Scott Rogerson is the CEO of UpContent,
a SaaS content curation platform built to help its users power up their content strategy and save time in their operations. UpContent spun out of Rogerson’s former agency after it was created to solve internal problems. Now it helps hundreds of companies worldwide curate content, increase thought leadership, and build deeper trust with their customers.
”There’s a big difference between building while flying and pivoting for eternity - we didn’t really pivot because we didn’t know how we were gonna get from where we were to where we are.Scott RogersonCEO UpContent
Speaker 1 (00:00):
Hi, I’m Katie Hankinson and I’m Mickey Cloud. Welcome to Building While Flying a Sasha group podcast, where we interview business leaders about how they tackle challenges, stay resilient and navigate ever changing skies.
Mickey Cloud (00:20):
Scott, welcome to building while flying. Thanks for being our guest today. Yeah,
Scott Rogerson (00:24):
Thanks for having me. I’m excited for the conversation.
Mickey Cloud (00:27):
Scott Robinson is chief executive officer at up content, a content curation platform leveraged by marketing sales and communications teams to surface and triage trustworthy articles to measurably increase engagement without the manual ad hoc and duplicate efforts faced by many organizations. Uh, prior to founding of content. Scott ran a Pittsburgh based marketing agency, spent some time in private equity and spent over five years in consulting. So Scott, um, can, can, can we start by maybe having you give some more context on up content and maybe how you guys are, are different from other SAS content kind of platforms out there?
Scott Rogerson (00:58):
Yeah, I think, uh, the, the biggest piece is we focus on content curation. So oftentimes we get confused with creation platforms which have been, you know, well-established, there’s some great tools out there to help teams more easily develop that content, get it through those approval workflows and get it out to distribution channels. Uh, curation is a little bit more infant, uh, than that. I think it’s grown a lot over the last two years, but the focus of the curation element of your marketing strategy is the use of third-party articles that you also find to be valuable and informative. And instead of trying to just read that article and then kind of write your own perspective and treat it as your own you’re instead saying, Hey Mickey, this is a great article from Forbes or a search engine journal that I think you should read in order to help endear yourself, provide, excuse me, provide value and allow additional conversations to occur without you having to go through all that effort of writing yet another Google algorithm update.
Scott Rogerson (02:01):
And so that is really the focus of up content is helping teams and individuals more easily find those articles and then get them to the tools that they’re already using. And so to your question about how it may be different than other curation tools, many other tools will also provide a social media management component or an email marketing component, or a website landing page creation or hosting component. We’ve taken the total opposite direction on that, uh, and said, we’re going to help you find it. We’re gonna help you triage it. We’re going to help you collaborate on that content piece, but we don’t have the ability to share a social post or send an email or stand up a website. We want you to use the tools you’re already leveraging. A lot of that was rooted in just our experience within that agency, as you mentioned at the top.
Mickey Cloud (02:54):
Yeah. And I guess, um, I wanted to kind of ask about that specifically, you know, knowing that, um, you kind of have an agency background and, and that, uh, that I’ll kind of spun out of the agency. I always kind of appreciate those stories and doesn’t have to be an agency based, but just any kind of tech tool that is originally built for an internal use at a company. And then you kind of realized, or maybe the plan was always that like the broader market could benefit from it in our world at, at Vayner X that’s. That’s how we kind of create a tracer, which is a sister company of ours. Now it’s our, um, it’s a data aggregate aggregation tool. And it started out as a tool that our paid media team used to kind of get a single source of truth for ad spending across all your social and digital platforms, because we would go out and talk to clients and say, do you know how much money you spent yesterday? And they’d say, well, I’d have to pull up. Yeah, you have to pull these different things
Scott Rogerson (03:42):
Three hours to tell you.
Mickey Cloud (03:45):
Um, but they always had the vision of it being kind of a standalone product. We were just going to kind of test it with Vayner first. So I guess, was that the kind of intention of, of content from its inception to be the standalone product product, or was it,
Scott Rogerson (03:56):
I wish, I wish we had that much, that much forethought and where we wanted to go with it initially it was very much, and you may appreciate this. Uh, you know, as the agency are always looking to optimize the team effort, you know, allow their expertise to shine. And one way to do that is try to remove the, I don’t want to say menial, but the repetitive efforts, right. And help to optimize that so that their brilliance can be used in things that they only can do. Right? Like the high value work searching for stuff was not one of those high value things, right. That everybody was like, wow, I can’t wait to pay your team to go and do Google searches for me, Google alerts delivered to me. And so as we were doing time studies with our team of how do we let you shine better?
