Cory Ames: Carving Out Your Own Path and Getting Traction with Smart Marketing

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What does it take to start making a real difference in the world? Do you have the confidence and belief in yourself to pursue your dream? We decided to speak with the co-founder of Grow Ensemble, Cory Ames, about his transition from CEO of a marketing agency to pursuing his own business driven by smart marketing.

Having figured out early on that a traditional path didn’t appeal to me, I left college early and joined a mutli-million dollar marketing agency where I ultimately became CEO. I enjoyed the work and learned a lot, but there was something I wasn’t getting from that work: fulfillment of what I saw as my social responsibility as a business person. I decided to combine what I’m good at (marketing, with an expertise in SEO) with what I’m most passionate about––improving the world through social impact. I started Grow Ensemble in 2018, a digital marketing, training & consulting company that helps nonprofits, social enterprises & social entrepreneurs market their mission online.

Learn more about Cory and his work at > https://coryames.com/ 

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Transcription of Interview

(Transcribed by Otter.ai, there may be errors)

SPEAKERS

Adam G. Force, Cory Ames

Adam G. Force 00:03

Welcome to the Change Creator podcast where entrepreneurs come to learn how to live their truth, get rich and make a massive difference in the world. I’m your host Adam forest co founder, Change Creator and co creator of the captivate method. Each week we talk to experts about leadership, digital marketing and sales strategies that you can implement in your business and life to go big, visit us at Change Creator comm forward slash go big to grab awesome resources that will help drive your business forward. What’s up, everybody? Welcome back to the Change Creator podcast show. This is your host enforce excited to dive into today’s conversation. But before we do so, if you missed the last episode, Danielle and I jumped on and we spoke about what the backbone of a great marketing strategy actually is. This is such an important topic, so many entrepreneurs Mr. Mark, we don’t get done. We don’t get our marketing done right in the market. And guess what happens? We don’t get sales. And it makes everything stressful, difficult and overwhelming. So we want to really dive into that topic. And so if you missed it, definitely go back, check it out. This week, we’re gonna be talking with Corey Ames. So Corey Ames is one of these entrepreneurs that was not happy about the cookie cutter path. Right. So he actually left college early, and he joined a multimillion dollar marketing agency where he actually became CEO, you know, but it just wasn’t exactly what he was looking to do with the rest of his life, the idea of having more fulfillment was attractive. And so he ended up starting his own business, he wanted to make a difference in the world in his own way. And now that company is called grow ensemble. And that started in 2018. So not too long ago. But he has a lot of digital marketing background experience and insights that are going to be exciting to discuss with Corey and share with you guys. So you know, grow ensemble is itself is a training and consulting company that actually helps nonprofits, social enterprises, social entrepreneurs, all really get their missions out there online, right. So this is driven by marketing, expertise and things like that. So we’re gonna dive into some cool stuff with Corey and see what he has to say. And if you guys are not already, follow us on Facebook, make sure you join our Facebook group, the profitable digital impact entrepreneur, we love to connect with people there and share all kinds of goodies, step by Change Creator calm, lots of fresh content, show notes, from the podcast, interviews and all that good stuff. And you can get on the waitlist for the captivate method, where people are crushing it. We’re literally getting posts from people in our private group. They’re saying this was the best decision I made in my life. You know, what we love helping people align not this is for entrepreneurs who want to go from offline to online. This is for entrepreneurs that want to really get their marketing strategies moving forward. By using the power of story story is a lot more than a format we use for a social media post or things like that. story goes beyond that. And it is an art and every great business masters this art and it will help you align who you are with what you do very closely so that you do have a life of fulfillment. It’s very powerful stuff and it is the key to a great marketing strategy. Alright guys, so we’re gonna get into some marketing conversation here with Corey right now. Okay, show me the heat. No, you go. Hey, Cory, welcome to the Change Creator podcast. How you doing today?

Cory Ames 03:51

I’m doing good, Adam. Thanks for having me. How you doing?

Adam G. Force 03:53

I’m doing great. You know, we are getting through all kinds of work here on this new house. And it’s been exciting to get it done, getting our lives back. So I know you’re on the house hunts as well. So I wish you luck with that, my friend.

Cory Ames 04:06

Yeah, entering the world of homeownership. So taking your example, it seems like I might be a project manager sometime soon for some construction

Adam G. Force 04:16

It’s, it’s fun. Okay. Yeah. So listen, tell me just a little bit. So I like to start at a point of action. So like, what is exciting and what do you got going on? You know, these days? what’s the latest? What’s the greatest let’s start there.

