A Review of ClearVoice Content Marketing with Joe Griffin: One Last Tool Episode 5
Announcer: Is your digital business efforts in need of a tune-up or major overhaul? If you’re ready to get your sales, marketing and service machine up and running, you’re going to need just the right tools. Welcome to One Last Tool, your pit stop for learning about all of the latest and greatest digital tools to get your business engine running on all cylinders. And now, here’s your resident technician, George B. Thomas.
George: All right, ladies and gentlemen, George B. Thomas here from TheSalesLion.com and as always, this episode of One Last Tool is brought to you by WP Inbound Machine. If you have a normal website you should make it awesome by making it inbound-ready and making it a lead conversion, lead nurturing machine.
But enough of that, let’s go ahead and get into today’s interview. I’m super excited. We have Joe Griffin. Hopefully, I said that right, Joe, it’s a pretty easy name. Why don’t we just talk about who you are, where you work and then we’ll dive into our questions?
Joe: Yeah. That sounds good. My name’s Joe Griffin. I’m a co-founder and CEO at ClearVoice. We’re out of Phoenix, Arizona and we’re helping companies create great content more effectively.
George: I love great content and being effective. So, let’s start at the very top level because we’re going to kind of dig a couple layers deep during this interview. But let’s start at a very top level. If I’m searching the interwebs and I come across ClearVoice and I have no clue what it is–maybe you can tell us what is ClearVoice exactly?
What is ClearVoice?
Joe: ClearVoice is a software company that helps marketers organize their content initiatives. So, different campaigns to manage your email, marketing copy, your blog content, your contributors, your writers, your editors, everybody that’s helping you create content on your marketing team. So, ClearVoice is helping put those things together for people through software.
Then we also have an integrated freelancer marketplace that people can tap into to actually get more content produced. So, it’s really a collaboration of workflow tools, editorial calendar tools and then access to content creators so that you can actually create more engaging content more efficiently and on a more regular basis.
George: Yeah. It’s funny that you talk about, Joe, a regular basis. Clients that we work with at TheSalesLion.com, we always try to say, “Look, at least do three pieces a week.” For some companies, they’re like, “That’s impossible.” With a tool like ClearVoice, it sounds like it might make it a little bit easier.
So, that’s sort of what it is. It’s managing your team and people and having resources to folks who can actually create this content that might be difficult for you. But maybe go one level deeper of what it is and actually talk about like how does it work, like the underlying things that have to work for this to tick in the right way for companies to use it.
How Does ClearVoice Work?
Joe: Yeah. So, typically the way that this works is one of the marketers or stakeholders that’s in charge of content — it could be just the blog, it could be just social copy, an aspect of a company’s content – gets an account gets in there, will maybe work with some initial content. Maybe they’ll invite in an editor on their side or a content strategist.
It really starts with like one or two or three people. It’s not very common that a company comes in and breaks every process they ever had, and every Word doc that never gets used, and spreadsheets are out the window, and they never use Basecamp ever again.
You’re still going to use other tools in some capacity, but it’s really something that tends to kind of creep its way into an organization where a couple people become really fascinated by the tools and there are a lot of tools in terms of being able to see what’s trending, being able to have better visibility into the editorial calendar, the transparency that you’re going to get from having everything in one place. You kind of start somewhere and then you can kind of build up from there. That’s typically how people use the platform.
George: I’m super excited. This isn’t actually on our list of questions to ask, but when you say people aren’t going to automatically throw their docs and their Excel spreadsheets away, does that mean there are tools inside ClearVoice for you to manage what you would usually do there digitally inside the tool?
Joe: Absolutely. So it’s really a campaign and assignments-driven system. Of course, it’s connected and integrated to your email, so it’s going to keep you posted of things that you need to do via alerts, a dashboard, kind of a to-do list task. So, it is a lot of those traditional project management things that people have come to love in software, but it’s really designed for content.
