A Lesson in Higher-Ed Content Strategy an interview with Brian Piper

Meet Brian Piper, Director of Content Strategy and Assessment at the University of Rochester, co-author of the 2nd edition of Epic Content Marketing, and my latest guest on the Marketing Tales Show.

As a creative writing major, Brian initially wanted to work as a freelance writer for rock climbing and skydiving magazines.

This love for skydiving stemmed from his time as an enlisted soldier in the U.S. Army Airborne Infantry. After an honorable discharge, however, he worked as a web developer, leading to a job in advertising.

But the desire to get into marketing didn’t spark until he read the first edition of Joe Pulizzi’s “Epic Content Marketing,” which had such an impact on him that it changed the trajectory of his career.

He decided to go all in and learn as much as possible about the topic by attending industry conferences, speaking at events, and joining content marketing groups.

That passion met with diligence resulted in a masterstroke of content marketing wisdom – the second edition of the book “Epic Content Marketing,” Brian co-authored with Joe Pulizzi.

Simultaneously, Brian started his role as the Director of Content Strategy and Assessment at the University of Rochester.

Brian touched on the importance of understanding the different audiences in higher education marketing, including potential students, faculty, staff, graduate students, and international students.

He notes that higher education is often siloed, and it’s important to have a clear content marketing strategy and understand each audience’s needs and goals.

To achieve this, institutions must be proactive with their content, listen to their audiences, use social proof, and measure and track success to adapt to changing trends.

Staying educated by following experts, attending conferences, and engaging with relevant content is crucial to keep up with the fast-paced digital world.

Brian discusses measuring a content strategy’s success, stating that it depends on what specific goals the strategy is trying to achieve.

For example, if the goal is to increase brand awareness, he suggests measuring performance based on traffic, page views, and actions taken in response to calls to action.

He advises marketers wanting to advance their careers to be nimble, adaptable, and open to new ideas.

Two must-read books for aspiring marketers:

The second edition of “Epic Content Marketing” and “Everybody Writes” by Ann Handley.

Eager to connect with Brian and learn more about content marketing?

You can find him on his website (brianwpiper dot com) and social channels, including LinkedIn.

An exciting world of content strategy awaits!

Until next time. ✌️

A Lesson in Demand Marketing – An interview with Joseph Lewin

My latest guest on the Marketing Tales show is a seasoned demand gen marketer, podcast host, and the director of an international non-profit organization in Kenya. 

Meet Joseph Lewin, a man who started his marketing career in Kakamega, a town in western Kenya, about 15 miles north of the Equator, where his wife started the Waweza Movement, a non-profit organization that houses, feeds, and educates 50 children from vulnerable backgrounds. 

He took photos and videos of kids in Kenya for a sponsorship program, learning how to make the movement by building relationships with local marketers. 

After leaving Kenya, he and his wife traveled Europe, taking photos and videos for high-end hotels’ social media in exchange for a few nights’ stay, further gaining real-world experience, and building his marketing muscle. 

He steadily grew his marketing skills, working in several industries, then doubled down on LinkedIn in 2021 and launched a podcast called, The Strategic Marketer. 

It was there that he interviewed his future CEO, who ultimately offered him a job at Proofpoint Marketing, the company he works at today. 

“Show a man a job board, and he’ll apply for weeks. Teach him how to interview potential employers, and he’ll never have to submit another application again.” 

As Director of Growth, Joseph builds out Proofpoint’s internal marketing and sales teams to enable them to equip their clients to create marketing programs that build relationships at scale through digital marketing content. 

One of his projects includes a show called “Relationship-Led Growth Live,” a community that combines marketing and sales strategies to help build relationships at scale, initiate conversations with ideal customers, and turn those conversations into pipeline and revenue.

If you’ve followed the Marketing Tales for a while, the recurring theme for today’s successful marketers is: 

  • Networking
  • Building relationships

Joseph’s strategies to drive demand include participating in podcasts and hosting live webinar events because they are scalable. 


