The Digital Content Playbook for Modern Startups - with Anna Furmanov

If you’re a B2B business and you haven’t nailed down a content strategy, you’re late to the game. eyes
The industry of B2B is evolving, and the amount of sales interactions happening in the digital marketplace is increasing every day. The last thing you want is your business to fall behind because it’s stuck in the traditional way of doing things
Developing a content marketing strategy sets your business up for future success in the digital marketplace. 
studio microphone In this new episode of B2B Podcasting, host Kap Chatfield sits down with Anna Furmanov, author of “The Digital Content Playbook for Modern Startups”. Together they discuss how developing a content marketing strategy is essential to the success of B2B start-ups living in our increasingly digital world. 
If you’re wondering how you can set your business up for long-term success, this episode is for you. hundred points
Main Takeaways:
gem stone B2B sales is going digital FAST—you need a content strategy.
gem stone Assessing the value of your content takes time and consistency.
gem stone There are two branches of content marketing: creation and distribution.
gem stone The customer sales experience is not a linear journey. 
alarm clock 00:00-13:29 | The necessity for content strategy and determining its value
alarm clock 13:29-23:27 | The importance of implementing “core pillars” in your marketing strategy
alarm clock 23:27-30:30 | What it takes to create great content
alarm clock 30:31-43:11 | The difference between vanity metrics and being thoughtful 
speech balloon “With organic content marketing, it can take months, sometimes even years to get really good at it and see a return on investment.” - Anna Furmanov 
speech balloon “Digital marketing needs to work for you so that you don’t need to hire salespeople to do that work for you.” - Anna Furmanov 
speech balloon “There’s something about that freedom of exploration and in allowing [the customer] to chart their own journey—and then when they leave ‘the playground’, the question they ask is, ‘when are we coming back?’” - Kap Chatfield, CEO of Rveal Media 
speech balloon “Set objectives for each stage of your content marketing and make sure you’re meeting those objectives. If you’re not, something is wrong.” - Anna Furmanov 
Connect with Anna Furmanov:
Anna’s LinkedIn:
Anna’s Website:
Anna’s Article:
Digital Marketplace Article (mentioned in episode):
Reach out to Rveal Media:
Rveal’s website:
Rveal’s LinkedIn:
Rveal’s YouTube channel:

210501_RM_B2BP_Ep_ The Digital Content Playbook for Modern Startups - with Anna Furmanov_QG1

Full Transcription:

“The following text was generated using a transcription service and may contain errors.”

Kap Chatfield 00:20

Hey gang, welcome back to B2B Podcasting, the show, the official show for B2B brand leaders, CEOs, sales leaders and marketing leaders to help them skip ads, and be the show. We talk a lot about how important it is for B2B brands to be communicating their message in a way that resonates with an audience. That doesn't repel an audience, but actually builds an audience. And you do that through remarkable content at scale. And today, I have Anna Furmanov on our show, she's actually a repeat guest. Don't, please don't be surprised if she becomes a recurring character on this show. She is the host and producer of Modern Startup Marketing, a podcast all about marketing for startups, for particularly for SaaS startups that are either seed funded or early funded. But I think you've had some experience, Anna with companies that are like series D, maybe even further along. And so- 


Anna Furmanov

All the way to G. Yeah. 


Kap Chatfield  01:10

All the way to G? Oh, my goodness, that's amazing. So you have a lot of experience with this. One thing that I've noticed, Anna, is if you were to fall in on LinkedIn, and we'll put the LinkedIn profile link for her own profile in the in the show notes, so be sure to follow her connect with her. But one thing you'll notice when you follow her content is she's she's very consistent in this in this theme, which is a big theme in this season of B2B podcasting, about the value of creating content, particularly consistently. And thinking about content and measuring the value of content in a really unique way. So, Anna, as we kick this off, we have an article that you wrote, I think you wrote it last year, April 2021, is what it says. And the article is titled titled "Modern Digital Content Strategy for Startups Playbook", like you wrote a whole playbook to help startups that have lean teams that are trying to get a unique message or a complex vision out to the marketplace. So they have two things going against them right now: How do they create a content strategy that works, and then how do they actually measure whether or not it's, it's actually being successful? I don't want to suck when for too long. I want to let you speak. But I'd love for you to kick it off by just sharing what's been the biggest problem that you've seen with modern startups in regards to measuring the value of their content strategy?


