Mastering Product Idea Validation and Being A Content Creator w/ Sam Dickie

Mastering Product Idea Validation and Being A Content Creator w/ Sam Dickie

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Mastering Product Idea Validation and Being A Content Creator w/ Sam Dickie


We recently caught up with Sam Dickie, a Senior Product Manager at Skyscanner, who is also an expert in the content creator space. But that’s not all – Sam’s expertise goes beyond his role at Skyscanner. He also lends his knowledge to startup consultancy and curates the super popular and informative Creator Club newsletter. This covers all things startups, no-code, Ai, and indie hacking. With his deep understanding of content performance, we were eager to get him on the podcast.

During our chat with Sam, we dive into the essential art of product idea validation and explore why it is crucial to act fast on your concepts. He also shares valuable insights on why there has never been a better time than now to create something remarkable. As well as how to master content performance.  

We’ve pulled out the top headlines from the episode with Sam, so you don’t miss anything!

Takeaway #1: Validate validate validate – how to build a startup

Sam believes that validating ideas for a start-up, be it an app, or SaaS solution – before diving into code or no-code solutions is crucial. To streamline the process, he divides it into two very important phases: problem validation and solution validation. 

Problem validation focuses on starting with a clear understanding of the problem at hand. Something you need to do by speaking to your potential audience. A lot of the time, we come up with solutions right away, but no no no. It’s important to really understand the problem first before jumping to solutions.

It’s time to ask yourself some content questions 

Here’s what you should be asking yourself before committing to a solution:

  • How much of a problem is this? Is this something you encounter once a month or once a year? *You could still encounter it daily, but it’s just not a big enough problem that you’re actively looking for a solution or willing to even pay for a solution.
  • Are there any other existing solutions out there to that problem and how successful are they?
  • When is this problem encountered? 

Once you’ve harvested all that insight, you can then move on to solution validation. Now it’s time to build that solution as fast as you can. All your previous research will help you to get the right MVP in the hands of your users as quickly as possible. 

At this point of the process you’ll be receiving important signals. Signals and strong evidence to suggest that the user is actually willing to use your product and potentially pay for it. That’s why speed is important here.

Another important piece to the puzzle is ensuring that there are multiple feedback loops buried into the product. 

Always be searching for feedback, don’t be the founder who launches without any feedback loops, “they’re basically sitting in a car with their headlights off driving in the dark. They have no idea what’s going on. So you can’t quantify success when you’re in the dark.

You need to be able to have a feedback loop to understand whether you’re doing good or doing bad, you want to understand if you’re doing a good job or not”. 

Basically, don’t get lost in the dark. Make sure you’re switching your headlights on, full beam.

Takeaway #2: 1,000 true fans – building a newsletter following

Sam’s newsletter journey started as a passion project. Driven by his love for sharing cool products and interesting content with friends and family. After running various newsletters, he decided to take on the challenge of creating his own, and that’s how the Creator Club newsletter was born.

Inspired by Kevin Kelly’s concept of a thousand true fans, Sam saw the potential of using the newsletter as a launching pad for future projects and products. Kevin’s idea predicted a thriving industry of creators with just 1,000 dedicated fans.

Sam was also open about his dyslexia, which once held him back from writing. However, he soon realised that content performance outweighed perfect spelling.

Authenticity and valuable content mattered most to his audience, and negative feedback was rare. So, Sam encourages everyone to embrace their uniqueness, keep creating, and you’ll find your 1000 true fans too!

Takeaway #3: Authenticity wins when creating content

Sam is a purist and we love that. He’s all about writing about what you’re generally interested in, “I think I’ve always looked at it where I kind of write based on my interests and like not for algorithms. You’ll see a lot of writers are just building their content around the algorithm, and you can see through it straight away, right?” 

He emphasises the fact that it’s important to steer clear of content that seems contrived or built solely for SEO optimization. As more and more people are building to satisfy SEO, there seems to be less authenticity hanging about.

For Sam, the tone of voice and the author’s personality play a significant role in making content enjoyable and easy to digest. Of course, you want to connect with the author and the subject, if you know something has just been created for clicks with no real thought surrounding it, you’re already going to have your back up a bit. 

Of course, Sam had to mention Packy McCormick, the author of the Not Boring newsletter. Packy has the tone of voice down to a T, it’s relaxed, approachable but also full of knowledge and Sam has taken the same approach with his newsletter. The focus on authenticity and genuine interest has allowed him to build a loyal audience for Creator Club.

Matt’s bangers

We asked Sam what piece of content has caught his eye for all the right reasons, here’s his answer. 

There were quite a few great pieces of content to choose from. But in the end, he settled on an obvious pick: First Round Capital’s (prominent VC) incredible blog. What sets it apart is the long-form content that’s genuinely informative without any fluff. It’s concise, deep, and sometimes complex, but written by real experts whose backgrounds are front and centre.

The reading experience is fantastic. With subtle elements like a progress bar to track how much you’ve read and a handy sticky navigation that stays with you as you scroll down. Sam loves the clean layout with no advertising, making it a full-screen dream for content performance and ensuring your focus stays on the valuable insights each piece offers. Obviously, it’s a 10/10 from Sam.

The sausage of death

Sam shared a piece of content with us that definitely didn’t hit the mark – it’s content Business Insider. He’s not a fan. The content is filled with clickbait titles and is missing any real substance or value creation. Full of fluff and loaded with pesky pop-ups and ads, making the mobile experience an absolute nightmare. It’s a lot. 