Cory Ames 04:36

All right. Well, at the moment, you know, we we grow ensemble, we invest so much of our time in our own sort of content production and content marketing efforts, because it’s really been the absolute number one way in which we’ve been able to build a community around our own brand. Our own business is since we’ve been around about two years now. And so you know, I’m myself. I have have a background in search engine optimization, SEO. And so I’m always kind of tinkering and stuff like that it’s kind of what’s the next evolution of our strategy and our process. And so one thing we’re working through right now, which kind of has me pretty excited, and enthusiastic is the way in which we’re able to make the most out of all this existing content that we’ve created. So I think a lot of people, you know, think that they publish a blog post a podcast, whatever it might be, and they just kind of set it and forget it, forget it, and kind of, you know, set themselves on this endless hamster wheel of content creation, always meaning to produce something new. Yeah. And well, you know, putting out new stuff is really great, of course, and you want to kind of continue with that contextually relevant content, content, timely content, you know, in responding to your community, there’s just always a wealth of content you’ve produced historically, that can be repurposed, reutilized, and reorganized. So we took a look at our site the last few years, you know, we have 100 plus 150, plus almost 175, you know, different pieces of content from our podcasts or blog posts. And, you know, what we start to find, as you kind of evolve a content marketing strategy in SEO strategy is that the more content you create, there is the potential that there actually becomes some issues on your site. So the more content you create, the more strategic you have to be with how you organize it. So what we’ve just done, you know, previously, we’ve had just a long extensive blog feed along feed attached to our podcast, but now we’re starting to organize things, you know, thematically based off of topics, you know, whether we’re talking about issues in, you know, zero waste, or we’re talking about the topic of, you know, composting, the benefits of that for the economy, communities, etc, or social entrepreneurship, you know, digital marketing, we’re starting to group and batch all these things together. And I’m really excited about it, we’ve created all these different kinds of content hubs, as we call it, these landing pages for different topics, themes, you know, and, you know, subjects that we cover. And now we’ve made it a lot easier for searchers. And then ultimately, Google to access all this content, we spent so much time in creating, and are really starting to see a good spike in our traffic, and you know, must start to see that kind of stuff overnight. Because Google kind of allows you a bandwidth or, you know, amount of kind of a cut, I think they call it a you know, crawl breadth, the amount of time that Google is going to spend on your site trying to capture all your resources. And so making it easier for searchers, and visitors to find your resources ultimately, is something that Google likes. And as a product of that, you know, we’re seeing a really great spike in the amount of people that are circulating around girl ensemble today. So that’s, that’s where I’d start. That’s where my brains at in the world of SEO right now.

Adam G. Force 07:49

No, that’s good. It sounds like you’re on the right track. We’ve definitely, you know, as a media company, but down those roads and been lucky because Amy’s a total SEO nerd, and she thrives in that where we go. And, you know, we have reorganized our site several times. And it’s definitely gets tricky as the algorithms change and shift and just kind of leaning into the latest, you know, what Google is looking for? and all that. But yeah, I mean, setting up the hubs and organizing, there’s so many different ways to slice it, then you do have to make it easy for people. And there’s certain ways to group those things that make it really impactful. But yeah, sounds like you’re going down the right track. And similar because we’ve had those experiences. So that’s cool. Now tell me like, Where did you get experience in SEO? What’s some of your background that led you to, you know, one starting grow ensemble? And just your knowledge around SEO and things like that?

