[01:04] Arnie’s Background
[03:15] Shining in the Internet Bubble
[05:33] Arnie’s Hometown
[07:36] Talking About Kent State University and Riots
[09:05] Association with IKON Office Solutions
[14:04] Stepping Into Content Marketing
[22:54] What Does Vertical Measures Do?
[29:47] What Kind of Content Stands Out
[33:24] Understanding the Customer’s Journey
[37:37] Yachts & Sailing Dreams
[41:31] If Arnie Had to Max Out a Credit Card
Did you know that only 9% of B2B marketers think their organization has a sophisticated content marketing strategy? A survey by the Content Marketing Institute found that a majority of respondents said their organization’s content marketing maturity level was either adolescent or young.
Image via Content Marketing Institute
It’s clear that many marketers are leveraging content but they aren’t exactly at the expert level yet. So, what does it take to reach there?
Best Practices for Effective Content Marketing
If you aren’t aware of the latest content marketing techniques, you are not well prepared to conquer the digital landscape. To help you stay abreast, we’ve compiled the best practices you can follow to succeed at content marketing.
1. Show, Don’t Tell
The conventional wisdom says that marketing is all about selling. But times have now changed. If you try to focus on hard selling, your products and brands are going to be at the center of your marketing strategy. That’s not what you want to be doing.
You should always place your customers at the center. In simple terms, show, don’t tell. Show your customers how your product can solve a pain point for them. Show them why your product is necessary for them. If you just tell them what your product is about, they might not care about it as much.
Many marketers are so preoccupied with selling their projects or polishing their brand image that they completely forget about the customers. If your strategy isn’t audience-centric, you are setting yourself up for failure.
Airbnb knows how to ace this content marketing strategy. Instead of advertising their home stays, their Instagram page showcases how Airbnb hosts live in different parts of the world. From the fun activities in the neighborhood to who the hosts are, their content covers it all.
Here, without directly promoting their services, they give people a glimpse of what they can experience on an Airbnb vacation.
Image via Instagram
2. Create Content That People are Searching For
If you want people to read your content, you need to write about things that they are looking for. This requires a deep understanding of who your target audience is and what their interests are.
Before you start creating content, it’s recommended that you make your audience personas based on your niche and business.
You should list down the pain points for each persona and then figure out how your brand can solve their problems. In addition to this, you can also check out online forums and discussion threads to see what your target audience is talking about. It will give you an insight into what they are searching for online.
Another way of finding content ideas based on audience preferences is through keyword research. With the help of tools like SEMrush and KWFinder, you can find keywords that your audience is searching for.
Once you’ve found the right keywords, make sure you check out the content relevant to them that’s already out there.
3. Optimize Your Content Well
Arnie Kuenn, a content marketing expert, believes that creating content that people search for is the key to stand out. He says he has seen a lot of marketers wonder why their efforts are not leading to fruition.
One of the main reasons is that they are going with headlines that are journalistic or funny, he adds. While there is nothing wrong with it, people aren’t likely to search for it. So, you may not get the number of clicks that you were hoping for. To get traffic, it’s important to get your content noticed.
While content quality comes first, you can’t ignore optimization completely. To optimize your content for search engines, you should pay attention to your headlines, meta descriptions, and keyword density.
In addition to this, make sure you use short sentences and paragraphs. This way you make it easier for crawlers to understand what you are talking about. As a result, you are improving your chances of getting a better ranking in the search results.
4. Add a Touch of Personalization
Effective content marketing is all about knowing what your customers want. An important part of it is to know which part of the sales funnel they are in. Based on their phase, you should personalize your content.
So, someone who is at the top of the funnel or at the awareness stage still needs to be educated about how your products can help them. For someone who is further down the funnel, sending offers and discounts would make more sense.
Sephora uses this strategy to retain their existing customers. They calculate the amount of time a product is expected to last. Just when a customer is about to run out of a product, they send a personalized email with relevant offers. In this way, they are more likely to make a purchase.
5. Track Your Metrics
Content marketing isn’t an exact science. You may need to change your strategies based on how the audience is responding to a particular promotion. Before you get success with content marketing, you may have to dabble with a trial-and-error approach.
So, it’s important a track of how your campaign is faring. Tracking your metrics will help you understand which tactics are working the best for you. In this way, you can learn from your mistakes and avoid repeating them.
Content marketing is a dynamic field. If you want to succeed at it, you need to keep an eye on what’s trending and who your target audience is. The key is to create content that your audience may already be searching for. That way you are addressing their concerns and producing interesting content.
In addition this, conducting keyword research, analyzing your metrics, and adding a bit of personalization can also work wonders for the success of your content marketing strategy.
Which other content marketing best practices would you like to recommend? Please share your views in the comments section.
Shane Barker: Welcome to the podcast. I am Shane Barker, your host of “Shane Barker's Marketing Madness Podcast”.
Welcome to this podcast on content marketing best practices. We'll be talking about the best content marketing practices that marketers should follow to boost their campaign results. With me today, I have the author of two claim content marketing books and the founder and CEO of Vertical Measures, Arnie Kuenn.
He is a thought leadership in the realm of content marketing strategy and conducts numerous conferences, workshops, and seminars globally. Listen, as he advises young marketers on how to come up with content ideas that can potentially go viral. By the end of the podcast, you'll learn how to maximize the potential of your content marketing initiatives. It is definitely worth your time.
So, hey guys, what's going on? It's Shane Barker here with Arnie Kuenn today, the CEO of Vertical Measures an author of two claimed content marketing books Accelerate and then also Content Marketing Works. Arnie thank you so much for taking the time today. I really do appreciate it.
Arnie Kuenn: Oh, thanks and I'm happy to join.
Shane Barker: Yeah, absolutely. So, why don't you tell the audience, just give us a little bit about your background. I mean, I know that like I was telling you earlier before you started this, that I don't even know where to start with you because there's a lot of things that we have parallels with. But you've done so many different things and I was telling you, we only have an hour.
Shane Barker: Like I feel like this should probably be a two- or three-day workshop or seminar on like Arnie's life. And what's happening, how he got to the point where he's at today. But tell us a little bit about yourself, like where you grew up and Kind of give us a little background.
