Episode 11 Show Notes
This week I’m chatting with Mark Evans, a former journalist turned fractional CMO. Mark and I riff on what it means to be a fractional CMO, LinkedIn, writing, and storytelling.
Mark has a great podcast and newsletter you can find at Marketing Spark. Mark has really inspired me as I moved from employee to entrepreneur and now back to employee and entrepreneur. A lot of what I’ve learned from Mark comes from what he’s posting on LinkedIn, so you need to check him out there.
Music, as always, by Derek K. Miller.
[00:00:39] Welcome to my instinct fingers. It’s great to see. See you. I mean, what I can see you, the listeners can’t see you, but I can see it was great to see you and we’ve known each other. How long? I think, um, I think every, I think the bar right now is like, I’m not talking to anyone who I haven’t known for a decade, except for Cassandra who I just met a year ago.
[00:01:02] But that’s about right. Isn’t it, it’s when we were both, you were still an official journalist. And when we first, first met in national post, cause that’s the, I have that email address still. Am I in my contacts.
[00:01:16]Mark Evans: [00:01:16] So if that’s the case, then it’s longer than a decade. In fact, it was probably when blogging was red hot, and we were as excited about blogging as we are about LinkedIn these days.
[00:01:28] So that goes back a while. Given the fact that blogging is a pretty boring workhorse these days.
[00:01:35] Tris Hussey: [00:01:35] So, yeah. And, um, I remember, yeah, I think when we first connected, you actually reached out to me as a journalist, like, Hey, um, you, you seem to be doing some things. Can I talk to you? Sure. And then you moved to covering, I think you, you ran start up North.
[00:01:52] Was that? No. What was the name? You had a startup blog that you covered? The, the cannon Canadian tech scene while I was at blog nation.
[00:02:01] Mark Evans: [00:02:01] I had a bunch of different blogs along the way, like one does. So I wrote a blog about all about Nortel, which I essentially. Every day I’d write something terrible about Nortel or because the company was in a death spiral and it was so much fun.
[00:02:14] I mean, the reality is writing is there’s two great stories to write about success stories, which are a lot of fun and failure stories works or even more fun because there’s drama and people are to blame and it makes for great storytelling.
[00:02:30] Tris Hussey: [00:02:30] Yeah, totally. Totally. But now, now you’re this really cool idea.
[00:02:36] The fractional CMO, but like, cause like freelance writers, we’ve only been like the, well, yeah, I’m a fractional content marketer. Cause I worked for a bunch of people, but usually we just call it freelancing, but you’re a fractional CMO. How did that happen? You move from writing and journalism to marketing.
[00:02:52] And now this fractional CMO, what was that journey like? And how does that all fit in together?
[00:02:59] Mark Evans: [00:02:59] Well, I’ve got to go back into memory banks to put you on the journey. And I, and I won’t torture your listeners by going into the granular details of how I made the transition from being a technology newspaper reporter to a marketer.
[00:03:13] These, to say that, you know, the, the core part about being a journalist is. You’re a storyteller and you’re taking vast amounts of information and you’re synthesizing it. So it’s accessible and user-friendly because you’ve got a customer out there which is otherwise known as a newspaper reader. And what happened to me is that the more I got involved in the technology scene, the more people I talk to, the more excited I got about innovation.
[00:03:39] The more, I started to build relationships with people who were entrepreneurs and venture capitalists and advisors. And along the way, I got seduced, I got seduced by the idea of working for a startup, being an entrepreneur, doing some really cool things. And even though I love journalism and I thought I’d do it for the rest of my life, I’d be an editor one day.
[00:03:59] I just jumped to the other side one day and a buddy of mine at the. Hi, did the.com boom. The original.com boom said, join my startup. It’s going to be a lot of fun. We’ll all be millionaires. He promised me we’d be millionaires. So I left the globe and mail and started my marketing slash entrepreneurial journey.
[00:04:18] And that was the end of journalism for the most.
[00:04:20] Tris Hussey: [00:04:20] Yeah. So do you think going from journalism to the startup marketing world. Was that joining the dark side.
[00:04:29] Mark Evans: [00:04:29] If I had gone from journalism to PR, that would have definitely been the dark side because when I was a reporter, PR people were slick and polished and manipulative and all those bad things.