So that means a lot of the traditional things you’re used to in terms of the way you dispatch assignments, the way that you do editing, the way you collaborate or do messaging or set deadlines or publication dates, those things are all still integrated. You still can use Word docs and Google docs and things like that inside the platform. Obviously, those things are outside, but you can integrate them in terms of their workflow into the system. So, you don’t have to break everything you’re doing.
It’s really just taking a step towards, “Hey, we want to be better at content.” In order to be good at content, you actually have to collaborate on content. You have to have good transparency inside of your organization, even if it’s only two people or three people. You would be . . . I’m sure you know, you get two or three people working on content, it can get chaos really quick.
So set a deadline, being accountable to those things and again, that visibility is one of the core reasons why people use it, then obviously access to the freelancers. We hand vet all the freelancers. We’ve got about 2,000 people in the marketplace that are really high-quality individuals, really high-quality portfolios. These aren’t just like any writers. These are people that are really qualified in different categories.
George: I like that because everybody can call themselves a writer, but that doesn’t mean they are. So, one of the things we like to do, Joe, on One Last Tool is really get a feel for who the tool is a good fit for and who it’s not a good fit for. The easiest way is just for me to ask you the dumb question — who’s ClearVoice best fit for?
Who Is A Good Fit For ClearVoice?
Joe: Well, I think it gets back to what you said, which was your advice from The Sales Lion, which was try to create at least three original content pieces per week. That’s a really great goal for anyone who’s interested in content marketing or who believes content marketing is important for their business.
Three original pieces of content per week is really our ideal customer. So, if you’re doing two, that’s great too. If you’re doing one a week, that’s great too. If you’re doing one a month, you’re probably not doing enough content where you need platform like ClearVoice. Stick with spreadsheets, stick with Basecamp.
Start doing one a week and one a week is 52 original pieces per year. That’s a lot. That’s a lot for even one person. It’s surprising how many hands might touch that. Collaborative tools become really important. If you’re talking about two or three a week, which is what we really recommend someone be, ultimately it’s great to get to one piece a day, but three pieces a week is probably the ideal customer, two or three.
George: Yeah. And I’m just going to kind of throw this out there, and not to be mean, if you’re doing one piece a month, you could probably just use Post-It notes. That would be as effective.
Joe: Totally good content.
George: Yeah, really. Just give me everything in email, I’m just saying. So, I know it might sound like we’ve answered this next question in the beginning of what it is and how it works, but I think we can go just another level deeper and really talk about, Joe, what are the main one or two problems that the ClearVoice tool handles for folks?
What Problems Does ClearVoice Solve?
Joe: So, we built the tool to try to handle the main problems that content marketers reported they were having in some of the popular studies like the Content Marketing Institute report, like the HubSpot Inbound Report and other reports that are out there saying content marketers are reporting their primary challenges are the ability to, number one, create engaging content. Engagement obviously means different things to different people, whether you’re B2B or whether you’re B2C, but ultimately you’re not driving enough leads or you’re not getting the social shares or you’re not getting sales.
Number two, creating content consistently. It’s easy for . . . I think a high majority of companies have done this where they start creating a little bit of content on the blog, not sure what’s going on or if it’s working, a little bit of turnover at the organization and throw your hands up, “Let’s stop doing content.” Pretty common for companies to kind of experience that and people get really frustrated not being able to create content consistently or again, internal workflows or approval processes that are slowing you down.
So we wanted to try to streamline those things in terms of the ability to create content more consistently, that means saving you time and creating content, helping you get your content out faster. Engaging content is really about both the strategy side, the planning, what are you writing about, why are you writing about that?
We have planning tools that are integrated that tell you what’s trending in the industry, what content is being shared, what publications are most important and ultimately what people find to be engaging. That helps to give people ideas to create more engaging content and then we connect them to subject matter experts in our marketplace that’s built in so that the content is better. You have to create high-quality content.
