that's always a good sign that you're on the right track.

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Yeah, man, I got on a call with somebody a couple of weeks ago and

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they started the call. They said, dude, your machine. I see you're everywhere. You're sending

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me emails. You're this, you're that. I'm like, yeah. Because I'm not

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overcomplicating that I have the system in place to be able to make that work.

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And that's what's the fun thing for me, is working with other teams, working with

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other folks. You could do this, too. This is not build

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up that little bit of an engine over here, that it's just running for you.

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And then you can focus on the other things that frees you up to create

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those bottom of funnel pieces of content that frees you up to be able to

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listen to sales calls, for God's sake, to create better things, to have conversations with

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customers, to be strategic, to think about things, all that type of stuff. So,

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yeah, super fun combo, Brett. Yeah, always is, man. I

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appreciate it and I love talking about these kinds of things and I'm glad

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someone is creating a space where we can talk about it. So I appreciate all

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you're doing, Justin. Absolutely, man. We'll catch up next year for

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the state of 2025 and it'll be wild and fun to see

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where things go. But I think for 2024, we're well on our way.

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Are we holding each other accountable for our takes or not? I think

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it'd be amazing to come back. We'll see if we're still cruising on this. We'll

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have to come back and see where our takes were, but hopefully nothing too

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outlandish. But yeah, appreciate it, Justin. Awesome, man.

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All right, I hope you enjoyed this episode of distribution

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first and thank you for listening all the way through. I appreciate you

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so, so much and I hope you're able to apply what you learned in

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this episode one way or another into your content strategy as

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well. Speaking of strategy, we have a lot of things going on this year that

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are going to help you build your brand ten x your content and

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transform the way you do content marketing. Make sure to subscribe

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to the show and sign up for my newsletter at Justinsimon Co.

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So you don't miss a thing. I look forward to serving you in the next

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episode as well. And until then, take care and I'll see you next time.