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Transcript of How Businesses Can Survive the Latest Marketing Rebellion

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John Jantsch: If you’ve been in marketing any time at all, you’ve lived through some seismic shifts or rebellions in the things that have come along. The internet, search, social media, all these things have changed how we go to market. And there’s a new marketing rebellion; quite frankly, the thing that has changed the most is the way people buy. In this episode of The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, a visit with Mark Schaefer. He’s the author of Marketing Rebellion: The Most Human Company Wins.

Hello and welcome to another episode of The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is your host, John Jantsch, and my guest today is Mark Schaefer. He is a columnist, teacher, speaker, author, podcaster, and we’re going to talk about his latest book, Marketing Rebellion: The Most Human Company Wins. So, Mark, thanks for joining us.

Mark Schaefer: Oh, it’s always a delight to catch up with you, John.

John Jantsch: Well, I think you and Tom Webster have a show. Is it still called The Marketing Companion? Forgive me if that’s not right.

Mark Schaefer: Yes.

John Jantsch: Yes.

Mark Schaefer: Yeah, Marketing Companion, sure.

John Jantsch: And I was … I got to be on your show, which was a lot of fun, and I said off-air and I’ll say it now on the air, you guys are a lot funnier than me. I really enjoy some of the pranks and the gags that you guys come up with. You give that a lot of thought and make it a lot of fun.

Mark Schaefer: Well, we try to be entertaining, that’s sort of our thing. And I’d like to take credit for it, but Tom is just hilarious, so we kind of go with that.

John Jantsch: He has a unique point of view, doesn’t he?

Mark Schaefer: So funny, so funny.

John Jantsch: So, you and I have been … I’ll just tell people this, my listeners know this, but you and I have been doing this for like 30 years or so in some capacity in marketing. And I’d like to be the first to say that this is not the first rebellion that I’ve participated in in marketing.

Mark Schaefer: Right.

John Jantsch: I mean, if you think about it, I mean, there’s a whole bunch of mini-rebellions, right? I mean, the internet certainly changed marketing, search dependency changed it, the fact that we can now collaborate and do business all over the globe changed it, social media came and changed it again. And now, what’s the marketing rebellion that we’re facing today?

Mark Schaefer: Well, I think you set it up very good, John, is that there’s almost been like a continuous rebellion. But the thing about it, you can either be fearful about it or you can say, “This is a lot of fun.” And I remember all those rebellions, especially the internet, and I kind of point that out as the second rebellion. So the first rebellion was sort of in the 1920s, 1930s, when advertising and marketing just started, and advertising at the beginning basically was lies. And so there was a rebellion against lies, and it became eventually a crime to lie in your advertising.

Then the second rebellion, I was in the middle of that because the internet came. Back before the internet, you made money on the secrets. That’s how you sold a car, that’s how you sold insurance, and then … I can remember those days, and I don’t know if any of your listeners will remember, there was this thing called a reverse auction, and some of these commodity buyers used the internet to get all their suppliers online, and then bid against each other in real time on the internet. It was terrifying, it was crazy, because basically, negotiations were over, because secrets were over.

And so that was … I lump the whole internet thing, social media, into this idea of … It was the end of secrets. And today, the rebellion that we’re in is the end of control. For me, this is really hard to accept, it’s hard to get my head around it. And I’ll remember there was this piece of research that I read from McKinsey that basically was saying, “The sales funnel is gone, loyalty is over. It’s a waste of money to spend money on loyalty programs anymore.” And I’m reading this, I’m thinking, “I’ve been in marketing more than 30 years. This is what I do.” But there’s a … And it’s not just McKinsey, it’s all over.

The research is compelling, and many of your listeners are probably right in the middle of it, that we’re in a shop-around society. People own the customer journey. The customers are the marketers now, because when you and I were growing up in business, we controlled the message, because an ad or some sort of marketing program, that’s the only way customers could learn about us. Today, they learn from each other, they share with each other, and that’s what they believe, that’s what they trust, and that’s what works.

And so this suggests that for marketers today, we have to think about, how do we become invited to those conversations? The messaging, the control, the sales funnel isn’t working like it used to. Certainly, ads don’t work like they used to. How do you thrive and survive in this environment when the customer is the marketer, the customer is in control? And that’s the challenge I present with the book.

