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115 Utilizing Content Marketing Effectively - Sarah Noel Block

This week on The Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast, Sarah Noel Block of Tiny Marketing joins Greg and Kevin to discuss utilizing content marketing effectively and efficiently.

Sarah explains that content marketing is, “…educating. It's being the teacher, the mentor for your customer, and making them the hero. They have a problem that they need solved and that's why they're going to Google and they're saying, hey, how do I solve this problem? Unless you're educating them and teaching them how to, they're not going to find you. So, that's what content marketing is to me is providing that free value, educating them, teaching them how to solve their problems.”

There must be a multifaceted focus when it comes to content marketing. Sarah says, “It really cannot be one medium approach. People learn in different ways. This is what I'm talking about when I say I consider it education-based marketing. Everybody has a different learning style and not everyone absorbs information through the written word. So, you need to create that multimedia approach and you can do it with a small team. You just have to repurpose.”

Sarah continues, “You can create so many different pieces of content with one true core piece of content.”

Listen to this week’s episode to learn more about how to successfully employ content marketing in your business strategy.

About the Guest:

Sarah Noel Block is the founder of Tiny Marketing, where she supports small B2B marketing departments by increasing their know, like, trust factor by batch-creating one month of their content marketing, social media posts, and email marketing in one week. She's been leading small marketing departments for 15 years and uses her time-tested systems to create educational and trust-building content more efficiently.


Greg Bray: [00:00:00] Hello everybody, and welcome to today's episode of The Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast. I'm Greg Bray with Blue Tangerine.

Kevin Weitzel: And I'm Kevin Weitzel with OutHouse.

Greg Bray: And we are excited today to welcome to the show, Sarah Noel Block, the founder of Tiny Marketing. Welcome, Sarah. Thanks for joining us today.

Sarah Block: Thank you for having me. It's good to be here.

Greg Bray: Well, Sarah, let's start off by just helping people get to know you a little bit. Tell us a little bit about yourself and some of the things you've been doing.

Sarah Block: Yeah. So, I run a content marketing agency where I work with a [00:01:00] lot of small marketing departments to help them scale building trust-building content, starting to build that relationship with their customers, and really getting to know them.

Kevin Weitzel: Well, that's the business side of you.

Sarah Block: That is.

Kevin Weitzel: What's the personal side of you. I need to know at least one thing that people will learn about you on our podcast that they wouldn't know unless they were listening to it.

Sarah Block: Okay. Um, personal side. Well, I have two boys and I also love writing fiction, so I try and bring that into my content marketing. Looking at it through the lens of how to tell a great story.

Kevin Weitzel: Did you name them Tom and Huck,

Sarah Block: I did not.

Kevin Weitzel: Okay.

Sarah Block: I did not. They're Jax and Dean. We thought it would...

Kevin Weitzel: Missed opportunity Sarah. Missed opportunity.

Sarah Block: I know. You know what? I'm going to just try and travel back in time and fix that.

Kevin Weitzel: Yeah.

Greg Bray: There's probably a lot of kids that wish their parents could do the names over again at some point in their lives. Right?

Sarah Block: Dean is always saying, I wish my name was [00:02:00] Max. I'm like, I'm not going to name my kids, Jax and Max. That's not happening.

Greg Bray: So, Sarah, with your fiction do you have one that's done and out there, or is it still a work in progress?

Sarah Block: No, it's a work in progress for like 10 years.

Greg Bray: Okay, Alright. That's alright.

Sarah Block: I wrote it when I was getting my master's in writing and back then I had it on a thumb drive. The thumb drive smashed,

Greg Bray: Oh!

Sarah Block: And I'm rewriting it.

Greg Bray: Oh know!

Kevin Weitzel: You should reach out to Sue Publicover. She is the queen of writing stuff and she can help you out with wordsmithing and getting published, et cetera.

