Ross Simmonds has made a name for himself in the content world, whether you’ve recognized his iconic tweets or read one of his content synopsis about some of the world’s most powerful brands. Through his experience working with clients large and small, Ross has found the perfect recipe for developing and distributing content that produces real results and is ready to share it with our MozCon audience!
We are delighted to see him again on the MozCon stage and got in touch with him before the show to discuss how he got into the industry, his content philosophy and what he is looking forward to at MozCon 2021 pleased.
Question: You have been involved in content creation and marketing for some time. So can you tell us a little bit about how you started? How did you differ from others?
Horse: I started content marketing by mistake. It was a time when content marketing really wasn’t a thing. I started creating content online about fantasy sports. My first blog was all about fantasy football. I was creating content three times a week and writing about which players I thought would be performing the best, and people from all over the world started reading and connecting with this content while I lived in the middle of my parents’ basement Nova Scotia, Canada.
At this point, the lightbulbs ran out that the internet was going to be big and that this whole idea of creating content online could give you the opportunity to reach millions of people. When I started expanding this fantasy football blog, traffic soared. While my grades went down and I had to turn this fantasy football blog into a marketing blog, I was able to satisfy my mom’s tastes of wanting to make sure I was do well in school. She told me to start writing about marketing and so I did.
RossSimmonds.com became my website that I used to create content on for years and that eventually attracted and engaged again by people all over the world, and eventually I switched business again from RossSimmonds.com, which was just myself a freelancer at Foundation Marketing, a content marketing agency that works with B2B brands around the world on content strategy, content creation, and content distribution. I’ve been posting new content on my blog, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. on a regular basis for many, many years, and as such, people have started taking notice of me and realizing my way of thinking about content.
Question: This year you are discussing a new way of looking at content – as a long-term investment rather than a one-off creation. Why do you think it is difficult for today’s marketers to develop this mindset, and what are the best things they can do to change their perspective?
Horse: The main reason content is often viewed as a one-hit and one-off thing is because we live in a time when instant gratification has never been so easy to get and a dopamine hit offers. Hence, marketers love the idea of posting to content and seeing tons of notifications that people are interacting with, liking, sharing, etc., and that is a great feeling.
But it’s very temporary and I speak of content as an investment by taking a more long-term view and realizing that the assets and content you create today can actually serve you consistently for years, if not in the decades to come, you can tweak things , improve, re-share, republish, and create that actually have a lifecycle that extends beyond the present day.
Question: You often do case studies on companies like Masterclass, Shopify, and Gong that are implementing incredibly successful content marketing strategies. In your opinion, what do these companies have in common that drives their success? What advice would you give to other companies looking to achieve similar success?
Horse: All of these companies across the board are committed to understanding the value of content and their role in creating a competitive advantage. Many companies don’t see content as a force that can provide competitive advantage over the long term, but it does just that. If you create content for an extended period of time, that content will now be published and made available to the public in the years to come. If this content is ranked in Google for high quality keywords, it can generate value for your business.
Some landing pages that exist today and were published in 2007 are still generating hundreds of thousands of dollars every month for some businesses. These companies, who view content as an investment and recognize the power, value and scalability of content, are the ones who win because they realize that it is a great way to differentiate yourself, that it is a very scalable method is for growth and drives traction and engagement, and that’s what really sets some of these top-notch content brands apart from everyone else in the industry.
Question: At Foundation, you work with all customers, from startups to large Fortune 500 companies. How does your approach to content marketing change based on company size?
Horse: We start by understanding the goals and objectives of each individual customer we are trying to service to, and by understanding the individual goals we can base our recommendations and the way we work with them based on their goals customize and what they want to achieve – but we don’t stop there.
We also delve deeply into understanding what resources they have, the size of their team, the way they communicate internally, the way they are resourced in relation to their team structure, etc., and we take advantage of all of them this to do so Make a decision about how we can better serve you in order to achieve this overall goal. We also recognize that every single company is different. They have different people, different goals, different resource constraints and different levels of funding, some are private, some are public, etc.
All of these things fit into the way we can serve our customers and so we navigate each instance differently and in a bespoke kind of nature in which it is individual and tailored to them.
Question: The way consumers digest content is changing rapidly from day to day. What do you think has been the most dramatic change in content marketing in the last five years? What do you think will be the single most important area content marketers need to focus on over the next five years?
Horse: Five years ago everyone was talking about how to create more content and publish more content because all the gurus were on the stage yelling “Content is King”.
Fast forward to now and guess what? Everyone has heard this mantra and idea, but the content has become very common. There is content everywhere you look. While reading the words written on this screen or listening to an audio version of it, someone is consuming content.
Content is easy to create, and content has essentially become the benchmark. You’re supposed to be creating content. Now it’s harder than ever to stand out from all the noise, the hundreds of thousands of blog posts published daily, and the hundreds of thousands of influencers on LinkedIn, TikTok, Twitter, Snapchat, etc. It’s so difficult to stand out from them. I believe that in the next five years the increasing emphasis on creativity and solid dissemination will never be higher.
If you are in a boring industry, you still need to be creative and understand your audience’s weaknesses and needs and give them in the form of content they want. This is consistent across the board, and I believe the demand for creativity will increase if you want your content to stand out in the months – if not years – to come.
Question: What is your favorite content that you have ever created? How can people read it?
Horse: A few months ago I wrote an article called The SEO Moat: Why SEO Can Be a Competitive Advantage, and it really speaks to the value SEO brings to the market that companies often overlook when it can play a really massive role in it helping an organization unlock millions of dollars in value for their organization.
Question: Who in the MozCon series are you looking forward to the most this year? What are you still looking forward to?
Horse: I’m really excited to see what Flavilla has to say this year. She always brings the warmth and her perspective on the science of buying behavior will definitely be something I will look forward to.
A big thank you to Ross for his time! To find out more about Ross’ upcoming presentation, see details of our other speakers, and to purchase your ticket, please click the link below!