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Content Marketing Tips: Building Audience and Distribution with Bree Fedele

Content Marketing Tips: Building Audience and Distribution with Bree Fedele

Written by Adam Spencer

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Episode Summary:

In this engaging episode of ‘Earning Ears,’ host Adam Spencer sits down with Bree Fedele, Senior Marketing Manager at Airtree, to explore the expansive world of content marketing. From the outset, Bree emphasizes the importance of audience understanding and its critical role in crafting effective content. The compelling dialogue covers a range of topics, from aligning stakeholders on the role of content to adopting a long-term perspective in content strategies.

Bree sheds light on the common challenges faced when selling content internally, offering strategies to overcome objections and secure team support. She advises on the necessity of aligning with the long-term vision, prioritizing impactful actions, and sharing goals transparently to foster collaborative success. Moreover, Bree underscores the significance of delivering value, ensuring content serves the reader first and embodies authenticity and insight.

Key Takeaways:

  • Audience Empathy: Recognizing the audience’s realities and needs is fundamental to creating magic with content marketing.
  • Content Strategy as a Long-term Play: Content marketing is not an overnight success; it’s a compounding effect that grows over time.
  • Feedback is Crucial: Seeking and incorporating both internal and external feedback is vital for iterating and improving content strategies.
  • Qualitative over Quantitative Feedback: While data is essential, audience sentiment and content sharing without prompts (‘content in the wild’) are golden indicators of success.
  • Distribution Matters: Effective distribution is about providing insights and value, not just sharing links – it’s critical to meet the audience where they are.

Notable Quotes:

  • “Much like you can’t build a product if you don’t know your audience, you can’t create content if you don’t know your audience either.” – Bree Fedele
  • “There’s a compounding effect to content. There’s generally no overnight success.” – Bree Fedele
  • “Don’t just sharing links is not content or distribution. You need to think about how you can distribute insights, not just links.” – Bree Fedele
  • “Every job is a sales job.” – Bree Fedele
  • “Most content is designed to serve the company, not the reader. Let’s avoid that from the outset.” – Bree Fedele

Resources:

  • Femme Street Newsletter by Sarah at North Zone
  • Newsletter by Deb Lou
  • Newsletter by Wes Kao
  • Newsletter by Molly Graham
  • Newsletter by Julian Shapiro
  • OnlyCFO Newsletter (SaaS Metrics)
  • Book: “The Secret History” by Donna Tartt
  • Book Club featuring “The Nightingale” and notes by Dolly Alderton
  • Marketing Examples website (engine and fuel paradigm)
  • Book “Building a Story Brand” by Donald Miller

Transcript:

Adam Spencer: I’m Adam Spencer. This is Earning Is, the show that helps you earn your audience’s attention. We talk to world class audience builders about the tools, tactics, and mindset they use to grow their audiences from zero. In this episode, we’re doing a deep dive on content marketing with Brie Fidel, Senior Marketing Manager at Airtree.

Bree Fedele: Much like you can’t build a product if you don’t know your audience, you can’t create content if you don’t know your audience either. But if you do create it with their, like, reality’s top of mind. Like, that’s when the magic happens.

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Adam Spencer: Bree has spent the last decade helping both established tech companies and fresh startups tell their stories in a way that resonates. As you’ll hear in our conversation, she’s a firm believer that great content marketing comes from knowing your audience inside and out. We discuss how to communicate the value of content marketing to stakeholders, building a marketing strategy, and how to think about sharing your content once it’s done.

Thank you, Bree, for coming on [00:01:00] to the Earning Years Show. The first question I like to ask everyone is, what has been earning your ears lately? And it doesn’t have to be a pod, it doesn’t have to be an audio thing, just kind of, what content are you really admiring?

Bree Fedele: Mm, this is a, a tricky question because I would say I’m a ferocious consumer of content, um.

But at the start of 2024, I was like, you know what, I’m going to do my best this year to read as much fiction and listen to as much fiction as possible versus nonfiction. I think it’s really easy to, you know, get swept up in like, Oh, someone’s reading this book about, you know, management or product or whatnot.

Um, and yeah, You end up coming to the table with the same ideas as everyone else, because everyone’s reading that same book. And so I think it’s much nicer to kind of switch into different genres, read outside of what you normally do, listen to podcasts and whatnot outside of your normal world. And I think it’s just like, [00:02:00] that’s when the kind of creative moments that, you know, when you’re walking outside kind of spring up versus feeling like you need to do your homework at the end of the day, reading some another business book that you find in, you know, the airport lounge.

