Robert Rose | How to Generate Ideas, Create Content, and Optimize Marketing Strategies

John Corcoran 11:04

Right? I like that metaphor between the short term and the long term. Okay, so I’m going to be devil’s advocate. I’m listening to this. I’m a listener. And I’m thinking okay, sure, Robert, that sounds great. Back in 2000, whatever. Two is a bit easier back then. But if you haven’t, if you’re starting today, why should I start? Now? It’s, it’s too late. You know, also, do you have to be an SEO expert these days? Because it’s more competitive. What do you say to people who are listening and thinking that?

Robert Rose 11:32

So there’s two things, which is one, my question back would be, well, what’s the alternative? Right? You really believe that advertising is getting more effective these days? You believe that SEO is getting easier? Because none of it’s getting any easier, especially SEO without content? Well, exactly. Really, you know, even SEO with content. You know, so the, the key is, is that when we start looking at our today’s world 2021. And going forward, what we can see is that yes, a lot of businesses have grabbed on to this whole idea of content, whether it be from an SEO and being found perspective, sort of the classic inbound marketing idea, or whether it be from developing differentiation by developing content properties that simply just differentiate their brand against everybody else. In other words, you’ll not only get you know, software from us, you’ll get this amazing experience of education and certification and all that whatever the sort of impetus is for doing it. The key is, is that in today’s world, it’s the noisiness that almost compels us to do it better. In other words, yes, back in 2001 2002, all you really needed to do was sort of be there to answer every question, right? There’s the classic sort of methodology of, you know, become the FAQ of your industry, right, become the source of the truth for any question your customers may have. And they’ll find you. And they’ll, you know, that was sort of the early promises of inbound marketing. And yes, today, unless you’re in some totally niche industry that hasn’t been covered yet. It’s really hard to get above the fray when you start answering those questions. If you’re in real estate, or financial services, or technology or marketing, you know, the trying to answer simply the questions that your customers will have, you’re competing with 9000 other people that are vying for that attention with the same answer, by the way. So what you have to find is that this really compels you to go find the different, what is the different that is out there that’s going to differentiate your particular ideas on the world with a particular customer set. So it almost compels us to lean further into it to lean further into the idea of developing these differentiated content experiences that quite frankly, deliver value so that they see us in a different light than they see everybody else out there. And that’s it. I don’t pretend that it’s not hard. It’s it’s it’s absolutely one of the most difficult things we’ll do. But welcome to the big leagues of marketing. It’s all harder these days.

John Corcoran 14:23

Yeah, it’s great, great way of putting it. You produce a lot of content you from what I can tell from looking at you online, you’d like writing what do you say to people who maybe they don’t like writing or they don’t like certain mediums? In other words, around what medium to choose for their content marketing? What what do you say to people when they think about that?

Robert Rose 14:45

So I have two pieces of advice there. One is, it’s it’s choosing one, that’s for sure. In other words, if you don’t like writing, it’s probably you know, you need to find someone who does write, you know, and I’ll give you an example of that, you know, my old CEO hated writing, he was really good at it, but he didn’t like doing it. And you know, and didn’t have the time and he was too busy working the company to actually have time to blog or to write a white paper or thought leadership paper. So what I did with him is I said, Listen, you know, every Thursday night, you’ve got an hour and a half commute home, just leave me a long ass voicemail. Just you know, just leave me a really long voicemail about what’s on your mind what you’re thinking what you’re thinking about the industry, some some thoughts, and I would get this really long voicemail. And I would give that over to a writer, who I would say, find the four or five nuggets in that and let’s write a piece or two or three, or however many ideas are in there, we would go strike that piece, we would show it to him, he would put his edits and sort of personality into it. And away you go. You’ve got a blog from the CEO, who never wrote a word of it. But it’s his ideas, right? It says Not that we’re you know, ghostwriting, or anything for him, what we’re doing is we’re putting the words to screen instead of words to paper that he would have written if he had the time. You can do the same thing with podcasting as well, right, you’ve, you know, I will often say, you know, you go pot, you know, you go interview one of your customers, and you get tons of audio that makes for a great podcast, but then the transcription of that makes for a great, great blog post. And assuming the value of the content is there, because it’s educational, or inspirational or entertaining, or whatever it is, you got yourself a great set of content without having to try very hard. And then you sort of say, Okay, what’s the best one to go with? Where Where should we start? Where should we start looking at, My piece of advice there is that the blocking and tackling are the table stakes, if you will, if any of this is having something in your own media experience, I don’t care if it’s a blog, or website, or a resource center, or, you know, a, you know, a digital magazine, or a print magazine

John Corcoran 17:08

sounds like your own, you’re talking about not, as they say sharecropping, on, you know, another big tech companies platform.

