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Navigating the Content Marketing Landscape in 2023 (Episode 178)

Christoph Trappe has run integrated campaigns across many industries, including healthcare, SaaS, information technology, nonprofits, and publishing. He has led teams of journalists, content creators, strategists, and designers to drive results successfully.

Christoph has worked in various verticals and with a mix of businesses – including startups and established companies. His experience spans the full spectrum of digital strategy and implementation – including social media, SEO, UX collaborations, content strategies, and production.

Today, he’s a global top 14 content marketer, top 40 B2B marketer, top 100 CX thought leader and top 24 digital marketer. His blog has been listed as a valuable resource in the marketing industry. He’s a top 2.5 percent global podcaster. 

He is the author of a three-book marketing strategies series, which includes; “Content Performance Culture” “Is Marketing a Good Career?” and “Going Live.”

What you will learn

  • How Christoph made his career transition from journalism to content marketing
  • Christoph shares more about his content marketing journey and how it unfolded
  • Discover the challenges of using AI content writing tools
  • Learn more about the role of short-form videos in content marketing today
  • Plus loads more!


Jeff Bullas

00:00:05 - 00:01:49

Hi everyone, all around the world who is dialing in on their Zoom because Zoom is used for everything now including making bread, making cars and doing Zoom calls but I digress. Today we meet Christoph Trappe. Now, Christoph and I met in a big country called India at a conference where we both were presenting so I hadn't seen him for a long time and he hasn't aged at all. He's still got the same amount of hair that he had the last time I met him and the glasses look very cool by the way, Christoph, but Christoph has run integrated campaigns and works for a growth agency across many industries including healthcare, SaaS, information tech, nonprofits and publishing is that teams of journalists, content creators, strategists and designers create a drive results successfully. Christoph has worked in various verticals with a mix of businesses including startups and established companies and experience spans the full spectrum of digital strategy and implementation including social media, SEO, UX collaborations, content strategies to drive results. He's a global top 14 content marketer, a top 40 B2B marketer and all the rest of that. His blogs were listed as a valuable resource in the market industry, he’s a top 2.5% global podcaster. He's also the author of three marketing strategy books which include Content, Performance Culture, Is Marketing A Good Career? and Going Live and we're going live. So here we are. Thanks Christoph. It's great to see you again. Not in real life, which is always much more fun, but welcome to the show.

Christoph Trappe

00:01:50 - 00:01:59

Thanks for having me, Jeff. Thanks for making the time. The time difference is so crazy. It's five o'clock here PM and you're a day ahead of me, right? 8AM roughly.

Jeff Bullas

00:01:59 - 00:02:28

Yeah, as we say in Australia, and we tell all Americans that come on the show, we live in the future. So if you need any help, we can leap in and help you out, right? So we can do all sorts of stuff, even tell you who won the horse race here and you might be able to bet on it and win.

So, but Christoph tell us a little bit about how you got into content marketing. It's maybe a similar story to me. Maybe you started a blog, maybe you got into social media, maybe you got drunk at a bar. I don't know. But how did it all start for you?

Christoph Trappe

00:02:29 - 00:03:52

Well, I haven't pulled out my hair about that topic for a long time as you can see because I'm bald, thanks for that shout out earlier but, you know, I grew up as a journalist honestly, you know, the public safety reporting, investigative reporting and at some point journalism, you know, I was journalists move into marketing, right? I mean, that kind of seems to happen, even back in the day and of course, journalism has changed quite a bit today, you know, so many layoffs and so many changes and all those different things. I was a little bit ahead of that, not to age myself too much, but I kind of, I was introduced to Joe Polizzi and his whole content marketing world spiel there. And, you know, I really just moved my journalism skills over into content marketing and really what I do today, it's basically journalism except for companies, right? Because you're trying to tell good stories, you're trying to tell relevant stories, you know, in journalism, we don't talk about the top of the funnel or the middle of the funnel, the bottom of the funnel content, you know, we just tell stories. So that's a little bit different. But at the end of the day, that's kind of where I came from. And, you know, I would say Joe has had a fantastic influence on me. Of course, you know, your name has popped up many times over the years. You know, number one this, number one that and then of course, we ran into each other in India. So, certainly that's kind of how I've done it and still do it today with companies around the globe for GrowGetter.io, Growth Marketing Agency.