John Jantsch: Before we get to how, I mean, let’s put this out there. Everyone except a cynical marketer is probably going to suggest this is better for the customer.

Mark Schaefer: Oh, absolutely. One of the points I make in the book is that the customers have always won these rebellions. When the customers said, “No more lies,” then there were laws that were made, and when they said, “No more secrets,” I mean, there are no more secrets. And the customers are basically saying, “Respect us. We don’t … Stop the spam, stop the robocalling, stop the email blasts, stop the lead nurturing and all this stuff that we hate. Just stop it.”

And look, you know, the thing about technology and a lot of these things that have caused these problems is it’s so intoxicating. That’s not because technology is bad, it’s because technology is good. It’s so easy, it’s so cheap, and it’s so easy to think, “Oh, just for $9.99, we can get a list of a million emails and blast all these people, and if we just get one sales, it’s going to pay it off.” And that’s sort of the way marketing churns today, and every time we do that, we’re isolating ourselves, we’re disenfranchising ourselves from customers, and the customers don’t want it, and they’re going to win. Eventually, they’re going to win, so we need to be proactive about this and think about, how do we change our mindset, change our culture to adopt and really serve customers in the way they want to be served?

John Jantsch: I’ve heard you say this comment, and this has got to just … In fact, I know it does. It’s so counterintuitive, it runs so counter to how people think about marketing their businesses that they’re having trouble wrapping their heads around it. And the statement is that two-thirds of our marketing is not our marketing.

Mark Schaefer: Well, it’s undeniable. And I know that this is a controversial opinion, but I back everything up in the book with research, and this was a study, believe it or not, that first came out in 2009. And when it came out, it really sort of shook the rafters of the business world, and then it kind of went away. And then, as you see how the world plays out, you sort of see this happening. And then I saw research from Deloitte and from Accenture and from Pew about how this sales funnel is going away, and how it’s changing.

And then McKinsey came out with sort of an updated study, and they identified, oh, I think it … I can’t remember the exact number. I want to say it was 135,000 customer journeys they analyzed, and they basically said that, look, the marketing and advertising is having very little impact, that the customer owns the journey, and no two are alike. And recent research from Google, Google has put out a few white papers in the last 6 to 12 months that have basically said the same thing. Even on search, even when people are looking for the same thing, it’s a tangled mess. There is no lockstep customer journey. There is no sales funnel anymore.

And of course, one of the things I emphasize in the book is, look, there are always exceptions. Some businesses and some industries are different from others. But this was across … McKinsey said they looked at 80 different industries, and they said in 90% of the cases, there is no loyalty, there is no … There’s basically no sales funnel to speak of, and there’s no loyalty. And I’m in the same place you are. I’m in the same place your listeners were. This is, like, shaking me to the core. There was literally a point, John, when I was researching this book, where I almost kind of lost my breath and just sat there and thought, “I don’t know what it means to be a marketer anymore.”

This requires … If you look at what’s going on, if you look at this research, it requires a radically different mindset, a radically different approach. It redefines what it means to be a marketer today, and it took me a while to accept that.

John Jantsch: One of the things about research studies that … You know, I don’t care who’s doing it, McKinsey or whoever’s doing it. I think there’s a bias that’s hard to measure, and here’s what I mean by that, that they talk about, you know, “Across industries, 17% of customers are loyal, and investing in sales funnels and loyalty programs is a waste of time.” Now, is that because of the way we’re doing them, that we’re wasting our time? And I guess what my contention is, is there a way to do what we might … I mean, is there a way to create customer loyalty that’s so radically different than what we’re doing today and calling customer loyalty, that would actually drive those numbers up? We all know companies, I’m sure you have companies that you’re extremely loyal to, and I am as well, because they do things so differently. And I wonder if a lot of these surveys just measure the fact that there’s a lot of crap marketing.

Mark Schaefer: Well, that’s exactly what it’s measuring. That’s precisely what it’s saying. And there was a clue in that McKinsey study, and they said the reason this is happening is because there’s no longer any emotional attachment to these brands, and people are forming … You know, trust, this is a well-known study by Edelman, the Trust Barometer that they come out with every year, and trust in businesses, brands, and advertising has declined 10 years in a row.