Robert Rose 17:16

That’s exactly right. That’s exactly right. Just ask whose audience you’re building, are you building yours? Are you building theirs? Right, and, and so you know, so that means, I wouldn’t start with a podcast or a social media idea, or you know, or anything where or you know, even on something like medium or something like that, I would not start there. Because the entire focus of those platforms is for your content to build their audience, and then sell them back to you sell access to them back to you. So that’s not where I would start, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t good work to be done there. And pulling that audience to your own media properties is ultimately the goal. But the the first thing to do, the place to focus and build your initial platform is in something where you’re building your own audience.

John Corcoran 18:04

As an interesting point, what I was going to ask about is, what do you take to like a hybrid approach like for me, like podcasting is one you’re you’re creating a an article, which should go on your own website, helps with SEO value, but you’re also creating media that goes across, often dozens of different platforms. So yeah, it might be Amazon music, it might be Pandora, it might be Spotify, but it’s all of those, not just one of those I say to people all the time, don’t just start a YouTube channel, that’s horrible. All your eggs are in one basket, if they change the route, Google changes the rules road, you’re screwed, you know, that sort of thing. But putting across dozens of different platforms that works. And then even if you take like YouTube, like, for example, this podcast, we’re gonna record this, we’re gonna put it up on YouTube, and we’re gonna embed it in the blog post, but I would never do it without doing the blog post itself. Does that does that comport? Or does that? Does? It?

Robert Rose 19:00

does? I mean, you even did it at the beginning of this episode, right? I mean, the key is, is that what action do you want the audience to take? Every piece of content we create should have an intended action that we want our audience to take, subscribe forward, read more. So you know, by now, whatever the sort of appropriate action is for the, you know, the the style of content that we’re that we’re actually putting out. And before we even got started talking, the first thing you said was, hey, listen, here’s who’s, you know, here’s who’s bringing you this podcast, here’s what we want you to do. We want you to go to the website, and we want you to sign up. And so that’s building an owned media audience to you know, I’m guessing it’s an email newsletter, or it’s a blog or whatever it is, but you’re already giving telling the audience what your intention is for them. If they get any enjoyment out of this. You’re telling them what I want you to do is go and some of them will, some of them won’t. But the point is, is that you’re using the podcast as a reach mechanism. It’s a way to reach new audiences, engage those audiences are that they become interested in something. And then the point is, is that you want them to flow back into your own media experience. That’s what it is social media, podcasting, medium, all those things. Those are rivers, not lakes, you want those flowing back into your own media experiences so that you’re building the engagement with that audience as you move out over time.

John Corcoran 20:21

Yeah, he heard that everyone, he he’s like the definitive guru. And he said, I did something right. That felt really good. Thank you. Thank you for that. I appreciate that. I have to ask you about idea generation, because I’m sure that’s one that you hear people about all the time. I have no ideas, I can’t come up with anything. How do I come up with anything? But I’m actually more curious, are you? You know, Are you the kind of person who says like, okay, you know, you should have like, kind of like a whole outline at different things and research the keywords and then come up with the topics that way? Or is it more organic? I love the suggestion of just like, you know, recording a voicemail, but how do you come up with these ideas? It was it? Is it deliberative? And you come up with a list of 100 different topics, and you say, over the next two years, we’re going to cover all these, how do you do it?