Jeff Bullas

00:03:52 - 00:04:02

So, what year did you, can you put a year on when you sort of transitioned from journalists to content marketer? Can you put a year on that?

Christoph Trappe

00:04:02 - 00:04:29

Yeah, I think officially, we probably have to say about 2010. But I really moved out of journalism like around 2007-2008, right in that time frame. And then I created training videos for banks and credit unions, which that's not really content marketing, but that's I learned how to do video, really, that's what that job came down to. It was about three years doing that. And I think 2010 was probably the earnest.

Jeff Bullas

00:04:30 - 00:04:32

So is that when you start the blog as well?

Christoph Trappe

00:04:33 - 00:05:21

Well, I, so I started a number of blogs. The current one, I have christophtrappe.com, I think officially that started like 2013, maybe 2012. But in 2009, I actually launched Eastern Iowa News and I was like, well, I wanna see what all this publishing is about. Maybe I should do like a local news site. Imagine that. And I launched that really took off pretty quickly, you know, and I kind of wonder what it would have happened if I would have stuck with that and just kept going and not, you know, not getting rid of it and whatnot. The Texas Tribune, which is, has been very successful. They started right around that same time. They're like a non-profit model which I wasn't even thinking about. I didn't know anything about. But, so the current blog 2012, roughly so, you know, 11 years it's been up and running.

Jeff Bullas

00:05:22 - 00:07:10

Yeah, it is that the reason I asked you about that is because content marketing was a word that emerged a little bit. Well, about the time I launched my blog or a little bit before 2009 is when I launched my blog, which I came up with a really creative name, jeffbullas.com because I couldn't think of anything else at the time. So, but what's interesting is that I sort of fell in love with HubSpot's blog back then, which and they were using the term more inbound marketing than content marketing. And I think sort of Jared Polis and a bunch of others, maybe, you know, ourselves myself included, started using content marketing. So we were maybe content marketers before the term really got traction. But today, content marketing is huge. Content marketing originally sort of came out of doing blogs that's really like a lot of people think content marking is all about Instagram and Instagram Reels and stuff and going well, it is now. But we were the old school guys that also leapt in and started blogging when blogging was cool and now blogging is just old. But still works bloody well frankly. So, tell us a little bit about your journey in content marketing. So, what did you do in those, well, in the last 10-12 years? What have you been doing in terms of and what have you seen change in content marketing? And then we're going to I'd like to hear your thoughts on the role of AI for a journalist and writer as well and how you can use it without getting to do everything we'll talk about later. So tell me a little bit about your journey in content marketing and how you see that, how that's unfolded for you.

