When he was 18, Jim James, founder of EASTWEST PR, had his heart set on a skydiving expedition to Australia — until he found out how much it would cost him.
After diligently saving for months, he experimented with a new tactic for getting the supplies he’d need for the trip: He played middle man between an outdoor outfitter and a newspaper to strike a deal that appealed to both. His plan worked, and Jim took off on a literal and figurative journey.
Since then, he’s launched eight companies on three continents. He attended university in the U.S. and spent 25 years living in Asia, which inspired him with its dynamism.
Jim’s always been forward-thinking about new technology and just as willing to try new things in business as he is in his professional life. The author of “The UnNoticed Entrepreneur” and host of a podcast by the same name, he’s an expert at helping B2B businesses get noticed.
“One of the challenges we have as agencies, as consultants, is to help our clients take a risk and [realize that] what they’re doing in conventional media production isn’t necessarily going to work for future audiences,” he tells Lumen5’s Michael Cheng on this episode of Supercharge Marketing.
In this conversation, Michael and Jim discuss how to develop a collaborative content creation process for your brand, how to harness the enthusiasm and capture your future audience’s attention by experimenting with new content formats and publishing consistently.
Your customers want content about issues they care about, made by people who care about them. But too many businesses focus on what’s internally appealing and forget who it’s for, Jim says on this episode of Supercharge Marketing.
Instead, B2B marketers will get better results by consistently creating, repurposing, and distributing content far and wide — i.e., showing up for their audiences.
Your marketing content should focus on what your audience likes and wants — not on what you want to share.
Jim has found that some of his clients are afraid to just do what works. They cling to old conventional media: printed brochures and trade-shows, for example. There’s always going to be some fear involved in trying something new, especially when you’re investing in the process. But it’s easier than ever to produce and test out content with relatively limited resources.
Find out what your audience responds to and make more of that kind of content. When Jim’s sister wanted to reach kids with her message about the importance of being exposed to natural light, he used Lumen5 to create and test out 30-60 second, kid-friendly video concepts before launching the series.
Get brave, creative, and resilient with your content strategy.
Starting at age 18, when he managed to drum up media coverage for the outfitters who supported his Australian expedition, Jim has had decades of success in PR because of his willingness to try, fail, and get back up again.
Making a far-reaching impact is exponentially easier now than it was for him as a teen, or when he was establishing himself as a global PR guru in the ‘90s without the help of the internet. He encourages B2B businesses to use the tools that are now at their fingertips to experiment. Getting noticed is about standing out, and that doesn’t mean sharing the same types of content everyone else in your industry is sharing.
Repurpose and redistribute your best ideas.
Once your brand puts something out there on a video, podcast, or blog, it doesn’t have to stay limited to that original creation. “Any piece of content has multiple formats,” Jim says.
You may even find you can tweak your message or angle just a bit and reach a whole new audience. For a video series, Jim duplicated each video using Lumen5 and replaced the subtitles with other languages so they could share the content with kids around the world.
💡Even small B2B brands can achieve big reach.
[4:27] “Companies like yours have enabled individual entrepreneurs to create content at a speed and a level that before was only the preserve of big brands. So there was this vacuum caused by digital but, at the same time, it ironically created a huge demand because there’s more content than ever consumed. And agencies — the ones that survived — are those that realized that PR wasn’t about relationships anymore. It’s about content creation, and about bypassing the traditional channels and intermediaries to get to your audience.”
💡 Be honest with yourself if you’re generationally lagging behind the content you want to share.
[10:58] “The generation of leadership in organizations is out of step with the technology for communications. The C suite — the CEO, CFO, CIO, Head of Marketing — is quite often five to eight years older, in terms of lifestyle and habits, than the technology that is pervading their audience … CEOs and leaders of companies have to stay up to speed with the technology. And yet, that isn’t their domain of what they know how to do. The number one problem is that clients still think, ‘Oh, I’ll do a trade show. Oh, I’ll do a printed brochure.’ Who reads that anymore? Who attends those shows anymore?”
💡 Engage the senses with out-of-the-box video and audio.
[13:07] “In the absence of meeting people and being able to demonstrate our charisma, our personality, to build that bond, our content has to do that for us. And therefore, print is really only one dimension. It’s as if you were to meet someone in person and not say anything. We just kind of stand behind a whiteboard and say ‘I’m present,’ but you can’t hear me, you can’t touch me, you can’t feel me. What we have to think about is how the content we create replaces the human experience — and it needs to do that by audio, by video, and by some sense of motion.”
💡 Iterative and collaborative content creation is powerful.
[15:55] “We were able to take the videos and show them to young people, and then they gave us feedback. And we’re able to reiterate those videos and come back to them within 24 hours with different versions. So we’re able to collaborate with your tool on a project that previously would have been inaccessible to collaboration. So it’s not just content creation anymore. It’s collaboration.”
💡 Treat your customers like close relatives.
[28:18] “if you just turn up for Christmas or Thanksgiving and ask where the turkey is, people say, ‘Well, Michael only comes once a year for turkey.’ But if each year you’re sending Happy Hanukkah cards or a Happy Diwali or a Valentine’s or Happy Mother’s or Father’s Day, you have a relationship with those people. And that is the essence of coming all the way back to this idea of having a personality for your brand and your company. That different content gets delivered to those different people on those different occasions so that you remain special to them, and they maintain a special place in your heart too.”
💡 You may see farther into the future than your peers, so keep going.
[33:39] “That’s part of being an entrepreneur: that you have to continue to innovate there. You can’t stop because you fail once. You have to keep getting up and trying again, as long as you believe you’re doing what you’re doing for the right reasons. And then I think that’s nutrition, that’s nourishment in itself.”
Bonus Advice for Supercharging Your B2B Business
🚀 Use a range of tools to communicate with your team and customers more efficiently.
”One of the bottlenecks to growth is the communication of your ideas to other people,” says Jim. Yet, we’re living in a time when this is one of the easiest problems to solve. He shared some of his favorite helpful tools for communicating:
- Descript – an audio/video editor that makes transcribing content easy
- Loom – a simple screen recording tool that can save you from having to send an email
- Vidyard – a platform for sending video messages to sales prospects
- Lucidchart – a diagramming tool that can help with training, layout out funnel stages, or making internal decisions
- Lumen5 – the video maker that will supercharge your content messaging
You don’t need a huge team to make any or all of the above tools work for your brand.
About Jim James
🧠 Jim’s big idea: “If we all think about brands and businesses and the work that we do from the perspective of building genuine relationships, not only will we find more business, but the world will just be a better place when we look out for each other and aim to educate and inform.”
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