Celebrate The Wins with Founder Dave Kustin of Content Bacon

Yip Yip TeamCelebrate the Wins, Content Creation, Content Marketing, Marketing, Social Selling

In this episode of Celebrate The Wins, discover why sales and the art of content and building relationships go hand in hand. Join Yip Yip CEO Brandon Lee as he celebrates with Dave Kustin Founder of ContentBacon on some content and sales wins.

Founded in 2013 and officially launched in 2014, ContentBacon is the brainchild of Wendy Lieber and Dave Kustin, two marketing/branding veterans who saw an opportunity to help businesses walk an easier path in slaying the dragon known as Content Marketing. Having built and run two successful marketing agencies, the duo saw first-hand how business after business struggled to keep up with creating fresh relevant content as a means to connect with customers and prospects.

We know the past 20 years have dramatically changed how you sell. Some say it’s easier now. Others say it’s harder now. We just like to celebrate your successes. Come learn from others while helping us celebrate with those who have found great successes in sales.

 

Brandon Lee:                         Hey, everybody. It’s Brandon Lee with Yip Yip, and welcome back to Celebrate the Wins. I am here with my new friend, and I’m going to say it correctly, Dave Kustin.

Dave Kustin:                          Very good.

Brandon Lee:                         I got it.

Dave Kustin:                          Yeah.

Brandon Lee:                         We’ll take that as a starting point. Dave is a co-founder of Content Bacon, which I just love your name.

Dave Kustin:                          Thank you.

Brandon Lee:                         You’ve had your company since 2013.

Dave Kustin:                          Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Brandon Lee:                         We’re going to talk today about celebrating your wins. We’re going to talk a little bit about social media. We’re going to talk about content marketing. Dave, welcome to Celebrate the Wins.

Dave Kustin:                          Thank you, Brandon. Happy to be here. Appreciate it.

Brandon Lee:                         Absolutely. It’s a Friday afternoon. Dave and I are pretty fired up. We’ve already been talking, diving into this. I’m really excited about today, because we do our five questions in 18 minutes or less, and I’m telling you, I think we’re going to go a little different route today because, as we’ve been talking and prepping for this, I’ve really loved what we’ve been talking about, especially in light of a lot of other conversations I’ve had. Let’s jump into question number one, though, because I want to hear your response to this, as well. It’s going back 10 years. Sometimes I say back to the year 2000, and you weren’t in sales in 2000. Going back 10 years, sales are harder or easier now than they were then?

Dave Kustin:                          I’m thinking about my answer again, now, as you ask me that. I don’t know that sales itself is harder or easier. I think sales, if I had to guess, I think it’s easier, actually. Perhaps the methods to connect with people, that has changed, that may have gotten easier, may have gotten easier. I think it’s easier for people to not accept communication from people, because you can see where it’s coming from. You have caller ID on your phone, you see the emails, who it’s coming from, so I think that, your ability to screen and shut people out, has become easier, which I guess to the person on the other end makes it harder.

But, conversely, I think it also makes it easier to connect with those who want to be connected with, that are open to having conversations. It sounds like I’m talking out of both sides of mouth, but I think if you’re in sales and you’re dedicated to creating conversations and opportunities with people, that’s just the job, you’ve got to do that day in and day out, and you’re going to find people to connect with. That being said, we were talking about it before, in the environment we’re in now around self-serve information consumption, that’s a pro and a con, too. If you’re a company that is putting out content that people can then consume on their on when they want to, you have a distinct advantage over companies in your space that aren’t doing that.

Brandon Lee:                         Yeah. I would say, too, and I’ve had these conversations, and I’d love your thought on it, companies creating so much content in some ways encourages people not to connect to people. What do you think?

Dave Kustin:                          I think that’s an interesting point. Look, I can make the argument that they will connect when they’re ready to connect, and that’s the purpose of content. That is the sales lubrication, if you will. That is what helps someone because sales ready, so that when they do have a conversation with the salesperson, we’re not talking about features and benefits, we’re talking about how to get you onboarded. They’ve self-selected themselves. Yeah, I think that’s a good point. I think that is also a way to de-qualify people. You know, “Don’t waste my time as a salesperson. He’s my content, read it, if we’re not a good fit for you, then you move on.”