But who do people trust? They trust each other, they trust their neighbors, they trust industry experts. Trust in entrepreneurs, by the way, is very high. And a lot of people roll their eyes when you talk about influencers, but influencers are simply people on the web who are trusted and beloved, and people look at them as if they’re friends. I’m sure you experience this. You may not consider yourself a, you know, air quote, unquote, “influencer,” but people who you don’t even know probably leave you comments and say, “John, I really trust your advice, I love your books. You influenced my business and my life.”

It’s this idea that we have to become part of these conversations, but you can’t really buy your way in like you used to. You know, 20 or 25 years ago, you could buy your way in, because advertising was the only way people had to really discover your product, or have discussions about your product. But today, people have all the power in the palm of their hand. It used to be a brand was something we told you, a company told you, and today a brand is what people tell each other. And so we’ve got to find a way to embed ourselves in those conversations, and there’s lots of ideas in the book on how to do that.

John Jantsch: So, the subtitle of the book, The Most Human Company Wins.

Mark Schaefer: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Jantsch: You know, there was a point in time in one of these past rebellions where social media was actually supposed to make that happen. What happened?

Mark Schaefer: Well, you and I were there at the beginning, and what happened was, I think at first, companies did get it, and they really embraced it, and it was like this amazing thing that happened, that customers were talking back. And companies thought, “Well, okay, we’ll try that, we’ll talk back, we’ll join these conversations,” and there were real people having real conversations. And then companies kind of did what they always do, they’re like, “Oh, well, we can make this simpler because we can automate things, and we can create these algorithms.” And the human voice was replaced with personas, and the heart and the compassion of our human voices were replaced by these soulless messages, and social media today has sort of been a way to just become another form of advertising and weaponizing influencers, and that’s about it.

The only companies that are having some sort of substantial, meaningful impact on social media are the ones that are sort of reclaiming a human voice, and not an advertising agency providing legally approved snarky quips. I think people are getting tired of that. I think that hopefully that phase is going to be over soon. It just looks like a company trying too hard. People can sense that, they can sniff out a fake in 280 characters. Basically, companies just try to automate everything. They try to cut costs, try to cut the humans out of it, in search of the marketing easy button, “Let’s use technology.” And those days are over, they just are. It’s not a message that’s easy to hear, but that’s not what’s going to work anymore.

John Jantsch: A mutual friend of ours, Jay Baer, has a new book called … Or, fairly new book called Talk Triggers. I know you’re aware of it, and I had Jay on the show, and he mentioned me on the YouTube broadcast today, so I have to throw him a bone, so that’s why I’m working him into today’s show. No, but, you know, one of the things about that book is that he’s saying we have to create these moments to get people to talk about us.

Mark Schaefer: Yeah.

John Jantsch: And if you read through the book, the moments are all human-centered.

Mark Schaefer: Yeah.

John Jantsch: You know, it’s not because somebody had, like, red in their logo that people are talking about it, it’s they did something that was exceptional and surprising.

Mark Schaefer: Something that’s conversational, something that will spark, something that delights people and surprises them. And I think Jay and I sort of do this dance together, from really the beginning. We’re sort of thinking about the same things, we’re sort of thinking of … We both enjoy thinking about what’s next, and how all these pieces come together, and in many ways, our two books are companion pieces. I spend quite a bit of time in my book talking about word-of-mouth marketing, without getting into the tactical piece that Jay covers in his book. So I think they’re 100% compatible. I talk about the larger trend of what the heck is going on, and why we need to do this, and then you can pick up Jay’s book and say, “Oh, yeah, okay, now I see what Mark’s talking about.”

John Jantsch: One of my favorite lines in your book, or it’s actually, I think it’s a subhead, is that “the greatest companies make fans of their fans.” How do we do that?

Mark Schaefer: Yeah, you know, John, I was so, so fortunate in this book to interview some of the greatest marketers, and that quote came from a marketing hero of mine, Fabio Tambosi. He was with Nike, he’s now with Adidas in Germany. And this part of the book talks about how marketing has to become artisanal. It’s not the perfect word, but marketing almost has to be, appear like it’s local, like it’s craftsmanlike, like it’s part of the local community, it has personality, and that you have to be fans of your fans on a local level. People don’t believe companies anymore. You know, people that say, “Oh, look at us, we’ve stopped polluting. Oh, look at us, we’ve hired more women.” This is basically saying, “Look at us, we’re normal.”

John Jantsch: Or “We’re not as screwed up as we used to be.”

