EP 245: How to Effectively and Efficiently Grow a Startup with Hamlet Azarian | LinkSignal

In this episode, Stacy sits down with Hamlet Azarian, who is the CEO of LinkSignal, where he uses his marketing, technical, and operational skill sets to deliver long-term scalable growth to companies of all sizes. The two discuss what SEO Strategies can be used to drastically increase monthly traffic, as well as what type of growth hacks you should be using in order to effectively and efficiently grow your startup.

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Stacy Jones (00:01):
Welcome to Marketing Mistakes (And How To Avoid Them). I’m Stacy Jones, the founder of influencer marketing and branded content agency Hollywood Branded. This podcast provides brand marketers a learning platform for topics for us to share their insights and knowledge on topics which make a direct impact on your business today. While it is impossible to be well-versed on every topic and strategy that can improve bottom line results, my goal is to help you avoid making costly mistakes of time, energy or money whether you’re doing a DIY approach or hiring an expert to help. Let’s begin today’s discussion.Speaker 3 (00:31):
Welcome to Marketing Mistakes (And How To Avoid Them). Here’s your host, Stacy Jones.Stacy Jones (00:36):
Welcome to Marketing Mistakes (And How To Avoid Them). I’m Stacy Jones, and I’m so happy to be here with you all today, and I want to give a very warm welcome to Hamlet Azarian. Hamlet is the CEO of LinkSignal and uses his marketing technical and operational skill sets to deliver long-term scalable growth to companies of all sizes. Over the past five years, Hamlet has worked as a senior growth advisor to pre-seed, seed, and series A venture backed startups for which he has developed playbooks, hired and trained the marketing and growth teams and helped with execution. Today, Hamlet’s going to be sharing the growth hacks that effectively and efficiently grow a startup and the fundamental strategies you need to know to set up your business for success, which includes content, outreach, SEO, and so much more on digital platforms. And these are things that can drastically increase your monthly traffic and ensure your business will thrive. We’ll learn what works from Hamlet’s perspective, what should be avoided, and how some businesses miss the mark. Hamlet, welcome. I’m so happy to have you here today.

Hamlet Azarian (01:35):
Thanks for having me, Stacey. Very excited to be here.

Stacy Jones (01:39):
Well, I love talking all things digital marketing, because if you do not know digital marketing today, your business will fail. Absolutely, 100%. Can you share how you got started being a digital marketer? What got you to the point where you’re here today and owner of your business?

Hamlet Azarian (01:55):
No, of course. About 12 or 13 years ago, I was working at Saks Fifth Avenue as a merchandiser as a buyer. And I was kind of frustrated. I was like, here I am, I’m kind of living the dream in most people’s viewpoint, but I feel like the world is changing at such a rapid pace and digital is becoming more and more important. And I wanted to transition my career. So I kind of left, I quit, I literally quit an amazing job I had in New York, and I said, “You know what, I’m going to branch out and start doing digital marketing.” So I transitioned my skillsets that I had as a buyer, which were predominantly around the customer and understanding who they are, and really what the motivations that drive them to make a purchase, and see how I can take that skillset, that psychology elements of it, and translate it into online and see if we can work on different marketing strategies, digital marketing strategies, content strategies to make it more effective, and be able to relate to customers.

Hamlet Azarian (03:02):
Fast forward to the day, here I am specializing in probably what I would consider most people’s craziest way of starting digital marketing, which is at the early, early stages, where it’s just an idea, and no one really knows how to go to market. And there’s millions of people you can go and try to buy your product or your service, but that’s what we specialize in. So we work with the early stage startups, and we help build go-to market strategies that can help build and scale their businesses and find the right customers that actually are willing to buy their product or service.

Stacy Jones (03:39):
That’s awesome. What’s interesting about your story is I think anyone can learn the tools to be a digital marketer, but you actually were so immersed in learning at a very early timeframe in your life and in your career, all about personas. Like was what drove you. You could look at someone at stacks, and you could figure out exactly who that buyer was, when they walked in based on how they moved, talked, what they wore, anything along those lines. So you actually have an edge over a lot of people because you have true insight on people.

Hamlet Azarian (04:11):
Thank you. Yeah, I mean, it’s really that. We all at the core of what we do, particularly in marketing, if we don’t know who we’re talking to, we can sit there and we can talk about the demographics. We’re like, “Hey, she’s female, she is 25 to 35.” She maybe makes X amount of money.” But all those are irrelevant. Those are just stats. I think what really matters is the psychographics. We know what is truly motivating her? Why does she actually care? How can you make her feel? Why should she understand or relate to your product and what is the true problem you’re solving for her? I mean, that’s what we really focus a lot of our content around. Is people sometimes will just write content for the sake of content, which I think is some of the biggest mistakes people make. So what we really, really focus on is what is the contents role, how are you guiding them? How are you teaching them and how are you making them feel, after they’ve been immersed inside of the content.

