EP 57 - Whitney Cole - The Value of Human Connection in Content Marketing
|Awesomers Origin - We'll talk to an Awesomer about where they came from, the triumphs and tribulations they have faced and how they are doing today. An Awesomer Origin story is the chance to hear the backstory about the journey our guest took on their road to become awesomer. These stories are incredibly varied and the takeaway is that awesomers come in all shapes, sizes, backgrounds, creeds, colors and every other variation possible. On your awesomer road you will face adversity. That’s just part of life. The question as always is how YOU choose to deal with it.|
Whitney is a consultant, speaker, and writer on a mission to help lifesaving, life-changing technology break through the noise and achieve mass user adoption.
Her 3 step process to amplifying the messages of health tech companies increases user engagement and drives customers to buy.
She translates difficult technology concepts into simple, approachable, and readable content for your ideal customer.
The Value of Human Connection in Content Marketing
Content marketing is all about storytelling and using the power of human connection to approach your customers.
Today’s guest is Whitney Cole, Owner of The Mission Maven. Whitney is a consultant speaker and writer. She translates difficult technology concepts into simple approachable and readable content for your ideal customers. Here are more valuable insights on today’s episode:
How Whitney started in the health tech space.
The three pillars of content creation.
What her company, The Mission Maven, is all about.
And why you should focus your resources on where your customers are.
So listen to today’s episode and learn more about how you can leverage the power of content marketing in your business.
01:37 (Steve introduces today’s guest, Whitney Cole of The Mission Maven.)
8:50 (Whitney talks about her origin story.)
20:02 (Whitney shares the business tools she uses in her daily life.)
22:49 (Whitney talks about her journey in the Health Tech space.)
37:13 (Why you should focus your resources on where your customers are.)
47: 21 (Whitney gives a little bonus for the Awesomers listening.)
48:46 (Whitney’s final words of wisdom.)
Welcome to the Awesomers.com podcast. If you love to learn and if you're motivated to expand your mind and heck if you desire to break through those traditional paradigms and find your own version of success, you are in the right place. Awesomers around the world are on a journey to improve their lives and the lives of those around them. We believe in paying it forward and we fundamentally try to live up to the great Zig Ziglar quote where he said, "You can have everything in your life you want if you help enough other people get what they want." It doesn't matter where you came from. It only matters where you're going. My name is Steve Simonson and I hope that you will join me on this Awesomer journey.
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01:37 (Steve introduces today’s guest, Whitney Cole of The Mission Maven.)
Steve: You are listening to podcast episode number 57 for the Awesomers.com podcast. And that's right episode number 57. All you have to do is go to Awesomers.com/57 to find all the show notes and the fun little details and links and things like that. But we may talk about throughout this episode. Now today Whitney Cole joins the podcast and she is talking about her company and her concept of creating a mission. And she calls herself The Mission Maven which I find to be both clever and great marketing and accurate. Now as a by way of background, Whitney is a consultant speaker and writer on a mission to help life-saving, life-changing technology, breakthrough the noise and achieve mass user adoption/three-step process, amplifying the messages of Health Tech companies, increases user engagement and drives customers to buy. She translates difficult technology concepts into simple approachable and readable content for your ideal customer. And I'm really excited to have Whitney join us today because she's going to talk about all the important things that it takes to connect with that audience and to synthesize your message down into something that's usable. So you're thrilled to be here because I'm thrilled to have you here. And we're going to get into this episode right now. Welcome back Awesomers, it's me Steve Simonson and I'm back again with another episode. And today I'm joined by a very special guest Whitney. Whitney how are you today?
Whitney: Good, how are you?
Steve: I'm very well. So Whitney Cole has been working on a bunch of stuff. And as you guys heard from the bio of the reading, she's got a lot of experience. But Whitney in your own words can you just share kind of what you do day-to-day and where you live?
Whitney: Sure, yes. So I am I focus heavily on content. I work mostly with Health Tech startups, also like mission driven companies. So social good companies, anybody. Basically who's out to change the world. I can work with them to figure out who their ideal customer is and then how to create content for that customer. As well as how to distribute that content. So you're getting in front of your ideal customer, so that you can break your message to the noise. Because a lot of times these companies that are focused on changing the world. They don't have either the knowledge or the tools to be able to do that. So I come in and help them come up with that a strategy.
Steve: Boy you know the book to great talks about having a B Hag, a Big Hairy Audacious Goal. The world's got to be right up there, like I could go take a nap or I could change the world. I can't wait to dive into some of that and hear maybe some of your examples. Because this concept of having the big idea is not foreign to an entrepreneur.
Steve: But sometimes the concept of actually breaking it down and doing something about it, or as entrepreneurs might understand getting leads or contacts or customers at the end of the day, is much more difficult than have the idea. Do you agree with that?
Whitney: Yes, I totally agree with that. And I think I think where it breaks down is a lot of times, you think you have your market figured out. And often when I come and start working with an entrepreneur they have done a lot of market research. So they think they know who their customer is but it turns out they know a lot of numbers, like they know their age or they know where they live or they know how many years they've been educated for whatever. But they don't know them as a person. So helping them like understand who they are as a person and what motivates them, what drives them, that's where I come in. To help them figure out how to communicate with that person. So you motivate them to adopt or technology or buy your product or whatever it is.
