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Content marketing that helps sales with Ashley Guttuso at Audience Ops

Ashley Guttuso talks about how to do effective content marketing that helps sales teams be successful. 

Show Description

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Show Notes

Ashley Guttuso is a Chief Strategy Officer. She joins us to talk about how to do effective content marketing that helps sales teams be successful.

Her overview on content marketing is an important starting point for the conversation. Flagging where a lot of teams get started on the wrong foot. And considering what Google is really looking for these days when it comes to SEO.

Then she introduces the serving vs. selling framework and how this can be applied to product and content marketing. Ashley includes a detailed approach for ensuring that you're always talking to customers to better identify, understand, and resonate with your ICP. 

Find Ashley on LinkedIn:

Learn more about Audience Ops:


[00:00:00] Intro

[00:00:00] Harris Kenny: Welcome to Pipeline Meeting where marketers come to talk about sales. I'm your host Harris, Kenny, and I'll be joined by guest every Monday and Wednesday for brief 15 minute interviews where we'll share tips that you can apply to support your sales team and help them close more deals.

[00:00:15] Harris Kenny: You don't have time to listen to this whole episode, you can skip ahead in the show notes in your podcast player, or find the transcript at All the episodes are published there.

[00:00:28] Content worth creating

[00:00:28] Ashley Guttuso: I think you and I were talking a while back, because I had posted something about how you can't substitute good writing or good editing for subject matter expertise. Content is not worth creating if it is not going to serve your target audience in a way that builds trust and forges relationship with them.

[00:00:53] Ashley Guttuso: and rarely, very rarely can someone who has surface level knowledge of the industry that your ICP sits in, and the role that they perform in their job, rarely can someone come in. and help them in a way that they would want to like, thank you, thank you for creating this. This helped me get to the next step in my job.

[00:01:17] Ashley Guttuso: Or this helped me achieve results that had huge business impact. That doesn't happen because you're a good writer.

[00:01:24] Ashley Guttuso: I come from a journalism background and journalists are taught early on. to be curious. People ask why, why, why. Ask how to explain this to my five-year-old, et cetera. That person is trained to go in and find an expert when they do not have the expertise.

[00:01:45] Ashley Guttuso: I think there is a problem out there in content marketing today where we're going after keywords. And we are conducting a little competitive analysis in understanding what the top five articles are around that keyword. And then we're building copycat content to rank higher, but it's not significantly more helpful than the next story.

[00:02:11] Ashley Guttuso: And Google's cracking down on that. You actually have to be helpful to rank, is what they're saying. My stance is that you can't create that kind of content for someone, especially like say enterprise b2b. You're attempting to attract someone to make a decision that has a high annual contract value.

[00:02:31] Ashley Guttuso: You're not gonna do it by dancing on the surface level and covering what they want to know in kind of a clickbait kind of way, like, haha, I got you to load my page.

[00:02:44] Ashley Guttuso: But you will win trust and loyalty and curiosity. Like, Hey, who created this like this? We were looking for something like this or someone shared this thing with us, it was worth sharing, right?

[00:02:56] Ashley Guttuso: Your peers thought it was that good, that I now feel indebted to this brand for bringing me this information. And you can't get there if you're not-- Either if you're not the subject matter expert yourself, which is why founders and CEOs being interviewed is a great way to go about that. Or if you are not like actually going out and interviewing industry experts and thought leaders who influence, you know?

[00:03:25] Ashley Guttuso: So to me it's just, it's kind of pointless to go create a thing that Google would let you create if you just searched it.

[00:03:32] Harris Kenny: Why does that happen, and how can you tell if you're in that?

[00:03:34] Ashley Guttuso: Just hearing, we need to create content like go do content, right? Okay, we gotta create a bunch of articles around the topics that serve our readers and their problems. That worked really well 10 years ago when there wasn't a content saturation issue online.

[00:03:55] Ashley Guttuso: Now, people don't go search Google necessarily to find the answer to their problem. They go ask their industry work peer, what do you do to solve this? There's a lot less trust now in the content that arrives to you via Google because it is all written with the intention of getting your attention to buy.