Sarah Block: Oh, that's cool. I will. I love working with other writers. I have a critique group and I find it so fun to be able to get those critiques back and know how to fix it, and it really, it goes into the content marketing too. I feel like the better I get at fiction, the better I get a content marketing too.

Greg Bray: Well, Sarah, tell us just a little bit more about your journey. You started out wanting to be a [00:03:00] writer it sounds like at some point. How did that evolve?

Sarah Block: Yeah, I have been writing since I was like born. I was always writing stories as a kid and sending them to publishers even when I was like eight and they would write me little letters back, thanking me for my stories, but I did always have an interest in marketing too. Content marketing allowed me to merge those loves that I had. I feel like educating your audience is the most important thing when your marketing is building that relationship and educating them, giving them free value, and that's what you get with content marketing. There is no marketing without content.

Greg Bray: Well, tell us then just a little bit about Tiny Marketing, the services you guys provide, and kind of the audience that you typically serve.

Sarah Block: Yes. So, I work with mainly real estate and anything in the building industry. So, materials companies, contractors, and facility services. Those are my primary audiences [00:04:00] and I've been working with them since I started working in marketing since 2008. I do all of the, from content strategy down to distribution. Building that content engine for these companies that don't have the capacity to be able to do that on their own.

Kevin Weitzel: So, you work with any of those big high rises over there in Gold Coast?

Sarah Block: I have.

Kevin Weitzel: Alright. Just curious.

Greg Bray: So Sarah, how do you define content marketing? You've already kind of hinted at it a little bit here, but let's just kind of lay the foundation for those who are listening. This term gets used a lot and sometimes it means slightly different things I think to different people. So, let's understand your vision of what content marketing is.

Sarah Block: Yeah. For me, it's educating. It's being the teacher, the mentor for your customer, and making them the hero. They have a problem that they need solved and that's why they're going to Google and they're saying, hey, how do I solve this problem? Unless you're educating them and teaching them how to, they're [00:05:00] not going to find you. So, that's what content marketing is to me is providing that free value, educating them, teaching them how to solve their problems.

Kevin Weitzel: So, we have a lot of builders in our listenership that stretch the gamut. Everything from marketing departments of 20, 25 deep all the way down to one struggling person trying to wear 15 different hats and getting things done. Do you find that with Tiny Marketing, that you are more of a guide to help educate the one person trying to get the job done? Or are you somebody that can be infused into a company to help them get that process started?

Sarah Block: Yeah, I've done both. I would say about 50% of my clients, they just need me to help them build a structure to be able to do with themselves, the people that don't have the budget to outsource it. So, half the time I'm educating people, I'm consulting, I'm running workshops and building out their systems so they have their own content engine and can take over. [00:06:00] You know, they'll work with me quarterly maybe to create their briefs and figure out a good content strategy for them and calendar, and then the other half, it's done for you. So, I'm the one on these videos. I'm the one that's interviewing them, writing blogs for them, creating live streams and scheduling them, creating podcasts for them, giving them a multimedia approach to content marketing. So, there is done for you or there is consulting.

Greg Bray: So, you just threw out a lot of extra terms I think that I don't know that everybody puts in that content marketing umbrella all the time. I think a lot of people...

Sarah Block: They should.

Greg Bray: They should. They should. That's why we're going to talk about it right now, right? Because I think a lot of people think of content marketing as blogging or just writing articles or answering questions, but you talked about a lot of other stuff. So, how do we move beyond just its only blogging?

Sarah Block: Yeah. It really can not be one medium approach. [00:07:00] People learn in different ways. This is what I'm talking about when I say I consider it education-based marketing. Everybody has a different learning style and not everyone absorbs information through the written word. So, you need to create that multimedia approach and you can do it with a small team. You just have to repurpose.

So, I always suggest starting with video content, a live stream, or you can pre-record it and you know, it goes live, and um taking the audio, turning it into a podcast. Taking the content that you learned from that interview, writing a blog on it. You can create so many different pieces of content with one true core piece of content. That one video can drive all of your marketing for the entire month, creating all of your social media, your email, your blogs, everything.