Arnie Kuenn: Well, I was born in Buffalo and at the age of three moved upgraded to Cleveland. I got married and, in my twenties, moved to Phoenix, Arizona, sunny and it's Arizona if they can see it.
Shane Barker: Yeah.
Arnie Kuenn: It's been raining for two days straight here and I've been here ever since, and absolutely love it.
Shane Barker: Phoenix doesn't know how to handle that, when it comes to rain, people lose their mind. I've been in Phoenix and when it rains it’s kind of like the same thing here in Sacramento. We get rain, but when it rains, people lose their mind. They don't know how to handle it. It's like you drove in rain last year. It's not liked its snow. It's like, just drive a little slower.
Arnie Kuenn: Well, an extra, I don't know if you can see well enough behind me, but there's a parking lot and below it is the one level parking garage. I went down there, I drive an SUV. I went down there this morning. I could not even get to my spot because we don't worry about drainage here. Parking spot was about a foot deep of water.
Shane Barker: Yeah. And then when it rains out there it rains hard. Like it's an aggressive...
Arnie Kuenn: Yeah. But I think the whole country at this point is, you we have nothing to complain about.
Shane Barker: Yeah, that's true. That's absolutely true. Absolutely true.
Arnie Kuenn: Usually in Arizona we'd never complained about this. I mean we want the rain and we want the snow, which enormous amount of snow, so it's fine with us.
Shane Barker: Definitely need it. So, anyways, go ahead. So, sorry about that as I inquired a little bit about your background here.
Arnie Kuenn: Well anyway, so yeah, we grew up there but moved to Phoenix just for my whole adult life. Lived here 30 some years. And I know business-wise, this is my third different business. We started Vertical Measures formally. We incorporated in 2006 I think we got serious about it in 2008. When I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do and finally decided to rent some office space and form the agent, really hired somebody. And that's kind of the immediate official start. And that was a little over 10 years ago.
Shane Barker: Wow, that's crazy. And so, and your wife's also a part of the organization, correct?
Arnie Kuenn: Yup. She does our HR and our payroll. And what happened was I had another company and we sold it and I know you have a question about this patent if that comes up. But that was a company that we went and patented some technology, thought we were going to become internet billionaires. And then of course the bubble burst if you might remember if you're old enough.
But there was maybe a 2002, 2003 we kept the business going for a little while, ended up selling it to Nielsen actually. And so, all through that whole process we were doing a lot online and I kind of became the Internet guy with my friends and family and all that. And I had a few clients and moved out, shut down the office we had. And I moved home, and my wife and I was just doing some consulting and she was helping me with the books because I've never been able to do bookkeeping very well and all that. And as the business grew, she stayed with it and now runs that piece of the business.
Shane Barker: That's awesome. So, she's the brains. So, that's what I mean. Yeah, I'm translating because my wife does the same thing. She helps me with my books. No, actually she's the one that runs things. I'm not going to say I'm the pretty face at runs things. I'm just where people see, right. They see me more than they see my wife, but it really, at the end of the day, she's the thing that keeps the glue together. So, I get that.
Arnie Kuenn: I couldn't have gotten this far without her, because I don't do that well.
Shane Barker: Yeah. You and I are the same. I'm not good at it. We were joking about this on one of the other podcasts we did. I'm not really good with numbers. Like I was in accounting, I'm like, oh, this is so difficult, and I'll lie and say, oh, I've been doing this for three years when I've been doing it for 10 years. For me there's just, the timeline thing is just always skewed.
I feel like my brother's like probably 12 years old when he's 35 and just got married and had a kid. So, my timelines are always pretty skewed when it comes to that stuff. So, that's awesome that you and your wife worked together like that. I mean, like I said, that can be awesome. You've been married for how long you've?
Arnie Kuenn: Been married for 37 years. How about that?
Shane Barker: You're a soldier. You are absolute soldier.. 37 years.
Arnie Kuenn: Yeah, don't ask any more personal questions.
Shane Barker: I know, I was like, man, we've got all kinds of stuff. This guys, 37 years. I feel like I've got the oracle relationships. I feel like we should just go straight into relationships. Well that'll be all another podcast. I think we'll stick with content today. So, what was, I mean, give us like an interesting fact about when you were growing up. I mean, what is something that nobody would know about you that you think, okay, most people didn't do this, or you know, deal with this or have this or got a few of those?
Arnie Kuenn: Well, many I won't talk about, to this day. Yeah. Well if ever any anybody's doing any math, you can figure out. I grew up in the 70s, which I think was an awesome period of time to grow up. Music was awesome.
Shane Barker: Yeah.
Arnie Kuenn: And the town I grew up in was small. We used to kind of get teased and it was like the Norman Rockwell kind of town. And they called us the Hicks, but we didn't know any better. We just thought it was a cool little town. And now it has actually become a historical place. I go back to visit and it's like these buildings are a couple of more museums, which was a weird feeling. But it was just this quaint little town in Ohio outside Cleveland.
Shane Barker: That's awesome. So, where you grew up is now a museum.
Arnie Kuenn: Yeah.
Shane Barker: What part is it that you can actually remember the music from the 70s? Because I know if I judged you from some people that I've talked to, they're like, I think the music was good. It was kind of a long 10 years, it was a little bit of a beer Buller for whatever reason. And I'm not sure what that would have been. But the 70s yeah, I was born mid-seventies so that was...
Arnie Kuenn: Yeah.
Shane Barker: I tell you, man, I, you know, I obviously I grew up in the eighties and nineties, but it was fun, man. I mean it was always a fun time. My, my mom and dad, they were California hippies. Yeah, that was, you know, they were, big thing was, I mean I remember listening to like hard and just all the different types of music.
Arnie Kuenn: It was just such great music back then. I feel I'm getting to a point now where I feel like I'm getting old in the sense that all the music, any new music that's on the radio just drives me nuts. Like, whatever it is, like I've hitting that point like, oh, it's just not like the old music that we listened to. And I remember my mom saying that, I was like, oh, she's so old. And now, here I am, I'm the same person's going, oh, my son's like, Oh, I love this song. I'm like, oh my God, so annoying. How do you listen to that? And I'm like, oh, there we go. I just transitioned.
