Is There Method to Your Madness : An Interview with Andy Crestodina
This is part of our Entrepreneur Interview series.
There is nothing better than advice and insight that you can actually put to use. That’s why it was such a pleasure to interview Andy Crestodina, co-founder of Orbit Media, an award winning, 30-person web design company in Chicago. He’s got tips on the parts of human psychology you should be pay attention to and what it takes to make a great marketing strategy. His pragmatic approach to being an entrepreneur and growing businesses through content will leave you inspired. (Trust us, we’re talking from experience.)
I Made That
Why did you start Orbit Media Studios?
In the late 90’s I was a technical recruiter, so my job was to find programmers for jobs. It was a good job and I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t creative. I wasn’t building anything. I could never point at something and say “I made that.”
So I quit. I was watching the web and had been working on personal projects for several years at that point (interactive comic books mostly. Don’t ask!) ...and I started a web design company with my good friend, Barrett Lombardo.
Beware of Compulsive Behavior
What is the hardest part about being an entrepreneur?
For services companies, the first challenge is sales. Nothing happens until someone sells something. Next, it’s keeping the sales coming in while delivering on the promises to your first customer. If you can get to a point of stability with sales and delivery, the subsequent challenges are recruiting, management and process development.
For me at this point, it’s time. I could literally work continuously for months if I don’t stop myself. I know all the little benefits of all the little actions and how to measure it all, so it’s hard not to get compulsive and just keep going non-stop.
Who has been your greatest inspiration?
I have marketing inspirations, such as Ann Handley, Sonia Simone and Jon Morrow. Everyone has their favorites, right?
The Important E’s: Empathy, Emotion, Everyone Else
You explain in a recent Content Marketing Institute post, that content marketing is not brain science, yet it requires a fundamental understanding of human psychology in order to do it successfully. What do you see are the three most important psychological understandings all marketers must know?
Great question. The first and most important is empathy. The point of marketing is to affect a change in the behavior of others. This is impossible without understanding the mindset of those people. So a general empathetic approach is key.
The second is emotion. People aren’t as rational as they seem. Just observe your own behavior and you’ll see! If you understand the specific drivers of behavior, you’ll have a better chance of success. What are the hopes and fears of our audience? What is the feeling our customers get when we succeed for them?
The third part of psychology that’s important to understand is that we all tend to act as groups. Behaviorists call it “herd behavior” and marketers call it “social proof” It’s the tendency we all have to do what others are doing. You’ll see this everywhere in web marketing from the size of twitter followings to online reviews. It’s very important to leverage this tendency.
Be Methodical or End Up Mediocre
You are a published author of Content Chemistry: An Illustrated Handbook for Content Marketing which is, essentially, a comprehensive theoretical and analytical guide on content marketing and how it applies to modern business today. If you can summarize the one BIG take away any reader should conclude from the book, what would it be?
It’s this: content marketing needs a methodical approach. Marketers who aren’t strategic about their activity tend not to get great results. There are something like 2 million blog posts published daily. If you’re just adding one to the top of the pile, that isn’t really helping anyone. Work backwards from your desired outcome and create content with content promotion in mind!
Collaboration, Experimentation and Consistency
In understanding what Onboardly does (PR and Content Marketing for Startups), how have you used either strategies (or both) to grow Orbit Media Studios?
Yes! But our approach to PR isn’t a comprehensive. We’re active guest bloggers, but not very active with the other PR tactics. Referrals and search are the two main drivers of leads, so we focus on tactics for each of those:
Events that build our network: speaking engagements and hosting events
Content that supports our rank: guest blogging and search-optimized posts on our site
Every tactic has a specific measurable goal, but we do experiment a lot. The three principles behind our marketing are collaboration, experimentation and consistency.
To Thine Own Self Be True
Any tips, tricks, or things you have never shared before (that you will for us) that have helped you launch or grow your company?
I love this question, Renee! Here’s one that might sound obvious, but few people talk about: KNOW YOURSELF. You need to know what you love, what you don’t and what you really want out of your business. What are you willing to let go of? Do you just want to build something? Do you really want to manage it once it’s built? What drives you deep down? Fortune? Glory?
Know thyself, entrepreneur!
About Andy Crestodina
Andy Crestodina is a co-founder of Orbit Media, an award winning, 30-person web design company in Chicago. Over the past 13 years, Andy has provided web strategy and marketing advice to more than 1000 businesses.
Andy loves teaches marketing. He’s written hundreds of articles on topics like email marketing, search optimization, social media, analytics and content strategy. He is also the author of Content Chemistry: The Illustrated Handbook for Content Marketing.