Brandon Lee:                         There’s so much there. I’m not wearing my Yip Yip hate right now. I’m wearing the Celebrate the Wins. So we’re going to try to keep moving and keep this valuable for everybody else. But at some point I’d love to keep learning with you or from you on that, because the buyer’s journey is something that gets a lot of press. Everybody’s talking about buyer’s journey, and there’s lead scores, and it’s when is it nurtured, when does it kick out as a fully nurtured lead at the bottom of the funnel and kick out to a salesperson. As we talk buyer’s journey, buyer’s journey, buyer’s journey, when do we bring in the sales rep in that? The salesman in me says, “Get me relationships as fast as you can, and let me nurture them and assess them, and give them what they need.” Now we’ve got this concept of content is going to do that for us, and there’s a rub there. What do you think of that.

Dave Kustin:                          The rubbing? What, that you take the human out of it?

Brandon Lee:                         Yeah, and when do you bring the human in, and how does that influence the buyer’s journey?

Dave Kustin:                          Maybe starting at the end there, I think the art of it is to make your content be as human as possible. So many organizations, they write differently than someone may actually speak. Blogs read that way, emails read that way, social media messages read that way, and people can pick up on that right away. I’m in favor of automation, I think, given the kind of business I’m building, which is a large scaling business with hundreds of customers and then thousands of customers. The only way to do that, I think, effectively is with some automation, some level of automation. The conversations that we have with our customers around, “Let me, the sales guy, do it,” versus the automation do it is when it’s at the very bottom of the funnel. I believe that hot leads, you have the guy or the girl, they nurture it. But to get them to that point, I don’t have any issues with using content to do that.

Brandon Lee:                         Yeah. I don’t either. I think the question for me is still open. Content marketing, the inbound funnel, has become a disruptor to sales, to marketing. As a member of the Sales Enablement Society, it’s one of the things that we talk about. You’ve got sales, you’ve got marketing, and doing the marriage counseling between them, how do you help businesses be more efficient and better at what they’re doing. I think, for me, in my 20-something years of creating personalized systems for sales and entrepreneurs is when do you add the human-to-human and when do you let content. I mean, in some ways, that’s the million dollar question. If you leave it too long without the human, do you lose the potential buyer? If you bring him in too soon, do you scare him off?

Dave Kustin:                          Yeah.

Brandon Lee:                         Let’s jump into this, because we are still on Celebrate the Wins.

Dave Kustin:                          Okay.

Brandon Lee:                         What is the win that you want to celebrate with us today?

Dave Kustin:                          Geez, there are so many wins that we are experiencing.

Brandon Lee:                         I love it. Wait, just the casual, “There’s just so many that we can talk about today.”

Dave Kustin:                          That comes from gratitude. There’s so many good things, when you think about what you have going on in your life, or when you’re talking about me now, my life. There’s so many good things. We recently created a relationship with a company down here. They’re in the original content production business. They’ve been around about 25 years. They create content for broadcast, but use Fortune 500 brands featured partners, if you will, in that broadcast or that content. They have a really narrow lane, and they’re only able to deliver their services through that lane. By bolting us onto their business, we really expand that lane, both for them and for their customers, which just seems like a really great opportunity. We’re three conversations into the relationship. I’m really excited about it. It could have a giant impact on our business as well as theirs.

Brandon Lee:                         Yeah. Tell me about, you shared this with me already, and share this for everybody, how did you get that conversation started? How did you get it started, first, and then I’ll follow up.

Dave Kustin:                          I reached out to their VP or Marketing on LinkedIn, just sent her a message. I used my company name as an icebreaker, Content Bacon. I mean, people have such a great response to it.

Brandon Lee:                         Getting people hungry gets you them to response to you? Is that it?

Dave Kustin:                          Her response back was, “You had me at bacon.”

Brandon Lee:                         How often do you hear that?

Dave Kustin:                          A lot.

Brandon Lee:                         Good.

Dave Kustin:                          So it’s a really great icebreaker. I said, “Hey, this is what we’re doing. This is what we’re up to. I would love to learn about what you’re up to. Maybe there some synergies. How about an offline conversation?” It happened like instantaneously. “I can’t believe you emailed me. We’re looking for a company like yours.” Timing, obviously, plays a part.

Brandon Lee:                         It is a beautiful thing. Tell us what you’re doing. Maybe this is part of your secret sauce on what’s working, but this is designed to help the community learn together.