Anna Furmanov  02:31

Yeah, so content and measuring the value of content is difficult. And the reason that it's difficult is because it doesn't work the same way as like, when you have, let's say, your sales team, and they're measuring like, you've got your inbound sales team inside sales team. And they're cold calling, and they need this many calls. And then they move this many people to the next stage of the funnel and the next stage and then you're converting at this percent. Like sales, it makes sense, right? Like, these are the numbers we're tracking and we need to be converting at this rate and, like, here is the bottleneck and we need to fix that. I also kind of think of paid ads kind of in the same boat a little bit, where you've got certain ads where people click to convert and certain ads are performing and certain ads are not performing. Like that makes sense. The hard part with content is, how do you see how do you think about it in terms of like, well, is this actually converting people? Are people finding value in this content? How do I know? What do I look at? What do I track, it's not just like a one number. And it's not, like, a couple of numbers or a few numbers. And it also takes time. So, that's a little bit different from like sales, you can get on, you know, get on the phone and call someone and like call the right person that has the right need, and then convert them to the next stage in demo and it just works faster. With content, organic content marketing, it's it takes a while takes months, sometimes it takes years to get really good. And having a consistent, that's why I like to have a consistent approach with my own content marketing efforts. That's why you see me on LinkedIn, I have a podcast, I believe in it. And over time, I've seen the impact that it has on revenue. It's just a different way that you're measuring. We can talk about like, what I think that is and how I do it. We will because in your article, you specifically talk about segmenting down the funnel. You have different types of content, right? You have content that's more top of level engagement, you have content, it's more nurture level, you have content, it's more convert level. We'll talk through that in a little bit. But I do I do want to play devil's advocate a little bit because you're you're you might be what's the word rocking the boat a little bit for salespeople, or sales leaders, or Pete, you know, everyone's fighting for a bigger budget in the organization, right? Sales wants a bigger budget, marketing wants a bigger budget. When you say something like that, I can imagine people who are more sales oriented saying, well, if it's going to take longer to get an ROI, or to measure the value of content, why do content, let's just focus more on sales, what would be your pushback to that? My pushback to that is in the marketplace, there's going, there are at any given point in time, there's like 2 or 3% of people that are that have a pain and need what you're selling. And so, you're going to talk to these people, and they're going to want to buy what you're selling, and it's going to be great. For everybody else out there, there there may be some warm folks out there that want to buy what you're selling, a lot of them are cold. A lot of them are like not even thinking about you not aware of you. And you you need to get your digital, digital needs to work for you. Digital marketing needs to work for you, so you don't need to hire all these salespeople to do that work for you. And it's also easier to sell when people have heard about you, when you're creating that awareness, when you're building that, that trust, likeability, all that stuff comes from content, and, and showing up online in the right places. So, I think that there is a place for both, like, you should I'm both marketing and sales for my own company, right? So I know the value of both. I just think that marketing has a specific place in the funnel, and sales has a specific place in the funnel and sales gets way easier when you do the marketing right. And I think you're what you, Kap were trying to allude to, maybe you're getting to this point, is something that's in the article, which, which is from Gartner. And it's from, I don't actually remember the year it's from where I found this probably from 2021. But their future of sales research, there's a link in that article. We'll put the link in the in the show notes too for that, we got it. Yeah. So it shows that by 2025, and we're already 2022. So, we're not that far off. And it's probably even higher percentages now, but 80% of B2B sales interactions with buyers will occur in digital. And this is because 33% of all buyers desire a seller-free sales experience. And then it actually climbs up to 44% for millennials. So people are getting, buyers are getting used to just like, let me just do my own, like research. Let me talk to people I know, to figure out if I really want this, this product or this service. And if it's a complex product or service, they'll probably want to talk to a salesperson. But if it's not that complex, a lot of this buying happens without sales getting involved. So the more that you can kind of match to the way that buyers want to buy, the better the experience for them, the more likely they're going to like you and want to buy from you. 