Arnie Kuenn: Yeah, you just did it.
Shane Barker: Don't lose my hearing. And then losing my hair. This is awesome. I can't wait. This getting old thing is going to rock. Well that's cool. And then what college you went to went to Kent State, I think?
Arnie Kuenn: I went to Kent State. Yeah. Which outside Cleveland, everybody knows. And that usually I get asked was that during the riots? If you remember the riots and no it wasn't, I'm not that old.
Shane Barker: Isn't that Vietnam, didn't it that where they had the riots?
Arnie Kuenn: Yeah some parts were against Vietnam. Yeah. And that's when the national guard ended up shooting four students. And there's a famous song from a Crosby still and Ohio.
Shane Barker: Yeah.
Arnie Kuenn: Yeah. So, older people usually ask me that question.
Shane Barker: Yeah.
Arnie Kuenn: My mother being horrified that I was going to go to Kent state because
of the riots.
Shane Barker: Yeah. Well that's the thing and can you imagine now, I mean it's like with the media, how the media flows and things that happen. And I'm not saying obviously for students dying is a big deal, but you know it's crazy. Like when I was giving an example, I was in Charlotte for the riots, not for the riots. I was just happy to be in Charlotte and consulting project.
And I remember my mom and the media here in Sacramento and California was like, oh my God, like people are dying and I'm like, I'm in the middle of the streets right now. Like it's not that crazy now, but it's just kind of funny how the media can take stuff and kind of takes to the next level sometimes. And I was like, no, it's not that bad. Now, I did end up going home because. there was some stuff that happens, so I didn't want to be necessarily a part of it.
It was just crazy being in the middle of it and helicopters and all that fun stuff.
Arnie Kuenn: Yeah.
Shane Barker: Good stuff. The fun stuff. So cool. So how did you get into content marketing? I also, hold on before we talk about that. So, did you, something about icon, did you work at icon?
Arnie Kuenn: Yes, amazingly, most of the people who even work here, they're not quite 30. They don't have any idea what this icon thing is. But the first company I ever had, during the 90s I did end up selling it to Icon office solutions, which is exactly what you said. And I remember when we had a technical training company, so we were training, we were actually one of the first, we think we were the first Microsoft certified training company in the country.
We worked a lot with a Microsoft that Bill Gates knew us. And I actually used to email with him, and he would actually answer my emails back then, which is kind of amazing.
Shane Barker: I know.
Arnie Kuenn: But we had a big literally, it turned into a good size technical training company. And icon was primarily known as a printing company, copier company. And they wanted to get into this whole Internet and technology thing that was starting to happen.
So, they went around and bought a lot of technical training companies like ours and software development companies. And just anything they thought was going to make them hip and cool and relevant. And within about, I would say three years, they sold almost every one of those assets back to the original owners or the people who are now running them.
In fact, the guy who was my controllers, so this is 20 years ago easily, still is there running the business. And they pretty much gave it to him to take over after I was gone. So, the copier company to not quite figured out the technology thing.
Shane Barker: So, the reason why I asked you about that and the reason why I know anything about that is I used to own a copier company.
Arnie Kuenn: No kidding.
Shane Barker: Nobody knows that about me. Like the fact that I just said that people are going to be like, you got to like the Internet. Well the Internet, all three people that are listening are going to go crazy. My Mom's going to be like, I knew he had a copier company, so it was called Sacramento copiers. And so, I remember Icon and I remember that in the Phoenix area, a lot of lead generation too because we did so well in Sacramento lead generation wise.
Long story short at this, really a big company, 130 employees. My copier guy came to me one day and says, hey, we want to think about doing my own go break off my own to start a copier company. And I was like, yeah, you're an awesome dude. Like let's do it. And so, that's how I got into copier.
Arnie Kuenn: No kidding.
Shane Barker: I got five websites. I did start doing some lead gen and the lead generation that came through was just too much for him to handle. And so, I'm like, I had these websites and he didn't, he wasn't selling a lot of copies, do a lot more service stuff. And so, I had these lead Gen websites, so I ended up leasing out to different companies. So, I'm really familiar with it. That's when I saw Icon I was like, that has to be Icon and has to be the copier industry.
Arnie Kuenn: I can't tell you the last time someone actually asked me that, oh, you have to be a copier guy to know that. Yeah,
Shane Barker: It was when I said, I was like, yeah, I have to ask him about that because I'm like...
Arnie Kuenn: That's a small world.
Shane Barker: Yeah, I'm no longer in the copier industry now. But it was an interesting industry. The reason why I liked it is because I went in, I actually really, really didn't want to piss people off. But I made some really big copier companies in Sacramento mad because we were not on the scenes. We were like just one website. And then when I came on and pushed the market in the next level, like literally overnight, within probably a few weeks, I'd say.
We were number one for a lot of these keywords. And before they weren't doing that. It was more handshake, offline type.
Arnie Kuenn: Yeah. So, what is going on here? And so, we started pulling this business and later on they said, well, we ended up researching you and realizing that you were a two-person team.
Shane Barker: And it really made us mad that we were, there were millions and million, hundreds of millions of dollars, one of the companies here. And so, they actually came back to us and said, I'm at this point, one of my buddies started doing more service stuff. He's like, we want to lease those websites. And eventually that we ended up selling them, But.
Arnie Kuenn: Yeah.
Shane Barker: It was phenomenal. It was man talking about easy money, because I mean the thing was, they couldn't do what we could do. So, we couldn't handle the leads, which is a great problem to have. So, anyways, yeah that's the copier thing, it was interesting to say the least. It was fun because it was kind of an older industry and just the online thing, they just didn't adapt.
And I went in and a few months and they're like, oh my God. The VP of this company actually brought me in after I reached out to them and said, hey, we're going to lease these websites, you want to join. Oh my God, come in tomorrow. He's like, you like made it so I couldn't sleep for a few weeks. And what are you talking about? He goes, you guys came on the scene and like came so hard.
You guys were everywhere. There were these five copier companies that just came out of nowhere. And I realized, I finally figured it out that it was you. Because you really caused me a lot of stress. And I said, well, I'm here to help you. But I said, now, you can lease the websites. You know, now I'm ready to help companies. So anyways, it's funny. So anyways, it's copier industry.