Steve: I like it. So that they if... my takeaway from that is the precise avatar that you're going for. That precise target ideal customer may be different than the obvious demographics of 35 year old to 45 year old female living in urban areas. Is that your?
Whitney: Yes. So you have to start with your demographic information like any... its if you don't have that you're kind of just making things up as you go, right? So you have this but what I often recommend my clients do, is think of a real person who either inspires you to create your technology. Because especially in Health Tech there's often in the founding story. Something where there's often a reason that this person created their products, like it could have been for a person that they actually knew or a customer that you've already helped. Even if you have a Minimum Viable Product and you're doing beta testing, there's someone that you have helped already. So thinking of an actual real-life person that you've already helped or who needs your technology, that's way more powerful than having like a fictional customer. Or just a set of demographics that you know about your audience.
Steve: Boy that is definitely the most powerful thing, is to have those actual use cases ideally if you have them, more precise... you know let's label it. And this is Sally and she's got this problem. And here's how our tool or solution is going to help her. Is that long lines?
Whitney: Exactly, yes.
Steve: Can you give us an example of what a health tech type of company does? For those out there may not be familiar.
Whitney: Yes, so okay. This is like I just love this day and age, because I feel like there are so many products changing the way we do health care. Whether it's for consumers or for the health care provider. So Health Tech is kind of broad reaching or digital health, medtech, all of those terms can apply but it's pretty broad reaching. So it can be either product technology products that are geared for like doctors or healthcare providers that sort of thing and you'll see this a lot. There are products that are geared for consumers to manage their health from home. So like one of my customers had a wearable for her patients, another one had a product that people use, some women use from home to manage their fertility. So either direct to consumer or to the doctors or health care providers. So it's very broad reaching but that's kind of the gist of it.
Steve: Got it. And boy I think you said it really well which is this day and age that we live in is the explosion, right? A wearables. This explosion of easy access to technology where your mobile phone is telling you what your heart rate is or what they sleeping patterns. This is a definitely the salad days of technology and healthcare convergence. So I love this. We're going to dig into it and talk a lot about how you're able to help customers. How you're able to help them get with the messaging. I'm going to do that and talk about your origin story right after this break.
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Steve: Ok we're back again Awesomers, Steve Simonson and we're talking with Whitney Cole. And she's going to tell us a little bit later about how we break down our audience and how we kind of communicate with them. Maybe a little storytelling, I don't know that might be a spoiler alert. I'm just speculating but I like to start at the very beginning. Tell me where you were born?
8:50 (Whitney talks about her origin story.)
Whitney: Sure. So I was born in Denver Colorado, so kind of out west by the mountains.
Steve: Definitely a big football town. Do your parents, are they entrepreneurial? What kind of work did they do?
Whitney: My father is a minister at a church. So like you kind of do have to be a little bit entrepreneurial. I can't ever say that word right by the way.
Steve: You sound pretty good.
Whitney: You do have to have that mindset a little bit I think. Because you're kind of for him he's in a smaller type of church. And so he has to come up with ideas and leave his congregation and whatever. So my mom is a piano teacher. She had her own piano studio. So a little bit of an entrepreneurs is in there too.
Steve: Yes both. I would say you got a drive leads, collect money.
Steve: And any siblings in the fold there?
Whitney: Yes I have three sisters. So there are four girls, my dad always said he lived in a girls dormitory. Lucky him right?
Steve: He's definitely being tested. Now are they in the entrepreneurial world like you or what types of things do they do?
Whitney: Yes. So one sister is a stay-at-home mom. She's got two adorable little boys and then they also do foster care. So not so much entrepreneur but she's changing the world in her own way with caring for kids. Another sister is, yes she does a lot of freelance writing. So she's kind of started her own business with that. And then my youngest sister's a nurse.
Steve: Oh wow. Yes, that's a lot of variety there. How about did you go to university?
Whitney: I did, I went to a small private school in South Carolina.
Steve: How did you like that experience? Was this something you enjoyed or hard for you? How'd you go with it?
Whitney: I love school. So I enjoyed it at the time and looking back I think I either I don't know that I would. I was an English major I don't know that I would have changed my major but I might have taken my business classes or something. So because I have a liberal arts degree, so I didn't have a lot of real-world practical application. But on the flip side I learned a lot about literature and just the way humans work. So I think that was helpful.
Steve: Nice excellent and how about your first job? What I like to call a proper job. How would you characterize your first one?
Whitney: Okay, so my family was really big. My mom is a piano teacher like I said. So we were big into music as kids. So my first job when I was in seventh grade, I started teaching violin and piano lessons actually. So...
Steve: Great you were teaching.
