"If you have more money than brains, you should focus on outbound marketing. If you have more brains than money, you should focus on inbound marketing."
That's according to Guy Kawasaki, the New York Times bestselling author of "Enchantment" and 11 other books, including "The Art of the Start". He's also a TEDx speaker, a marketing adviser to Motorola, and one of the original Apple employees responsible for marketing the Macintosh.
I recently sat down with Kawasaki to get his thoughts on content marketing, social media, and his most recent book, "APE". Below are five takeaways from the interview.
1. APE, (Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur)
What is Kawasaki's latest book all about?
"APE is a book that talks about how to be an author, publisher, and entrepreneur, and so the self-total is that you would be an effective self-publisher," Kawasaki said. "I think there's a revolution about to happen where people are no longer gonna listen to gatekeepers, no longer try to just suck up to gatekeepers and will just take control of their careers, their writing careers, and just write and publish by themselves. I'm not gonna make that happen."
Takeaways: I love the book and think it's great for Kawasaki to help enable individuals to create and publish their own books. However, it does correlate with the debate amongst with how much content is too much? Consider that 130 million books have been published to date, according to a report from Mashable that used Google's algorithm to add them all up.
Here's another shocker: 10 percent of those were published last year. Check out this thought-provoking Slideshare by Brad Frost.
These amazing figures mean that it's getting more and more difficult to stand out from the crowd. Not just with books, but with content in general. This includes websites, products, articles … the list goes on.
2. Content Marketing and Gaining Visibility
While content marketing has been around for as long as the written word, it has taken itself to a whole new level over the last few years, considering the sheer volume of content that is being produced. This is the result of many things including marketing automation, Google algorithm changes, and social networking.
Additionally, as social networks continue to flatten the barriers of individual visibility, more and more "thought leaders" will continue to emerge. Because of this, the floodgates of good content are now wide open.
There will always be an ever-increasing supply of good content from smart people. Back in the day, this would be filtered through a few key sources like magazines, news outlets and a limited number of field experts. This is no longer the case.
Now we have thousands if not millions of sources for original, high quality content. So, what does Kawasaki predict will be the result of this?
"In a sense, SmartBrief is exactly that. [T]hey're providing a service to their membership where thousands of stories come out all the time, they pick the handful that are worth reading. It's very valuable service […] Eventually, content curators will be as important as the creation itself."
Why does this matter? Clearly, content curators already exist. However, I think we'll continue to see them become more niche oriented, and leaders will naturally emerge. The curators probably won't be individuals, but organizations that hire leaders in a given vertical. These leaders will be paid to find and curate the best of the best content from multiple sources.
As digital marketers, we'll need to embrace content curators and develop relationships with them. Additionally, we'll need to make sure the content being created for our companies and clients is best of the best. Garbage content will never see the light of day and authorship status will be penalized. This is already the case, but will continue to be more and more important.
3. Starting Your Own Company
Many of my friends, colleagues and readers of SEW are working full time for an agency or company but have the ambition to start their own business. So, what is Kawasaki's advice for making the leap from the security of a full-time job?
"It's easy for me to say: I mean it involves lifestyle changes, but I think the most important step for any entrepreneur is to not do a financial forecast, not write a business plan, not do a PowerPoint pitch, but to create a prototype and either the dogs eat the prototype or they don't, and it doesn't matter," Kawasaki said. "If the dogs eat enough to be a prototype, you won't need to do Excel or Word or PowerPoint, and if the dogs don't eat it, then no PowerPoint presentation is going to save your butt."
Takeaways: I don't think Kawasaki is suggesting that PowerPoints and forecasts are not important. I think he is suggesting that you have to follow your dreams and simply get after it. In Kawasaki's famous book, "The Art of the Start" he mentions "Get Going" and "The hardest thing about getting started, is getting started" (p 10). You can see an overview of his book here.
Kawasaki is an outspoken supporter of Google+ and even wrote a book on how to get started on the platform, "What the Plus!: Google+ for the Rest of Us". I asked Kawasaki about his take on the fact that it's still not been widely adopted like rivals Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. His response was short and sweet with a little smile:
"You'll get there."
Takeaways: Those of us, including me, who haven't done much on Google+ need to get after it. Though many still think that it'll never match up with its established rivals, the functionality of the platform, and that fact that Google is behind the steering wheel, means it's unlikely to give up without a fight.
Another reason for us to give Google+ more attention is the time that many of the major online influencers give it. If Guy Kawasaki, Chris Brogan and other thought leaders are spending most of their time on G+ instead of Twitter or Facebook, perhaps we should be doing the same!
Lastly, with Google authorship taking a strong foothold on rankings and the comments coming from Eric Schmidt about information that is tied to verified profiles ranking higher than "anonymous" content in search results, Google+ and authorship will continue to become more of a factor for SEO professionals.
5. Starting a "Marketing Platform"
Kawasaki also shared some actionable advice on how entrepreneurs and upcoming authors should begin their marketing platform.
"I would get on Google+, I would start posting stories and position me as an expert in that niche, in that genre and I would just work two hours a day for nine months on it," Kawasaki said. "… You don't just post it to vacuum, you have to reach out, you have to find other people who are in your niche, you have to comment on their thing, you have to enchant them. … "Post a positive comment. Post a comment that adds value like, ‘you talked about this thing, well this is related and this is another illustration of what you just said,'" Kawasaki said.
Takeaways: Mari Smith has been known to say, "Content is king, engagement is queen." I think Kawasaki is suggesting that here as well. While we have to create, curate, and share content, we also have to genuinely interact with our communities. Kawasaki evokes this attribute. He's easy to approach and is constantly engaging with his communities both virtually, and in the real world.
Online, you'll see him replying to comments and sharing content. In person, you'll see him engaging with fans and taking pictures of those taking pictures of him.
A couple of final comments worth noting:
- "Nobody who's successful recognizes their doom."
- "I'm kind of a supply-side marketing guy, which is if you have a great product, everything flows from there."
You can watch the entire interview here, and get additional thoughts from Kawasaki about email subject lines, Twitter's new Vine service, Motorola's culture, how many hours a day it takes to build a marketing platform, and if he actually invented social media.