Stacy Jones (05:17):
And today with content, I think people are overwhelmed when they start a business, and they’re like, “Oh, my gosh, I have to do social media. I have to do a website. I have to do these ads. I have to do…” And you’re working with them at such early stage where they don’t even necessarily know who their brand is, what their brand stands for, and they haven’t developed, the sensibilities of what problems they’re solving. They just know that… They’re like, “I have a great idea. I’m going to take it to market. I’m going to make millions of dollars. So how do you deal with people and how do you get them set on the right path from day one?

Hamlet Azarian (05:53):
You know our customers really well.

Stacy Jones (05:56):
I do. I have the same customers.

Hamlet Azarian (05:57):
What we do is we basically focus on really for them to understand that this is the biggest challenge. They all want to build something, they all want to build this tool, they want to build this product, they want to build a service or whatever it might be. So what we say, “Hey, let’s take a step back, let’s sit back a little bit and let’s really understand what is the pain point that we’re trying to solve for, and let’s learn from the market before you actually build.” So what we’ll start doing is we’ll do very micro experiments where we’re basically trying to run small ads or small content pieces, or whatever might be through social, and we’ll kind of grab the customers into our funnel, and we’ll start having either talks or chats or conversations with them. And really understand what is the pain point that this product is trying to solve? Does it mirror or does it match?

Hamlet Azarian (06:52):
The reality is 99% of the time, what the idea was that we wanted to build that we initially started engagement with, completely changes, by the way. It evolves and becomes something completely different, but it becomes a better product or a better service that we know that we can go to market with much more efficiently. So this early customer discovery, is what we call it phase, is I think one of the most critical one in the super early, early stage of any business.

Stacy Jones (07:25):
And so what is the first thing you’re going to do when you sit down with a client? So what is your strategy? How are you going to unbundle all the things that you can do for them, and start you dating off? If you can give our listeners an idea of their startup stage, or maybe their businesses a few years old or even older, what do they need to actually do to come and look at their business with new eyes to figure out how to do what you’re saying?

Hamlet Azarian (07:53):
We humanize them. The first, first thing that we do, as we kind of touched on it a little bit earlier, is we’ll sit down, we’ll say, “Who do you think your customer is? What do you think your product or service is trying to solve for?” And then we actually humanize that. We’ll build a customer persona, or an ideal customer profile, based off of what they’re telling us. And then we’ll actually go find these people. So we’ll go find more and more of these people and we’ll actually get these people on the phone with them. So they’ll sit there and they’ll talk to them, they’ll showcase their demo, their product to them. We’ll record this for them in most instances where they’ll be having this conversation. At the tail end of this, when we’ve done like 20 to 100 of them. That’s kind of usually what we try to strive for. We’ll pull it back and we’ll analyze all of this video for them. And we’ll say, “All right, what do we learn? Is this really your customer at the tail end of this? Did you really-”

Stacy Jones (08:50):
Did you actually build something that they want-

Hamlet Azarian (08:53):
“Did you actually build something that they want? Did you really think you were solving the problem and-

Stacy Jones (08:58):
Did you create more problems?

Hamlet Azarian (09:02):
Once we’ve done this… I’m sure you’ve done it as well. Once we’ve [inaudible 00:09:05] this process with them, what we’ll come out with is, okay, how do we iterate? How do we evolve the product? Is there things that we need to change or improve? But at the same time, we learn a lot. We learn really what the motivators for the customer are, what is the true pain point? What is the messaging that we really need to make sure that’s clear on both the landing pages and all the content that we’re going out with? How do we approach them? Where are they? Are they on Facebook, Instagram? Where are they spending most of their time? Or how are they doing their research? How are they even getting here? What are the steps before they’ve even thought about the problem that they want to solve? Or do they even think this is a problem? Like, “Hey, are they even aware of this? Is this something that even bothers them?” Whatever it might be, all of these different elements of data that we gather through these interviews is what really helps to define the go-to market strategy.

Stacy Jones (10:05):
Okay. And then when they’re going to market, are you dealing with a lot of startups and since you work on seed and tech and things along those lines, you’re doing GoFundMe and Kickstarter and all the different campaigns out there that they’re also trying to say, “No, I’m creating a product and a brand, but I also want money. I’m going to go and take this cool thing that everyone’s talking about,” which requires a total different approach?