Christoph Trappe

00:07:11 - 00:12:29

Yeah. So some three great questions, especially AI is very interested in you right now and the changes I always strive on, you know, what is changing, how can I maximize the new thing, right? Immediately. today and then move forward from there. But you know, my journey, I went into marketing, worked for a nonprofit and then I moved into let's call it consulting for the first time with [inaudible] and helped them stand up a content marketing program. And back in the day, in those days Jeff, we interviewed people with cameras, we went to their offices and put the camera in front of them and then we took the footage back and it was, you know, it was long ago, but not that long ago, you could already plug it into the computer and just download the footage. So there was no tape or anything like that. But, today I couldn't imagine taking a camera with me to record anybody, right? I would just do it on my phone, you know, or whatever. So that's kind of what we did and we stood up their content marketing program in healthcare. And then I kind of moved from healthcare to back to publishing, helped to B2B company tell their stories better, you know, help their journalists learn how to write for the web. I think it's not as difficult as people make it out to be. Honestly, if you just kind of think about it, it's really about using the right terminology and answering people's questions. We had, you know, I was talking to Andy Crestodina, you know the other day he was on the Marketing, Demystified podcast and he talked about, you know, just don't be so creative with your age too, just say what it is. Don't be like vague, you know what I mean? Just kind of use the terms people use and he's so right. But in journalism you know, sometimes we're trying to be too cute maybe or too creative if that's a thing. I don't know if too creative is a thing. But, you know, then moved into the technology sector, finished my marketing series, book series, of course and have done software marketing for Voxpopme for about three years and then moved over to GrowGetter.io, which was founded by the former Chief Revenue Officer at Voxpopme. So, that's been a great move, you know, still in the market research space. It's kind of interesting to me because I know that space I can write about that content. I wouldn't say I'm an expert but, you know, I've been in that space for a while. So there's some value in knowing the space you're in, right? It's yes, you can learn the different spaces, but there is some value. When it comes to AI, I use AI daily. I don't know if you listen to this episode, but I actually cloned my voice with 11 laps and I published an entire podcast episode with my cloned voice. It just read a book chapter and, you know, people are listening to it and I say it's read by my AI voice, right? It's not, I'm not saying it's not me. So you can use it for things like that. The new intro and when we have you on my show you'll hear it. But the intro used to be my wife for like three years and now I recently re-recorded it with an AI voice. It sounds pretty good. I don't think people can even tell that it's an AI voice if I didn't tell them and it sounds fine, right? There was a couple of things on the first version. It's kind of cheesy like she would be like, let's go or something like that. Super weird. And I did not like, I cut that out. I didn't want that, but for the most part it works. The other thing, the other way I use AI mostly is for headlines. And I don't always use the headlines, word for word. I hardly ever do. I use copylime.com that has been built on top of ChatGPT and I say this is the topic of the article and it gives you like 10 headline ideas. And then the other one I commonly use is the outline functionality, Jeff. So, you know, I can make my own outline or I can start with the Copylime and say here's my topic, give me a draft one outline and then sometimes I disagree with it. Sometimes I don't think one thing is its own section. It fits into another section and then there's sometimes sections that I want to add and that Copylime didn't even add. But those are the main things that I use it for. I think writing with ChatGPT, first of all, I will share the story, I ran something through ChatGPT and I said, give me these five things, right? And I was never gonna use them anywhere. And then I send out a quote request to a bunch of experts, right? Like you get those right saying, hey, Jeff, can you send me a quote for, whatever, for this article? And one expert took my request, put it into ChatGPT, didn't tell me that, of course and sent me back my response, which was almost word for word of what I had just done myself. So I'm like, I am not quoting you for sending me a ChatGPT answer. So I wouldn't recommend that, but I think there's a lot of ways you can use it. I think there's a lot of ways that make sense. But if you're gonna use it for your writing, it might replace you as a writer, but it's not going to replace you as an editor because you really have to edit it really, really, really well.

Jeff Bullas

00:12:29 - 00:12:50

Yeah, that's a very interesting question, I want to quickly get on to that in a minute but just to quickly confirm the, I'm not happy, I use sometimes use ChatGPT to write headlines for me and it's got a certain way of doing headlines which I really don't like. It basically is a two part headline. So you say you're using Copylime? C-O-P-Y-L-I-M-E?

Christoph Trappe

00:12:50 - 00:13:08

And you can, when you go in there, Jeff, you, you actually say here's the topic and then you tell it what kind of tone you want so it could be, witty or, I don't know what all the tones are, funny or something like that. So you can definitely, definitely do that.

Jeff Bullas

00:13:08 - 00:13:32

Well, I actually asked ChatGPT to do a controversial headline and said, sorry, we can't do that because we can't go to the naughty corner because it might upset people and went really, so ChatGPT is actually too well behaved for me, actually, I'm finding, you know, in a sense. So that copylime.ai, is it or not?

Christoph Trappe

00:13:32 - 00:13:33

No copylime.com

Jeff Bullas

00:13:34 - 00:15:11

.com, okay. We'll give that a crack because, anyway. So, writing and AI, I'm agonizing over this because I actually enjoy the process of writing and I came across a quote by Joseph Campbell. The, you know, the guy behind the fantastic, I'm a bit of a Joseph Campbell fanboy, the guy behind, the Hero's Journey that inspired dozens and dozens of movies and including Star Wars and in fact, the top eight to 10 movies of all time is written with his story arc, the Hero's Journey. He has a love affair with the actual art of writing and researching because he wants to find out where the source was, then he wants to think about it, then he wants to write it down. And the challenge with AI and ChatGPT especially is that you can just put in a question and I can write it all for you, including the intro, the outro and the content in between. But it just leaves me cold and I'm going, if this is writing today, then I'm getting, I'm having an existential crisis. So I'm really trying to work out how do we use it as a tool instead of a crutch? And I'm interested in your thoughts around that because information is one thing, writing is another.

