Announcer: 00:00 On this episode of EDGE of the Web.EDGE EP342 Transcript with Robert Rose

Robert Rose: 00:04 Content right now for most businesses is not considered a strategic function in the business, which is an odd thing to even think about, right? Because… And what I always compare it to is I say, “Listen, marketing, legal, procurement, accounting, sales, those are all strategic functions in your business, but the one thing that you produce more of than anything else, quite frankly, your product or your service even is content. “

Announcer: 00:33 Your weekly digital marketing trends with industry trend-setting guests. You’re listening and watching EDGE of the Web. Winners of best podcast from the Content Marketing Institute for 2017 here at [inaudible 00:00:47] at Now, here’s your host Erin Sparks.

Erin Sparks: 00:56 This is the EDGE of the Web radio, episode 342. I’m your host, Erin Sparks. Every week we bring you amazing guests to chat about trending digital marketing news and we also unpack a key marketing topic for our digital marketing audience. Whether you’re a part of an agency, a freelancer, or part of a firm, this show is for you. Be sure to check out all our recent shows over at That’s If you’re new to the show, let’s give you the ropes. Every Monday around 3:00 PM, although this is not Monday and this is not 3:00 PM, so I’m completely lying to you right now, we actually go live on YouTube and we want to make sure that you set you reminder, smash that bell, like the youngsters say. So you can get a reminder of the show because we certainly take in comments from our audience too and be able to oppose that to our guest as we interview them.

Erin Sparks: 01:45 Each week we do start with YouTube live, then we actually go to podcast on all the different aggregators, iTunes, Google play, Stitcher, Spreaker, iHeartRadio, Player FM, Spotify, TuneIn, and a number of others. Hey, if we’re not where you are, we will certainly get our RSS feed there. So let us know and we can certainly deliver it to you, but you can also see all the notes of the show as well as the transcripts of this show over at as well as all the news that we go over each and every show. So check all of that out at The show is brought to you by our title sponsor Site Strategics.

Erin Sparks: 02:21 We’re the pioneers in the agile marketing space. They’re our core specialties, are SEO, technical SEOs, SEM, social media conversion rate optimization, web development, and much more. The omnichannel media broadcast, very similar to what we’re doing right here in this studio. And we do all that and market the bloody thing too. So if you want to check that out, we are a results-based marketing firm and if you’re interested in what we can do for you, just give us a call at 877 SEO for Weber (877) 736-4932. All right, I’m going to pivot over and introduce our team in the booth, Jacob Mann and Allie Coons.

Jacob Mann: 02:56 Hello.

Erin Sparks: 02:57 Hello. How are we doing?

Jacob Mann: 02:57 Good.

Erin Sparks: 02:58 Good?

Jacob Mann: 02:59 Rough start today.

Erin Sparks: 03:00 Yeah. Why is that?

Jacob Mann: 03:00 Yeah. Well, there’ve been a number of times this year that I’ve woken up and I’ve looked online, I’ve watched the news, waiting for delays or something for the kids for school, nothing, nothing, nothing. Today we had the kids out for 25 minutes before we found out that there was a two-hour delay because I had no reason to think there would be one.

Erin Sparks: 03:17 There was nothing on the road. My kids got a full day off at school. Can you believe that?

Jacob Mann: 03:22 No.

Erin Sparks: 03:22 We got a call, “Hey, don’t bother bringing your kids…”

Jacob Mann: 03:24 We never got the call.

Erin Sparks: 03:25 You never got the call?

Jacob Mann: 03:26 Never got the call. And I went and looked. They did tweet it out at 6:30 in the morning, which I’ve checked before, but it’s just one of those things, I wasn’t thinking to look for that today because why would I?

Erin Sparks: 03:36 But you get on the streets and-

Jacob Mann: 03:37 There was a dusting.

Erin Sparks: 03:38 There was a dusting. There was literally no ice.

Jacob Mann: 03:40 No.

Erin Sparks: 03:40 It was like a freak out. But this is Indiana weather. I mean, people should not freak out like that and they do.

Jacob Mann: 03:47 Yeah. I don’t know what the deal is.

Erin Sparks: 03:48 What is the deal? The deal show is I would just give you some show notes real quick. Let you know who’s coming up in the next few episodes. Suzanne Wenograd is coming back on the 17th of February for her third time on the show. We also have [Sherry Bonnelly 00:04:03] on the 24th. What did I say?

Jacob Mann: 04:08 You said Suzanne. It’s Susan.

Erin Sparks: 04:10 I said-

Jacob Mann: 04:10 I think you did.

Erin Sparks: 04:11 You’re killing me-

Jacob Mann: 04:12 I checked in here.

Erin Sparks: 04:15 Way to completely bring the show to a halt man. All right. And we also have the Brittany Mueller coming up on the 9th of March. So you want to check that out. We’re also going to be a media partner at SMX West this month. If you see us out there, grab us. Uh, you’ll see us with EDGE of the Web jackets on and let us know what you think about the show. And we may be actually conducting some interviews out there. If you’re interested in being part of the show, simply email us over at

Erin Sparks: 04:43 Set your reminders on YouTube, so you can get notified when our shows go live. So speaking of SMX West, we want to make sure that you know that we as a partner with a Third Door Media, have been able to get you a great set of discount tickets for you. So if you go use the code Edge 15, whenever you purchase the tickets for the event, you’ll get 15% off of your tickets. Some fantastic conference speakers out there. I mean, go look at the agenda. It is full of everything that you want to know inside of digital marketing lanes, social media, PPC, SEO, huge attractive SEO content out there with a lot of the people that have been on this show and many more.

Erin Sparks: 05:22 So if you just use the URL it’ll right you over to the entire SMX page for SMX West. And when you go through checkout and use Edge 15 to get 15% off to see great speakers like Robert Rose I think is actually going to be out there if I’m not mistaken. No. Actually he’s not going to be out there. Brad Getty is going to be out there. Tim Jensen, Elizabeth Marson, Joe Martinez, Gina Marvin, Lilly Ray, Barry Schwartz, Elida Solis, Kirk Williams, Bruce Clay and many, many more. So last on the list Edge fans. We want to make sure that you come on over to EDGE of the Web radio and let us know how we’re doing. We have an anonymous poll running on the show. Jump over there, let us know who you are, whether you’re an agency or freelancer or even a student. Just jump in there and let us know what you’d like to hear more of on this show.