Hamlet Azarian (10:31):
No. We don’t focus on that group. We’re really, really focused, at least on the base that we’re focused on… In the pre-seed before they’ve even raised, we’re really, really focused on, hey, let’s identify the persona. Let’s identify the problem, let’s make sure what you want to build. Because we don’t allow them to build by the way. What you want to build is going to solve this problem. And let’s figure out how we can find these people at minimal costs. So we’re not going to spend thousands of dollars on Facebook running ads. So where are they living online, and how can we go and approach and find them?

Hamlet Azarian (11:14):
Typically, what we normally do, at least on the tech side is LinkedIn is a great tool for us where we’re able to kind of identify and target and do outreach programs for them. That’s one avenue that we use. Another one we use is finding blogs that are industry experts in this space. So finding the different influencers online, either blogs and doing outreach to them, because we know they are hubs that can help us find other people that we can do outreach on. And then finding similar type of industries that are also online and finding the people behind those organizations and beginning outreach process for them. Those are the two or three typical go-to tactics that we always do.

Stacy Jones (11:56):
And so you’ve done this. You’ve validated the business, like if you’re an app developer out there, you’re pre-MVP at this point and stage. You have even dug in and developed it. Once you figured out there is indeed a need for this business, that you’re not just going to go out there and try to raise money, invest your own money and be left at the end of the day selling your house, and you’ve validated all of that. What you will do then? You’ve said, yes, people need-

Hamlet Azarian (12:25):
Are we given the green light? Let’s do this. [inaudible 00:12:27] green light let do this. So at this point, we’re now trying to figure out a go-to scalable market strategy while they’re building the product. At this point, we have investor interest, we’ve raised a small round. Typically, it’s between half a million and a million dollars. That’s kind of what they’ve raised at this stage. So now we need to figure out, all right, how are we going to build a go to market that scalable strategy, and typically what we’re looking here are in the paid media side, we’re looking at Facebook to kind of lean in a little bit there. We’re also looking at Google search, Google Display, YouTube. So those are kind of the paid platforms that we’re typically looking at. On the organic side, we’re starting to think about SEO.

Hamlet Azarian (13:14):
So we’re starting to think about, all right, what type of content can we produce, that’s going to humanize the brand that’s going to be able to talk to their customer persona, that’s going to turn them into thought leaders. And it’s just not me to content. It’s not what everyone else kind of wrote and has actually a unique point of view that is setting them apart from the noise and all elements of that, but it’s searchable. There’s actually volume there that people are, this is a true pain point that most people are talking about that people are going to come to their site, and it’s at consideration decision making of the process for their particular customer persona. So we’re helping them think through all of that. And then the last funnel that we look at is affiliates. So who are other partners that potentially can drive traffic to them and bring overall quality people that would be interested in potentially buying their product or service [inaudible 00:14:15].

Stacy Jones (14:16):
And then with all of this that you’re doing, you’re actually laying the groundwork. It’s not just like the now because all these strategies you’re doing are very much so things that make Google happy. You’re actually painting a landscape for them to have future success because it takes a while to build your content up. takes a while to write blogs, it takes a while to just even write copy in your website that Google’s indexing and but once it happens, that’s going to pay off for years to come.

Hamlet Azarian (14:44):
Yeah, exactly. It’s we’re building the pipeline, right? That’s kind of how I normally explain it to them is like, “Hey, we’re going to build this giant pipeline of content for you. We’re going to build this process for you and know that writing content today is not going to turn into hundreds of visitors to your site right overnight.” But there is a cumulative effect. So as each new content you’re writing as each new content you’re producing over time. And what we’ve typically noticed, especially this is like a brand new website. Brand new website, no links. Nobody knows who they are.

Stacy Jones (15:21):
Lost in the thousands millions of websites that are [crosstalk 00:15:25].

Hamlet Azarian (15:28):
Let alone the hundreds of millions that were born prior to them. In this massive sea, what we’ve typically known and we’ve done this multiple times, not just one, we’ve taken these sites from nothing to over 100 to 250,000 visitors a month within a 12 month period.

Stacy Jones (15:46):
That’s amazing.

Hamlet Azarian (15:46):
We’ve seen this trajectory. And what we’ve learned from this trajectory, at least, particularly on SEO, because that’s what we’re kind of talking about right now, is there’s three different elements that really really matter. So it’s all of the content. And we kind of bucket this into the on site SEO, and what we’re really focused on is search intent, how you’re different, how you’re unique how you’re authoritative. That’s very, very, very important. So it’s critical without the content, what do you really do? That’s the first bucket. The second bucket is technical. So fortunately, for a lot of our clients, they’re really good engineers.

Stacy Jones (16:25):
They got the back end.

Hamlet Azarian (16:26):
They have the best skill set. They love this stuff.

Stacy Jones (16:30):
Very limited, creative, maybe very little of like they are like fun pretty stuff. But all of those, zeros and ones.

