Revenue Rehab: It's like therapy, but for marketers
Jan. 11, 2023

Kickstarting Lead Flow: Strategies and Tactics to Becoming a Content Machine

This week our host, Brandi Starr, is joined by Carly J. Cais, Founder & CEO at RevvSpark. Carly is an expert in streamlining B2B technology companies to ignite rapid growth. One of her most effective strategies in achieving this is her 5-step process...


This week our host, Brandi Starr, is joined by Carly J. Cais, Founder & CEO at RevvSpark.

Carly is an expert in streamlining B2B technology companies to ignite rapid growth. One of her most effective strategies in achieving this is her 5-step process which focuses on Sales, Positioning, Acquisition & Assessment, Responsibility, and Kickstarting Lead Flow.

She helps SaaS companies gain market traction, build inbound, increase closing, fill the pipeline, and scale, specializing in companies in the Startup to Scaleup phase (Seed - Series B), below $25M in revenue.

As a speaker, Carly has spoken on a variety of topics related to technology, start-ups, business, & marketing, and she is a PDX Women in Technology mentor and volunteer.

In this week’s episode of Revenue Rehab, on the couch Brandi and Carly tackle Kickstarting Lead Flow: Strategies and Tactics to Becoming a Content Machine.

Bullet Points of Key Topics + Chapter Markers:

  • Topic #1 Content Creation Streamlining [05:39] To really excel in streamlining, Carly explains, content creation should focus on creating effective and helpful content for your audience rather than for the purpose of generating backlinks and improving SEO.
  • Topic #2 How to Finetune the Framework of Your Content Machine? [13:28] Carly outlines 3 action items, such as your content creation calendar and repurposing your content which can help you develop a successful framework.
  • Topic #3 Gating Your Content Machine [19:01] “So what I always recommend when someone asks me this question is un-gate it all”, Carly says. Unless it is high value and there is a clear line to transactions, low value content, such as a blog post or white paper, Carly advises, it should be made freely available.

So, What's the One Thing You Can Do Today?

Carly’s assignment for listeners to kickstart your Lead Flow is to schedule some time with your content team to come up with an SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) for how to repurpose your existing content.  (And to use the freebie, provided by her company RevvSpark, available below).

Buzzword Banishment:

Carly’s Buzzword to Banish, surprisingly, is the phrase ‘marketing content’.  Content creation should encompass all stages of the customer journey, including sales collateral, email flows, and upgrades.  “We need to stop thinking that marketing is responsible for it”, she says, “because it really is the whole journey”.

Links:

Get in touch with Carly J. Cais on:

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Transcript

[0:06] Intro: 

Welcome to Revenue Rehab, your one stop destination for collective solutions to the biggest challenges faced by marketing leaders today. Now head on over to the couch, make yourself comfortable and get ready to change the way you approach revenue. Leading your recovery is modern marketer, author, speaker and Chief Operating Officer at Tegrita, Brandi Starr.

[0:34] Brandi Starr: 

Hello, hello, hello and welcome to another episode of Revenue Rehab. I am your host Brandi Starr and we have another amazing episode for you today. I am joined by Carly J. Cais. Carly helps SAS companies gain market traction, build inbound, increase closing, fill the pipeline and scale. She is an expert in streamlining b2b technology companies to ignite rapid growth. Carly is currently the founder and CEO of RevvSpark and specializes in helping companies who are in the startup to scale up phase seed through Series B, and those that are below 25 million. Carly, welcome to Revenue Rehab, your session begins now.

[1:23] Carly J Cais:

Thank you so much Brandi, I am so excited to be here and to talk about rehabbing revenue because this is such a topic that I am so passionate about. I can't wait to get started.

[1:34] Brandi Starr:

Awesome! Well, before we jump right in, I like to break the ice with a little woosah moments that I call buzzword banishment. So Carly, tell me what buzzword would you like to get rid of forever?

[1:50] Carly J Cais:  

Okay, you're going to be really surprised, because I'm going to say marketing content. 

[01:56] Brandi Starr:

Wow! 