Erin Sparks: 06:11 So we have just a few questions. They’re very easy to do and it’s great feedback for us. So go over to the and let us know who you are as an edge fan. All right, that’s the show housekeeping for the day. Let’s pivot around. We will make sure that you check out the news podcast that’s tied to this interview. I certainly went through a number of news articles today that are very fast paced as well as a Google algorithm core update, that you want to pay attention to. But for now, let’s swing back around to this week’s featured guest.

Announcer: 06:42 Now it’s time for EDGE of the Web featured interview with Robert Rose, chief troublemaker at the Content Advisory.

Erin Sparks: 06:53 All right, so let’s introduce you to Robert Rose. I’ll tell you what, he’s actually been on the show before and it was a fun time last time. Would you believe he has a unique title? He is chief troublemaker over at the Content Advisory. He actually has been a content marketing strategist, advisor and storyteller for a very long time. He spent his career helping fellow marketers tell their story more effectively through digital media. His bestselling book Killing Marketing, which he co-wrote with Joe Pulizzi is considered to have rewritten the rules for marketing. So he’s also the founder and Chief Strategy Officer of the Content Advisory, the education and consulting group with the Content Marketing Institute, who we love and we certainly want to go out there this coming year, to the awards there.

Erin Sparks: 07:44 He provides marketing advice and counsel to global brands such as Capital One, Dell, Ernst and Young, Hewlett Packard, Microsoft, Thompson, Reuters, Abbott Libraries, the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation and UPS. Bam. All right. So he’s also a keynote speaker and a workshop teacher at technology marketing events around the world. He’s also the co-host of PNR With This The Old Marketing Podcast. You’ve got to check that out, between Robert and Joe. They have a blast on that show. So we are certainly a privilege to be able to have Robert back on the show with us. Robert, how you doing sir?

Robert Rose: 08:17 I’m doing great. That was one hell of an introduction there. So yah, I’m doing very well.

Erin Sparks: 08:20 You better live up to it. That’s all I’m saying.

Robert Rose: 08:25 It’s fantastic to be here.

Erin Sparks: 08:26 We really enjoyed having you, last show. It was about a year and a half ago, actually about 2017, I think we had you on the show last.

Robert Rose: 08:33 That’s right.

Erin Sparks: 08:33 Had a blast with you then. And we certainly want to pivot around because you are a continual voice of authority inside content marketing. So I just I gave our listeners the official bio. Now we want to hear the down and dirty backstory of how you came to be where you are in the content marketing world.

Robert Rose: 08:51 Oh, well. I mean, I feel like I should out my best Dr. Evil at this point and say the details of my life are quite inconsequential. Actually, I came to this as a failed rockstar. I moved out here. I’ve lived in Los Angeles for the last 30 years, and I moved out to be a rockstar and a screenwriter. And none of that worked out. So, I got into marketing, which was at the time, much more lucrative, quite frankly. I ended up working in television for a number of years and then was the CMO of a software company here in LA for about eight years, till about 2008. And then I met this guy, Joe Pulizzi. And the reason I met him was because I was at the time when I was the CMO, I basically did something that was really different for this time.

Robert Rose: 09:43 I basically didn’t create an average marketing department. What I did was I basically created a media department within the company. So I hired designers and journalists and writers and videographers, and basically built, and my theory was that I would teach them all marketing, but I couldn’t teach them how to be great content creators. And we turned our little department into a media organization and it worked. Grew the business, did fine. And I met this guy, Joe Pulizzi at a conference where I was speaking and we were basically giving the same talk, which was about content marketing. He, from the publishing side where he’d been spending his career and me from the marketing practitioner side where I spent my career and we got on famously.

Robert Rose: 10:22 I joined him as he started the Content Marketing Institute and I joined as Chief Strategy Officer there and it spent the last 10 years really doing the same thing, which is as you noted in the introduction, working with brands all around the world to try and help them operationalize this thing called content, right? So content strategy, content marketing, how the people, the process, the operations of content in today’s modern world and a few books and along the way we’re still doing this. And now that the CMI got acquired in 2016, that’s when I spun out my own little business there, the Content Advisory, which is ostensibly doing the same thing I’ve been doing for 10 years, but just now under my own little shingle, as it were instead of under the CMI. But I’m still aligned with CMI.

Robert Rose: 11:10 We’re still working at content marketing world and still doing a number of wonderful, interesting things as it pertains to content marketing, and get fat and happy in the process.

Erin Sparks: 11:20 Very good. Well, Joe’ an incredible guy.

Robert Rose: 11:22 Yes, he is.

Erin Sparks: 11:24 Was he wearing orange whenever you met him? That’s my first question.

Robert Rose: 11:27 Of course. I mean, of course. One of the things that I think I’m most pleased with, is now that he’s written off into the sunset with his large acquisition check and all of that is, I don’t have to wear that much orange anymore. I get to not have to wear it, which is yeah, orange is definitely not my thing.

Erin Sparks: 11:46 I don’t know if I could do it, man. I just don’t know. But you guys have a great relationship on the show for our listeners who have not listened it, you got to jump in there. And I’m so happy that you returned back to that show because you had a pretty long hiatus there, between some of these episodes, right?

Robert Rose: 12:02 Yeah, it was a year. It was a year. We basically, when we finished with… I think it was episode 208 or 209 or something like that, which was our last episode. Basically it was after the acquisition and Joe said, “We’ve talked about it, about continuing the show.” And he really wanted to take a year off for a sabbatical. And of course, I was highly supportive of that and what we said to each other at the time when we talked about it was basically we don’t want to promise the audience that we will be back and then not come back. Right?

Robert Rose: 12:35 So if we leave and we say it’s permanent, then people will be sad, but they won’t be mad. But if we say, “Well, we’re going to be back in a year and then we don’t come back, people will be mad at us.” So we said, “Let’s just end it.” And then about a year later, Joe was done with the sabbatical and he said, “Hey, listen, would you be interested in doing the show again?” And I said, “Absolutely yes.” Because for us, quite frankly, the show was really an excuse for us to talk and it was sort of a date for us to snark about the business give a little gossip and-

Erin Sparks: 13:08 It seems very therapeutic, doesn’t it?