Kap Chatfield  08:10

That's a staggering statistic, I'm looking at it right now. 80% and by 2025, so to your point three years from now, 80% of the B2B sales interactions are going to happen digitally, which, in my mind, really what that's saying is, it's going to happen before anyone ever talks to a human being. So, I think of like, the classic iceberg analogy, right? Like, what we like to look at is the measurable thing above the water, the tip of the iceberg that's easy to track, such as the sales measurements, right? Is this person going from stage to stage, are they closing or did they ghost us? But, there's so much activity, 80%, that happens underneath the surface that isn't that neat to track, you're going to share some ways about how you can track some meaningful metrics, but alot of it happens underneath the surface before that person even enters the sales pipeline. And so, I'm just looking at that and I'm just thinking, it would be foolish for anyone to look at that stat and see how quickly that's coming, and not begin thinking about, okay we need to either create a content strategy or we need to double down on a content strategy. And you lay out, content marketing really requires these two things: you talk about content creation being the first, and content distribution being the second. How about you unpack those for us?

210501_RM_B2BP_Ep_ The Digital Content Playbook for Modern Startups - with Anna Furmanov_QG3

Anna Furmanov  09:35

So yeah, I always like to simplify things. And that includes content marketing. And so, content creation is really like, what are you sharing? What are you saying? What's your point of view? And how do you package it up for people? Does your content look like gifts or texts or video or podcast episodes or like, what is that actual content, and how do how does it to kind of connect with someone across their journey? Somebody had mentioned, I like this actually more than how I talk about funnels, instead of saying the customer journey or the customer funnel, say customer playground, because it really is kind of a playground. Yeah, like, there are people that want to go down the slide, and there are people that are on the swing set. And then there are people that are kind of standing far away from that playground, they're on the sidelines, just kind of hanging out and talking on the bench or something. So you just want to make sure that you're creating the content that is relevant and valuable, inspiring, exciting, intriguing, right, for your target audience. And then the second part is content distribution. So what are the channels that you're going to focus on, and startups really like I highly recommend focus, I highly recommend focus for your target audience, I highly recommend focus for your channels where you're going to show up with your content. Because the more that you prioritize your channels, the more you get really good at one or two. And you see the impact is much bigger than if you spread yourself across like peanut butter across different a bunch of different channels. I'm sure that this is probably me, like, beating a dead horse because people hear this all the time. But I can't stress enough how we're still doing things the old way. We're still across like doing all the social media we're like running around with our heads cut off like chickens with their heads cut off, because we're we're trying to be everywhere. And then we actually aren't pushing down on the gas on any one in any one place. So- Interesting. I think about like parties. I'm the type of person that goes to a party and I'm not really a social butterfly, I'm actually more of an introvert, quite honestly. And I don't, like, I don't get a ton of value of just having like a 30nd conversation, surface level with as many people. I like finding like three to five people at the party where I can go, like a 10 minute conversation and it just goes somewhere pretty, pretty marvelous. And that's really what you're looking for, is your what you're talking about is what where are the platforms where your audience already lives. And you can build a really meaningful relationship with them and conversation with them through the content so that you can, I mean, the the deeper you go, it seems like the wider you go too, it's pretty, pretty remarkable. That playground analogy is super interesting. You just mentioned before the on the pre-show call, like you have a five year old boy, I got three kids under five. What's so funny about the playground analogy, took my kids to the park this weekend. And there's like no rhyme or-- it's not a linear journey. It's not like, Okay, I'm gonna go up this ladder, and go down this slide, and then go over here. It's like, it's chaos. It's like, I'm gonna go over here, I'm gonna go over and you can't there's like no pattern or rhyme or reason to it. But there's something about that freedom of exploration and in allowing them to kind of chart their own journey. And then when you leave the playground, the question that they ask is, when are we coming back? And that's like- Yeah, I was just gonna say, it's, the playground analogy is not mine. So I'll share the link to the person that created that, that material, but I just love it. I love it. And you're absolutely right. And my five year old will run to one thing, and my eight year old will run to the other thing, and then they'll switch and then they'll come together, and there's no rhyme or reason. So yeah, you're right. You mentioned in the content distribution part of that, of the two step like the one-two punch of content marketing, you made an allusion to paid social. And basically, you're saying like, do you really want an ROI, you want to measure ROI, you want fast results, paid is the way to go, you pay to play, get the content out in front of people faster. But there's also value in the organic strategy, too. And you have to recognize, like, how much money do you actually have to play with to do the paid strategy? Generally, could you give us kind of like a framework of how you would consult these startups on how they they, especially if they got small teams, small budgets? How would you recommend they consider, like how hard going on paid versus organic if they should do paid at all once they first start? Oh, man, this is like the million dollar question. In general, doing both is the best route, one versus the other is not really the best method. But the startups that I work with, they specifically come to me because I help them with organic content content strategy. Maybe they're already running paid, maybe they're not, but they come to me we talk about organic content strategy. And then once we develop that strategy and start executing and learning about what content resonates, we could also use that on the paid side in order to create that dis-- like, faster distribution.  So that's why I think both of them are important. I've also had startups on my podcast, Modern Startup Marketing, right, talk about how they go the paid route first, because then they're testing a bunch, especially when they're very early stage, they're testing a bunch of creative, they're testing a bunch of images and messaging. And the the winner wins, right? Like, it's just kind of, let's just let every- all the ideas loose and see what wins with what target audience. And that's kind of how they test into who they're going to, you know, who is their product really for, who's their target audience, the the one that's getting the most value with, with their product and also from the messaging. So, both are important and I think it's really a leadership- it's a, it's, the leadership has to decide. Like, for me, I decided, I'm going to do 100%, organic content strategy for my business, that's enough for me, based on your business goals, you might need to have both, you might want to do one, because you want to move faster. So it really depends on the business and your goals.