[00:04:41] So I’d never wanted to be a PR person. And a lot of journalists have gone into PR and live to Rue the day that they actually went to the dark side, join a startup is a different thing altogether because you feel like it’s yours. You feel like you’re part of building something really new and interesting, and you were trying to connect with a target audience, just like when you’re a journalist, you’re trying to craft stories that resonate with people that strike them as interesting, so that they’ll not only read the headline, but the whole thing.
[00:05:13] So it wasn’t that much of a leap and I was already ready for it. You know, I was already being asked to be an advisor to start ups and I was. I’d run a conference called MESH. And we were working with a lot of startups and MESH was an amazing event or a series of events. And, um, it was just a matter of right time right place.
[00:05:32] And someone approached me and it just seemed like the right thing to do. So that’s what I did.
[00:05:38] Tris Hussey: [00:05:38] That’s what you did. Yeah. I, you know what I, the last time I remember going to mesh was when you came to Vancouver and it was when I was actually working at simply computing. Um, so this has been a long time ago and I use the mesh neoprene Lunchbag for a very long time until I left it on the bus and then it was gone.
[00:06:03] Mark Evans: [00:06:03] Do you want to hear a story about, about MESH coming out West?
[00:06:06] Tris Hussey: [00:06:06] Oh, yes, please.
[00:06:07] Mark Evans: [00:06:07] So just for your, just for your readers interest. So mesh was this really cool two day conference. That was just a combination of a tech conference and a Ted event. And it was really interesting people talking about the impact that the internet was going to make on society, politics, business media, and we, it was a very successful and in the early years, so 2006, 2007, 2008, then we started getting asked by people in Western Canada.
[00:06:36] Why don’t you come out to Calgary, Edmonton? Vancouver, it’s going to be a hit, you know, you guys should definitely do it. So we took the plunge. We weren’t event organizers, but we took the flange and we did it and it didn’t work out as well as we expected, we didn’t get the audiences that we wanted, but one of the highlights at that whole.
[00:06:56] Experience was when we did an event, a mesh event in Calgary and our keynote speaker at the time was a guy named Toby LÃ¼tke, who at the time was this little known CEO for a little known company called Shopify. We’re talking like a micro startup. This thing had barely evolved from being an e-commerce store for, I believe he was selling snowboards.
[00:07:21] And when. We announced Toby as our keynote speaker. Cause we all like Toby, we all thought Toby was super smart. The, the reaction in the audience was who is this guy? Like, why is this guy, the keynote speaker for this event? That’s coming from Toronto. Once Toby got on stage, once Toby started to speak, it was almost like the audience saw the light bulb go on.
[00:07:42] They recognized that this guy was onto something. He was super smart. He had captured something that. Was new and exciting and different. And they were super enthusiastic afterwards. And now, you know, Shopify, one of the biggest D company e-commerce companies in the world. And I kind of, um, yeah, kinda, it’s kind of cool that we actually identified Toby as a, as one of, as somebody that should be in the spotlight and should be a keynote speaker.
[00:08:17] I can’t hear you.
[00:08:21] Tris Hussey: [00:08:21] I got caught on whether we were just talking before I hit record that Tod Maffin said something brilliant. And he left the mic on mute. Cause he coughed. I took, I put my mic on mute too, to take a sip of coffee. It was like, I left it on mute. I thought I hit the button. No question was, did you have a chance to get Shopify stock early because you knew it was going to be big?
[00:08:43] Mark Evans: [00:08:43] Um, man, I wish that we had been that smart. I mean, there’s a lot of companies that we. Encountered at an early stage because the internet was just starting to take off, but we didn’t take stock, but I do know Toby, I can email him from time to time and say, Hey, how you’re doing. So I guess that was a dividend of all the work that we did for me.
[00:09:03] Tris Hussey: [00:09:03] That would, that, that would work.
[00:09:05] I think, I think I actually had this chance to speak at mesh. When it was in Toronto, I seem to remember coming out to mesh and I seem to remember doing a class on blogging or something. So it had to have been a very long time ago.
[00:09:19]Mark Evans: [00:09:19] Yeah. I mean, it was a big production. We probably had 50 speakers per events.
[00:09:25] We had five, 600 attendees. It was the first three or four years were amazing. Like unbelievable. The energy people were totally interested in the web and where it was going. And you’ve got to remember that, you know, 15 years ago, the internet was this new and exciting and relatively unknown thing. And today it’s just it’s utility.
