Episode 01

The Content Framework We Used to Close $2.5 Million in Sales

with Adam Vazquez

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In this episode Adam (@AdamVazquez) and Carlton (@CarltonRiffel) introduce ‘Content is for Closers’ and explain how they plan to help you learn from the brightest people earning revenue through content today. They also discuss the CLOSER framework for content creation & dive into the first step: how to establish messaging.

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Show notes:

* (1:36) The best content each of us has ever created

* (5:19) How we generated millions after previous content failures 

* (9:30) How to establish messaging that will let your content close

* (17:05) Real, local companies who are driving $$$ thru content

* (20:33) Have you Heard? Clickup + Henry Belcaster

Links & Resources: 

Transcription

Transcription generated by Otter.ai

Adam Vazquez 00:24
I’d welcome into content is for closers, where each episode we talk with an entrepreneur, marketer or business owner about how they literally use content to close more business, drive more sales and grow their company. I’m your host, Adam Vasquez, and I’m very pleased to welcome you to this first episode of the show alongside my co host, Carlton riffle Carlton, what’s going on? Hello, hello, hello. It’s good to be here. How good is it? Are you are you excited? I mean, it’s still good energy.

Carlton Riffel 00:50
It, you know, my day was kind of gone. So so but now that I’m co hosting a podcast right now. Extra, extra excited.

Adam Vazquez 01:00
Good. That’s what we like to hear. Carlton is going to be with us each and every single episode. We’ll also have some one off episodes we’re just talking about whether it be news or tactics or trends that we’re paying attention to. And and usually we will be joined by a guest who is using content to grow their business or content is their business in some way. But today, Carlson I know, we’re going to talk about messaging. What do you have for us on this?

Carlton Riffel 01:25
So I thought just to kind of break the ice a little bit, we could you know, the audience wants to know a little bit more about you, Adam. So I could ask you, you know, icebreaker question and, and ease us into this episode. So here’s my question for you. Out of all of the content that you’ve ever created, what would be one of your your most favorite pieces of content or the most favorite piece of content you’ve ever created?

Adam Vazquez 01:52
This is an easy question for two reasons. Number one, pretty sure I wrote it number two, because already, oh, as you say, fake news already. Starting on the right foot, the first thing that comes to my mind, I just tweeted about it earlier this week is a commercial that I got the chance to be a part of and write for a company called stainmaster. It was a we it looked like it was a trailer for an upcoming horror film, in which basically a stain takes over a stain haunts a family. And so you unscared just hearing it. Yeah, you’re a homeowner you know that’d be it was just really fun. The client let us have a lot of fun with it. It they they were not overly product concerned, which I’m sure we’ll talk about some over this series. They really tapped into what their audience likes. Turns out homemakers moms, you know, all their their core customer loves horror films and, and people bought it like they thought all of the comments were like, yo, at Carleton, we’re going to see this when this comes out. Like I can’t wait for this to get out here. So few people really thought it was a real movie. And it was just a fun piece of content to be a part of what about you? My favorite piece of content was not that commercial, we have a success is actually kind of a failure. But it was still fun to create. And my wife and I are building a home. So we’re have built a home. So we decided we’d start a YouTube channel and try to get an audience. And turns out that if you actually are trying to build a home at the same time that you’re trying to record videos, it gets really tricky, but the trailer was great. And that’s that’s all that matters.

Carlton Riffel 03:36
It’s a good trailer. So that was fun. Got a lot of views. But after things started getting hard on the building side, we had to let go a little bit. So why did you say that was a failure, though? Just because you didn’t? Well, because I just left everyone hanging. Okay, most people that know us and when they see us like, Hey, what happened? Yeah, I thought you were building a house. Like why did you start? Like, are you still just living outside? With no house with just a foundation?

Adam Vazquez 04:03
No, by the way, great trailer for the series. If you want to see Carlton living outside while building a house, you should What was it called? Yeah,

Carlton Riffel 04:10
Carlton, small home big plans.