Finally, the writing style feels generic, as if it could be churned out by anyone in a factory. He doesn’t recognize any names, and they all sound the same. So, sorry to anyone who writes there, but it’s a real content performance banger of a letdown!

What’s next

Sam, we loved having you on the podcast! Keep an eye out for more conversations with great guest experts in the future.

What’s your favourite Matt’s Banger and have you come across any pieces of content that give you a headache? We’d love to hear about what’s caught your eye for the right AND wrong reasons. 

Watch the episode with Sam here, give it a listen here or why not catch up on some of our other episode write-ups here

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Lydia Melvin

Lydia is a freelance creator, executive assistant and digital content guru. Working with a range of awesome start-ups on their podcasts, blogs and social content. You should definitely follow her travels on social and her digital nomad podcast!

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    How to build a Global Content Team – we talk Strategy, process and content KPIs

    How to build a Global Content Team – we talk Strategy, process and content KPIs

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    How to build a Global Content Team – we talk Strategy, process and content KPIs


    We’ve had a right old chat with James Ainsworth. James is the Global Head of Content at iManage. If you ever wanted to build a global content marketing engine, James is the go-to expert! So of course, we had to get him on the pod. We talk about everything from strategy, process, t-shirt sizing to content kpis.

    Throughout our discussion, James shares invaluable insights on content framing for different audiences, the significance of feedback and the art of incorporating AI in a manner that truly enhances the experience. We’ve compiled his biggest takeaways from the episode, let’s get into it.

    Takeaway #1: Humans will always have a role

    Of course we had to talk about AI with James. He mentioned that there are different audiences and areas of concern when using AI-generated content. James will never publish something that is entirely created with generative AI, but he does believe in incorporating AI responsibly whilst still recognising that us humans still have a role, who else is going to add that human touch?

    What was fascinating to learn was the willingness of content leaders like James to learn incorporate AI into their organisations, but not at the expense of content quality. If it can improve a process, save time or provide other benefits – that’s great! Ultimately though, an experienced writer or editor in his team, will always have the final say.


    Takeaway #2: Content strategy and process is vital

    With the benefit of experience, James talks us through transitioning from agency work to an in-house role brings the challenge of managing input from various stakeholders. It’s important to manage expectations and engage the appropriate individuals at the right times for each content deliverable.

    James prioritises content strategy and organises his team around strategy, production and distribution. He emphasises the importance of strategy in guiding production and considering the bigger picture of content beyond tactical approaches. He uses Asana as a customised project management tool to collect detailed requirements, helping his team with faster delivery. It’s great as well because you can use the tool as a reference for past work and analysis. 

    To estimate effort, he uses t-shirt sizing (more commonly used by developers). A simple approach that everyone understands, as well as helping manage expectations and meet requirements from marketing, customer success and people ops teams. This comprehensive approach ensures a well-coordinated content strategy, efficient production and effective expectation management for stakeholders.

    Takeaway #3: The value of content KPIs

    James goes on to talk about what effective content looks like for him and his team. As well as having internal team processes and feedback loops, he talks us through the importance of working with internal operations teams to understand how their content is landing. 

    At iManage they use content relevancy (CRX data) scoring as well, which is a database of all the keywords, phrases and language their audience uses – an incredible tool to make sure they stay on-brand.

    What’s next? Establishing feedback loops. Is the content relevant or useful? iManage are now working with Rockee to understand what users really think of their content. James talks us through the excitement in being able to optimise quicker and ensure their content lands well with their audience

    (editor note: one month in – their case studies are killing it with readers!!)

    Matt’s bangers

    So it’s now time for James’ favourite piece of content (it’s also one of our favourite pieces too!) Of course it’s the Michelin guide to restaurants. The objective was straightforward and ingenious: to encourage increased driving and tire wear among the people of France.

    How did they do this? They created the famous Michelin Guide to Restaurants. It offered invaluable resources such as maps, tire repair and replacement information, and a comprehensive directory of restaurants, hotels, mechanics and gas stations along popular French routes. They had created a winner. 

    While the Michelin guide has evolved over time, its brand and objectives have found resonance in the modern context of raising restaurant profiles. The story of the Michelin Guide exemplifies the triumph of strategic creativity, the power of comprehensive execution and the art of extending a successful concept. Everyone’s aware of the Michelin Guide, it’s a true icon in the content marketing world, that people are forever referencing.

    The sausage of death

    James shared his ‘Sausage of Death with us’ and it’s a real stinker. Live blogs. They’re often used for events that don’t actually require real-time updates. He’s not a hater of them, James even has a history of live blogging. He once live blogged for 24-hours during a general election. However, since the election resulted in a hung parliament and the live blog had to be extended, he quickly realised that maybe live blogging isn’t the one. 

    A more recent example of live blogging going south, was for a Lewis Capaldi gig. A live blog was created by James’ local newspaper – where they covered an online ticket queue, but it’s Lewis, so of course the tickets sold out in a matter of minutes. A bit of an anti-climax for the bloggers right? So as expected (or not expected), the live blog ended shortly after. Cool blog bro?

    James suggests that it would have been more suitable to cover a physical queue with interactions and interviews. It’s crucial to match the format with the content and objective.