Kap Chatfield  14:57



Anna Furmanov  16:13

I like that you're managing expectations, though, even if you are smaller, you're gonna begin doing paid, you know, the two different strategies. One is using paid as a way to test your messaging. And then, another way is using paid to like reaffirm something you've tested on organic or tested in paid, and double down and amplify it. But I think it's important to recognize, especially when you're first starting out, if you, I would just say this, and you could you could push back if you don't agree because I'm totally I love challenges, but my my take would be to have a healthy relationship with paid once you first get started and not look at it, like, we're not getting enough leads fast enough, turn it off right away. Like really be thinking about, we're gonna be we're willing to put aside X amount of money per month to just get the message out in front of the right people faster, and leverage that and use that information as like a feedback loop. And if we get leads out of it great, like great, like, why not celebrate that? But I feel like some people turn off a paid media strategy too quickly, because they're only looking at it as how much money can we make right away? And you're really missing out on a massive opportunity of understanding are we even, could we be building relationship with our audience, and it just needed a little bit more time? What would you say to that? Yeah, I think there that timing plays into it, for sure. Especially on the organic content strategies strategy side. It takes, like I said, it takes months, sometimes years for something really meaningful to play out. And that's why you got to be systematic, have a systematic approach, but I imagine on the paid side as well, right? You want to keep running something just enough to figure out like, is this worth what I'm putting in? Is this like, is the customer acquisition acquisition cost worth what, you know, the the revenue I'm getting from these customers? It really does have to, the equation has to make sense. Right now, I'm getting a bunch of discovery calls from startups that were going big on the paid ads front, and were not focused on organic content, now it's kind of biting them. It's biting them because they're like, I have to keep feeding the animal, the beast. I have to keep feeding the beast, and then the numbers, for example, just don't match to where it makes sense to keep feeding the beast anymore. So what else do you have then to create awareness? Like if they started building early on their organic content, then that would always be kind of like developing and getting better and creating pipeline, even though it was taking longer, it would still have been running in the background, and they wouldn't have to worry about this, you know, on the paid ads, just having the paid ads, fill that funnel. So that's why I say both are important. And it's really interesting to hear now, like, yeah, the paid side doesn't make sense. Maybe the competition is up. Maybe it's harder to track, right? There's all sorts of reasons why that's happening right now, but if you don't have an organic content strategy on and also building pipeline, then it's to the startups detriment. Oh, gosh, I think of like, like investing, right? Like there's, you could do the more short-term investing, day trading, things like that, but if you're not also like putting some money away in a Roth IRA or something that's more long-term focus, like, you're you're creating a vulnerability for yourself. So, I think that's super helpful. Let's get practical. Okay, because you in this playbook, it's called a playbook for a reason, you do make it very practical. You even break down like, what are the core pillars of the marketing engine. What should those be? Can you break down those those core pillars for us real quick? Yeah, the reason I bring in like the core pillars here is because I really like one thing that Shiv, Shiv Narayanan, and I'm hopefully not butchering his name, but he's the founder of How to SAS. And I really like how he says, like, if you have a limited marketing budget, which startups typically do, right? You need to create focus and start with people who are ready to buy today in order to get those quick wins. So, don't