Hamlet Azarian (16:38):
Ones. You tell [inaudible 00:16:39] a want a fast cars. I want a fast site.

Stacy Jones (16:38):
I can do it.

Hamlet Azarian (16:39):
[crosstalk 00:16:39]. Is that had that hard for them? So you’re able to kind of get super fast loading site, following all the best scheme eye, image optimize eye. All of those different things that Google loves. So we’re able to execute that mobile friendly, and so on and so forth. But what we noticed is when they do the content really, really well and they do the site really well. But they’re new, nothing happens. You know what happens? They’re on page two. Like “Well, I’m index, I’m on page two.” We’re like, “Yeah”. But-

Stacy Jones (17:14):
It’s like being on Facebook, and you have tons of content on it. But your followers are less than 6% of them are actually seeing your content.

Hamlet Azarian (17:21):
Exactly, exactly. So at this point what ends up happening is now we need to build their overall authority. So we need the right sites, the right influencers, the right blogs, to start linking them back to them to start building that. And this process, you know that I’m talking about content, and then non technical. And finally, off site, all three have to work together. And on a new site typically, realistically, if you kind of do them all simultaneously, together, it’s about six months. So around four to six month point, you start seeing an inflection point.

Hamlet Azarian (18:01):
And all of a sudden, any content you’re producing starts ranking. And that’s when we normally see that growth rate. So we’re struggling, we’re struggling, we’re at 10 visitors a day, we’re at 20 visitors a day, we’re at 30 visitors a day. And all of a sudden we’re at 100 visitors a day. Like “Well, remember, we were at 10.” “Oh, wow, we’re at 200. Wow, how did that happen?” Now we’re at 1000 visitors a day. So this cumulative effect starts kind of all kicking in typically around the six month mark. At least what we see.

Stacy Jones (18:29):
Yeah, sure. I started our blog back in 2012, then the company was launched in 2007. So people just didn’t do content marketing back in 14 years ago, even. 2012 there were certainly people who were blogging, but it wasn’t to the prevalence of today. And no one was podcasting at that time. No one even knew what a podcast was, hadn’t been invented. But started doing a blog a week. And that was a lot. I was like, “Okay, I can do it. I can write a blog.” And then I started writing [inaudible 00:18:59] all the time. And now we do about four to five blogs a week. And we have lots of team members who write them versus just me. But what happened was that first year in 2012, and I had forgotten about this until I looked back on my metrics, because we also signed up to HubSpot at that same time, because I was frustrated with using WordPress, trying to do the blog and to get the analytics and it just wasn’t giving me what I wanted.

Stacy Jones (19:21):
And so with doing that, at the end of the first year, I remember I was like we’ve gotten like maybe like 400 people who’ve read our blogs. Who’s going read our blogs unless they’re actually on target. We do pop culture partnership marketing’s. They’re like “This is great.” Well, we now have over 30,000 a month who read our blogs, so it’s scales, but it certainly doesn’t do that in year one. It doesn’t do that in year two, you start growing. So grateful. I’m so happy that I did this because our agencies positioned entirely different than any of our competitors. No one can even catch up. We have thousands of blogs that are out there so much content that Google ranks us for and we don’t have to pay for advertising. So like worth actually putting in the human [inaudible 00:20:08] hours. It’s higher cost up front to do that and it’s a lot of work. But once you get it going, if you get a system in place, it really does pay out forever for your business.

Hamlet Azarian (20:18):
I think what you said is key here though, this system in place. I think this is where people sometimes make mistakes. So I think what people end up doing and they’re like, “All right, I’m want to block out two hours on this day just to write, life happens. That’s not going to happen. That’s just a reality of it. So at least what we’ve noticed and how we’re able to kind of do this is all right, you need to write your outline first because that’s relatively easy. But that forces you to do the research and don’t worry about writing the content. So you write your outline, how are you going to be different, how are you going to be unique. How are you going to talk to your customer personas. Then you need to block out X amount of hours that you’re going to write, and you’re going to do that separately.

Hamlet Azarian (20:58):
You’re not going to try to do both together, you’re not going to write an outline, you’re not going to try to write at the same time, it’s just not going to happen, we already know this. So you’re going to block out X amount of hours for you, that’s going to be your, I’m only going to write, you’re not going to schedule meetings before, you’re not going to schedule meetings after you’re not even going check email. You’re not going check Slack, because it’s going to distract you. So you kind of blocked that component out. And then finally, you’re going to publish it. That’s the one that some people, it becomes a little bit more easier after you get going doing that a couple times. It’s easier. I have the image, I have the publication, and so on, and so forth.