Whitney: Yes they were young students. They were like five and six years old. So yes that was my first job. I found out very quickly that I don't have the skills to be a teacher but I did high school. So that was my first job. I had like a newspaper route. I don't know if that's a proper job but I did have that as well. And then after college, I worked through college doing just random stuff. After college I had a job as a Content strategist and that's kind of what got me started doing what I do today.
Steve: Content strategist definitely in the heart of E-commerce. Was that something in the local region? Did you stay in the Denver area?
Whitney: When I was one actually we moved to Illinois where my mom's family was. So I am in the Midwest, now I'm in Wisconsin. But yes, so it was in Northern Illinois, that job. And it was for a firm that did a lot of like private security and that sort of thing. And I remember at that job, I did a lot of reading because there was a lot of downtime. And so I did a lot of reading like in my industry, in content specifically. And so I came from an English background, I knew I loved to write but I didn't know how to monetize it. So I started reading HubSpot, you're probably familiar with their marketing blog. Like a whole bunch of blogs like that. I just started reading all their stuff. I'm like wow this is so cool, I love this. And then along that same time, I also started freelancing on the side to make a little extra income. And I was like this is pretty cool like I could do this long term if I wanted without having to deal with employers and all stuff.
Steve: Oh yes. I hear you for sure. So how about from that point to where you are today, was there any defining moment that kind of set you on your path?
Whitney: Yes, so when I had that job for a few years and I was married at the time. And then a few years later I had my first kid. And I had some friends at that job who they they were moms as well. And the employer just did not give them flexibility to go pick up their kids from daycare or do school drop-off or whatever and also maternity leave with it just dismal. So I was like well screw that I'm going to do my own thing. And I was like I'm going to do this really insane thing full-time. So that was the defining moment was when I had my first kid, I just I realized that I didn't want the to be stuck in a job that didn't let me have the family life I wanted. But I also still wanted to use the skills that I had been given.
Steve: Yes not wanting to be stuck is a pretty good motivation to kind of take control take the reins yourself. I definitely think women in particular have such an opportunity to be able to balance more, right? I mean you get to set your own schedule presumably now.
Whitney: Exactly right. And I do have set hours but that can change depending on what I need for my family at the time. I mean there are more logistics to figure out like you have to figure out childcare because as much as I would love to not have to pay for childcare. It's impossible to work and have screaming children at the same time. So there are different logistics but it's been amazing and I love it and it's totally changed my mindset to like to just break free of that employee mindset. And just I don't know be my own boss. I don't know that I'd be able to be a full-time employee at this point now after working for myself.
Steve: Even if I had the qualifications which I don't, I definitely wouldn't be able to sit in the cube that would not work. How about in any big lesson learned that you've learned along the way?
Whitney: So when I jumped in, I didn't really know what I was doing but I think that is a good lesson in itself. I think sometimes it's really easy to get stuck in the planning and never do. And even today I find myself doing this, I'm like oh I had these great ideas and I planned them all out and then I don't do them. So just I don't think it's good to be ignorant like I think you need knowledge. But don't get stuck in knowledge gathering stage just jump in and do it as much as possible.
Steve: Boy, action is a pretty good bit of advice there. Sometimes it's better to take action and tweak it as you go than it is to never take action. I'll give you a quick story thing, one time we were looking at buying this company and they were a public company at the time. And they had done pretty well but as during the .com crash, they were definitely on their last legs. So we were going to come in and do a reverse merger and so forth. And so we came in, we're like alright how much revenue do you have? And they're like we don't have any revenue. We're like what do you have? They had money of course cuz they'd raised money and we're like well what are all these people you got like 50 or 60 people running around, what are they doing? They're like hey we built this big book of how we do stuff. And we're like, but you don't do any of it. Yes but we got the book, right? That ultimately did not lead to them, didn't make the acquisition, they died a miserable death and they had spent millions of dollars making this book without actually ever doing anything. And so I'm a big fan of just build the airplane while you fly it and iterate. It's smart fast. I don't know how to exclude sloppiness or excuse sloppiness but how ironic that I mess up that. So tell me this, along your path Whitney, did you ever have a time where you said maybe I should just go back to the old nine-to-five gig? This is too much for me. Did you ever want to give up?
Whitney: I think that happens about once a month because it's always hard, right? You're going to always have hard times and just chugging through them and getting through them anyway. And knowing that there's a hard time today but there may be a better time around the corner. And just like even when it's hard taking that daily consistent actually. I think back when I was a kid and taking music lessons. That taught me a powerful lesson in and of itself. Like you don't get better at playing the violin by just looking at your violin. You get better playing by at the violin by practice every single da. So that's kind of similar to how entrepreneurs have to think, right? Like you have to you just have to take that daily consistent action. You just have to practice every single day and someday you'll be the virtuoso playing on Carnegie Hall.
Steve: Oh very good. I like that metaphor because too often we can't, we're impatient. And I think particularly entrepreneurs today and perhaps the hashtag Millennials out there, it seems like they're impatient, right? They're like, hey I've heard of, I seen on TV. And by the way the guys on Facebook they travel, they're living the dream,
Steve: And I want it right now.