Cory Ames 08:45

Sure. Well, you know, my, my experience in digital marketing touches back all the way to, like the start of college for me. So I went to Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, where I’m originally from, and I, I’ve always kind of considered myself generalists, like I’m good at, and pretty good at getting good at, you know, enough things, but I’ve never been like the top 1% in any particular skill, you know, I’m above average, slightly at, you know, above average, in a lot of different things. And I never really knew exactly what it was that I wanted to do. And so originally, entrepreneurship and in building online businesses, specifically in digital marketing appealed to me because I, you know, I thought it would be a vehicle to create a lot of freedom and autonomy in my life to be able to pursue, you know, whatever it is that I wanted to do after, you know, so I thought that that digital marketing in building an online business would kind of be the gateway for that. So starting as like a freshman in college, I started tinkering around with websites. And you know, being a college student, you have no money. So, you know, I couldn’t I have these websites up, you know, what I’m trying to build some sort of kind of micro side business with it and figure out how to drive traffic to it and monetize. But the thing about being a college student with no, you know, extra cash on hand is that I couldn’t pay for any paid advertising. Yeah. So I learned first and foremost about SEO that, you know, well, obviously, you know, people, you know, pay SEO consultants and teams and all that kind of stuff, you know, it could be something that was driven off of labor, you know, if I figured out how to do it, you know, spent the time and put in the effort. And I ultimately, you know, could get thousands, if not 10s of thousands people coming in these websites that I was building, to come to the site for, you know, I’m putting in quotations here free. And so college student who’s, you know, money poor, but time rich, I spent a lot of time tinkering around with websites. And after a few failed projects, I ultimately had one that gained some traction, you know, build a pretty high traffic blog, a little kind of side business attached to it. And so I remember that first month with that site, and I made like, 170 or so dollars. Now, I really thought that I had made it as an entrepreneur, it was like that moment, like, Oh, my God, real money. Yeah, well, $170 for a college student is that’s a good amount of cash. So, you know, it’s from that moment that it was important, you know, and it kind of validated for me that I can learn this skill set, you know, and I became a bit more obsessive about it. And so, my pursuit initially was to try and make that something that would, you know, actually go from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand and sustain a living, you know, for a young kind of new entrepreneur, but luckily, and kind of serendipitously I ended up connecting with, who would then be my boss, and, you know, a mentor I’ve had for a few years. And he was running a digital marketing agency. And, you know, we got connected and hit it off and asked about the projects I was working on. And clearly from that, you know, what they did for their clients, I had a lot of relevant experience. And so I never ended up making that site, like what would be in my business, I ended up getting a full time job with this, this digital marketing agency. And so the the promise there from him, you know, I was like, the fourth employee was fast growing. Yeah, you know, they had 30 or so clients at the time, you know, by the time I was finished, there, we had over 100. And his promise was, you know, come, you know, hustle work for me, and I’ll teach you everything I know about digital marketing. So, you know, it was there, I learned so many the ins and outs of all things, PPC, SEO, you know, conversion rate optimization, all that good stuff. But it was that digital marketing agency experience that, that really, you know, set the stage for what would become great ensemble today.

Adam G. Force 12:27

Okay. And so what is the intention behind Grow Ensemble right now?

Cory Ames 12:33

Well, for us, you know, we have kind of two very, very basic aims in a lot of the resources that we create and share. And as well, the the work that we do for our clients in our community. So first and foremost, you know, we want to create really valuable resources around you know, all the topics that surrounds, you know, what we say, of building a better world, leaving the world and more just equitable and habitable place than we found it for all of us, not just some of us eating. And so what we’re doing is both, you know, my, my fiance, and I actually, we co founded gr ensemble together, and so we’re, we’re both so happens to be, we’re both generalists, and we love to learn, you know, and so the the first kind of selfish pursuit and creating all this content, having all these interviews with experts in this space is just to learn as much as we can about the space of sustainable business, social enterprise, social entrepreneurship, and in as well, you know, General sustainable living. And so we’re creating and sharing these resources, you know, really with the second aim of to bring more people into that community, from, you know, what we see as maybe as accessible of a point as possible, you know, we think that even by making some small, you know, more incremental daily changes, that you can make a significant impact over time, by being a little bit more cognizant and conscious with what companies you support, you know, in, in how you, you know, quote, unquote, vote with your dollar. Yeah, or as well, you know, how it is that start to spend your hours at work, you know, maybe you kind of more critically analyze the practices of the business that you work for, you know, or run, to see how it can be more impactful to, you know, so we kind of believe you don’t really have to everyone doesn’t have to be Mother Teresa, you know, dedicate their entire life to service. But, you know, maybe that’s a progression, and you ultimately get there, you know, but we want to invite people into the community from, you know, as accessible as possible. So it’s those two really kind of broad aims for us. And through those processes of creating content, what we’re learning what we’re developing in our own skill set, you know, we then help kind of train and support social enterprises, nonprofits and purpose driven businesses in the space that we feel hold on to those values and ethics that we still respect in this business space. You know, we help them get the word out about the good work that they do.

Adam G. Force 14:47

Hmm. And so I’m curious just on some of the challenges you’ve had in, you know, trying to get Grow Ensemble off the ground and, you know, really make it the business that you’re envisioning.