Adam Spencer: Yeah, you’re not really giving your, your brain a rest are you, if you’re just reading non fiction all the time, which I am guilty of, uh, although But I’ve just started listening to a book called Moriarty, which I think is just like a story told through the eyes of Moriarty instead of Sherlock Holmes.

Bree Fedele: I love that.

Adam Spencer: I just listen to a lot of Jack Reacher audiobooks, and this is, I don’t know if I want to tell people this.

Bree Fedele: We all have our guilty pleasures. Ha

Adam Spencer: ha ha. What, uh, what fiction books are you into?

Bree Fedele: Um, well, I’m a member of a book club and at the moment we’re reading the Secret History by Donna Tartt and that was a bit inspired by Saltburn.

So it’s a very similar kind of premise and set up as that. But at the beginning of this year, um, I read a few over the course of a couple of days. Um, one being Tom Lake. [00:03:00] Another one was The Nightingale. That was a great one.

Adam Spencer: Oh yeah. I haven’t read that, but I see that. Promote a lot on Audible.

Bree Fedele: There was, um, Good Material by Dolly Alderton, Green Dot by, um, L.

O. Cools.

Adam Spencer: Holy moly.

Bree Fedele: Yeah. It’s been, it’s been a big start to the year, but it’s, you know, once you get into the flow of it, I think it’s just like such a joy and hard to, yeah.

Adam Spencer: That’s a lot of books. Have you done any like actual work in air training

Bree Fedele: this year? We’ll see.

Adam Spencer: You must read really fast.

Bree Fedele: If it’s the right book, I am.

And I, like, I think that’s my other resolution this year is like, if it’s not, like, sparking joy immediately, then I’m like, not going to just try and finish it for the sake of it. It’s just like, why, why waste your time? Just like, download the sample. And if you’re not loving it, don’t buy the book.

Adam Spencer: Any nonfiction content that’s caught your eye?

Bree Fedele: Yeah. I think the main ones that I consume probably on a day to day basis is people’s substacks. Um, I think they’re just such a [00:04:00] treasure trove, especially from other operators in the startup and tech world. Um, some of the ones that I read like quite frequently is a good, good curation of that is Femme Street, um, which is, um, curated by, uh, one of the partners, Sarah at North Zone.

And it’s a newsletter. Gathering lots of content from across the ecosystem, all written by women or non binary founders and operators in the ecosystem. Uh, Debloo’s another great one.

Adam Spencer: What was the name of that first newsletter?

Bree Fedele: Femme Street.

Adam Spencer: Would you say you mainly consume written content as opposed to video or audio?

Bree Fedele: Definitely lots of written and lots of audio. I’d say if I’m at my desk and at my computer, I’m reading a lot of written content, but if I’m, you know, commuting to and from work, walking around, um, it’s really audio. I think Wes Cow is another amazing resource. Um, I love her stuff around, um, managing. Molly Graham is another great one.

Julian Shapiro. Only [00:05:00] CFO if you’re into SAS metrics. Um, there’s such a bunch of good stuff of people who are just like. Taking down like all of their learnings from their brains of their day to day and just putting it out there.

Adam Spencer: How did you fall in love, assuming you did fall in love with content marketing?

How did that happen? How did you tell us that story?

Bree Fedele: Well, if you asked my mom, she would probably say she knew this from the start because I was writing some crazy stories when I was in primary school. Um, but I, I grew up in Wollongong. Um, my dad was a builder. My mom was a teacher. Um, When I finished school, I was like, I’m moving to the big smoke.

I’m going to Sydney. I’m leaving Mulunggong. I had no idea about like universities or like the prestige of like the different dynamics of them. No idea about grad programs or any of that. I was just like, I’m going to move to Sydney. I’m going to do a business degree because I liked business studies. And then I did bunch of [00:06:00] internships while I was at uni.

Um, and then when I finished up, I went overseas for a bit and came back and all of my peers had gotten jobs. Um, and I was like, okay, shit, I need to I need to do something serious now. And so I got a job in sales, um, for a publication timeout that I was a big fan of, I’d just been overseas and I’d been reading, um, time out, you know, when I was in London, when I was in New York and, um, I joined the sales team there, but, um, sales wasn’t for me, but with hindsight.

