UnNoticed Entrepreneur - public relations for business

How your content can be the engine for your business' growth with Trevor Merriden

June 09, 2022 Jim James
UnNoticed Entrepreneur - public relations for business
How your content can be the engine for your business' growth with Trevor Merriden
Show Notes Transcript

Over the years, content creation has evolved and been a main strategy for a lot of organisations. But why did content become that big of a deal, and how can it help your business grow? In this episode, we're joined by Trevor Merriden, Founder and Managing Director of Merriborn Media, to explain how content can help scale businesses.

Trevor also shares how you can generate, repurpose and repackage content, the different types of content, and how frequently you should push out content. And if you're not a content creator, a video editor, and a designer, he also shares how outsourcing can help you achieve your content goals to #getnoticed, and how he, and his business, #getnoticed.


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Jim James:

Hello, and welcome to this episode of The UnNoticed Entrepreneur. Today, I'm delighted to have Trevor Merriden join me all the way from St. Albans in the UK to talk about content. Trevor, welcome.

Trevor Merriden:

Thank you very much. Great to be on your podcast.

Jim James:

It's wonderful to have you here on The UnNoticed Entrepreneur show because you're an expert in content. Content strategist, thought leadership. Tell us how should an entrepreneur think about content, Trevor, in order to help them get noticed?

Trevor Merriden:

Well, I mean, the thing that you need to remember is that the main reasons why people don't produce content, a lot of people say they don't have time to produce content, or they might not have the confidence to get it out to themselves, or if they do get it out themselves that it won't actually make a difference. And what I'm saying to a lot of entrepreneurs is you can move from this kind of vicious circle, if you like, your time-impacted confidence to a two-to-one, where actually when you see content in a different way. You don't see content as something you have to do in order to get noticed, but actually it's something that works in terms of the development of your business, in terms of getting feedback for what you're saying in the content, that you're gaining knowledge yourself even if you are an expert through content, and also helps you to innovate through content. So that's my principal starting point, that content is an engine for growth, which I think any entrepreneur would probably want to hear more about.

Jim James:

Absolutely. So you're really changing the mindset, aren't you? From being a task to being an essential part of the strategy development, Trevor? So how would an entrepreneur go about that? And then we'll tackle later with the skill sets. But from a mindset point of view, how do they take that approach then, Trevor?

Trevor Merriden:

Well, if you appeal to what the mindset of an entrepreneur would be, let's give you three examples. They would maybe want to increase their sales, for example. And I can give you an example of a business that I worked with in developing their content, a business in London called Core Green Park, where I helped them develop a set of thought-leadership papers around the DNA of the future retail CEO. And what they did was that they went and interviewed all the great and the good in retailing, their potential clients for their recruitment and interim recruitment business. And they started a sort of big conversation, if you like, around what the CEO's of the future needs. And so they were able to use that in order to leverage their view of the world from which they got feedback. So if we 'd equate feedback to increasing sales, to solve them, what happens next? They produce this report, it went out to the World R etail Congress, and generated huge amounts of conversations, sales conversations that they otherwise wouldn't have. So, in entrepreneurial language, you can see ways in which content actually impacts the feedback they get back, instructs the conversation, and then helps sales.

Jim James:

I think that's a really innovative approach to also help the entrepreneur not think that they've got to be saying something all the time, right? It's almost listening first.

Trevor Merriden:

Yeah, and this is the crucial thing. If I took another example of where you're using content to improve your own knowledge, and, you know, I work with an organisation called the Top Employers Institute. They have a big treasure trove of data, which they weren't, in all honesty, until a few years ago, doing very much with where they are certifying body for about 1800 top organisations around the world. Where they had all this benchmarking data, they were using it but not particularly effectively, and what we helped them do was develop their data to tell stories, which then increased their own knowledge of their own sort of current database and their future sort of certified organisations, the way that they could perhaps appeal to them by pointing out areas of strength and weakness. And then also improve the knowledge of their clients, the certain member organisations. So you use content as a knowledge enhancer both for yourself and also, of course, for your clients. I mean, there's one other example, if I may, which is all about innovation. Where you are, for example, using content to break into new markets, and I've worked in the public sector with the likes of the British Council where they were trying to get more of a foothold in the higher education market in Southeast Asia, and what they were trying to do that for was that there was a big demand for higher education amongst the population. This is an area you'll know something about having spent some time in that area, Jim. As I'm sure your listeners know there was a big demand for higher education, and the idea was to introduce implants of British Universities into those sectors in Southeast Asia as an alternative way of gaining higher education. And so what they did was they innovated in that market to have a set of conferences and a whole load of thought leadership work around that, but whereby they then introduced the likes of this university or that university in England to develop. So that was an innovative approach to developing content with the aim of creating a new market.

Jim James:

Trevor, you've mentioned how people can go out and, if you like, interview potential customers or partners. But you've also just slipped in there about an event and a conference creating content. Can you just elaborate on that? Because I think that's often a missed opportunity for companies and entrepreneurs. If there's an event, how can they create content from that?

Trevor Merriden:

Yeah, and this goes back to what I was saying at the start, that when people, particularly, maybe solopreneurs or people who have no particular expertise in marketing, they develop their content. So they develop a blog or even a paper, and then they put it out there, quotes out loud. I'll get onto that bit in a minute as to what are their means, and then they wonder why not much happens as a result. There is so much that can be done in terms of the impact of what you have if you repackage and repurpose your content in other ways. Jim, you're a master as I know with you taking material from your podcast and you've had a very successful book that's come out, and I'm sure there's others on the way. And what you are good at but a lot of people are not good at, is actually realising that once they get it out of themselves, that content could be used in all sorts of different ways. That book can turn into a conference, that conference can turn into a set of videos. It can be repackaged and repurposed all the way down those. And then it could be packaged up with your next idea where you are using this. And there's no, there's no shame in that, by the way. A lot of people seem to have this idea that they produce something and then they can't reuse it in some ways. It's almost like a psychological barrier. But if it helps explain an evolving message that you have as a business, then why not?

Jim James:

Trevor, you mentioned and touched upon different formats as well. Would you like to just drill down into that? Because many people think content creation is writing, but actually in this world it's much more than net service. Just take us through what do you think are some of the opportunities for the business owner's terms of multi-format content?

Trevor Merriden:

Yeah, okay, so for example, there's two ways you can do this. One is you build up from the ground upwards, and one is that you work downwards for a big idea or a big concept. I'll take the first one first, that you produce lots of micro content, if you like, that you've got a set of opinions, a set of blogs, a video, a podcast, and you bring those together and you start to see patterns in that. And then you start to produce an overarching theme for a bigger idea, which could be, for example, a book. But the whole idea is that a lot of this content is transferrable. You have to take care, of course, the content that you're producing suits the medium, or is being repurposed in a way that makes sense. You wouldn't just read a book, cover to cover, if you appear in the video, for example. You would have to adapt things or put the messages in simpler ways. And it also depends on the audience that you're trying to reach. That's from the bottom up. The way that I tend to do it with my clients, and there's no right or wrong about this... I work with clients particularly around the area of thought leadership, where I am helping them to say, "What are the two or three issues, the burning issues that your clients are facing?" And I get clients to talk about them in depth, not for the purposes of us producing a document, which says, " This is what we think." You know. It is saying, "This is an issue that we know is facing our buyer." You're putting yourself in the shoes of the customer that you are innovating through showing that you are listening to your customers and that you therefore have some certainty that the content you're producing, for example, in a thought leadership paper, is a big overarching issue that people are exercised about. That big overarching theme and you produce your paper or your book, or whatever. You then can break down the content into lots of bits of mini content. You say, "Well, actually this theme is actually divided into two or three sub things." And we can do some blogs out of that, we can do a video, we can work at this in other ways. More immediate content that will engage interest in a more bite-sized kind of way so it's possible to work from the ground or from the top down.

