It’s fitting that we would meet up with content marketing maverick Barry Feldman just a few miles down the road from Folsom State Prison, where Johnny Cash made history for recording a live album and lifting a middle finger at the establishment. A resident of Folsom, Feldman has not only made a name for himself as the creative mind behind works of inspiration like Rock and Roll Content but he also fully admits that music fuels his passion.
And as for the establishment, well, he goes against it whenever possible—at least when it comes to composing compelling content. We witnessed his genius in action at the New Media Expo/BlogWorld 2014 in Las Vegas, where he spun his Rock and Roll Content presentation into a live performance. Wearing his signature Fedora and an electric guitar slung over his shoulder, Feldman belted out riffs from rock legends as creative inspirations for his captive audience. It was brilliant.
Between speaking engagements, strategizing with clients and contributing blog posts to influential websites (iAcquire among them), Barry is also hatching a book titled “Kiss My Glass.” The title alludes to the many pieces of glass we as consumers use for browsing, building relationships and buying.
We grabbed a couple microbrews at Lockdown Brewing Co. in the Historic Folsom district and tackled everything from music and kids to online marketing and personal branding. Here are the highlights.
You started your career in traditional marketing and advertising. With the evolution of online marketing, what’s really changed?
Everything. Everything and nothing much, actually. I mean, you’d really have to have your head up your, er, Apple, to deny that new media has turned marketing outside-in. Translation: customers have seized complete control.
If you’re doing things right, you’re helping them find you and you try to take it from there by nurturing the relationship, but you never really have control. It’s kind of like brands used to be women, but now they’re men. They don’t get to decide all that much.
I think of the days of buying media, or mail, or some form of traditional marketing as inside-out. You crafted a message and paid to send it out. Now it’s outside in. The customer dictates nearly everything.
All that said, consumers are still living, breathing humans with the same primal needs. So while you’re fixated on mastering every widget known to the wonderful wizards of webtopia, you’re still destined to suck at marketing if you don’t figure out what makes your buyer’s tick.
You’re a brilliant copywriter but copy alone doesn’t seem to be enough any more. How important is the visual aspect of compelling content?
Okay, imagine this: I’m not going to give you the status quo answer. Yeah, yeah … the neuromarketers will tell you people take in visual stimuli a million times faster and remember it a thousand times longer. So? What’s new here? Did the Web come along and introduce us to photography or illustration or video or graphics? C’mon.
The visual aspect of content is very important. But this is not news and Pinterest didn’t prove the world was pixelated.
I won’t be the one to tell you to neglect the visual aspect of your work. In fact, I believe I have high standards for what things look like. However, no pie chart or statistic will change my stance that the verbal element—the copy—is what accomplishes the deep level of engagement it takes to get someone to part with their money.
You talk about “turning on the power of online marketing” on your website. What is the one thing brands can do to crank up the volume on their marketing efforts?
Tune into the pleasure and pains of their buyers. It’s not about volume.
You’re one of top 50 content marketing influencers on Onalytica (No. 12, congrats!). Does that add extra pressure to maintain your influence while still focusing on creating high-performing content?
I hope not. I can’t deny it feels good to be recognized, but it’s short-sighted to see it as a competition. The real sweepstakes amounts to trust. I could slip off that list or any list and maintain a following of people who trust me and heed my advice.
I will do what I can to continue creating content people value. It’s rewarding.
How can brands leverage what you’ve called “influencer marketing”?
That’s a tall order for a few sentences. Let’s see… ID influencers. Engage them. Uncover ways to bond and share. Will that do? I guess you know, I’m fascinated by the topic and credit much of my success to connecting with the right people. So I’m sharing that advice on my blog now and in upcoming posts. Self-promotional backlink warning: I’ve collected many of my ideas (and those of 22 influential marketers here.)
Give us a peek inside your book (c’mon!). What’s one reader takeaway from the book that you can share with us now?
“Kiss My Glass” will be a study on how to create passionate relationships between brands and buyers through new media. It’d be extremely difficult to single out a single bullet, but forced to, I guess I’d have to say the lesson will focus on the infinite value of authenticity. I believe the best brands stand for something real and demonstrate it in everything they do.
Got any predictions? The next big thing in content? Or online content marketing?
Ugh. Please pardon me from predicting who acquires who, what skyrockets, and what withers away. What I feel is a logical prediction is we’ll see a declining fixation on the “more is more” mentality. We’ll probably even see less of what’s smoking hot right now, dare I say, content marketing and social media.
I don’t mean to say these practices will become less relevant. They’ll become less reckless.
We’ll see (I hope) the companies that don’t have the processes and people it takes to do it really well begin to bail. If you do content marketing half-assed, it’s bound to be a bust. These forms of marketing, like anything worthwhile, require commitment. My crystal ball reveals an elite collection of brands connecting with their customers because they actually care enough about them to continuously deliver great content.
Can I get you another brewski now?