[00:09:47] Right. It’s the super highway that we all use. We take it for granted, but, um, yeah, just sort of demonstrates how quickly things have evolved over the years.
[00:09:55]Tris Hussey: [00:09:55] Oh, absolutely. Okay. So, um, I think getting it, we, we want to, I want to talk about a little about LinkedIn and how that’s fitting into your marketing mix.
[00:10:04] I just read your newsletter this morning. Um, and, uh, and he was like, as you’re I love how you’ve pivoted to this really cool newsletter, but the fractional CMO thing. When did that idea come to you? That you could just like, you know, I can be a CMO, a good CMO, but only part of the time for a bunch of different companies.
[00:10:25] It seems almost it goes against the grain of what we all think of CMOs should be the person who is super dry, who is like, has the, the company Kool-Aid on an IV drip. They live and breathe this company nonstop. But then, but as a fractional CMO, like, I guess you’d have to have like the, the Kool-Aid cath report equivalent.
[00:10:48] So you pop the Kool-Aid in and out. How does that work?
[00:10:53] Mark Evans: [00:10:53] So the backstory is that I had a full-time job as the VP marketing for a FinTech SaaS company. It was a job that let’s just say the job. And I didn’t really work. And I got laid off at the end of April of last year. So almost a year ago in the middle of a pandemic, which is not the greatest time to lose your job.
[00:11:12] So I decided that I was going to go back to consulting, which I had done before for about 10 years. And I started. Talking to people saying, Hey, I can do positioning strategic planning, tactical oversight, and sort of waving the flag. I got nowhere. Well, I got a little bit, I got a little pieces here and there and suddenly it dawned on me that what I was really doing was I was a sort of a quasi COO.
[00:11:40] I would come in, I’d put your plan together. I’d help you execute. I’d craft your story. Yeah. And for whatever reason, I decided one day that I would call myself a fractional CMO. I had a friend of mine, Mitch Salway who called himself a fractional CMO. And I said, well, if he can do it, I can do it. And it resonated.
[00:12:00] People didn’t want what I was selling before, but they did want a fractional CML, or they wanted to talk to me because they were looking for marketing leadership. Now, ironically, when I talked to these people about what they were looking for, you know, what they asked for positioning, strategic planning, tactical oversight, the same stuff that I was at, I was doing before.
[00:12:20] So to be completely honest with you, it’s a marketing play. A marketing play by a marketer to attract an audience and get conversations. And that’s what you want to do as a marketer. You’re looking for conversations.
[00:12:35]Tris Hussey: [00:12:35] Okay. But is it a marketing play by market? Like let’s, let’s just I’m to one of the things you were talking about, positioning and messaging as a fractional CMO.
[00:12:46] And you, you play to your audience. Um, and, uh, I was reading the click. I don’t know if you read, I think that’s one of the newsletters. Uh, so they had their thing is like Steve Jobs plays to the orchestra I had about half the time I get the trivia right in the newsletter. Um, and you, you’re selling your as a fractional CMO.
[00:13:06] Exactly. You’re doing what you. Did you were saying before, you’re doing the exact same thing, but you’re saying because of your fractional CMO, you’re playing to your audience, they need, they’re not looking for a consultant. They’re looking for a leader and there’s, I don’t see that as really wrong. It’s just, it’s just saying, um, you know, do you want to a freeze dried caffeinated make with hot water beverage or would you like instant coffee, right?
[00:13:39] Mark Evans: [00:13:39] It’s maybe, maybe it’s not a marketing play, but it’s smart marketing because it captures people’s attention. It resonates, it sparks a conversation. And what’s interesting is that I try to dump a bunch of different. Titles and none of them seem to stick. So the one thing I will say is that no one wants to be known as a consultant, a marketing consultant, because consultants are, you know, we just tell people what to do.
[00:14:07] We don’t really help them. We charge high fees. So that is off the table. I called myself a brand storyteller, which I thought was interesting, but it sounds so. Yeah, no one really gets it because storytelling in the business context, it’s one of these nice to have things that’s kind of nice, but I don’t really need.
[00:14:27] A brand storyteller. And then I sort of glammed on to being a fractional CMO and that resonated because you’re right. People want leadership, they want strategic guidance. And I’m glad I got on the bandwagon early because I think what you’re going to see this year is the emergence of the fractional something fractional.
