In this episode, Michael, Chris, and Beth discuss content marketing for your painting business:
- Why do you need a writer to help create content?
- Are you presenting your content in a way that connects with your target audience?
- How can an editorial schedule help you set a pace for content production?
For more information on the tools and techniques discussed in this episode, please visit http://www.searchprimer.com.
Below is the transcript for this episode.
Beth Thielman: So, it’s not just how to paint a wall, but it’s how do you spot moisture intrusion in your paint job? This is going to be something that somebody’s going to be worrying about, and you’ve gone from how to paint a wall to something that’s going to be very valuable for them.
Michael Utley: Welcome to Grow Your Painting Business, a podcast for commercial, residential, and industrial painters to grow their businesses in their local or regional markets. We’re experts in digital marketing for painters and other trades, and this is a show to share our experience with you. Grow Your Painting Business is a free podcast from searchprimer.com, the experts in digital marketing for the trades.
Chris Raines: All right. Welcome to episode 31 of Grow Your Painting Business, this podcast from searchprimer.com. This is the podcast where we help painting businesses, painting contractors, grow their business through digital marketing. My name is Chris Raines. I’m joined, as always, by Michael Utley here to my left.
Michael Utley: Hey, Chris. How’s it going, buddy?
Chris Raines: Good. Today, we’re going to talk about content marketing and content strategy, and we’ve got a really great guest. Beth Thielman is joining us today, and she is … She works with GoEpps a lot, and she is a fantastic and talented and experienced writer and content strategist. She’s going to kind of crack open what it means to be a content marketer, and how to do content marketing and content writing the right way. So, Michael, she’s on the line right now. Let’s just get over to it.
Michael Utley: Yeah. So, our episode today is how to do content marketing. We’re going to talk with Beth. Beth has been working with GoEpps for a while. What, are we up to two years yet, Beth? Do you know?
Beth Thielman: No, just a little over a year.
Michael Utley: Little over a year.
Beth Thielman: It was a year in August.
Michael Utley: Okay. Well, that’s awesome. So, yeah, a year and some change. Anyway, we want to dig into a few questions today and get our heads around what content marketing is. SearchPrimer, as everyone knows, is for commercial and residential painters. So, what we’re going to talk about, we’re going to try to broaden this out to cover everyone. So, this isn’t just one guy in a truck, going around looking for residential painting leads. This could also be up to a large commercial enterprise that’s trying to reach and progress advanced or sophisticated B2B sales, so complex sales. So, think about operations managers, and writing case studies and white papers for those people, all the way down to blog posts just to show up in search engines. So, we’re going to dig into it. Beth, first off, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself? Introduce yourself and tell us what you do.
Beth Thielman: Sure. Hi, I’m glad to be here. I’ve been working with and in content for the last several years now, and including for SearchPrimer clients. Basically, I got into it because I thought it was … I saw a need for it. I saw that the businesses that I was interacting with and knew of, they needed some help with storytelling and really connecting to their audience. So, that’s why I do what I do.
Michael Utley: Yeah, and you’re based here in Nashville, which is where GoEpps-
Beth Thielman: I am.
Michael Utley: … the creator of SearchPrimer is also headquartered. We’ve been working together, like we said, and get … Let’s do this. First off, what’s a quick definition of content marketing? I think, a lot of times, people tend to lump internet marketing of any kind into whatever they’re most familiar with. I’ve had people say, “Hey, we want to show up higher in search engines. Do you do social media marketing?” I’m like, “Wait a second. Those are two totally different things. What are you talking about?” So, real quick, let’s just talk about, what is content marketing? When we say “content”, what are we talking about?
Beth Thielman: Content is really anything that you’re putting out there into the universe to tell people about your brand and what your brand does. It can be anything from what’s on your website, to what’s in a video, to what’s in a blog, to what’s in a case study, to what’s in a white paper. Basically, any of the words or images that you’re using to tell the story of your brand. If they can see it and click on it and read it on your website, that’s part of your content strategy.