There are so many skills that I use from my sales role in my day to day job now. And, um, I could not think of a better training ground of soft skills. Um, at the start of your career, then sales while I wasn’t enjoying selling rectangles and squares, ad spaces on websites, um, it was around the time where people were like, Oh, branded content, what’s, what’s happening here.

And [00:07:00] that was naturally more of a space that I lent into. And so leaning into there, I got to work with like big brands like MasterCard and Google and Unilever on content campaigns. And I didn’t even really know I was doing content, but. It was, it was content. And so from there I ended up moving to the BBC to their commercial content division called StoryWorks, so selling content, um, on the BBC’s website with like Qantas and Toyota and like luxury cruise travel and whatnot.

Adam Spencer: Yeah. So still in sales though, at that point. Less

Bree Fedele: sales, um, like working alongside a sales team, but more of like the ideation, strategy and project management to get a content campaign, um, off the ground. So it’s still very much a commercial lens, um, but more like hands on in terms of the content creation, reporting and full end to end execution.

It was there that I came across an opportunity to join a [00:08:00] startup. Um, so I had my time as a one woman marketing band, um, in a startup. And then from there, um, I found my way to Airtree, which I, you know, at the start of my career, I had no idea about what BC was or any of that, and could not have told you that I would have landed there, but in hindsight, it all makes sense given kind of what my role comprises of today.

Adam Spencer: And so, I’m conscious of time and, and I’m worried about going down that startup rabbit hole. But what was that like? Like, because I am very familiar with trying to run marketing on a, on a zero dollar marketing budget. Any one, two, three tips that you would give to anyone listening? Things you can do, especially from a content lens.

Yeah, running a zero dollar marketing campaign.

Bree Fedele: Yeah. One is Don’t ask for a ton of budget from the get go. I think it’s very tempting to be like, join a team and then you’re like, okay, where’s the budget to work with? I think you need to start with what can I [00:09:00] DIY? You need to be scrappy while you test and learn so that you can make some more kind of educated bets on where you want to go.

Lean in, not just necessarily in terms of budget, but like lean in and invest your time, energy and resources. Um, so that you’ll know where you’re going to get the best return on those efforts. And so if you’re putting together a 30, 60, 90 day plan, I’d like to think about how you can spend as much time with like a sales team, your customer success team, and your product team.

So shadow them to kind of shortcut. Your understanding of your audience, join the sales calls, like answer tickets that your customer support are handling. I think that’s probably a nice, like little groundwork for getting started at a startup. And also don’t try and do it all, all at once. I’d pick one thing and do it well and focus on like distributing that and then build from there.

Adam Spencer: That’s great. I think I can learn some stuff from that myself. My main job is sales running a day one [00:10:00] network, but I also create a lot of content and I, yeah, I guess I just should be paying more attention in those sales calls because there is unlimited ideas there of content to create to help answer those questions and objections that you run into in those sales calls.

Bree Fedele: Every job is a sales job. Yeah. Yeah.

Adam Spencer: Yeah. Jumping now into Airtree, you and I, I think we, we both love and understand the value that content brings to business. Jumping into a new team that might not be as on board with content as you are. How do you kind of, yeah, catch them up, get them on your side, get them to understand that value?

What are the main objections first that you kind of run into?

Bree Fedele: There’s probably three that I would theme up in terms of like roadblocks, um, to getting content marketing initiatives off the ground. The first is, uh, lack of alignment on the role of content. So it [00:11:00] comes down to why are we doing this? And is everyone on the same page about why we’re doing this?

If you’re presenting tactics to your stakeholders without their buy in on the strategy, You can be waxing lyrical about this amazing thought leadership series that builds the brand, but then the sales leader is going, how the hell does this enable my team? So I think you need to have like alignment from the start about where you want to end up and make sure that the stakeholders around you are bought into that process.

The second is that, and there’s always an exception to the rule, but content is a long term play. So there’s a compounding effect to content. There’s. Generally no overnight success. Your initiatives aren’t going to generate returns as quickly as some other marketing plays. So if you were either going to hold your nerve on it or switch tax, if your business goals or objectives are focused on what you can achieve in the next three to six months, you’re not going to set yourself up for success to demonstrate the ROI of content because you’re probably not going to see that magic for a while.