Hamlet Azarian (21:31):
So that’s how we encourage, and teach in the early days of how to actually get a production skill set going. Eventually, what we end up doing for our clients is we kind of build processes for them. So we’ll hire writers specifically that know how to write in their voice and in their style. They’re the editor, but the writer is actually producing it will then at that point, have designer that are creating the imagery and the collateral that’s going to be shared on social and so on and so forth.

Hamlet Azarian (22:05):
We eventually build out a whole outreach team for them that are going to do that region are going to go out and find other blogs that they can participate in or guest post on, or other blogs that are might link back to them, or different places that they can talk on the speaking speakers on to build their overall their authority. So once we do these two or three different things on top of that, we produce a content calendar for them. So it’s very clear, everyone knows what they’re working on, when the deadlines are and what needs to be produced. And then it starts flowing in much easier.

Stacy Jones (22:38):
Very cool. And you have to do all of that. And I know it sounds like so overwhelming for everyone who’s listening who might not be here to hire Hamlet today on this. But if you can follow the processes and steps that he just outlined. Getting up to the point where at least you’re figuring out what you’re going to write your topics and creating skeletons, it really is just so much easier. And then once you actually create the content. If you write it at the worst, you can think about it as like chapters in a book, like what’s the story you want to tell. And when you have five or six blogs put together you have an E book. And then we have 12 blogs put together you have a book, you can start like actually like maybe more than 12.

Stacy Jones (23:18):
But you can actually start doing this. And a lot of people will write books like blog to publish. So you blog to box. So you actually write out on a skeleton basis of what your topics are, and you’re walking through and you’re covering everything, and then you have chapters ready to go. So there’s really cool things that you can do with me. Reusage republishing, repurposing all of those rewards that I’m trying to come up with right now.

Hamlet Azarian (23:43):
No, no, I mean, it’s one of the things we end up doing with the content. We create these things called clusters. So what we’ll do is we’ll say, all right, we wrote these 10 to 12 articles, what is the real theme that we’re talking about here. And then we’ll build one theme landing page. So this is kind of the core of what all of these are all about. And that’s what we’ll focus on promoting. So now we have this one page that contains tons of content.

Stacy Jones (24:16):
Tons of content, all your articles all your brain, this is where this persona, where they want to go, where they can learn everything that they possibly want. And they’re going to think that you’re the best thing out there, and a solution for what they need.

Hamlet Azarian (24:29):
Exactly. And then we just go out and get as many links as we can, and ways of promoting this particular piece. And what actually does, as that content moves up and SEO rankings, because what ends up happening? All the ones underneath it start moving up as well. So not only are you now winning the more competitive keyword topic that everyone is trying to win for, but they’re struggling because they’re writing one article, you’re coming in there with a whole family of articles. You have 10 or 12 articles, each one are pretty long. Anywhere between 700 to 1500 words or some version of that. So now Google looks at you much more favorably and says you are an authority, you definitely understand this space. And you’ve kind of organized it and made it much more easier for the user at the tail end of this, to fall in this world and really understand every element about this topic.

Stacy Jones (25:22):
And the word that you’re doing. So you use the word clusters. So that means you’re talking about pillar pages for blogs. Who’s listening who’s heard the word pillar page, you’ve heard the word clusters. That’s what Hamlet’s referring to right now of creating the mapping brains behind your blog where everything makes sense. And you might have one topic page on this page and covers all of these different insights about your company and blogs and services, and then another on another page. And Google’s looking at that. And they’re saying, “Well, I’m going to give you like the Instagram badge saying, you know your stuff, your an authority.” And I am going to love your content and push it up to that first page, where you’re only now competing against people who are actually paying for each of those keywords with Google AdWords.

Hamlet Azarian (26:06):
Exactly. It’s one of the main strategies we focus on. This pillar in cluster pages. So We focus on this. We teach this, we think it’s one of the critical ways of writing content today. Another thing that we’ve recently noticed, and this is kind of new. It’s been happening a lot, particularly it happened in the December core update. Is a lot about search intent. So Google has actually gotten a lot smarter. So what they’re now doing is, a few years ago, this whole notion of RankBrain was released. And what this is about is Google thinks they know what you really, really are searching about you.

Hamlet Azarian (26:51):
And you might search like a two word phrase but then in that two word phrase in the past, it used to be like, “Hey, I really optimized for this two word phrase. So I’m going to win this two word phrase.” And I worked for a while. That’s what everyone was kind of doing. But that changed. And so now what Google is doing and saying, okay, you’re searching for this two word phrase. But what do you really really mean? And where are you in this process? Are you-

Stacy Jones (27:20):
Where are you located. Awesome.

