A Bridging Of Cultures
If a friend of yours wants you to come to an event with them, and they you how much it would benefit them if you came along, you wouldn't really be convinced, would you? The same concept is even more true when it is a company trying to sell you something. Too often, companies forget that it is a mutually beneficial when it comes to selling solutions.
Recently, our CEO sat down with someone who understands this concept better than most. In this blog, Hollywood Branded learns about building rapport and creating an audience in content marketing from the expertise of Don Simkovich, CEO of SoCal Content Marketing & Media!
A Little More About Don
Don wrote and hosted a radio spot series on global cultures and issues heard on over 700 radio nonprofit radio stations for 22 years! He's worked in Media and Program Management for a nonprofit that recruited and served adoptive and foster parents.
Don has ghostwritten books for an Upper Cervical chiropractor and a dental specialist working with oral cancer patients. He publishes regularly on Medium.com on marketing and a variety of topics and continues writing a fiction series--the Tom Stone Detective Stories. He holds a Master's degree in Communication Management from USC.
Interview Transcript Highlights
Question: Our listeners know I love content marketing. It's the reason why as an agency we do a podcast, right? There's so many different types of content marketing that are out there, but what I'd love to do is dive in and have you talk about how you got to where you are today. Now, you have your radio career but you are now an actual content writer for other people to help them amplify their voice. How'd you get here?
Answer: That's right. I think I'd have to go way back to the '70s during Watergate. I was a kid at the end of Vietnam War era and I watch the war on TV, on the NBC Nightly News, and you saw that unfold and I was fascinated by the coverage that I saw and I was intrigued and I was also saddened because I saw this horrific stuff happening but there was no way to be involved and somehow from that, to the politics of the 1970s, there was this desire to be where the action was.
That really led me into journalism. For some reason as well, I mean, I like sports. I was growing up from the Pittsburgh area, big Pittsburgh Pirates fan, and Bob Prince who's a legendary Pittsburgh Pirates broadcaster and I thought he's got the perfect job. He can stay up late at night and go to baseball games, and so that kind of combination, it was, to me, there was something magical about communicating and growing up, even though I grew up in western Pennsylvania, at night on AM radio I would listen to WCFL out of Chicago and I thought, "Well, this is just fantastic."
For me, it was always this, it was a bridging of cultures. The fancy word now is rapport building. Back then to me, it was just fascinating that I could see these different parts of the world and see something that was happening. That involvement question was to me, like I said especially watching the news as a kid, it was like, I wanted to jump through my TV screen and rescue these people. There was always something that it was like communicating was being where the action is.
That always appealed to me, and I was interested at different aspects of communicating, done some acting and as well as journalism, and then marketing and I've got to look at it this way where say acting is you're portraying life's critical moments, journalism is your reporting on life's critical moments, and marketing is you're creating an involvement in critical moments. As you look at that today, where say a company, whether it's a carpet cleaning company or a Fortune 500 company they interact with people at critical moments of their life.
A carpet cleaning company may be called on December 20th to come in and clean the carpet at someone's house for a holiday party at the last minute. Well, it's critical to that customer and you have a lot of moment that's like that. I think just kind of building on that has… It's just, to me, it's fascinating that you can write a word and have it mean something in someone's mind or imagination, and then they take action off it. To me, it's just a fascinating part of a human life.
Question: Your Medium is the written word more so nowadays, right? And that is to your favor, you're no longer on radio at the moment but you're helping brands create content and companies through blogs or you also write books for them.
Answer: Correct. Yeah. I have written, I don't know, several hundred maybe a few thousand blog posts for different businesses of different sizes, brochures and that I've ghostwritten some books as well in, especially for a few health professionals. One, a dentist who was caring for oral cancer patients and in that there's word choices you can make that have a certain sound or they evoke a certain image.
One thing great about the written word is that to me, it's a foundation. So even if you're going to do video, you can talk off the top of your head but just even whether it's an outline, you have to organize the information and there are certain word choices that may be seen as say like soft or that have a certain relational aspect to them. They sound very hard but there are a lot of ways… I think in writing, especially today because video is so easy to watch or podcasts are so popular, what place does the written word have?
It still has a tremendous amount of meaning. One of the things I always say, I love video, go on YouTube a lot, watch things, but at the same time, I can skim a thousand-word blog post probably faster than I can watch a three or four-minute video and, but the video reinforces what I just read. If you use, and images, of course, are very important. It's really, I think today is not do I do video or do I do written blog post. I think it's how well do I put all of these together so that I'm creating a relationship with my audience.
Question: When you're working with a new client and I know you said you sit down and you start this one-on-one brainstorming with them, how do you get to that next step of the plan of this is our content strategy plan, this is the direction we're going to go, this is what we're going to craft?
Answer: The steps in it, like I said I think it really begins with the questions that I asked and I really do want to know their why and what drives them and what's right, and having a good mission statement, and a good vision statement as a company is really helpful. If a company doesn't have one or a small brand even then, you're missing maybe one important thing.
I could go out and I could make up things. I'm creative enough. I have enough experience. I've lived long enough to be able to go out but really to know what the core, and that's really where you want to get back to so the company that sells ergonomic furniture. They do it because they are good at what they do, they know it really well, they know all the features of the laminate and the thickness and all of these things, but really what it does is it really helps someone to function.
It could help a corporation. It could help a small company and the office is a dynamic place. I want to pull out all of those little nuances and maybe things that the client hasn't really thought of. Then, put that together. I just, I really enjoy that process, and then having all of these highlights and get all this information and this data that's available.
Then, I look at what competitors are doing too. Just, and of course, it's so easy, it doesn't take, just you get on to find out what are, whether their direct competitors… A good example is I helped a very small furniture manufacturing outfit. This was a different one, several years ago. The founder had left the corporate world buying, as a buyer for in the fashion industry. It was going in to create furniture that is, didn't give off terrible gas, everything else like the stuff you would buy at IKEA. Sorry IKEA.
But she was making this, again, she's finding a specific need in the marketplace, and then crafting custom furniture. We sat down, and then one of the... say, "Wouldn't it be a direct competitor," because it was a larger company in her space, and I looked at their content to see what they were saying and to see what she was saying and looking at the similarities, and then the differences and even looking where it's like, "Okay. Here's the things that you know, that you've experienced that haven’t."
It is important to look at yourself, to look at certainly, obviously, the needs. Why would people buy from you? Then, to look at what do the competitors say if they say anything, and then also your industry association, really what are the best practices? If you can cover those four areas, what drives me? Why am I doing this? Why did I either found... start this company? What is our mission and our vision? That's critical.
Then, that next part, what else is in the marketplace? What do people have access to? But then, and don't overlook industry associations. They do all this research. They provide all of this information. What are their best practices? Do we, as a company, meet or exceed those best practices?
Once you have all of those things down, now you've got your background information. You've done the prep work at this point before you can really… I think before you want to just jump in to start creating or write it. Now, it's like, "Okay. Let's take the audience whether it's a reader for a blog, if you are on YouTube, where are we going to take them? What are their needs and where is the start to finish?"
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