Robert Rose: 13:10 It is very therapeutic. Is exactly right. It’s very cathartic to be able to just snark about what’s going on in the news and talk about it and really talk about the thing we’re both passionate about, which is content.

Erin Sparks: 13:22 Absolutely. Yeah. So it sounds like you’re sitting right next to some friends and just chewing on this, in a very… You can tell the camaraderie there. So we certainly recommend our listeners dive into that. And these guys are masters of content creation and insights on content because they’ve been watching this industry grow for such a long time and also seen so many mistakes happen along the way. So you do give on your show as well as in social a good bit of insight into what’s right, what’s wrong and where people should be looking when it comes down to the next steps of content creation.

Erin Sparks: 14:07 But what I wanted to talk about today with you is really the struggles that organizations have even getting that content out the door to begin with. I mean, I want to talk about quality of content, but first and foremost, we are in the era of content production, correct?

Robert Rose: 14:25 Absolutely. Yes. I mean, #the struggle is real for sure. And the reason that it’s such a struggle and the research by the way that we do every single year supports this, is that content right now for most businesses is not considered a strategic function in the business. Which is an odd thing to even think about. Right? Because… And what always compare it to is I say, “Listen, marketing, legal, procurement, accounting, sales, those are all strategic functions in your business. But the one thing that you produce more of than anything else, quite frankly, your product or your service even is content.” Everybody creates content and produces content in the business, but we don’t treat it very strategically. We don’t have an operational model for it. We don’t have rules and guidelines and protocols and the ways that we organize it. And let’s be quite honest with ourselves, not everybody in the company should be creating the content that they’re creating.

Erin Sparks: 15:25 Absolutely.

Robert Rose: 15:25 Because most of it is really bad. And so basically the challenge with this is that content is not treated as a strategic function in most businesses. In fact, in almost all the businesses that we talk to, the content is still created like it’s everybody’s job and nobody’s strategy.

Erin Sparks: 15:43 Absolutely. Oh, let’s go back one step behind this. Because we need to establish with companies that are listening to this, creating content at the corporate level is meeting the need of that of the consumer, the new media consumer now. It’s not enough to have a corporate edifice. It’s not enough to be tepid in… There’s been so many scenarios where a company is barely even touch their social media. There is such a signal that you’re sending to the new media audience if you’re not manning those content production lines, right?

Robert Rose: 16:21 It’s both, right? It’s too much and too little. We get wrapped around the axle, I think in many cases of trying to be everywhere. And so chasing our audiences across every channel and thus trying to scale to every channel. And what we end up with is just a little bit on everything and it’s not focused, there is no strategy behind it. And so what ends up happening is that you have businesses that because they’re trying to be everywhere, aren’t really anywhere. And that creation of content then becomes a total chase. It is very common for me to talk to a business and have someone come up to me and say, “Hi. My name is bill and this is my colleague Margaret, and we’re it, for our entire business, we create the infographics and the blog posts and the white papers and this C-suite presentations and all the things.”

Erin Sparks: 17:15 Right.

Robert Rose: 17:15 But we can’t keep up. We just can’t keep up with the demand for the content and the business. So therefore, in order to keep up, they’re just creating crap. They’re just creating not very good stuff. And it’s not their fault. They’re very talented writers and designers and creators, but the demand is it for so high that they’re trying to keep up with all this stuff and they just can’t.

Erin Sparks: 17:37 Well, that demand may be a bit of FOMO as well.

Robert Rose: 17:39 Exactly.

Erin Sparks: 17:40 Just the fear of missing out in that space. So let’s talk about that new media consumer, what do they expect from… Well, twofold. What do they expect from brands? And then on top of that, are they, well, what do you want the new media consumers expect from brands right now? What type of content can you… Run through a gauntlet real quick?

Robert Rose: 18:01 Here’s the thing, they mostly don’t. They mostly don’t have a lot of expectations for our brand. Nobody wakes up and goes, “Gosh, I sure hope that I can go read something about my Cheerios today.” What they lack is the ability to get information when they need it. Right? And so, one of the things that I think has been a trap, quite frankly for many businesses is that our websites and blogs and resource centers and the things that we manage in our content hubs as it were, have become simple buckets of resources rather than sort of any kind of compelling experience. Right? So you go to a website now and it’s like, “Here’s my resource center.” And it’s simply a drop down menu by topic. “Browse our white papers, browse our infographics, browse our videos, browse our content. Get a resource, get a question answered.”

Robert Rose: 18:52 Instead I think if we wanted to actually meet the expectations, if that’s the right way to even phrase it or to quite frankly exceed the expectations that somebody might have about surfing our website or finding us on social media or finding us on a resource center somewhere, is to actually develop something that they care about, something that they want to receive. They want to actually have that experience. Quite frankly, regardless if they end up buying from us or not. In other words, can we create something where the anticipatory delight is so high?

Robert Rose: 19:28 One of the questions I’ll often ask a marketer is I’ll say, “When you send out your weekly newsletter, think about the little music that plays before a movie.” Especially before a superhero movie or the music that plays before an HBO show starts or something like that. And you get all excited, you get your popcorn, you sit down on the chair, you’re ready to go. You’re really excited about it. You can’t wait for this thing to start. When they see your subject line in the email inbox, do they have that same kind of reaction? “Oh, I don’t know what they sent me, but I know it’s going to be great.” And the answer to that is usually a laughable, “Well, no, of course not. We sell bricks or we sell seed or we sell cars.” But we should be trying for that.

Erin Sparks: 20:15 Absolutely.

Robert Rose: 20:15 We should be trying for that anticipatory delight where someone wants to receive what it is we have. That’s what sets a new expectation with the customer about what our brand can actually deliver.

Erin Sparks: 20:27 Absolutely. So it’s not about what you’re delivering, it’s about the quality of what you’re delivering.

Robert Rose: 20:34 Yeah.

Erin Sparks: 20:34 And hearkening back, you were also talking about the fact that if you’re doing so much in all these lanes, you don’t have the brain power or the awareness to just focus on that anticipatory delight, right? Because you’re moving all these different pieces out there-

Robert Rose: 20:50 That’s right.

Erin Sparks: 20:51 There’s no capacity to actually to look at how that’s going to be consumed. It’s flotsam and you just putting that stuff out there because you have to check that box off, right?