[01:58] Carly J Cais:

And here's why. So we are a content agency, content is what we do. And I've found that when I speak to people about what we do, they hear the word content, and they instantly think marketing content. It's somehow segmented away from sales collateral, or good copywriting in emails it or customer enablement content that's like user email flows or upgrades sequences; all of this is separate from marketing content. So I would love to banish that idea that marketing content is something completely separate from all of these other things that the buyer might touch during their buyer journey, when they get engaged with your brand, become a customer, and then move to expansion of the account. Really, content is just content, and its full funnel. And we need to stop thinking that marketing is responsible for it, because it really is the whole journey.

[2:53] Brandi Starr:   

I love that. I know it is going to take some discipline for me to not use the term marketing content in this conversation, but I'm going to try my best because I do agree with you wholeheartedly in that content is content. And marketing just happens to be responsible for creating a component of it. And that varies company to company, because in some cases, all of it lives within marketing. And in other cases it doesn't. So I love that. So now that we've gotten that off our chest, tell me what brings you to Revenue Rehab today.

[3:27] Carly J Cais:   

Today we're going to talk about kickstarting lead flow and becoming a content machine, two things that I really love to bring to businesses.

[3:37] Brandi Starr:   

I love that. And content is something that I'm always really passionate about. And feel is it really is key to everything when it comes to the customer journey. So I'm excited to talk to you about that. And I believe in setting intentions, it gives us focus, it gives us purpose and most importantly, it tells our audience what they should expect. So as we dive into kickstarting lead flow and becoming a content machine what are your best hopes for our talk today? What do you want people to take away?

[4:11] Carly J Cais:   

What I would love people to hear, understand and take away with them is that content creation doesn't have to be this incredibly overwhelming thing that is going to take a lot of time. There are a lot of ways to streamline your process and create a great system around creating a lot of content from a single source piece. And I would love to share some tips and tricks with you for doing that.

[4:36] Brandi Starr:   

Perfect. I think that's a good place to start our discussion. Because I know if you look at the history of content marketing, I mean, it goes back way, way, way back. But I think was like the early 2000s when content really, you know, started to really grow. And at that point, everyone was focused on creating a bunch of stuff, it was all about volume. That was when we started really focusing on SEO, and you had to get all of the things out there. And then it got to the point where it seemed like the content became noise, and you started hearing a lot of quality over quantity. And so when I hear the term content marketing engine or content marketing machine, I almost am like, oh, that would be lovely, but who has the time? And I think you hit on that and that it doesn't have to be overwhelming. So let's start there. How do you make it not overwhelming?

[5:39] Carly J Cais:   

That's a great point that basically, in the evolution of content, a lot of it has been dominated by SEO. And the idea that in order to create lots of backlinks, we just need to create a lot of sort of noisy content, that's that very top of funnel, high level basic, like if you're in the market for a new car, you search and what comes up is what is a car. That stuff is not helpful. And as any marketer knows, if you are looking for a solution to a pain point, you don't need to be told what a marketing automation system is. So having a lot of that generic, high level stuff is not what we're talking about when we talk about generating a lot of content. We really focus in on generating effective content for your audience, things that will take them from each step of that buyer or customer journey to the next step forward, supplying them with what they want, by anticipating the questions that they're asking, and also finding those questions from your analytics, but also giving them actionable things that will create those sort of buyer intent or moving a stage intent signals that will help you understand is this even working? Are we moving these people forward in their journey or are they just bouncing out getting confused and not getting their questions answered. So we're very much about the middle to bottom of funnel content. And that's what I'm talking about here, becoming a content machine for stuff that works, and not stuff that just generates links to sort of game SEO.