Kevin Weitzel: I can tell you I'm a sucker for videos. We have a friend, Anya Chrisanthon, that does this thing. Well, she hasn't [00:08:00] done it in quite a while, but where she points at different spots on the screen in a video and I'm obsessed with those. I just, I see those and I'm like, what is she going to point to next? What's the next one going to be? Can I read the word? You know?

Sarah Block: Yes, and you know, even though those are micro-videos, that's another thing you can repurpose. If you started with that. Like, hey, I can commit to doing one reel a week, for example. You can take that reel and break it down into text posts. You can break it down into a blog post, and take that audio and turn it into an audiogram. So, you can repurpose anything. Even a reel that's 20 seconds.

Greg Bray: So, you are recommending, you said start with video. I think video seems intimidating to a lot of people.

Sarah Block: You're right.

Greg Bray: How do you overcome that, I don't want to say fear because fear makes us sound scared, but intimidation or we're intimidated by video? How do we overcome that?

Sarah Block: Oh yeah. I mean, I was intimidated at first too, [00:09:00] when I started going on video. It is scary putting yourself out there. This is my personality and you could reject me, but without that repel and appeal, you're not going to attract the right people. You want to repel some people. You want to be able to attract the right people and showing who you authentically are is going to do that. It's okay if you're rejected by people. I would say if you're uncomfortable, doing it with a guest makes it a little bit easier, when you have other people with you, you're interviewing someone that's a nice crutch.

Kevin Weitzel: Well, when Greg first asked me to be part of this podcast, I didn't know that he wanted to just simply repel some people.

Sarah Block: Now, you know.

Kevin Weitzel: I now know the secret, Sarah.

Sarah Block: You were part of the repel.

Kevin Weitzel: I know the secret.

Greg Bray: You either love Kevin, or you know...

Kevin Weitzel: Yeah. You know, Sarah, there's a 90/10 rule. I'm the 80/20 rule.

Sarah Block: Yeah. [00:10:00] Explain. Are you the, you're 80% the repel?

Kevin Weitzel: No, 80%, 80% of the people I run into are just like, oh Kevin, he's a great guy. He's a sweet dude. He's so giving. He's so charitable. Yada yada, yada. There's 20% of the people just by the sight of my face. They go, man, I don't like that guy. Whereas most people live in that 90/10 area of the world. Ten percent they're like, I don't know about that person. I've got a 20%.

Sarah Block: I'm sure there's 20% of people who don't like me also.

Greg Bray: Well, Kevin, I appreciate you giving me the compliment of that I'm so strategic in my thinking, so.

Kevin Weitzel: And you're our appeal see, so it all works out.

Greg Bray: Okay. Moving on. Back to Sarah, because that's why we're here, so. Sarah, when you go into a company for the first time, they know they want to do something and you are sitting there looking at, okay, we need, a system, we need a process. What do you look for first to try and put that together? Not just, oh, let's make videos, but more about the process [00:11:00] piece of it all.

Sarah Block: Yeah. So, the first thing I do is I find out what their current state is. What are you doing right now and what tools do you have in place right now? So, we can see what they have the capability and the capacity to do in that moment, and once we write all of that out, we can start building out a system. Like, basically run through everything through the lens of, can this be streamlined? Can this be outsourced? Can this be automated? Starting from there.

After that, I'll go into the core content concept. Like, if they don't have anything that they're doing, what can you commit to doing once a month? Let's start with once a month and then go from there on a repurposing plan and building out that strategy and systems.

Greg Bray: Now, I've seen companies, and typically it's on blogs, where you see that they started, they made an effort, they had a few things out there, and then it's like, gosh, it's been like [00:12:00] months or a year since the last post. Obviously, somebody had some momentum. They got started and then it fizzled. What do you think causes the fizzle to happen, where they give up and how do we overcome that kind of challenge of keeping it going?

