Christoph Trappe is a career storyteller whose keynote speeches, digital initiatives, and content marketing strategies have been recognized globally. From working as a journalist, change agent, author, and content marketing executive, Mr. Trappe has earned his status as an industry thought leader. Currently, Mr. Trappe serves as the Vice President of Content Marketing Strategy at ScribbleLive where he helps businesses and organizations develop and implement strategic content marketing plans and practices. He frequently speaks at global conferences about social media, blogging and executive buy-in and The IMA named him Internet Marketer of the Year in 2015. Relevance CEO Asheesh Mani Jain was fortunate enough to chat with Mr. Trappe at Content Marketing World 2017 where he discussed his interesting background, trends, and the future of the content marketing industry. Check out the full interview below.
Hey Chris thanks for chatting with me today. Can you tell me something about your background, how did this all start?
Trappe: Thanks for having me, honestly it’s my pleasure. So I started in journalism. Well, I didn’t call it journalism back then but basically something would be documented and I would share those stories as part of newspaper reporting and of course today, I moved that art and science to the corporate world and now I’m helping those brands share stories in all the different channels that matter. I help them reach their audiences and then have a long term business impact.
Can you just give me a brief insight of what your storytelling workshop is all about?
Trappe: So obviously scribblelive has software but software doesn’t do any good if you don’t have a strategy in place. So what we do is we come in and help you with your strategy. The next step is usually how do we get buy in from front line staff to tell better stories? I, as a VP of marketing, cannot tell my own stories by myself so I need help from the front line staff.
What are the biggest challenges facing content marketers today?
Trappe: Everybody wants to see results the second we start. Content marketing does work but we have to have a plan and we have to implement it. We have to show early wins, mid term wins, and long term wins and we have to do it well. It only works when you keep going but content marketing does not work when you’re not publishing. You have to publish to reach your audiences. Of course everybody’s budget is being squeezed for all kinds of different reasons so how can we do what we need to do with the budget that we have?
There’s been a major technological shift in the way content is being consumed. How do you perceive this upcoming trend? What are some of the game-changing shifts in the content consumption strategy?
Trappe: So with technology, there’s more and more tech that should make our lives easier and at some point someone will break through and have something that will be really helpful and will make our lives easier. Whether it’s on mobile, desktop, whether it’s voice dictation, the easier we can make the lives of content marketers, the more useful technology becomes. Now I have content marketers who voice dictate their content and five years ago that was unheard of! And then measurement of course, how do we measure things?
What are the major game-changing trends that we are going to see in the content marketing world?
Trappe: So a lot of people are creating a lot of content but what it’s gonna come down to is creating a lot of content and being highly authentic and being highly unique so whoever can figure that out will win. Whoever tells the best stories and whoever can figure out how to use the right technology to get it in front of people non-stop will win. Content might be king but distribution runs the day to day you know?
[laughs] You hit it right on the head. My next question was about distribution. What are the challenges people are facing in distribution? After that, I would like to know how you recommend people go out and promote their your content. What we are seeing now is a content explosion. How do we make sure people see it through millions of pages?
Trappe: Brands are going to have to find out what the next wave in distribution is. Ride – ride – ride that wave until it doesn’t work anymore and then ride the next wave.[laughs] Now a lot of brands don’t do that, what they try and do is stay with what has worked before but things change all the time. So figuring out what the most effective channels are and trying to hit those channels will help solve the distribution challenge.
For example, Facebook used to be VERY different and now it’s changing all the time so if you can ride a wave for longer than a month on Facebook it’ll be very surprising. So we can start looking at other channels. It might be Snapchat, depending on your audience, or It might be a Linkedin. I had Brian Fanzo, one of the social media influencers say the other day that LinkedIn is so much better for me than Facebook and some other platform combined – so again, you have to find your right channel, hit it hard, and then share valuable content. It’s okay to be
talkative, because people won’t be turned away, as long as it’s valuable and interesting and useful to them.
So we’ve talked distribution, how do you suggest people go out and promote their content?