Michael Utley: Yeah, and one thing that we talk about here quite often is that everyone is a publisher these days. There is no business that is so small that it would not benefit from creating content on a regular basis, on its own website, and maybe also in email and social media channels, to attract people to that business, or at least validate them, if they’re being considered as a solution to someone’s need.
Michael Utley: So, yeah. So, everyone’s a publisher these days, and I think of it a little bit like the old Tide Soap Radio Hour. It’s a little bit more like that where people are creating an owning ongoing production of new information, materials, content, et cetera, that people want to consume. So, they’re getting exposed to the brand along the way. So, what’s really at the root of that, whether it’s entertainment or on the internet and how we promote most businesses, it’s usually not entertainment. It’s usually solving problems.
Michael Utley: So, Beth, switching gears, tell me a little bit about this. Why do people need help from writers? Is content production, is it that something that a lot of companies should or could do on their own? Or what is the writer’s role when it comes to a company that actively promoting themselves and regularly producing new content?
Beth Thielman: I think a writer … Can you hear me?
Michael Utley: Yeah.
Beth Thielman: Can you hear me? Okay. Sorry. I think a writer is really valuable, and for a few reasons. One reason is it just takes a lot of time and effort and research and refining to create content on a regular basis, and to do it as consistently as you need to, to do well in search engines. The reality is that if you’re doing that, you’re not running your painting business. So, a writer can really help you to do what you need to do for your marketing goals while you’re focusing on serving your customers. In the meantime, that content itself is going to be creating more leads for your business.
Beth Thielman: So, that’s one of the main reasons that I think a writer is beneficial. Then, the other reason is I think that, and Michael and Chris, you can tell me if you’ve seen this before, but I’ve noticed that when somebody is in any field or industry for a long time, and that’s all they do, they talk about it in a certain way. I think it loses a lot of people along the way. Your customers and clients aren’t always going to be using the exact same language that you’re using to talk about your products and services, and they’re not going to be thinking about it in the same terms. So, a writer’s going to be helping you think about not only how are my customers talking about this, but what kinds of things are they thinking about when they’re searching for this product or service? Can I mention that so that I can connect with them?
Michael Utley: Yeah. Yeah, that’s right. So, we might have someone who gets really far down the road in their own heads and in their own language as a business owner, thinking about how to sell some new technologies for, say, garage floor coatings. At the end of the day, even though it’s a product that’s different than epoxy, the clients, the customers, they’re out there searching for “epoxy floor coating my garage local”, or, “contractor near me”, or something. They’re using that word “epoxy”, even though epoxy may not be what it is. So, how do you deal with that?
Michael Utley: So, you might have a writer who has the keyword research in front of them, and can guide you to make decisions like, “Interested in an epoxy floor for your garage?”, question mark, as a title. Then, you can make the transition to, “Hey, if you’re interested in epoxy, there are other options, and let’s talk about it. So, you can still work those keywords in, but you have a writer giving you the benefit of knowing what people are actually searching for.
Michael Utley: Then, Beth, you said something else there. You said there’s a little bit of a carry-the-load aspect to this. Would you talk for just a second about how we do it, how we use an editorial schedule to set a pace? Would you just kind of explain what that’s like from your point of view as a content producer, and the role that an editorial schedule plays in working with a client over a period of months and years?
Beth Thielman: Sure. So, an editorial schedule, I mean, it’s basically a roadmap. You get on your marketing call, and you set your destination. You want, by this time, you want to be getting this many, this much engagement on your website, or this many leads from your website, or this much revenue from your website. Here is where you currently are, Point A and Point B, respectively. The editorial schedule gives you an idea of how your content’s going to help you get there.
Beth Thielman: So, basically, it’s usually several posts a month. I think that most SearchPrimer clients, you do about between six and 10 pieces of content a month. A lot of that content, or all of the content, is based on the things that you’re talking about in your marketing, your calls, your keywords, which ones are performing well, which ones do you need to generate more traffic with, and it’s just using them in a way that is going to be more accessible to the person that you’re trying to do business with.