A longer [00:12:00] period of time. And then the last is, um, everyone’s a content creator, um, even if they wouldn’t ascribe that, um, label to themselves. And so subjective opinions come with. Both helps and hindrances in the, to get in the process around buying in around content. I don’t think you can call yourself a content marketer unless people have said, Hey, we should start a podcast or we should start a Tik TOK or let’s go viral at least 10 times.

So you need to know when to like stand your ground and like push back on suggestions so that you’re not just doing random acts of marketing and when to say yes to things.

Adam Spencer: Yes. Content. Pretty much 99 times out of 100 is going to be a long term game and I always like to say that your content gets more and more powerful the longer you do it.

But yes, people want to make sales, people want to make money so the business can stay in business. And how would you get around, you know, people wanting quicker results with content. Okay. How do you convince them to [00:13:00] do content?

Bree Fedele: Yeah. I think depending on your business’s planning cycle, you need to operate in two modes.

So you need to have a line of sight on what’s the most important things to achieve in the next 12 to 24 months. And then what are the tactics and initiatives that you can execute each quarter that are going to ladder up to that bigger goal? Like this is all common sense and I’m not going to be telling anyone anything new, But going back to that compounding effect of content and knowing that you may not see ROI on those bigger plays immediately, if you break your initiatives into little building blocks.

That some of them might show those kinds of spikes that you’re wanting to see in the short term. Then once you start putting them all together, they’re going to add up to something much bigger. If you’ve got piecemeal tactics or like randomly shaped blocks that don’t fit together at the end of those 24 months, you might’ve seen little bits and pieces here, but you won’t see that bigger impact at say that one year mark or that two year mark.

And so I think. [00:14:00] Yeah, have your eye both on like the long term horizon, but like what are some of the kind of quick wins that you can get happening, um, in the short term as well.

Adam Spencer: What were you talking about when you were talking about blocks? What did you mean by that?

Bree Fedele: So let’s say in 12 to 24 months, you want to, um, be recognized as say, X, Y, Z in your space, that’s not going to happen overnight.

And so you need to break that down into how do we. Build that story over time with our audience and take them on that journey. And so some of it might be some really foundational education content because you may be working in a super technical space, or you may be working in a space where there is a lot of competitors and it’s very, very difficult.

Not clear on face value, how you differentiate from your competitors. And so you need to start there. And then it’s like getting some feedback on that process and being like, okay, what’s the next thing here where maybe we can think about [00:15:00] more creatively about how we bring that to life. And so then it’s maybe a little bit more of that, like entertaining or inspiring content.

Um, and then bringing that up, but all of those pieces should fit together versus feel like, oh, I’m just spraying and praying and I’m doing this, like, one thing over here in this, like, video execution over here, and then we’re going to try this podcast for three months and, oh, no, we’re not seeing any results from a podcast for three months.

Well, what did you expect? Like.

Adam Spencer: Right. If we’ve got past or at least solved some of those objections from the team and we have them part of the way along to at least giving us a shot with a content marketing campaign, what do you do? Like, what strategies do you put in place or? What systems do you build to help bring the team along with you as you were testing the content and showing them that it’s working?

Bree Fedele: I’d start with asking for feedback internally and externally on your [00:16:00] work, and you’re going to need to figure out what’s resonating, what’s working, what doesn’t feel quite right. You do have to take qualitative feedback with a pinch of salt because it is subjective, but I think sometimes you can default to jumping into the data to see whether it’s a binary good or bad.

But as marketers, I think a lot of us have a good instinct as to whether this is working or not. And do I need to change course or should I try and see this through? If you do get feedback that resonates. It is important to action it and then share back that next iteration of whatever you’re working on with whoever gave you that feedback.

I think that’s a powerful way to build their trust and support and buy in because they know that they’re feeling hurt. So that the next time you’re like coming to them with a big idea, there, there’s that trust there. And then when you do come to them with like the execution or the end result, you’ve probably already got a sense of their sentiment or where they might push back or where they might have objections that you can solve for in that process.

[00:17:00] I think qualitative feedback can also come from your audience and something that I like to focus on is what I call like content in the wild. Like where am I seeing our content that other people are sharing unprompted? Like I think You know, you can look at Google analytics to for hours and hours and be like, Oh, how many page views am I getting?

And whatnot. But if someone is like in a Slack community and someone’s asking a question, the other person is responding and answer with your content. I think that that speaks volumes like that to me is like the gold at the end of the day. That means. 10 times more than like, whatever clicks you get on a LinkedIn post.

Adam Spencer: I love that.