[7:12] Brandi Starr:   

And so thinking about our audience, the majority of our listeners are CMOs heads of marketing. And so they are having to set the direction for their team, to determine what roles they need, where the resources are going to be spent, etc. And I know that one of the challenges that comes up is you think about, there's a lot of demand gen efforts that have to happen. Like with a large company, content syndication, you pay for it, whether you use it or not, we've got all these display and PPC, and all of these paid initiatives to get us in front of more people which requires content, then we have what you're talking about is more of the back end, where we're looking at middle and bottom of the funnel. And I think a lot of leaders almost feel caught between a rock and a hard place in agreeing that that middle and bottom of the funnel is the stuff that really matters, but also recognizing they've got all these demand gen programs that they've got to develop stuff for. So what advice do you have for those that are trying to deploy limited resources and kind of serve and we can get to customer marketing later, but just trying to service the whole funnel when you don't necessarily me, especially right now there's economic challenges all these things, what advice do you have for those leaders?

[8:43] Carly J Cais:   

That's a great question. And as you did mention, we are heading into some economic challenges as well, where budgets have to be spent very, very wisely. When it comes to demand gen, I'm very much a fan of first separating the demand gen efforts into two buckets. One is that low hanging fruit of people already in market. As all marketers know, though, that's your easiest ones and then the group that is not. The group that does not is going to be your brand awareness targeting for your demand gen. And I feel that sometimes, some things can go wrong there, where they're being served up ads that are really not brand awareness, that are really more asking for the sale, trying to get them to a demo. These people who are not already in market who are not showing those buying signals, as we know, it's kind of a waste of money. And we have to really just target them with sort of brand awareness. And that is a much longer play. And so now with budgets being constrained, I would say really, the play is going to be your low-hanging fruit. And that is where a lot of the budgets are going to have to go. And so in capturing the existing demand, a lot of that is going to be search queries and then pulling anonymous visitors from your website using different technologies. There's a bunch of them I don't know if I should mention any think specifically,

[10:01] Brandi Starr:   

It's totally up to you. You can talk about your favourites if you like. 

[10:05] Carly J Cais:  

So things like lead feeder, lead post, Clearbit, all of these are technologies that can go on the website that can capture anonymous visitors. And you can, with a certain degree of guesswork, LinkedIn, pixels and other things, you can figure out who you can target, and then start sending outbound email campaigns and retargeting ads to them. So the marketing ops people on your team are going to be absolutely essential, and getting the data and then making it actionable for the demand gen team. So these people are critical, especially in an economic downturn.

[10:40] Brandi Starr:  

I love that. Marketing Ops, it's one of those things that I think is starting to get a bit of, of the recognition it deserves. But for so many years, it was almost like the ops people were locked in a closet somewhere churning away, nobody knew what they did or what value. And I love connecting the marketing ops to the content and helping to drive what needs to exist and where to put those efforts. Because there is so much insight that comes out of the technology that can be used to drive your whole strategy. I talk about that a lot with marketing automation, because email is our sweet spot, that there's so much information there that can inform your demand gen strategy, and all these things and content plays a key role of that.

[11:33] Carly J Cais:   

Absolutely! I find the ops sector of the department is really going to be a wonderful place to get insights on what visitors are doing how people are interacting with your content, that can help drive further content creation efforts and finding where people are falling out of your funnel, and where the friction is, so that you can start to smooth the way those frictions.

[11:55] Brandi Starr:   

Okay. And I generally get to the action items at the end. But I do think that this is a key action item is for the marketing leaders to go sit down with marketing ops, rev ops, and figure out what they can give you that can help to inform the content strategy and the demand strategy.

[12:16] Carly J Cais:   

100%. And I would say, always involve your frontline sales team in those conversations, because they can tell you exactly where the frictions are that they see from the front end, that can be then brought back to ops seeing, okay, this is what's on the back end that's causing that friction, here's how we can solve it. So always having that full loop of feedback amongst your team is key to creating better content and a better experience for everybody.

[12:44] Brandi Starr:   

Okay. I want to shift gears a little bit and jump back to something else you said in the beginning, where you talked about being able to be a content machine and being able to like repurpose, and create multiple pieces of content from the same thing. And I know coming up through my career, it was always one meaty piece of content that turns into eight or 10 pieces of additional content. There's all sorts of frameworks around that. And so I'd definitely like to hear your thoughts on how, as a marketing leader, I can guide my content team to be able to work with as little as we have, and get as much out of it.