Steve: Gosh. You know it takes time. And what they see on television or Facebook or Instagram or whatever is the result of so much effort and so much work. And that daily practice in trying to get better, they don't see that. And so I like to remind people of any background, it takes time, it takes energy. And I think that's very good takeaway. How about best day in your professional life that you can call out and maybe remember sharing with the audience.
Whitney: You know it's been more recently because I used to struggle practicing what I preach. I always told my clients like you need to do content because content is how you reach your ideal customer. And I didn't practice what I preached myself. So it's like, I don't know if it's the best day but like a best time period where I actually see it working for myself. Because I started doing it for myself in creating content and seeing it just generate leads has been really amazing. Like I used to have to hustle to find new people to work for and work with. And then once I started creating my content, they just like start coming to me which is pretty cool. That's the way supposed to work, right?
Steve: I love that. Yes, well that's a perfect proof case. So that's when you start seeing what you do payoff. It feels almost magical to me. I mean there's electricity when you like, I knew it would work but it's working. It's always gratifying to see. So that's definitely good. How about a tool maybe that you use in your day-to-day, whether it's an app or a mobile app or just some tool that you use to help you kind of get by each day to day.
20:02 (Whitney shares the business tools she uses in her daily life.)
Whitney: Yes. So CoSchedule, it's a content marketing calendar. I don't know if you've heard of it but it's actually really awesome. Because not only can you put all your content in there to plan out. I need to publish this blog post here, I need to have this article here, this video here. You can also eat, they have a feature called riku which means you can put content in there like evergreen content. Content that's relevant for the long haul. You can put that content in there and it will post it again on social media for you like every year or so. So your once you have that built out then it helps you at least have some content going out and you still need to be engaged and be personal on your platforms. And be posting as a human as well, not just a repo ski app. But it's pretty cool to just have it working for you too.
Steve: And that was called CoSchedule?
Whitney: CoSchedule. Yes, yes.
Steve: Is it CoSchedule.com?
Whitney: Yes, get like C-O-S-C-H, I can't spell but E-D-U-L-E I think.
Steve: Alright, hello English major. We'll assume that the show notes people could spell schedule and we'll try to get the link into the show notes as well. So now we've kind of laid a little background and I'm appreciating you sharing some of your origin story. We're going to dive a little bit more into how you got into doing exactly what you're doing today and maybe even a prediction or two for the future. So we're going to do that right after this break.
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Steve: Everybody it's Steve Simonson and we're back again on Awesomers.com podcast and today Whitney Cole is given us a share a little bit of her background and some pretty great takeaways. Things like taking action, hey who would have thunk it. This is a good idea and actually being able to practice what you preach. By the way not always obvious as they say the Cobbler's kids are the last one to get shoes. Sometimes we’re going to tend to our own house. So Whitney tell us about where in your journey did you start getting into this Health Tech space and and so on?
22:49 (Whitney talks about her journey in the Health Tech space.)
Whitney: Yes, so when I started, I worked with anybody who would pay me, right? Cuz that's kind of where we all have just start, you just need to make money. But when I sat down and really thought about why I do what I do. And the clients that I resonate with the most, it's always the ones who are in Health Tech of some sort. It could be a fertility up, it could be like I mentioned before a heart wearable. But anybody who is working in the health space and it didn't click for me and it really should have a long time ago. But I was born with Congenital Aortic Stenosis which means a lot of kids are born with that, not a lot but it's a pretty common heart condition. If you're going to have a heart condition that's going to be one of the more common ones. And some people don't need it corrected until they're older or they don't need it corrected at all. But mine was pretty severe, so I had to have emergency open heart surgery when I was three days old because it was like they discovered it right before I left the hospital. And they're like your kid has a heart condition and so she needs surgery. So like the fact that I'm here today is because of really awesome doctors and then technology that allowed them to diagnose my problem. So like making that connection between technology saved my life and really brilliant innovative people saved my life. To wow I'm helping these people with innovative technology save other people's lives or make doctors jobs easier, whatever. Once I made that connection, it was like everything clicked together and it was really powerful. I think when people tell you to figure out your why, that's what they're telling and I always thought oh my why is my kids or my why is, so I can have a freely lifestyle. But my why was actually a lot deeper than that and once I figured that out it was like and started telling my story. It really resonated with people and people were like oh wow that's amazing and we totally get why you do what you do.
Steve: Yes, boy oh boy. So what a great brand, right? You call yourself The Mission Maven and it's because you have this mission right? And that mission begins a little did you know at the time but at three days old you went in for heart surgery.
Whitney: Yes. Yes, three days old and then I had another one. I know and that's why mom says... she said she looked at the surgeons hands obviously I don't remember this at all, but she said she looked at the surgeons hands and she was like they were huge. And they told them that my heart was the size of a quarter at the time. And so there she's like how do those hands operate on that tiny little heart. But they did it. I'm here today.
Steve: Yes, you were just about to say you, it sounds like you went in again?