start creating, like, one are the biggest mistakes he says that companies make, and I see that as well, is, they come to me and they say, like, well, we, I asked them, what kind of marketing are you working on right now? Like, what are some campaigns you've been running? Well, we're writing blog posts, and we're doing Google ads. So it's like the two biggest things, Google ads, well, how's that working out for you, not so great, or it's just always on, we're not really tracking it. And then the blog posts, we just keep on putting the blog posts up and hoping people visit the website. So well, that's a big mistake, right? Because by the time people come to your website, like you've kind, it's not a quick win. It's not the people that are ready to buy. Like, you need to have those core pillars in place for the people that are closest to buy your product or service so, before you start creating those blog posts, or posting on social media, so that's really important. There's like a step one, step two, step three part of this and the core pillars of creating this engine is like create a marketing foundation first. You're not for everyone. Who is your ideal customer? Who's your target audience? Who are you really for? Who are those super fans that are getting like, the biggest value from you? What do they care about in their day to day? What are their emotions like? What are they enraged about? What are they annoyed by? Right? Like really understand who they are, and understand the problem you're solving for them, the value that your product is providing for them. And how you're different, right? Understand how you're different, that's, there are, I just got off a call today with with a prospect that's like, well, we have a problem, Anna, there are 27 competitors in our space. Well, guess what? It's gonna be the same thing, like, from now until forever, there's going to be more and more and more competition, that's just not going to go away, right? That's why you're creating this startup, because there's a need, and a lot of people have realized that there's a need, or founders have realized that, right? So, you need to figure out how you're different. That needs to come from the marketing foundation from talking to customers. And then, the people that are closest to buy, they're gonna want social proof, they're gonna want a reason to like and trust you. So creating case studies, video, testimonials, written testimonials, put that on your website, have pricing if possible, available, I'm a big proponent of that, I think, you know, your, since a lot of people buy digitally, a lot of buyers want to buy digitally, they check this out themselves. Like, why would you hide pricing from them? Have that available, if possible, and have your website, like, your sale, like a salesperson, your website should be like a salesperson. And so those, those are the key pillars, right? And if they're not in place, then there's no reason for you to start writing blog posts and posting on social media. It's just not, it's not it's not the right step by step formula. I, well, what's the pushback to that? I mean, that I couldn't agree more of any of that stuff. However, you're a content creator, I'm a content creator, the more you do, the more you create your own efficiencies, your own processes that help you scale that output, so that you can you know, you can build an organic foundation that you can build upon right? So what about people that have a lean team? How are you going to, how could you, how would you consult or coach those people who are like, you know what, I love the idea, Anna, but this doesn't sound practical, we don't have the team for this. When you say this doesn't sound practical, do you mean putting together like the case studies and the testimonials and the website and all that stuff for like people who are ready to buy? Or do you mean, when you're already, you've worked backwards to those people that are not ready to buy but you just need to educate them and create awareness? I think the people who are who are, the more the education piece. Because I think if, honestly, those other core pillars like, you have those in place, if you don't have those in place you don't have like, how are you gonna even do business right? That's right.