Dave Kustin:                          Yeah.

Brandon Lee:                         You had said, when we were talking earlier, that messages … Correct me if I remembered it wrong, but messages towards somebody that’s a potential client, it’s still hard to get through the noise, and they get a lot of those.

Dave Kustin:                          Yeah.

Brandon Lee:                         But the other type of message, and I’ll let you explain it, you’re finding great success with.

Dave Kustin:                          The message to the potential JVs and partners, the reception’s great. One step back. My way of being, my company’s way of being, is really the same way of being as content marketing, which is to be helpful.

Brandon Lee:                         Right.

Dave Kustin:                          To be educational. To inform. To help people understand what it is that you advocate for in a non-promotional way. We do that on behalf of our customers, and we do it for ourselves, and I do it as an individual. So I think when I send that kind of message to a potential JV, just like I did with you, it lands on you in a really non-threatening way.

Brandon Lee:                         Right.

Dave Kustin:                          Really, it’s no BS. It’s not trickery to get you to get on the phone with you, and then I say, “Hey, I’ve got stuff to sell you.” It’s genuine, and it think it lands on the JV targets differently than a VP of an owner of company. I don’t know why, because I really mean it. I really do say in those messages, “Hey, I want to just talk about what you’re up to and what we’re up to. Maybe there’s a fit, and I’ll give you as much of my expertise and secret sauce as you want. If you do, take it.” That’s what content marketing is. Put it all out there.

Brandon Lee:                         What do you think is the reason why some people, when you approach them, like the VP or Marketing or something, they’re not receptive? What’s your perception as to why?

Dave Kustin:                          I think it’s a knee-jerk reaction to not wanting to be sold to. I think on LinkedIn, there’s a ton of that going on. I know that I get it all the time. If I accept someone’s request to connect, and a day or two later, I get a sales message from them.

Brandon Lee:                         Right. What do you do then? I’m curious.

Dave Kustin:                          On occasion, if I’m feeling a little …

Brandon Lee:                         Feisty might be the world you’re looking for.

Dave Kustin:                          Feisty, I think, might be the word. I might point that out to them. I might say, “Hey, thanks so much for connecting,” and I’m paraphrasing here … Brandon, I’ll send you the email that I’ve sent to others. But I’ll say to them, “Listen, what you just did is-”

Brandon Lee:                         Can we get it in here? Can we bring it in and show everybody?

Dave Kustin:                          I probably could.

Brandon Lee:                         Or is it not for public consumptions.

Dave Kustin:                          No, there’s no pejorative language in it whatsoever.

Brandon Lee:                         Okay. We’ll black out a few things.

Dave Kustin:                          I’d have to look for it. Give me a second.

Brandon Lee:                         Okay.

Dave Kustin:                          What I’d say to this is, “What you just did is like the annoying person at a networking function where they just stick their card in your face and say, ‘Hey, I’m Joe.’ You took no time to get to know me. You took no time to get understand who I am as a person, what my problems are, and how you may be of service to me.”

Brandon Lee:                         Yeah.

Dave Kustin:                          Who wants that? No one wants that.

Brandon Lee:                         Right.

Dave Kustin:                          I think that happens a lot on LinkedIn, and I think maybe people are guarded against that. That’s my theory, anyway.

Brandon Lee:                         I mean, it happens a lot on LinkedIn, as you said. It happens a lot in networking events. It happens a lot when somebody has gone through however long or deep into a content funnel, and then the salesperson gets there. It’s like I’ve been reading this stuff, and then the person gets on the phone, and it’s all about the sale.

Dave Kustin:                          Yeah.

Brandon Lee:                         I have an example that happened to me yesterday, maybe the day before. I won’t say the name, because it’s a name that, in our industry, everybody would know. It was a message about, “Hey, you used to use us. We’ve got this deal that we’re working on, where if you come back we want to coach you, we want to help you, we want to help you use our tool better, and we want to come alongside you.” It sounded like this real genuine, “We want to help you use this better,” and it’s actually not a tool that we would use anymore, but I was kind of intrigued from the marketing perspective. I’m like, “This is really interesting. I wonder where this is going to go.” So I opted in, and then I got an email from a person that said, “Hey, here’s a few times that today and tomorrow. Choose one, and let’s talk. All good.”