Adam Vazquez 04:13
I feel like that’s a good note, you know, for something I tweeted today was you. And I believe this, in my experience, and in our experience doing this, you can have content fail over the course of a week or a month or or a short period of time, let’s say, but I don’t think you can have it definitively be successful until a minimum of like 18 months or maybe even Yeah, ongoing. Yeah. Because Yeah, you have to be able to do it and you have to be able to do it well, and you can do it well for a long period of time in order to get some of that compounding results. So anyway, good. Good.

Carlton Riffel 04:48
I could I spent 18 months since since our last big piece of content probably but Well, I haven’t done the continuing part. Yeah. minor details. We’re going to jump into why are we Making this show I think I think a lot of people see podcasts popping up left and right. And so, you know, there’s another podcast coming out. And people want to understand why is it we’re making it especially about content? Because it’s a little bit meta, we’re talking on a podcast about content. So kind of tell us, from your perspective, what what is it that this show will mean to you? What Why are we making this show?

Adam Vazquez 05:25
I think it’s a fair question. And if you’re listening to this, you probably have so especially Episode One, you probably have some connection to us, to me to Carlton to Derek to something we’ve done in the past, or someone on the team. And so first of all, we really appreciate you listening. But I think if you know a little bit of our brand story, when Derek and I first partner together, we used a podcast to try to get the word out. It was a, it was successful in the sense that it got a lot of attention. And it helped us start conversations that we probably didn’t have business, you know, having at the time, but it was we didn’t know we were doing. Like there was no, there was very little forethought, it was the intention was not there in terms of lining up to our objectives, and all these sorts of things. And so we just saw firsthand as business owners, okay, there’s something powerful here, because the vehicle of content worked, right, like we got a lot of attention, it did just factually help us grow our business. But we left a lot of meat on the bone by not really doing it the correct way. And in talking with business owners over the past four years, four or five years, a lot of business owners, a lot of marketers understand that content and digital content and stuff happening on the internet is where their customers are spending time and where the future of their business lies. But they don’t necessarily know how to go about practically speaking, building an audience or tapping into their existing audience through effective content, telling a story, doing it well. And allowing it doing it in such a way that it brings real revenue, the end of the day, like we’re all businesses, that that’s what we’re here for. So that’s what we hope to do with this show, is to have conversations who are doing that? Well, as well, as you know, just offering some advice and education, as we’ve now done this for four and a half years, you know, our customers have made 10s of millions of dollars on the back of the work that we’ve done. And and you know, we want to extend that out to the audience is listening.

Carlton Riffel 07:25
Yeah, that’s awesome. I think the other side of it is people see content and think that because they see content everywhere that they need to just start creating something. And while it’s good to be creating and be publishing content, it really helps a ton to have a framework behind what it is that they’re doing and why they’re doing it. So some people will start a little bit further down the road. And they’re already into just, you know, looking at other people’s content and just kind of mimicking it. But if you really have a good solid framework for the content that you’re creating, and it’s coming from a little bit more of a clear understanding of why content helps, and how it can help, then it will do a ton more for your business than just, you know, fill your time creating videos, and, and content. So just kind of running through that framework real quick. And this is a framework that we’ll go through in these first six episodes. And we’re going to have guests that kind of speak to each one of these things. But really, just to give you an overview, it starts with establishing messaging. So we’re going to talk a little bit about today. And then from that, you really have to have your team aligned. So aligning the team around that messaging and around that purpose. And then after that starting to build a community. And once you have that community through, you know, there’s a lot of different ways you can do that. But it’s really just starting by creating content. So that’s when the content comes in. And that’s when you can start getting in front of people and closing deals. And you know, finally always be closing. So that’s in kind of perpetuating the cycle of this process. Yeah. And just,

Adam Vazquez 09:01
I would say just to add to that last one, it’s it’s not just about continued, like creating indefinitely, but also creating a culture where your team or the people around you, in addition to you as the marketing lead, or the owner or whatever, are equipped to be a part of that conversation as

Carlton Riffel 09:19
well. Absolutely. So kind of take us a little bit deeper into that first point, Adam, when it comes to your messaging and your scripting. How is it that you should start when you’re looking at this framework for creating content?