[00:04:20] Ashley Guttuso: It's written with this kind of little thin veil, there's a very thin veil of we're here to serve you. And then like you click on the article and that veil is like pulled back and it's like, we're here to sell you.

[00:04:37] Harris Kenny: Yeah.

[00:04:38] Content that serves

[00:04:38] Ashley Guttuso: Right? The winners are 90% serving 10% promoting. The way you get people to share what you've created is to get them to care and for it to matter to them.

[00:04:54] Ashley Guttuso: People have just gotten kind of stuck in a trap of, oh, we need a content marketing engine. And they think content is just blogs and they out that they can hire people to write really surface level fluff. For fairly cheap and pump it out to the masses and hope that that works.

[00:05:18] Ashley Guttuso: Whereas actually what you need is like potentially an extension of your content team where you're bringing strategy to the table and you're creating this asset or this article, or this video series because X and we're not afraid.

[00:05:35] Ashley Guttuso: I always say don't pretend to be a subject matter expert when you should have interviewed one, because you'll win far more people by connecting them with ideas that work for them than you will with giving them like the same thing that 10 other articles on the same topic have given them in very similar formats.

[00:05:56] Harris Kenny: right. Yeah, just regurgitating it basically.

[00:05:58] Ashley Guttuso: Yeah. Yeah. Now your job as a content marketer is not just to create good content, but to create And distribute it in a way that gets noticed. One great way to get noticed is, oh wow, they put New York Times level professionalism into producing this. It's not just like something someone could go write in four hours.

[00:06:23] Connecting content with sales

[00:06:23] Harris Kenny: What would you say are good practices around connecting content with sales?

[00:06:29] Harris Kenny: So whether that's coming up with ideas upfront, or seeing which content the sales team is using, or social selling and giving them collateral that they can use on Slack communities and LinkedIn.

[00:06:40] Harris Kenny: I'm curious how you see good content marketers connecting this type of effort that you're talking about the intentional, serving attitude- type content, connecting that through to the sales side,

[00:06:54] Ashley Guttuso: Hmm. Well, you can go in and you can ask sales like, Hey, what do people ask most often?

[00:07:00] Ashley Guttuso: And usually that's product questions. So that's product marketing content. And that should be solid first. You should have that as solid as possible before you start trying to get people at the top of a funnel.

[00:07:14] Ashley Guttuso: Your bottom of funnel should be built out in a way that once you have someone's attention and they're like, oh, and what do you do? What do you sell?

[00:07:25] Ashley Guttuso: That it's very easy to understand why you created that content. And then it's also very easy to understand what your product does. So that by the time they are raising their hand to speak with sales, they're educated versus uneducated.

[00:07:40] Ashley Guttuso: If what sales is telling you is they're asking how our product works, bingo, number one thing, product marketing needs to get in there and start explaining the product better on the website and potentially paid media campaigns.

[00:07:54] Talking to customers

[00:07:54] Ashley Guttuso: But on the content marketing side, you should be talking directly with customers.

[00:08:00] Ashley Guttuso: Setting up a routine customer interview process and sticking to it.

[00:08:07] Ashley Guttuso: When I first came on at Simple Focus Software and I was like, okay, curated, it's gonna be the, the play for now. Easiest thing for me to do was to do something I call Discover in public. I had sent newsletters for magazines before.

[00:08:21] Ashley Guttuso: That was, my background was in, in magazine journalism, and I had done a lot of freelance newsletters for magazines. I think maybe I had sent newsletters for SaaS brands as well.

[00:08:33] Ashley Guttuso: But I had not like done this deep dive into the indie newsletter creator field and what they were thinking and what they cared about and what they wanted to achieve with their newsletters.

[00:08:45] Ashley Guttuso: So immediately it was like, well, let's do an interview series. Let's ask successful newsletter creators to explain their process. Let's get them to talk like you're doing with me right now about topics that matter to them, decisions they had to make, what has worked for them, what didn't work, what advice would they give to someone starting just now.

[00:09:09] Ashley Guttuso: I call that discover in public because you are creating long form video content that can then also fuel what future content you create. you are figuring out what your audience cares about by asking your audience and recording it.