Sarah Block: Yeah. They don't have any systems in place. They probably started because someone was really enthusiastic about the idea of content marketing, and then when it came down to it, they realized how many moving parts there is to make it actually work and how hard it is to stay consistent with it. When you build out that system in place and, you know, start thinking about it in terms of how can I repurpose this? How can I batch this and how can I do this consistently? I have a set schedule I'm willing to commit to, and that's when you start to see success. When you can systemize it and you build it like a machine.

Kevin Weitzel: So, I have a question and I promise you I'm going somewhere with this, but when you [00:13:00] have home builders that can talk about the areas they build or the charities they have or the types of buildings that they have or even their philosophy and a little bit about their company.

When you work with building material companies, how do you make drywall interesting? How could a drywall company make their product, I mean, it's dry, it's a wall. You can tape it, you can mold it, you can spackle it. Yay. On that same note, here's where I'm kind of going with that. When you have a builder that has a wide breadth of product versus somebody that has just simple starter homes. You know, there's really no-frills, just basic boxes. How do they sell that concept? How do they make that interesting and create content for something around that?

Sarah Block: Look at it through the lens of how can I make this different? What is my differentiator in it? It could be something like the way you deliver your product or the customer service. Even if your product is pretty standard, you could get it anywhere. There's [00:14:00] something about the way you work with your customers that you can make different and you can be a differentiator.

Besides that, you can start to think about what problems are these builders having that I can solve. So, I can build that relationship with them in a way that it's less about selling and more about relationship building.

So, if you were to decide, hey, I can commit to doing a podcast. Maybe you would want to make your podcast in a way where you are interviewing architects or you're interviewing home builders, people who would be buying your product, so you can start building that relationship during the content creation process.

So, there's two ways to go about it. Differentiating in the way you work with them and bringing them into the content creation process, so you can get to know them and build relationships and get more leads.

Greg Bray: So, as you talked about repurposing content. Are there any [00:15:00] tips or strategies that go into planning like the first big piece when you know that you want to be able to slice and dice it into all these other pieces that might be different than if you were just doing the one thing all by itself that you want to make sure you include? I don't know if that question made sense or not, but.

Sarah Block: No, it makes sense. The reason I always recommend starting with video is because you can repurpose down more where you have all, everything that you'll need to create multiple pieces. So, that's why I recommend starting with video because you have that audio, you can strip that WAV file off of the video. You can break it down if you have an interview show like this. You can break down the interview into segments where you can turn it into three micro-videos from there, and turn that into audiograms, and then takes those three micro-content pieces, those [00:16:00] micro-videos, and turn those into three different blog posts. So, starting where you can work your way down is the best way, because you have all of the assets. Whereas, if you started off with something like a blog post, you can still repurpose that, but you'll have to do a lot more creation around it. You'll have to create video around it and it takes a little bit longer to do it that way.

Greg Bray: How do you find out what questions we should be answering in our content? You talked about educating. How do we know what to educate on?

Sarah Block: Yeah. So, I like starting with SparkToro. SparkToro allows you to look at your audience and what they're doing online and your competitors. So, that's one place I like to start. It will look at questions in Quora, questions that people are asking on Google, questions that people are asking on Reddit. So, you can start seeing what people are asking.

Kevin Weitzel: Is SparkToro a product or [00:17:00] philosophy?

Sarah Block: It's a product.

Kevin Weitzel: SparkToro.

Sarah Block: Yeah.

First time we've ever heard that term. At least the first time I've ever heard that term. Greg?

Greg Bray: It's like an SEO type of research tool.

Sarah Block: It's by the maker of an SEO research tool, but this one is only audience research. Like you can see what your audience, what podcasts they listen to. So you could say, Ooh, I'm going to guest on that podcast. So, that's a good place to start and you get five free searches a month, so. I'm not getting any affiliate income. I'm just telling you. So, you can do it without having the subscription.