Robert Rose 21:07

So I have two approaches. The first is, is that I understand what I’m trying and I don’t mean this in any sort of way to say that I that I that I have more talent or more, you know, more, you know abilities than anybody else. But what I but what I am self aware of, is what I’m trying to do. And what I mean by that, that there’s there’s a very specific thing to that. So So I want to be considered leading thought, I’m not going to, I’m not going to say I consider myself a thought leader because that has zero validity anywhere. I am only as much as thought leader, as, as the content that I produce, the thoughts that I produce leads something. But what it does is it It directs me down a very specific way of ideating what it is I want to create, in other words, I’m not here to cover the news, I’m not I’m not that guy, right, I’m not the guy that you turn to, to say, oh, that’s who I turn to, to keep up with what’s going on topically in the world, I’m there to produce what you might want to think about the impact of a particular piece of news or what you want to. So therefore, most of what I do, is trend based, but it is also observational based, given the nature of my work, which is consulting. So the ideas that I get come from my observations of the work that I do. In other words, as a practitioner of marketing, and a practitioner of content marketing, I actually roll up my sleeves and do work with clients. And so my content that I create is generated out of the problems, the challenges, the solutions that I see, to that work. And so it is, Do I have a bucket of ideas? Absolutely, yes, right. I take notes, copious notes, I have a whole Evernote folder of stuff that I just sort of pile away as ideas of things that I might want to write about. And then I’m very considered about what it is I write again, I’m not the, the, you know, I’m not the guy who blogs every day, I’m not, you know, someone who ultimately, you know, puts out an email newsletter daily or anything like that, you know, I’m, I’m putting out fresh new content, you know, once a week, what and then in greater levels of detail, like a white paper or, or sort of a longer blog post or something like that, once a month, that kind of thing. And so hopefully, what I’m doing is being consistent about that, and being focused on that so that when I do put out something, it’s, you know, it’s a little more valuable. The second piece, which I think is just as important, is understanding that I can reuse ideas. So much of what you see, for example of me on social media, are me, giving speeches or doing webinars is I’m taking an idea and I’m running with it for a year. You know, I’ll you know, there I’ll do a keynote speech at the beginning of January that I’ll use and repeat all darn year because I know I’m not reaching everybody. I know that, you know, people don’t see it. People don’t, you know, and if those things start to click and hit, well, then I’ll branch out of those things and say, Great, now I can reuse this as an e book or reuse that as a white paper or reuse that as three blog posts. So I’m not afraid to reuse ideas in different formats. Just because I did something in the first quarter, much of what you’ll see me tweet out is stuff I wrote in January or February or March. And I’m just like, if you missed it, here’s what I talked about in March and April that I think is kind of relevant today. And so building on my library to say if you missed it, you might want to see this. Those two things together give me the appearance of a lot more frequency than I really do. But it also gives me the ability to sort of slow down and Think about the stuff that might be different hopefully might be differentiating.

John Corcoran 25:03

Yeah, that’s fascinating. You know, Gary Vaynerchuk is known for putting content out there. And I interviewed him years ago. Yeah, yeah, I interviewed him years ago. And I also interviewed his right hand man, his CEO. And what was fascinating was, I said, like, he seems like he’s constantly creating content. And he’s like, No, he’s not. He’s actually running his company. There’s this impression that he’s just going out and creating content, but he’s actually running his company, but they do a tremendous job of repurposing, and taking one thing, slicing it up multiple different ways. Just document

Robert Rose 25:32

Gary being Gary. Right. That’s, that’s, that’s all it is. Right? I mean, they, you know, literally content for him is they get in the car, they’re gonna drive to the airport, and they just stick a camera in his face and go, here’s a topic go for 15 seconds. Yeah.

John Corcoran 25:45

What do you think about that approach?

Robert Rose 25:47

I you know, it’s not for me, you know, because I, you know, look, I think Gary has done an amazing job at building the Empire he’s built, it would be silly of me to ever critique the success that that guy has had. He’s done amazing things. He’s gonna buy the Jets before he’s done. Yeah, well, yeah, we’ll see about that. Right. I mean, I mean, I don’t know why anybody would want to buy the Jets. But that’s a whole other.

John Corcoran 26:13

Oh, yeah. Right, get

Robert Rose 26:15

a bargain out, get a good deal. But, but, you know, to me, in it from my lens, that sort of what comes across as very, it’s very tweetable. It’s very, you know, it’s it, they’re little slogans that you can put on a t shirt or a coffee mug, it’s bumper sticker advice in in much, you know, you know, the that those ideas, there’s not a level of depth there that in my, you know, look, I’ve always considered myself a student of marketing. And so, for me, and I’m not his target audience, let’s be clear. For me, I miss a level of depth there, that would be that would be that would be more appreciated as a subscriber to his thinking. But again, I’m not the target audience for him. They want that quick hit, they want that quick bite, they want to be pumped up in the moment, they want to hear him drop an F bomb and tell somebody that they’re stupid for going to college and all that stuff. Fine. Great. But I just I don’t see the depth in that thinking. Yeah, yeah.