[00:14:51] CFO, fractional CRO fractional sales, fractional HR for a couple of reasons. One is that a lot of companies have recognized that they don’t need full time employees. They don’t need to pay people a salary and perks and options and have a office space for them that you can get great expertise, experience people by not painful freight.
[00:15:14] So that’s one. And the second thing is a lot of people who are going out on their own. Don’t want to call themselves consultants. Yeah. So be prepared for everybody calling themselves a fractional, something, and my advice to people as you, there’s different flavors of fractional. I call myself a fractional CMO, but I’m good at specific things, right.
[00:15:38] There are other fractional CMOs. That mean me, maybe great at demand gen or SEO or SEM. So you’ve got to dig a little deeper because we’re not. All the same flavor of Kool-Aid
[00:15:51] Tris Hussey: [00:15:51] Right. And the this, okay. So there’s one question that came up with, um, the idea that, you know, everyone’s going to be fractional, um, is when you’re, when you’re a full, you know, when you’re a full-time employee or a com well, let’s take it from two angles.
[00:16:07] One is when you’re a full-time employee, you get those perks and those benefits, like. Extended healthcare and maybe stock options and vacation. And those are very nice. I, I, you know, I like regular money coming regularly into my bank account helps my, you know, my, my world greatly. Um, do you think there will be, if everyone, if more people are freelancing, do you think there’ll be a change in sort of the economic structure of.
[00:16:34] The other services, people are demanding, like getting extended, you know, better access to extended health benefits. I’ve shopped around for them while I’ve been doing some freelancing. And my wife and I were like, wow, those are expensive. Um, and all those other things that deal with, you know, you get as a perk as a, as a, uh, a full-time employee.
[00:16:55] Do you think those are going start pop and changing the landscape? If more people are, you know, fractionalizing themselves.
[00:17:03] Mark Evans: [00:17:03] Well, there are obviously pros and cons to being fractional or running your own business, as opposed to being an employee. Everybody likes benefits. Everybody likes getting a paycheck every two weeks.
[00:17:13] The flip side is when you’re fractional, when you run your own business, you have complete flexibility about when you work, how you work, who you work for. At the same time, there’s a lot of, not a lot of visibility, but what’s over the horizon. You have to be able to sell and do at the same time. If you can’t sell well, then your business isn’t going to be successful.
[00:17:36] And I think there’s lots of ways that consultants, since an independent business, people can get the benefits. You can buy those types of packages, but I think you’re right. I think there is an opportunity for. People to support the fractional economy, the gig economy, because we’re going to want benefits or perks or all the things that go along with running a business, but we’re not going to want to work for somebody.
[00:18:02] So it’s very much in flux, but I would say that. Fractional and being your own boss are very sexy. I mean, I think your experiences right now in your own business, and you’re trying to figure out which way you want to go. But the reality is that it’s hard. It’s this 24 seven activity you’re always on.
[00:18:23] You’re always selling. There’s no economic, um, stability, but. The upside is that it’s terribly exciting. It’s a great way to make a living. You will work with all kinds of great people. And if you can tap out the first year, the first year is often the hardest because you have no track record and you have no clients, but if you can emerge from that for first year relatively unscathed, then you’re in really good shape to run your business.
[00:18:51] Tris Hussey: [00:18:51] Yeah. Okay. We’ll circle back to that towards the end. And so my next question is when you’re talking about, you know, companies not wanting. Yeah. Being able to save money on, um, you know, having not having a full-time place that was kind of a standard, well, it’s a standard Vancouver startup thing is everyone’s a consultant.
[00:19:10] So no one has a full-time, you know, no one is a full-time person, so they can to get the duct, the cost of everyone working there from, from taxes and I guess red devil, you know, benefits and such. But do you, do you think there’s a risk. And that’s a leading question because I think there’s a risk. And if you don’t have enough people who are fully dedicated to the company, that things can’t be, I mean, I feel like you need some people who are just there 24 seven, who are like dedicated, like, you know what, I’m going to do the whatever for the, you know, the development, the finances, you know, keeping the accounting running, um, even some, you know, facets of marketing.
