Interview with Newt Barrett, co-author of “Get Content, Get Customers”


getcontent-getcustomersIn a recent post we discussed the concept behind content marketing.  The approach is not necessarily new but with the technologies of today, mostly driven by the Internet, more and more companies can implement content marketing strategies without having to rely on the big media outlets like in years past.  There are many individuals as well as companies that either use the same term or have another name for it such as Inbound Marketing.  But a book that recently landed on our radar struck a chord here at Truebridge and we were lucky enough to have a chance to speak with one of the authors.

Newt Barrett, who co-authored the book Get Content, Get Customers with Joe Pulizzi, was gracious enough to spend some time talking with us about the future of marketing.  Joe and Newt met while working together at Penton Publishing.  But it wasn’t until after they had left and were out on their own that they decided to pull their experiences together to write about the direction or marketing and PR for B2B and B2C companies.

The beginning of our conversation started out with Newt getting a phone call from his realtor as he and his wife are in the process of selling their home.  I was curious as to how that’s going since they live in Florida and according to Newt it appears to be turning around for sellers.  But this flowed nicely into what the focus of our call was about which is how the financial industry is coping with the drastic changes occurring in the marketing and PR world.

The challenge is changing the mindset of marketers who have been doing the same thing successfully for one, two even three decades.  Newt says the first thing you need to do in this new marketing world is to “think like a publisher”.  Newt goes on to explain:

“As a publisher, what you do is you get a group of people together who share a set of interests and concerns that are easily definable.  They are deeply interested in information that can help them address those concerns or solve problems. They’re looking for a source that can provide them with this information. In the past a publisher would find a niche, such as Penton where I worked on a supply chain operations project.  This group of buyers is looking for ways to improve their operations.  So we took a publication called Transportation & Distribution and transformed it into Logistics Today, which better defined buyer concerns. Once you define this group that has a common set of interests, you have to address whether or not they’re interested in buying something.  In this specific case, the supply chain group bought all sorts of trucking and logistical type of services.  Then you go to advertisers and say, ‘we have gathered all your buyers in one place and they trust us for helpful information and they’re willing to buy products. Therefore, your advertising will be effective in our publication’.”

Newt went on to connect this to how we think about our banks…

“If you think of a typical banking client, most of us don’t really care about our banks until we need their help.  But, when we do need a banker’s help we REALLY need their help.  We want information about how to solve our financial problems.”

One big missed opportunity that Newt even thought about before he and I connected was that banks could “replace what is disappearing locally which is local business content.” He goes on to say, “They can become a provider of really helpful business content with a focus on financials, but not necessarily exclusive to financial topics. They can then replace the publishers’ role.  But the real challenge is getting banks to start thinking in this fashion: First and foremost they are a provider of helpful information.  Second, they have products to sell.”

Newt feels this approach is not optional but rather essential for companies to be successful moving forward.  This is especially true on the web since that is where most consumers go to first start their buying process.

When asked if he knew of any financial institutions that were taking the lead on this new approach he said that besides Northern Trust, who he talks about in the book, most banks are roughly the same across the board, especially when it comes to community banks.  “We have lots of reliable, trustworthy, honest community banks here in South Florida,” he says.  “Most community bank sites tend to look a lot alike, provide the same competitive offerings, and highlight great customer service. What they frequently lack are real differentiators in terms of valuable content that addresses customer information needs.”

Truebridge spends more time in the banking space than Newt so we do see a number of banks and especially credit unions that are leading the pack.  We’re proud to say that many are our clients.  However, there are those who are adopting new marketing techniques, such as Twitter, blogs or online forums but these techniques are only half the battle.  Most have yet to adopt the one mindset that Newt and many others feel is essential to success – to think like a publisher.

We continued for another half hour or so about the future of marketing and we look forward to continuing our conversation.  Keep an eye out for more posts involving the great ideas and thoughts of Newt Barrett.