The art of creating content today is really unique and it’s different than it was five years ago and you’ve got to do that in an intelligent way. I think those are the two biggest ones. Some of those things like measurement, we help with social reporting and things like that. Those are the two big ones: engagement and consistency.
George: Love it. Those are probably the two most important things that you have to have to be successful.
Now, this next question, Joe, usually there’s a little bit of like moving in the seat and a little bit of unease from the interviewee at this point, but it is the question that we have to ask because if listeners to the one last tool podcast are sitting there going, “Man, I want to have that.” I want to be able to do what these guys are saying right now, but they’re afraid they’re going to have to hand over their whole wallet or maybe their right arm or something like that, really, what is the cost? What is the cost of ClearVoice for them to use it?
How Much Does ClearVoice Cost?
Joe: Well, it starts at $99 a month. We tried to bring that price down to a place that was accessible. It’s a niche product. It’s not a mass-market product like a Hootsuite where everyone in the world could use Hootsuite for $9 a month. We don’t have that large . . . we have a big market, but it’s not tens and millions of customer opportunities, so it’s really a niche product. There’s a fair amount of support in the content space in terms of really making sure we’re connecting with the right writers, making sure that’s a great experience.
If you don’t have a great experience, going out, finding someone else that’s going to fit that need better, so we’re going to back up and guarantee any content that’s coming through our platform. So, $99 is going to get you access to the marketplace. It’s really designed . . . that platform edition is designed mostly for single user systems.
So, in the case where a lot of companies, I would say 90% of small businesses have one content person or small, small businesses. They don’t need crazy collaboration tools. They just need the ability to better organize and manage their own content they’re working on and obviously have access to the marketplace.
Now, you start to get into companies where they’ve got two, three, four, five people in the content department, whether it’s social media, content strategy and marketing communications. But larger small businesses and midmarket companies, that’s going to move into like a pro edition. That tends to be somewhere in the $250 to $500 a month range depending on what the needs are.
George: I’ll be honest with you, Joe, to me it sounds like a bargain at twice the price. Twice the price, folks, you really should check this tool out. Now, unfortunately, we have the interwebs out there, which means pretty much anybody can build any company they want. I’m super curious, when you think of this, who would you say ClearVoice’s competitors are?
Who Are ClearVoice’s Competitors?
Joe: Well, we are the only content marketing platform serving the small and midsize market. That’s first of all. We’re the only comprehensive platform. Now, we have single point solution competitors as an example. BuzzSumo is a great tool to see what’s trending, to see who the influencers are. You can export that data out of BuzzSumo and it’s a great ideation tool.
That is part of what we have in our tool. We have something called Content Studio, which is pretty comparable to BuzzSumo. On the other side of that, you’ve got other marketplaces out there like Scripted, companies like BlogMutt, where you can go and they’ll connect you with a writer. We have an integrated marketplace, so we bring those two tools together in one place.
Our marketplace also has some really different . . . it’s different from those systems in the sense that we’re a transparent open marketplace. So, we’re actually more of a matchmaking service than we are a place where you go and “buy” content. You don’t buy content from us. We bring you experts. You work with them. You guys identify what rates you want and you guys create content in the platform. So, we’re a little different.
Then finally a company like CoSchedule, which is a great organization tool. It’s a good planning tool for people where they can still have an editorial calendar inside WordPress, but they’re not going to get some of those content intelligence tools, like I mentioned Content Studio. There’s obviously no marketplace.
So, we’re really the only people out there that have integrated what we feel to be the most important things — the planning, the creation, the management in one place and certainly in the middle market. Now, you go upstream into the enterprise, we do sometimes compete against a Contently.
George: Gotcha. Joe, I will ask you this because you almost answered the question, but I’m still going to ask you because I want to give you that opportunity to really just talk about yourself, talk about ClearVoice and what makes you better than those potential competitors.
What Makes ClearVoice Better Than Their Competitors?
