We're talking with Mary Kate Gulick, the author of The Read Deal: Get known for your Genuine Expertise in the Age of Bullcrap Gurus. Our topic is why you as a blue-collar business owner need to provide content marketing for your customers and potential customers.
We start our conversation talking about Marcus Sheridan, the owner of a pool company who started doing content marketing by answering questions from his customers. First, he started writing blog posts and quickly morphed into putting videos together.
When I talk with business owners, too often they say they can't do content marketing. After you listen to this podcast episode you'll find how easy it is to either do content marketing yourself or find people to do it for you.
In this episode of Cracking the Cash Flow Code you'll learn:
- Why content marketing is so important for you to do.
- What is the easiest way to start a content marketing strategy.
- Why you'll become the expert in your community when you do even a little marketing.
- How content marketing is going to help you get rid of tire kickers and only deal with people who are serious about what you do and the way you do it.
Narrator: Welcome to Cracking the Cash Flow Code where you'll learn what it takes to create enough cash to fill the four buckets of profit. You'll learn what it takes to have enough cash for a great lifestyle, have enough cash for when emergency strikes, fully fund a growth program, and fund your retirement program. When you do this, you will have a sale‑ready company that will allow you to keep or sell your business. This allows you to do what you want with your business, when you want, in the way you want.
In Cracking the Cash Flow Code, we focus on the four areas of business that let you take your successful business and make it economically and personally sustainable. Your host, Josh Patrick, is going to help us through finding great thought leaders as well as providing insights he's learned through his 40 years of owning, running, planning, and thinking about what it takes to make a successful business sustainable and allow you to be free of cash flow worries.
Josh Patrick: Hey, how are you today? This is Josh Patrick and you're at Cracking the Cash Flow Code. And, today, my guest today Mary Kate Gulick. Mary Kate has a new book it’s The Real Deal: Get Known for your Genuine Expertise in the Age of Bullcrap Gurus.
Hey, Mary Kate. How are you today?
Mary Kate: I'm great. How are you?
So, I have a place to start I want to talk about. How do blue‑collar businesses-- how should they approach this subject of content marketing because, every time I mentioned it to somebody in a blue‑collar business, they go like this - and you can't see me on the podcast, but I have my fingers crossed about it, “Get away from me and this stuff about writing.”
Mary Kate: Yes.
Josh: So how do we get them to do it?
Mary Kate: It's a really good question. And the truth is that one of the kind of classic case studies for successful content marketing is from a gentleman who built pools. His job was building pools. And so, he asked about what his clients needed and he started creating content about how to take care of your pool. And that ended up creating so much traffic for him that he didn't need to go out and hunt down clients anymore. So, that's kind of the classic tale of content marketing.
And the truth is, I don't even like writing that much anymore, you know. So, what I do and what my goal, to make it sustainable for everybody, is, if you don't like writing, if you're more of a talking person, do it via video. I am of the school of thought that you shouldn't go through all the trouble and rigmarole of creating any content at all if you're not going to reuse it a million times. So, if you show up live on Facebook once. Great. Use that video. Get it transcribed. And let that be your blog post. Let that be the thing that drives traffic for you. Grab a couple of snippets out of that or, better yet, have a VA grab a couple of snippets out of that and create your social graphics. So, all you have to do is show up for your Facebook Live or your YouTube video, say the thing that you want to say, and then get out of there and have a smart system in place for that content to get re‑used.
No. You shouldn't have to sit and spend hours every week creating posts and writing. That completely defeats the purpose of having a system that works. And you own a business. You have other stuff to do, man. You're not here to be a writer.
Josh: So, when I mention video to people, there's more pushback on video than on writing. So how do we get past that?
Mary Kate: That always makes me smile because I feel like people don't realize how frequently they're on video. And it doesn't even bother them at all. They're doing FaceTime with their kids and their grandparents and things like that because now that is how we are together these days. And so, we spend so much time talking to a camera and it has become second nature to us. And it's like we haven't even realized it. So, when somebody brings up the idea of doing that in front of an audience, there's this resistance that pops up.