Whitney: Yes, so with this type of condition when you have a valve problem, the fixes that they... there's not really a great cure at this point. So the fixes that they do have to be redone down the road. So when I was 15, I had a repair on my valve and then when I was 16 we went back to the doctor and he's like that repair didn't work, so we need to do another surgery. So that was a bad year about like being in high school and all that teenage angst, whatever. But it was a rough year and I had two surgeries back-to-back. And I've been fine since but they do say I'll probably have to have another one down the road.
Steve: Well as I think about that first of all, it's extraordinarily compelling but I would like them to work out a punch card system for you. So after the fourth ones you get a couple three or something.
Whitney: Exactly, I know.
Steve: Even some airline miles, I don't know. That's amazing. So obviously you became very deeply connected to this idea that technology and healthcare have high value to not just yourself but the world that we live in.
Whitney: Right yes. And when I was in high school, so back when I was having those surgeries I think a lot of people walk into hospitals, right? And they're like this is where people are going to die but I walked into the hospital I'm like this is where I have to go to live. So I always thought hospitals were really cool and I was like I'm going to be a doctor, I'm going to be a congenital cardiologist someday and help other kids like me. And then I took high school biology and I was like wow this isn't my thing. So I went to college and I majored in English. And I was always a little bit disappointed that I wasn't going to be a doctor because I was like I mean I wish I could do that, I wish I could be a doctor and help people, I wish I could work at a hospital. But I just don't have the skillset for it like, my sister's a nurse like I said and she's got the personality. And it feels nice to be a nurse but I don't. But once I made a connection that I can use the gifts that I have to help people who are changing the world, save lives, that was really cool for me. Because it was like well I can't be a doctor because I don't have those skills but they don't have my skills, so I can use my skills to help them.
Steve: I love it. Well it really is a great way to pair up two levels of expertise. In fact it's very fair to say that very few people would have the specialty skills of the healthcare profession. Obviously with the exception of those who studied it but I can't imagine. I know some doctors and some of my friends are surgeons and so on. I can't imagine them being awesome at content creation and awesome at technology kind of harnessing whatever they have to do to get their job done. They're probably very very good at that but rest of it, I imagine there it's probably like a foreign language to them.
Whitney: Yes and so I work with a lot of you know they may not be practicing medicine but they have some sort of degree in medicine or biology or something. And so some of them are actual MDS and some of them are people who are engineers or something in the life sciences on. And what I find is they are incredibly... obviously they're incredibly smart, right? They have all these degrees and they normally built an awesome product but they don't have the tools to make that simple for people. And so if they create content for themselves or if they create content without getting a strategy behind it. They create content that's written it like a 12th grade or college reading level and that just doesn't that's not readable by the average consumer. I mean maybe if you're in college it's readable but nobody wants to read that for fun. When they're perusing the internet.
Steve: Oh interesting. So tell me, so you're saying that they need to make that message easier to read?
Whitney: Exactly, yes. It's almost like they speak in a different language. They speak in medical tech ease or something like that. And so people just don't understand that. So what I do is I come in and I help them figure out first of all who their customer is. But then how to translate their message into something that's really easily consumable by people who need to hear it the most.
Steve: So can you give us an example? Frame up a typical problem. You've alluded to this idea that they are not communicating in a straightforward way, a layman's way, right?
Steve: When we want to read it we need to understand. And if the doctors are throwing out all the warp factor 7 and all those other technique terms. I know I went Star Trek there but that's the best thing I could do. But we're not going to engage with the content presumably. So how do you see that and how do you solve that?
Whitney: Okay, so perfect example of that, I had a client. I mentioned her before who is infertility tech. And she had this really awesome product, and it was helping women here in the US into the developed world but also women in the developing world take control of their reproductive health. And just like be in charge of their body so that they can have the freedom to give back to their communities. So she had a really awesome product but it just seemed like nobody was listening to her. Like she was struggling getting traction and they were she and her team were working really hard. They were doing a lot of PR, they were doing just like a lot of ads to get traction for their product and it just they would get users. And then the second they stopped spending money on ads those users would drop off. And a user acquisition they had just plummeted and so they were really really struggling. So I sat down with them and we looked at their content. And it was actually their content that they were creating. And the content that they wanted me to create for them was very focused on people who were just like them. So this client was very focused on changing the world. She wanted to change the conversations around reproductive health but that wasn't a conversation that her ideal customer was necessarily interested in hearing. So they weren't necessarily. So she had a paid-for product and then she had free products she offered to people in the developing world. So the pay for product was more geared towards the US and about the developed world to kind of fund her endeavors in the developing world. But they were just struggling to get traction for that and because their content was focused on this is, what we need to do to change the world and this is how global health organizations can help. And so like not something that her customer would really want to read. So once we figured out exactly who her customer was and came up with the whole strategy behind how to create content that really reached this customer. Her sales for her paid product went up like 11 percent and then in gate this was a really cool number. Engagement of users on a weekly basis for her product was up like three hundred ninety three percent. So people were like just way more engaged with their product whether they were new customers or existing customers from before or whatever. But it was really cool to see like the difference once she started creating content for the customer. How it affected like just her sales and her customer engagement.