Robert Rose: 21:01 It’s all hedged bets, right? We’re trying to hedge our bets against every possible scenario, right? So, that we’d never make any big bets on anything. And so what we’ve become really good at in business is what we call small marketing, right? We’re really cool with putting out banner ads that are good, stuff that is white papers that are good but not great, but putting out a lot of it to make sure that we’re covering all our SEO basis, covering all of our content topic basis so that no one can come to us and say, “You know what, you didn’t answer this question. And so the problem with answering every question is that there’s no way to do it all in a way that’s going to build that kind of great wonderful delight with an audience.

Robert Rose: 21:45 You’ve got to focus, you’ve got to pick, you’ve got to prioritize. And in order to do that, you’re going to not only one, miss some things, but two, you’re going to be wrong for some people, right? You’re going to take a point of view, you’re going to actually have some kind of quality to your content where somebody goes, “No, I don’t agree with that.” And so in order to be right for some people, we have to be willing to be wrong for others. And that’s how you differentiate in any kind of content you’re delivering. But it’s also meaning that we can’t just decrease ourselves to the average.

Erin Sparks: 22:17 Absolutely. So we don’t want to… Not trying to aim for mediocrity. It just happens whenever you’re delivering so much.

Robert Rose: 22:26 Exactly.

Erin Sparks: 22:26 So you guys talked on your show here recently, back in December about content energy, you and Joe did. And if a company is stretched so thin in production, it literally does turn into mediocre content. You guide companies all the time, large companies on their content and it’s really about funneling them, channeling them into writing great pieces as opposed to just covering all of the lanes, right?

Robert Rose: 22:56 Yes, absolutely. I mean, what it really comes down to is where do you want to focus your efforts? Because I have too much money and too much time said no marketing or content person ever. And so when you’re looking at where you’re going to focus and prioritize both your dollars as well as your time, you have to put some focus somewhere. And so is that focus going to be supplying the business? Maybe, it’s sales guys, maybe it’s the C-suite, maybe it’s the demand generation team with assets that they can use. Great quality assets that they can use. Is it going to be launching a blog that provides a wonderful content experience? Is it going to be launching a podcast? Is it going to be having the best social channel out there? Where are we going to focus efforts and be really great? Be exceptional at that place and basically have the guts as well as the ability to say no to the other things, to say that we’re not going to do that right now or to balance the team accordingly.

Robert Rose: 24:02 The biggest problem that I find in businesses whenever I visit with them, when we hear complaints like, “Sales doesn’t use the content we create.” Or, “Anybody can publish to the website, that has a budget.” Or basically we have 500 landing pages and none of them actually are working. And all of those complaints that we hear from content practitioners, what it tells me is there’s an imbalance.

Erin Sparks: 24:26 Right.

Robert Rose: 24:26 The imbalance of content demand against where our priorities are. And so that’s not solved by just throwing more people or more freelancers or more agencies at it. It has to be solved with figuring out where do we want to be exceptional and starting there and become exceptional there. And then adding the next one and the next one and the next one. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a fortune 100 company or a small business, you’ve got to focus, right? Just because Gary V says you’ve got to be on all channels, does not make it true.

Erin Sparks: 24:56 Amen.

Robert Rose: 24:56 You do not have to be on every channel in order to have an effective market strategy.

Erin Sparks: 25:00 Absolutely. Let’s look at another link of the chain here. Is that, okay? Guiding them to focus, but here’s the deal is that as soon as you pull up the tent stakes from some of the other executions and focus on that infographic, that’s going to be the focus of that particular quarter, right? Now, there’s a heck of a lot more money invested in, more time invested in that because that creates quality. Now, the bean counters in the other office there who have no marketing spark to them whatsoever, right? They’re looking at this investment, this large investment of infographic where they’re looking at what they did see before, of all the stratification of all of these different marketing pieces. Now they’re gone. And then they start looking at this going, “What the world are we paying for?” Right? “For this and what are we going to get out of it?” And then you start… This type of judgment coming from the different departments that have no idea about what we’re talking about right here from a quality standpoint. They believe if you stratify the lanes with all this flotsam, then that’s marketing, right?

Erin Sparks: 26:09 So you have the possibility of losing buy-in, right? As soon as you start focusing energy and money at these efforts. So, how do you go about getting that buy-in and strengthening that relationship with different departments?

Robert Rose: 26:25 So there’s sort of three questions to what you’re asking here. And the first is, is that we have to reposition how we look at content. Nobody in their right mind would go to the CFO or the CEO and say, “It would be a lot better if we just made 1,000 different products instead of the three that do.” Because quite frankly we can make 1,000 products and just put it all out there and hedge our bets.” And they would laugh you out of the room because of course we don’t have the core competencies to make 1,000 products nor should we. We should stick to the two or three that were really good and exceptional and are differentiated at.

Robert Rose: 27:00 The same is true with content, right? We need to differentiate based on our core competencies of what we can focus and be exceptional at rather than trying to paper the walls with all the things that we can create. But that leads us to the second piece, which is, okay, well how do we actually look at the development of content in a way that can be reused across multiple areas? Because yes, there is a balance there. It’s not just about saying, “Okay, put $100,000 into an infographic and call that a day.”

Erin Sparks: 27:27 Right.

Robert Rose: 27:28 We need to look at the intake and the production process to say, how do we start combining things so that we have one project, maybe one tent pole piece of content, let’s call it an event, let’s call it a interview with a customer, let’s call it… Whatever it is. That tent pole piece of content that can be pulled apart and that can be reused, repackaged, and ultimately create one tent pole piece of content that can be turned into four infographics, five blog posts, a white paper, an ebook and all of those things and repurpose the big wonderful quality idea into multiple iterations of that piece of content. That changes the workflow and the governance of how we actually create content.

Robert Rose: 28:14 And then the third piece, which is, okay, how do I get buy-in for that? Well, the key is to start to look at your costs, right? The first argument that I always make with a CFO or a CEO is I say, “Let’s just get a common nomenclature here.” Right? So in other words, what is your cost on content? And if you ask most CFOs that question, they would go, “I have no idea how to even run that report.” Right? We don’t track content as an expense, for the most part. What we track is all the things that content supports this marketing campaign or this thing or this sales enablement program or whatever. And of course it’s all supported by creation of content.