210501_RM_B2BP_Ep_ The Digital Content Playbook for Modern Startups - with Anna Furmanov_QG4

Kap Chatfield  24:33

Like you don't even have a digital storefront. But on top of that, you know, to create that demand, how how do you drive traffic? How do you drive demand to that place with like, you mentioned a podcast before and creating, even having this article about creating videos and things like that. How, how is that possible? Because I mean like the the thing about Google ads is like, the set and forget it nature, or you have one copywriter who does a blog post, and to really build that relationship with this content at scale idea, it takes some resources. So what's, how would you help a team that's, that's like, hey, we don't have a lot of expertise. And we don't have, you know, we don't have the resources to accomplish something like that.


Anna Furmanov  25:15

Yeah. So what I've realized, because this is what I help startups with, and I also have done this in the past, where I worked at startups, and now I do this for my own business is you don't need a lot of people. To create really good content, you actually, like we have all of these cool tools at our disposal. It is an amazing time to be a content marketer, because everything is available, and some of the stuff is free. And some of the stuff takes minutes, right? It's just, it blows my mind how, how it's so accessible now. But personally, my recommendation is, you want to start from a place of like, and maybe this is also beating a dead horse, but pill-, I believe in pillar content. So, whatever that is for you, that might be a podcast, right? That might be interviewing your subject matter experts, you don't even have to put it out anywhere, you just interview them, you sit down, you take notes and record it, right, just internally. But it's the content, the awesome, high-quality content has to come from somewhere from subject matter experts. And typically like the within startups, the subject matter expert is not necessarily the marketing person. So you need to actually think about like, who is that going to be? Is that part of the exec team, somebody from the exec team? Is it part of the like, is it external thought leaders that you're partnering with? Is it your salespeople that really know a lot about the specific topics that resonates with your target audience. And they'll be talking about things like trends in the industry, how to, you know, their opinions, their advice, they're answering specific questions that they get all the time from prospects, this stuff makes really great content. And so, you would sit down, have that conversation, record it, put it on your podcast, make, create an article, whatever it is, but have that pillar, and do it consistently. So every week, I'm sure you did this too, Kap, but every week, I record at least 10 minutes for the pod for my podcast. Usually, it's like 30 to 45 minutes, at least one time, every single week. So I am backlogged. I have a lot of content for my show. I'm never thinking like, oh, my gosh, I'm running around trying to get, no, I'm always ahead. Because I've recorded a you know, a lot of great high-quality content with great guests. And from there, you're going to want to think about like, how do I chop up this amazing content. And that's where you need someone that's, that's why I like to think of like content managers, or content specialists that you bring onto the team, as people that are, they know how to write good stuff, they know how to communicate well, they might be journalists, they might be writers, they might be, right? So they also know how to take that expertise, and chop it up, and and distribute. So the distribution part, not all journalists know how to distribute, right? So it's, it's, it's kind of like, you want someone that's a good writer, but you also want someone that understands how to distribute across social media, across maybe like write writing for your blog post, or maybe creating some other type of content, like an e-book or something like that. And so, it's you can, you can see that some of this is kind of heavy on the ops side. But it's, it becomes a system where it doesn't actually take a lot like, for me, personally, the recording of the podcast episode, that's just talking to someone like I'm doing with you right now. That's once that's recorded, that goes up on the, you know, show on the show for the show as audio, and then working with like a production of video clip production company to chop up the clips. And what I do is I take notes, so as we do, I don't know if you do this, Kap, but what I do is, I take notes as I'm talking to someone, whether it's for the podcast, or you're interviewing you take notes and high-. Oh, okay. So there. There you go. Yeah. So I highlight the things that I find super helpful, super interesting, that I know my target audience because I know them so well, because I've done the research, I know they're gonna find it valuable. And that's where the rest of the snippets come from the, you know, dozens of social media snippets, the texts, the image, the video, it all comes from there, those highlights and and that's it, like I'm just one person and my company and I because I know my target audience and have the pillar and have a system, I'm able to handle it.


Kap Chatfield  29:50

You're doing that, are you doing that all on your own? As a one person band?


Anna Furmanov  29:54

I'm a one person band. Yeah, well, so. Yeah. And I even like to create my titles for the podcast episodes. And I like to create my titles for the video clips. Because I've had experience with it, like, I know what will be enticing. And I think that like whoever takes over that part, like that's the part that matters, those little things matter. Like, what's the title that you're going to, you're going to show on your video clip that will entice people to want to check out your podcast episode. That matters. So I like to, yeah, I like to do that. But it over time, it doesn't take as long with experience.


Kap Chatfield  30:31

You know what's wild, and I think this would be a great transition into like the measurement component of measuring the value of all this stuff. Because what you're talking about when, you know, you're not just moving intuitively on like, well, this headline, I think might, it feels better than this headline, or the way that I edit this clip versus this way of editing it. It's you're you're paying attention to something. Like, you have indicators, real indicators that are helping you understand how to create better content. But that those metrics aren't necessarily revenue related metrics, yet they matter. And I would love for you to break down like and really kind of break down the argument about, well, if it's not attributable to revenue, then why are we tracking it? Can you explain to us like you, you specifically have like a three-tiered framework of, of engagement, nurturing, and conversion of these different metrics that you're looking at? How do you how do you use that to measure the value of your content?