Steve: Well an engagement is a number that it doesn't necessarily immediately tie to sales of profit but long-term, it is a branding move that you cannot beat. People who are really part of the movement so to speak. They are extraordinarily valuable and they want to help, they want to be part of that movement.
Whitney: Exactly. Yes and that engagement number was across her paid and unpaid version of her product. So you know like those engaged customers could turn even into paid customers. So it was yes, it was just really cool.
Steve: That's a very fine example. So a typical problem sounds like that they're not talking to their ideal avatar. So you got to find out who that is and then you've got to customize the content that speaks to that audience in a well let's say a relatable way, right?
Steve: You gotta talk to them the way they want to be talked to. What other tips do you have in terms of this creating content or making this the engagement happen.
Whitney: Yes. So the first step is always figuring out who that customer is because if you don't know who that customer is, you can't create content for them. And a lot of people do want to skip that step and then the second step is figuring out what that customers core challenges. So that's what I do with them, once we figure out their customer then we kind of figure out this overlapping core challenge that their customer faces. And normally they know this, they may not be able to communicate it in words that would speak to the customer but they typically know kind of what the main problem is. And then from there we break it down into like kind of the sub challenges that make up that main challenge. And so each of those challenges becomes a pillar piece of content and then you can create content like subtopics under that content. Like it's kind of I call it self multiplying because once you have those pillars it's like the types of content you can come up with are almost endless. Does that make sense?
Steve: It does make sense. Of course I have a deeper amount of experience struggling to create content. And so I'm highly related to this idea. So to me if I could drive the point home and you correct me here if I'm wrong, but a lot of people that in their own lenses, when they look out themselves are like well what's interesting about what I'm doing. They have a harder time coming up with subject matter or those pillars to start with, right? They don't know what are the pillars that are exciting and something that they find to be this kind of oh yes that's just the way it is. It can be very exciting to their audience but because we see it every day, we're kind of like no that trees always there. It doesn't matter, let's talk about it. So once you have those pillars then you said the subsets of those it allows you to create content endlessly. Can you give us any examples you have, any memories?
Whitney: So I'll give you my own example because I said before I didn't practice what I preached. So once I started practicing that my core problem, that my customers face is that they just can't break through the noise. So there's so much noise online, they just can't get through. And it's kind of the outline that I just gave for reaching your customers with content is first of all they don't know who their customer is, so that's one pillar. And then secondly they don't create content for that customer. So they're creating content that nobody cares about, that's the second pillar. And then the third pillar is they don't know how to distribute their content to the right channel, so that they get in front of their customer. So those are my three pillars and then after that I have like how to create a customer avatar, or how to figure out who your ideal customer is, or what kinds of problems is your customer face and how to figure those out, that type of things. So each one generates more content. And then the cool thing about once you have your list of topics under each pillar, is that you can create like two or three types of content from each topic. So it might be a blog post but then it could also be a customer story, and it could also be an infographic or a video or something like that. So once you have the topic then you can almost like and let's say generate content on that topic. Not endlessly but because there's only so many types of content you can produce and you can do it across several channels. So you can do the same topic on LinkedIn and you can do the same topic on Quora or Twitter. And then you do it on your blog and you do it on YouTube. And so really like it just opens tons of possibilities.
Steve: Well it definitely sounds like that kind of, it's like when you're trying to open the pickle jar, right? Once it gets loose then it's easy to get the pickles but I can't get that cap off man. It's a bear. So let me ask you this, because I think in this day and age where we have so many different social outlets and things like that, is there... I'm sure various by habits are but is there any advice you would give somebody about whether they should look first in terms of the distribution mechanisms?
37:13 (Why you should focus your resources on where your customers are.)
Whitney: Yes. So it really does depend on your avatar. Like if your avatar is on Facebook or sorry if your avatar is not on Facebook that should not be where you're focusing. I think a lot of people think, oh I should just be on Facebook because that's where everybody else is. But if your avatar is not on Facebook then don't be there. Don't focus your energies on there, don't focus your resources on there. So go back to your customer avatar and figure what channels they’re on. Where did they consume their content and then also think about like who influences them? Are they maybe they're a millennial? And they're influenced by pop stars or other Entrepreneurs or something like that. So that will give you insight into what channels to be on and then think about who their friends are. Like are their friends the same age as them? What channels do they use? Are they on just like they just on Twitter? They just on Instagram like where are they? And then from there that's where you just read your content. I think a lot of people ignore a couple really powerful channels too. Quora is a big one and one that's really powerful in health tech. Because you can really become an expert on that channel. And then I think LinkedIn and sometimes it gets a bad rap because people think oh it's just a professional network. But those professionals are people too and there's a lot of really good conversations happening on LinkedIn. So distributing your content there is actually really good too.
Steve: Yes, I think that's a pretty good tip. Quora is definitely a very high ranking on the search results. So if you can get your expertise shared there I think there's a high chance of it being visible there.
Whitney: Great, right. So answering questions on Quora. Yes there's even an option to blog on Quora which I always recommend having your own blog first. So you get all the SEO value from that but then if you have the resources, I mean start a blog. Repurpose some of your content for Quora too. Then it's just giving you one more Avenue to be on, to get people to know who you are.