Robert Rose: 28:52 So content is quite frankly, one of the most expensive things that we have no idea how much we’re spending on. And so putting a strategy around it, putting that product development methodology around it is a key way to make it a core piece of how we can track the cost. And then if you can get efficient with it, well now we can start optimizing it.

Erin Sparks: 29:10 And that efficiency comes from that content curation that you’re just talking about.

Robert Rose: 29:14 Exactly.

Erin Sparks: 29:14 And we highly promote that on the show. Is that literally, focus on what you do best, be able to create and be able to target a good deep insight of information that is utilitarian for your consumer. You just can’t do it without knowing what your consumers are looking for, and then repurpose the heck out of it. But make it unique enough in those spaces that you can literally move it into all the lanes, that you were before and the disparate measures that you’re doing.

Robert Rose: 29:46 That’s right.

Erin Sparks: 29:46 But here’s the additional factor here is that you want to talk to those bean counters and make sure that they understand that efficiency is the key, is that the savings that is happening from this focus compared to what you are paying for all these different pieces of content that were being birthed independently is dynamically different. Right?

Robert Rose: 30:09 It’s wonderful. It’s a wonderful way to explain it. That’s exactly right. Trying to figure out how we can actually make this an ongoing process, a strategic operation is really at the core of what we’re trying to do here. Create an operation that treats content. And quite frankly the audiences that we’re engaging with the same care and feeding budget and strategy that we would product development.

Erin Sparks: 30:31 Absolutely.

Robert Rose: 30:31 Something that seems to be resonating a lot these days when I talk to larger businesses especially is I’ll say, why don’t we start treating the website like a product, like literally a media product where it’s got its own budget, its got its own publishing cadence. It’s got its own product manager, it’s got its own… And actually have goals for it like a product and start looking at it rather than just a repository of stuff, just a bucket of stuff that we pour content into. Literally it becomes just sort of, “Here’s all of our videos and here’s all of our web white papers and here’s all of our articles for SEO.” Rather look at it as an experience that we’re trying to create for some customer and actually do something with that audience. Right? Whether that’s to engage them, inspire them, entertain them and not just become like our billboard on the super information highway, but to actually take advantage of the medium and do something interesting.

Erin Sparks: 31:27 Do something interesting I think is the key element right here, is that you’ve got to focus, you got to make sure that you spend enough time on this production to be able to really get to some gems that you can create and then repurpose it. Quickly to our audience, want to make sure that you hit the bell and set a reminder for your YouTube so you can actually subscribe and get alerts whenever we go live. Swing it back around. Let’s talk about the operational model here. So another link in the chain is that, let’s go back, the need for content’s there, we’ve got to get the buy-in. You’ve got to be able to deliver the efficiency concepts to those who just maybe don’t get marketing, right? Because there’s plenty of them in different departments, but the operational model is such that… Well, I mean you’ve seen a lot of companies just get production wrong, haven’t you?

Robert Rose: 32:19 Oh for sure. Because we still look at content as an individual contributor kind of thing.

Erin Sparks: 32:23 Right.

Robert Rose: 32:24 Right? Where we see, I mean, we even hire for it, right? I mean, one of the primary requisites of anything that we hire for is, must write well. Right? And so we create content as an individual contributor idea. Therefore, even when we do actually start to treat it like an operation, we get a team together and they’re focused and they’re going to manage the website, they’re going to manage our resource center or blog or our magazine or whatever it is, we have this team doing it. Well, then when they’re off busy doing that, quite frankly, everybody else starts routing around the institution of the business and starts their own thing. Right? So the sales guys go, “Ah, I don’t like the content that I’m getting from the marketing people. I’ll just create my own or I’ll hire my own agency and get content I need.”

Robert Rose: 33:09 And that production process slowly over time just becomes so disorganized and chaotic that it’s not strategic any longer. And that content is just that sort of flotsam as you call it out there on the water and you can’t organize it well. And most of the reason behind that is quite frankly, because most businesses still don’t see content as the core form of communication or from the business. They see it as the responsibility of individuals in the business and therefore there is no institutional process for how it should be created, managed, activated, promoted and measured.

Erin Sparks: 33:53 No way. There’s no operational process. And it also is quite demoralizing isn’t it? Whenever you see all these fractured departments doing their own thing. I mean, just think, if the sales team’s not really talking to the marketing team, but they’re not using their content, what’s that friction? What in the world is happening in that organization, just from a personnel standpoint? I mean, there’s a lot more to content production from a culture of a company than just pushing out the content because you think you’re supposed to.

Erin Sparks: 34:27 Some of the challenges inside of content creation, is really just mining the people of the organization as well. Right? Because I mean, there is a line of thought that everybody, just like you said, are content contributors in one way, shape or form. Now you have to be able to fence them in to particular levels of quality. So tell us a little bit about that.

Robert Rose: 34:48 Yeah, I mean… Look, a lot of this can be misconstrued to say, “Okay well, we should only have two or three people or the most talented people with content. They’re the only ones who were allowed to touch it.” Right? Which of course isn’t tenable and isn’t going to happen in any business of any size. And so the key is, if we treat it as strategic as it needs to be treated, we would one, set up guidelines, protocols, training, education, the ability for those people to become better at it. Maybe not Picasso’s but certainly good enough to actually operate within the business, always optimizing our team as a result of that.

Erin Sparks: 35:32 Yeah.

Robert Rose: 35:32 The other thing is that it’s all about building this network capabilities for content rather than sort of the individual contributor idea. In other words, it doesn’t have to be a reporting structure, right? The content team doesn’t necessarily have to be a separate group or a department in the business. It just needs to be a process and a function that’s treated as such. In other words, you can create a strategy and I have everybody comply with the standards, guidelines, protocols, training, et cetera, to become good at it and to be capable of speaking on behalf of the company’s needs without having it… Sort of marketing people still report to marketing. PR people report to PR, salespeople report to sales.

Robert Rose: 36:17 But if you’re going to be part of the content creation or content management team, or the editorial board, or the center of excellence, or whatever your word for it is, well then you have certain things that you have to do. There are things that you are going to be required to do by the way, responsibilities as well as capabilities that you’re going to have to go through in order to become part of the content team. And you’re going to be measured as part of your personal KPIs on this. You’re going to be rewarded as part of that. All of that needs to be taken into account.

Erin Sparks: 36:48 So instead of actually considering it another TPI report, right?