    What’s next

    Thank you to James for joining us on the podcast. We’re going to keep talking to guest experts about what truly great content looks like, so keep your eyes and ears peeled.  

    Let us know your ‘Matt’s Banger’ and ‘Sausage of death’, there’s no wrong answers!

    Watch the episode with James here, or give it a listen here.

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    Lydia Melvin

    Lydia is a freelance creator, executive assistant and digital content guru. Working with a range of awesome start-ups on their podcasts, blogs and social content. You should definitely follow her travels on social and her digital nomad podcast!

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      Is AI killing great content experience?

      Is AI killing great content experience?

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      Is AI killing great content experience?


      We recently sat down and had a great chat with Jess Crandon for The Sausage Factory podcast. Jess is a Senior Analyst at Salesforce, we’re long term fans as she’s the absolute boss when it comes to copywriting, marketing and content experience.

      During our conversation, she shared her exciting journey in the world of content, dropped some insights on the potential perils of not-so-great content, and spilled the beans on how she leverages feedback to create top-notch content.

      Don’t worry if you don’t have time to listen to the whole episode. We’ve pulled out all the juicy bits from the recording with Jess, so you won’t miss a thing.

      Takeaway #1: It’s a thin line between great & terrible

      Witnessing the content marketing landscape in flux, Jess couldn’t resist sharing her thoughts, here’s her take. The world of content marketing is at a crossroads, teetering between greatness and disaster. Enter Chat GPT, the AI powerhouse that has really shaken content marketing up. From creating ‘content’ in a matter of seconds to potential job losses, it’s got a few people feeling hot under the collar and not in a good way. Its arrival swiftly transformed the content experience we once knew. 

      The gap between AI dependent companies and those turning a blind eye is widening. Some companies will be promising dirt-cheap content at scale, but Jess points out you’ll be able to sniff out the robotic touch in no time. These companies risk losing their human touch. Authenticity, vulnerability, and personality are what connect people. Can AI truly replicate these qualities? 

      Don’t get us wrong, AI has incredible potential for positive applications too. Jess recently discovered a post on LinkedIn where someone shared a content brief with ChatGPT. However, they dismissed the ideas it generated, not wanting to move forward with an idea that AI came up with so easily. If a robot can create it, they wouldn’t be sharing it with their client. 

      So, let’s try thinking outside the box a little when it comes to using AI for our content marketing. The next few years are going to be intriguing. Content experience is changing, what side will you be on?

      Takeaway #2: Align with marketing and sales teams

      Let’s delve into the realm of feedback loops and explore how Jess effectively prioritises input from her colleagues to shape and enhance her content strategy. When it comes to reviewing content retrospectively, it’s important to be close to your performance marketing team, making sure there is an open feedback loop. This will allow you to start building a bank of what works and what doesn’t work in your approach to your content marketing.

      Even better if you’re working with a demand gen team, be so tightly aligned, so they can inform you straight away of metrics and trends on what worked. It’s all about not being afraid to ask for feedback on the results, it’s only going to benefit you and your business. 

      The feedback from sales is invaluable when it comes to validating the impact of content during the crucial stage of prospects converting into customers. Hearing sales representatives say things like, “That customer story you created helped us close a deal” or “This format with quotes is incredibly useful” provides concrete evidence of the content’s effectiveness. Understanding how sales utilises the content further reinforces its value and confirms future content strategies.

      Takeaway #3: The reader is number one

      When creating content, many people may approach you, eager to add their two cents. From stakeholders to brand managers and designers, you name it, everyone wants to have their say. However, it’s crucial to consider the reader’s perspective. 

      Would the content you’re creating resonate with whoever is reading? If not, don’t bother. Your biggest responsibility as a content marketer is to understand the reader. If you need to have those tricky conversations with other stakeholders to highlight why certain points shouldn’t be reflected in the final piece, then so be it. The reader comes before anything.

      Matt’s bangers

      Jess shared her all-time favourite piece of content, or in a section we like to call ‘Matt’s Bangers’. She stumbled upon it 3 or 4 years ago, and it left a lasting impression. It’s called ‘The Ultimate Guide to Building a Business Case” by Juro (Law tech startup). “They created this amazing piece of content. It’s massive, it’s super long, but it’s the most in-depth piece of content I’ve ever seen”.

      This comprehensive and in-depth masterpiece walks you through every step of creating a compelling business case for purchasing technology. It provides all the necessary components, complete with examples and guidance on involving the right stakeholder at each stage. 

      It really inspired Jess, “I think after having read this ebook, I was like, I’m actually looking forward to writing a business case”. It’s a pretty great content experience.

      The sausage of death

      Every week, we invite guests to reveal their ‘Sausage of Death’—a remarkably dull content piece that left a lasting negative impression. Jess’s Sausage of Death? Google search results. In her eyes, content marketers have now ruined the content experience for everyone. Marketers solely tailor content for SEO purposes. 

      Finding valuable content now requires dedicated search efforts. There’s immense potential for improvement and sharing valuable content, but currently, it’s missing the mark. The truly valuable stuff isn’t even making it to page one. It’s a real shame.

      What’s next

      A massive thanks to Jess for joining us on the podcast! Moving forward, we’ll keep exploring what truly great content looks like with a number of guest experts, just like Jess.  