Jim James:

Right, Trevor, what are your thoughts about the impact of infographics and video as well to compliment this sort of text driven... Because so far you've really talked more about, about print, for example.

Trevor Merriden:

Yeah, I mean, that's my background. So I tend to have a natural sort of bias towards talking in print. Infographics, for example, a fantastic way of getting attention, creating interest, and leverage, and so on. Infographics on their own, in my opinion, are great in terms of generating interest, but they can't be produced in isolation. They have to be produced in the context of a bigger kind of content strategy. There has to be a strategy around what you're doing as to why you're producing those infographics. And so you need to do it from the point of view of, like, how does this fit in, even if it's visually beautifully appealing, to actually understand why people understand that they are looking at it as part of a reason or a journey that you are taking the customer on in order that they then have an awareness that you, the company, are a master of the issues that the infographic tackles.

Jim James:

So Trevor. So far, you've talked a lot, really more about text, but what about other formats? For example, an infographics, video clips, maybe audio clips. I was talking to a lady the other day called Nora, and a company called Hello A udio that does internal podcasts, for example. So, can you just tell us your view on multi-format content?

Trevor Merriden:

Well, I mean, I am more of an expert on the writing side of things. So that's my age, my generation, and that's where I sort of come from on that. But if you take the case of infographics, for example, there is no doubt that there is these days are growing and emerging trend towards people looking at m ore likely to be looking at sort of video content or visual content through an infographic, for example. What I would say on that is that those sorts of content should be exploited to a maximum of course. But my contention is that they have to be part of an overall strategy around content that there has to be a reason, a purpose. If you've got the right strategy, then the infographic, ideas, sort of come themselves. I think too often, what happens is the marketing departments or entrepreneurs who are trying to get noticed produce infographics in isolation, or short video clips in isolation, without understanding how this relates to the issues facing their own bias. They may be popular, they may get them noticed for a short period of time, but in my mind, they need to be part of an overall content strategy.

Jim James:

Okay, Trevor. So let's just think then about how you make content interesting. You referred to it just slightly there about people creating content that doesn't really have an audience, but rather has kind of a need to produce. How do you help clients to make sure that what they're producing is engaging content?

Trevor Merriden:

It's got to be engaging not from their point of view. It's gotta be engaging from the point of view that they're talking to. And that's really, really important. So, you've got to be thinking when you produce content around, you know, who are you serving with this content, who are you actually trying to reach. So in your mind, you have, you know, if you're a slightly larger entrepreneur, you know, 10 clients who you could just imagine having this conversation with about this particular issue that you're addressing through the content. I tend to say to people that just have three issues that you think that your clients and focus relentlessly on those areas of content. It's not about whether it reflects the new wizzy product that you've just produced, but whether these are genuinely issues. And you will know that if you are having regular conversations with your clients. Or if you don't have any clients and you're just starting out, then you are talking to your prospects and just listening very carefully about the sorts of things they are saying about the issues. That's sort of the number one thing. Second thing is around how you will say it. You've got a medium that you know your clients or your prospects. You will ask them questions that you might be able to observe. Where is it that you might hang out, example in terms of, for example, social media? Is your target market more to use LinkedIn? Or is it more like to use Facebook? Yeah, what it is likely to use. And also, how do they receive that content best? Are they, you know, as we've just been talking about, are they more likely to be perceptive to infographics rather than thought leadership papers, and so on? And then the third thing is about consistency. That you are producing innovative, as in hitting the spot in terms of the issues you're addressing. And it combines it with consistency. Different markets have different rhythms. Okay. But it's important that you that you do stick to some kind of rhythm. And that could be a combination of creating content or repurpose content or repackage content, but it's really important that you have some sort of rhythm going on where you have a consistency. And it's actually you're not producing it in a flurry of blizzard of content over the course of a week or two, and then nothing for three months. That's no good. You just need a consistency, a consistent flow in what you're doing.

Jim James:

So Trevor, if you have hit on one of the sort of big questions, haven't you? How much is enough? What is the frequency that it should be for a business?