Adam Vazquez 09:34
The idea here is is the script that your brand is going to tell on an ongoing basis right, not just in one piece of content, but what is the overall story arc what is the overall brand story you want to communicate and the reason we call it a script is because several of us had very bad first jobs. I was talking to Derek about this Carlton Derrick’s Derek’s my partner in at her and I forgot his first job. was also doing really bad. Yeah. So there’s like three. So I’m the odd one out. I just didn’t have Yeah, yeah, you didn’t. But I don’t think I think some of the other team also did not have to go through the the rodri of this. But for those of you who haven’t, if you’re in a cold call sales environment, which I was right out right out of school, you know, you’re given a script, you’re given a call list, and a phone, and you’re like, they’re like, all right, make 100 calls. And this is an insane way to go about prospecting and business development. But people still do this. And the, the script that you’re given is sort of the framework that the core messaging that you’re supposed to use, in order to try to get someone to listen to you. Well, while that entire method is backwards and doesn’t work. The idea of having a script that everyone acknowledges and is aligned to in the way that they talk about your company is very, very important. And so when we talk about defining this and establishing this messaging, the first thing is that you need to acknowledge what the customers problem is, right? A lot of times, when you get a phone call, or a sales phone call, or you interact with a piece of content, the first thing that you’re told, is some great thing about the vendor, or the creator or the salesperson that’s trying to get you to hook into whatever they’re selling you right. But the best content, the best storytelling, forget about sales content, or digital content or anything like that places you as the consumer at the center of whatever it is that’s being created, right. So there’s lots of different people who talk about this, Donald Miller talks about it in his story brand. There’s a guy named Paul Howe, who has the the and but therefore method, and all of these are built around, you know, making your consumer the hero and identifying their problem right up front. So when you’re trying to establish that messaging matrix, number one, acknowledge the customers problem, this could be as simple as, if you’re a landscaping company, don’t try to come to the to the piece of content with the temptation is going to be we do landscaping, like, we got to say we do landscaping, and that that’s gonna be tough to overcome. But instead of doing that, think about what your customer actually cares about, right? They care about their neighbor looking at their lawn, and thinking that it looks Brown, they care about the money they’re gonna have to spend in order to fix it. Like, these are the things that they actually care about. So acknowledge the problem, step one, step two is to identify potential outcomes, positive or negative, right. So in in Paul Howard just mentioned him his method, you have, the customer has a problem, and they want a solution. Therefore, there are two things that they’re confronted with now, they can either continue the way they’ve been going, and you know, they kind of know what that path looks like. Or they can try this alternate solution, and experience the benefit or negative of that. And so you want to give them a little bit of a foretaste. Like, if you continue in what you’re doing, you’re going to end up here, and here is not a great place. Or you can come work with us and end up with this outcome that you actually want the you know, whether you know it or not, this is the outcome that you actually want. So you acknowledge the problem, you give them two potential outcomes that are going to happen, because this problem exists. And then you lay out the solution. So listen, Carlton, your yard, it sucks. And the fact is, either it’s gonna be part of it part of what’s part of all of mine does, so I could say this to myself, but either you’re going to continue the way that you are going to be miserable, embarrassed, you know, out of money, whatever, on all this lawn stuff, or you’re going to be like our coworker, Derek, and have Phil Mickelson’s, you know, lush, Zoysia growing in your backyard, right? Those

Carlton Riffel 13:50
are the two things rolling around. Yeah, those are the two apps right now. That’s why it’s why he’s on here. And it’s just rolling around rolling around

Adam Vazquez 13:55
in it and mowing it. So those are the two options. And here’s the solution. If you want Phil grass, then the way that that you need to do that is by whatever your call to action is subscribing to our newsletter, you know, joining our Facebook community hiring us, but that’s a little bit forward, getting them somewhat making it simple, you know, simple, simple

Carlton Riffel 14:16
steps to get there. I think a lot of times, when people think about the solution, they got to think, well, I’m gonna make this huge thing that I’m going to go to this huge pitch deck with them and show them every single point. But really, the solution has got to be simple. It’s got to be easy for them to say yes, because they see how good it could be. If they go with with what you’re doing. So Adam cut when you’re talking about messaging, and specifically content, how does that correlate with the showing people the solution and showing people you know, the problem? Well, I