Arnie Kuenn: Before we move on, I should say hi to our one listener.
Shane Barker: That's it. And she's here. That's the thing, this is really why you have to do with podcasts. This is what I realized is that, if you start out with one person, you go to two, you double.
Arnie Kuenn: Well there you go.
Shane Barker: Right. So, I mean if the numbers really low that it is really is a percentage thing. I tell people, listen, every week I double in size when it comes to my audience. And they'll go, that's crazy. I go, no, it is crazy. But this is the kind of podcast I run here. It's like very aggressive and we obviously push extremely hard and we double numbers.
Arnie Kuenn: Double the numbers, that's great.
Shane Barker: And if your wife, I mean if you or your wife or some or your kid, I mean it's just at this point we might have 10 people. I moved like 10 times this thing. I don't even know that.
Arnie Kuenn: I have to remember to tell him.
Shane Barker: Yeah, maybe send a fax a copy machine or send it over to him. Get him back to me. All right, so now that we've talked about something that probably most of the people on the podcast, my wife who's the only person who's listening doesn't care about, she's like, oh the copier company, again. Tell us a little about the content marketing side of things. Obviously, it's like I've got copier stuff and now like how did you get into content marketing? I'm like when did that become a transition for you? We're like how well this makes sense to get into this thing called content marketing?
Arnie Kuenn: That's a great question. When we started Vertical Measures, I was just kind of doing everything, paper clip. You've been around long enough. I don't know if you remember go to, so I actually was in their offices. They were teaching me how to do paperclip before Google even existed. And just kind of, one-man shop, or you doing everything?
But I do remember being at a conference. So, I don't remember which one it was, it could have been an SMX or one of back in the day. And I remember sitting in one of the rooms and there's hundreds and hundreds of people because those events were pretty darn big back then. And it was about link building. And the question was asked, how many of you in here hate link building?
And of course, everyone raises their hand and I'm sitting in the back and right then it just hit me. I said, well that's our market. You know, we're going to solve the pain problem. So, I came back to our office and we might've had five people then. And I said, Vertical Measures is going to be a link building company. So, for the next three years we really did well, but it was back in those days, you know.
Shane Barker: Yeah, yeah.
Arnie Kuenn: And in 2010, I think it was 2009, I formed an association here in Arizona called the Arizona Interactive Marketing Association. And one of the first speakers I wanted to bring in was this guy named Joe Palazzi. So, uh, I invited Joe and he was just getting the content marketing institute going and content. The content marketing world didn't exist.
And he came in and we spent the day together, you know, had lunch, when he did his talk at night and whatever. And by the time he left, I was like, this is now the next phase for Vertical Measures. I just totally bought it, hook, line and sinker, you know? And then I realized there's all the people out there and say, Oh, I've been doing content marketing for 20 years and all that. And I said, yeah, yeah, I know.
Arnie Kuenn: So, we went through the phase of. So, the first thing I thought we should do to kind of rebrand Vertical Measures was to write a book about it. So, the first book in 2011 came out in 2011 called Accelerate. And it was really an eight step play by play book of how to actually do content marketing online of course. And so, we worked really, really hard at re-branding vertical measures that way and I think we became pretty well known for it.
My son and I actually wrote the second one content marketing works and that was based on everything we learned in between. Because we made a lot of mistakes as an agency to, back when we're telling people, oh, we'll do a 90-day trial and it didn't, you know, of course those never worked.
So, we came up with the second book and what you probably don't know is, or maybe you do, but we just reached out, just published our third one this week. It's all about the customer journey. So, grants under our belt.
Shane Barker: That's awesome. Where you selling the book?
Arnie Kuenn: Well the book will be on Amazon next week. Right now, you can go to our website and download it as a pdf. And it's a 337 full color. It's awesome. I'm really, really, really proud of it. It was a team effort. But it literally follows mapping basically content and optimization and paid me and all that. But to the customer journey and it's got a great story behind it and as it follows someone through their customer journey and just really happy with it. Really, really good book, I think.
Shane Barker: You have to be a proud dad of that. That's awesome. How long did it take you to put that together? I mean, I know, trust me, I'm working on a book right now and I won't tell you how long I've been working on it. But I might've started in the 70s extra.
Arnie Kuenn: Right. Little led Zeppelin encouraged you. And so, how long do you think based on your upper, what do you think?
Shane Barker: I don't want to compare it against my effort cause your effort and my efforts are different because you're coming out with yours on Amazon. So, I want to compare apples to apples here. Three, four years.
Arnie Kuenn: Yeah. The idea to start this book and the germ of the idea of what it was going to be about and how we'd get it done, really started about two years. We seriously got five different people that work here to kick in and help write chapters maybe a year ago. So we kicked around the idea and it kept changing the idea and came up with the full story concept and all that.
Mostly I guess in 2017, 2018 we decided to go for it. And it took us from the time we said, yeah, we're going to do this and we're going to commit these people and all that took, it is about a year.
Shane Barker: That's awesome.
Arnie Kuenn: They actually just a little bit over a year ago.
Shane Barker: Yeah. Congratulations on that. I know that's no easy feat. It is. Yeah. This is just a lot of moving pieces to it. I think I've said this on every podcast, I think I just talk about the book thing. Just like people can hear me whine about my book that's never going to come out. It's going to come out one day. I swear it'll come out either. Either when I die, they're going to read all nine pages that I wrote.
They're going to be like God, he was on to something. That kid he was onto something, I read it like all nine pages. Kind of feel like 10 and 11 was going crazy if he ever got it. I don't know. Anyways we'll know here in the next year whether I come out with my book or if I just keep talking about it on podcasts. 958 about how I'm going to come out with this damn book.
Arnie Kuenn: I'll tell you what, I don't know how I got the first one done because I think I probably did what you did. I spent six months trying to convince myself this was a stupid idea. Somebody suggested to me, I don't remember anymore. It's been too many years but said I should get a ghost writer and I'm like nah. I didn't know how I want a ghost writer because I wanted to really it to be mine in my words.
But what I did do was I hired a guy to come in and he spent maybe two or three days interviewing me. And that made all the difference in the world. So, he interviewed me, he recorded everything. He went away for about a week or maybe it was a month. I don't remember my way and just typed it. And then sent it to me and that's how I got started.