[00:09:27] Ashley Guttuso: A big play I think that brands can make is either going internal and saying, Hey, we need to get the CEO in a weekly podcast interview series where they're showing their expertise and we're learning from them so that we can then create a content strategy built off of the message that that CEO is wanting to be blasted out. Those conversations need to happen.

[00:09:50] Ashley Guttuso: Or you start a Q&A with experts in the field who have attention from the audience that you want to have attention from. So it's a learning out loud situation, but that discovery then allows you, especially if you're a marketer, in a situation where you've been hired to promote a tool in an industry that you have never worked in before.

[00:10:19] Ashley Guttuso: Companies don't always hire someone who was a former product manager to then run content marketing to product managers. It's not always possible. Maybe that person sits within the company as the product manager or as a different SME type role that advises the product, but is not necessarily intended for marketing.

[00:10:42] Ashley Guttuso: It's your job to get them either speaking on behalf of your company or speaking to you privately in a way that is like either quotable or on background to inform you what they care about.

[00:10:56] Ashley Guttuso: Nothing replaces having multiple conversations a month with the person you were selling to because then you learned their language. and you learn what they care about, and then you can strategize your content to move the needle.

[00:11:15] Messaging to your ICP

[00:11:15] Ashley Guttuso: When we circle back to like, how did we help sales with that, it's in having those conversations frequently and staying on the pulse of what the ICP cares about so that you can then go, they care about this, we're going to do a series of articles, like maybe it's a hub and spoke like This topic is super important, we're gonna have a central article and then we're gonna have the spokes and we're gonna rank well in Google and place some SEO with it. But we're going to create like a comprehensive guide to this topic that they care about when they are maybe not even product aware.

[00:11:54] Ashley Guttuso: Then that becomes something that sales can do a no pressure touch with when they have someone that they're going outbound on or someone who has had like a preliminary conversation but is not ready to buy and you need to build some rapport with them. Maybe you have a long sales cycle and you want to be able to send them something once every two weeks that reminds them that your brand exists and that you're eager to serve them.

[00:12:24] Ashley Guttuso: That doesn't always translate if you're saying like, Hey, did you know we have this feature? It's this feature that'll change your life. Like maybe the better message is our team just produced a research report on how people in your role are feeling about 2023.

[00:12:46] Ashley Guttuso: That becomes you serving versus selling. The ideal dynamic to me is sales and marketing, talking frequently about what their ICP cares about.

[00:12:59] Ashley Guttuso: We have some brands that use Curated for an internal newsletter. Instead of one that's going out to their entire prospect and customer list, they're building something that goes out to the company.

[00:13:11] Ashley Guttuso: And that internal newsletter might have five new articles from this month that capture things that happened in the world that impact our customer.

[00:13:22] Ashley Guttuso: Three or four links to announcements that your competitors have just made, news about what's on the roadmap in-house for clarity. Maybe not everybody understands all of these things, but kind of creating this alignment and this idea that it is important to care about what our customers care about because you can't earn trust if you're feigning care.

[00:13:48] Ashley Guttuso: You have to actually care in an authentic way that they don't second guess.

[00:13:55] Ashley Guttuso: People are just skeptical these days. Like, we don't trust brands. We trust people at brands. And so I would say if you're creating content for sales to share, that's great if you're sending it out in a newsletter, but it's also super powerful if it comes specifically from the salesperson that they've been engaging with.

[00:14:18] Harris Kenny: If people want to learn more about Audience Ops, wanna learn more about how Ashley thinks about content marketing, where should they go?

[00:14:25] Ashley Guttuso: Go to, go find me on LinkedIn and send me a connection request. If you want to, tell me that you heard me here, so I can have context for how to communicate with you, because I'd love to serve you in the best way possible for whoever you are and what you care about.

[00:14:44] Outro

[00:14:44] Harris Kenny: That's all for now. You can find show notes at intro The theme music for Pipeline Meeting is by Neighbourhood Vandal. If you learned something, consider sharing this show with a friend. Thanks for listening.