Hamlet Azarian (27:21):
Where are you located? Is this the first time you’re searching this? Are you trying to learn about this? So are you trying to buy this, are you trying to… So they give you in the search results page. Instead of showing all 10 having the same search intent, they’ll mix and match it for you, and they’ll resort it and rerank it for you. And based off of how you click, they’re able to, from that point on, understand through your own actions, what they should be showing you for your next search results. And it gets smarter and smarter. So what we teach a lot of our clients is, all right, let’s look at the search intent of this particular keyword you’re trying to rank for. And is your content actually answering the search intent?

Hamlet Azarian (28:13):
So is what you’re writing about without what you’re trying to rank for fit into the top two or the top four? And are you ever actually going to rank even though you want to rank about this? Or how do you need to position this piece that you’re going to be writing about that it will be much better than the current number one, number two, number three, or number four are. And why is it unique and how does it answer the question a lot better than those are.

Stacy Jones (28:41):
So I know we’re catching up to like the end of our episode right now. And I want to make sure that I have all of our listeners know how they can get ahold [inaudible 00:28:49]. How can they find you, Hamlet?. Where should they go?

Hamlet Azarian (28:53):
Yeah, of course, you can find me on LinkedIn at Hamlet Azarian. You can find me on Twitter at Hamlet Azarian as well. So I’m easily available. We’ll love to connect and answer any questions that they’re.

Stacy Jones (29:04):
Awesome. And then before we go, so what are some, if you had to say, these are the three things that you need to remember? What would those be?

Hamlet Azarian (29:15):
I would say, we didn’t talk about this, but I think it’s very, very important. I think a lot of people get stuck on having the perfect content. And they’re worried about not even producing content. That’s the fear. “Oh, my content’s not going to be great. Oh, no one’s going to read it.” Don’t be scared. Just write the piece, get it out there, you can always go back and edit it and revise it and make it better. I think a lot of people forget a lot of content production is that. Like hey, you’re always going to iterate, you’re always going to improve it, you’re always going to be making it better. So that’s the first and foremost, don’t let your [crosstalk 00:29:55].

Stacy Jones (29:55):
And there’s another. I’m going to interrupt [inaudible 00:29:57]. There’s another thing about that. Google actually reward you-

Hamlet Azarian (30:01):
You for updating. Yeah.

Stacy Jones (30:02):
Your content. You can put just some content out there and Google’s like, okay, got it. And then you go in and it’s ranked you and you go and you put in new pictures, you change the structure, you add some more paragraphs.

Hamlet Azarian (30:13):
If you had a paragraph, you’re like, this flow doesn’t work better and so on and so forth.

Stacy Jones (30:17):
Google is like thumbs up, thumbs up, you’re good reward, you go higher, you go higher.

Hamlet Azarian (30:22):
Exactly. I think that’s a big blocker for most people. We’ve seen it over and over again. It’s like, “Oh, they’re not going read it. Just produce it. You’ll you’ll figure it out. So that’s the first thing I Would love people to remember. The second thing I would love to remember is, you have to have great content, great, you have to have a great site great. You also need the backlinks, all three things are critical in the process of this. I know that a lot of people get lost in all three of these different things, don’t try to do all three at the same time, if it’s overwhelming for you, focus on where you’re strongest. So if you’re really good engineer, focus on that. That’s what you’re going to focus on.

Hamlet Azarian (31:04):
If you’re a really good storyteller, focus on the content production really, really focused on that. If you’re really good social, and you know how to navigate and build relationships then that’s kind of what you’re strict on. Then focus on building your authority in your domain authority. Wherever your natural skill strengths are, focus on that, and think about how you can offset the other two that you might not be good with through help. Hiring the right people hiring the right team members that can eventually come and do it better than you. Because no one can do all three. This is a lot. It’s a lot of three different worlds with a lot of three different skill sets. So make sure you’re focused on what you’re good at. And make sure you hire the right team members that can help you in what you’re not good at.

Stacy Jones (31:53):
Right. Because everything you’re talking about is just like still one cog in the overall operations of the business. Because we’re not even saying here, you’re founder of this company that you’re starting up or tiny lean team. You still actually have to have a service, a business, manufacturer, whatever it is that you’re building, so you still have to do the business side of it besides all this fun marketing stuff. And that’s why you want to hire help when you can, because otherwise, you are not ever getting to work on your business. You’re just walking in your business.

Hamlet Azarian (32:23):
Exactly. So the third thing I would probably kind of be, if I had to go back and look at every founder that I’ve ever talked to is, we talked about it early on. Is don’t build. So please don’t build your product, like really spend time and talk to the market. I’ve seen this so many times. They built it and they’re not coming. So this is not the Field of Dreams. You’re not going to build and all of a sudden, they’re all going to show up. It just doesn’t work that way.

Stacy Jones (32:53):
So if you create an app, you’re saying and you put it out there just magically not going to just fill up with people.