Bree Fedele: You can jump to the numbers too. I think the numbers do have a time and place, um, to measure your impact and you can share that back. Um, but don’t get distracted by vanity metrics. I think if we’re being true to ourselves, sometimes we know that those big spikes in the graphs and not necessarily [00:18:00] correlated with the end goals that we want to see.

So like Just as like, when we say we’re writing, you’ve got to kill your darling. Sometimes you need to like call out whether what you’re seeing is a sugar hit or is it actually moving like the needle on results. I think as you get further and further along the track, you can get much more sophisticated with how you show ROI back on whatever you’re working on.

For instance, when I was working at the BBC, we did a content campaign with, um, a luxury cruise liner, and they were able to see from the people who saw that content and then booked the cruise. Um, a trip off the back of it, those people, when they went on and to be on board and have that experience, then spent far more on board than other people who hadn’t seen that content, just because they had had an experience, they knew what they were getting themselves in for all that kind of thing.

That’s very sophisticated and, you know, a lot further down the track and is very removed from like the world that I work in today with like. [00:19:00] Startups, but I think, you know, if you’re thinking long term about content and where you want to build your brand around content, there is like those opportunities available.

Adam Spencer: First of all, I love the concept content in the wild, like very well named content campaigns very early on. The data is going to be pretty small comparatively, and so there might not be enough data there to clearly see if this is working or not, but jumping onto social media and seeing someone share your, the content that you’ve put your blood, sweat and tears into without any prompt, that feedback is incredible and probably a reason to continue going.

Bree Fedele: Is

Adam Spencer: there anything you do to help engineer that, that sharing of the content?

Bree Fedele: Uh, I have a big bug bear problem with distribution. Um, distribution is the less sexy sibling to content creation. Everyone wants to [00:20:00] work on like creating the content, you know, writing the big long form thing, doing the video, whatnot.

Um, and then they do it and then they. Copy and paste a link and then post it on a, on a social channel or whatnot, and then go on, move on to the next thing. There is a great resource called, um, marketing one. That’s probably should have mentioned that in the sub stack list before, but I think that should be a go to for all marketers.

And they talk about. Um, engine and fuel. Um, and there’s no point creating like all of this fuel if you’ve got no engine to run it through. And that’s how I feel about distribution. And so in my experience, like you can’t just sharing links is not content distribution. You need to think about how you can distribute insights, not just links.

Otherwise it’s going to be another item that people. Like scroll past in their feed. So what can you pull out of whatever you’re creating? That’s going to package up a sentiment, a feeling, a problem that your audience is experience experiencing so [00:21:00] they can jump immediately into like what’s resonating with them versus like having to.

Click on a click baity headline and some obscure image that has actually nothing to do with whatever you’re talking about.

Adam Spencer: Any extra tips on, on distribution? On getting that out into the world in front of the people that’s going to help? How do we do that? Do you have any tips?

Bree Fedele: I think it goes back to strategy.

Like if you’re arriving at that point or bumping up against that problem, once you’ve produced that content, that’s like a strategy problem, not an execution problem. So let’s say like you’re a new dad, right?

Adam Spencer: Now that you’ve brought up, I’m a new dad. I’m probably going to have to leave in the bit in the, in the interview where Lacey was crying in the background.

So people get the reference.

Bree Fedele: Okay. Well, this is all, all a part of like the audience empathy, right? Um, so I feel like let’s take, for example, there’s a lot of like digital men’s health services popping up and say you’re their target market. There’s [00:22:00] no point 12 things Adam needs to optimize. over an hour long video, because I don’t think that you have the time to watch an hour long video on this.

And you’re probably so busy that you only have time to do one of those steps to optimize your health, let alone 12. And so if you’ve gotten to the end of that, where you’ve produced this video and you’re like, yeah, how am I going to reach Adam? Like that’s, that’s the problem, not the like, Oh, what do we need to solve?

Like you need to solve for that much earlier. And so I think a lot of that comes down to audience empathy.

Adam Spencer: I love that. Yep. But, just for the sake of trying to get some nice little gold nuggets for the audience listening. Can you dot point a couple of things that you would do to, to increase distribution of content that you’ve created, like outside of let’s put it on the, on the Airtree social channels.

How, how do you do it?

Bree Fedele: At Airtree, I run a content hub called Open Source VC, and the premise of that is how can we [00:23:00] shortcut a lot of company building first for founders and operators in the ecosystem. And the way I think about it is, that is our freemium product. If we were a SaaS business, that is our freemium product.