So, what I would say is that, in particular, if writing is not your jam, then the idea that you can just speak to people, just talk to them, just like I'm talking to you right now. I mean, there's nothing fancy about it. I haven't gotten up and put on a ball gown and prepared a big thing. Bring who you are and what you know to people and just tell them.
There are a lot of, you know, resources out there for being more polished on camera. I would say that those are not my favorite things. I think that bringing yourself unpolished, and exactly who you are, and what you know, helps you to connect with the type of people that you want to work with and people who are going to get you.
So, I would say don't be afraid of video. And, actually, if you sit down and think how frequently you're talking to a camera and how frequently you're having a natural conversation with the camera, when you're talking to your friends, or you're talking to your mom, or whatever, or you're talking with your employees on a Zoom. This is what we do now. We're a lot better at it than we give ourselves credit for.
So, I would say start small, start slow. If live is a little bit too intimidating for you, then start with a YouTube video. If you are somebody who does drywall and you want to give people a tip about how to deal with a nail pop, when one appears, in their drywall, then do a quick YouTube video on that. And, you know, because it's not live, you have a chance to kind of do it and redo it. But the last thing you want to do is overthink it. You know how to deal with a nail pop. This is what you do. So just tell people and talk to them just like you're talking to your mom, or your brother, or your buddy down the street. That's the way to start.
And then, when you build the habit, then you can get more involved with it. But I would say don't push yourself in the beginning to do too much but start somewhere and start now, because the sooner you start, the sooner you get there.
Josh: Yeah. I would add something to that. Realize that your first few videos you do anyhow are going to really be terrible compared to what they are a year later.
Mary Kate: Yes [laughs].
Josh: When I look at the stuff, I was doing six years ago, it’s really scary how bad it was.
Mary Kate: What did somebody say to me? If you're not embarrassed by your first video, then you didn't do enough videos. That's it. Yeah, everybody has to start somewhere. And we all learn as we go.
Josh: Like the editor on my book, she always tells me - she says, you know, “Just write your first crappy draft.” She says something else but it’s really first crappy draft which means get it out of your head, get it on a piece of paper. Then, we'll make it work.
Same thing with video, you know, just get it out of your head onto a camera sometime. Look at it. Watch yourself about three dozen times so you get over how much you hate the way you sound and the way you look which also is something that happens a lot with people. So, just be aware that that's what happens and how you need to deal with that
Mary Kate: Absolutely true.
Josh: So, let's go to another topic. I have this very long intake form, by the way, that many guests hate. But it's a really good way for me to get good topics to talk about because I kind of find these interesting little tidbits in there. And one of the tidbits you had there was 2021 needs grown‑ups at the table and not fake gurus. What do you mean by that because I find that just really interesting?
Mary Kate: So-- [laughs]. I think I was almost offended when I walked out of a corporate career and found that business owners were getting advice from people who, frankly, were just loud and didn't know anything. That's about marketing. That's about website building. It's about digital. It's about everything in kind of the marketing sphere. There are very practical, simple ways. And people who really love to over complicate the idea of marketing and content because it makes you need them more if you overcomplicate it.
But, really, if we break it down to its basics, what any business needs to do, you need to find your people and you need to talk to them. And that’s it. You don't need to 26‑point system in order to do that. You need to know where they are and you need to know what they care about. And then, you need to talk to them. So, getting over your fear of talking to them is the first thing.
So, really, what I meant by that is there's a lot of people in the world who decided, one morning, “Hey, I want to make a bunch of money on the internet so I'm going to tell businesspeople all the things that I know about online marketing which happens to be things that I learned by taking an Instagram class and that's the extent of my knowledge.” All I meant by that is that there are people who know how to do actual things out there.
Your listeners know how to do actual things. How would they feel if, instead of someone coming to them to learn how to do those things or to have them do it themselves, that they went to somebody who never installed a pool, never did drywall, never routed out a drain and said, “Hey, I'm going to give you my 26‑point system for installing drywall” and that didn't take into account any of the things you actually need to know in order to get that job done. That's kind of the world we're living in right now. There's a lot of nonsense out there. And so, I really feel strongly about making sure that the microphone goes to people who actually have expertise and who actually know what they're doing. And that's about everything who know what they're doing about coaching, who know what they're doing about home improvement, who know what they're doing about their craft.