[00:19:50] Um, that someone’s dedicated to that just their, their focus and their top of mind. Do I, I feel like there’s still a need. There’ll still be a need for people. You can’t have a totally, you know, fractional company.
[00:20:04] Mark Evans: [00:20:04] Yeah. You can have a company full of part-time employees. Yeah. I agree with you. I mean, you have to have people who are drinking the Kool-Aid, who.
[00:20:12] Totally believe in your vision and your mission. And this is their life. This is, this is their only focus when you’re a consultant or a fractional CMO. You’re not truly vested. I mean, I love my clients and I want them to do well, and I hope that they succeed. But at the end of the day, Their success. I’m not totally dependent on their success for a paycheck.
[00:20:34] If they go away, if they, the business fails, then I’ll move on the, there’s a penalty because I lost a client, but it’s not a harsh penalty. So yeah, I mean, there has to be a combination of full-time employees, part-time employees, strategic consultants, that there’s a mix that every business has to have. I think what.
[00:20:56] Consultants and fractional executives provide companies as flexibility and the ability to get expertise when you need it. It’s on demand expertise. So you don’t have to have $150,000 or 200 hundred, a hundred thousand dollar executive sitting there five days a week, nine to five. Right.
[00:21:18] Tris Hussey: [00:21:18] Yeah, you don’t have to pay for that and making work. I think that this is, this is something when I I’ve heard you and Jack talking about this Jack Fussell right. Um, in the fractional CMO world, it’s like, yeah. You know, you think about executives and how much actual work they need to do. On any, at any given week or month is the actual roll up your sleeves work.
[00:21:42] Sometimes isn’t all that much. And they spend the rest of the time in, in big companies, strategic planning meetings. Cause you’re, you’re part of the executive team or you’re dealing with all these other, not really your wheelhouse expertise. And you could just be much better at like, look, just let me figure out the positioning for the company.
[00:22:02] And then we’ll, you know, we’ll give you an action plan and you execute it. Is that, do you think that’s the futures?
[00:22:12] Mark Evans: [00:22:12] I think that there will be B you need, you need somebody who will be strategic and you need worker bees. Like when I work with clients and most of my clients are B2B SAS companies under $5 million in sales that are doing very little marketing or no marketing at all.
[00:22:25] So they need me to come in and figure out. So what is our story? What’s the plan and how do we make marketing happen? And over time, what I want to happen is that we create a marketing machine and I’ll work myself out of a job. At some point in time, they will have so much marketing going on that they’ll need a full-time resource and it could be a marketing director or a VP, but.
[00:22:52] At some point in time, every company needs a full-time marketer. They need someone who’s going to be in the seat, watching the numbers, watching the campaigns, thinking about what’s over the horizon, being strategic and tactical. And then what I’ll do is I’ll do things. One of those I’ll go away and say, Hey, that’s great.
[00:23:09] It’s a great relationship. If you need be I’m around or the other one is that you, you take a step back and, and simply be a strategic consultants. You be that sounding board, that, that third set of the second set of eyes that you’re you’re there, but you’re not involved in operations anymore, but that’s, to me, that’s the perfect client scenario is that they, I helped them with marketing.
[00:23:30] They get up on their own two feet and they start running and then away they go, right.
[00:23:35] Tris Hussey: [00:23:35] You’re like, Oh, it was Mark. Sorry, we’re going to have to, we, you know, we really need someone full time and you’re like, good. I did my job because you actually don’t need me anymore.
[00:23:44] Mark Evans: [00:23:44] Yeah, it’s good. I did my job. Let me help you find someone.
[00:23:49] Yeah. And then that’s the perfect transition because you work with the new person, you find them, you work with them, you get them up and going, and then you can walk away. And the bonus, when you do that kind of thing, when you’ve had a successful engagement, is that your client will tell somebody else how wonderful you are.
[00:24:07] And that’s the power of. Being a business person is referrals are gold. Absolute gold.
[00:24:13] Tris Hussey: [00:24:13] Yeah. I can imagine. Yeah. Conversation. It’s like, Hey, you, you, your marketing went from, you know, nothing to you guys are rockstars. How did you, well, you know, I work with Mark Evans and he was there a fractional CMO for eight months and he really kicked our ass and got us working again.
[00:24:29] And then he helped us hire our, our director of marketing and hand held, that person so that they could, you know, Continue what he did. Oh yeah. No, if you haven’t used Mark to kickstart your marketing, you’re really, you’re just missing out.