Steve: How do we feel about Reddit in this world that we live in?
Whitney: You know I haven't used it a lot but I think it's also underused. So I'm looking into figuring out the best ways to use it. I've been doing some reading on it, I think the verdict's still kind of out a little bit. As with any platform everybody's always changing their algorithms to make it more user-friendly and more focus on the customer and whatever. So you kind of have to keep up with that. And I think Reddit made recent changes that makes it a little harder but I think just engaging in conversation whether it's Quora or Reddit or LinkedIn or Facebook or engaging with conversations human-to-human is really powerful. So if you use Reddit be a human. If you use Quora be human.
Steve: That's a very smart bit of advice. I think Reddit is quite punitive if they think you just pop it in to sell them something, they will destroy you. And that's probably true of any platform whether I think I read it they'll just proactively let you know how much they hate you. They're pretty tough.
Whitney: I think and other social networks people are more used to seeing it. So they may not react as strongly against it, right? They just don't like it so they don't put up with it.
Steve: Yes good time. So we've talked about kind of the general nature of the problem that people face and a couple of the solutions. Are there any other kind of key solutions that you would recommend the people that we haven't talked about so far?
Whitney: Those are the three main ones coming up with your customer avatar, coming up with the content. I call it a Content tree. So you have that but I guess it's the root of the tree. The core problem and then you kind of branch out from there and then the distribution path. So like where do you need to put your content and think about underused places that nobody else is using. I have some friends who started doing video on LinkedIn. I don't know like a year ago and they like because they were the first ones to start creating video on LinkedIn. They're now major influencers on LinkedIn. So like figure out that platform, become the first one to do something on a platform and then it's much easier when you don't have as much competition.
Steve: Well that means I'm going to be the best guy on Google+. I actually also agree that LinkedIn is an underutilized asset. And I think it's just on the cusp of actually a tipping point on LinkedIn. So three/four years ago I never expected Facebook to be so business centric or had the potential to be business centric. Well most of my relationships on Facebook are largely professional that I've got my friends and I got some family but the majority, massive majority the folks that whatever the thousand people I'm connected to are professional on some level. And that's afforded us the chance to interact with people on a pretty frequent basis. But I think LinkedIn is now has more engaging types of content in there. They made their streams of news and all that stuff a little bit easier, a little bit better and despite the fact they were bought by Microsoft they seem to be innovating. So kudos Microsoft getting the job done. So if you are in a professional environment where a particularly so business-to-business, I would take it another look at LinkedIn as well.
Whitney: Yes and I think their algorithms a little bit simpler than maybe Facebook. Like you see the posts of the people you know and their second connections or whatever. So I just think it's simpler and a little bit easier to hack, it is the right word.
Steve: Yes, it is the right word. Honestly all of these platforms once we figure out what works we kind of we really lean into that technique. And then the algorithm gods decide that, oh no we don't want that to work anymore. Instagram actually just modified their algorithm so that it actually instead of being so time focused that it's now more relationship focused. And that as much as 75-80 percent of the posts that you were making on Instagram, even the people who follow you were not necessarily seeing because of time. Now no matter when those posts were, they're still fresh in the mind of your follower regardless when that follower comes on. Do you find that to be interesting or have you noticed that yet?
Whitney: Yes. So I don't do a ton on Instagram. Most of my clients prefer LinkedIn and Quora and that sort of thing but I have done some. And I did notice that change. So I do think that's interesting and I think it can be helpful to as long as you're working to develop those relationships and keeping your audience engaged.
Steve: Yes, as always it turns out actual work and real relationships genuine things work. Alright, so I want you to get out your crystal ball before we share what the bonus that you have for the audience out there. And tell us what you think is going to happen in five years. How will your industry look? How will you know whether it's a Content Creation or the Health Tech or Med Tech, whatever you call that, how is this going to change in the next five years?
Whitney: I think that in one sense it's going to change, but in another sense it's going to be the same as it always has been in that relationships, like we were just talking about, are the most important thing. So it doesn't matter what the next social media platform is or what the next new distribution channel is. It's all about developing those relationships and being human. I think a lot of times we fall into the trap of being a brand and being you know I'm Microsoft or I'm Google or whatever and that's how you communicate with your customers. But the reality is that people don't buy from brands, they buy from people. So of course yes, I go by Starbucks, that's not a person I'm interacting with. But I buy Starbucks because I like the people who work there. I like my Starbucks. So people are buying from people, they're not buying necessarily from a brand. So even if you have a brand engage as, be as personable as possible. Engage as much as you can as a person.
Steve: I think that's really good advice. How do people scale that type of concept? As you get bigger and bigger maybe the founder can't do blog posts every day and so the somebody's on the team helping them. Whether it's a person like yourself or somebody on the inside team. How do they maintain that kind of relationship building idea?