Cory Ames 15:01

Sure, so I think the thing that is, I mean, you know, with all these different business models, service, you know, in consulting and more kind of information based businesses are a little bit tricky because the model can kind of change overnight, you know, you can all of a sudden say, like, Hey, you know, we’re offering this now, we didn’t, we didn’t offer that yesterday, but now we offer this service, you know, it’s SEO services, or whatever it might be, right. As opposed to like a product based business. You know, where you’re very, like, you’re very tangibly attached to that product, obviously, you can launch new ones or whatever, but what you sell is very tangible and clear. You know, okay, here’s this, this widget, this is what it does, you know, do you want it or not? Obviously, you know, I know you’re a storytelling guy can get more a little bit elaborate than that. But, you know, for us, I think it’s been figuring out and, you know, what exactly is the model for us, you know, and how we, we shape and mold this thing around? What are our strengths, our skill sets, you know, where we feel best positioned to, to serve, and connect with this community of social enterprise leaders, purpose driven business leaders, and we’ve been kind of redefining that over the last years, which I think is, you know, very common amongst young companies. And so we’ve had the patience to really focus on that kind of audience building, you know, community building, so that we really immerse ourselves in the folks around the folks that we want to serve, you know, and then kind of having the patience to swap slowly tweak, you know, refine and adjust. What is this exact, you know, kind of business model, so to speak?

Adam G. Force 16:31

Yeah. Yeah. So, I guess, you know, as far as gras ensemble goes, and some of the stuff that you’re talking about? What has been so those are some of the difficulties or challenges and stuff like that, but you must have had some wins, remind me how long have you guys been in active now?

Cory Ames 16:53

Just about two full years, so we’re coming up on maybe a year and 10 months or so. Okay.

Adam G. Force 16:59

Yes, yeah, pretty young. So what has been some of the wins that you’ve had now to, to during those during that time?

Cory Ames 17:09

Certainly, so, you know, I feel that a lot of our wins come around come from the community that we’ve been able to build around girl ensemble. So, you know, for us that that really started with the podcast first and foremost, you know, is when we officially launched girl ensemble, that was really what was running in parallel was the podcast, that got us connected with so many different, you know, really exceptional, prolific, and as well as generous, very generous leaders in this this space of sustainable business. Yeah, you know, and so I would recommend that for folks, you know, maybe with the resources or the know how, and that podcasting is such a great way to build, you know, really key essential relationships early on, in your business as well multifaceted with being a wonderful opportunity to just kind of be, you know, almost a member of the media or like a journalist in your industry, learning so much about what’s going on, you know, who who’s involved, you know, what, what’s important to them, it’s such a great place to start, you know, and then soon after the podcast, we launched the written publication over at our blog, you know, really kind of leaning into our expertise of SEO and content marketing. And then it was in about six, seven months from then, you know, we were able to see our first 25,000 visitors in a single month around the site. So bootstrapping a blog, versus kind of hiring, and, you know, utilizing resources on a whole writing team is a different, different effort, my fiance and I have written maybe 60 to 70% of the content that’s attached to the blog. But, you know, with that kind of sweat equity, we’ve been able to build a pretty solid audience around it, and it’s continuing to grow, you know, maybe 10 to 30%, every single month. So, we’re excited about that, you know, that community and that’s allowed us to, you know, we have all sort of little mechanisms to kind of trigger conversations in our business with who’s engaging with the site, who’s, you know, subscribing to our email list, reading our newsletter, responding to those newsletters, we want to learn, you know, who’s who’s behind those, you know, email addresses on that, or so it’s, it’s been wonderful to see, you know, the, I always get kind of struck, struck with the absolute depth and insanity of the internet when, you know, it’s people in rural Africa, you know, replying to emails, you know, Vancouver, British Columbia, you know, overseas in Europe, wherever it is all working on these different social impact related nonprofits, you know, a social enterprises, whatever it might be, I’m always just kind of struck with Yeah. Now how the internet, you know, gives you access to all corners of the globe.

Adam G. Force 19:53

Mm hmm. I know that feeling. So, you know, and I think it’s important for people to realize that you know, and they are earlier days that the sweat equity is important, I mean, so, you know, when you’re putting in that time, I’m curious, like you’re creating this content, what has been your way, as you know, SEO takes a while to pick up. Especially if you don’t have a newer site, you don’t have the authority recognized by Google yet. So you may not, you know, you may not rank right away, and then let alone get traction from an article for another nine months, or whatever it is. So how else are you trying to or successfully getting your content in front of people?