Shane Barker: I think what I would do is I would probably need two people. I need one-person interview with me and the other person to kick my ass. I think for the next month of that continuous like I guess at that point the person already has it. Maybe I don't need the second person to kick my ass. I'm trying to think here. Maybe we'll just do the one person, we'll try with the one person and I'll let you know how it goes.
That's actually a phenomenal, yeah, because that's the hard part for me is, I mean I have started but it's like, you know, I don’t know, it was like getting all that information out. Right. I mean I tried out with the team writes all the time, you got plenty of content on line. Like literally I could probably take all 5,000 articles or online and make a book. Like have somebody make that into sure. Yep.
Once again, I know there's always an easier way. I don't know why I get that, that block of like, because I'm the same thing as you. I really want it to be me. Right. I want people to want that personal feeling to it. But then again, the time to do that between everything else that we've got going on. Right. That's interesting. Okay. I liked the interview thing.
Arnie Kuenn: He interviewed other people on our team at the time too. So, I get to a section that maybe I wasn't the subject matter expert on or whatever. And I would say, Oh, if you go interview, Bob or whatever, he might flush this out a little bit better. And so, then he put all that together, send it to me, and then I pretty much then I went through from beginning to end and wrote it. You know, edited it and wrote it in my words. And we had to hire an editor once. It was actually just about done. Yeah. When you get around to hiring an editor, you're, you're close to the finish line.
Shane Barker: Yeah. That's it. Well, I can smell it. I feel like we're one step closer every time we talk about it, I'll tell you.
Arnie Kuenn: Yeah.
Shane Barker: But that's good. Like I said, I think if I had a dollar for every time I talked about my book, I could just retire. I wouldn't even have to read the book. I mean, that's the kind of cool part. So, we just gotta keep that moving. And I'm really excited about that. So, cool. So, we know a little bit about Vertical Measures. It's been around for how many years now?
Arnie Kuenn: Well, I would say 11 years, technically 13 but we really, really have been in this business for 11 years.
Shane Barker: Yeah, that's awesome. Yeah, in the content marketing side of things is always just so interesting to me. And that's, I mean obviously the name of the podcast is content that converts. And content being any type of content. But I like talking with people that are heavy in the content space just because it's so interesting, right? I mean it's going to continuously evolve.
I mean we are the same thing, probably seven years ago is when I started writing for my blog. In fact, I told you I teach at UCLA and I actually had my original blog post up there and I teach a class called personal branding and how to be an influencer. But I keep that up there because I read it with the students and they go, God your first blog because I was terrible. And I go, no it was, that's my whole point, right, we don't want to hide from that.
And I go, no, the thing is, but I got started. That's the deal, is like that's the hardest part for all of us. Right? Like it's like we all want to do this in a book being an example. But like you just gotta do it. Like it's this, I leave this up here so you guys can look at this and laugh. I go, okay, that's terrible. Yeah. But look where I'm at today. I'm teaching you, right.
So, it's just taken about that full cycle of, of that, you know, like where you started off and where you ended up. It's just, it's interesting. But yeah, like I said, the content side of things. So, when you guys talk about Vertical Measures, so what exactly like in one liner it can be longer than one line. Like, what is exactly what you guys do? So, is it content? Is it talking about backlinks? I mean, what is like if somebody, if I was like, hey, what's the perfect client for you and what do you guys do? How are you guys a perfect fit for them?
Arnie Kuenn: You know, I can't do this in one line.
Shane Barker: I know, right? I haven't I said that I was like, damn, I just set them up for failure right here on this podcast. This is why nobody listened to my podcast.
Arnie Kuenn: So, you said your mom did anyways, so I'm counting on that.
Shane Barker: We are really counting on that. Trust me. But I wish, I mean, like I said, between them and my aunt Louisa and Auntie Jane.
Arnie Kuenn: You just grew the audience by 50% Italian.
Shane Barker: This is what we do.
Shane Barker: Well, I just got a text message, she's like, Auntie Luis is going to listen. I'm like, no, shut up. My members going crazy right now. I'll tell you this, we're going to have the rock on next or something.
Arnie Kuenn: Wait till you see those conversion rates.
Shane Barker: Now we just, hey, just whispered in my ear, this is crazy.
Arnie Kuenn: So, Vertical measures, so now we're pretty full-service digital marketing agency. The only really don't do as web development. But we do everything from content optimizing it to link development and then a whole promotions team. So, we do all paid media, lead nurture, CRO, and our ideal client, actually our ideal client would be someone who allows us to do all of that for them and we have a handful of those, and some are pretty darn big and well known.
And that's really cool and you know we just have this trusting relationship and can show them metrics that actually conversions are working and all that and traffic's growing. So that that's kind of us were 60 a full-time employee now and a still one office. We have a remote person on the east coast near Boston and that's kind of us. I might actually have been one long sentence.
Shane Barker: I don't think there was a period. I think that was good. I like that a little bit of a run on, which is, I'm very common for that. So, that's getting editors. I'm like, no, it's fine. They're like, that's a whole paragraph. I'm like, I just didn't want to stop. The sentences kind of just kept going, right? Isn't that what it does? And they're like, please don't write your book. Please don't put your book out. So, it's awesome. 60 and full-time employees, Huh?
Yeah. That's crazy, man. I have, I have 32-mile teams remote. Many moons ago, I had a business that I had, it was all at 130 employees, not for content marketers, it's another life that goes. But and that was like, I always told myself, oh, I probably would never have people. Not that I don't like having people in house, but it just in a different business. Before it was just a lot of people. And so, now I did everything remote, which is some value to that. And there's, ups and downsides. But that's interested 60 people. So, you guys got a big law office over there.
Arnie Kuenn: Yeah, we have a pretty big office. But I think it's 10, 11,000 square feet. And we're getting pretty full. And its funny cause we've gone back and forth on the whole remote, the people, you know, we asked our teams should we start doing remote, should we let you know? And we have remote days. I mean not everybody shows up there and all that, but everybody has a spot.