Scott Rogerson (04:45):
That was one thing that was taking up, you know, 10, 20% of people’s days because they were researching for the own content they were creating, or they were finding articles to share, or just trying to learn about, we served a variety of industries. So, you know, you can’t be an expertise expert in 35 industries at the same time. So we had to stay on top of what was going on, but in a way that we could make our clients look like experts in their industry. And so initially Mickey, we were just looking for stuff that could help us solve this problem. Like there’s gotta be a tool out there to let us do this. And we looked at a number of tools, uh, all, you know, many of them, I wouldn’t say all many of them were great tools, but they all weren’t necessarily fitting in what we wanted.
Scott Rogerson (05:26):
They were great tools that would inform after the fact, right. This was a very popular article, you know, like, wow, that’s great, but it’s already gone now. Uh, what do I do? You know, what’s going to be popular next. We couldn’t find anything to help us identify that. Or their first ask would be, tell me what sources you want me to find content from. And you then had to go and search for the RSS feeds, for example, and, and write them in. And then you could search. But again, we didn’t have that deep industry expertise and more and more publishers didn’t have that RSS support. So we were kind of narrow in what we could do. And so that’s really where it started from a, can we build something and can we build something with very little budget? Because again, we’re an agency and we all know the economics of agencies, right.
Scott Rogerson (06:17):
So how do we do that? Our focus was in the backend then, you know, creating the index, creating the crawling technology, not just plugging into a standard search tools API and putting a, another coat of paint on it. And that also informed our strategy because we honestly just didn’t have money to build a front end. So we said, Hey team, like, what are you using right now to deliver content? Where’s the highest volume of content that you’re curating being delivered a volume perspective. It was social. They were putting into posting calendars and the tool that they were using most was Hootsuite. And so we were like, oh, well let’s, can we build, can we use their front end instead, right. To do this. And that’s really where the, uh, air traffic control element of our strategy came to be because that served maybe 60% of our internal team, but the other 40% were using buffer or sprout social or variety of other tools.
Scott Rogerson (07:16):
And we needed to be able to serve them as well. And they didn’t want to duplicate for the exact data challenge that you’re talking about. Like, please don’t make me have another CSV file that I have otherwise I just won’t use it because I can’t do it again. I can’t have another CSB file to download. So it needed to happen in stream with the rest of their distribution. And that’s what informed the strategy. And it was only after that, where we started to get inbound interest from those tools we were integrating with. But also by using somebody else’s front end, you have to allow other users to sign up. We couldn’t just lock it down. Totally. So the first day we launched into HootSweet, we kind of were at 180 5. So we’re like, yeah, no, one’s going to, you know, little tile, no, one’s going to find this stuff.
Scott Rogerson (08:08):
And I don’t know how it happens. Some people started finding and creating accounts, counselor, like who are these people? And then somebody else put in like a, a credit card into our Stripe processor. And we like, Hey, $7. Like, that’s cool. How did that happen? And it started to kind of snowball a bit from there where six months later HootSweet came back and said, Hey, you know, we’re thinking about doing more on the content side, are you for real, pretty much was there. Right. And we were, you know, it was kind of like a Ghostbusters thing. And the first movie, if you’ve seen that, right. If somebody asks you, if you’re for real, you say yes. And so we said, yes. And then we’re like, okay, now we have to be for real, which meant we had to build out a front end and really start thinking through.
Scott Rogerson (08:49):
And I think it was at that point just probably a year, maybe 18 months into this tool that we said, this is a bigger problem than just us. And that’s when I started to get distracted. Right. And focusing on the technology and probably under-serving both this nascent technology product and the agency. And then that started the conversation of other partners in the agency. Hey, can I give you my equity in the agency? And then you give me your equity in the technology and we go our separate ways. And that was March of 17 when that
Mickey Cloud (09:26):
Awesome. So I guess talk about like the business model, uh, for up content, right. So why did you go with kind of a subscription model with unlimited use versus, you know, some other SAS platforms that maybe go where you gotta buy a certain number of seats for a company or things that I could just talk about how, you know, that point in 2017 from then on like, all right, how are we going to productize and start selling this?