Cory Ames 20:33

Sure, so yeah, obviously, SEO is more of a game of patience. So long term game. But I would say that, you know, outside of that organic search, that we’ve been able to accumulate, it’s predominantly partnerships, you know, so really, if you categorize traffic into three different buckets, you know, it’s that organic, traffic, paid content, or paid traffic, and then it’s referral based traffic predominantly. And so for us, you know, we’ve, as I mentioned, you know, now some hundred plus episodes into the podcast, we’ve been able to build a lot of really good relationships. And so, of course, you know, in the podcast exchange, you might, one of my number one goals with that, and hosting folks on the podcast is to, you know, have them feel like it’s a, it’s a special experience, you know, because I’m very grateful for the time that they’ve, they’ve taken to spend with us, you know, share their expertise, share their story. And so we really want to do our best, you know, to make it meaningful, not just something that’s transactional, you know, every other podcast that you’ve been on. So as a product of that, you know, we really kind of set the stage for what we feel are pretty good relationships. And we’ve had a lot of partners, communities that were attached to promote our content, things as a product to that. So you know, every single podcast episode, for the most part gets shared by our guests, you know, and that’s not always something you can count on. But now, that’s been a wonderful way for us to get plugged in to audiences that we wouldn’t otherwise you know, and when you’re bootstrapping, and budgets are tight, it’s going to be predominantly organic, and then maybe sharing from you know, referral partners that you’ll be able to get that sustainable traffic early on, especially when you’re, you know, really trying to refine and articulate your business model. You can’t just really throw paid traffic onto a funnel that’s super unproven. You know, it kind of depends on where, where your bandwidth is for, you know, experimentation and testing. And so it’s been predominantly those those partner sources that we’ve been grateful to get more exposure to places that we otherwise wouldn’t have.

Adam G. Force 22:29

Yeah, and you’re right, you can’t always rely on people to share those things. Yeah. It’s like we do the magazine. And we, you know, we’re, oh, man, we’re getting all these famous people, and they’re gonna share it to their massive networks. The only real big share was guys like Gerard Adams, and Jay Shetty and stuff like that. But most of the time, these guys did not put it in the circulation of their strategies.

Cory Ames 22:52

Oh, no, yeah, it’s that’s something that I’ve learned from the podcast in reading a lot on podcasting, and how to grow a podcast, everybody usually set like, there’s two things I see most commonly said, it’s like, oh, build out your show notes for SEO purposes, like just have a good set of show notes for SEO, and then to, you know, get guests to share your show. And those have been probably the greatest kind of misconceptions, I think, that I’ve seen in growing a podcast, that one, you know, with SEO, like, it doesn’t do you very good normally, to, you know, receive traffic off of like, the guests name or the guest company, you know, people who are searching for that probably aren’t searching for, you know, what your, your business is about, or even, you know, what, what kind of topic is being discussed on the show. And so, you know, we’ve seen, we’ve created really great show notes over the last year, and so many of those get such little ongoing traffic after the fact that we’ve published them, unless we, you know, really manually promote it, but no organic search, right? So we try to construct our show notes instead, kind of like blog posts, you know, because people, most shows aren’t interviewing celebrities of any kind, right? You know, we like to think that they are in our space, but, you know, name ID is not as big in this space of, you know, social enterprise or social entrepreneurship as it might be in film, you know, or something like that. And so, you know, we build them around the topics that people might be interested in. And then on the other end of that with, with partners, you know, you don’t want to be off putting in any sort of way, you know, you want to give them the option to promote it, obviously. And, but not force it upon them. Because people don’t like that. No, don’t like that. No. And and so what we’ve got to see is by really just prioritizing the experience, you know, more often than not, we can get those episodes in circulation, but by all means, it’s you know, we’re never pushing that we’re never leading with that. It’s always Hey, at your discretion, if you so choose, you know, whether you feel comfortable or not, you know, totally up to you. We just like to, you know, focus on did they enjoy their experience, you know, being a guest on our show.

Adam G. Force 24:57

Yeah, I mean, that that’s really what the focus needs to be it’s, you can’t, you can’t have the expectation of that kind of distribution and support and all that stuff. But a lot of times, you know, it depends on who you’re interviewing or working with. And I guess, you know, when it comes down, and one thing I have found is that they’re usually willing to do like a review for a podcast. But as far as sharing to their audiences, networks can’t always rely on that. But I found that at the end of a show, you usually would ask someone to do like a review, because that’s valuable, like on iTunes, and for the algorithm and all that kind of stuffs. And, and they usually will do stuff like that. So that that that tends to work. And, you know, I didn’t always do that for Change Creator podcast, and then even just like, the past year, I just kind of started doing that. And I was surprised that people were following through with that, you know, and I think it’s because you have a good conversation, you connect, and there’s value there. And they’re like, you know, they you have them on the line, it’s different when you’re just emailing someone cold, versus we just smoked for and a half hour, and now you’re asking for a little help, you know, what I mean? Makes me

Cory Ames 26:05

Absolutely, yeah, that’s, that’s why I’ve loved the podcast has been just a door opener, you know, for so many different relationships that are, you know, directly or indirectly relevant to our business, you know, it’s just been such a, a source of enrichment and fulfillment. In doing so, over the last two years, I highly recommend it, you know, if if people think that they might have the aptitude or interest in sustaining one