[13:28] Carly J Cais:   

So what we advise is always creating basically your plan, based on sort of three action items. And so the first action item is going to be your content creation calendar, when are you creating this one meaty piece of content. The second action item is making sure that you have the tools in place to repurpose, and there are a lot of great tools like banner bear, or clip scribe, that will create auto-generated versions of what you've created already. Taking little thumbnails or screenshots, things like that, that are very, very helpful and that can help. So you need to make sure that the tools are part of your mix and look into them if you haven't already. And then the third part is going to be your content repurposing SOP. And that's creating a standard operating procedure for each piece of content. Let's say it's a podcast recording, what needs to be created from this, as in from each podcast recording, we create four LinkedIn posts for the company page. The CEO puts out three posts that have clips from this podcast in it or maybe some quotes from it, we create five quote graphics. Whatever that is specifying that out for your company, and then writing all the steps down in exactly what does it take to do this and I find tools like Tango are really great to use because you just do a recording on what to do, how to put images in Canva or what to do here and there how to use banner bear, whatever it is, you just record it and then Tango just creates the SOP for it. So being able to hand that to anybody on your team, and even using people who are assistants very new to the Work can be very helpful because then you don't need people who are very high level doing a lot of other things, you can really give it to people who just they generate versions of the content, ready for all of your channels and queue them up ready to go.

[15:28] Brandi Starr:  

That is a great tactic. I know we're big on process and documenting our processes. But really actually having an SOP for your content pieces in a way that you can tap into other resources because we do think about it. Most of the time, our content team is going to be more senior people. They're sometimes writing and designing and doing all of the things to get this good content created. But it doesn't take someone with that skill set to pull out quotes and throw them into a graphic in Canva. And quite often, there are a lot of underutilized resources, whether it's on the marketing team, on the administrative assistant team, sometimes companies have interns, those are great places where you're actually able to give those people new experiences. And for some, that could be a career defining moment of having that opportunity to learn content marketing, by doing these things. So I really liked that. And I made myself an action item, I was like, my teams need to take what we've already done and really operationalize that. So always love when we can take some takeaways away from Revenue Rehab.

[16:47] Carly J Cais:   

Awesome! I hope you do, I find that a really great way to bring more junior people onto the team, make them part of the effort and really start nurturing their careers. Because if you have it all spelled out, it's very easy to follow. You can even have someone note, sort of timecode, this quote was great use this, this quote was great use that. And it starts to develop their marketing brain. So as you said, you can use interns, you can use people who are very new to the company, and really start nurturing their career path.

[17:17] Brandi Starr:  

And that's anytime we can help to grow people while also being a successful business, I am all in. So let's shift again and talk a bit about kickstarting lead flow. So we've talked a lot about content creation, how we repurpose it. But we haven't yet tied that content to how becoming a content machine is going to kickstart lead flow. So what's your perspective on that?

[17:46] Carly J Cais:   

So it's kind of a chicken and egg scenario. If you're putting a lot of content out there, guess what it's going to drive leads to your website and your digital offers. Absolutely. But then also, like I said before, pulling in existing search traffic and really digging into those analytics and seeing why are people coming to your website? What are they searching already? And what is the path that they're taking through your digital properties? Where are they ending up? I find analyzing this, also provides a lot of insights as to what can we serve them during that journey, where there are patterns here. The majority of people are landing on this page, the smaller majority is landing on this page and then the last minority is over here. So what can we serve up on those secondary, tertiary, fourth pages, etc, that can help bring them a little bit further down the line and get them to take an action. So really, taking that analytical view and again involving ops, I think is really key to taking what's already there, and turning them into leads for your business instead of just browsers on your site.

[18:59] Brandi Starr:   

And this brings me to another point. So I was just thinking back, Episode 37 I talked to Wendy White and Jamie Romero, and we had a little bit of debate on gated versus ungated assets. And for those that are listening, if you haven't listened to that episode, after you finish this one, jump back to Episode 37. But I'd like to sort of get your take on this as well, because as we're talking about content and how content is driving lead flow, there's different schools of thought in terms of how we should gate content, when we should gate it, why, so I'd love to hear you weigh in on that discussion as well.