Anna Furmanov  31:32

Yeah, great question and I, I'm happy that we're talking about this. Because this is like on a lot of people's mind, how do we measure the if our content strategy is working? So those three buckets: engage, nurture and convert, that's actually part of, like, a one-page marketing plan that I help startups with. Like, what are the marketing activities you're running to engage people top of funnel? How are you nurturing that relationship? And how are you converting them and turning them into like customers that love you? And then how are you like making use of this relationship that you have now with customers making that a great experience, and then starting that flywheel in that process over again. So, that three-part is part of the one-page marketing plan. What I, how I like to think about measurement is for each of those stages, having objectives. So let's say you've got your marketing campaigns for top of funnel and like you have, for example, I have like a podcast, right? And I also create social media video clips, I put clips, video clips out on LinkedIn. My objectives, what are my objectives there? Like, for LinkedIn, I want to have more followers and engagement with my posts, right? Because then I know that people are liking the content, they're liking my expertise, they're following me, they're engaging with it, like it's, those are some signals at that part of the of the plan. The next part is the nurture part, which is actually not so different in my mind, like it's not so different from the engagement top of funnel. Like middle of funnel can also be a way that you like nurture people through your content still with a podcast, still with social media video clips. It doesn't actually have to be so different. Because people are going to find things that they're intrigued by and interested in no matter if they're just like figuring out this whole space, or if they're kind of already warmer, and want to get to know you more, and like stay in, you know, stay in touch. So, you could still use the same type of content across engagement and nurturing. The nurturing I also like to think about like, Okay, you probably might have some CRM and like you have customer and prospects, leads, information, their email, so maybe you're sending a newsletter. Or maybe you're sharing something with them on LinkedIn one to one. Or maybe you're holding some weekly virtual events. So those are all different things you could do at that stage. And then at the convert stage, like we talked about case studies, testimonial videos, things that are meaningful to help build the trust so you convert into customers.  So each of those stages, you can measure if your content is working, if you set specific objectives. Like, are we at the top of funnel increasing month over month website visitors coming to our site? What are they reading? What pages are they checking out right, there, a lot of folks actually check out my pricing page, because they already learned about me on LinkedIn. I see a lot of them kind of funnel into the website and they're and like, I think my second most visited page is, either about or pricing, maybe pricing is my third. So it's really interesting because that's what your content should do. It should get people to like, now they find out about you, they learn a lot about you without you having to come in and tell them anything, because they're watching you, they're tracking what you're putting what content you're putting out there. They're learning so much. They're already so educated, that by the time they come to your website, they're like, how much are you? And yes, I want to jump on a call with you. So that's exactly what I'm seeing happening. And that's at the top of funnel. And then there's also objectives, you could set in the middle of the funnel, like we're increasing our book demos, right? And then at the bottom of the funnel, for customers, converting into customers and retention rates, and all that stuff. But my point is, it really should be around, like, have objectives for each stage and have like content that are geared towards those those objectives. And then make sure that you're meeting those objectives. Because if you're not, then there's something wrong.


Kap Chatfield  35:44

Oh, I'm just reading the person's mind who has just used this phrase in their head, or they've said it out loud plenty of times: the term vanity metrics. I want to go back to like, that the category the engagement category of the value of your content. But Anna, aren't those vanity metrics? Isn't it vanity metrics to look at engagements and comments and things like that? You could probably guess where I would go with this. But I want to hear from you like, what's your take on that term vanity metrics?


Anna Furmanov  36:14

It's not vanity metrics if you're being thoughtful about how you're using them. So you're not just saying, Look, I have 10,000 followers, that's a vanity metric. But if those followers, like 70% of them are in your ideal customer profile, they're like a good fit within your target audience who you're selling to, that's not a vanity metric. That means that whatever you're talking about is resonating with those people. So it's just a matter of like, being thoughtful. If you're getting likes, on your posts on LinkedIn, who's liking it? Is it the is that is that the right title of the person that you're actually, right, selling to? And there's, yeah, so drilling down into specifics like that, like social engagement, likes, comments, shares, and looking at your podcast and like, are the plays increasing month over month? Like those are some drill down metrics, you should be tracking website traffic, right? Which pages are getting traffic? Maybe you've got some pages dedicated to your podcast, which are what are those pages, like, looking at those, studying those and having a viewpoint on like, well, if this is happening, then my content strategy is working. Those are like the signals that you're getting. Who's commenting on your posts, who's saying like, Oh, my gosh, I'm getting so much value? That's not vanity stuff. That's like qualitative signals short-term, right, because content strategy takes a while to get through the pipeline over to customer. So you have to track those types of signals and metrics,

210501_RM_B2BP_Ep_ The Digital Content Playbook for Modern Startups - with Anna Furmanov_QG2

Kap Chatfield  37:48

I really appreciate that. And the reason why I was saying you're probably guess where I'd be going with this is because as, you know, as a content creator, you and I can probably relate to this, those those metrics, I look at the metrics of my content daily, not because I want to feel good about myself, but I know that if my content is resonating with my audience, then I have their attention. I'm building trust with them. And there's work being done in that 80% rule that we looked at, right? If 80% of the buyers journey is now happening in the digital landscape, I know that there's, that's, that's there's healthy activity happening there by, based off of those metrics. But what you're saying it sounds like is if I can summarize it, that it becomes vanity metrics when you try to make it mean something that it doesn't really mean, or if it's not meaningfully aligned to what your business goals are.