      We’re eager to hear your take on the AI takeover, along with your nominations for ‘Matt’s Bangers’ (content you love) and something you’d rather not have seen (the dreaded Sausage of Death).

      Catch the full episode with Jess – watch here, or give it a listen here

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      Lydia Melvin

      Lydia is a freelance creator, executive assistant and digital content guru. Working with a range of awesome start-ups on their podcasts, blogs and social content. You should definitely follow her travels on social and her digital nomad podcast!

      Get content insights in your email

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        Introducing The Sausage Factory – A Content Marketing Podcast

        Introducing The Sausage Factory – A Content Marketing Podcast

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        Introducing The Sausage Factory – A Content Marketing Podcast


        Content marketing has taken over. We’re at saturation point with AI making content creation and distribution easier than ever. The battle for attention is on, and most content out there, in truth… is crap.

        In our first episode we introduce the guys behind the mics, Matt & Mark. We lay out the plan for the podcast series, what we want to achieve, why Matt built Rockee and some inane talk about our favourite sausages, you don’t want to miss out.

        What’s the answer? We need a renewed focus on what ‘good content’ looks like. On this podcast, we try to get the best of both worlds. We discuss strategy, content trends, and talk to guests to explore what ‘good content’ looks like to modern marketers.

        What’s in the first show?

        – We say hello! Meet our hosts Matt and Mark.

        – The blend – what are the biggest problems we see in content marketing right now?

        – Are you (and are we!) contributing to the crap?

        – Matt’s bangers – homage to our favourite content

        – Sausage of death – the Room 101 equivalent of crap content

        – What’s coming up for the rest of the series

        Sausage Factory, episode one with Matt Laybourn, founder of Rockee and Mark Willis, Creative Director at Oliver Wyman.

        Listen to us anywhere using any one of the many podcasting apps or directories here

        A warm welcome

        Matt: Welcome to the Sausage Factory. This is our regular look at the world of content marketing. So, we are going be celebrating the good and shining a light on what could be better with the single aim of encouraging the world to make better content. So, some introductions for you. I’m Matt Laybourn.

        I’m a performance marketer and founder of Rockee, the content feedback platform.

        Mark: And I’m Mark Willis, creative director and copywriter, and the person to blame for what you keep calling the over-indexing of sausage in this whole project.

        Matt: So together we will be grinding the good, bad, and unidentifiable into 20-minute content sausages for you every single month. So, what’s coming up?

        We’ll be interviewing a very important content marketer, and then we’re going to introduce you to a couple of our regular features.

        Feedback will obviously be welcome on, how good they are, of course. the first one is where we celebrate a true content marketing classic in Matt’s buyers. And the second is the complete opposite, where we’re going to be introducing you to something called the sausage of death where we review the perhaps not so good in the world of content and we’ll try and dive into why that may be. But before we get into all that good stuff, here’s a short message from our sponsor.

        The Sausage Factory is brought to you by Rockee, the content feedback platform. Rockee will allow you to take the guesswork out of content performance with feedback from the people who matter most, and that is your audience. So, find out what works and what doesn’t, and start making amazing content with.

        Time to meet the first guest, but first a quick quiz.

        Mark: we better go back to the factory then.

        Obviously, we’re in an imaginary sausage factory, so we’ve grinded all our ingredients and now we’re going to blend them together. And that’s the part of the show where we talk to, an exciting special guest, a content marketing luminary or celebrity.

        But this is the first podcast, and not because we couldn’t find anybody else, but because it’s the first one, you are in the chair. So, we’re going to interview you, find out, a little bit more about you, what this whole sausage factory thing is.

        But before we get to that, we’ve got the very important business of, a little sausage quiz. Super important stuff first. I might rattle through these. Make it quick fire. Favourite sausage.

        Matt: Chorizo,

        Mark: Favourite sausage-based dish.

        Matt: probably Chorizo and paella.

        Mark: Nice.

        And preferred meat percentage.

        Matt: I have no idea. I just, I’ve never read of my meat percentages.

        Mark: Not a meat connoisseur,

        Matt: No, not ironically. As someone hosting a show that apparently is sausage based, I, uh, I don’t, don’t know that much about the sausage itself,

        What is the Sausage Factory? 

        Mark: Okay. So let, let’s not get into meat percentages then. And, you know, we’ve done the input, we’ve got the important stuff out of the way. And talked about sausages. I guess that’s probably, a segue. What’s the deal with the sausage factory?

        Matt: It’s a title that, I think reflects. Like my frustration or collective frustration, there’s lots of people that feel this frustration with content marketing, particularly in b2b. It just feels really timely now because ChatGPT is obviously taking over and, and all, you know, you go on LinkedIn and Twitter and it’s just endless guides as to how to constantly create more and more content.

        So, you look at kind of these trends where like the adoption of the, the market and content marketing was probably what, 15 years ago. And it feels like we are really hitting the peak of this. Like, okay, everyone’s doing it, not everyone’s doing it very well. There’s lots of just bad content out there and we just love making more and more of it.

        Cause it feels like that’s the thing, that’s the process that we’re supposed to go through. And I just feel like there’s a bit of it that’s lost its way. People make content to tick a box. The purpose of content is to influence people. It’s to tell a story. It’s to, it’s to set a narrative.