Everybody has a desk. But it's tough because we collaborate a lot. I mean we have a lot of ad-hoc meetings or just getting the group together. And I know you can do it remotely, but they're just, there's just energy and uh, we're kind of stuck on that right now.
Shane Barker: Well, and once again, there is something about being belly to belly, right? And having those conversations. I mean my office, so I have an office here in Sacramento, but it's mainly like where I do my podcasts. And I do, I don't really even have clients here like it's all set up for if a client was to come in, I've got my whiteboard that we'd paint on the wall and did all the fun stuff.
But it's just interesting. The remote thing just made more sense for me on this business. But I do understand, I mean, there's part of me that misses you talking, having people actually physically here. I mean my office has other people in the offices and that suck. So, it's not like I'm by myself in this remote area like Montana or something.
Arnie Kuenn: Well, so let me ask you a question.
Shane Barker: Yeah.
Arnie Kuenn: Do you find you are just working, like there's no beginning and end your day though, being remote?
Shane Barker: What does end mean? I've heard of this word.
Arnie Kuenn: There you go. All right.
Shane Barker: Because I'm telling you I did work at house for the first two or three years. And even when I work from home remote day or whatever, I find those are my long days. And there's just something about I go to work, I do this all day and then I go home. And I feel like I have that separation, even though I get back online, do all that stuff. But there just feels to be that separation and I'm just wondering how you look at that.
Shane Barker: No, here's the deal. So, my office I'm in right now is an actual office, it's not a home Office. And I just made the addition like a year ago because I was working, I mean I had the big office long time ago with 130 employees, you know, that's a whole other conversation. This time I was like, okay, I'll work from home. And then I was working from home, but once again there was no end, right.
I mean I'm essentially a workaholic and maybe potentially a workaholic. So, there was never that in for the most part, like no business, I worked probably 20 hours a day, I'm unhealthy, 30 pounds overweight, like just not doing good. I mean it wasn't doing bad, but just was not healthy. Well, now that I have everybody's remote and then I have this in here, which is office.
And then I have an office at my house, but I'm barely ever in that office I try to have that separation because now my work life balance is a lot better. Just because of processes and stuff and hiring the right people and there's just, you know how it is man.
Arnie Kuenn: Yeah.
Shane Barker: You get things now you feel a lot more confident about things. And so now, I'm at a really great place where I'd come into this office and for podcasts and for that kind of stuff, but I have a beautiful setup. I mean it's everything that I want. My wife made beautiful plants and people come in like, oh my God, you're so creative. And I go, no, I just had the credit card. That's about it, all that I had was the credit card.
And I said, just don't bang it too hard. If you can just make it look beautiful and I don't want it to pay on it for two years. So, my wife did a phenomenal job and so that's kind of my office setting. And like I said, every once in a while, like I have other companies, I have a real estate wholesale, real estate company and some other stuff, but that's not here. This is mainly my area I come in in the mornings and get some stuff done.
I tried to get a little workout in and some other stuff. So, I guess what I'm saying is in the beginning it was that it was working way too much, and you know, it's hard to like produce that, but it's like anything else, you get those processes in place. Like now we produce continent scale. We can produce extremely good content at scale and do backlinks and all that other fun stuff. We try to focus mainly on content.
Like mainly I'm like just writing the blog posts, some conversions of hobbies, driving traffic, backlinks and stuff, a link development or whatever. We know that's kind of where we are, and then influencer marketing is where we spend. We don't do a lot of people or anything like that. We really try to outsource that. But we did, we used to write and so it was one of those like, hey, let's take it all on.
And then we got to a point where I'm like, I just don't want to take it all on. It's like there's certain things that we're really good at. And so, that we're scaling now, we know that we can produce really great content at scalable levels. Because that's what most companies have a hard time doing, right.
Arnie Kuenn: Absolutely.
Shane Barker: And there's a lot of stuff, but contents definitely, or blog posts is definitely one of those. And obviously that can break that off into other pieces of content. But that's interesting. Wow. Congratulations. 11 years and 60 employees. That's awesome. So, we've already talked about the books a little bit, so I definitely get the idea of that. So, what is it like when we talk about like content, right?
So, there's obviously a lot of different types of content, like when you have your clients, so what kind of content have you guys seen that that does well? I know obviously depends on the product and the service and all that, but like what kind of content, if you guys have content, what kind of content you guys create that really stands out? Like what's working for your clients right now? Maybe you can give us an example that would give away the secret sauce of course.
Arnie Kuenn: Yeah, well, kind of my passion since the first book maybe. So, that's seven or eight years, is to convince people, and you probably know this really, really well. But to convince people to create content that people are actually searching for. And I just actually have our clients and people I talked to at workshops or soundstage or whatever, if they can just leave with that.
And remember that every single time they create something, they would probably be much further ahead. Because it drives me crazy to hear or audit sites or do whatever and they say, well, we just, it just isn't working for us. And then I go to their blog or resource pages or whatever and start looking around the site. And I start looking at just the titles and I think, well yeah, because you're trying to be fun or funny, or you're writing what we would call journalistic headlines that no one's actually searching for.
And until you're, in my view, and I realized this even sounds extremely old school and maybe even boring. But the bottom line to why you're doing this is to help grow your business, usually. And so, if it's not working for you, just try to imagine this, would someone search for this title. And if they are, you probably have a good idea for a piece of content. There's a bunch of ways you can research and find out what people are searching for.
But solve their problems. I mean that's what it starts with. And then if you're seeing wild growth and you have great conversion rates and the business is booming and you want to throw some just fun, clever journalistic stuff out there cause you want to get it out of your system or you think it would be fun or it might go viral or whatever, go ahead and do that once in a while. But anyway, that's my long answer to that.
Shane Barker: And I, I think there's absolutely something to that. Because the funny part is when you say it is very basic and should be the number one thing you think about, and I would say most companies don't, right? It's like what is the pain point of your client? What is the issue, right? You obviously have the solution, you feel you have the solution. So, what are the issues? And there's a little bit, I mean there's core, there's all kinds of places that people are asking questions, right? Saying, hey, I'm trying to figure this out and if there is great. Then that either can be a blog post for you. I mean there's a lot, and there's also websites that people say, hey people asking these types of questions?
Arnie Kuenn: Yeah.