John Corcoran 27:22

I’ve always been curious about that. Whether it attracts. I mean, obviously, they’re doing well, they’re attracting clients. But it seems to me, he’s speaking to like a 21 year old, frustrated kid who’s not sure what to do with their career, which is not the buyer for his companies, which always seemed kind of odd to me. Doesn’t matter,

Robert Rose 27:41

though. See, that’s the see that in many ways, that’s the brilliance of what he’s doing is he’s demonstrating that he is demonstrating his ability to engage in and entertain and keep an audience, which basically demonstrates his expertise of doing that, and what brands are doing is going if he can do that for himself, I think he can do it for me.

John Corcoran 28:02

Got it got it got interesting. Well, I want to get into talking about some of the client work that you guys done, because some amazing clients, you’ve worked with Salesforce, NASA, CVS Health, I mentioned at the beginning. But before I do that, I love this story of how you first met Joe. So first of all, those who don’t know who Joe is, who is he? And second of all, you discovered his book decided I got to meet this guy, tell us the story.

Robert Rose 28:28

So Joe Pulizzi. He’s now one of my best friends in the whole world, though we give each other how about everything. So you know, you’ll you’ll you’ll very commonly hear what a idiot he is. But he is truly my best friend.

John Corcoran 28:44

I’m gonna say similar my relationship with my business partner. I don’t call him an idiot. That’s right.

Robert Rose 28:52

And you know, and we have fun. We have just been disagreements on so many things. But in any event, he and I met, you know, like I said, when I read his first book, after I was the CMO of that software company, I met him at an event. I tracked him down basically, he and I went and had dinner at that event, literally in 2008. And we still talk about this. And over a steak dinner, we just, you know, we found that we had so much in common and we just became fast friends almost immediately. And quite literally on my way home. When I got home, there was a voicemail waiting for me from him saying, Hey, listen, I’m going to start this new thing. I’m thinking of calling it the Content Marketing Institute, and would you feel like coming on and the initial, his initial thought was I could come on as a strategic advisor or something like that. And I call them back and I said, Look, I’m kind of ready to go all in on this. And so maybe let’s just partner up with this. And so I joined CMI in you know, as he really as he formed it as the chief strategy officer there and basically my business, you know, we sort of had two halves of the business, not two halves, you know, let’s call it 80% and 20% of the business, which was, you know, we always designed the company to be built around the event, the Content Marketing World, and, you know, and the media, which was, of course, subsequently the blog, and the email newsletter, and all that sort of thing. And, and then along the way, many other iterations of things, you know, from a print magazine, we had for a number of years to, you know, the subsequent events that we acquired, and built a company, you know, over the next eight years. And ultimately, my job there was to build out, in addition to sort of helping guide the company, and sort of, you know, whatever strategic advice I could provide, was to build out the education, the curriculum, the training, and the consulting practice, which we had for many years. And then ultimately, the company was sold in 2016, when Joe decided to sell off the company, and then, and then sort of we’ve been, I’ve been operating under my own little company that I spun up ever since.

John Corcoran 31:04

Got it. Got it. And and it’s interesting, he’s started the tilt. Are you involved in that at all? Or is that something?

Robert Rose 31:10

Yeah, I mean, I’m involved as a friend and family, you know, I mean, I’m certainly interested in helping him out in what he’s doing. He’s, he’s reaching into a really very specific, you know, he’s, I mean, look, he’s, he’s drinking his own champagne, right. He’s, he’s building a very niche specific audience of content entrepreneurs, and really going after that idea of, you know, building a content oriented business for the Creator economy. And that’s just not my world, my world is enterprise, right my world has for the last 10 years. And what interests me than what my passion is, is helping really large organizations to unwind big problems. And so, you know, my focus has been, you know, working with the likes of Salesforce and SAP and Microsoft, and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and you know, big organizations that have thorny problems that they’re trying to solve with real as it relates to content. And he’s really solving another really thorny problem, which is how to contract on entrepreneurs make money. So to the extent that we’re doing our podcast together to the extent that we’re, you know, I’m helping where I can provide advice, etc, to the tilt. He’s, you know, he’s got a great team now working on that, and I’m sure that that company will be fantastically successful. Yeah, yeah.

John Corcoran 32:33

How did before we get to the some of the case studies? How did the march 2020, COVID, hits? You were doing a lot of events through the company and stuff like that? Did that affect any of your foundational beliefs about content? And if so, how?