And when a portfolio company joins the Airtree family, they get the premium full service suite of offerings. Within that freemium offering, we have a lot of documents and templates, lists and databases, guides and how tos and whatnot. So, within the content, there’s a lot of resources within that, that I think we should, we can and should be able to attribute a dollar value to where we’re saving founders time.

Um, so how can we surface that and share that and give, show them that benefit rather than just like pushing that link out there. So it’s not just about, um, like here’s the ESOP template. It’s like, I’m going to, Pull out how you should arrive at the right, um, employee share scheme set up for your startup and create a [00:24:00] flow chart so that people can work through that.

So problem solving before they even need the template. I think, you know, it’s very easy to just come up with, like, this is just like the one thing that this is going to talk about, but it’s like, what’s the value that you create? Beyond that first touch point or whatever content piece they’re reading. And that’s probably the thing that you need to pull out into the feed.

Similar to if you’re interviewing someone, don’t just say, Oh, this is an interview with this person. What, what is the most interesting or insightful or surprising or contrarian thought that you can pull out? That is probably something that your audience is thinking about, or like, you know, that’s what keeps them up at night as well.

Is how they. Do this, like sometimes people want to, you know, don’t want to kind of give away the surprise, but sometimes it’s best to just like show what’s the most exciting part of it in the feed versus being like, you need to click this first and then you need to listen to 45 minutes before we get to the actual nugget.

Like,

Adam Spencer: yeah,

Bree Fedele: show me up [00:25:00] front what I’m in for. Like

Adam Spencer: that right there is going to be a piece of micro content that we share in the feed. You mentioned strategy and I want to dive into that. Maybe we could use, uh, what was that content property you just mentioned? The entry

Bree Fedele: open source VC,

Adam Spencer: maybe we could use open source VC as an example.

Did you develop that? That property yourself, like since starting at Airtree?

Bree Fedele: No. So when I came to Airtree, all of their content was housed on a medium. And it was like very much this organic, like the partners, there was no marketers in the team. The partners were just like, this is getting feedback from the market around whatnot.

And so we had some starting points with a lot of like the documents and templates. Um, and then I came in and I was like seeing what was working, what was resonating. And I was like, this is just what we need to double down on. And so. Slight, like, digression from the conversation, but I think especially if you’re joining a startup, um, as a marketer, [00:26:00] don’t, um, dismiss or ignore some of the kind of organic momentum that’s already happening just because a marketer might not have created that strategy.

I think look at what’s resonating. These people know their audience, they know their customer, um, and take that and see what you can do with it.

Adam Spencer: That’s a great piece of advice. Do you have a framework of how you start to develop a content strategy?

Bree Fedele: Definitely a framework, but I think a lot of it starts with audience empathy.

So like, I’ll caveat this with like, I’m in a very fortunate position at Airtree where as a brand, we get a lot of attention. Um, and we have that on our side when it comes to like building our audience. But I also know it can be a real slog when you’re a new brand to market and no one’s ever heard of you and you don’t have any budget.

But when it comes to audience empathy as an input into your market strategy, as someone creating content. For a brand, like it’s not, I’m the brand I’m creating content for the brand. I think I’m realistic [00:27:00] about the role the brand plays in the audience’s life. We’re not there to be the main character.

We’re just the helpful guys. And if you’ve read, um, building a story brand, this will all resonate, but I think an easy mistake to make when you’re trying to build your audience is not thinking about how your content is. Going to help their audience or you make it too difficult for them to understand how you do help.

So you need a lot of audience, uh, empathy for the, your audience and the jobs they need to be done. So Airtree, our audience is early stage founders who need funding so they can build and grow their startup, solve the world’s biggest problems, do their life’s work. Where a framework comes into this is like, if you think of like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, Those needs are at the bottom, um, and of the pyramid.

So if we jumped to content straight away, that was about how they can self actualize. We’re not really meeting the audience where they are. They may eventually want to get there. And by all means, we’re like here to support that journey. But as [00:28:00] an early stage founder, they probably got a bit of a road ahead of them before they get there.

On the other hand, if you’re Porsche and you’re talking about how the car gets you from A to B, that’s probably not going to be the clincher for someone who, you know, is going to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on the car. But going back to Airtree’s audience, like what keeps them up at night is thinking about how they can, you know, just keep the lights on of their company and go from zero to one with very limited resources.