[19:41] Carly J Cais:  

Well, I have a confession to make back in the day, like about 8-9 years ago, I was getting everything so I am a former reformed gater. We'll say reformed because when thinking about that prospect experience at this point, I mean at the end of 2022 heading into 2023, who wants to fill out forms anymore? I mean, there's so much available online and it's free. Now we very closely guard our emails. And I can understand why someone would not want to give up that information voluntarily into a form because they always think the next step is they're going to get a call from a salesperson trying to sell them something. So what I always recommend when someone asks me this question is ungate it all. Ungated it all. Just a total free for all. You can see what people are doing in a very creepy way. You know, that's why I say I'm drawn to marketing, because I like creeping out on people through computer screens, which also sounds a little bit weird. But I enjoy sort of predicting behavior based on patterns. And I think a lot of marketers really enjoy that part of it. And I think that predicting behavior based on what people are doing, and then serving up what they need at the right time is really what marketers love doing. And we don't want to be invasive about it. So I think ungating content is really key until you get to something that is so high value, that at this point, you really do need a clear intent signal. For instance, if it is a -- I've seen a lot lately, these interactive product demos that are created, I think the [inaudible 21:20] is one company that provides software to do that, it's really cool. But having this on your website and just capturing an email address before you let someone into an interactive product demo, I think at that point, it's a very clear intent to really try out the product. And at that point, asking for an email address is likely not too much of an ask because the other person is getting so much value from it, you really understand it is a clear transaction of value. And for things that aren't that clear transaction, just like a blog post or white paper, don't gate it, just let it free. Let it live.

[21:55] Brandi Starr:   

So you were team ungate everything, which is interesting, because the debate there is always about the lead flow, and whether you are actually hindering your ability to nurture and to give your sales team enough at-bats to make a difference. And I know like in addition to content, so I try to do my homework on all my guests. And I know that you have a methodology that you use with clients. And as a part of kickstarting that work that lead flow, it does have to do with the marketing and sales campaigns and how that content gets used between the two. And I know you call it multichannel Nirvana, which I love that phrase. So talk to me a little bit about that of what do you see as that Nirvana to kickstart lead flow between the two teams and the campaign's that they're running?

[22:56] Carly J Cais:   

We don't see marketing and sales content as anything different. As I mentioned, it's all one in the same, it is how the company brand and product interacts with people out there. And so I don't think that this messaging, scripting, words, imagery layouts should come from multiple sources. I do think that there should be that single centralized source of truth, to create full alignment between whatever department is leveraging it, whether it's marketing, whether it's sales, whether it's customer success, whoever is using the content, it doesn't matter, but it still needs to come from a centralized source. So having sales create their outreach scripts, and all of their content in a silo is where you start to get misalignment between the marketing message and the sales message, and then I guess the term marketing content could be more applicable, because now it's something different. This is what we really strive to solve in bringing marketing and sales together by creating that single source of truth for content, messaging, words and imagery, so that everyone is aligned, and everyone is walking to the same beat of the same drum.

[24:11] Brandi Starr:   

And I think that's so important, because we think about customer experience is at the center of the process. And in some cases, you can have someone have a really great experience on the front end with the marketing content and how they've interacted with the website, and the email nurtures and all those things. And then they get over to the sales team and it's almost like a whole different conversation. Did I reach out to the right company? Was that someone else? Or in some cases, it's vice versa, where the marketing experience is not quite there. And it is always interesting that they do seem to it's almost like they get different messaging guides. It's like, did we not get the same version of the same document? And yeah, when you do think about it is not marketing content or sales content or not thinking about where who's deploying the content, but content to support and initiative, I do think it goes a lot further in helping to drive leads.

[25:15] Carly J Cais:   

Absolutely. And I'm not saying at all that marketing needs to write sales outbound scripts word for word and the sales reps just send them as is. I know, a lot of sales reps would have a big problem with that. And I'm all for sales reps, injecting their personality, and adding pieces of information that are key to that prospect and nurturing that one on one relationship. So I'm not saying that marketing has to dictate every part of it. However, there does need to be that continuity. So I'm all about creating frameworks for the teams to work from. So they're all working from sort of the same key phrases, the same key messaging that is floating throughout, so the same voice is brought in, even when the sales reps are customizing it to make them a little more personalized, a little more their own.