“Because they help you build relationships,” Joseph says. “You’re getting the direct relationship value, but you’re also getting the demand gen side where you’re seen as an industry influencer.”

Some ways demand gen marketers go wrong:

“If you’re just passively waiting for people to talk to you, it’s a huge miss,” Joseph emphasizes. 

So, instead of waiting for prospects to fill out a form, host an event, give value, follow up, and create authentic conversations with your prospects over time, instead of the old, solely transactional, lead gen approach. 

To learn more about the benefits of demand gen marketing, listen to the full episode by clicking the link in the comments below. 

If you’d like to learn more about Joseph, connect with him on LinkedIn for more relatable content. 

Until next time. 

How to write compelling student stories – An interview with Giovanni Santana

Those who tell the stories rule the world, and if we had more storytellers like my latest guest on the Marketing Tales Show, the world would be a better place.

Meet Giovanni Sanata, a Writer at the University of Florida Online‘s marketing department.

Giovanni earned his Bachelor of Science in Advertising at The University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications and recently received his acceptance letter to join CJC’s Mass Communications Masters program.

Go Gators! 🐊

After earning his undergraduate degree, he worked several marketing jobs until he found his calling at UF Online in 2021.

As a CommuniGator, he mainly focuses on telling compelling student stories to spotlight the resilience and grit of current students and alums of UF Online.

He has a way with words that takes the reader on a journey — a hero’s journey — to a time gone by.

His style evokes emotion and paints a picture of the protagonist at life’s crossroads, motivating even the most reluctant higher-ed skeptic to reconsider their decision to forgo their postsecondary education.

Many UF Online students are non-traditional learners with tremendous life experiences who realized at one point or another that they want to continue their education.

“Whenever we see an opportunity that highlights how [students] overcame adversity and are still pursuing their degree, that’s what we know will make for a great story,” Giovanni says.

Spotlighted students are either referred or discovered by the UF Online marketing team.

Once a connection with a student is made, Giovanni schedules the interview, records it, listens to it several times, and pulls quotes that resonate not only with him but also with his audience.

With the initial notes gathered, he creates a story frame, then digs deeper and crafts a narrative that will honor the student.

“When students come back to me and tell me: ‘You really did my story justice, and I hope that someone else gets to resonate with it as well,’ that right there tells me I did a good job,” Giovanni says.

His biggest advice to aspiring storytellers is to be flexible.

“You may want to be a writer in a specific niche, but sometimes getting your foot in the door as a writer pretty much anywhere can be a great start, and that can help you get to where you eventually want to be,” Giovanni says.

He also stresses the importance of networking and building relationships.

“A big part of marketing and public relations is who you know,” Giovanni says. “It’s very important to surround yourself with like-minded individuals and build a strong network.”

If you want to broaden your network, connect with Giovanni on LinkedIn.

If you’re a current student or alumnus at UF Online and want your network to know your story, contact Giovanni and ask him how to get featured in an upcoming student spotlight.

To learn more about higher-ed storytelling, watch the episode by clicking the link in the comment below.

Until next time. ✌️

How lawyers can earn more business: a lesson in legal marketing with Alistair Marshall

I’m thrilled to share the latest guest on the Marketing Tales show, who joined the podcast all the way from Sydney, Australia, to convey his insights on how to best market a business in the professional services industry, particularly law firms. 

Alistair Marshall earned his degree in Monetary Economics from the Chartered Banker Institute in England and worked several years in sales in the UK before starting his consultancy business to help law firms market their services.

Alistair started helping professional services companies like law firms because of the need he saw due to a lack of business development training offered at law schools. 

“If you have a marketing problem, you can’t get meetings with prospects or referrals,” he says. “If you have a sales problem, you can get a coffee meeting with people, but you can’t close them.”

Alistair has enormous empathy for lawyers trying to grow their practice who have never been taught how to do it. 

He says the success of a professional services business depends on two things:  

Operational Competency x Marketing

Meaning how good you are at what you do multiplied by how good you are at telling people about how good you are at what you do. 