Robert Rose 32:53

Yes, I mean, first of all, let’s just all acknowledge that it just sucked. That, you know, 2020 was horrible. In so many ways. It was particularly horrible for, you know, for our business in the early going, you know, because training and education and, you know, and everything around, quite frankly, business and marketing enablement, kind of dried up, you know, everybody was sort of sitting around going, what are we going to do? And so, you know, for us, particularly, it was, it was difficult now, that changed toward the end of 2020. And certainly the beginning of this year, where it not only sort of ramped back up, but it’s all sort of exploded back up, you know, because kind of everybody looked around and went, Oh, right, yeah, we need to do things we actually need to be we need to build a business here, despite what next normal might look like. It definitely did fundamentally change my view of the way, you know, I would say two things. One is that it’s an observation more than a sort of a change my view, which is a new observation about something fundamentally shifted during that year, which is the amount of companies that are coming back and focusing on brand differentiation rather than lead generation as it pertains to content, you know, so, you know, if, if, for example, if we worked with 10 Different companies in 2019, because we’ll just chalk up 2020 to the year of weirdness. And in 2019, if we worked with 10 or 20 companies, 90% of them would have been like, how do I use content to draw better leads faster leads the Glengarry leads, you know, how do I get more leads, leads, leads, leads, leads? How do I get more leads? Yeah, and, you know, really around that demand generation idea, in 2021, same number of clients, you know, 10 or 20 different clients. 90% of them are, how do I start to use content to get to be purpose driven? How do I use it for brand differentiation? How do we start rising ourselves above the noise from customer experience? perspective to really make, you know, to make ourselves different.

John Corcoran 35:04

And that sounds very great must be very gratifying for you even

Robert Rose 35:07

very gratifying. It’s, it’s, it’s, you know, I mean, look, I’m a I love working on demand gen and lead identification and facilitating a better funnel. But, you know, working on brand story is just, you know, it’s just infinitely more interesting, right? I mean, it’s, you know, you know, I mean, there’s certainly the basic blocking and tackling we all have to do to, to make sure that the funnel and conversions are optimized, and we’re doing our testing, and we’re doing all the things we need to do. But there is something gratifying around working with culture and brand and figuring out how to tell a better story and figuring out how to make businesses different through the experiences they’re creating. It’s just, it’s just more fun, quite frankly. Yeah, yeah.

John Corcoran 35:47

It’s interesting, because you know, you espouse building your own platform, online content, all that kind of stuff. But the way the it’s almost like the way that your business was structured, depending on travel, depending on in person training, depending on conferences and stuff like that, you are kind of hard hit by by the downturn by by the pandemic, kind of no doubt, kind of in contravention to what you recommend other companies to do. Is that a fair assessment?

Robert Rose 36:16

You mean, in terms of the way I structure the organization? Are you mean,

John Corcoran 36:21

yeah, it just just that the the work that you did, and maybe it was partly a choice of you enjoy the trolley enjoyed the in person training and stuff like that, which is totally fair. But yeah, just that, that you were really adversely affected by the downturn, in spite of the the advice you give to a lot of these companies is to build online platforms, you know, so

Robert Rose 36:42

well. Consulting is not some thing that historically, is something that clients want delivered in without being in person. In other words, it’s pretty rare that you run into not these days, because, again, yeah, different world fundamentals. Yeah, we can observe that fundamental shift. But I didn’t travel 200,000 miles a year, because I particularly enjoyed it, I traveled 200,000 miles a year, because clients expected it, you know, if you if you proposed a, you know, a meaningful consulting engagement to, to, you know, to a fortune 500 company, there’s an expectation that at some point, you’re showing up at their door, and you’re going to spend all day in a conference room and a whiteboard, you’re going to be doing stuff. They don’t know what that stuff is. But you know, I mean, you know, everything from you know, whether you’re going to show up and be Bob and Bob and talk to a million different employees and get, you know, sort of the the input from the organization, or whether you’re going to just show up and do a CEO presentation, or you’re going to come up in person and do a training or whatever it is, there’s an expectation there, that’s just sort of a norm that’s been set in the consulting practice for, you know, 30 years, right, you know, from the Accenture’s, to the IBM’s, to the Deloitte, to the Bains to the you know, IT consulting to everything, there’s a, there’s a, there’s an expectation there, that has fundamentally turned on its head, in the in the last 18 months, I would tell you, that the consulting engagements we’re doing, which have for the last 18 months been purely 100%, virtual, I mean, I’ve literally taken three trips in the last two years, whereas, you know, I would take three trips a month and pre 2020, you know, I would tell you, the, the, the experience of the consulting engagement itself, is not as good. You know, and I would tell you that the experience of virtual events, not as good, it’s just the different, it’s a different thing. It’s not, you know, it’s just not as good, it’s not as good as a physical event. It’s not as good as being there in person, it’s just not the experiences and is good. Weirdly, I would tell you also, it’s more efficient. In other words, the consulting engagements we’re doing now online, are extraordinarily more efficient, we’re not having to figure out travel schedules, we’re not having to figure out where we’re going to stay, we’re not traveling to figure out there’s overhead in terms of getting all the people together in one spot. You know, it’s extraordinarily efficient, but it’s just the experiences sub op again. And I mean, we could go into a whole discussion about why virtual isn’t, I don’t think is as good as as the physical experience in terms of business. But overall, you know, no, I’m, I’m happy to not travel. I’m but I miss some of the benefits of, you know, getting to really know and get to be, you know, developing a relationship with clients because I’m meeting them in person. There’s a, there’s absolutely an energy out there that just isn’t there virtually. Yeah,