Trevor Merriden:

I haven't got a magic formula about this. But I would say that very often, there is a little bit of trial and error involved in these things, but I personally would not be posting in the chosen medium more than two or three times a week. I don't think there is any set rule on this because it depends on what kind of market you're in. And I would do a combination of a piece of creative content, a piece of curated content where you're using somebody else's content, and also engagement through maybe a conversation about something that you'd noticed during that week, and what do people think, and actually asking questions. I'd say no more than two or three times a week. It does vary across mediums and across sectors. But the more important thing, I think, is around the consistency. You will kind of know if you're doing it too much, because you will find after a while of people engaging content that suddenly there's a little bit of a prairie wind, or a wall of silence that starts to grow up around the content that you've produced. And that will be telling you that either the subject you've picked is not particularly interesting or in tune with what they're doing, or that you're just doing it too much.

Jim James:

Trevor, I've got to then ask you, perhaps, the other big question is, how can people get content created for them? Because most entrepreneurs are, A too busy, and B they are not necessarily content creators. They're not writers, or video producers, or graphics designers, and they don't want to have a Canva account where they're trying to match the fonts. How do you recommend people or entrepreneurs outsource content creation?

Trevor Merriden:

Well, 80%, would you believe, of content creation is outsourced. And I actually spend a lot of my time educating entrepreneurs by the startup and scale up to encourage them to produce their own content, because I feel that, actually, it's not as difficult as you might think if you've got the right tactics. But if you are in a situation where you think, "Yeah, I know all that, but I still want to outsource it." And then I think you need to look for certain things in terms of your content provider. And I think they're certain to me, you know, whatever, whichever partner you work with on this, I think that they need to show recognition in two or three ways. One is that they recognise the value of what the nature of content is at the moment. And it almost divides into external and internal. But that the world has changed quite a lot, as we all know, in terms of buying and selling. And there's also changed the way of thought leadership and content creation. And that creating content is much more about starting the debate in the market at the moment, that you are actually saying, " I don't know all the answers, none of us know all the answers." But this is what we, the organisation are thinking about the issues that are affecting you, the buyer, and that we are starting to debate. So go for a content provider that really understands that we are moving from me to we, in that sense, that you want to be portraying yourself. Not just being somebody who got knowledge and expertise, but also going with the customer on a journey. But that's the external element. In terms of looking for someone who's the right person, then I would say that the best content providers help, sort of, I don't know how to, what the best way to put it, is that they're very collaborative and that they'll be interested in working with you with the grain of your business and really getting to know what the issues are in that business. They are equally as curious about that your business from the point of view of enhancing their knowledge and becoming mini experts, and almost like getting the sense of your voice in what you're trying to communicate. Also, I'd say, the best providers are those who help you provide and get clarity of mind or clarity of purpose around things. They can actually enhance your own knowledge within a business of what it is that you're trying to sell people, because they have a gift, if you're talking about wordsmiths, for example, they will help you express things. They're may be ways that you've been struggling to express them before. So as an internal benefit there as well.

Jim James:

Trevor, if people have got a desire to get the benefit of your experience, how can they find you, Trevor Merriden?

Trevor Merriden:

Okay. Well, you could find me on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is where I kind of hang out most, if you like. Trevor Merriden. Merriden is, M E R R I D E N. So you'd find me easily. I'd be delighted to connect with you. If you want old-fashioned, email me, you do trevor.merriden @merriborn.media.co.uk. So that's M E R R I B O R N. media.co.uk.

Jim James:

Trevor Merriden, Content Specialist. Extraordinary. We did hear the St. Alban's bells. I wonder whether the audience will hear that, the listener will hear that, or not. But thank you for joining me today from St. Alban's to share about content.

Trevor Merriden:

It's been an absolute pleasure. Thank you.

Jim James:

You've been listening to me, Jim James, on The UnNoticed Entrepreneur show with Trevor Merriden talking all about content. Thank you so much for joining us on this episode.