Mark Schaefer: Yeah. “Look, we’ve stopped being bad.” That’s not marketing, all right? What people what to see is that they want to see what you’re doing that impacts me and my community. And another great quote in the book from Fabio is that today, you can’t be in a community. You have to be of a community. You have to be down in the streets, in the neighborhoods. You have to relate to people on a local level. You have to be a fan of your fans, you have to be where the work and the action is actually happening. Marketing takes place in meetings and at the tip of a shovel.

And I’ll tell you, it’s extraordinarily hard for a big company to do that, and you can see these cataclysmic shifts going on right now, with companies like Procter & Gamble, that they know they’ve got to be doing this. And some are going to win, and some are going to lose, but everybody has to pay attention. Everybody has to know about these trends and make up their own minds about what it means for your own business.

John Jantsch: You tell some good stories and good examples of brands that you think are doing it right. I’m going to go out on a limb here, this is not very manly what I’m getting ready to say, but I don’t get YETI.

Mark Schaefer: I don’t get YETI either. I don’t.

John Jantsch: But yet you can go into a gift store and they’ve got them, the hardware store’s got them, the fishing tackle store’s got them. I mean, people are nuts about them.

Mark Schaefer: Well, and for your listeners, especially your listeners who are outside of America, I mean, YETI is this … It started out as a premium cooler. So, you could buy a cooler for your ice, probably for $29; they’re selling these things for $400, and they’ve just introduced a $1,300 cooler. And they’ve now extended into other products like coffee mugs, and … So, I live in an area of America that enjoys hunting and fishing, you know, there’s a lot of outdoorsmen here, and I started noticing people wearing hats and putting even stickers on their car that say YETI. And I thought, “Isn’t that a cooler?” It’s a cooler, it’s a freaking ice cooler. Why are people supporting this brand?

So, the story in the book is absolutely fascinating, and I love it, because it shows how you can even take a commodity product like an ice cooler and truly, sincerely build a community of emotional support and love for a cooler. But the same lesson applies, John. They are not in a community; they are not participating in some community. They are of the community. They are outdoorsmen. Everything they do lives and breathes outdoors, you know, people who love the outdoors. So it’s a great, great inspirational case study. I still could never bring myself to wear a hat that promotes a cooler. That is not part of my personal value set. But thousands and thousands of people are doing it, the brand has become a sensation, and it’s a great example, a perfect example of how to win in the marketing rebellion.

John Jantsch: Well, and I think you could safely say they’re no longer selling coolers.

Mark Schaefer: They’re selling a lifestyle, really. I mean, that’s … Marketing is emotion, it’s always been emotion. But here’s the difference: In the old days, we used to build an emotion to a product, because it worked really well, or because our parents used it, or because maybe we like the smell. And of course, it still works that way to some extent. But today, we build these emotional attachments to people, more than products or attributions of a product.

And I think one of the main points of the book is that in the old days, our businesses and brands were built through an accumulation of human impressions, and going forward, it’s going to be built through an accumulation of human impressions. We’re going to listen to people, we’re going to trust people, we’re going to love people, and the products that they represent, and that’s … If you look at YETI, it’s the owners. If you look at Glossier, by the way, I think Glossier is the single best case study today in a company that was built from the ground up to win in this world where the customer is the marketer. It’s a skincare and makeup company, probably beyond startup at this point. But this is built through a person. She started out as a blogger, and just built this love, and built this engagement and this emotion and this community through her blog, and now it’s a multimillion-dollar business. It’s the hottest skincare business out there right now, built from social media up.

Now, how does L’Oréal recreate that? I don’t know. I really don’t know, and experts I talk to in the field who are sort of in this marketing rebellion era with me, this human era of human-centered marketing. L’Oréal is not built on human-centered marketing, it’s built on a huge relationship with an ad agency, and Glossier is built on this human-centered marketing. That’s what’s going to win in the future.

We see Procter & Gamble trying to make moves into this human-centered marketing. I just saw that they just bought a company, a small company that has built their consumer products on this human-centered idea. So Procter & Gamble is basically saying, “If you can’t beat them, join them.” So anyway, it’s going to be an interesting … You know, we’re in for another cataclysm.

John Jantsch: Well, and I think one of the things that we sometimes forget, too, is that a new generation of companies will come along, and they’ll do the new generation, and then they’ll be the next thing, and they’ll be the next L’Oréals of some fashion.