John Corcoran 39:47

I just went my first conference a week and a half ago for the first time in two years, and it was amazing. So nice to be face to face with people. Again, I want to ask you about some of this client work that you’ve done, and maybe you could pick one of the colors Clients you’ve worked with, that wasn’t doing content or wasn’t convinced to the virtue of creating content or is doing a crappy job of creating content. And, you know, one of these clients, you came in had all the usual objections that you that we’ve been articulating, talking about during this interview. But you know, give me some examples of some of the work that you do.

Robert Rose 40:22

Sure, well, you know, and so I’ll open with and this is interesting, because it is actually a slide in our overview in our pitch deck. And the headline of the slide is, we are not the heroes of the story. You know, we are at the end of the day as a strategy and roadmapping consultancy. So we come in and we help with the operation, the people, the process, the technology, and make recommendations around things like what platforms people should be on how those platforms should interact, how you should be capturing first party data, all of the things that you might expect around a strategic agency that’s coming in and helping an organization put a plan together, around how they should build scale, optimize their content and content marketing strategy. Having said that, I preface it with that, because the heroes of the story are the people at the clients. So any success that I point to is not pointing to us, it’s we build a roadmap, it’s up to them to follow it. And and if they follow it and execute against it, well, that’s where the success is. So we’re just, we’re just, you know, we’re just helping to sort of draw the draw the map. So I would point to a couple. The first is some of the work that we did, because I’ve gotten to follow their journey for quite a while now. The folks at Red Hat, Linux, which of course was acquired by IBM in two years ago, I think, huge multi billion dollar deal, obviously. But seven years ago, you know, they were, quite frankly, you know, a handful of people, you know, the woman who runs their content strategy there, she’s a woman by the name of Laura Hamlin, she’s amazing. And she’s a journalist, she was hired to sort of reboot and rethink their print magazine at the time, and sort of figure out what they were doing with content. And as she started to build a handful of team, she started getting, you know, running into problems, right scaling issues, what they were doing, from a marketing perspective, the fact that they were actually pretty good when it comes to, you know, creating content that the organization liked. So they were really struggling with meeting demand from sales from the web team and from others that wanted them to write stuff, SEO articles, and PowerPoint presentations and case studies and all the things that the business wanted. So she really started trying to scale that up. And that’s when we started working with her. And we sort of helped them figure out the, you know, what the right resource allocation and team structure might look like the business case for that, how they might start looking at workflow and governance a little different to handle things like translation and localization and what platforms thought leadership platforms, they might want to launch and take over. And we sort of worked for them, you know, not terribly long, but built this roadmap. And then over the next, quite frankly, four or five years, the last four or five years since we work with them. They’ve really just followed that roadmap and just built it very process oriented. Now she’s a team of 45 people. She’s a team of two, her content department is 45. People have everything from data scientists, to journalists, to copywriters to data librarians, they’ve got translation people, they’ve got, you know, all project managers. It’s a whole functioning media organization within the Red Hat Linux group. And they’re just producing amazing stuff. You know, they’ve got a hit podcast, they’ve got great thought leadership, they’ve, they manage all the content for their executive center for the executive PowerPoints that they do. And it’s just an amazing growth story more than anything else, how they were able to scale something that was just this tiny little seed in someone’s mind and has now become a full fledged department for the for the organization.