So our content strategy should be helping them save time, money, and from making mistakes. Thanks. So we have the privilege of seeing like hundreds of companies, startups, journeys from like day one to billion dollar businesses. And so our content should like capture all of those lessons, help them see around corner and avoid the same mistakes.

Like much like you can’t build a product. If you don’t know your audience, you can’t create content. If you don’t know your audience either, but if you do create it with. They’re like reality’s top of mind. Like, that’s when the magic

Adam Spencer: happens. I think I [00:29:00] need to potentially do a multi part series on audience discovery because it, yeah, in a number of conversations, it always comes down to knowing your audience first and foremost.

How do you go about getting a clear picture on, on who your audience is?

Bree Fedele: I spend like a lot of time talking to founders. I spend a lot of time reading board reports, asking our investment team, what problems, um, founders are bumping up against. I read a lot of founders blogs and read, like listen to a lot of interviews that they do.

Um, through all of that, you kind of connect all of these data points and some things start to become patterns. And I think it’s. Every startup is different, but there is commonalities amongst things in like the company building journey that they bump up against. I can’t solve for everything because, you know, looking at our portfolio, you’ve got a SAS company, then you’ve got a FinTech, a HealthTech, DeepTech.

Um, there’s all the [00:30:00] nuances to those industries, but there’s, Definitely a common thread throughout of a lot of the things that they’re going to experience. And so when I start to see like those data points, like coalescing around one of those topics, I’m like, that’s the thing that we can solve at scale.

Let’s do that.

Adam Spencer: Kind of near the end of the interview. I’m going to throw this question at you and it’s, it’s a little open ended and really just remembering, you know, people that are listening to this are, are content people. They want to get better at content marketing and building audiences, building community.

How do you earn your audience? What are kind of the big things you do that you believe in, that you know works to, yeah, build audience, build community?

Bree Fedele: I think it’s coming back to that audience empathy and distribution. And I think there is a Venn diagram overlap there about Adam being the new dad that doesn’t have a lot of time to listen to your one hour video.

That’s going to give him, educate him on the 12 points of what he needs to optimize for his health. Um, so I think that’s [00:31:00] the, the two, the two main ingredients there. I’d say, I think you also need to like qualify, like most content is designed to serve the company, not the reader. So like, let’s avoid that from the outset.

I think the three things that I would wanna answer to avoid that is like, why do we wanna talk about this? It is fine for a brand to want to talk about a subject and talk about themselves, but what puts us in a unique position to be able to talk about this and then off the, the offshoot of that is your story assets.

Do we have. unique insights from our customers? Is that in the form of data? Do we have interesting people in our network who can contribute to this? Or we create like some kind of research or report where we have the right to like own that topic area or domain. And then why does our audience care? If you’re not kind of operating at the intersection of all three of those things, uh, that I don’t think that your end point is going to meet the audience where they are.

Adam Spencer: Kind of why I wanted to start this [00:32:00] podcast. I think a mindset shift really needs to change with a lot of, a lot of organizations around content marketing. Yes, even though it does need to solve a business objective and have an ROI, content should never be about what we can get. It should always be what can we give first, and that ultimately achieves our objectives.

I really believe that, yes, audiences are so important, figuring out what you have that you can give them, what you’re in, as you said, what you’re in a unique position to give them. Sorry about that little rant.

Bree Fedele: Love a good rant, and I’m, I could join that rant, but we’d be here for a couple more.

Adam Spencer: What do you think your, your content superpower is?

Bree Fedele: Uh, curiosity. I think there’s a temptation sometimes to do, say, a lot of, like, desktop research and, um, package that all up and then ship that. It’s the easiest and quickest way to win things, um, but I think that taking the [00:33:00] time to thinking about Um, who are the subject matter experts who our audience want to hear from is a very quick win in terms of like building an audience because you’re going to be giving them like a new insight, um, a new perspective, um, on a topic that you, you should know that they already care about, um, but it’s going to be something that resonates and is of interest.

Um, I’m a big fan of. Like that subject matter expert who you could be leaning on could be someone in your team, it could be a customer, or it could be someone random in your ecosystem. And I think that there’s no harm in like, I love just sending a little DM to someone who I think is an expert on the topic.