Joe: Well, part of it is that it’s the accessibility of being able to actually have a content marketing platform at a price point that isn’t going to kill you. That actually is a competitor and we’re not trying to be the low-cost leader. But we are trying to be the accessibility leader. We really want to reach kind of a broad appeal. We have kind of a customer land grab mentality. We could go out and try to service the enterprise and price our product for $1,000 or $2,000 a month. That’s really not the approach we decided to take.
We wanted to create more of a content ecosystem. We wanted to create more of a community where freelancers and companies and publishers can work together to produce that next level of high-quality content and ultimately achieve those content goals. So, that accessibility is a really important thing to us. We do internally use the terminology “content ecosystem.” We think that’s something that has some altruism to it and is good for everybody.
George: Yeah. Definitely. So I’ve dealt with a lot of clients, Joe, a lot of clients. Some of them are just really, really smart when it comes to digital and technology and then some of them not so much. So, my question, the reason I’m serving that up is what are the potential problems that a first time user or somebody who’s coming into the ClearVoice tool, what are some problems they may run into?
What Problems Do New ClearVoice Users Run Into?
Joe: You said it right. A lot of people aren’t great at content yet. What we know about the changes that are going on in consumerism and how that’s affected marketers inside of companies, companies have now been asked to be good at content because they have to do a better job of educating their customers throughout that purchase funnel and obviously content is how you do that. But historically that hasn’t always been the top priority and now that’s becoming a bigger and bigger priority.
So all that really means is that you have marketing people that are great at marketing and understanding content but haven’t necessarily been in the rhythm of creating three original content pieces every week. So, that in itself is difficult and we try to really, through our customer success team, provide support to people that helps them understand how to effectively do that.
I’ll say that’s one of the biggest things we work on in the first or second assignment that we help them get through the platform. It’s part of onboarding, get the first couple of assignments through the system. We find that that’s where the tricky part is and that’s where need to take a step back and kind of remind them and say, “What are your goals? Why are you asking to produce this content? Who are the personas you’re trying to target? Are there certain keywords you’re trying to go after? Let’s help you put those guidelines together. So, there’s a place in the platform where you can establish those standardized guidelines.”
Once you get those standardized guidelines established, you’re going to be able to better communicate to the writers internally or freelancers what you’re really trying to achieve. Once you’ve done that, then it’s really a matter of one or two or three rounds of content with a particular writer. What you’re doing is training an individual how to adopt your brand voice.
So, again, that’s why it’s so important to establish what your brand voice is because no one can ever adopt that subjective thing inside your head that you call your brand voice if you don’t put that on paper and make that an objective process. So, that’s an area where we really help and that is one of the toughest parts about content.
George: Joe, I’ve got to be honest. I’m hearing some good things here, man. I am hearing good things on this interview. If you’re listening to this One Last Tool episode, you really should go check out ClearVoice. Joe, I want to say thank you for taking the time to do the interview, but as we close, maybe let the folks, the listeners, know where they can connect with you or where you may even want to send them to find out more about the ClearVoice tool.
Where Can You Learn More About ClearVoice?
Joe: Yeah. You can find me at a couple different places. On Twitter.com, my handle is @JoeGriffin, so if you want to hit me up there. I think I’m Joe Griffin Jr. on LinkedIn. But check out the website, ClearVoice.com. I think we’re pretty transparent in terms of what the product is.
One cool thing we do is we have a test drive environment. So, if you go to the website, you can find that link where you can test drive it or just go to demo.ClearVoice.com and you can play around with the tool. It will put you in a sandbox environment. You can’t break it and you can actually play with it before you make any decisions on if it’s something you think you want to check out.
George: Well, folks, that’s how we rock it at One Last Tool — no fluff, just great tools. Make sure you grab one that works for you. And until next time, go out and grab One Last Tool.
Announcer: Thanks for tuning into the podcast. Now that we’ve checked out today’s latest helpful tool, you should be equipped to head back to the shop and make some repairs because when you’re looking to fix your digital problems, sometimes all you need is One Last Tool.