Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with the man… no, the legend behind WriterAccess: Byron White. With over 15 years of content marketing experience — which includes running a full-service content marketing agency, publishing many books on the subject and founding WriterAccess in 2010 — I couldn’t wait to hear first hand about his experiences in the industry.
He imparted some valuable insights on the future of the marketing industry and content’s increasingly important role in it to me. And now, I’d like to share them with you.
Interview with Byron White of Writer's Access
How’d you get into content marketing?
“I started a few companies in my life…about six to be exact some of them more successful than others, and I landed in the publishing space in 2000. With the launch of Life Tips, this model that I thought was going to make the world a better place one tip at a time. So I started publishing content and tips and hired employees. And our business model was much like About.com, where we just wanted to harvest and gather all the tips in the world that could help people with different things in life, ranging from buying an automobile, to fixing their backyard and building a raised garden, to ergonomic travel. I mean literally, every subject was within our reach, we thought. So I began to understand what’s happening with content, how to optimize content, how to make it work on the web. And that’s really how I got into content marketing, and publishing, specifically.”
What sparked your interest in that in general?
“I had started a business, and sold it, and didn’t really want to retire. And I really had a vision like a lot of people that ‘I want to make the world a better place.’ That was my original idea, which actually came from high school believe it or not. I had a business model in my head inspired by my mom, at the time, who was sort of like a Martha Stewart type of woman. She knew everything about everything, and had an answer for health and betterment and life. So I imagined her being a consultant, going out, and literally knocking on someone’s door, a posse of people like my mom, of course, a company, that was called L.I.F.E.: Living Improvements for Everyone.
We would knock on the door and say ‘Hey, for $200, I’ll give you a consulting session right now, I’m gonna walk through your home and tell you where you’re going wrong. For example, I’m gonna open your refridgerator, and see if you’re storing the vegetables in the bags that you get at the grocery store, and you’re basically killing your vegetables!’ So that was one example of many that I had that I thought would be an interesting concept to literally improve people’s lives. So, fast forward like 20 years later, and I turned that into Life Tips, in more of an online model to give quick tips and advice."
How would you say the marketing has changed in recent years?
“We know a lot more about what works and what doesn’t work, and we have a lot more people trying to figure that out, using big data, using analytics, using creativity and inspiration. Neuroscience, which is translating into neuromarketing, we’re understanding how the brain works better. Conscious thinking vs emotion, unconscious thinking. We have a lot more data now than we did 10, 20, 50 years ago. And we’re putting that data to work to try to really stop “selling” stuff."
It’s no longer about the sales process, it’s about introducing your brand to people and it’s really your approach that sells products, not so much the features or benefits of your products. That’s what’s changed.”
Did that surprise you at all? I don’t want to say that it’s drastic, but it’s definitely different than what we’re used to seeing and used to doing in the marketing industry.
“I’m glad you said that, because it seems surprising to you, but I’m older than you, so I’ve learned through weathered experience that nothing surprises me now. I think that big data will probably bring some big surprises to both you and I with what people are doing and why people are doing it. And of course, social media and how we sell. Influences on our decisions are fascinating to me.”
In terms of business, what does this mean for trying to sell products or services? What implications would you say that this has?
“I think that question requires several hours to answer, but the question is – What’s influencing the decision-making process? So, we’re beginning to zone in on that, as to what triggers the mind to say, “I want something.” And what influences do we need to plant in peoples’ mind to get better acquainted with that process? That should help us, hopefully, make better products, and market those products very differently than we do today, once we gather all of this information.
That’s the seventh era of marketing, is where are we going with all of this, and all these things we think we need and then we buy. Where are we going with all of that when we get to a point where we just have too much. It doesn’t look like that’s anywhere near. No matter what you have, you always want more. And that’s again, the way that the brain is programmed to work, which is great for capitalism, so let’s keep it going.”
With these changes, what do you think will help companies stay relevant, whether it’s agencies, or in-house marketing departments at companies?
“We’re learning how to market ourselves better, particularly agencies. We’re learning better the process and procedure by which we need to create. That’s what’s most fascinating to me. How we create is changing. The workflow is changing, the things we need to do to get something done. We used to think in terms of campaigns, like, “It starts, it finishes, you do stuff in between. That’s not the case anymore.
Now it’s an ongoing perpetual learning process, with communication coming at you from a blog post that you had three months ago. Or learning through conversion path analysis these influences and things. Campaigns never stop now, they’re going on all the time! That’s my take.”
What are some common marketing strategies that you believe will need to be adjusted in order for us to conform to these new and emerging trends?
“How we create, the data that we use to create, the structure by which we create. Those are the big three that come at the top of mind. It’s getting better. Technology is helping us get better, helping us research, find competitive intelligence much easier than we could before. So there’s just incredible products and tools out there.
That’s what I see changing the most is we should be able to make decisions faster based upon data. We should be able to write better based upon training and development and thinking about what we’re writing. And that’s what I see changing and perhaps getting better.”
Where do you see our industry heading in the next two to five years?”
“Well, we seem to be moving more into experience marketing. That’s sort of the future of where’s it’s going. Right now, we’re in sort of a customer-focused marketing zone, where the customer is the centerpiece, no longer our products and services. But I think we'll break out beyond the customer and look more at experience [soon], which really helps us create experiences for customers, that are not just centered around our products or services. Those experiences become the process. Education and training, that’s what people want. They want to understand the way you do business. Your approach to business. And that’s what’s getting exciting. We’re reaching out of our comfort zone, and brining people like you are into your office to share an experience together.”
Want to learn more about Groove marketing services and our content marketing strategies? Contact us today, we would love to hear from you!
Interested in learning more about Content Marketing from Byron White? Watch to learn more in his presentation "How to Make Your Content Marketing Snap, Crackle and Pop to Drive Conversions."