Robert Rose: 36:53 Yeah. So here’s the funny thing about that. I will tell you. It’s TPS report by the way.

Erin Sparks: 36:59 Oh, damn.

Robert Rose: 37:03 But here’s the funny thing. Once we start putting some of these processes in, these operational models into content, we do actually have a… It comes with a caution label which says, once you start to do this in your business, the beginning processes, the beginning, especially the creative and production of content is going to feel slower.

Erin Sparks: 37:23 Yeah.

Robert Rose: 37:24 Right? Making people actually fill out forms and get collaborative with content and thinking about editorial calendaring and thinking about governance, it will and is quite frankly slower. Here’s the magic though. Once you have that structured process in the beginning and it goes through the middle, what comes out the other side with this automatized structured, wonderful presentation, free sets of assets. Now, when somebody says, “Hey, I need a new this. I need a new infographic, I need a new paper.” You’re not having to deconstruct some PDF or some EPS file or something like that to try and redo it or repackage it. All those little component assets are stored in a structured way and now all of a sudden it becomes a lot faster to do things like content reuse, content reproduction, creating new assets out of existing assets, all that stuff. The speed gets more than made up on the back end of things. But it does, yeah, it does slow down in the beginning of the process and it can often be a very uncomfortable change for many businesses.

Erin Sparks: 38:30 Well, the pros are certainly plentiful of the buy-in from the culture, buy-in from the individuals of the company. There are challenges of time availability and skills and interest. And if you’re too small of a company, these are different things that do pose challenges but get them on board and get it… Just a discipline. Just like any other thing comes with hard work. You’re going to be able to call from your subject matter experts, some very unique information that a marketing agency, hey to shoot ourselves in the foot here, would never be able to really reproduce. You’re dealing with subject matter experts that are passionate about what they do.

Erin Sparks: 39:09 So quickly, I mean, utilizing different techniques of gathering that content, right? Podcasts, right? And be able to do interdepartmental videos or things like that that can start getting a buy-in of these participants. You can actually start kind of just transcribing some of the content and the recordings that you get and then process them with a level of efficiency. So these individuals don’t have to write the content, meet them where they’re best suited to be able to deliver that content as passionately as they can. Would you agree?

Robert Rose: 39:42 Absolutely, yes. I mean, that gets to the idea of what we talked about a little earlier where we talked about this idea of taking one big idea, moving it through a longer process that ultimately enables you to pull apart the component parts and basically make more content out of it. So if you go to do that customer interview, for example, like you’re going to go do the… Interview some customer for a case study, right? So let’s not go for an hour and do a case study interview and then realize two months later that we should have asked that person to do a testimonial. We should have also asked that person to do something that’s a little more thought leadership, that we should have also had that person do something cute and funny for our social channels.

Erin Sparks: 40:22 Right.

Robert Rose: 40:23 Do it all. Think through all of those things. Slow down your creation process and think through all the things and instead of spending an hour with that customer, spend a couple or three hours with that customer, get all the footage, get all the audio, get all the photographs, get all the content that you want and really think it all through. Then when you come back with all those raw materials, now you’ve got so many different things you could create with all those wonderful raw materials that you now have. You can create blog posts and you could create a white paper and a customer video and a testimonial video and a case study and all those things that get created because you’ve thought it through in terms of how it can be reused and repackaged.

Erin Sparks: 41:03 Absolutely. And so slow your role-

Robert Rose: 41:08 Exactly. Right?

Erin Sparks: 41:09 And make strategy, make a plan of all the different things that you can feed and fuel, I should say from that. And on top of that, guess what? You spend three hours with your customer. Hey, you’re making a customer for life there because you’re paying attention to them and they are going to be a brand advocate for you. So it’s a win-win.

Robert Rose: 41:28 Oh, sure. It’s a lot easier to go. Yeah, it’s a lot easier for you to go and spend three hours with them then, and they’re going to be a lot happier with you for doing that than they are when you call them two months later and go, “Oh, we forgot something. Can I come back out there and take another hour of your day to do something else?” Blah, blah, blah.

Erin Sparks: 41:43 Right. So that’s the external link in the chain of… And there’s certainly much more to unpack in the operational model and efficiencies there. But I didn’t want to go one more step. And that’s the social corporate responsibility of content creation. Okay? So we’ve-

Robert Rose: 42:01 Yeah. You’re hitting on my love button now. Yeah, that’s good stuff.

Erin Sparks: 42:06 All this content that has been produced and you’ve gotten this operational model, it’s still seen as marketing content, but there is another factor that society is beginning to expect. And a lot of brands are starting to step into this kind of brand journalism concept of focusing on a topic that may very well not be aligned directly with their products, but they are feeling, they are sensing a responsibility to start commenting and communicating about these particular topics, whatever the cause is. So unpack that from a brand relationship standpoint.

Robert Rose: 42:45 Well, it’s a trend that we’re starting to see. And it’s one that I’m absolutely super excited about, as I just said. The idea is this, is that… So we’re starting to see research, so McKinsey has put out research on this. Accenture has put out research on this. PWC has put out research on this, which says that, young people, whether we want to call them the M word or not, but young people are aligning better with brands and choosing and actually making purchase decisions from brands that actually have some kind of purpose in the world. Right? Some overt purpose, right?

Robert Rose: 43:20 Whether that be climate, whether it be politics, whether it be… They’re taking a stand on something that is meaningful. So that’s a big piece of brand marketing these days, is to find what the company’s purpose that they want to get behind, may be. And it may be recycling. It may be standing up for NFL players, it may be… Whatever it happens to be, your brand will find its thing. Here’s where it gets interesting with content, which is most of the time when we think about these things, we think about them in ways of saying, “Oh great, we’re not going to use paper cups in the office anymore.” Or, “The marketing department is going to go run a 10K.” Or, “Our CEO is going to do a walk for breast cancer.” Whatever it happens to be.

Erin Sparks: 44:04 Right.

Robert Rose: 44:05 And so those initiatives, while great, are wonderful. There are opportunities to do that in content too. In other words, can we start looking at the creation of content, not just to explain all the wonderful things that we’re doing, but actually create content in a way that is itself a social, corporate responsible thing to do, to create media that is responsible. Great example of this is the Barilla Food Company who they have now created an entire, what they call their sustainability index. Which is all the foods sustainability index and where around the world natural resources are being either exploited too much or not enough, quite frankly, to create a sustainable food for the planet.