The best way to start marketing your professional services firm, Alistair says, is to focus on your digital footprint because today’s digitally empowered buyer won’t buy anything without first googling someone. 

Your website or legal directory profile is your salesperson who works 365 days a year and never takes a day off. 

The second part of standing out in a saturated market is focusing on a specific practice area. 

“No one hires a generalist in 2023,” Alistair explains. “Industry specialism prevents you from becoming redundant because people prefer a specialist over a generalist.” 

And the third part is the importance of networking. 

Alistair calls it “to eat your way to success.” 

Imagine scheduling 2-3 external meetings a week with prospects and referrals. 

That’s up to 150 meetings a year, and good things happen when you go and talk to people. 

If that’s too big of a time commitment, start with 2 hours a week.

Alistair recommends Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, preferably around lunchtime, to get out from behind your desk and meet people.  

A recent research study of 150 law firms conducted by Alistair reveals that most businesses with perfect-profile clients were closed during one-on-one meetings. 

Alistair recommends lawyers meet with the following groups of people: 

  1. Five existing clients to gain ongoing business
  2. Five prospects to build relationships and trust
  3. Five referrers who can help you gain new business

To learn more about how to market your legal services, follow Alistair on LinkedIn and listen to this week’s complete episode of the Marketing Tales Show on YouTube. 

It’s loaded with valuable insights. 

Check it out.

Until next time. ✌️

How to Build an Audience – An Interview with Dan Sanchez

My latest guest on the Marketing Tales show is a former higher-ed marketer turned B2B SaaS evangelist serving higher-ed clients on all things engagement, enrollment, marketing, and student success.

But that’s not all, folks.

He’s also the host of the Attention Podcast and Audience Growth teacher at Danchez, Element451‘s Director of Inbound Marketing, and author of the children’s book “I Want To Be A Marketer When I Grow Up.”

Meet my friend #Danchez, a.k.a Dan Sanchez.

Dan’s love for graphic design led him to become a marketing leader early in his career.

He was well established as a marketer when he felt the “itch” to return to school and earn his undergraduate degree in Marketing Management, followed by an MBA with an emphasis in IT Management.

He specializes in audience growth and grew his LinkedIn following from 1,000 to 10,000 followers in just five months.

The secret sauce to building an audience is to “build real relationships with people and make lots of friends,” Dan says, which in his opinion, is the best way to build an audience in the beginning.

“It’s kind of like making friends,” he says. “You have to go one by one, be helpful to lots of people and help them succeed.”

When it comes to setting up a successful SaaS social media strategy, Dan likes to refer back to his days at Sweet Fish when the company developed an “Evangelist program,” where the firm’s leadership encouraged its subject matter experts to be consistent on LinkedIn because, in general, people engage more with personal brands than companies.

It’s easier to build a one-to-one relationship with a person than a brand, “which in B2B land makes all the difference to building trust with your ideal buyers,” he says.

Yet, nothing worthwhile is going to be given to you.

Building an audience takes a lot of hard work!

When Dan grew his following from 1,000 to 10,000 people in five months, he posted two to three times a day for five months, spending four to five hours on LinkedIn:




Engaging with everybody!

“If you showed up to a new city and somehow discovered where all the social gatherings were, worked the rooms, shook hands, laughed, and listened to people, you’d make a lot of friends, and it won’t be long until the whole city knew your name,” Dan says.

It’s the same thing on LinkedIn, except that you show up in people’s comments, engaging with the people there.

That kind of grit and determination can work for anybody.

You just have to decide to go all in.

For more nuggets on making new friends on social, listen to the whole episode by clicking the link in the comments below.

To learn more about audience growth directly from Dan, follow him on LinkedIn or visit his website, danchez.com, to discover links to his social media channels, podcasts, and blog.

And if you have little ones, get a copy of “I Want To Be A Marketer When I Grow Up.”

I did, and my kids love it.

Until next time. ✌️

The International Marketer – An interview with Christian Klepp

My latest guest on the Marketing Tales show is a well-traveled and incredibly cultured international man of mystery who entered this world in the shadows of the Austria Alps, grew up in the Philippines, received his education in the city-state of Singapore, and developed his marketing acumen in Shanghai, China. 

