When it comes to promoting content online, most people tend to focus on social media, e-mail lists, and other channels for online communication. It certainly makes sense, and it usually effective (how else are you going to reach thousands of people within a matter of minutes, without spending a lot of money?)
I enjoyed this interview with Marcus Taylor because he reminded me that building connections with people in “real life” (i.e. offline) can be incredibly powerful too. It’s possible that one offline relationship could cause your content to be shared with over 200,000 people online (this is exactly what happened with Marcus).
In addition to discussing the power of offline relationships, we also discussed his digital marketing agency, why “great” content isn’t always a winning strategy, and why he doesn’t like to “be everywhere” on social media.
Check it out and enjoy!
Marcus, I’ve read through some of your work, both on your site at Venture Harbour, and other sites that you’ve written for, regarding content marketing and strategy. It seems like you have a lot of great knowledge and experience in this space, so I’m excited to chat about it. Tell us a bit about your background and journey. How did you get into digital marketing? What’s Venture Harbour all about?
Thanks Eric. I entered the digital marketing space via the music industry. After attempting to run a record label at age 17, I quickly became fascinated by music marketing, and how online channels can help artists sell more music.
A year later, a marketing agency called SEOptimise took me on as their search executive. I was incredibly lucky to spend three years working alongside two great entrepreneurs; Stuart Tofts and Kevin Gibbons, both of whom taught me most of what I know and pushed me far out of my comfort zone. By age 19, I had delivered presentations at top industry events, and watched my clients earn millions of dollars in extra revenue as a result of our team’s work.
In 2012, I decided it was time to fly the nest. I spent a year traveling around the world, and spoke at a TEDx event in Melbourne about a web app I built that measures people’s comfort zones. After returning home to England I set up Venture Harbour.
Venture Harbour is effectively a digital marketing agency that specializes in working with companies in the music & entertainment industries. It’s my way of connecting my passions for digital marketing and the music business. Unlike many agencies, we also practice what we preach by building our own portfolio online businesses.
What do you consider to be your greatest success (or successes) so far with your online business?
To be completely honest, the thing that I’m most proud of as a result of my online business is the lifestyle that it has led to; I’m healthier than I’ve ever been, less stressed than ever before, spending time with amazing people, and visiting new places more often than ever before. This, of course, wouldn’t be possible without the business.
Specifically though, the highlights over the past few years have to be speaking at TEDx, winning ‘Young Professional of the Year’ at the UK Search Awards, and hiring my first full-time employee.
Writing great content is one thing, but getting it out there for the world to see is where the real challenge is. What do you think are the best ways to promote a piece of blog content once it’s published?
The best strategy I’ve yet to come across is building a strong network of professional allies.
In 2012, my comfort zone calculator went viral thanks to a good friend of mine, Derek Sivers, sharing it with his 200,000+ Twitter followers. Ironically, I find the best way to build a social following, to promote content online, and to generally improve online success is to go for lunch with people smarter than you more often.
You’ll learn faster and you’ll build great relationships. Don’t underestimate the importance of knowledge and real-world connections when it comes to online marketing.
Everyone’s always looking to get on the cutting edge of digital marketing. “Content marketing” seems to be more popular than ever. With everyone producing excellent content (well, some better than others), the noise level is at an all time high. What do you think people can do to really cut through the noise and stand out with their content? (Or, in other words, what’s going to be the next “big thing” in digital marketing?)
Over the next few years there will certainly be a hedonic ‘one upmanship’ in the content marketing space. I think the thing that will make some people winners and some losers is the ability to build an audience and authority in a niche.
Great content on its own isn’t a winning strategy. It can easily be beaten by merely good content posted on a site with a large audience or by a respected authority. Smart marketers are focusing as much on their audience and authority as they are on their content quality.
What’s your favorite way to utilize social media? Are you a “be everywhere” kind of guy, or do you think it’s more effective to focus on one or two channels?
I prefer the focused approach, in fact even on Twitter I only follow 20 or so people, who I focus most of my attention on. The ‘be everywhere’ approach certainly works for some, but I’m not really a loud personality on social media – I prefer to use it as a tool for listening, learning and observing what others are doing.
Looking generally at becoming an entrepreneur: If you had to take your best advice or inspirational thought and put it into one sentence or phrase, what would that be?
Building a business is a great way to improve yourself while improving the world – Derek Sivers [Click here to tweet this]
What are your favorite online resources for content marketing and promotion?
When it comes to content marketing and promotion, I keep it relatively simple. I do quite a lot of email marketing, and rely heavily on my various email lists for content seeding. On top of this, I try to streamline as much of the non-creative work as possible, so that I can spend as much time on the creative work. IFTTT, Zapier, and Buffer work wonders for automating aspects like social promotion.
Buzzsumo and Social Crawlytics are two invaluable tools that I use often for researching what to write about. Both work by understanding the most shared content on other websites, enabling you to use competitive information to work smarter.
Finally, where can people find you online?
Most of my writing goes up on the Venture Harbour blog, but you can also follow me on Twitter (@MarcusATaylor). If you want to check out some of my current side projects, I’ve just started working on a fun project called Qosy, as well as being in the middle of re-launching The Musician’s Guide.
Thanks for your time today, Marcus!
What did you think about this interview? Have you built any offline relationships that have helped you online? Leave a comment below!
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