Adam G. Force 26:31

Yeah, well, that’s the thing too, I, you know, we get a lot of people that want to jump into a podcast. And it is, it can be tough and, and I want to touch on SEO in a minute. But, you know, starting a podcast, there’s a lot to it, especially if you’re not technically savvy, or you don’t, and you don’t, and then you have to do the editing, the marketing, the distribution, all this stuff. You know, it’s a bit of an operation, you got to get the recruitment down, and you got to, you know, do the interviews and all that stuff. So a lot of people tend to get distracted, or they think they’re gonna monetize it, you know, real quick and make a good chunk of change off like advertising monetization. And right, you know, that’s a lot more difficult than you might think you need some big numbers to do that stuff. The relationship building is great. And I agree with you like building that network and connecting with people having great conversations, all that stuff is super valuable. But I, I have found that like, when people are trying to sell an offer, and they have a product, whether it’s service or tangible, but they’re doing the podcast, and their early days, there’s a there’s a bit of it can be a bit of a distraction at the same time. So it’s kind of like, it’s it’s, I think, for your company is like more media focus, it makes a lot of sense. Same for me, we started with the podcast, but I think if I had to do it all over again, I might rethink that and start with a product that I sell immediately. And I’m curious on your thoughts just on the workload, the effort behind the podcast, based on the ROI that comes out of it, like, what would you advise now that you’ve done over 100 episodes, and you started this thing?

Cory Ames 28:11

Sure. So yeah, I mean, just to reiterate what you mentioned on maybe more traditional advertising or sponsorship models, yeah, you kind of have to throw out throw that away. Yeah, if you seriously think that that’s gonna sustain it, I think it’s like, you know, 1000 downloads is equivalent to maybe $20, maybe, or something, you know, for, right. And so, you know, that’s not a good, good approach to take. And so you do have to, you know, consider a few things. You know, for us, first and foremost, you might my priority was to install some good systems and processes around it, because I knew, you know, if more than the the effort of, you know, preparing for the interviews, hosting the interviews, recording them, you know, and kind of strategically thinking about the content, if more of the process involved me than that, you know, we’re we’re not going to, we wouldn’t hit 100 shows like we have, you know, yeah, consistently publishing twice weekly. Right. And so with that in mind, obviously, there’s more expenses that we accrue on, you know, what it costs to produce an individual show. Yeah. And so, you know, you have to be prepared that it will require some resources. And I think if you’re going to be serious about podcasting, you should invest the resources. But exactly like you said, You know, I think you have to know what you’re getting yourself into, as to how you can sustain it on the other end. So, yeah, for us, you know, we did a lot more consulting and service, you know, in the first year of our business than we do now. And so, the, it just so happened, that the guests that we’re reaching out to were potential clients for us, you know, and so I talked about, you know, cold email outreach versus inviting someone on for an interview, you know, you’re gonna get a lot more conversations and it’s a great door opener, you know, to see if, you know, validate some of your assumptions or hypotheses at this person in there. company might might be in need of your services or could could benefit from your services. So, for us, you know, we were able to turn around and again, with service based contracts, especially when they’re, you know, kind of five figure six figure contracts over a year. It’s a long sales cycle. And it takes a lot of time to build trust. Yep, you know, but we were able to see a positive ROI on on the podcast from, you know, pretty early on because of that,

Adam G. Force 30:25

That’s a good strategy. And that’s why I brought it up. Because I think it’s an important point, because you hear it a lot, like, oh, start a podcast, build the audience. And people have a misconception, that that’s how they’re gonna make money. Right, and that that’s gonna be like their bread and butter. But it’s a lot of work. And you need to know what you’re getting into. And you need to have a plan on how to actually monetize now, your monetization strategy of building partnerships, doing consulting, I think this is a powerful approach, especially for early stage businesses, is to really connect with clients work with clients on as part of your revenue channel while you’re building up the business. Right. So having that as an approach to build these partnerships is great. So to me, that’s the missing piece that a lot of people may not catch, or understand that you have in your pocket. Up, you know, we did something similar to like, I would connect with people on podcast, and they big Hey, I’m going to be in Miami, and we’d go get breakfast. And then we talk about their business. And we do some work. And, you know, early days, even to this day, depending on the client, like we still take some clients, and we will do a do it for you service, right, we have our membership and our program that we teach all this stuff. But we also do do it for you services, and we have some some other stuff we leveraged with our SEO strategies on our site with clients, and you know that the b2b stuff is valuable. So I think there’s, there’s always big money there. So if you do have some intellectual property to share with people, I think that you nailed it with the podcast as a great way for a lead generation tool.