Anna Furmanov  38:43

That's right. That's right. It's not it's not like I have these followers or I have these plays, and it's just kind of like, well, good for you. So what? What's the what's the so what? There's got to be a so what from your content. It has to it has to tie to revenue, otherwise, you're going out of business, right? So and that's why I say it all starts at the very front, like the marketing foundation. You have to figure all this stuff out, you have to know who is your target audience And what is the value of the content going to be for them, versus how do I drive leads with a podcast? That's the wrong thing to ask. The right thing to ask is, how do we create really awesome content on my podcast so people will listen, and then they'll you know, they'll follow me, they'll reach out to me when they're ready to reach out. You have one like quote in bold from this article. Again, we'll put the link to this article in the show notes. The bold quote from you is, "stop asking what's the ROI from brand awareness channels", right? It's like, you're understanding what are these metrics meant to tell us? They're all meaningful in the right place. And don't, if you if you start asking the wrong questions, towards these different categories of your content, then you might kill a good strategy too early before it's actually done into work for you. So, and this playbook is really is, it's super strong. Thank you so much for taking the time to put this together, for walking through it with our audience. It's been a joy having you on the show today. Let's do lightning round, I like it. Oh my gosh, it's been so much fun. And I could talk about this all day seriously, like one other thing I didn't mention was, it can be as simple like, if you want to measure your content efforts, it can also be as simple as asking. Ask your customers, how did you find me? Ask your, ask the people that jump on that demo call, how did you find me? And then for prospects that are not ready to talk to you, you can just you know, check out if people are consuming your content. And those are those quote unquote, vanity metrics that are not vanity metrics, because they also matter for like, what people are engaging with top of funnel. So I just wanted to mention that like, it's very, you can always ask, just ask how did you find me? And then the other couple of things I wanted to mention, sorry, Kap, I'm kind of going off on a tangent here. Yes. Sometimes you'll get referrals from non-customers from non-leads, you'll get referrals from those people that are not necessarily they know about you, they've seen you, they already like you, like, they like what you're saying, they like your expertise, because they're also following your content. And then they're, for whatever reason, connected to the, your, your ideal customer, and they're going to refer them over. So that happens quite a bit. I don't know if that happens for you. But that happens quite a bit, too. So, don't underestimate that part of your content strategy. And the final part, I'm going to say is sometimes your content will serve as the social proof that people need to see once they're talking to you. So maybe when you ask them, how'd you find me? They're not gonna say well, because I listened to your podcast or because I, you know, saw you on LinkedIn. But once you have them in that demo call and or the discovery call, and they're talking to you, they didn't see your stuff before. But now they see your stuff. And they're like, oh my gosh, Anna, you know a lot about digital content strategy, you wrote that playbook, it really helped me understand how to put the pieces together. So you're building that trust and they're saying like, yes, you get me. So don't underestimate how valuable content is for the top of funnel- 


Kap Chatfield  42:26



Anna Furmanov  42:27

For the middle for the after. Like, it's it's where it should be all the time relevant at every stage.


Kap Chatfield  42:33

And just like the you said that your website is supposed to be a salesperson for you. Your content supposed to be a salesperson for you as well. 


Anna Furmanov  42:41

That's right. That's right. Yeah. Get those digital salespeople out there. 


Kap Chatfield  42:45



Anna Furmanov  42:46

To start working for you. Seriously. I love it. Anna, this was so much fun, for everybody listening we're gonna put Anna's LinkedIn profile, the link to this article, we list we let we reference a couple other articles. We'll put them in here as well. And then the link to your show, Modern Startup Marketing. Anna, you're you're the jam. Thank you so much for joining us on B2B podcasting. Kap, it's always a pleasure to talk to you. Thank you. 


Kap Chatfield  43:11

You bet.

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