Christoph Trappe

00:15:12 - 00:17:48

It is. And I actually like the way you put that, you know, as a tool as opposed to a crutch, I'll probably quote you on that a few times this week. But, you know, it's interesting, I think you use it as a tool kind of the way I use it, right? Like you're trying to make your content better and if you think about it, I use Grammarly, right? Grammarly is an AI-based tool, right? And sometimes Grammarly’s recommendations of what I should change are horrible. And it didn't get what I actually was trying to say or maybe I, you know, whatever, but, so it's not always foolproof, but that's how I use those tools, right? With the headlines, with the outline with, you know, even, you know, sometimes I combined the headlines. The other thing I wanted to mention is this is a crutch. So I'll give you an example. You can do all kinds of things with AI and I've done this before. I can actually clone myself, not just my voice, but I can, you know, have myself cloned and then you send me the questions and then I do the answers written and I literally just have my clone talk to you. But what's the point? That's, we're not gonna have a conversation about you being in Sydney, I'm being in Marion, you know, or where we've met and how awesome it was and you know, interesting food, you know, very, very hard honestly, for an American like me not to have hamburger for 10 days or eight days or whatever. But you know what I'm saying? Like we're not gonna have these unique connections, we're just gonna like, we're gonna be like robots, right? And this, whether that's podcasting or whether it's writing, what AI cannot do is it cannot actually bring that personality into things, but it can help you. I'll give you one more example, Andy Crestodina did a webinar and he said, oh, you know my book, whatever his book is called, Content Chemistry, I think or something like that. And he said, somebody said this book has everything you need to know in content. And he goes, how do they know, how would, how do they know, like, how would they know? They're humans. So he goes, but I appreciate the comments. So I took my book and uploaded it to ChatGPT PDF or something like that. And I said this book is about content, what is it missing? And ChatGPT spit out, you're missing these four things. And he said, well, three of those things I don't really care about and the final thing, okay, maybe. So you can use it to fill in those blanks, right? To really kind of brainstorm. I think that's how I like to use it. But if you're reading some of the crap it spits out, it's gonna be really hard for anybody to drive results with that content.

Jeff Bullas

00:17:49 - 00:19:08

Yeah. It's a fascinating and I'm actually in the middle of writing an article on how to use, how to be a human and write using ChatGPT. And I'm trying to, because people like steps and processes. So I'm in the middle of doing that and it's fascinating because I, it's something I've really been wrestling with because being human and writing is generally about writing stories and as journalists write stories. So ChatGPT can write stories but they're fake generally, whereas we write stories that are human that involve pain and joy and everything in between. So, it's really fascinating and anyway, I'm having some fun writing that. So I'm just gonna go out and date night with AI and get to know them really well. So I can actually write well using ChatGPT. But it's really, really fascinating. Well, I find it fascinating and I'm sure I talked over with my editor recently and mentioned what I was doing and what I was writing. She said I am feeling exactly the same thing and I reckon millions of writers all around the world are feeling the same thing. So anyway, I'm having a crack at how to hang out with AI and ChatGPT as a writer that uses it as a tool instead of a crutch.

Christoph Trappe

00:19:09 - 00:19:51

You know, the other thing is and I have not had any luck with this, but Chris Penn, Christopher Penn uses, you know, he creates images with AI and so that's another thing. And then the final thing, there's real dangers you may have heard about this case. There was a lawyer in the United States who had an opinion being written by AI and then the opposing council said we're trying to look up these cases, we can't find them. Can you tell us which court they're in? And it was all made up, right?. So, like, that's not even a crutch. That's just like hiring a bad writer who's going to get you into trouble. So, you know, don't use it as a crutch, use it as a tool. But, certainly there are opportunities to use it.

Jeff Bullas

00:19:52 - 00:20:18

Yeah. Anyway, we're in the, it's just at the start of this revolution and I'm calling that instead of an evolution because it's taken the world by storm. And so yeah, it's gonna be interesting to see where it continues to develop into because there's no destination here. It's just a journey that is fun to be in and part of I'm enjoying the adventure along with a lot of.