        It’s to, to genuinely be thought leaders and not just use that as a throwaway term. Like content is there to influence and, drive engagement, and a lot of content is driven by the wrong behaviours now. So, like an obsession with like keyword ranking, an obsession with trying to, I don’t know, soup up social media engagement by like giving it a kind of a click bait headline.

        Like seven reasons why you should Listen to me Talk about X. It’s just a lot of crap that’s seeped in, in amongst everything else. Where’s your head with it?

        Mark: Well, it’s funny that you kind of got to the word crap because, I think it’s probably come up for about, it’s probably 10 years since, one of our content marketing heroes, Doug Kessler, kind of made these predictions about the crap and content marketing and, kind of identified lots of these problems a long time ago.

        And I guess the reason. Kind of talking about them now is that they’ve, grown exponentially. And it, it is as simple, isn’t it, as that, that quality versus quantity debate. We are so focused on churning stuff out that we don’t think about whether it works, whether it’s useful to the audience, and you know, whether we should be doing it in the first, place.

        Maybe that’s time to, you know, your experience of content marketing. Give us a little bit of your journey. Where did you start out and get involved in content marketing?

        Matt: Yeah, so I’m not a creative person, which is, must be really reassuring to the audience to hear that on a content marketing podcast. But I’m not a creative person. I don’t think I’ve got a creative bone in my body, which, which is great. But like, I’m, I’m kind of fascinated by, what things work, what makes things work?

        What’s effective, what’s good? What does like good performance look like? How does, how does the asset or the content drive behaviour? And then how do we go to measure that onward journey and how does it influence the business? you know, boring spreadsheet analytics type thing. So, like my background is, in performance marketing.

        So traditionally digital media, like SEO, play search, social, stuff like that. But I’ve always kind of, I started to kind of get this fascination between the different kind of variance of how things work on different channels. Like what drives higher engagement, what drives higher recall. And then, for web-based content and what’s driving the most traffic, what’s driving the best engagement on that content and then what’s driving leads and, and conversions and things like that. So, I look at it from a very analytical kind of black and white view, but I really want to learn from the people who can spin up a narrative drive story.

        And then what’s this perfect blend? Like, does it exist for example, like, I don’t know what it is, but what’s this perfect blend? You know, good measurement and understanding of how it influences people. And then driving that back into a process where we can use that to make even better content, we could be more effective. So that’s kind of my angle coming at it.

        What are the top three problems in content marketing?

        Mark: Yeah, so. based on your experience, if I was to kind of ask you to summarise the, the top three kind of most common problems that you’ve encountered with content marketing, putting you on the spot, what would you say those three would be?

        Matt: Number one, the biggest, the biggest problem we’ve got is endless production. Like we’re now in a hyper hyper-growth phase of endless production where people are going to go wild about ChatGPT writing.

        Blogs, articles, and it can do it well, don’t get me wrong, but we are just, we are adding to the noise. So how do you stand out when you’ve got a market that’s just going to get absolutely swamped in the next 18 months? It’s going to, it’s going to be crazy. So, we don’t quite know what’s going to happen. So endless production is one thing. A lot of single use content coming out of there. I’ll probably come back to this, but there’s something interesting in how much we make and then it might only get read by one or two people.

        Again, you could argue in ABM, oh that was brilliant because it was read by the right person.

        Fine if you can prove that. But there’s a lot of content that might not ever be read by, but we made it anyway. So that’s the first one. The second one is poor experience. I think that’s a really fascinating one is because we, we just love making it, but then sometimes we drive it to poor like webpages, like just the layout and UX and structure of stuff that has a huge influence on engagement.

        B2B obviously is obsessed with lead generation as well. So sometimes when you go on a website and you start reading something that could be interesting, it’s a pop-up game. Do you, do you want to, do you want to download the eBook now? Do you want to fill in your details? Do you want to join our newsletter?

        Why haven’t you joined the newsletter yet? And it’s just like, okay, you need to chill out B2B and let me read the content and stop ruining my experience. So that’s probably the second one. And the third one is obviously for me is, is measurement. And it goes back to that single use piece is constantly making it, pushing it out there.

        And we sort of sit back and go, okay, what? You know, what’s the impact? And we don’t know when so many organisations simply are not set up to understand how effective their content is. It’s just constantly, what channels is it on? What should be the role of that channel? What should be the role of that content?

        What engagement are you trying to drive? How are you measuring it? What tools are you using? And like, what is your process to take that data and do something meaningful and interesting with it and not just look at a number and go 12 times, three minutes? Is that good? Don’t know, doesn’t mean anything on its own as a, as a silo thing.

        So, there’s, there’s three things there. Production, experience, and measurement. are the problems. Well, and like when from a creative you, you are, you are the creative head in the room. Mark, what do you see?

        The story behind the start-up, what is Rockee?

        Mark: well probably one that kind of probably ties into all the things that you’ve talked about, but the first one that always comes to mind for me and is that most content is, worst content anyway, is about the creator. Telling the audience something they want to tell them, whereas it should be, and good content marketers know and do this, it should be thinking about what the audience needs first.

        So that’s the thing that, content marketers don’t do enough. Put yourself in the shoes of the audience. What’s going to be useful and helpful to them. And then you’ll have a good piece of content if you work to that, brief. Putting yourself in the shoes of the audience is one I’d add to that.

        Obviously, we don’t want this whole thing to become an advertorial for Rockee based on, what I just said. You know, we, we, we want this to be, uh, to be useful to somebody out  there. But tell us a little bit about Rockee and where it’s going and, and how it can be useful for content marketing.