Whitney: So I think it's all about communicating with your team, that relationships are important. I think that sometimes were people struggle they bring in a new person and they don't explain the why behind their company. Like why are we here? What are we doing? And if you explain that you're here trying to help people and it's not about sale, I mean it is about sales but it's not about sales. It's about helping people. I think that helps your team communicate better. And then also one thing I find is if a company does not have the strategy, that I help them put together their team communicates as a brand or they kind of have multiple personality disorder and just communicate however they feel at the moment. So if you have a strategy behind how you always talk to people? How you should always be perceived? That helps your team create the type of content, whether they're creating it as a ghostwriter for the CEO or just as branded content. It helps it create the type of content that you want your brand to be creating.
Steve: Yes, so it is doable and if you do suffer from that multiple personality, we'll call the civil effect of content creation. Not going to be as good as having that consistency of being on brand and developing relationships. I do think that people speak differently. I think they act differently when they're about the long term versus the hurry up and buy something from me, so I can get on the next person, right?
Whitney: Exactly, yes.
Steve: You know that's pretty obvious and I think if anything technology has shown us those kind of naked efforts to separate us from our money versus actually adding value, right? And...
Steve: At the end of the day if you add value, you have long-term sustainability. And if you're just there to take money away from somebody else, it's not going to work as well. Yes?
Whitney: Yes, exactly.
Steve: So Whitney tell us about the little bonus you have for the Awesomers out there.
47: 21 (Whitney gives a little bonus for the Awesomers listening.)
Whitney: Sure, so creating and figuring out who your customer avatar is does not have to be hard. I've put together a template that you can use to figure out. It's like a questionnaire to figure out who your ideal customers, as well as helping you come up with that self multiplying content I was talking about. So if you go to the themissionmaven.com/Awesomers and that will be in the show notes, correct?
Whitney: If you go to that link you will be able to get that resource. And yes hopefully it will help you figure out who your customer is and how you can create content for them.
Steve: Alright, so for all those who were squinched up and seized up with this idea of identifying your avatar, we're giving you an easy way to do it. Whitney's taking you out of the fire and bringing you back down to earth. And letting you know that, hey you can't find an avatar? Just follow this general template and that's the first step. I love it when people take action. And so I appreciate you giving them the chance to take action and really come away from this episode with something, you know what? I can go do that, I'll go to themissionmaven.com/Awesomers right now and I'll download that thing. And I'm going to engage it and get on with the program. So I definitely appreciate that. Awesomers if you're listening and you haven't already paused us and gotten over there to that website, you're making a mistake get on it now. I think action, we got to do something. Any final words of wisdom Whitney for the folks out there?
48:46 (Whitney’s final words of wisdom.)
Whitney: I've said it probably a thousand times in this conversation…
Steve: No exaggeration either, yes.
Whitney: Just be human, right? Like I just think the value of a human connection is so important. So if you take nothing else away just be human, talk with your customers and interact with them like a human.
Steve: I like that. To be honest with you in this world of machine learning and artificial intelligence and all that everybody's worried about which robots going to replace them. I guarantee you one thing, nobody's going to replace humans, right? And that human relationship, that interaction and that expectation that you actually want to deliver overwhelming value to somebody. That's something that is never going to be replaced and will never go somehow. So I love it. Thank you very much Whitney, I appreciate you taking the time and kudos to you on putting together The Mission Maven. It does sound like a very compelling proposition and very compelling idea that we all need to take hard in, which is find our customer, talk to our customer in a compelling way and get those customers to take action, long-term. Yes?
Whitney: Yes, thank you so much for just having this conversation. This has been really good.
Steve: Definitely my pleasure. Awesomers, we'll be right back after this.
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Steve: Hey there's another great episode and what a brilliant woman Whitney is. And what a great concept to specialize and really dive into this idea of health tech, right? There's Fin Tech and E-commerce and all these different categories of specialization, but she's really taking her own experience at with the life challenges, right? The heart problem and so forth she talked about. And she's trying to bring her talents to the rest of the health community, maybe who's not as focused on the technological piece of reaching customers. So that is to say you can have that brilliant surgeon or medical device manufacturer or even doctor what have you. But they don't know about internet marketing, they don't know about how to reach the customers. And you really have to remember that this is an age-old lesson. If you have a better mousetrap great but how will people know about it. And so what Whitney talks about things like finding out who you are speaking to, defining what your customer avatar is all about, and what will then resonate with that audience. I think it's highly instructive and I hope people took special care and interest in this particular episode. So that you can learn how to act on some of the great advice that Whitney was able to share. So again this has been episode number 57, as always show notes, details and any links and things like that that we may have discussed will be found at Awesomers.com/57.
Well we've done it again everybody. We have another episode of the Awesomers podcast ready for the world. Thank you for joining us and we hope that you've enjoyed our program today. Now is a good time to take a moment to subscribe, like and share this podcast. Heck you can even leave a review if you wanted. Awesomers around you will appreciate your help. It's only with your participation and sharing that we'll be able to achieve our goals. Our success is literally in your hands. Thank you again for joining us. We are at your service. Find out more about me, Steve Simonson, our guest, team and all the other Awesomers involved at Awesomers.com. Thank you again.