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Getting over 1 million YouTube views with a small & scrappy team featuring Ali Schwanke

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Episode Summary

There’s no such thing as one size fits all in content creation. But regardless of the format you choose, two questions must be answered: who you want to make it for and for what purpose. From there, you can start experimenting and playing with different styles, and after publishing a certain number of videos or blog posts, measure their performance to establish what works.

In this episode of Recorded Content, we are joined by Ali Schwanke, the CEO of Simple Strat. Ali and her team create and host the YouTube series HubSpot Hacks. During our conversation, Ali shared the rationale behind choosing YouTube as a content distribution channel, their content strategy, the importance of niching down and asking for feedback, and how these videos fit her company’s broader marketing strategy.

Guest Profile

Name: Ali Schwanke

What she does: Ali is the CEO of Simple Strat

Company: Simple Strat

Noteworthy: Along with her team, Ali creates and hosts HubSpot Hacks, a YouTube series helping HubSpot users make the most of the platform.

Key Insights

  • Don’t expect your content to blossom immediately. Instead, be consistent, research, experiment, don’t fear failure, and ask for feedback. Or as Ali from Simple Strat wrote in her LinkedIn post, “Results come from continued execution.”
  • Every new content initiative starts with an idea and a couple of crucial questions. These, however, are not tech-related. On the contrary, the first thing to define is who you would create it for and for what purpose.
  • YouTube is our main channel, but we leverage various platforms to promote our content. As customer preferences change and how they consume content alters, you want to meet them where they are.

Episode Highlights

Why YouTube

As a strategist, my job and my team’s job was to look at the market and see how we could generate traffic or thought leadership credibility around the idea that we were a HubSpot partner.

So I had falsely believed at the time when we joined the HubSpot Partner Program in 2017 as a newer company, I thought, “Great, we’re now a HubSpot partner. Let the people come to me.” And the truth is that was the first step in establishing that credibility.

I’m based out of Omaha, Nebraska, which people find surprising given the technologically forward content we put together. But they’re not going to find us geographically when they look for us. And so how do we break through the noise and break through all of these specific topics that one, HubSpot’s already talking about, and two, every other partner under the sun is writing blogs about?

So what we did realize is that no one’s making content that helps me use HubSpot better in a quick manner that doesn’t give me their life story. And by demonstrating that, you naturally prove that you know how to use the platform. So that was where the genesis of the idea came from.

Why Niche Down

We needed some way to attach our value to something people could quickly assimilate to whatever the outcome. So in this case, we decided HubSpot was the way to go because it had enough search traffic and enough people knew of it already. So we’re not trying to educate them about the thing we’re educating them about.

So when you come to our channel, you do not get a podcast or you don’t get a video about my journey into marketing, and you don’t get us giving you reviews on the latest Super Bowl ads. We talk about HubSpot and that’s it. No one’s going to subscribe to our channel if they’re not a HubSpot user.

It’s amazing because it sounds so stupid now, but we were leading a user group. We were publishing blogs and doing a lot of the marketing stuff. But once we started consistently publishing HubSpot Hacks, it was like, “You guys are those HubSpot people.” So it gave us a spot in people’s minds.

Why You Need a Hook

I always ask, “When was the first time you wanted to look away?” If you watch a video and say, “When I first wanted to reach for my phone,” that is a key moment that something needs to shift. Something needs to change. Our format needs to be open to that.

So the way we did it, you need a hook. You need to do these small openings of curiosity loops. So the hook would be, “Hey, have you ever been super frustrated bouncing back and forth between HubSpot and your Gmail window? Well, you shouldn’t be doing that. You can work your entire HubSpot strategy inside of your Gmail inbox. I’m going to show you how in this video.” It retains attention a lot better because you’re not just watching someone walk through their computer screen for 10 minutes; that’s boring.

So knowing enough about human psychology, and this is true in podcasting too, how do you open those curiosity loops? How do you pay attention to how we consume content? All of us watch Netflix, Paramount Plus, Hulu, or whatever. Our habits are being driven by those platforms. We need to apply that same learning of how they’re capturing attention and put it into our B2B strategy, whether it’s YouTube or podcasting.

How HubSpot Hacks Fits into Simple Strat’s Broader Marketing Strategy

There’s a lead generation component of it. Cause we’ve got videos that highlight different features in HubSpot. One of the things that we tout as a benefit is that HubSpot is a software company. They have quotas, they have sales teams. So they’re going to be pretty aggressive.

If you go to their website, they’re going to try and sell you very quickly, and I don’t fault them for that. But most of the time, buying — especially now — nobody wants to make a wrong choice when selecting the right software, whether that’s CRM, record automation, or whatever. You might need some more time to figure that out.

And if you feel pressured, we’re a good alternative to work with because we can help facilitate the sale and HubSpot for you instead of you feeling pressured into buying something you don’t even fully understand yet. That’s a way that we’re using it for lead generation, and again, that brings them to a consultation on our website.

It’s also been a good validation of our ability to create content as an agency. So what we hear from clients and prospective clients is, “Wow, I want to do a content series like you guys.” It’s difficult to trust an agency to do podcast production that doesn’t produce its podcast. So in that case, that’s a huge validation for us.

And then the last piece is making it possible for our team to establish thought leadership for their careers. And again, we’re learning the medium together, and we’re able to bring those insights to the market in a way you wouldn’t be able to do if you didn’t have a front-row seat on one of the biggest search engines, YouTube.

4 simple steps to launching your company's content series

step 1

Schedule a call with us

Book a call to get started. We’ll develop an understanding of your needs and set the foundation for your content strategy.

step 2

We'll discuss your requirements

Discuss your goals and requirements with our team to tailor a content solution that fits your business.

step 3

We'll scope out your ideal program

We’ll create a detailed plan outlining your ideal video series or podcast program, aligned with your objectives.

step 4

We'll build & execute your content plan

Our team will produce and manage your content, ensuring high-quality delivery and engagement across various channels.