Mark Schaefer: And I think this new generation, it’s just second nature to them, because if you look at the way we’ve sort of automated marketing, and commoditized marketing, and made it soulless, they’re looking at it like, “Who would do that? Who would do that? That’s not what I like.” And from their perspective, it makes so much sense. So we’ve got to get out of our bubble and look at the real world and real life, and we do not have a choice. We have got to make the change.

John Jantsch: Visiting with Mark Schaefer, the author of Marketing Rebellion. Mark, it was awesome to catch up with you again. Where can people find more about you, your work, and pick up a copy of Marketing Rebellion?

Mark Schaefer: Well, you can find everything about me at businessesgrow.com. You can find my blog, my podcast, and my books. And the new book, Marketing Rebellion, is out in paper, it is out on Kindle, and it is out on audio, narrated by me, and I’d love for your listeners to pick it up and stay in touch with me on social media.

John Jantsch: Awesome. Thanks, Mark. Hopefully we’ll run into you soon out there on the road.

Mark Schaefer: Thank you, John.

How Businesses Can Survive the Latest Marketing Rebellion

How Businesses Can Survive the Latest Marketing Rebellion

Marketing Podcast with Mark Schaefer
Podcast Transcript

Mark SchaeferToday on the podcast, my guest is marketing expert, speaker, author, and college educator Mark Schaefer.

Schaefer is a globally-recognized speaker and author. He’s contributed extensively to major publications including The New York Times, CNN, NPR, Wired, the BBC, and CBS News. He is also the author of six best-selling books on marketing.

On today’s episode, Schaefer and I discuss his latest book, Marketing Rebellion: The Most Human Company Wins and how marketers can help businesses survive and thrive in an environment where the customer journey is dead, brand loyalty is gone, and customers have become the marketers.

Questions I ask Mark Schaefer:

  • What is today’s marketing rebellion?
  • Is there a way to approach customer loyalty—that’s radically different from what we do today—that would actually increase loyalty?
  • Why hasn’t social media humanized companies as much as we initially thought it would?

What you’ll learn if you give a listen:

  • Why loyalty is over, and what you can do about it.
  • Why you can’t be in a community, you have to be of a community.
  • How to build an emotional attachment to people rather than product.

Key takeaways from the episode and more about Mark Schaefer:

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

How to Make Yourself a KNOWN Brand

Marketing Podcast with Mark Schaefer
Podcast Transcript

Personal branding is not a new subject. In fact, I suggest that it’s moved to the level of fundamental marketing tactic.

It’s never been easier to create a personal brand – that thing that gets you invited to speak, pitch and engage at a premium price. And yet, there’s never been such a crowded space.

My guest for this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is Mark Schaefer. Schaefer is an internationally acclaimed college educator, author, speaker, and strategy consultant. He and I discuss his new book, KNOWN, and how to build and unleash your personal brand in the digital age.

Schaefer has many global clients including Pfizer, Cisco, Dell, Adidas, and the US Air Force. He has been a keynote speaker at prestigious events all over the world including SXSW, Marketing Summit Tokyo, and the Institute for International and European Affairs. Schaefer has appeared as a guest on media channels such as CNN, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and CBS News.

Questions I ask Mark Schaefer:

  • How has the notion of becoming known evolved over the past decade?
  • What’s the first step to becoming known?
  • Where does content fit in now that everybody’s doing it?

What you’ll learn if you give a listen:

  • Why becoming known doesn’t necessarily depend on one idea or one platform
  • The importance of being consistent
  • Why people and businesses fail

Key takeaways from the episode and more about Mark Schaefer:

This week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast is brought to you by Klaviyo. Klaviyo is truly a game changer. Unlike traditional ESPs or marketing automation platforms, Klaviyo offers powerful functionality without long implementation or execution cycles. It gives ecommerce marketers access to all relevant data from a variety of tools and makes it available to power smarter, more personalized campaigns. Bottom line, Klaviyo helps ecommerce marketers make more money through super targeted, highly relevant, email and advertising campaigns.  Learn more at klaviyo.com.

This week’s episode is also brought to you by ActiveCampaign. This is my new go-to CRM, ESP, and marketing automation platform. With its low cost, any size of business can use it. Starting at $19/month, you can keep track of your clients, see who’s visiting your website, and follow-up based on behavior. Learn more here.