Josh: Yeah, it's really interesting. Marketing is especially this black hole sort of industry in that it's really easy to speak the game that makes you sound like you know what you're talking about.
Mary Kate: For real.
Josh: I've had this theory about every profession, by the way, whether it's a lawyer, accountant, financial advisor, or architect, 10% of the people in the field are really good, 40% or mediocre, and 50% are dangerous. And that's pretty much true across every industry I've actually looked at on the advice world, so I think you're right on the money there.
You hit on something, which I think is really important which is the word simple. If you're making your marketing and you're making your content development complicated, you will never do it. It's one of the reasons that we recommend - we use it ourselves, and we recommend our clients use it, is Don Miller’s Storybrand framework. It is absolutely the best.
And one of the reasons that people don't write is they don't know how to stare at a blank page and start putting words on it. Having a framework, which is what Storybrand does, gives you that framework. So, now, I can write a story about a blog post, or a video, or anything that I'm going to do in about five minutes. So, instead of me taking two hours scratching my head, “What am I going to talk about?” I sit down with my Storybrand framework. In five minutes, I've sketched out when I wanted to say. And it forces me to talk about the problems we solve and not the stuff we do.
In the blue‑collar world, this is such a big deal. Every single blue‑collar person I talk to or every blue‑collar website I look at talks about the stuff they do. It doesn't talk about the problems they solve. Does that make sense to you?
Mary Kate: It makes perfect sense. It transcends that, too. I mean, everybody wants to talk about their things, their bulleted list of services, right? When, really, it's about, if I'm an HVAC provider, it's not about all of the different packages I offer. It's about, “Holy smokes! Your heater just went out. what can we do?” It's about what the consumer needs.
No. You're completely right, Josh. I cannot recommend Storybrand enough, especially for people who are trying to simplify the process. And it's not learning to write from an academic perspective. It's how to create something interesting that people care about and how to do it quickly and easily.
And you're also right, if you have a complicated system, it might as well not exist because you will not do it. The only content that matters is the stuff you actually put out in the world.
Josh: Yeah, I like the idea of the E‑myth. I think it's a great idea. In fact, I think that one of the great statements Michael Gerber said, which is, you know, many entrepreneurial is our technicians having an entrepreneurial cramp which is true. Now, the challenge comes in, Michael’s an engineer and his system has nine zillion different pieces to it. And in my experience, most private business owners will not follow a system that has nine zillion pieces in it. So, we have to really make it simple and easy to use. If we do that, it’s used. If we do it, it's not used. Well, it’s definitely as true in marketing as any other part of your company because you have not been trained in marketing nor do you know what really needs to be done.
So, let's go on to another piece which I think is really important, which is how much does it cost to have a good content marketing campaign? And one of your mantras is invest in your flagship piece of content. Now, we all know what invest means that means spend money. That's a euphemism for what I'm going to charge you. So, if I'm going to have a flagship piece of content, and I have a business, let’s say, does $2 million a year doing drywall, or electrical contractor, or a plumber, how much should I expect to spend on my content marketing to make it really useful?
Mary Kate: It's a great question. I mean, for corporate clients, it can cost $250,000 for a good campaign. For a small business, when I say invest in your flagship piece, I mean, your time. I mean, if you spend all of your time upfront on your flagship piece, then it means less time going forward.
But, truly, if you put aside five‑grand, you can get your flagship piece of content, whether that's a book, whether that's a solid YouTube channel that's really optimized for search and for your audience, and a strategy, more importantly, for breaking that flagship of content up into a bajillion pieces so you don't have to create anything after that. And that's why I say to invest in it.
So, I think that, when it comes to-- even if you're going to write your own book and self‑publish, it costs money to get the cover designed. It costs money to have the interior layout. It costs money to work with book promoters and things like that. And, over the course of it, if you just say, “All right, man. I'm going to create one big piece of content that I can break up for the next 18 months or that I can have somebody break up for me in the next 18 months.” You can think about spending about five grand on that and that would be appropriate. I mean, you can pay a lot more to have somebody kind of do it for you but, if you're just going to kind of cobble it together in the beginning, that's a good baseline, I would say.