        Matt: It is grown out of the problems that we’re talking about. But primarily the first problem, it, it started as a journey where I was trying to understand how we could improve customer experience by building trust in content.

        There’s, there’s lots of interesting data out there now, like the buyer journey now is more complicated than ever it be to be like, there’s something crazy, like 20, 30 touchpoints that people go on across different channels and one of the things that’s suffering is vendor creative content.

        Because vendor creative content has just been used as a lead gen thing. It’s like, oh, how can I just drive as many conversions as possible of a gated eBook or a download, X or Y that I possibly can? And Rockee started as a way of trying to build trust in those types of things.

        So, our initial hypothesis was if we can get people to leave ratings and reviews of that content, we could use it as a trust signal when people land on those pages to increase engagement and conversion which felt like a good starting point cause we’re helping improve customer experience. But it’s not the bigger problem.

        The bigger problem was very much around marketers, don’t know what good content is. So, like the, the quote that came back from every single person we spoke to when we’re trying to validate the platform was now, I look at analytics, I look at, I don’t know, CRM, marketing automation data. And I look at the numbers and then I. guess I just guess I have a hunch what the numbers tell me.

        A high dwell time or a low bounce rate, and I guess how things have performed. If you are guessing how well content is performed, is that a great brief for your creative team? We’re like, this blog was good. We think because people stayed on the page for a long time, it’s just kind of nonsense.

        So, like we’ve got a problem as marketers in understanding what effective looks like there is a lot that numbers can tell us. There is a missing piece. There is the why behind the numbers. What, why is that number interesting? And the only way we can do that is by getting feedback and by getting a qualitative, accompaniment It made it sound like a little dinner there, little accompaniment.

        If we could get something from the reader, which is actually, yeah, this was a really, this was helpful. This was a helpful piece of content, but it was missing, A source, I don’t know what your references were, or you need to show examples of how this is put into practice. That’s incredibly valuable for creative teams and for SEO teams to go, we need to just adapt, optimise the content and we starting to get a feel about what works and what doesn’t.

        And that’s kind of where Rockee’s started to get to. That was a long answer to a very short question,

        That’s what the journey looks like now. So, it’s early stages, but we’re just, yeah, we’re trying to kind of figure out what that perfect qual and quant blend looks like.

        Mark: Yeah. And it does take us into, like an important subject, which is feedback. And obviously we believe in the power of feedback and in doing this, we’ve said all the way along that we won’t know if it’s any good until we get some feedback from. The audience if there is one. Like when we talk about feedback and content marketing, what makes good feedback and what’s kind of not good feedback in, in your opinion, you know, what can you work with, what’s helpful?

        Matt: Yeah, I don’t think there has to be a, necessarily a complicated process, but feedback must give you, Input and insight from people who are experts in that space or on that topic, to help kind of validate what you’re doing. So not, not every content writer is necessarily a full-time expert in the thing they’re doing.

        If you’re writing about cloud infrastructure or IOT or something like, very difficult for that person to know they’re on the right lines or not, and I think it’s vital that. In the kind of process to start creating that content. They get feedback from that expert to just kind of validate the narrative, the direction, the, the, the data, whatever it may be, just to make sure things are right.

        And I also see there’s another role at the end, of the process where, the audience, uh, are giving feedback as well. Like, this was helpful, this helped me solve a problem. This answered my question. Um, and you’ve got this nice little loop that starts to emerge, which is, well actually I’m, this is a good way of driving a very quality, quality. Kind of narrative throughout the content process and like, I curious, like from a creative perspective, like how, I don’t know enough about this. Like how do you, how do you see it?

        Mark: Well, just picking up on something you said, because you were talking about getting feedback at the start of the, the process there as well, aren’t you? So, a lot of the time in the creation process potentially people get feedback on the work at the, the wrong time. Like that expert feedback that you are.

        About that would be useful. You know, on a, on a brief or at the start as input in, at the start. So that the person creating the content, if they’re not an expert in that area, can create something that we think is in the ballpark. And then as you’re saying, you need the validation of the person that it’s supposed to be helping.

        So, our hypothesis would be based on what this expert told us that we need to talk about, that this is going to work for them, but then there might be something that we’ve completely overlooked.

        Just from a personal perspective, that’s always going to be the most useful feedback, is probably the negative, in that, something constructive that says, do you know what this, this article, this video, this blog, whatever, was fine. (6 great reasons not to find out what people think of your content)

        But you skirted over the main issue, and you went into more detail on this thing that I’m not particularly interested in, or the, the language was far too. Technical or not technical enough. And getting that from, the audience, allows you to create something, ideally, change that piece of content, make it better iterate, but it gives you and your team, some lessons for the next time. You create something.

        Matt: Do you think there’s like a problem sometimes in the process at the beginning where internally at organizations, obviously there’s always lots of cooks, lots of chefs involved in, in the mix. What’s the best way for, a writer to kind of validate. Good feedback from bad feedback.

        What should a look to do to try and to try and make sure they’re getting the right information?

        Mark: I think the first thing, going back to that point about putting yourself in the audience’s shoes is the way that lots of content comes about is of often the wrong way. Somebody thinks something is important and it’s important to them, so they decide they’re going to create a piece of content about it.