Meet Christian Klepp, the co-founder and director of client engagement at EINBLICK Consulting Inc., a Toronto-based consulting firm, and host of the B2B Marketers on a Mission Podcast

Christian received his business/commerce degree from the Management Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS) before starting his marketing career over two decades ago. 

After an initial stint as a marketing executive at a firm in Germany, Christian moved back to the Far East and remained there for nearly 15 years, learning the language and cultural norms of the Chinese people before relocating to Toronto, Canada, where he started his agency. 

When I asked him “Why China” in our pre-show interview, he answered: 

“Why not?!” revealing a stereotypical ignorance within me I didn’t know I had. 

We fear what we don’t understand. 💡

This show sometimes helps shine a light on those corners of the world that often remain hidden in our Western bubble. 

The first thing Christian learned about the cultural differences during his studies at MDIS is “being disciplined in everything that you do,” he recalls. 

“In life, there will always be problems, but you have to learn to view the problems from different angles to come up with the right solutions.”

Talking about problems. 

In this age of economic globalization, businesses can offer products far beyond their borders, and the Chinese market, with its estimated $14.9 trillion GDP, could prove lucrative for many Western corporations. 

But there are several pitfalls companies could find themselves in if they fail to do their homework before entering markets abroad.

Two common barriers Christian observed companies struggle with when entering the Chinese market: 

1- The language barrier

The language has profound meaning with several layers of complexity a simple AI translator can’t navigate. If companies try to translate their marketing copy with Google Translate, they’ll quickly alienate themselves from their prospective target audiences. 

2- The cultural barrier

Many Asian societies, including China, are based on hierarchy and the “concept of face,” not observed in the West. The “losing of face,” the “saving of face,” and the “keeping of face” are fascinating nuances explained in the video.

Check. It. Out.

To learn more about the different approaches marketers should know about when promoting products abroad, connect with Christian on LinkedIn or check out his agency, EINBLICK Consulting, to help you stand out in the market and drive revenue to your business.

A special thanks to Robb Conlon for the intro to Christian. 

Until next time. ✌


Feeding the Future: A Interview with David May

In the latest episode of the Marketing Tales Show, I had the pleasure of speaking with David May, the Director of Marketing and Communications at the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank.

David studied at Chapman University in Orange, Calif., and earned both his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in film.

Upon graduation, he remained at his alma mater, worked in admissions for several years, then moved into #marketing, working his way into an Assistant Vice President of Web and Digital Media role at the university.

After 17 years at Chapman, including his time as a student, David was ready to “finally graduate and go out into the big world and see what adventures there are out there,” he recalls.

Those adventures took him northwest on Interstate 5 and opened doors of opportunities at the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, which has served 1.6 billion meals since its inception in 1973.

As Director of Marketing and Communications, David works toward reaching the next billion meals served.

This begs the question: how does one market a non-profit in 2023?

1 – Knowing your audience 
2 – Distributing messages through modern marketing and low-cost practices

“We have a high emphasis on ROI,” David says.

David’s team focuses on inbound #marketing by telling the food bank’s story through written pieces and video content, which, thanks to his film degrees, is done in-house.

Focusing on #publicrelations efforts is one way to keep the cost down and awareness up.

During the pandemic, food banks were a big part of the national story. The LA food bank gained coverage by notable outlets such as AP, Reuters, MSNBC, and many more, receiving nearly half a billion dollars in earned media coverage.

“One thing we like to do to ensure the media continues to work with us is to drop everything, and we get them what they need,” David says.

When it comes to food donations, those primarily come from farmers, growers, wholesalers, and grocers in the LA County area.

Donations of funds are also invaluable, and the food bank partners with major corporations and professional sports teams in LA.

“These are organizations that want to make a big difference in the community,” David says. “They call us and ask ‘what can we do, how can we help?'”

As a thank you, the food bank amplifies that message and shares the goodwill these companies show with its 200,000 newsletter subscribers and additional social media followers.