And then, the gorgeous thing about a kind of flagship piece of content or a content goldmine is that you can continuously extract bits from it for your ongoing digital content, so you don't have to face that blank page every day which is kind of a nightmare scenario.
Josh: Yeah. And I'd love to get your opinion on this because I think this is actually a big deal. We all think that everybody in the universe is on our list or everybody that could possibly find us sees our piece of content the first time we put it out. I don't think there's a real downside to keep putting out that flagship content over, and over, and over, maybe not every day, but certainly every two weeks. You can do it for months. And most people aren't even going to notice it's the same piece.
Mary Kate: You're exactly right. We are the ones who get bored of our stuff. And if we're bored of it, if we are sick to death of seeing it, that means that maybe somebody else is starting to notice it.
That kind of classic marketing definition around here is the rule of seven, right? Somebody has to see something seven times before it makes an impact at all. And, in particular, that is back from the olden days where TV was king. At this point, we're getting so many millions of messages put in front of us every day that the rule of seven might be a little generous. And it may be more like the rule of 12 at this point. So, repetition, repetition, repetition.
Also, repetition breeds consistency. People need to continue hearing what it is you do. And particularly, if your flagship content is a little bit chunky, a little bit thud worthy, a little bit big, then you can take different aspects from it and just rotate those - something that could be put on autopilot that doesn't really need a lot of your input as a business owner once it gets going.
Josh: Yeah. And one of the things that I have found-- and, by the way, the rules seven is true in all sorts of places in communication. We teach values. I can tell you, for a fact, your employees aren't even hearing you until you've said it seven times
Mary Kate: Very frustrating for a business owner.
Josh: Well, the truth is, the first six times they don't take you seriously because most business owners I know come up with 19 ideas a minute and their employees have learned, over the years, that they need to ignore most of it unless the owner really gets serious which means they have to mention it about seven times. True with values. True with new ideas. True with innovation. True with, basically, everything you're going to do. It's repetition that gets people to believe what you say. And, frankly, from our point of view, repetition is boring and not a whole lot of fun.
Mary Kate: Correct. But boring is often what gets the job done. The very unsexy stuff, when it comes to content and digital marketing, is usually what gets you where you want to go. It's not a flashy new strategy. It is the grinding of doing the thing over, and over, and over, and over again, or doing the thing once, automating it, so it goes over, and over, and over again so you don't have to be so quite bored by it.
Josh: So, we have time for one more thing to talk about. And I'm not sure we'll get through all of them. But we have five mistakes coaches make and the effect they have on blue‑collar business owners. And the point I want to talk about with this is how business owners know what the mistakes are so they can avoid them.
Mary Kate: It's a good question. So, the first mistake for all business owners is over complication. And we've talked a little bit about that so we're not going to go deep into it. But you all get the point, right? Like, if you have an overcomplicated strategy, you can't sustain it and it won't work.
The second mistake which is, I think, all of you will feel this born because it's certainly universal for entrepreneurs is shiny object syndrome. What you were just saying, Josh, that business owners come up with 16 great ideas a day and we don't know which ones to take seriously.
Mary Kate: And when it comes to your content and marketing, not only is it not immune but it's particularly vulnerable to shiny object syndrome because there's a lot of shiny objects out in our world. So, the idea of taking the strategy that you have committed to and continuing to commit to it, and working that repetition, and working that grind to get your results. And having a particular cadence of evaluation for that, where you're saying, “Okay. We're going to roll with this for a quarter. Then, we're going to look at it and see where we are.” And then, we're going to tweak but don't mess with it before then because it's so easy to say like, “Well, I'm going to do TikTok now. And I'm going to be on Instagram Reels.” And the more we spread our attention, the more we chase the next thing, the less effective our message is, and the less concentrated our impact can be. So that's the big, big, big, big one.
The other one is, one of the things that we talked about a little bit in the beginning is the idea of, “I'm not a writer. I don't like to be on video. I don't like seeing myself. I don't like the sound of my own voice.” Here's the secret. Nobody cares what you like.