Christoph Trappe

00:20:19 - 00:20:48

I do too. And the other thing to think about too with ChatGPT especially it's two years behind, right? It's not live. And I, the other day I actually said, hey, tell me about content marketer Christoph Trappe and it did it and it was all correct. But then it says as of, whatever, 2021 which is when our cut-off date was. Here's the but imagine content marketing evolves really quickly. So that's two years. Like that's a long time in many fields.

Jeff Bullas

00:20:49 - 00:21:50

Exactly. So, Google is saying it's actually scraping the web with its toolbar now. So we might find it becomes more up to date as competitors continue to move into the space. So we've got limited time here because I'm gonna leap on and do a live stream slash podcast with you in the next few minutes. So we've seen the movement of content marketing from blogging, social media came along, mobile phones came along. Then we had images with Instagram come along. Then we've had videos turn up in Instagram and Facebook. Today now we've got AI, so we've got this whole transition from the core writing just on blogs, we blogged, we did social media, we mobiled, smartphones and then we moved into doing short videos. Quick question. How do you see the role of short videos such as YouTube Shorts, Instagram Reels, how do you see that content marketing today?

Christoph Trappe

00:21:51 - 00:24:19

Yeah, I think they're a fantastic tool. I'll give you an example. So you're gonna come on my The Business Storytelling Show and we're doing a live stream and it's the live stream is also on YouTube. And then of course, the replay is on YouTube and one way I'm driving my subscribers on YouTube is by constantly doing YouTube Shorts, right? So we do fun little videos. Sometimes it's my daughter and I, and it's just like, a trending sound, right? And or like my patio, which has nothing to do with storytelling but I did a video of that 50,000 views, right? Most of our videos have anywhere from, I mean, there's some that don't have very many, but there's many that have a thousand to 10,000 views. So what happens, Jeff, some of those people subscribe, right? And the more people subscribe, the better it is for the algorithm or the better it is for your YouTube presents. And the more people watch it and whatnot. So I think there's a place for those videos. I think the trick is to make them interesting. I think the trick is to tie them in with your brand. Everything we do, I tie back to podcasting somehow. Sometimes it doesn't work and sometimes it does work, right? So I think that works. What we don't want people to do, in my opinion is just to do boring videos, you know, just like you used to do a bit boring video that was longer and now you do a boring video that's shorter. So make it engaging, answer questions that your audience has, make it fun. I mean, people do it all the time, right? They just show stuff on the screen and it works. So and then sometimes short doesn't mean just a few seconds. I'll give you another example. I've been taking the first five minutes of my podcast episodes and upload them to my TikTok channel and they're performing really well, especially when you compare them to the other videos on my TikTok channel. I'm sorry, not the first five minutes, the first nine and a half minutes, you can do 10 minutes on TikTok and you can do, I think five minutes on Threads, which I've done one time, but I can't tell you if my videos on Threads are working or not because there's no metrics. So I think, yeah, just try them, see what works, see what doesn't work. And so I think all those things work together. But the one thing you asked me what has changed, some of those things have changed, but what hasn't changed is that blog posts still work. They still drive SEO when you do them well. So some of those tried and true and old strategies, you know, they're still worthwhile doing even today.

Jeff Bullas

00:24:19 - 00:24:59

Yeah. And I totally agree with you because I was an accidental SEO expert over the years. I created just a ton of content and today I have quite a few posts that are generating 20,000 plus clicks a month for free. And that's people actually reading rather than just entertaining themselves. So, yeah, creating content that generates long-term authority via Google and search. Guys don't forget about it because it's really important. And it's a gift that keeps giving and it's free except for the time to create it, by the way. So, Chris, any quick thoughts before we wrap because we're gonna leap and launch over on your side of the fence.

Christoph Trappe

00:25:00 - 00:25:11

Really appreciate you making the time. Good to see you again and it's always great to talk about it and sometimes to be a guest on a show, you know, you get so hung up and hosting your own show. So I always appreciate you having me on yours.

Jeff Bullas

00:25:11 - 00:25:13

Thanks, Christoph. It's been an absolute pleasure.

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