[26:05] Brandi Starr:   

And my last question is I know that sometimes these concepts that are seemingly really simple, Head of Marketing will say, yeah, like content marketing is table stakes. If you're not doing that, what are you really doing? And so everyone is at least making an attempt at content marketing, we're all producing something. Can you describe what is the difference between good and great? Because I think sometimes we don't always know how high is up with marketing. And sometimes we're thinking like, yeah, what we're doing is totally fine. We might not be a content machine, but we're getting it done. So how do we go from good to great? How do we help people to see what the possibilities really are?

[27:01] Carly J Cais:   

I'd say the customer, they are the source of truth. And I can say what I think in a bubble all day long. And I think that some marketers do get in sort of this, they get in this headspace of I know how to write this, I know how to create this great grabbing headline, I know the right words. But without customer feedback, it's in a silo, it's not going to help anything unless you do have a very, very concrete plan to get direct feedback from your real customers as to what made them buy? What words and phrases really light them up? What turns them off what turns them on, in wanting to go to another page or read more? Your customer is key. And I find a lot of marketing teams are not able to bring that customer feedback loop into what they're doing to improve their content to get it from good to great, because great content is what resonates with the customer. Full stop.

[28:05] Brandi Starr:  

Awesome. I think, well, that's a good place for me to say talking about our challenges is just the first step and nothing changes if nothing changes. And so in traditional therapy, the therapist will give the client some homework, but here at Revenue Rehab, we like to flip that on it's head and ask you to give us some homework. So thinking about the marketing leaders who are listening to Revenue Rehab, what is that one thing, what is that action item that you would give our listeners to help them to kickstart their lead flow and go from good to great when it comes to content marketing? 

[28:45] Carly J Cais:

Oh man, I want to give you three things but I will follow the assignment and give you one. And I will say, in order to become a great content machine, create that content repurposing SOP today. figure out what you're going to do with what you've already done and then do it. It will accelerate everything you're doing if you know that when we do something once, we now can produce 10 pieces from it, and it is simple and we just hand it to somebody else and it is done. And then get that customer feedback. How did it do? What did people do when they saw it? Bring it back to the customer, always. 

[29:28] Brandi Starr:

Perfect. So first, our one thing is within the next 30 days, schedule some time with your content team, come up with that standard operating procedures for how we are going to repurpose content. Well, thank you so so much. I have enjoyed our discussion but that's our time for today.

[29:53] Carly J Cais:

Excellent. My cat wants to say thank you. Thank you so much. And I really appreciate your time. I really appreciate your listener’s time. I wanted to let everyone know that we do have a free gift for you. It is a download that you can get from us and it is on our website at /revenue-rehab and Brandi is going to give you the link to that and it is become a content machine, the content conversion system. So you can download it there and you can get some tips and tricks for creating that content repurposing SOP, and get your content on track today.

[30:33] Brandi Starr:

Awesome. I always love freebies so we will make sure to link to that in our show notes. And how else can our audience connect with you?

[30:43] Carly J Cais:

Absolutely. So you can go to our website which is at revvspark.com. And if you want to reach out to me, feel free to directly. I am always on email and I am always available, carly@revvspark.com. Just my first name, carly@revvspark. I am happy to answer any content questions and help you on your way to becoming a great content team.

[31:10] Brandi Starr:   

Awesome. Well thank you so much for joining me. I hope everyone has enjoyed my conversation with Carly. I can't believe we are at the end. See you next time. 

[31:21] Outro: 

You've been listening to Revenue Rehab with your host Brandi Starr. Your session is now over but the learning has just begun. Join our mailing list and catch up on all our shows at revenuerehab.live. We're also on Twitter and Instagram at Revenue Rehab. This concludes this week's session. We'll see you next week.

Carly J. Cais Profile Photo

Carly J. Cais

Founder & CEO