Cory Ames 31:58

Absolutely, I mean, you just have to know what like be more more familiar with the medium that you’re getting yourself into, you know, just purely as a volume based lead in traffic strategy, podcasting is not that great. Because I think growing a podcast is a little bit more unless you have an existing kind of built in audience email is a lot of traffic around your site. You know, in social media platforms, that makes it a lot easier, obviously, but growing one from scratch, as we did, you know, with no existing traffic around our site, it’s a long, it’s a hustle to get it to, you know, what would seem kind of any, you know, me coming from the SEO space, I’m seeing 10s of thousands, you know, 50,000 hundred thousand visitors to the month in a site. And then I start growing a podcast, I’m like, Damn, this is hard. And like, I’m not seeing the same numbers that I normally would. And so you know, it’s it’s great for for nurturing relationships with an audience. It’s a much more committed committed medium than people scanning blog posts, consuming blog content like that, or email newsletters. You know, podcasting is great for for nurturing and cultivating relationships. And then, you know, for early podcasters, if you are looking for that, that source of monetization or sustainability, you know, the most valuable relationships you’re going to get out of the podcast are not necessarily listeners to start, but it’s probably the people that you’re going to have on the show, you know, whether that’s some sort of, you know, joint joint venture partnerships you can craft up, or if you can serve them, you know, specifically, of course, you do have to be, you know, delicate with how you have those Converse, you don’t want it to seem like it’s explicitly a mechanism for, you know, creating sales conversations for you. So you do have to be, you know, Cognizant and authentic, about how you do that, but it’s probably going to be the guest relationships. Yeah, that that will be the most important for you in the first year, honestly. You know, we we focus there.

Adam G. Force 33:56

Yeah, I think that’s, that’s good advice. So let’s touch on SEO, we’re kind of hitting our time here, but I want to just kind of talk a little bit about it, because it’s so important. And it’s really valuable. I think that you know, I’m a big fan of it. And because it’s sustainable. Now, there’s lots of little tricks and things like, you know, to stay on top of as far as like Google, you know, algorithms and all that stuff. But, you know, you have a, I’ve seen a lot of companies, Cory where they get investment media companies, you know, and they will pump out content, and then they promote the hell out of Facebook and other things. And you’ll see, like we will, we’ll go into h refs, or whatever tools we use, and we’ll look at their traffic patterns, right? And we will kind of investigate and diagnose a bit, and we see the massive spikes for the next like six months after or a year after those investments. And then all of a sudden, it’s like it falls off a cliff. And we’re like, Hmm, I wonder what happened and what we what Amy and I would talk about, you know this maybe two years ago, we’d be looking deep into this stuff. We’d be like, okay, so they got that investment. They spent all the money, but they didn’t have real content strategy or SEO strategy in place. Whereas those short lives bikes that they paid for, once the money’s gone, boom, like that’s it, it falls off a cliff. But with if you have smart SEO, why I love it, and I’m sure why you love it is because once you start building it up, it’s like a snowball, and it becomes reliable, reoccurring traffic over time.

Cory Ames 35:28

Definitely, yeah, no, I, I totally agree. I you know, and I think that SEO can kind of seem a little bit like a dark art or something. As people think about it, like, I’ve been asked, like, how much do you pay Google, you know, to get to the top spot, maybe a little less so now than a few years ago, but you know, what, there’s, there’s a few principles or components for me that it seemed to be most important. You know, while SEO can be complex, you know, that’s kind of why I’ve had the job that I’ve had in the last few years. You know, it really boils down to a few things, you know, to kind of break it down as simply as we can, you know, you in at the end of the day, what Google wants to do is provide the searchers with the absolute best potential possible result, you know, for whatever it is that they’re searching for, what question that they had, what problem they’re trying to solve, you know, what topic they’re wanting to research more or learn more about. Google wants them to be as satisfied with their result as possible when they click on the second search for search or what have you. And so what I always tell people is to think about when you’re creating, you know, your blog posts or content for your site, you know, think about how you can orient to that experience, you know, what would provide the most comprehensive, engaging blog post for what I’m imagining is my, my potential reader, you know, or potential site visitor as possible, you know, and, of course, that’s a horizon line, it’s, it’s tough to get that you work to it over time. But reverse engineering, everything that you do in this sense of, you know, thinking about how your site technically can perform. So like, if your site’s, you know, taking 10 seconds to load that’s going to be distracting to the user experience, right, and they’ll bounce off and leave, you know, if you think about the content itself, if it’s actually unique, you know, telling maybe an interesting story, or sharing, maybe relevant or interesting facts and data, things that people are really going to hang on to, that’s going to provide, you know, a much more positive experience than maybe what I see a lot of SEO companies produce, which is just, you know, some sort of kind of me to content or Mirage content, where it looks like everything else, you know, that is on the internet. You know, you want want to take that top line of what’s going to be the absolute best resource I can create and reverse engineer everything from there from the technical to the content, you know, to everything in between.