        We want, as I said before, we want to tell people this thing, and it’s always got to be done through the lens of, well, the person you are targeting do, are they interested in that? Do they need to find out more about that thing? as I said earlier on, good content marketers are a lot better at doing that.

        The research that goes. Now where you can, I forget what the site is, it asks the public or whatever. You can see the questions that people are asking. And if you are, you know, creating content to meet an audience need, that’s the best thing that you can do in the beginning. Obviously, that sometimes comes with conversations to steer people away for who might have different agendas.

        So, get it. Again, all comes back to thinking of the audience.

        Matt: Cool. That makes sense.

        Are we contributing to the crap?

        Mark: I guess just kind of building from that, you know, we’re, we are making content as well, we’re making the sausage factory and, are we contributing to the crap, I guess is the question that’s probably been going through both of our heads and probably still is,

        Matt: yeah. It’s, it’s a slight, slightly terrifying prospect sitting in, in your house with a little microphone and going, I’m now a, I’m now making a. Quite possibly to answer your question that this. Contributing to that noise., but that’s kind of the, I don’t know, the transparency that we kind of want to do things.

        It’s like this, podcast, and what I, you know, we’re trying to do with Rocky is, is all about, oh, how can we start to separate. The good from the bad, like makes it sound like a superhero movie, but it really isn’t. How can we start to understand what effective looks like and, and what learnings can we take from it?

        The goal of this podcast as well is to start doing that in terms of getting people involved, getting guest contributors who have their view. On what, makes good content, what is effective, and kind of continuing to try and find this mix of what’s the perfect blend of data, insights, analytics, and kind of creative freedom to go and make those things.

        And then, and then how do we, how do we continually fight the robots at the same time and in our, and our new AI content war? Or how do we work with them? Are they our friend’s friend or fa? That’s kind of. Where we are going with it.

        In the, the kind of the theme of all this feedback is everything like getting validation from, the reader, the listener, the viewer, whatever it may be. I think that’s still the strongest thing. Numbers can only tell us so much, but the audience can tell us a lot more.

        Mark: Yeah. And I guess, you know, our hypothesis was that there are other people out there who feel the same way about content marketing who want to create good content. So, if we, created, A series that explored, that, shared those things, then that might be useful to them. And as you say, we might get feedback on it to say, first, stop talking about sausages.

        It’s just annoying. But also, do you know what, you’re not going into enough depth about this or you’re spending too much time on that, but as you said, will take that feedback on board and try and, develop the. To meet whatever that feedback brings up.

        Matt: That that is a direct call out to the listener. So, if any of these features are absolutely bomb and you hate. Please tell us uh, and then we can keep a tally chart of who created the future, whether it was me or Mark, and then apportion blame appropriately to whoever that piece of work. I think that’s the best way of doing it, isn’t it?

        That’s probably not best advice.

        Mark: this is just your way of getting rid of the, the sausage, uh, analogy, isn’t it? Let the audience decide. Play Roman Emperor and, kill the sausage.

        Celebrating the best of content – Matt’s Bangers

        Matt: So, there we have it. Some shameless self-promotion with that little rocky advert. So, what’s that sound? It’s the sound of Matt Bangers. So, this is the positive bit. Despite what we’ve told you, that it is all cynical marketing bollocks.

        That’s not necessarily the case. There are people out there who make amazing content day in, day out that have had a huge influence. We want to celebrate those people, their work and, and what it’s doing as well for their audiences. Uh, cause at some point we are all the audience for someone’s content marketing.

        So, this is a segment where we want to kind of celebrate those bits and pieces. Also like if, you have something that you’ve seen, you’ve read, you’ve heard, whatever it may be, please send it in. We’d love to hear your contributions to a piece of content that has really influenced you, or you just loved how it was delivered and, and what it stood for.

        We really want to celebrate those examples. So, this week we are going to start off, with a classic banger. Um, and Mark talk, talk us through it. What have you found?

        Mark: this is a true content marketing classic, and most people will be familiar with this. It’s the, the Michelin guide (read the history of the guide here). So originally that was a guide to motoring, had loads of. Car type stuff in there. And it was designed to get more people on the road. I think it came out in about 1900, probably about 3000 cars or so in France at the time.

        Michigan obviously wants people to get out on the road, use their tires, and that’s where it started this guy to motoring. And now it’s kind of the definitive, guide to the quality of, restaurants, and. This goes back to what we were saying works on the very simple premise of finding something that’s going to be useful to the audience.

        People read the guides, they get out and about use their cars, that creates more need for tires, and when they need a tire, what brand comes to mind? Well, it’s the Michelin one because it’s. Famous across the world because of this guide. So obviously that’s kind of evolved over the years. It started out free.

        Now they charge people for it, which shows you know, how good the, the content is. and it is one of the most famous and most quoted kind of pieces of content marketing and the origins of content marketing, along with, the Furrow, which is the John Deere Tractor magazine. which does a similar thing but is more farmy.

        A celebration, a three-star Matt Banger, for the Michelin Guide. But as you said, like we just wanted to get the ball rolling. So, we’ve used like an obvious one. But this section every week, we want to be celebrating a piece of content that somebody in the audience, has found helpful!

        Matt: It’s hopefully that, more of a reward than it sounds. I’d never heard that story until you told me that, like probably two or three years ago. And I was like, I never joined the dots together on that.