I like what they’re saying. I think it’s of value and saying, Hey, would you be interested in helping us out on XYZ? And a lot of the time that can feel like, you know, most people are pretty. Um, and willing to help. And I [00:34:00] think, uh, rather than me thinking that I’m the kind of be all and end all of the content and, um, working on that in isolation, I think I find the right people to build the content with, um, so that it is of interest, um, and of value to the audience that we’re sharing with.

Adam Spencer: When you gave the example of, you know, new dad, Adam, struggling to consume a 45 minute video or whatever it was, cause he has no time. We at the day one podcast network, we create helpful content for founders. Founders are very time poor and we are creating a long form audio and video content specifically for founders.

So. We are going into this creating long form content for founders who don’t have the time to consume the content that we’re creating for them. How do we, what do we do?

Bree Fedele: Well, that’s where I like it comes down to distribution because it’s not necessarily the fact that your one hour interview isn’t.[00:35:00]

Helpful. There’s probably you can slice it and dice it in a million different ways that break out all of those different ways. It can be helpful to a founder or whoever the audience is. And so that’s what I mean about, like, rather than just sharing the link to the 1 hour video. You need to slice it up and package it in a way that’s like, if I’m a founder who cares about this, then this is that little nugget.

Oh, and it’s only four minutes. Great. I can listen to that. But if that’s solved a problem or that resonates with them as a listener, there’s a much higher chance that they’re going to then go and like, listen to the whole thing or listen to another snippet of it. But I think it’s just like packaging it up and presenting it and serving it up on a platter

Adam Spencer: and make them where they are.

Bree Fedele: Yeah. Where the appetite.

Adam Spencer: So, last question, to wrap up, what advice would you give someone facing challenges in selling content internally? Just a couple of dot points or one big piece of advice to help them.

Bree Fedele: I think you need to think about it as if you are selling whatever the [00:36:00] campaign is to someone externally.

It’s a customer and they’re buying your content campaign. And that’s it. I would say like, I didn’t make this connection straight away when I moved from like media sales into startups and whatnot. But when I was in media sales and content sales, like I wanted clients to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a content campaign, but I also wanted that campaign to be so successful that when they were doing their financial budget for the next year, that there was like a little line item already carved out in there for me to do like their next campaign.

And so I think that comes down to like, Getting alignment from the outset about what you’re wanting to achieve. You know, as content marketers, we can be like swept up with all of the ideas and have this very beautiful picture of like what we want to, um, end up as like the output. But if other people, if you’re trying to build a brand and they want to enable sales, that’s not a, that’s not a great starting point.

Prioritize impact, not like a laundry list of suggestions. When everyone’s got an opinion and they’re lobbing [00:37:00] things into from the sidelines, you can easily get distracted and be like, shit, I need to do it all. But I think you need to pick like two to three most impactful thing. Going back to those building blocks, they’re going to ladder up to that, like long term impacts that you want to see.

And most of the time there’s people who are lobbying those ideas at you. If you go back the next day and say, Hey, I’ve been thinking about what you said. They would have been like, what did I say? Like. It was just one of those kind of like drive by suggestions. And if it’s not their domain, they’re probably not losing sleep over it.

Whereas you are, and then just, um, bring people on the journey, um, and share your priorities and goals. I think in the past, a mistake that I’ve made is like when I haven’t gotten, um, alignment up front, or I’ve said yes to all of these random acts of marketing that aren’t going to have an impact. It’s resulted in me making marketing like a black box.

And by that, I mean, I’ve like worked on things in isolation as almost a [00:38:00] protective mechanism from this like court of public opinion that I’ve built off in my head, because I’ve been like, if they just give me the space to execute on this with all this clear air. The end result, they’ll see it and they’ll be like, wow, I finally understand what Brie was like meaning to do all along.

But like good execution, like really does not happen in silos or isolation. And I think what is like far more powerful is that if you do switch to getting that buy in through alignment and then. Owning your strategy and like the growth that you want to see, the feedback that you’ll get along the way will shape that execution into something like far more greater than what I would have ever been able to do by myself.

Adam Spencer: Thank you so much Brie for your time today. This has been actually incredibly educational and we kind of went all over the place. Because I’ve been trying to keep up with your content. Brilliance. Thank you so much for your time. This was a fantastic conversation. I learned a lot. I hope people that are listening learned a lot.

Yeah. Thank you for joining me on Earning Ears.

Bree Fedele: Thanks so much for having me, Adam. It was a lot [00:39:00] of fun.

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Earning Ears

How to create a show that earns your audience’s attention