Surveying your audience like once a quarter is a good place to start too, to get to know what problems they actually have, so you can stay in front of them and start building that content for them. Having conversations with your customers. It's keeping that conversation open and then SparkToro is a great place to start and just going on Google, [00:18:00] asking a question, then scrolling to the bottom to see what related questions are.

Greg Bray: So Sarah, when you think about companies that are getting started, what are just some of those big mistakes or the pits they trip and fall into because they haven't done it before that we can try to help them avoid?

Sarah Block: Yes. So, starting off without a strategy. You just jump right in and you're like, I'm enthusiastic about this and I'm just going to jump. You need a strategy. You need to know what your audience actually cares about before you start creating that content, and then starting that content without a system in place because you mentioned like blogs that hadn't been updated in years. That happens a lot, and I don't know about you, but I automatically dismiss them. I'm like, okay, they basically don't exist anymore. They're not relevant anymore. So, I ignore them. That's not something that you want for your company. You need a system in place to be able to create it regularly. I like [00:19:00] the batching stem.

Kevin Weitzel: But what if that company hired a Sarah Noel Block and had her do some rockstar content for three blog posts and then you just disappeared because you're not there with them anymore because they didn't renew their contract and now they're you still going to dismiss that company that has outstanding content?

Sarah Block: Yeah.

Kevin Weitzel: Just checking.

Sarah Block: Yeah. Stay current or take your blog down until you're ready to start up again because it does make you look like you're not relevant anymore. Even if it's amazing content. If it hasn't been updated since 2015, I think you don't exist anymore, you don't care anymore.

Greg Bray: At a minimum, take the dates off. At least, if it's, you know, not time-sensitive content. If it's all about the thing that happened yesterday, then, of course, you can't just take the date off of it, but if it's, how to fix your whatever in your house, that's still relevant two years later.

Sarah Block: Some content that I wrote in 2015 is still ranking, like number one in Google. So, make sure you, yeah, don't put dates [00:20:00] on it.

Greg Bray: So, how much should somebody be planning to budget or invest and I like the word invest because it doesn't sound like an expense, right, the same way. It's an investment because there should be a return that comes from content marketing, but is there some general guidance there? And it depends on the size of the company and the strategy and all those things. I get it, but any type of insights that you could share?

Sarah Block: Yeah. I would say, expect to spend a couple thousand a month on like consistent content and that's realistic.

Greg Bray: And is that with a partner or is that in-house, is that including some of the editing things?

Sarah Block: That would be for everything. If you are doing it in-house and we're not talking salary. Realistically, you don't need to spend a ton of money. If you were committing to live streams and podcasting, like the whole gamut, everything, and blogging, you would only really have to pay for the tools [00:21:00] if you're doing everything in-house, and that would cost like less than a hundred dollars a month for the tools. So, if you're doing it in-house, it could be completely affordable.

Greg Bray: It's all about the time investment. That's the heavy lifting for sure, right?

Sarah Block: It's the time. Yeah.

Greg Bray: Yep. For sure. For sure. So, how do you suggest that people measure the success of a campaign? Obviously, there's oh, how many views did I get on this video or things like that, but when we're educating people, sometimes that can be planting seeds, it can take a long time to harvest. So, how do we know if it's even working?

Sarah Block: Yeah. So, one, look at the dwell time. I think people spend too much time worrying about the traffic and their popularity. If you're selling building materials, there's a finite number of people who are looking for building materials.

You're not going to have like Google-level Twitter followers. So, you need to relax [00:22:00] about that and look at dwell time. How long people are staying on your website? How long they're reading the content? How many leads are coming through there? Make sure that everything is trackable.

You can use Google campaign URL creator, which is totally free. Let's say you were creating YouTube videos every week. You can use the Google campaign URL builder to track how many visits people are coming from your YouTube channel to your website. So, you can track using that, and make sure that your Google Analytics are set up that you can see you're tracking those goals, and CallRail is another great way to do it. If you're using CallRail tracking numbers you're able to track that content to ROI a lot easier.