        But I just love how that does so many different jobs for that brand where it’s like, it’s, it’s like a, a weird measure of quality as well that you could link back to tires and it’s just like, how is. How did they manage that? It feels like classic ad man, an ad woman type stuff, where they’ve really joined together lots of different dots. So yeah, I love that.

        Mark: Yeah, I mean even the stars in Michelin stars were originally kind of tied to journeys, so I think one star was like a worth stopping for, and then, I can’t remember what number two was, but three stars was worth making a special trip to go and see. That’s obviously the, the positive. The kind of celebration of, of great content marketing with a classic.

        Obviously, we are more at home with, cynical nonsense.

        Meet the Sausage of Death, the room 101 of content marketing

        Our final feature is sausage of death. So might need a little bit of explanation. It turns out that the Danish slang for something that’s boring is Dodens polse- I’m probably pronouncing that, completely wrong, which translates roughly as sausage of death.

        So that’s going to be our nice uplifting way of kind of finishing the show. We kind of award one in Interminably. Piece of content or ineffective piece of content, the Dodens Polse title. I think originally this section was going to be called eBook of the week or, something like that.

        So, you can, you can kind of see where we’re going with it, you know, you get to award this week, the inaugural sausage of death, Matt, so what have you gone?

        Matt: This is a real honour. I’m truly excited about this. I don’t want to like lamb blast, like the actual team that necessarily created this, but this is an example of just kind of a re, I don’t know, just like a slightly lazy. Bit of marketing. I love looking up bits of data and research and statistics and stuff to kind of help validate a point or to, you know, just check home, write on a benchmark or something like that.

        So quite often, like I’ll look up something like the state of, because I want to get the state of a thing. So, I looked up this state of digital, this absolute state of digital marketing. 2022. You should have seen it compared the state of digital marketing 2019.

        There’s a big difference. But the state of digital 2022, and I found this article which was behind a gated page and there’s a whole, I could do a whole podcast of our gated content because I’m sure you can tell. But it said, you know, you get, get all the latest stats and things like that. Okay. That, that sounds great. In this infographic, I’m like, So I’ve got to fill out a gate.

        Now I’ve got to give you my contact information for an infographic. And I was like, maybe they’ve got it wrong, maybe they’ve got it wrong.

        It’s not really an infographic. So, I put in my fake name into the into the thing. Because I didn’t want to give them my real name. Because please don’t ring me!

        I gave them a fake name. I can’t remember what it was. I think I was like, I called myself like Danny Rust or something from Danny Rust Industries and then put an American phone number.

        Danny, if there’s someone out there called Danny Rust, I apologize. But I downloaded it, and it literally was an infographic with eight stats. Just eight different stats. You could probably find this if you Googled state of official marketing 2022, it was just a bunch of stats, no one had bothered writing up what the stats meant. There was no narrative between any of these facts and figures. I didn’t really understand what the point of this report was or in any way how it was linked to the organization.

        Can’t even remember what they do. I can drop a link into this without enabling them directly. So, if anyone wants to know who they are, I can send you this content. But it’s just the worst example of like just making content for the sake of making content. And there’s no way anyone who’s downloaded this, there’s no way they’ve gone on to buy anything or be influenced by this org.

        I can’t tell you the name of the. I have no idea what they stand for. I, I don’t know why I’ve got this rat information. I the best bit at the bottom of this content. It was a call to action. Call the sales team. What, what am I going to call them for? Hi. Just read the stats. That’s some belt was in there. 76% of the people use mobile now over Oh.

        What, just absolute nonsense. And that probably put Danny Rust, whatever I called him in a nurture now for the next six months where he is going to get infographics, white papers, and eBooks from, this organization. Just do better. And this is feedback. This is what feedback is for is like they literally, this serves no purpose just. To do better. So that was, that was quite an aggressive, sausage of death or alternatively the worst first.

        Mark: Like, yes, let us know. Wurst first or sausage of death.

        Probably a reminder for us to get going on that state of content marketing infographic that, we need to get out to everybody.

        Matt: Yeah, go on to the senior leadership team. Really want that out there now. so that kind of wraps us up. So hopefully you’ve enjoyed this inaugural episode of, of the Sausage Factory. We’ve obviously had some fun trying to put it together and, and seeing what you think.

        Let’s wrap this sausage up, let’s get it packed up and put it back onto the shelves. What we’re going to hopefully do in future episodes as well is started to continually dissect what we think truly great content looks like, and the best way of doing that is getting in. Expert opinion, expertise and, the thoughts and feelings of lots of different people in the industry.

        I suppose the call to action for us is if you want to get in touch, we’d love to hear from you as well.

        If you have contributions that you’d like to add to Matt’s bangers or conversely the, the sausage of death, please do let us know. So you can do so by messaging our Twitter handle, which is at Rockee_io. Uh, you can visit us on LinkedIn, just look up Rockee, or go and fill out a contact form on our website, which is

        Until then, that’s all from me and from Mark at the Sausage Factory. Thank you for listening and do not forget to give us your feedback.

        Listen to us anywhere using any one of the many podcasting apps or directories here


        Matt Laybourn - Rockee

        Matt Laybourn

        Matt is the founder of Rockee, who has over 10 years experience in B2B as a senior strategist in content and performance marketing, working on both agency and client side. When not obsessing over numbers, he’s out hiking with his dog or watching basketball

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