Trappe: There’s organic promotion of course and email marketing still works. Also, paid promotions can work but you have to be very, very specific, it’s not about spending more money, it’s about spending money more wisely. How can you target people better? I’m a big fan of re-marketing. Somebody comes to your website and you serve them a new ad to an old article that might be interesting to them.
Wonderful! Have you tried native advertising in the past?
Trappe: Yes absolutely.
Do you think it’s going to help content marketers?
Trappe: I think it will, especially if you do it well. As I said before, it’s not about spending more money it’s about spending money wisely so I would definitely recommend trying native advertising.
So we’ve talked about creation, we’ve talked about distribution, we’ve talked about promotion, so how do you evaluate your content, how do you track your content, how do we track what’s working and what’s not working? How do marketers take care of that challenge?
Trappe: So first of all you have to come up with your goals – what are the goals you are trying to reach? And one thing I see marketers do wrong quite a bit is that there’s very few home runs, there’s not this one big viral piece of content. It’s the totality of your work which is one reason why we have to keep going. So yes you can see trends but keep going, keep publishing and look at the totality and if something takes off for one reason or another – look and measure to see why it went off and try to duplicate what you just did.
There is, of course, a financial impact and you want to tie it to two business results. But think about content marketing, it’s top of the funnel, sending people down the funnel, when they’re ready to buy they’ll think of you. I saw Mark Schaefer the other day at Content Marketing World and he talked about ‘being known’, if you are known then people will come to you over the person that they don’t know so be known for the person you should be known for.
[laughs] You’re a known person and you are doing a great job here. There’s a lot of talk about engagement. How do we address or solve this engagement puzzle and how do you recommend new content marketers take care of the puzzle?
Trappe: I take engagement for what it’s worth. When people like my posts – sometimes it matters sometimes it doesn’t. For example, I ran a whole project that penetrated a quarter of the relevant market in a few months. It had hardly any engagement and it was highly successful. So why do I care if the whole thing works really well and it’s driving business but hardly anybody shares the content and hardly anybody comments? It all depends, so it’s important to think about your actual goals.
So let’s talk about tools you’ve created for ScribbleLive, can you give me a brief overview of what they are, why you created them and what problems they will ultimately solve?
Trappe: So we have a number of different tools that help across the different stages of content marketing but it all starts with planning so we have a tool that helps you do your strategy in one place. You can tie your content creation to your strategy, and then execute on that strategy. It used to be that you had to put things on a word document, five folders down, now it’s in one place. The teams can see it so it makes the workflow, the measurement, and all those siloed approaches from previous years much much easier.
Then we have other tools that help you do SEO research. We also have a tool where we can find help with content creation. So let’s say you need an infographic. You can explore this other piece of the tool and you can say ‘Who can help me with an infographic on this topic?’. All these different pieces work together. And then, of course, the original scribblelive platform is a live volume platform that a lot of media companies use. A lot of times that doesn’t fit into content marketing as much as it fits in with the media company but it can if you have a live event. For
example, we had a live pin board going on with content marketing world. So all these different tools might be used at different times in their processes.
Great! Are you making any special offers for people attending this event.
Trappe: Yes, we do actually. We like to offer a strategy workshop to help people validate and create their strategies so they don’t have to. Right now we’re offering half off the strategy and 25% off sign up for the platform. If they want to sign up all they have to do is drop me an email at CTrappe@scribblelive.com . Let me know that they’ve heard about it on your show and we’ll be happy to honor them.
Thanks so much Chris, it was wonderful talking to you. As a finishing word, what would you like to say to content marketers starting off today?
Trappe: Figure out your unique story.
What is the unique thing that you stand for? What is your unique spin on something? My unique spin is content marketing plus authentic storytelling. It’s so important to figure out what your niche is and keep pushing forward but it’s a long term process and overnight success always takes longer than overnight.
For more information about ScribbleLive and Content Marketing World visit these links.
Follow Christoph Trappe on Twitter and LinkedIn