Beth Thielman: So, the editorial schedule gives you a sense of how you’re trying to get there with keywords and with content. Then, you can use that later, and you can look at the data and say, “Okay. Well, this really landed, or this one really didn’t work,” and you can use that to refine it in the future so that the next batch of titles is a little bit more targeted, and the next one after that is a little more targeted. So, it gets progressively stronger, I think, as time goes on, and you’re able to see how the content actually performs.
Chris Raines: I have a quick question. A lot of people … I’m just trying to play the part of kind of the audience here, and a lot of people, when they’re looking to get into content, they might say something like, “What I do is really boring, or it’s really commonplace. I don’t even know what I would write about. What am I going to do? Just write about how to paint a wall or something like that?” So, talk about what you do, just in terms of content strategy and developing ideas. How do you go about taking something that is quote, “boring”, or people think is boring, and bringing that to life, and something that people, when they read, will engage with, even for quote “boring industries”?
Beth Thielman: Sure. I think that the key is just to think about it in terms of, you want to position yourself as not only an expert, but also as a helper. You are providing information and knowledge so that somebody can learn more about your industry and become interested in your industry. The way that you can do that with content is, again, make a personal connection. Have a sense of understanding the problems and the challenges that they’re facing that you can help them with.
Beth Thielman: So, it’s not just how to paint a wall, but it’s, how do you spot moisture intrusion in your paint job? This is going to be something that somebody’s going to be worrying about, and you’ve gone from how to paint a wall, or what are the different types of paint, to something that’s going to be very valuable for them, and going to actually help them to protect their home or their business.
Michael Utley: Yeah, so, and a lot of our large commercial clients who use SearchPrimer in major markets around the US, they’re trying to reach people like facility operations managers or a factory operations managers, people who are not really sure what the internet has to offer them, but they’ve got problems they’re trying to solve. How do we get a ceiling painted, or something without stopping production? Or who are the vendors in my market who can do FDA approved floor coatings, because we have to have certain operational standards in place to be able to manufacture and keep all of our supply line protected during a project, and our manufacturing processes non-contaminated, and so on?
Michael Utley: So, yeah. So, for them a writer can be sort of a sounding board for thinking about, what are the priorities? What do we want to talk about? Beth, a lot of times, we’ll conduct interviews by phone with people to develop content because they have the expertise, but we have the writing ability. What would be sort of your one, two, three overview of how a phone interview goes? What is that like for a client to go through a phone interview?
Beth Thielman: Well, I really liked the phone interview because, again, it kind of addresses what Chris was talking about, and takes it from, “This is how you paint a wall,” to … There are people involved in this, and the people that are involved in this are the company and the customers, or the clients. Also, the industry is not really a person, but just another thing to be thinking about.
Beth Thielman: So, I like to start with, “Tell me a little bit about who you are as the company, your philosophy, your culture.” Then I, from there, once you get a sense of who they are as a company, “Okay, who are your customers?” Not just bullet points, but really trying to get them to describe their customer as more of a person. “Our average customer is, or client, is a facility manager for a large company, and they’re really frustrated because they’re spending way too much time and money fixing the same problems over and over again, because they don’t have a facility maintenance plan.”
Beth Thielman: That’s really going to give me what I need to know to create some content around those specific needs. So, who are you? How do you help your customers? Who are your customers, and what do they need, and what are they frustrated with? Again, like I was saying, the industry, what are the trends in your industry? What are you doing? What are you doing that is setting you apart? What is your differentiator where someone could say, “Well, all of our competitors do it this way, but we do it this way.” That’s one of the most compelling things that you could put out there and emphasize in your content because that’s what people are looking for. There are a lot of painting companies out there, but they want to know, when they come to your website, what makes you different? What makes you uniquely qualified to solve these painting issues that I have?
Michael Utley: Yeah. So, if we start a project, it’s rare. Occasionally, someone will show up with personas in hand, but if they don’t, you’re saying that the writer needs to dig into that on the front end and understand that, and then understand, “Hey, what’s unique about you? Who are you?” Sometimes they’ve distilled that information onto their websites. Sometimes they haven’t. A lot of companies, when they start a program, haven’t really articulated some of those things for themselves, and sometimes, when we dig into them, there’s actually some internal disagreement. It’s interesting how even developing personas can really clarify for company which areas of business they want to grow versus which ones people are just more happy to sort of maintain, or take projects as they come in, even if they’re not as profitable.