15 How I Write and How I Decide What To Write

People seem fascinated with routines – how other people get things done and the like. While you do need to develop your own way of getting it all done, it can be inspiring and reassuring to hear how others are doing it. (Yesterday I wrote – 7 Things I Did Not Know About Writing Before I Started)

How I decide what to write about

photo credit: Sven Van Echelpoel via photopin cc

photo credit: Sven Van Echelpoel via photopin cc

I have a pretty solid editorial calendar that runs out about a year in terms of monthly focus themes so my blog posts, podcasts and guest content is lined up to match my annual plan. For example, this month’s theme is writing. I also write a lot of content for needs beyond my blog – presentations, eBooks and webinars often show up in outline form on my blog. (Here’s a description of this Total Content System approach)

How I write

I’m an outliner. I come up with the primary point I want to make from the blog post and then I outline the supporting points, elements and resources that I need to add to fill it out. I find that this approach allows me to stay focused and write very quickly. I write an opening statement, add 3-5 subheads, fill in each and wrap it up with a restatement of the original point.

Then I add lots of links, tips, tools and additional reading to make it as useful as possible. The last thing I add is the headline. I use SEO plugin to create URL, title, and description but the headline is there to grab attention in places like Twitter and RSS readers.

I asked Seth Godin, Mitch Joel, Ann Handley, Mark Schaefer, CC Chapman, Ian Cleary and Brian Solis two questions related to today’s post and I’ve included their thoughts here to give you even more insight into the practices of others who write.

My questions:
1) Describe your blog editorial process: how you decide what to write about
2) Describe your blog writing process: how you attack the actual process of writing a post
Their answers:

Seth Godin

sethIt doesn’t matter.

If you had Elvis’ microphone, you wouldn’t sing like Elvis, nor would you want to.

Readers don’t care about shovels, they care about holes!

Mitch Joel

mitchEditorial process: At the beginning of every day, I scan my email inbox. I subscribe to a significant amount of e-newsletters and I use this as my pure inspiration. If there’s something that really pops up, I tend to save it in an email inbox folder titled “blog.” Over the course of the day, if I find anything else that inspires, I also file it there by sending myself an email. When I finally feel like I am ready to write, there is usually one theme that bubbles up to the top and that’s the one that I roll with. My typical blogging time is at the end of the day, but inspiration can hit at any time… from anywhere.

Writing process: This pretty straightforward. I start with the title and just blog. Once the first draft is done, I do a quick spellcheck and glance for grammar. I review the post a couple of times and put in the tags last.

Brian Solis

solisAbout the only plan I bring to the table is the desire to blog and to do so with rhythm and passion. While I don’t maintain an editorial calendar, I do keep an open mind to trends and also the ongoing challenges and questions I see people asking or attempting to address. I keep a list of ideas as they come up via Apple’s Reminder app. For the most part, I write on the weekends. It’s quieter and I can slow down and focus enough to think through what I’m writing about, who it’s for and what the takeaway will be. I’ll then publish the posts later in the week. I don’t however, write against an outline. I go with a feeling and let it evolve naturally. I think about the outcome as I go to make sure that there’s value at the end. But, often I find that what I set out to write and what I end up publishing are often two different pieces altogether.

Ann Handley

annhEditorial: At MarketingProfs, our editorial process on the text/newsletter side is generally mapped out about a month in advance (with some flexibility for timely items that deserve coverage).

We aren’t a news site with real-time coverage — instead, we publish how-to information with an eye toward filtering the noise to get to the signal. We educate marketers about what they need to know, when they need to know it.

How to we know that? We listen, read tons of blogs/sites, and rely on the PR folks we have relationships with, as well. We also practice what I call “social prospecting,” looking for good writers/speakers/story or session ideas via social networks.

The one exception to my statement about us “not being a news site” relates to our research summaries (here’s an example: http://www.marketingprofs.com/charts/2013/10730/internet-ad-revenue-breaks-record-mobile-achieves-111-yoy-growth) and opinions (www.mpdailyfix.com), which are timely and newsworthy, but not necessarily breaking.

On my own site (AnnHandley.com), I feel no pressure to produce. So I only create content there when I can’t stand not to, and I don’t have anything that remotely resembles an editorial calendar. For example, after seeing Sheryl Sandberg speak in Boston recently, I felt compelled to write this (link), because I couldn’t not write about it. So the things I create there are far more emotionally charged for me. But the trade-off is that I post waaay less frequently.