You might hate the sound of your own voice. I hate the sound of my own voice. But too bad, I guess, you know, suck it up, buttercup. That's just one of those things. If you need to be out there, if it needs to be your personality and your perspective, it either needs to go out there through the written word or through the spoken word. Them are your options at this point. So, this is one of those things that you just have to. The strategies for getting over it are, you know, exposure therapy, right? So, starting kind of small and doing those first few videos that you were talking about, Josh, and just getting past the fact that, “Yeah, I really look like that. And that's really what I sound like.” But remember, more than anything, this is not about you. This is about the people that you're serving and what they need to know from you and what they care to know from you. So that’s the big one. And everybody's, “Yeah, I'm not a content producer. I didn't get in this to produce content.” Great. This isn't about you. It's about finding your people and talking to them.
So, those are the three biggies. The other two are, of course, impostor syndrome and giving in to yourself. Nobody wants to hear from me anyway. I don't have anything interesting to say about this. All I am is a marketer. All I am is a pool installer. All I am is a bookkeeper. All I am is an HVAC guy. No. the people who are needing your services do want your perspective and they want to know what you have to say. So, make yourself available to them.
And then, of course, the final one is refusal to adapt. And while we say pick a strategy and stick with it, when you go through your regular cadence and you notice that something's not working - it's not getting you the traffic you want, it's not getting you the conversions or the leads that you're looking for, then it's time to make a new plan. And by having that kind of built‑in evaluation cadence, “I'm going to look at it every quarter. I'm going to look at it twice a year.” That allows you those crystal‑clear opportunities to say, “All right. Now, it's time for a new strategy. What are we going to do?” And then, you can start looking at shiny objects at that point.
Josh: Yeah. I would do it more often. In fact, we have a mantra which we like to call fail fast, fail cheap which is make small experiments to see if something's working. If it does, add it. If it doesn't, don't add it. That actually leads right into something else, which we don't have time to talk about, that's agile technologies in running blue‑collar and non‑traditional, non‑software companies, which it was developed for. And agile will help you focus on the right thing over the long term because you're not trying to make this great big project at once.
So, Mary, Kate, unfortunately, we are out of time. So, I'm going to bet there's a bunch of people who have been watching and listening who want to find you. So, how would they go about doing that?
Mary Kate: Y’all can jump on my website, it's just marykategulick.com. Otherwise, if you're a Facebook user, we have a Facebook group that's called real deal experts creating content. And it's basically for people who know their particular area of expertise, whether that's tech training, or particle physics, or pool installation, and they want to create better content around it. So, you can find me in that group or at marykategulick.com.
And I have two things I’d like to ask you to do. The first is please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please go to wherever you're listening to this podcast and give us an honest rating and review. If you love us, say you love us. If you hate us, say you hate us. Either one’s fine. Well, actually not, I'd rather have you love us than hate us. But why don't you do that? It will really be helpful.
And the second thing is I have something for you, too. And it started off as a joke, I was doing probably 20 years ago, where a friend of mine, who was in the estate planning business, came up with this thing called the periodic table of estate planning elements, which are all these things you could do about an estate plan. And I was sitting there thinking to myself, I said, you know, there's an awful lot of tactics and strategies that private business owners could use that would be really, really valuable for them. So, we came up with what we call the periodic table of business elements was my way to get back at the estate planning. And it's really easy to get in. It's about 56 different strategies and tactics you can do. You just go to www.stage2planning.com/periodic and you'll get your free periodic table of estate planning elements.
So, this is Josh Patrick. We're with Mary Kate Gulick. You're at Cracking the Cash Flow Code. Thanks a lot for stopping by. I hope to see you back here really soon.
Narrator: You've been listening to Cracking the Cash Flow Code where we ask the question, “What would it take for your business to still be around 100 years from now?”
If you've liked what you've heard and want more information, please contact Josh Patrick at 802-846-1264 extension 102, or visit us on our website at www.sustainablebusiness.co, or you can send Josh an email at email@example.com.
Thanks for listening and we hope to see you at Cracking the Cash Flow Code in the near future.