[00:24:46] Mark Evans: [00:24:46] Yeah. That’s the dream scenario. That’s the conversation. When I, uh, when I think about sort of the ideal scenario, that’s a conversation that my clients have with prospects, but you get.
[00:24:56] Business comes in from different ways. I mean, referrals are one way I believe in having long-term relationships with clients, because as a consultant, it’s a lot easier to sell long-term deals and constantly be trying to get new customers. And as you alluded to earlier, LinkedIn for me has been a unbelievable tool over the last year.
[00:25:15] Like I cannot underestimate how it is delivered. In terms of enhancing my brand connections leads the whole nine yards. It’s, it’s a, uh, I’m a, I’m a, I’m a big believer in LinkedIn.
[00:25:29] Tris Hussey: [00:25:29] Oh, none of you must spend all the time because whenever I go to LinkedIn and I’m been trying to like you, the work you’ve been doing, um, that.
[00:25:39] You know, my listeners know that I, I left my previous company just before Christmas, last year. And so, you know, coming back to like, okay, am I doing the, I’m going to freelance? I think this is important. I think I can do this. Um, but look for opportunities I, you know, could be really cool and, and keep up with that.
[00:25:57] And it’s like, okay, well, who’s doing this stuff really well. And there’s a few people like you who are doing it really well. You are always on LinkedIn. Like the, my feed is essentially Mark Evans. Like this Mark Evans, like this Mark Kevin’s commented on this as like, okay, well then I clearly need to pay attention.
[00:26:11] Cause Mark liked it. So. Let’s let’s go look, um, now, but when you’ve given me some advice on my LinkedIn posts, I want to, cause I, this is the podcast is my ink stained fingers. So it is supposed to be about writing. Um, first, how many words characters are you allowed on these LinkedIn posts? I can never figure it out.
[00:26:32] It was what is it? Like seven 50.
[00:26:35] Mark Evans: [00:26:35] I’m not sure. I think it’s around it’s anywhere between 150 to 200 words. Yeah. So for people who are intimidated by writing content on LinkedIn, it’s probably, well, I’m on writing content period. LinkedIn is probably the most user-friendly platform because 150 words is not a lot of words.
[00:26:55] Tris Hussey: [00:26:55] Right.
[00:26:56] Mark Evans: [00:26:56] And people like consuming bite-size pieces of content. You can get some great insight, some great ideas, and then that’s it. That’s all you need.
[00:27:07] Tris Hussey: [00:27:07] And you can say a lot in 150 to 200 words, maybe it’s maybe it’s the practice that you and I started off. Like, like, remember when blogposts used to be like, Ooh, wow, you wrote 750 words, dude, you are wordy.
[00:27:18] Right. Um, but some of the advice you gave me is like your, your blog posts or on your LinkedIn posts. Um, they’re different. I think two or three years ago, people would post on LinkedIn and it would be longer paragraphs as a chunk of text. That’s how people and a lot of people still do that. But you are very much in the one sentence.
[00:27:38] Paragraph, two sentence, paragraph bump, bump, bump, bump, bump, but it makes people stop and read it that was the advice. You gave me, how did you come to that? Was it by accident or did you just sort of, did you like try? It’s like, I’m going to do. This, I’m gonna try this. How did, how did that style that you we’ll call it?
[00:27:55] The Mark Evans, LinkedIn style. Um, how did, how did that come about?
[00:28:01] Mark Evans: [00:28:01] So I recognized last March when I still had a full-time job, I started for whatever reason, a friend of mine, Ruth is I’ve started posting on LinkedIn. She’s a VP at a big SaaS company, and it was the style that she used. And then I noticed that people were writing using that style at the same time.
[00:28:20] I also found that chunks of big chunks of copy were very user-friendly. So when you scroll on LinkedIn, If you hit see more. If you hear, if you see big chunks of copy, I’m not going to read it. It just seems like too much work. But if you see copy, that’s all spread out. It’s it’s scannable. It’s it’s user-friendly so it’s, it’s one of the formulas to success.
[00:28:45] And if you can combine that with 150 to 175 words, you can get across a lot in a small. Piece of real estate. And the thing about LinkedIn is that people are spending a lot of time on LinkedIn right now. They’re consuming a lot of content. So to capture their attention, there’s a couple of things you need to do.