Scott Rogerson (09:47):
Yeah. And this was one of those two Mickey that we learned as we were flying, right? The pricing model has changed four, maybe five times some big changes. Some small changes are first. What we knew was that we didn’t want to be taking money from both sides. So that has always been the case. So there are other technologies out there that will provide curation services and they will charge you Mickey as the end user to retrieve the content. Then they will also go to the publisher and ask them for money to promote their content into your feed that you’re paying for in order to distribute. And so we just didn’t feel like that was the right model for us. Um, we wanted, and this is partially coming from the agency side, right? If we’re going to be paying for something, we want an unbiased, we want you on my team, right.
Scott Rogerson (10:37):
Entirely if I’m paying you, you’re on my team, right. If I’m not paying you, I get it on the product. So I’m, I’m paying you though. And I want an unbiased view because you’re supposed to be quasi expert system and helping me find the best articles. So that has always been the case. So that was step one. We did start with it user limit on each of our plant levels. And one of the things that we started to notice, even with our own internal team, when we were kind of practicing where the friction would occur, was that the individual who was the rock star copywriter or social media whiz, or email template, creator Xtrordinair was not the accountant or the lawyer or the subject matter expert in that industry. And so what they really wanted was to be able to give access to those subject matter experts who could easily identify the best articles and put it in a pretty place so that that marketing or sales enablement Xtrordinair can easily transform that into something that matters.
Scott Rogerson (11:43):
And so what happened there was that we then said, okay, well maybe users, isn’t a value driver here. We want to make sure that this is available to as many people in the organization as possible. And that’s been really helpful for us because it starts to identify other use cases for this content. You know, a company may start using us for social media, but then they realized that an internal newsletter of just the top articles in that industry and be really valuable for the team just for their own edification of what’s happening. And then that team says, well, Hey, I’d love to send this out to my clients. Maybe not as an email blast, but just this third article would be great to send to Mickey. Cause it was something we just talked about. That’s what evolved into our icebreaker integration for those one-to-one emails. And so if we had a user limitation, people would either not share it with others, right? Because they didn’t want to pay the additional user cost or they would do the terrible activity of finding a workaround. Right. And we’re going to make it firstname.lastname@example.org and the password is ABC. And I’m just going to give that to everybody and screw you. Right. You know, your pricing model has now been totally,
Mickey Cloud (12:54):
It sounds like collaboration is such a key part of the workflow of content that limiting that collaboration, it was limiting
Scott Rogerson (13:02):
The opportunity. It just didn’t make sense to us. And then we had topics which are where you’re putting in your keywords to get content as a limiter, as a really tight limiter, you know, you get one topic, right. And that wasn’t enough to get the wheel spinning. Right. I couldn’t, I felt so limited right out of the gate that I was just like, ah, whatever, I’m going to go back to Google and just do it, my old fashion manual way. So now our topic limits are at a point where only abusers would hit them is kind of how we’ve decided on those limits. And then where we found the value driver. And this took us another 18 months or so I’d say after we spun out independently, was this concept of collections, which is where you’re approving articles for specific purposes or different stages of your workflow.
Scott Rogerson (13:49):
And that allows us to keep our pricing really low for the smaller, a dynamic team or even the individual, but also allows us to still command a higher utility for, you know, the large fortune 10 companies that we serve who need 200 collections or 500 collections and still do it in a straight faced way. Right. Because nothing that irritates me more than, because I think you’re going to be able to pay more, I’m going to give you the vaccine product. I’m just going to make up a higher price. And that, I just couldn’t ask me a logic to it. That drives me nuts when that happens. Yeah. And then we’re all hiding the price because I’m just trying to pick a high number and see if you can allow you to agree to it. And then it makes it difficult for growth. Right. Okay. I want to add another 50 collections.
