In this week’s Labcast, Rex Hammock, founder and CEO of content marketing and media company Hammock, Inc., discusses the role of content marketing in lead generation, the most effective types of content to turn market targets into leads, and why content is not, in fact, king.
Kevin: Hello and welcome to the podcast. I’m Kevin Cain. Today I’m joined by Rex Hammock to discuss content marketing for lead generation.
For those of you who don’t know Rex, he’s the founder and CEO of Hammock Inc., a customer media marketing services company that has been creating recurring custom publications and other custom media since 1991.
Today, Rex and his company help clients use a wide variety of content marketing strategies to reach measurable business objectives. Rex is also an active blogger, providing his analysis of business and cultural trends on his website, RexBlog.com.
Rex, thanks so much for joining us today.
Rex: Thanks for asking me, Kevin.
Kevin: As I mentioned in my introduction, we’re here today to talk about content marketing for lead generation. What I wanted to start off with is getting a sense from you as to the right role for content to play in the whole lead generation process.
Rex: Lead generation as we view it, and frankly, as marketers should view it, is the beginning of a relationship. Content really plays a role throughout the life cycle, if you want to call it that, of a relationship between a company and the audience it serves. We call them customers, the audience they serve.
There’s this ability now to reach out and connect directly with potential customers rather than through the old-fashioned way where you had to advertise and do other things between yourself and an intermediary. Really, as we’ve begun to talk about content as a lead generation tool, we’re looking specifically at those things where the marketer is providing content — and I’m sure we’ll talk about many forms of content — in a way that the audience is willing to exchange something or give something back.
Maybe it’s a name and an email address, or just the online equivalent online of, at a trade show, dropping a business card into a fish bowl. It could be a very simple thing or a very intricate exchange of information.
Kevin: Are there specific types of content that you think really lend themselves well to that exchange of information? If you’re a company, how do you go about finding the right one for you?
Rex: It’s a bit challenging to say there’s one that would work across all different kinds of industries and different kinds of markets. You had mentioned we do both print and online and digital work, so there are some types of lead generation where we are providing, in exchange for signing up, something that may be in print; a magazine or a paperbound guide or book.
I think that the best opportunities now are looking for those online properties. Those could range from providing e-books to webinars. Literally, the sky is the limit on that. Those can actually happen while we’re talking about lead generation pre-sale. They may be lead generation post-sale in that you are trying to discover who has purchased your process and serve the community, too.
Kevin: That all makes sense. Targeting the online world makes perfect sense. How do you suggest, though, that companies make sure that that content gets to their targets? What’s the best way to do that? Is it through social media as another tool?
Rex: When we start talking about tools, it’s all of the above. Really, we’ve got this incredible array of tools for both the creation of content and the distribution of content that we would argue that trying to understand the objective of your customer — what are you trying to help your customer be better at — is the goal in serving and growing your customer base.
Try to find something that will help them do their job. If you’re selling cameras to help them be better photographers, that’s what you should be focusing your content. Once you determine what that objective is and how you’re trying to serve your client base, that will dictate the tools that you use.
Some markets are very guide and reference book-oriented, others are very comfortable with webinars or online training. We even have those clients that have offline events, meetings, and conferences that are really the content. The leads are generated online, but the actual event and content takes place in person.
Kevin: Let’s assume for a minute that you’re a company. You’ve got a great webinar or a great e-book, some piece of content that’s really outstanding. What advice do you give those companies to make sure that they can help convert those targets into actual prospects and leads?
Rex: If you’re going to be in the content marketing business, and frankly, I think all companies have to be in the content marketing business, that’s where you’re going to have to do what you said first. It’s going to have to be great content. It’s going to have to address a need that the customer and the potential customer has, and then you have to market it and promote it, just like a competitor would.
Now that you’re in the publishing or media business, you’re going to have to look and see how books and e-books are being promoted these days and how seminars and training are promoted these days.
Again, it’s really all of the above. You work your own list. You do use social media. You constantly look for ways to invite the people that already like the kind of content you do, to share it with others, to pass it along. You make it very easy for them to do.
We literally have this incredible array of tools at our disposal today. Crafting the right mix of them really depends specifically on both the audience and the objective you’re after.
Kevin: That’s interesting because you just said that every business should really be in the business of content marketing, yet on your own website you say, “Content isn’t king,” which to me sounds a little bit like two fundamentally opposed ideas. How do you explain that?
Rex: There’s an “and” to that sentence. I say that content isn’t king because what is really king is the relationship between the company and its customer. Also, the king are the people who have the talent to create the compelling content that will help serve those customers better.
Obviously, I’m in the content and customer media business and content marketing for the last 25 years. I’ve seen an alarming trend, I guess, in the last 10 years of people thinking all content is the same. As long as you get the certain number of keywords in it and as long as you fill up this bucket of content, then you have accomplished something.
More and more it’s becoming not just content, this king, but those who really understand how it can be used to most effectively serve the bottom line of a company.
Kevin: Rex, I mentioned at the beginning of the podcast that you’re a pretty active blogger and people can follow you on RexBlog.com. Is there another way that our listeners can get in touch with you?
Rex: That’s the best way. It’s kind of funny, as we are having this interview, I had a little bit of a blip. I’ve had the wonderful Twitter user name @R for a long time and have many, many thousands of followers on it. A very creative person, I’m going to say nice things about them, was able to hijack that account.
Rex: Actually, the Twitter folks have been very helpful and that’ll come back, so look at @R and RexBlog. I have blogged for 12 years as my platform and that’s where I really share, not just the work that I do, which it does focus a lot on that, but also it shares a little bit of my personal life. I do write about my kids sometimes, but not quite often, but where I live and where I travel, and the things I enjoy doing, the passions that I have. I always try to recommend that blogs have personality so I guess that just comes out of the way that is more natural for me. It’s me.
Kevin: Rex, thank you so much for joining us today. We really appreciate your time and look forward to speaking with you again.
Rex: Kevin, I really appreciate it and look forward to that as well.
Kevin: Great. Thanks.