Talking about the newsletter, if you’re interested in learning more about the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank and its story, visit its website and sign up or follow the food bank on social media.

To get in touch with David, connect with him on LinkedIn or email him at dmay@lafoodbank.org to learn more about how you can positively impact the people of LA County.

Thank you, David, for being a part of the show, and thank you Kat Liendgens, for making yet another intro to a marketing leader.

Until next time. ✌

The Adaptable Marketing Leader – an interview with Holly Wright

I don’t often interview people who used to be in the job I’m in today, but when I do, I make sure we talk about their days at Hannon Hill and how they’ve evolved since leaving the company. 

Holly Wright, a Georgia Tech MBA grad, former Hannon Hill marketing specialist, then manager, and current VP of Marketplace Success at Appfire, was the latest guest on the Marketing Tales show. 

Holly discovered her passion for marketing during her junior year in college when she enrolled in some marketing courses while majoring in industrial design. 

She enjoyed it so much that she earned a marketing certificate, completed her bachelor’s degree, took a marketing role right out of college, and then returned to Georgia Tech for her MBA. 


As the VP of Marketplace Success at Appfire, an enterprise collaboration software company, Holly optimizes how Appfire presents itself on various software marketplaces and manages relationships with upstream software manufacturers. 

An important lesson she’s learned throughout her impressive marketing career is to be adaptable because things constantly change in the marketing industry, especially in a high-growth, fast pace company. 

“Thrive on change and grow together,” Holly says, echoing Appfire’s core values. 

Being emotionally neutral about the changes that may come your way is another advice she offered during our conversation. 

Too often, we get hung up on the inevitable and should remember Heraclitus’ sage words: 

“The only constant in life is change.”

Embrace it, and see adversity as an opportunity.

If you’re a marketer looking to grow in your career and get to a manager, director, VP, or CMO level, figure out a way to get some management experience. 

If there is no opportunity to manage others, raise your hand and take on different projects unrelated to your department to increase your visibility there. 

Most importantly, “be upfront about your goals and intentions,” Holly says. Also, “look for a company that is growing fast because opportunities abound when a company is growing.” 

All ships rise.

Of course, being on the pulse and furthering your education is always a plus, and earning an MBA is one way to do it.

Another is self-education, and Holly recommends the following two books to become a better marketing leader:

She also signed up for a Reforge membership to further her knowledge of pricing and monetization. Something she’s in charge of as the VP of Marketplace Success. 

To get in touch with Holly and learn more about her or Appfire, connect with her on LinkedIn or follow her on Twitter @hollygowrightly. 

And if you’re in the job market, check out Appfire’s job board.

Cheers to you, Holly, and thank you for paving the way for me at Hannon Hill.

A special thanks to Kat Liendgens, CEO of Hannon Hill, for connecting me to Holly. 

Until next time. 

The Empathetic Marketing Leader – An Interview with Laurie Hood

My latest guest is an amazing marketing leader and the first CMO on my show!

Laurie Hood, a proud Clemson University grad, studied economics and computer science before starting her marketing career.

Laurie entered the tech marketing arena right out of college. 

She forged her way through the ranks at many well-known corporations and now holds the position of Chief Marketing Officer at Mobilewalla, a data and artificial intelligence company headquartered in Atlanta, Ga. 

As a B2B SaaS marketing executive, Laurie’s team uses various marketing channels to get the message about her product out, such as social, SEO, paid ads, webinars, and industry conferences.

“We get tremendous success with paid social,” she says. But, “I’m very much about quality, not quantity, so when I send a lead to my seller, I want to be sure that the prospect knows who Mobilewalla is and that receiving a phone call from us is not going to seem weird.”

Highlighting the importance of adequately moving a prospect down the sales funnel. 

  1. Awareness
  2. Interest
  3. Desire
  4. Close

But the tried and true way to receive MQLs usually comes from in-person events, such as industry conferences, because of the value of face-to-face interactions. 