Shane Barker: No. But somewhere you can go on and see what...
Arnie Kuenn: Cause has feature, right?
Shane Barker: Yeah. I mean there's some cool stuff for sure. And I think that's a very valid point. And I don't think I've had anybody say it on the podcast. We have different conversations. But I think that's really the most important thing is like once again, how does your backing out, like creating cons of but engineering it for a purpose, right? You're engineering content or you want to answer your product answers these 10 issues, these 10 problems, right?
And assuming that your clients have those problems, then now you should answer those questions. Right? Not on just on a Q and A basis. But of like, here, let me help explain this, this, this and this.
Arnie Kuenn: Right.
Shane Barker: And the end of the next level of that is going and looking on a STM, restaurants. I'm looking at the content of the keywords and then help building that out. Right? I think the first level is just start writing about it and then you get better and better and better with the content and keywords. Once getting longer posts and whatever your call the actions and all the fun stuff. But I think that's important. That's a very, very valid point of the most basic concept is how are you the solution? Like how or why, right? Why should you be number one?
Arnie Kuenn: Right? And if you think about the customer journey, if the listener will think about their customer journey, their customer journey, it's usually starts with awareness. Okay. So, they become aware. Yes, I think it's time for us to about getting a new CRM or a new whatever, new backhoe, it doesn't matter, right?
So, whatever the stimulus, whatever the awareness level is, the next thing we do, I think it's 93% of the time is turned to Google, turned to a search engine. Maybe a percentage that has been right. And we've all done it. And it doesn't matter if you're going off to buy a new pair of golf clubs or whatever it is, you turn to Google and you start to research.
And so, that's what you have to have in your mind is okay, when someone's starting their investigation into your product or your service or whatever it is, what is it they're going to type into Google? And do you have content that can pull them to your site and then keep them on your site. Move onto your site and hopefully get to some kind of a conclusion that they're going to do business with you. And sometimes that happens in minutes, right?
If you're hitting Amazon, maybe you found it, you could buy it. Or sometimes like in our business it's can be many, many months. But they need to keep feeling you as a great resource and coming back to you. That's the whole thing. They think through the journey.
Shane Barker: Yeah. I love that. The journey and I think that's important once again, is understanding who you think your perfect client is and what is the journey that they go through right.
Arnie Kuenn: Right.
Shane Barker: And answering those questions all the way along the way and it's not always about saying that you guys have to be the perfect solution. Because I know a lot of times just answering some questions and at least getting people on your website to go look at other content, stuff like that. So, it's like, how are you able to pull those people? And I think is the big question and contents always a long-term play.
People will say, oh, content marketing, how long is it going to take? And I'm like, it's not an overnight deal. You know? And have some kind of a crazy site that has a crazy domain authority and has had that for a long time. But even then, it had to have gotten there somehow. It's usually through content or going up through the rankings. So, content is a long-term flaming.
That's like for us as example, like I don't have, and this is not me bragging, I said this before, and podcasts does not mean bragging. I don't have any sales people. Like all my stuff is inbound, which is the part of that's really great and part of that really sucks. Because guess what? If I take a day off, then we don't have any sales that day. Right. And that's a whole other thing I think I've got to figure out, but it's awesome because the inbound marketing isn't just because of content, right?
This is because of the sites that we write for and the type of content we put out. And now my websites index extremely well for a lot of keywords. And then we're kind of seeing that all play out now with sponsored posts and some other stuff. So, it's been kind of Nice to see that journey. But it has been a long-term play. I mean, I'm sure you've done the same.
I mean, I've put hundreds of thousands of dollars into my website and everything else, it's very much along. Like I remember my wife in the beginning, like when she's like, oh, that's awesome, you're hiring some writers, you're like, so how much business are you getting from all the writing stuff that you're doing coming from the website? And I'm like, no, my traffic went up. She goes, oh, that's awesome.
How much money? I didn't really get the number, you didn't really give me a number? And I'm like, oh, well here's the thing, it's like kind of a long-term plan. She goes, oh cool. So yeah, just keep paying for writers. My wife's beautiful and amazing. So, she's listening to this cause she's only listener. I don't want to lose our only listener right now. But the thing was is for her it was like, why are you continuously doing this?
And I'm like, listen, this will pay off. There will be a point when it doesn't it and it hasn't. So, now we're at that point and it does take a while. It is a long-term play, but I think once again, you have, you put out the right content and people get nervous. Oh, but there's so much competition in this and that, there's still ways, you can still get through it.
Arnie Kuenn: Oh, absolutely. Yeah. Absolutely. There are gaps everywhere.
Shane Barker: Yeah. That's the key. And the cool part about, even though it is more difficult, there's so much software. There's so much software to go and find. I just demoed some software where they do exactly that. They show not only with key words, but like they show a lot of it, they put a brief together for writing. There was that kind of some automation, some AI stuff that was happening that was really cool.
But it's always and of course it's how you find that software and how do you use it? And I guess for us, for you, and I would go jump in and go, oh, this is awesome. And we automatically get it. And we still use it, probably not, that doesn't happen for everybody, but I love work. I love where the space is going, and I love the automation. Not all of the automation, but more of like the software and stuff that you can get your hands on is kind of cool to kind of see that.
Arnie Kuenn: Yep.
Shane Barker: So, I had a little Birdie tell me that you might be, so this is ironic. This is very ironic, I know, I'm glad you're sitting down for this one. So, is it, do you like yachts? Did I hear something about, are you...?
Arnie Kuenn: Yeah. My goal is to someday buy a power yacht. And I know there's a whole bunch of sailors. All of the sailors who are watching but I'm too old to go sailing anymore. I just want the model I will probably get would be called, it's called a trawler, slow moving cruising yacht. And ideally, we'd like to put it over in San Diego and go over there and give it my credit card as often as possible.
Shane Barker: Yeah. You will trust me. Don't you worry about that. And you hear Sandy, I'm actually going to be heading down to San Diego in another month. But yeah, that's, you'll definitely going to be a...
Arnie Kuenn: I love San Diego. Yeah. And we go there all the time. Anyway, so that's, my dream. We go and charter once a year and so we spend a lot of time on the water. Just don't own a boat at the moment.
Shane Barker: Yeah.