Robert Rose: 44:49 It’s a research project. It’s content, it’s fantastic research and they’re doing that as part of a social corporate responsibility initiative, which I think is just kind of fantastic. The one that I’m hot on these days and in fact, it was just announced, I think this morning that, McClatchy is going bankrupt, which are local newspapers. Local newspapers are going out of business so fast. I want to start seeing local businesses and national businesses and international businesses for that matter, take some of the money that they’re using to do things like buy sponsorship of the local sports stadium. Why not buy sponsorship of the local newspaper? And set up a foundation so that there’s separation of church and state and all of that.

Erin Sparks: 45:33 Sure.

Robert Rose: 45:33 But start looking at the creation of valuable news, truth, wonderful journalism as a social corporate… Just to being a good community citizen. I think there’s so much opportunity there for great content to work at the brands level.

Erin Sparks: 45:47 There really is, and just to double back on mining your own organization for content, you start connecting the dots and pairing up your internal subject matter experts and the passion that they have, not only for their brand but also for what this cause focus is, right? They’ll contribute. You can actually contribute to the greater good in society, with a focus that’s non-commercialized. Now, you also have a great relationship. Your culture is also improved inside your organization because you’re giving them something somewhere to be able to contribute their thoughts and beliefs into as well. Right?

Robert Rose: 46:28 Exactly right. I mean, in many ways, you look at some of the poster children of content marketing specifically, and the one that’s always mentioned of course is John Deere, right? And their Furrow Magazine, which has published for 130 years, continuously in print.

Erin Sparks: 46:45 Yeah. It’s a really good example, yeah.

Robert Rose: 46:46 They do seven different versions of that magazine. It’s in digital now as well, of course. It’s really seen by farmers, by their audience as just an amazing magazine. They’ve done research, their audience actually collects the magazines, right? They don’t just throw them away, they collect them. They’re collectors items in many ways, because they’re that good. It’s all about teaching farmers how to be better farmers. Right? It’s not about mentioning John Deere products or selling John Deere products. It’s just simply about teaching these farmers to be great farmers. And by the way, these days, helping farmers understand some of the bigger issues.

Robert Rose: 47:25 They’ve recently launched a podcast, which is just unbelievably good. But it’s talking about the struggle that dairy farmers are having right now with tariffs and all of these topical, wonderful, deep explorations of true journalistic issues that are affecting farmers. And by the way, John Deere is funding this, right? So it’s not in their best interest, but of course it is in their best interest because being a good corporate citizen, being a good citizen in the world that they live in, is key to them having a relationship with farmers.

Erin Sparks: 48:00 Absolutely. Just think about what they’re doing. They’re moving into what’s useful for their audience? What does their audience care about? And then being able to just own that space and put it into a nondenominational space that you have creative writers that are digging in deep and doing research. What an incredible value that they are representing to their own audience. You better believe there’s a huge brand play. Jay Baer wrote a book a while back called Youtility with a Y.

Robert Rose: 48:29 Yeah.

Erin Sparks: 48:29 And creating content that’s useful for their consumers, I think there was an app that Columbia, I think the wardrobe or the outdoor clothing store actually developed that was a knot tying app, had nothing to do with clothes. Right? But where are you going to need knots? You’re going to need knots whenever you’re out, doing knot tying in the great outdoors. Right?

Robert Rose: 48:56 Exactly right.

Erin Sparks: 48:56 So there’s the content that’s useful that has nothing. It has a relationship to the brand, but it’s not about the brand. It’s not about building that bottom line up. It’s really about care-taking, being a shopper for your own consumers. Right?

Robert Rose: 49:14 That’s right. I like that. You should trademark that being a shopper for your own consumers.

Erin Sparks: 49:21 Well, we got it on record here, so yeah, copyright 2020. All right. So, lastly, what are the risks and challenges, because it sounds really good, but at the same time, that new media audience member can smell fake news and they can smell manipulation. So whenever a brand is going into cause-related content, right? They can sniff it out and see whether or not you really actually do care or if it’s a spin, right?

Robert Rose: 49:50 Well yeah, absolutely. So this is… Yeah, right. Proceed cautiously. Right? And so when you start looking at your goals as a purpose, you’ve got to be extremely careful about the way you position it and the way you leverage your brand as a piece of it. The natural inclination for marketers, for businesses is to find the business ROI in it and of course they should. But to find that business ROI, it almost always means, “Okay, well how do I make the logo pop more in the site?” Or, “How do I insert a sales message at some point or do in-house advertising?” And that’s where consumers are just going to sniff it out.

Robert Rose: 50:34 They’re truly going to be able to do that. So your intentions, quite frankly, have to be pure and with that, you have to recognize that the benefits may be longterm. They may be… In terms of… And they may not work at all. Right? I’ll give you two quick examples of this. One, on the fail side, which was there was a small brewhouse blog that basically taught people how to brew your own beer. And it was a wonderful… They had 50,000, I think in their audience, passionate people about brewing their own beer. Well, the big beer company came in, one of the biggest brew houses out there, came in and bought the blog, basically bought the blog and was going to continue to run it like a content marketing program.

Robert Rose: 51:23 Well, what they did was of course, they came in and basically issued a huge press release about it and basically said, “We’re going to announce, be a sponsor of this thing and we’re going to have our logo on it.” And all this kind of stuff. And of course, all of the brew makers in this audience went, “No, we’re not. We’re leaving.” And they basically left. They left the whole blog and they lost the trust of their main set of content creators, which were these brewers based on their greed of being able to say, “Well, we want to do a press release around it, we want to add our logo.” And all those kinds of things. Compare that to, and I’m loving this story, it’s just sort of starting to happen now. Did you happen to see the Academy Awards on Sunday?

Erin Sparks: 52:04 No, I did not.

Robert Rose: 52:04 So on the Academy Awards, the winner of the short animated film was a little animated film called Hair Love, is a beautiful, beautiful, beautiful story of a dad and a daughter. And the daughter’s trying to do her hair and the dad doesn’t really know how to do hair. And he comes in and basically they learned on YouTube together to do their hair and he makes her hair beautiful and it’s called Hair Love. And it’s just this wonderful, wonderful little seven minute story.