Greg Bray: Is there anybody out there that you think is just rocking it with this content marketing that you would point somebody to? Especially in maybe the real estate or building industries that [00:23:00] somebody could look at and say, oh, this is the kind of thing that really shows how it can be done.

Sarah Block: That's a good question. There's a couple that come to mind. So, Chicago faucets. They are a building materials company and they do a really great job with webinars and bringing in guest speakers that people really actually care about, and then will actually solve their problems. Plus, they're related to their products, so it all connects, but it also adds a lot of value for their customers. So, they're doing a great job with webinars.

PlanOmatic does a great job. They're a real estate photography company. They do a great job with making sure that their content is seen where their customers are. So, they don't just blog on their website. They blog in all of the different industry magazines and publications that their audience is reading already. When you first start off in content [00:24:00] marketing, borrowing other people's audiences is huge and really drives the traffic your way.

Greg Bray: I love that. Borrowing their audiences. That's a great.

Sarah Block: Yeah.

Kevin Weitzel: Hey, Greg. I'm all for borrowing some audiences. We should talk to our fellow bloggers and webinar people and say, hey, let's borrow each other's audiences.

Sarah Block: Oh my gosh. Partnerships are the best way to borrow other people's audiences. That's how I started building a following of my own is like when I decided, okay, I'm going to go out on my own and the first thing I did was PR-related things. Getting in those publications my audience would be in and getting interviewed on podcasts. Making sure that I was borrowing other people's audiences to bring over to me.

Greg Bray: So Sarah, is content marketing a fad, or is it something that's going to continue to grow?

Sarah Block: Hell no, it's not a fad. It is marketing. It has become more of the core of what marketing is. Educating your consumers and building [00:25:00] trust with them. It's how you create customers. Take them from an audience to a customer it's content marketing. It's no fad.

Greg Bray: So, how's it going to evolve then over the next few years?

Sarah Block: It'll keep evolving. It's already evolved so much. A couple of years ago, it was just blogging and now, it's podcasts, it's live streams, it's YouTube, it's everything, and then, you know, you break it down into your email and social. It's the core of all of your marketing. I think that it will evolve more into the Metaverse eventually, where there'll be VR events and content marketing will go into that and it'll be more diversified mediums too, where we'll go beyond audio and video and written. Make it more interactive.

Greg Bray: So, Sarah, do you have any last piece of advice for someone who's looking to get their content marketing up and running?

Sarah Block: Think about it holistically. When you are deciding to go all-in on content marketing, [00:26:00] think about how you can repurpose it, how you can batch it, so you're doing all of that work at one time. Create like a batching atmosphere where it's like an in-house retreat, where you create all of your content for the month or the quarter all at once and schedule it out, and that's really how small teams can succeed building out that system, batching it, scheduling it out, and then you don't have to think about it and you could do everything else.

Kevin Weitzel: I'm going to disagree with that because I think that somebody could download the ebook, Tiny Marketing by Sarah Noel Block and hit the ground running much faster with five solid steps.

Sarah Block: Yes, I do have my ebook and it is talking heavily about borrowing other people's audiences and how to use PR partnerships and all of that to really build your audience and build trust with that community. Thanks for bringing that up.

Kevin Weitzel: I didn't disagree. I just wanted to give you a shameless [00:27:00] plug for your book.

Sarah Block: Thank you.

Greg Bray: Well, Sarah, if somebody does want to connect with you and learn more, what's the best way for them to get in touch?

Sarah Block: They could find me everywhere at sarahnoelblock.com, in social media, Sarah Noel Block. That's where I'm at.

Greg Bray: All right. Well, thank you so much for sharing your experiences and expertise with us today. We really appreciate it.

Sarah Block: Thank you. It was good being here.

Greg Bray: And thank you everybody for listening today to The Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast. I'm Greg Bray with Blue Tangerine.

Kevin Weitzel: And I'm Kevin Weitzel with OutHouse. Thank you.

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