John Corcoran 44:12

Hmm. Interesting. From a from a business perspective, that I mean, I guess there’s a role for for all kinds of different companies, but you come in, you advise you give them the roadmap, which can lead to frustrations, right if they don’t follow the roadmap. Well, yeah. So and that’s one of the biggest challenges of content is that the actual creation of it, right. So is well is the challenge. Yeah. So is that a deliberate decision? You know, have you decided that we’re not going to go into the actual production because it’s fraught with danger and peril or Oh, what’s

Robert Rose 44:48

that mean? You Yeah, the one thing was I never I never, you know, look, I’ve been doing this web thing for 25 years now. If I never build Another website, again, I’m a happy guy, I don’t need to I don’t, you know, there’s little in me that needs to build another website in my life. And so building another blog or building, you know, helping to build sort of the the expression of that digital content was never high on my list anyway. The other thing is, is that I came from that world, right, I’ve worked at agencies, I’ve worked for consultancies, you know, you know, in the very early days, you know, we were one of the I worked for one of the bigger web agencies out there that built J huge IQ websites. And the thing that I learned, and it was something that I learned, actually, while I was a CMO of the software company was, you know, the execution of these things is, basically, it’s, it’s, it’s like being the general contractor on a house, right? You’re rarely going to get credit when things go, right. And you’re always going to get the blame when things go wrong. And so, you know, there was little upside in that, you know, there’s, and I will tell you, there is a con to that in my business model, which is, my projects are short, they are, you know, they’re measured in weeks. And so there’s a feed the monster aspect to that, which is, you know, when we say we’ve worked with 500, companies, you know, and 100 of the Fortune 100, I have to work with a lot of companies, because we have to continually do that. Now, we’ve added some additional things where we, you know, stay on and coaching. And there are a few retain clients that we have. But we just decided early on that, you know, there were plenty of very, very, very, very, very talented agencies out there that can handle the execution. And we do we do do content creation, but we only do content creation, as it pertains to being a thought leader or influencer, if you will, in the in the scheme of content marketing and marketing. So, you know, I do have clients like Adobe or Salesforce, or, you know, LinkedIn or somebody that wants to write a white paper around content marketing, and you know, they’re in and just sort of taking advantage of whatever notoriety I have in the marketplace on that. But that’s the only execution type things that we’re doing.

John Corcoran 47:10

Yeah, that’s fascinating, because I love that as in theory, that would be so much fun. But from business standpoint, it’s hard, right? Because, like, you know, if you see people not follow through on it, it’s frustrating. That’s kind of why we

Robert Rose 47:25

Yeah, it’s exceedingly low. It the number of people who actually follow our advice is exceedingly low. And it’s not because necessarily the there’s no desire there. It’s just that, you know, in bigger and broader organizations, you know, it’s like, you know, change, yay, said nobody ever, right? I mean, you know, so facilitating change management is a very, very hard thing to do. And it’s not just our advice. It’s, it’s really any sort of business process management change that comes in is just difficult. It’s just, you know, fraught for complexity and politics. And, yeah, you know, I have said, you know, it’s like, if I haven’t uttered the term strategy, or culture eats strategy for breakfast, you know, it’s at least a once a week for me. Right, right, right. Yeah. No, I

John Corcoran 48:11

love the idea of not doing the accountability that we do for sure that that would be attractive to me. I want to ask you about your podcast. So you know, Joe Budden podcast, and you’re like the exception that meets the rule, because most of the time, but I talk to people that say, Hey, okay, here’s the idea. I think about starting a podcast, we have separate businesses, and we’re just going to talk to one another, I’m not going to interview anyone, I usually say, Okay, that’s a bad idea. But you guys are also obviously the exception that the breaks the rule meets rule, whatever the word is, because you guys are going strong. So talk a little bit about what you cover on the on the podcast, and why you approach it the way that you do.