Adam G. Force 37:51

Yeah, yeah. And it’s a deep topic. I mean, we can go on for hours talking about SEO, obviously, and, you know, the hierarchy and the structure of the sites. I mean, it’s amazing how many times we have like, had to think through just how, because you can slice and dice the organization of your site in many ways. And you want to have certain things linked to your homepage for SEO purposes versus other pages and things like that. And it’s interesting, you know, like we, we have certain articles that do very, very well consistently for SEO. And I think one of the things I love is, if you have the right strategy in place, you are attracting the right people, right. So then when you have products, and you have your sales funnel set up, it’s going to be relevant. So like, if you have people coming into SEO, and then you have a lead generation mechanism set up to give them a first step towards you know, your, your journey to be a buyer. The conversion rates go up, right when they’re coming through the right stuff, because you’re attracting the right people. So there’s a nice, a nice flow and sequence, if you’re thinking it through on from head to toe, right. So, you know, we have an article about 21, like the top, or I think it’s 21 of the top leadership podcast. So people are interested in a leadership podcast, that’s a great start for us to get the right kind of person to our site, who’s going to be interested in what we’re offering. So thinking I like to make sure people are thinking like, what kind of content we’re putting out there not just to get eyeballs, but to attract the right customers for my products, right?

Cory Ames 39:20

Absolutely. And you know, when you can get into the nitty gritty of like keyword research and all this kind of stuff, but you know, I like to start from, you know, suggesting to people like what what questions are your customers currently asking or have historically asked you, you know, like in the sales process, business development process, you know, what sort of things are they interested in, you know, attempt to deconstruct what those you know, needs are those pain points and those challenges are in construct your content around that, because if you’ve been asked those questions before, there is a possibility that other people are as well interested in it, which is essentially what keyword research you know, this component of SEO is doing is providing For you, you know this, this data as to what people on the internet are searching for what people on the internet are actually interested in. So start with real people, you know, and see what questions you’re getting asked and build your content ideas around that.

Adam G. Force 40:14

100%. And, you know, I think we’ll wrap up here, but I think that that one of the beautiful parts of really locking that in is you got to be out there talking to your customers, if you’re not having those conversations, it’s everything is then a hypothesis when it comes to the, you know, the questions like you start in the right point, what questions have you already heard, and a lot of people if you’re not having conversations with your clients, or potential customers, or you know, all that stuff, you have a hard time really knowing them well, and if you don’t know them, well, it’s really hard to create content that they’re going to be looking for. Right.

Cory Ames 40:49

Definitely, yeah, no, that is certainly the first place to start. And I know we’ve we’ve touched a bit on podcasting, but this is one of the reasons I loved it, you know, because it was it was constantly triggering good conversations with people in my space. So just another plug for podcasting. Yeah,

Adam G. Force 41:04

yeah. Awesome, man. So I think that should wrap us up here I appreciate you just kind of sharing your experience building up grow ensemble, you guys are still young brand and it’s nice to kind of have conversations as you guys are on the front lines doing something cool and supporting the social impact space and all that kind of stuff. So appreciate that. And let’s tell people how do they learn more about grow ensemble get in touch with your podcast, all that good stuff? Where do they go?

41:35

Sure. So we host the twice weekly show The Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation Podcast so available anywhere you listen to your podcasts, of course, but you can go to Growensemble.com where you can easily find that our whole you know, 100 plus episode feed and then as well Adam, you know, as it relates to SEO and some digital marketing specific stuff, we put together a little resource for the audience here at Change Creator, you go to grow ensemble.com backslash creator, and you can find a 10 point SEO checklist for mission driven entrepreneurs. So we’ll get folks started with a few of the basic components of SEO technical content in building your authority in the eyes of Google.

Adam G. Force 42:15

Let me just write that down. So grow ensembl.com forward slash creator Yep. Got it. All right. Yeah. So guys, we’ll have that just in the show notes when that gets live on Change Creator calm and you’ll be able to grab that stuff. And we’ll take it from there. So Cory again, thanks for your time keep doing what you’re doing appreciate all the work and the the push towards better businessman.

Cory Ames 42:44

Thanks a lot, Adam. Thanks for

Adam G. Force 42:46

giving me the time. Got it. All right. Thanks for tuning into the Change Creator podcast visit us at Change creator.com forward slash go big to get access to free downloads and other great resources that will drive your business forward.

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