Adam Vazquez 14:51
think it’s just where attention is currently when we talk about content, we’re talking about digital internet, you know, enabled content. So So figuring out a way and I think of something you just said that was important is it has to be simple, right? Like you have to your call to action has to be simple. And we’re making it complex giving you this framework saying you need to acknowledge the problem, identify the outcomes, weigh up the solution and tell them why you can give them that solution. But if you do all of that groundwork, the actual execution should be pretty simple. It should be pretty straightforward. And so that could be a very short, very short, tic tock, you know, where you’re showing someone coming out, seeing their lawn, you know, pouring magic pixie dust that has your brand on it, and bam, there their lawn is better. That’s a horrible example. Do you get what I’m saying? It doesn’t need to be a an overly complex solution. Is that what you’re asking how content works with it?

Carlton Riffel 15:45
Yeah, yeah. Cuz I think it’s easy to think about how, you know how we always as businesses need to be thinking about our customers solution, and and helping them solve their problem. But when it comes to creating content that’s around that it gets a little bit more complicated. I think people are confused, is it that I’m, that every single video that I make is trying to present the solution? Or is it really just addressing problems and being helpful and giving value inside that lane of what their problem is, and that will eventually lead them to this solution.

Adam Vazquez 16:19
It’s definitely the second and even in when Carlton went through that initial framework of establishing messaging on your team, build your community start creating close the deal, like that’s number five, right, for an intentional reason. So when you’re thinking about messaging, then I even just did it in saying like, go make this video, you don’t want to jump to execution, you want to be able to talk about your messaging, you want to be able to talk about that core problem and your solution from a higher level that is evergreen in nature. So that whether it’s a video, whether it’s an email newsletter down the road, whatever the execution ends up being, you’re speaking consistently from a brand perspective.

Carlton Riffel 16:58
Okay, so we have several clients that have podcasts, and that we’re helping we’re assisting in that production of their content. And specifically, when it when it comes to messaging and creating messaging that engages people and helps them solve a problem thinking of all of our clients. Adam, can you think of one that that there’s a specific example or way that they’ve done it? That’s that’s a good example for everyone else?

Adam Vazquez 17:23
Yeah, I think there’s there’s a bunch of them, but one that comes to mind because their their head of growth is coming on his router stack. So Eric Dodds is going to be joining us in Episode Two. And I think what they’ve done incredibly effectively is created their show is called the data stack show, I believe they’ve created a entire show and community that’s built around, not their brand, even and not their their solution for sure. But around their customer base and the the different. They’re very technical problem, solution. So the different problems that these people are facing, they’ve built an entire community in addressing and having conversations around them. And so we’ll hear more about that next week from from Eric directly.

Carlton Riffel 18:07
Yeah, I guess, a follow up question to is when you were selling something for your first job, do you remember what your sales script was? Do you remember what it was that you’re, you’re selling?

Adam Vazquez 18:19
I don’t, I think I’ve just blocked that part of my mind out. But what I do remember is the overall core values that we were selling like the problem of I was at a hiring agency attempt agency. So like, if I had to, I could probably pitch you right now and why you should hire me to help you with your temp services. But that goes to our whole point, right, like they did for all the flack I give them for the sales method. They didn’t have a clear message and a story that I know parts of today to be able to tell you, you know, why? why they can solve their customer problems? Yeah, I

Carlton Riffel 18:55
mean, I remember the first time that I created a flyer for a lawn mowing business, it was kind of my first attempt at graphic design in paint. And, you know, just thinking back to all the way as as a kid, I was thinking about me, I was thinking about what we offered. So, you know, I was like listing our services. It was like, you know, I’m sure there’s clipart involved. I’m sure there is Word Art involves all the all the cool things. And then as much as I hate talking to people, I just couldn’t bring myself to just knocking on doors. So I just stuck it in their mailboxes, like for blocks on blocks just to make federal crime. Your federal crime. Yeah, yeah, Federal crime, Federal crime, and then some guy calls my parents and he’s like, Hey, you can’t be doing that. So my mom is like, four blocks down just taking out every single one, like all the way down the raffle area. So yeah, I just how did it go for that specific time period? It went all right. I think with especially when you’re, you know, in high school, the value proposition is a little bit different because it’s really just commodity you’re you’re competing on price and because we are cheap, and because we are too nice boys mow in people’s lawns, but we were able to get a lot of word of mouth.