Hamlet Azarian (32:59):
No. Doesn’t happen. Never happens.

Stacy Jones (33:02):

Hamlet Azarian (33:03):
No. So it’s very, very important to really spend a hard… it’s hard in the beginning to really do the customer discovery component of it. Really spend time and validate the pin point. Really spend time to understand the customer persona. Be open. I think some of this is the hardest part for a lot of founders is that they are so 100% sure that this is the problem and that they’re solving it and be really open and receptive to what the market tells you and take that back. The really good ones who are open who can listen instead of trying to sell, because I think that’s critical in these early days as particularly really good founders they want to sell.

Hamlet Azarian (33:54):
They’re good at that. They know how to sell. But they’re selling something that someone doesn’t want to buy and in front of you, they’re going to tell you that, “Yeah, yeah, this sounds great. Yeah, I’ll try it.” But they never come back. They never try. So if you actually listen and you basically tell them and one way we kind of lower this barrier is we’ll tell customers, we’re like, “The best thing you can give us is your honest and candid feedback. You don’t need to pay us anything, literally you can use the tool, it’s completely free for you. All we ask for in return is your honest and candid feedback.” And just-

Stacy Jones (34:28):
All right. When you’re saying tool, what is the tool that you’re saying that you have?

Hamlet Azarian (34:34):
Oh, sorry. Oh yeah. On the middle of all of this. So we were talking about the three pillars, we launched the tool called LinkSignal.ai. What LinkSignal.ai does is it helps you identify influencers in any given industry. So you can start going out and beginning outreach campaigns. So you can take any keyword in Google and see what the backlinks are and who are the influencers, who are the bloggers that are kind of linking to any position one, two, three, four and five, and gather the contact information and see what those articles are that have linked to these sites, and begin an outreach process to connect with them. And this will be able to kind of build your overall domain authority.[crosstalk 00:35:17].

Stacy Jones (35:17):
And you’re able to see other people’s domain authority themselves kind of and see that they actually have figured things out. They’re good to partner with. And they have their own blue badge basically from your system that Instagram users get.

Hamlet Azarian (35:32):
Exactly. And we built this listening to our customers. So our customers we’re marketing agencies. So what we did is we spend a lot of time talking to different marketing agencies and what we learned from the 50 or 100 customer interviews we did was, what we learned from them is that some of them are really good at content and that’s what they want to do. Some of them are really good at technical and that’s all they want to do. And they’ll offshore content to someone else that’s really good at it or let their client do the content. But they’ll make sure they get the technical writing oversee the content for them. But they all hated this outreach component of it. And they really hated it because it felt like the Wild Wild East. Is what I’m going to call it. It’s is not the Wild Wild West, it’s so Wild Wild… because it was just they didn’t know it’s like, it’s a black box.

Stacy Jones (36:24):
It is.

Hamlet Azarian (36:24):
It like “I’m I supposed to get a ton of backlinks. What am I supposed to do.” It was really, really messy. And what we started doing is we kind of build a Google Sheet process. We didn’t build a tool, we kind of figured out a Google Sheet process of doing this, and we kind of showed the results. We saw it happen with client A. That went 200,000 searches a month, we saw that happen with client B, that had an even a bigger trajectory. And we’re like, “Oh, this seems a very simple.” You can take a brand new site, go find people that actually know what the heck they’re talking about in this industry, make them aware of this brand new site, have them partner together and produce content together. And over time, it works.

Hamlet Azarian (37:11):
I mean, it seems like an easy thing. So whereas we built this tool, and we started building all of the functionality, and we went back to our market and said, “Hey, we have this tool for you, you want to use it?” They came back and said, “The tool is amazing. We believe in it. We still hate doing link building.”

Stacy Jones (37:29):
You still have the job service that you can offer because that’s-

Hamlet Azarian (37:32):
Exactly. So now what it turned into is we layered in a new, dedicated service where we do the link building for them. And we show it. Unlike other, what I would say outreach processes or teams where it’s a kind of a black box, where you’ll be like, “Hey, I need backlinks.” And they’ll just go get you questionable backlinks. You’re like, [crosstalk 00:37:53].

Stacy Jones (37:53):
Like that really weird article that you’re like, really.

Hamlet Azarian (37:55):
Really weird article where you’re like, “I don’t know if I want to be here.” What we do is we’re much more open book. We’re like, “Here it is here. Here’s the contact information, here’s who we’re going to outreach to.” We’ll do outreach, we’ll come back and we’ll say these are the different opportunities, we think you should do this one and this one, what do you think? And then if they say yes, then we’ll help devise the content for them. We’ll write the outline, we’ll write it in their voice. We’ll get it published onto the site, and so on and so forth.