Back to her quality-over-quantity approach, Laurie’s team differentiates prospects by hot, warm, and cold leads during field marketing efforts after receiving a business card.

“What I don’t want is to get 1,000 business cards, and 950 of them just wanted our giveaway,” Laurie explains. 

Hot leads go directly into Salesforce, then get assigned to sellers, and become SQLs. 

Warm and cold leads are added to a separate list and receive nurture campaigns, and as these warm and cold leads convert through nurture, they eventually become SQLs.

An excellent way to bring awareness and generate demand, especially at conferences, is through thought leadership presentations, she explains. 

A few key things that help you succeed: 

  1. Don’t make your presentation a sales pitch
  2. Identify qualified speakers
  3. Know your audience

About the third point, depending on the situation, certain industry audiences appreciate speakers who are practitioners, not managers. 

Laurie is known to have asked junior-level employees to speak at events to build a bridge and relatability between her audience and the organization a senior-level executive may not be able to achieve. 

“Everyone has something to contribute,” Laurie says. “You just have to get your people on the right topic with the right group.”

A great lesson in leadership! 

Talking about lessons, one of the most important lessons Laurie learned during her successful marketing career is to be empathetic with non-marketers and back up efforts with data to help them understand why she implements specific strategies and tactics. 

To get in touch with Laurie to talk marketing or learn more about Mobilewalla, connect with her on LinkedIn or email her at Laurie@mobilewalla.com

Until next time. 

How to Make a Higher-Ed Website More Enrollment Focused

My latest guest first appeared in my car’s speakers as I headed southbound on Georgia SR 400, ready to start a new career. 

I needed to learn about higher-ed marketing fast, and The Higher Ed Marketer podcast, co-hosted by Bart Caylor, gave me practical higher-ed marketing insights I could use immediately. 

Bart, a graduate of Anderson University with a degree in graphic design, always knew he wanted to help people succeed and help them solve complex problems. 

A career in marketing gave him that outlet as he built his first website for his alma mater in 1997. 

Bart worked for major corporations and various nonprofit organizations throughout his marketing career. However, no project gave him more joy than the one he completed for Anderson U in ’97. 

In 2011, after the great recession, Bart started Caylor Solutions. His marketing agency works with education organizations to improve communication, enrollment, and development efforts through strategic brand, marketing, websites, print, and digital collateral.

He’s a serial content creator, and when I asked him about his approach to cranking out consistent, relevant content, he said: 

“You want to be useful to people, as opposed to just promotional. The organizations who educate are the ones who succeed, not the ones who promote.” 

He meets with his team twice a year to brainstorm higher-ed marketing trends and concerns and creates an editorial calendar from the information gathered. 

His editorial calendar, however, is a living document, and he’s been known to call audibles from time to time depending on the latest technology changes that may affect the industry, e.g., ChatGPT and generative AI.

Always on the pulse of what’s going on in higher-ed marking, Bart knows that a school’s website is the first and most important tool for enrollment marketing.

Four ways to make a website more enrollment-focused: 

  1. Know who’s it for (students, caretakers, etc.)
  2. Tailor it to your prospect’s needs
  3. Make it understandable (cut academic jargon) 
  4. Show outcomes (ROI/social proof)

Three ways prospects get to a higher-ed website: 

  1. Legacy (family members attended)
  2. Influencers (teacher, coach, or pastor told them)
  3. Discovery (people find a school through search)

Two books he recommends any higher-ed marketer should read:

  1. Youtility by Jay Baer
  2. Everybody Writes by Ann Handley

One way to get in touch with him:

  1. caylor@caylor-solutions.com

Of course, given the nature of this platform, be sure to follow Bart on LinkedIn for the latest higher-ed marketing news, updates, and content strategy tips, and listen to his podcast, The Higher Ed Marketer Podcast, which releases new episodes every Tuesday morning. 

Remember to listen to the full interview on my YouTube channel by visiting the link in the comments below for more insights on making your website more enrollment focused. 

Bart, thank you for your continued support and the value you bring to the higher-ed industry. 

Until next time. ✌️