Erin Sparks: 52:33 Okay.

Robert Rose: 52:34 Funded in large part by Dove. And dove, it’s not that she used dove soap, there’s no Dove logo in the thing. You wouldn’t know this unless you watched the credit where you see that much of the film’s financing was provided by Dove. And that’s an amazing brand story that will get out. You have to trust that with your pure intentions-

Erin Sparks: 52:57 Right.

Robert Rose: 52:57 And that [inaudible 00:52:57] will actually happen.

Erin Sparks: 52:58 And even if it doesn’t, you’re doing the good work.

Robert Rose: 53:01 Exactly.

Erin Sparks: 53:02 And that’s really, really important to get across.

Robert Rose: 53:05 You’re selling the idea. And for them to sell the idea of haircare is a good thing, no matter if they get recognized for it or not.

Erin Sparks: 53:12 Absolutely. And so that is the final link going back to those bean counters, back to the departments that really don’t understand marketing. I mean, that’s probably the toughest thing that they got to understand, is a cause-focused content that doesn’t immediately go after the transaction. They’re going to continue to wonder why in the world are we doing that? But it does have to be a cultural change inside the organization to have that type of buy-in. Right?

Robert Rose: 53:39 That’s right. That’s exactly right. You’ve got to look at it. Not to beat this into the ground or anything, but you’ve got to look at it like a strategy. It’s not just a tactic, it’s a whole thing. It’s a whole thing.

Erin Sparks: 53:52 Absolutely. Well, Robert, I certainly enjoyed talking to you. We do have to wrap up here. We love to have you back on the show to talk more about these. These are key elements that need to be embraced from companies. All manners of companies. They got to understand that they have at their disposal some of the best content creators inside their organization. But you have to have a discipline to be able to mine that out. But you’re going to have such incredible subject matter experts to be able to provide that. And a brand, a company is not a company only, anymore. There is a mission, a value statement and the why of the company that can certainly plug into to causes. You just gotta be careful and do it right and make sure that it doesn’t smell like bad cheese. Right?

Robert Rose: 54:41 That’s exactly it. As I’ve said many times before, not every company is going to have a content marketing strategy, but every successful company’s content strategy will be really good.

Erin Sparks: 54:50 Sweet. Well, last last thing is, we always ask this of our guests, what really bugs you in your industry right now?

Robert Rose: 54:59 We touched on it a little bit earlier. It’s this idea that we have to be everywhere, right? So that I mean, we have to be on Facebook and LinkedIn and Twitter and, oh, by the way, what’s your Tick Talk strategy? And what’s your Snapchat strategy? And what’s your Slack strategy? And all these things. Where we feel like we have to constantly chase audiences to the fads and the social channels and everywhere they’re going. And it’s just not true. It’s just not true. Quantity does not triumph quality. It just doesn’t. And so trying to be everywhere, will leave you pretty much nowhere.

Erin Sparks: 55:39 There you go. And conversely, what excites you about your industry?

Robert Rose: 55:43 The opportunity. I will tell you the opportunity especially in this brand purpose area, is truly exciting to me, mostly because of the interesting things that I think it portends for our business, for the practice of marketing and certainly for our culture. I think we live in a world right now, which is we can feel it every single day when you turn on the news. The trust in our governmental institutions, in business, in just institutions, in ourselves is at an all time low. And I think while that says bad things about our culture, it’s a huge opportunity for us as marketers, as content creators, as practitioners, this may sound Pollyanna and a bit naive, but I truly believe that this kind of content creation in this kind of movement can really save a lot of what is going on right now in terms of the distrust of the culture.

Erin Sparks: 56:42 Oh boy, that’s a tall order right there, man.

Robert Rose: 56:45 Yes, it is. And that’s what excites me. It’s the opportunity is there.

Erin Sparks: 56:49 Yes, it is. Very good. So certainly want to promote a Go over to the website there. We want to make sure that the Content Advisory get some love from the show. Any final words for our digital marketing audience today?

Robert Rose: 57:07 I think we have said it all. Thank you so much for having me on the show. It’s been a real treat. Like I said, you guys run a top notch shit here. All of the things that you guys do is fantastic.

Erin Sparks: 57:19 Thank you very much. Really appreciate that. Want to make sure that you catch the news portion of this show, the bonus YouTube will be up there momentarily and certainly download the podcast and certainly listen to The Old Marketing… I forgot the title of it. Give it to me again. The Old Marketing Pod-

Robert Rose: 57:38 This Old Marketing, you got it.

Erin Sparks: 57:39 This Old Marketing Podcast. I was there. Because it is a really great show to listen to and just listen to some content marketing veterans kind of at the Cracker Barrel, so to speak. Right?

Robert Rose: 57:49 Yeah. Exactly. Thank you for that.

Erin Sparks: 57:52 Not a problem.

Robert Rose: 57:52 I’m going to take that there. We’re at the Cracker Barrel, is exactly right.

Erin Sparks: 57:56 Track Robert Rose down on this Twitter, Robert_Rose and over on LinkedIn at LinkedIn/Robertrosee with two Es. With that, we just want to say thank you so much Robert and we certainly would welcome him back to the show, whenever you’d like.

Robert Rose: 58:13 Thank you very much. Great to be here.

Erin Sparks: 58:15 More than welcome. All right. So please don’t forget to listen to like and subscribe to EDGE of the Web Radio on YouTube. Make you get reminders of going live, every Monday at 3:00 PM. You know you don’t do work at 3:00 PM on Mondays anyway, so just jump over to the live show and if you’re really feeling up to it today, drop a quick review on iTunes for us because we do appreciate it. Want to make sure that we hear from you. Let us know how we’re doing on the show. Go over to if you feel like it, to come on over and give us a poll answer as well.

Erin Sparks: 58:46 It’s an anonymous poll, let us know what you would like to hear more of in 2020. Check out all the must see videos and much more over at That’s We’re going to be talking to… Who are we talking to next week? I think we’re talking to Susan. We are talking to Susan next week. All right, so Susan Wenograd is going to be on the show for a third time. Don’t miss that. And we’ll certainly see you at SMX West, next week on the 19th and 20th feature. If you haven’t bought your ticket yet, use Edge 15 for a discount right there. Until next time, do not be a [inaudible 00:59:20]. Bye-bye.