[00:29:02] One is the first two lines of your LinkedIn posts have to be like a newspaper headline. It has to capture people’s attention. Yeah. You can’t bury the lede. Right. Going back to my old days as an ink stained reporter, because if you don’t nail the lede, they won’t click on see more. They’ll just keep on going.
[00:29:22] So that’s one thing. And then once you get them to open it, then it’s gotta be the right. It’s gotta be light, lively, engaging, you know, if it’s hard to read, they won’t read it. So that’s one of the things, one of my keys to LinkedIn, and I mean, the reason you see me so much is that I write every single day, but as a former reporter, It’s not hard for me to come up with things to write about.
[00:29:50] Right. I just need a smidgen of an idea in a way I go, and I understand that for a lot of people, that’s not something that writing doesn’t come naturally to them and they find it very hard. But my strategy to LinkedIn is having a steady presence, both in terms of writing content and commenting on other people’s posts.
[00:30:07] So I’d probably spend. An hour to two hours a day on LinkedIn. I know it’s a big investment. It sounds like a big investment that that’s my marketing channel.
[00:30:15] Tris Hussey: [00:30:15] Right. And I will like, but following your example, I mean, I, I got, uh, I would say in the last little while I think about half my clients came from LinkedIn and maybe the other half came from people I had worked with previously, but saw that I was on LinkedIn and, and.
[00:30:33] Back in freelancing and said, Oh wait, could we hire you again? I was like, well, yes, thank you very much. I would appreciate that. Uh, so I think, you know, it is that good. It is a new, interesting marketing channel. I think it’s morphing through this pandemic. Into something I like to say, and I, um, are Moretz who’s in Sweden.
[00:30:56] Mark Evans: [00:30:56] Yes. In Sweden.
[00:30:56] Tris Hussey: [00:30:56] Yeah. Um, and I wanna, I’m trying to nail him down to book a time for the podcast, because I think LinkedIn is a true content marketing channel. Just as like a blog is, I don’t think it’s social media per se think is a hybrid. And I think it’s just as important as a content marketing outlet as anything else, like YouTube or podcasting or blogging.
[00:31:23] Mark Evans: [00:31:23] Yeah. I mean, I mean, that’s the sort of the, I won’t call it the dirty little secret of LinkedIn because LinkedIn has been this new thing for the past year. It’s a content platform. Now as much as it is a social network or a place where people make connections. Um, the one thing that I will say about having a presence on LinkedIn, and I think you’re discovering this as you publish content on a regular basis, is that it drives brand awareness.
[00:31:50] It makes people aware that you exist. So pre COVID when I did marketing as a consultant, I would do two things permanently. Well, three things. One is I would write a blog that no one read, I would go to coffee meetings that took a lot of time and I did them here and there. And I would go to a conference where I would wander around aimlessly, hoping to find people that I knew, or, you know, serendipitously meeting somebody new, totally ineffective.
[00:32:16] But. Being on LinkedIn where people see me all the time, my brand awareness is through the roof. So ironically what’s happened is that even though I’m on LinkedIn, I have this big presence. I have like 5,000 connections and I have a global audience. I mean that without being boastful, right. 95% of my business is in Toronto with Toronto based clients.
[00:32:39] This is my hometown, right? Yeah. Why is that? Because people in my community. See me all the time on LinkedIn. And when they think about hiring a marketer or somebody who is interested in a higher end marketer, I’m top of mind, and as a consumer or a business owner, that’s what you want. You want people thinking about you on a regular basis.
[00:33:02] So the fact that you find me hard to ignore on LinkedIn, that’s what. I’ve intended to do. That’s the exact plan that I followed.
[00:33:11] And it’s working.
[00:33:12] Tris Hussey: [00:33:12] Okay. So final thoughts. Cause we, you know, this, this is about a two Milo walk length podcast at this point, which I love, um, my dog, Milo, we usually walk for about 10 or 15 minutes, you know?
[00:33:24] 20 minutes at a shot. And then we, and so you’re, you’re, we’re marketing spark podcast is great because I can usually listen to the entire thing while I walk the dog, you know, it’s like, okay, leave the house, go, you know, we’ll start walking the dog, you know, you’re, I’m done by the time I have to pick up my daughter at school.