Writing: I almost always start with a headline that expresses my distinct point of view, which becomes a sort of Blog Mission Statement for the whole post.

That headline doesn’t always end up being the one I use on publication, but it always gives me a framework and perspective to work from. This is critical for me because, as someone who started my career as a newspaper reporter, I sometimes find it a challenge to put “me” into the story, and to not feel like I have to cover an issue comprehensively, like a news reporter might. That was a huge shift for me, when I started blogging.

I know lots of people use word outlines and graphical organizers and mind maps and the like. But I’ve always been terrible at that. (Side note: I was always also terrible at diagramming sentences. Something about it feels like foisting math sensibilities onto the mystery and poetry of the written word. Also, I’m allergic to math.)

I’ll add one more thing about writing a post or article or pretty much anything: Sometimes writing comes easily, and the words flow onto the page as easily as soft butter onto warm toast. But that’s rare. More often than not, the words are like cold butter on sandwich bread: When you try to work it, the whole thing ends up kind of a mess.

It’s disheartening. Sometimes you cry. But if you keep at it, it somehow works out.

Writing is relatively easy. Good writing is very, very, very hard.

CC Chapman

ccEditorial: I wish I was more of a planner who would lay out a full editorial calendar, but that isn’t how I work (although I do it for clients all the time.)

For me when I get inspired, I write. Sometimes if I just have an idea and don’t have enough time to do all the full post so I’ll start a new post in wordpress and leave it as a draft. I’ve got tons of these and on days when I’m stuck for something to write I’ll go through the drafts and pick one.

I am constantly consuming content from every source imaginable and many times that will inspire what I decide to write about, but sometimes it comes from going for a walk, taking a shower or any other random time.

Writing: For me, I always write the post first. I’ll sit down and brain dump the idea directly into word press. Sometimes the headline comes first, but even if I have an idea for it, usually by the time I’m done writing it will evolve and change.

I proof read it at least twice with the final time being in a preview window so I’m reading it as it will look live on the site. This helps me notice strange formatting and since it is bigger text then the editor, I tend to notice mistakes a bit quicker.

Mark Schaefer

schaeferEditorial: I have absolutely no editorial calendar, which I find rather liberating. I write about whatever interests me and try to write ahead so I have at least 10 or so posts ready if I need them. To me, scheduling the blog is kind of what it must be like to conduct a symphony. You want it to flow in a harmonious way, pulling here and there to get just the right mix. I want there to be an ideal blend of tips, insights, opinion, and fun. Most of all it is has to be interesting and one way to accomplish this is to be flexible enough to write about what is happening now, not what was scheduled a month ago. It works for me, anyway!

Ian Cleary

ianEditorial: I only write about social media tools and technology and I get ideas from a variety of sources including tweets, subscribers that ask me questions, reading other blog posts and monitoring keywords related to social media tools and technology. I also often get an idea when I’m in the car or working out in the gym so I jot it down or create a task.

All content ideas goes into an editorial calendar called Divvyhq. There’s a place to park ideas and a place for scheduled content. Since using an editorial calendar I’ve got more consistent with my blogging and I’m not stuck for new content ideas because I’m always adding new ideas.

Writing: I go to Divvyhq and pick a post off my list or come up with a new topic basic on a combination of a couple of items on the list.

I then do some initial keyword research using Google keyword tool and SEOMoz to see if there are useful keywords I can target for the blog post.

I write an initial headline which I’ll always tweak a few times before publishing. I try to grab attention with my opening line and then outline what the angle of the story is. If I have some research or a quote to use I’ll add it in straight after this. I’ll then write the body of the post and finish off with what I want the reader to remember with a call to action to put in a comment!

When the first part of the post is written I’ll go to photopin and find some images to add to the post and then I’ll optimize the content for search engines.

When I post the content I schedule it as I have set days for publishing. When it is published it automatically goes out twitter using dlvr.it. but then I’ll manually post the content on a variety of platforms such as LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook, Inbound.org and Scoop.it. I also reach out to relevant audiences that might be interested in the post to encourage them to come back and read it. When I get comments I try to respond immediately to them.

So, since you made it this far I wonder if you might add your process?