Robert Rose 48:44

Well, we’re, you know, so we wanted to do so, just in the, in the spirit of what we were talking about the top of the show, we designed this old marketing to be sort of a, you know, how can we get, you know, a very early journey experience for people who never heard of the term content marketing or content strategy or media or acting like a media company, and you know, and all of that. And the whole conceit of the show was two things was one, we wanted to talk about the surface, the news in that, right? Because the ad ages and the ad weeks and you know, all of the industry rags, were doing an awful job, still do an awful job. And I would go off on a rant on that, but do an awful job of surfacing all of the great, wonderful things that are happening in content marketing. So when we wanted to do that, too, we would have these weekly conversations Joe and I about the industry where we would gossip about the industry and we would say snarky things. And we were like, this should be a show, you know that the two of us just sort of, you know, sort of, you know, criticizing and being snarky, and then three, this and this is the real truth. It was an excuse for us to talk once a week because we were both really busy. Doing what we were doing. And we rarely got the chance to talk and just think and just sort of, you know, and so it was an excuse for us a to have to read the news, because many of times, we just didn’t. But we got to talk once a week. So those three things together, we said, let’s make a show out of that. But the purpose, the sort of marketing purpose behind it, was to drive people to be interested enough to go subscribe to the blog, right? That was that was our whole sort of marketing purpose. And then it grew. And it started to get, you know, some interest in it, and you know, where we could actually have sponsors and, you know, get paid a little bit of money for what we’re what we’re doing. And, and we did that for, you know, we did that for, gosh, seven years. And then when Joe sold the company, we just he wasn’t sure whether he wanted to continue because he was thinking about his new business and, and all of that. And we said, well, we weren’t, you know, we had a very loyal, very awesome, awesome audience. And we didn’t want to disappoint them. So instead of saying, well, we might be back in a year, you know, Joe’s gonna take a year off, and we might be back. And then we wouldn’t we, which would just make us feel awful about ourselves. We said, well, we’re going to end the show. And we ended the show. And then basically, Joe, after a year said, let’s bring it back. And we were because we were having a great time, we missed each other. And it was fun. So we brought it back. And that was our I will tell you, our biggest lesson learned was bringing a show back is almost more difficult than actually starting one from scratch, because we lost a really large portion of our audience when we when we went away for a year. And we’re still to this day now, almost two years back, trying to read regain some of the audience that we actually lost. So it’s a real lesson in content marketing about the value of consistency and longevity.

John Corcoran 51:52

Yeah. All right, we’re almost out of time. I want to wrap up by asking you about gratitude. I’m a big fan of gratitude. If you look around at your peers and contemporaries, others in your industry, however you want to define that, who do you respect? Who do you admire that’s doing good work these days? Obviously, I think Joe’s probably one of them. But anyone that comes to mind?

Robert Rose 52:12

Well, there’s I mean, that list is long. You know, I so as I mentioned in the beginning, I’m a student of marketing always have been. And so I go back to some of the old The old guard as it were in for most of what I look at. But I would say cert, yes, Joe Pulizzi is someone I have immense gratitude for I mean, he changed my life. And, and the whole, you know, us joining together really changed the trajectory of my career in ways that I’m still sort of dealing with. I would point to from people that I really admire and the work they’re doing. I’ve always love the thinking of Jay Baer. He’s one of the smartest guys out there. From a practical standpoint, from literally a you know, who’s doing like the press, the good, practical, roll up your sleeves, understand SEO, marketing, tactics, marketing, understanding digital marketing, I point to a guy by the name of Andy Crestodina, who runs an agency called orbit media. And just, I mean, the advice that you get from them is unbelievable. From a thinking perspective, I point to a guy by the name of Roger Martin, who is a business professor out of Canada, who wrote a book called the opposable mind. He’s just an amazing thinker. And quite frankly, one of the nicest he’s Canadian, right? He’s required by law to be nice, but yeah, in the Constitution, he’s he’s, he’s wonderful. And then read a Gunter McGrath is probably someone I would point to, from a thought leadership perspective. I’ve read everything she’s ever written. And she has a book called The the end of competitive advantage, which is dog eared and sitting on my desk, Rita Gunter McGrath is someone who it doesn’t matter what she says, I’m listening and watching it, or our subscribe to our newsletter, I, you know, read her books. And every time I could get a chance to see her speak, I would see her speak. So there’s a few. I mean, that list goes on and on and on and on.

John Corcoran 54:27

Well, you can put it in the we put it in a comment in the show notes or something like that. So that was awesome. But that was great. Robert, this has been so much fun. Where can people go to learn more about you and the work that you do?

Robert Rose 54:38

If they’re looking to connect on work, basically LinkedIn can be found there on in in a fair amount of frequency and then our website is which is as I’ve been told the dad jeans of domains, but I think that fits me perfectly well.

John Corcoran 54:56

I love that and the blog is on there right? They can get to the blog is right a blog. It’s right. Okay, cool. Go blog, go subscribe to everything that you can when you get over there. Robert, there’s been so much fun. Thanks so much.

Robert Rose 55:07

Absolutely a pleasure. Thanks for having me.

Outro 55:09

Thank you for listening to the Smart Business Revolution Podcast with John Corcoran. Find out more at And while you’re there, sign up for our email list and join the revolution. And be listening for the next episode of the Smart Business Revolution Podcast.