Stacy Jones (38:24):
Should the users, your clients, the people who are listening right now with backlink and link building, are they paying for this or are they doing this more as a relationship, I scratch your back, you scratch my back, we grow together. Because you’re talking about early stage companies that don’t have a lot of back scratching capability right now.

Hamlet Azarian (38:46):
What they’re really doing, there’s a combination. I’m not going to be the CEO that tells you that, unfortunately what’s happened is a lot of publishers have these things called editorial fees. That’s just the reality of what’s happened. And we’ll present it to them. We’re like, “Hey, this publisher has an editorial fee, do you even want to pay for it, it’s up to you.” We kind of leave that totally up to them. What we’re really looking for is more of the white hat where they can go and their content…

Stacy Jones (39:17):
Authentically organically.

Hamlet Azarian (39:18):
Exactly. So that’s what we’re looking for. But in the middle of all of this people… I mean, it is what it is, people will tell us, yes, we love it. And we think targets a great company, but we have an editorial fee if you want to post it. We’ll present it. We don’t hide it from them. We’ll be like, this is what happened. We did the outreach, this is what they said. It’s either you want to do it. It is a good site, it looks good. It seems like your audience is there, it has value I don’t know if I wouldn’t necessarily pay or not pay for it. I leave that choice up to them. We focus a lot of our efforts on more of the white hat approaches of how we can make them authorities in their industry in the niche. How can we make them speakers at different conferences or different meetup groups. We get them on podcast.

Stacy Jones (40:03):
Beyond podcasts.

Hamlet Azarian (40:03):
We get come on podcast. And we have them create a very white paper or something that’s very unique in the industry so that we can go get large media coverage for them. So different process that would cover them and so on and so forth.

Stacy Jones (40:20):
Well, Hamlet thank you so much for joining us and our listeners today. Really appreciate it. I think he gave some phenomenal advice and insight and there’s no way in 30, 40 minutes that we can possibly cover all things that are so imperative for startups and early stage companies of what they should be doing. But I think you certainly showed quite a bit of it. And I think anyone listening knows that they now have some tools of at least knowing what they need to put in place.

Hamlet Azarian (40:49):
Well, thank you for having us, Stacy. It was a pleasure. I really enjoyed the conversation

Stacy Jones (40:53):
So as did I. Well, Hamlet, thank you. And to all of our listeners, thank you for tuning in to another episode of Marketing Mistakes (And How To Avoid Them). I look forward to chatting with you this next week.

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Marketing Mistakes and How To Avoid Them Reviews 

Must-Listen For Every Brand Marketer (And Owner)

This should be required listening for everyone who owns a business, works in marketing, or is interested in the business of entertainment. Great stuff!

The Best Marketing Podcast Ever!

Stacy is a brilliant branding strategist and she really knows how to bring out the best in her guests! This show is fun AND educational! If you’re looking to understand the world of marketing, branding, digital marketing, influencer marketing and more, look no further. This show has awesome insight into some of the greatest marketing minds out there today, and they provide practical advice you can use in your business today. #FanForLife

Awesome podcast for all marketers!

Keep them coming

Practical and pointed advice.

Stacy does a really great job making this a highly actionable podcast for business owners. With a focus on marketing, she covers a wide range of related topics as well and is always very specific with her questions so that the listener gets pointed advice instead of vague concepts to take away. It’s also really helpful to the hear the why behind any marketing tactic so that we can decide if something sounds like a good fit for where we are at in this moment.

Love this marketing podcast!

Lori has a way of finding new insights to share every week. I loved being a guest, but I enjoy hearing her many fascinating conversations with other marketers even more. Great show!

I love Stacey Jones!

I absolutely loved being on this podcast! Stacey is amazing – real, down to earth, and genuinely curious and interested in learning – this makes for a very engaging conversation and valuable podcast!

Thank you for your podcast! I LOVE IT

I just listened to the episode named Insights To Product Placement Brand Marketers Need To Know, and I really enjoyed every minute of it! There are so many ways to approach product placement in a manner that provides wins for many – and it is not always driven by money. I am looking forward to listening to more!

Stuff we need to know!!

Anyone who is in business should be listening to this podcast! Incredible insights and advice.

Such a wealth of knowledge! 🧠

This is one of the most insightful podcasts that I have ever come across! Stacy does such a great job of sharing her wisdom and I love how she leads meaningful conversations with guests who bring so much experience to the table. Highly recommend checking this show out – you won’t be disappointed!

Awesome Podcast!!!

Stacy, host of the Marketing Mistakes (And How To Avoid Them) Podcast, highlights all marketing and more in this can’t miss podcast! The host and expert guests offer insightful advice and information that is helpful to anyone that listens!
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