Dave Kustin:                          Okay.

Brandon Lee:                         Get on the phone, hardcore salesman.

Dave Kustin:                          Hard pitch.

Brandon Lee:                         Hardcore like, “We’ve only got so many spots. There’s so many other people in this room with me. We’re all making the same phone call. You’ve got to get your spot now. Here’s a price,” and it was just this complete cleft in the relationship there. It’s like you had me feeling good. You had me thinking that there was a partnership thing going on here, and the reality was you were just trying to backdoor a close.

Dave Kustin:                          Yeah.

Brandon Lee:                         Right. Let me ask you this, and I mean this as a sincere question. When I started in sales 25 years ago, it was big for us to have tickets to the sporting events, to do happy hours, to do all that, and it was part of the game, if you will, and everyone knew it was the game, but it was all about building relationships.

Dave Kustin:                          Yeah.

Brandon Lee:                         How do you look at that lunch, different than that or the same as that? What’s your take?

Dave Kustin:                          Yeah. Good question. I think it’s all about the timing of it. I think giving “gifts,” and doing those nice things for people, and I’ve played in that world too, plenty of entertaining of customers, I just think it’s around when you do it. If you do it straight away, it just feel disingenuous, it feels like give to get versus give because that’s who you are. So I think it’s all about the timing of it.

Brandon Lee:                         We’ve totally gotten off … Not totally gotten of it. What I like about this is we always talk about the win, and we talk about your win with LinkedIn, but then I think this is good, talking about some of the failures that we’ve seen that have been coming to us, and why we think they’re so annoying. Gosh, maybe there are some people out here listening, going, “Gosh, we did that. Maybe we need to rethink what we did.”

Dave Kustin:                          Yeah.

Brandon Lee:                         What are some of your learning areas right now? LinkedIn focused on the JVs, the partnerships, the messaging that you’re using. I love telling people, “Gosh, this is what I see what you’re doing. This is what we’re doing. If you think there’s something worth exploring there, let’s try to get on a call.” That seems to work pretty well for me.

Dave Kustin:                          Yeah.

Brandon Lee:                         What are areas that you think you’re learning that maybe you can improve on?

Dave Kustin:                          That’s also a good question. Again, as a way of being, that’s how we are in this organization. I think, for me and my role with my company, we just let our third salesperson go. I don’t know if this a monumental learning or anything that other companies don’t deal with, but finding the right sales talent is I’m finding to be very difficult.

Brandon Lee:                         Yeah.

Dave Kustin:                          I thought you hire for attitude and you fire for that kind of … Attitude first, skills second, you can teach the skills. I think we’ve done that to a degree, but I think what I’m now learning is, while we’re in what sounds like this automated industry, in sales, on my side, it’s not at all automated with respect to the conversation, the actual conversation where there’s salesmanship required, and there’s listening required. You can give that to someone. We’ve given access to people, given that access to some people, but there’s some natural talent you’ve got to have in the listening. I think that combined with some experience in digital marketing and even advertising or even entrepreneurship in general around how businesses run, how businesses make money, we haven’t had that in a salesperson. My theory right now is that has been the deficit.

Brandon Lee:                         Yeah.

Dave Kustin:                          A lot of our customer is the business owner, entrepreneur led and run companies, and you have to really understand what they’re going through and what they’re dealing with. If you don’t have that in your background, it’s hard to have that salesmanship with them.

Brandon Lee:                         Yeah. I have a guess coming on Celebrate the Wins that I was actually talking with yesterday as kind of our pre-conversation, and he’s a sales manager in an organization. Right before we got on the call, he had an interview with a potential sales rep. So we started talking a little bit about what’s the process, what do you do. I brought up that I was fortunate years ago to be able to spend a long weekend studying with Brian Tracy. Some of the younger folks have no idea who Brian is. For me, one of my first tapes on having a positive mindset in college was Brian Tracy, and I listened to that thing for forever, until the tape wore out, basically. I’ve read a lot of his books over the years, and he’s just had a big influence on me.

One of the things that I remember that he said is, “Sales is a skills that can be learned, and the different between the top sales reps and all the others is just a little bit of skill,” just putting it. So one of the questions that I ask, not one of the questions, the first question I ask in every interview with a sales rep is, what are you reading, or who are you studying right now, to refine your craft as a salesperson? If they don’t have a good answer, that’s the last and only question I ask them in the interview process.