Arnie Kuenn: But it's my biggest escape from this job.
Shane Barker: And so is that, and that's obviously the reason you moved to Arizona because I was thinking yachts and water. I was thinking Arizona like that would be like the place, if they're like, hey Shane, like what is the thing that they talk, they give you the answer, they give you the question, you have to answer them? I think Arizona. Inside of that Arizona, what would it rain?
Arnie Kuenn: Yes, actually strange fact, is believe me this is astonishing, but Arizona supposedly has the largest per capita boat ownership of any state in the country. I'm assuming it's because we're all so desperate for water. We go to the lakes all the time. I don't, like I said, I don't own a boat here, but I do know a lot of people do and we actually have a lot of lakes...
Shane Barker: There are lakes.
Arnie Kuenn: ...and boats. But no, my passion for the water came many, many years after we moved here. It's probably because we moved here.
Shane Barker: Yeah.
Arnie Kuenn: Yeah. Now I want to get into the water.
Shane Barker: I don't blame you. Well will Amanda, as soon as you get that yet in the water, I would love to come and give you $500 for a few gallons of gas and just...
Shane Barker: out there with you guys and eat caviar, whatever you guys can do, drink champagne. I'm sure. Just live life.
Shane Barker: I mean it's for safety reasons obviously. I will bring my helmet too.
Arnie Kuenn: I get it.
Shane Barker: And so, we have a nickname. What's your nickname?
Arnie Kuenn: You know what it is. Or you wouldn't have asked.
Shane Barker: I know].
Arnie Kuenn: ArnDwg. And if you were a really good researcher, you might've figured it out. But it's tied back to the Cleveland browns. I remember when I was a lad, I was there, the browns were still there. Now we're back and the dog pound is the big fan section. So, when people knew I grew up in Cleveland, a friend of mine had just, Arn Dwg was the nickname and it’s kind of stuck.
Shane Barker: That's awesome. How long have you had that nickname for?
Arnie Kuenn: 30 some years. Easily. Yeah,
Shane Barker: Man. Since you were like five years old.
Arnie Kuenn: Not in Ohio, but since I got to Arizona.
Shane Barker: Yeah. Wow. Okay, that makes sense. I did say since you were five and I did tell you I wasn't good with numbers. So, I did disclose that ahead of time.
Arnie Kuenn: But in this case you were right.
Shane Barker: In this case I was right on. Yeah, that sounds about right. No, I appreciate that.
Arnie Kuenn: Yeah.
Shane Barker: Yeah. So, we're getting, we're getting down to the end of this thing and I mean this is the hard part. We've obviously made the connection. And we had nothing but a great time and I'm going to come out and obviously live on you guys yacht for a little bit. So, I'm excited about that conversation with my wife.
Arnie Kuenn: Yeah.
Shane Barker: My son's in college and we don't need any money there so we should be fine there. But I do have a question. This has nothing to do with marketing. Actually, probably has nothing to do with 70% of the stuff that we've talked about.
Arnie Kuenn: And we talked about marketing when?
Shane Barker: I was like two high friends that just got together. I feel like we didn't even touch on anything that we should've talked about. We didn't ask about family. So, if you were to Max out a credit card, I think you were going to go buy a yacht with this credit card that I'm going to give you, not give you, but they worked on this make believe one. If you going to Max out a credit card, where would you, let's say it's a $50,000 limit.
Let's say you went all American Express, of course that's going to be due at the end of the month. But let's say somebody just gave you one. Let's say it's a gift card or something. Forget like, you know, Auntie died or something and she gives you a $50,000 gift card, something. Where would you go spin it? Like where would you, where would be your spot to go to?
Arnie Kuenn: Did you say, I can't spend it on the yacht?
Shane Barker: Well we already know you want the yacht.
Arnie Kuenn: Not only the yacht. But there's all kinds of things to buy for the yacht.
Shane Barker: That's true, all the accessories.
Arnie Kuenn: West Marine would be like, you know?
Shane Barker: Yeah, that makes sense. Now that makes total sense.
Arnie Kuenn: I would buy some flippers and some goggles and maybe a dinghy for the boat captains hat of course. Yeah.
Shane Barker: Man, that's it. And that's 50,000 I mean, there's got to be a few more things. It is all gold plated? You're just 16, I guess. Yeah, I mean, hello.
Arnie Kuenn: Oh, then I'll do my teeth.
Shane Barker: You'll get a grill. Is that what you meant? Or you mean, oh, you actually get your teeth?
Arnie Kuenn: Well, I'll get my teeth.
Shane Barker: Oh yeah, there we go.
Arnie Kuenn: Your research was so good. You knew these were not my teeth.
Shane Barker: Wow. Yeah, well we talked to your dentist. I go deep. I mean, we really, we interview a lot of people. I mean this is almost like, it's like applying for a job at the FBI. Like most people don't know that. With this podcast, we want to make both of our people that are listening, we want them to really be intrigued about the people that...
Arnie Kuenn: So, we couldn't get a job with the FBI based on what we know?
Shane Barker: I mean I think you would be a good candidate. Yeah. You're very elusive. You've loved to be on yacht. Yeah, I know it's hard to hold you down. You've got like 14 businesses, you're writing books every few weeks. You're a very creative. So, we appreciate that.
Arnie Kuenn: Yeah.
Shane Barker: Alright. I won't take up too much more of your time. I feel like we've given this audience everything they can handle today.
Arnie Kuenn: Haha.
Shane Barker: I mean they're going to definitely know about you and the cool part about if you ever do apply for the FBI. They can just listen to this podcast because we...
Arnie Kuenn: I will short circuit that whole process.
Shane Barker: I even interview just go to Shane's podcast and that way I can also gain a listener.
So, that's kind of cool. Everybody wins.
Arnie Kuenn: At this point that's like 25% growth. I think. That's awesome. Seriously.
Shane Barker: We're going hot and heavy. I mean, it is a Friday, so we just go hard on Friday sometimes. Arnie was a pleasure, my friend.
Arnie Kuenn: It was great talking to you.
Shane Barker: Congratulations on your success and please keep in touch.
Arnie Kuenn: Alright. Same to you.
Shane Barker: All right. Bye.