[00:33:41] Um, you talked about storytelling. And as a journalist and I’ve had the same experience as a blogger. Um, I think you, you, my standing bet is if you give me, you know, a general topic, if I can’t come up with a blog post, I’ll buy you a coffee and a muffin and I haven’t had to pay out for it. And I’ve, I’ve never had to pay out.
[00:34:00] Do you think journalism helped fuel that ability to S to see a story, develop a story that has now. Empowered your marketing is, is that, was that a necessary skill? The journalism part?
[00:34:16] Mark Evans: [00:34:16] I don’t know if it’s the necessary skill, but being a journalist is a great way of building a very powerful storytelling muscle, because what you’re trying to do is identify stories that you think have broad enough appeal to attract a newspaper audience.
[00:34:34] So there’s lots of stories around you, but only. Some of them are actually going to attract that audience. And one of the things that I talk about when it comes to storytelling is that there’s a, it’s just a sense of what makes a good story and what doesn’t like, you know, when you see something like, I always see things in terms of stories, you walk by a billboard, or that could be a good story or a poster on a wall, or somebody says something or like everything I see in terms of the storytelling filter.
[00:35:06] Good story. Bad story, no story. And with that filter, when you look at the world in that way, through that lens, is that stories, good stories like pop all the time, like, boom, boom, boom. Right. And that’s the best way to do storytelling. You’re not forcing it. You’re not saying my marketing needs to be injected with storytelling.
[00:35:27] It’s just kind of. Materializes around you. And it’s hard to describe because you and I have been doing it for so long, but, but that’s how you have to think of storytelling. There are stories everywhere and your job is to. Recognize them and capture them, then, then turn them into marketing and sales collateral.
[00:35:45] Tris Hussey: [00:35:45] It’s like we’re sales. We’re like story archeologists. I know there’s a story down here somewhere. I’m going to find it. It may take a while, but where’s your story? I absolutely, I agree. And I think this is a good cap to this discussion. As you started as a journalist and you moved into marketing and it was fractional CMO, but storytelling is that if I had to.
[00:36:09] Put a bubble around you. It’s that sense of storytelling is what makes you really good at what you do. And, uh, it it’s what makes you, I think that that powerful force that, that person you want to read on LinkedIn, that person you want in your corner. So that’s that, that would be my that’s what I think after knowing you for many, many years now,
[00:36:35] Mark Evans: [00:36:35] Yeah, storytelling has taken me a long way.
[00:36:36] I mean, it’s, it’s sort of like when my kids were growing up, right, there was these various books and every ferry had one skill. So you were the dance fairy or the cooking ferry. And so my skill, my fairy skill, I guess, for, for that is storytelling. That’s one thing that I’m good at. And you know, some people are good at data and they’re good at SEO, but my thing is storytelling and I just deployed in different ways when it comes to marketing.
[00:37:00] Tris Hussey: [00:37:00] Absolutely. Well, Mark, this has been fantastic. Thank you for, for being a guest. You are one of the first people who said, Oh yeah, I’ll talk to you. Which is very kind, because it was an untested, I had three episodes. It’s like, yeah, I’ll do it. You’re a brave man. Mark a brave man .
[00:37:16] Mark Evans: [00:37:16] Well, thank you for inviting me. I always love talking about marketing and storytelling and, uh, I’m very excited that you’ve jumped into the podcast. Uh, Bandwagon.
[00:37:26] Tris Hussey: [00:37:26] Absolutely. Okay. So we’ll catch you later in this episode. Well, Hey, if you want to know what storytelling, Mark’s your guy. All right. So this has been another episode of my ink stained fingers.
[00:37:37] Remember how last week Tod pressed mute on his mic so he could cough and then started talking, but I couldn’t see him. So I couldn’t tell him, Hey Tod, you’re you’re mic’s on mute now. Well, As you heard this week, it happened to me. I muted my mic so I can take a drink of water thought I had pressed the unmute button.
[00:38:03] Thankfully Mark could see me and was like nicely pointed out. Hey Tris, is you’re still on mute. Well, I guess that’s just the way it goes. And here’s the outro. If you’d like to learn more about me and my writing and content marketing services. Please visit ink by the barrel.ca, but until then, remember, keep your pencil sharp, your notebook in your pocket and your pen always full of ink.
[00:38:34] This has been my ink stained fingers.
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