Dave Kustin:                          What are you reading right now?

Brandon Lee:                         What am I reading right now?

Dave Kustin:                          Yeah.

Brandon Lee:                         I have two books I’m reading right now. One of them is called The Subtle Art of Not Giving a ****.

Dave Kustin:                          Yeah, I’m familiar with it.

Brandon Lee:                         Yeah. One of my daughters gave it to me. I’m actually enjoying that right now.

Dave Kustin:                          Cool.

Brandon Lee:                         then I’m also rereading Tony Robins’ Awaken the Giant Within. It’s a book that I read every couple of years and just deep dive back into it.

Dave Kustin:                          Cool.

Brandon Lee:                         Hey, Dave, thank you so much for today.

Dave Kustin:                          Thank you.

Brandon Lee:                         We didn’t quite get through all five questions.

Dave Kustin:                          That’s okay.

Brandon Lee:                         I really think we had a great conversation.

Dave Kustin:                          I do, too.

Brandon Lee:                         I think that others listening in. These are great conversations for people to start working on. There’s such a disruption in the way business is being done. My opinion is that this whole digital revolution is getting disrupted again before it really got mature. So there’s a bit of chaos going on right now, and people trying to figure out what do we do next. I appreciate the conversation that we had. Now, I do always have a surprise question at the end.

Dave Kustin:                          Okay.

Brandon Lee:                         Yeah, everybody does that, too. They kind of back up and go, “What?”

Dave Kustin:                          I’m ready.

Brandon Lee:                         You can see the “oh, crap” bubble over them.

Dave Kustin:                          Not at all. I’m ready.

Brandon Lee:                         They’re meant to be fun, and they’re usually pretty easy. Tell us some of the funniest or the most unique or the most fun content that your company has created for a client. What’s something unique?

Dave Kustin:                          They’re no longer a customer, but they were a customer of ours, and they were in the office products space. Mail order, large, multi, multi million dollar company, 25-plus million annual revenue, but selling commodities, selling toilet paper and paper clips and pens and pencils. Their number one product that they sold was toilet paper, much like Costco.

Brandon Lee:                         I was going to say, it wasn’t Costco?

Dave Kustin:                          No. They wanted to start creating their own content, but at our recommendation, to do so with a lot of personality. You’re selling paper clips and toilet paper. So the email that we created for them … We wrote content, put it on their blog, and when we started to share it with their customers, tens of thousands of customers, the email template that we created was called Tales from the Crapper. The image in the header of the email was a mummy wrapped in toilet paper. While we shared their blog content, we also created some fictional content for them, which was fun. It got a lot of good reactions.

Brandon Lee:                         Very cool. Good stuff.

Dave Kustin:                          Yeah.

Brandon Lee:                         Dave, the last thing you get is plug away. I appreciate you being a guest.

Dave Kustin:                          My pleasure.

Brandon Lee:                         I want to give you the opportunity to plug away. Tell us about Content Bacon a little bit, and how people can connect with you, if you want to get in contact with you.

Dave Kustin:                          I appreciate that. Content Bacon, we’re an inbound marketing, or a content marketing, service. We help companies fuel easily, the key there is easily fuel, their inbound marketing strategies. We help customers through the entire marketing journey, inbound marketing journey. We have a team of professional writers, a team of professional editors. But I guess what I want to leave most people with is that we’re tremendous advocates for inbound marketing, content marketing, and if anybody wants to have a conversation about it, they need any help, they’re stuck, they need a push to move forward, reach out to me. I’m happy to provide that. You can do so at dave@contentbacon.com. You can find me on Twitter. You can find me on LinkedIn. Reach out. As I said before, our whole way of being is to be helpful. Whether you do business with us or someone else, I don’t really care. We’re advocates for what it is that we do.

Brandon Lee:                         Excellent. Do you guys have bacon cooking every day in the office?

Dave Kustin:                          We don’t. We don’t, but when we bring on a new customer we do send them cupcakes with bacon on it.

Brandon Lee:                         Very cool. Good stuff. Well, yeah, I might have to hire you to write an email or something for me just for the cupcakes.

Dave Kustin:                          You got it.

Brandon Lee:                         All right, everybody. Thank you so much, Dave Justin, with Content Bacon. Thank you so much for being here.

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