Michael Utley: So, a lot of that persona development raises some interesting questions for business owners and marketing executives within the companies we serve. It’s pretty fascinating. Beth, last question is what I want to wrap up on with you today. What are some of the crazy things you’ve seen in working with clients over the years, whether they’re with us or somebody else? What comes to mind?
Beth Thielman: Oh my gosh. Well, there’s a lot, but you wouldn’t believe how many people create and publish content just without even proofreading it. You would not believe the number of spelling and grammar mistakes that I see on a daily basis just browsing the internet. I’ve seen grammar and spelling mistakes on the New York Times. I’ve seen it on the Harvard Business Review. I’ve seen it on menus at a restaurant. It’s just wild to me that there wasn’t an extra set of eyes there, or you start to think … You kind of can’t believe this made it. This didn’t end up on the cutting room floor. This made it. This is really what you’re putting out there. You’re putting out spelling and grammar mistakes, and crazy misuse of apostrophes, and you’re just going to put it all out there. It’s really, pretty surprising how often gets that gets through, but if you have a writer to help you, that’s going to happen a lot less.
Michael Utley: Yeah. That’s good. Well, and I think for business owners or marketing executives, anyone who’s using the internet to maintain a healthy sales pipeline, if you’re not the person to do the proofreading, decide who is, and delegate it. Not every one has an eye for that. It’s just not everyone’s skillset, but you can absolutely make a decision to have the right person, have that material go through their hands, whether it’s your writer, with a company like SearchPrimer, or someone in house. Whatever it is, the quality of the finished product, just like a painting job site, is it’s got to be good. Otherwise, it’s a reflection on everything everybody’s doing. So, and …
Beth Thielman: That’s right.
Michael Utley: Yeah, and there are always going to be some mistakes that get through, but you want to make you want to make it the exception, and not just something you comfortably tolerate. Well, good. Beth, this has been awesome. Thank you for being on today.
Beth Thielman: Thank you so much for having me.
Michael Utley: Yeah, absolutely. Chris, I think that’s a wrap, man.
Chris Raines: Yeah, let’s wrap it up. I’ll wrap it up by saying we have a free audit at the website. It’s searchprimer.com, and this is something that we give away. If you’re looking to find out how your website is performing against your competitors, things you could do differently, things you can improve, it’s a free audit. Just go to searchprimer.com. Scroll down to the bottom, and just hit the “Give me my free audit” button, and we’ll get back to you probably within, what, 48 hours to get that started.
Michael Utley: Oh yeah. Yeah, within a day. Yeah.
Chris Raines: It’s absolutely free. So, if you own a painting contracting business, and you’d like to get a free audit from your website, and take advantage.
Michael Utley: I’ve got one more thing to pitch. Yeah. One more thing to pitch. We’re excited about next year, 2020. This episode will probably go live, what, some time in October? In early 2020, if not January 1st, we will be releasing a new version of SearchPrimer that will be … It will give anyone at searchprimer.com the ability to select their service level, and pick their team, and launched their own SEO program without ever even talking to us. So, we’re pricing it accordingly. It will be sort of a self service option.
Michael Utley: We’ll still be doing custom packages and other stuff, but we’re going to be offering this new version of SearchPrimer. So, we’re not going to name it anything different right now, but it’s just going to be a new version of picking your own SEO program, and picking your team. So, that’ll be coming to the website as well.
Chris Raines: Boom. Awesome. All right. Well, be on the lookout for that in 2020, and, Michael, we’ll see you on the next one.
Michael Utley: Yep. Thank you. Thanks, Beth.
Beth Thielman: Thank you.
Michael Utley: The Grow Your Painting Business podcast is a free service of searchprimer.com. Visit us today for more information on how you can grow your business using the latest tools in digital marketing, searchprimer.com.