Adam Vazquez 20:08
I don’t know, I think it’s the Word Art. It all worked out. I think it was the word out. It was the word art that that really stuck with people. So next week, we’re going to talk a little bit more about, we’ll probably touch on establishing messaging, but really aligning your team around that message and empowering them to be able to communicate it on your behalf. But each week, I think as well, Carlton, you were going to talk about some things that couldn’t be new could be helpful to our listeners. I think we’re calling this segment. Have you heard is that right? Yeah. Have you heard which was if you don’t connect that our company name is heard, but we’re not putting perd and I that we don’t do us. So Carlton this week, what have you heard about that? That might help the audience?

Carlton Riffel 20:52
Yeah, so one of the the tools that I love it, we use in our business, you’ve been using it for the last year and a half is click up. And it’s you’ve probably heard heard about it before, but it’s a competitor to all your other to do apps out there like Basecamp or Asana or, you know, the the Khan bond style to do so it’s neat, because it allows you to take whatever lists you have two lists you have and break it up into any view that you want, either for yourself or your team. But really the power of it is that they give you automations. And they also give you several other tools inside of it. So there’s goals, there’s docs, there’s goals, there’s all sorts of things. So it’s a great tool for managing tasks, but also automating some of the things that you don’t want to have to do every week.

Adam Vazquez 21:42
The other thing that it’s great about is if you want someone to almost become dictatorial, in your company about what platforms you are and are not allowed to use, you should you should definitely check out clickup Just kidding, I, I am not a good technology customer in general. So Garland’s had to spend countless hours teaching me how to just like log into basic stuff and click up has made everything super easy. So but just had just had a bother about that my Have you heard is not necessarily a tool or something that will help you, you know, with your messaging or anything like that. But just a good example really, of someone who is executing on what we’re talking about the premise that we’re talking about. So it’s a guy named Henry Bell caster, I talked about him on Twitter earlier this week. And he is someone who, in some ways probably competes with us. I personally like doing bad business by even talking about him. I think they do. I don’t know if they do production work, but they they definitely like splice up assets after people have created podcasts and videos and things like that. And what I think this guy has done so well if you if you want to look him up, his name is Henry Bell, bl caster ca str specifically on YouTube, he publishes daily, which is I can’t even imagine in terms of just the effort that that’s needed there. And they’re usually like three to five minute videos. And you know, they’re not overly educational, they’re probably a little bit more entertaining vlog style. But he’s super consistent. I mean, he very rarely misses even a day. He tells stories very concisely. So he tells it in that three to five minute window. Three minutes is tight if you if you’ve ever done video. And the third thing is he did he did a really good job with character development. So if you watch any of his videos, you’ll see his whether it’s his I don’t even really know, his employees or his partners or teammates, or friends, his dad, like he brings them in, in a compelling way. And the reason that I appreciate that is because so often people get caught up in like, Do I have the personality do? Do we need to hire actors? Like, how are we going to do this? How are we to make and he’s done a great job of taking very normal people and weaving their story into what he’s what he’s trying to create. So just a super simple example. But I shout out Henry, I think he’s done a great job.

Carlton Riffel 24:02
We need to see if Henry uses click up.

Adam Vazquez 24:04
Yeah, maybe well, I’ve had Henry on one of these times, and you can yell at him for whatever project management software he uses. Awesome. Well, hopefully this was helpful. And we are going to continue next week with Eric Dodds, who’s the head of growth from Rutter stack. He’s going to be talking about how to align your team for growth. We have a ton of great guests coming Nicole warshauer is from trusted health is going to help us talk about building community. Tony Miller from a quick timeout is going to talk about how to just start creating so many of you are paralyzed with fear not sure where to begin. And Mickey cloud who’s a senior vice president of Sasha group, which is VaynerMedia small business agency, he’s coming on to talk about creative that closes the deal. And then Kenneth Burke from a startup called text request is going to talk to us about building culture. So if any of that sounds interesting, please be sure to subscribe, share out the show, and we’ll see you next week.