Scott Rogerson (14:34):
What’s that going to cost? I don’t know. Joe made up a number, let me go see a number that I can then write. It’s now very logical. We know exactly what growth looks like. Our customers are all treated fairly, whether it’s one or 200 people in that organization using up content. But again, that was maybe I know it’s building while flying. That was definitely building while flying and just testing and seeing what works and what doesn’t. And we’re in the process of introducing a new plan level, probably within the next two months to try to address a, what we feel is a gap in our pricing model.
Mickey Cloud (15:05):
I think, I think pricing is one of those things that like, it is a constant almost like you always have to look at it because, um, because there is, you know, even like if you take the agency model where it’s, um, you know, Gary often talked about in the early days of intermediate, you know, a scope that was a $5,000 a month, retainer became 10 the next time. Cause he was just testing out. Would people pay more for it? Like, like, you know, what’s the, what’s the perceived value in the market and then it was 20 and then it was $40,000 a month. And so they’re like, you know, in a services side you can kind of play with it. You’re talking about it more from like a product like the logic product use case. But, but right. There’s, it is one of the certainly things where you’re going to learn the more reps in the more experiences you find for it.
Mickey Cloud (15:53):
And I guess I do want to talk about a little bit about those, those use cases. Cause when I, when you first started describing a content to me, I kind of immediately saw the benefit for B2B content marketers, right? So these are classic industries where trust is needed. So the law firms, the financial advisors that, you know, the tech companies, things like that. But in my experience, talking to a lot of those companies, like where they struggle is figuring out how to scale kind of thought leadership content creation. Because to your point, there’s usually like one expert in the firm or whatever who is knows about tort law or something like that. And you know, they’re busy being a tort lawyer, not, you know, creating all this content about tort law. So is that where the thesis kind of started? I guess it was, Hey, we know, we think we can win with these types of clients or, um, yeah, I guess maybe talk about like the different use cases that you see.
Scott Rogerson (16:43):
Yeah. I mean then you nailed the high level, right? The umbrella for us is wherever trust is important in converting your customers or keeping your customer. So it does tend to lead us down the path of professional services. Uh, technology is another area, healthcare education, wherever we, a lot of agencies use us to show their understanding of the what’s going on in the world, wherever, you know, you can do my taxes or Susan can do my taxes. That’s I can’t make a decision just based off of that. I need to know more about you and Susan to determine who’s best to work with. And like you had said, you know, if I don’t know you or Susan from anybody else, reading your blog about how awesome your tax prep is. I don’t know how much to trust that at that moment. Right. And reviews are obviously a great feeder for that trust, but also knowing that you’re reading articles about my industry and the challenges that I’m facing, or if you’re doing my personal taxes, Hey, I just had a new kid, like what’s this child tax credit bang.
Scott Rogerson (17:43):
Right. And again, like your blog about that is great. But knowing that you’re also staying on of it, because if that blog was written two months ago, a lot’s changed even in that concept over the last two months. So that is definitely a core area for us to be able to support that. And this also kind of strikes back when we were in the agency, when we were trying to get that tort lawyer to sit down and write a freaking blog, right. They were great at writing these briefs because that’s where they were getting paid. Right. But trying to, even the marketing director, trying to get that tort lawyer expert to write a piece was like pulling teeth. And so our tactic, which I’m sure your team uses a lot as well, is I just want a 30 minute phone call, right? I’m just going to sit down, hit the record button.
Scott Rogerson (18:29):
I’m going to have some preset questions for you, Madam tort, lawyer. And I’m just going to record what you say. And I’m going to translate that now into a blog post that you then can review because you’re a lawyer and review is like your favorite thing in the world. And then you can improve that and then I can get it published. But now that I’ve done that, it’s going to be hard to go back to you next week and say, I want to do it again. Right. And so where we’ve found that fitting in is to surround that piece with what’s going on right now, you know, ensure the pieces as evergreen as possible, surround it with other content and then use those articles as well to direct people back to that piece. So yeah,
Mickey Cloud (19:07):
It’s an, and it’s an end strategy, right? It’s Hey, we need, we need the thought leadership content from Madam tort lawyer because, um, there is, you know, like that’s really insightful and it’s going to help sell. And, and especially if it’s providing value, if it’s not just a sales job, it’s not just how I am awesome at tort law. It’s how do you, like if you find yourself in a tort case, you know, here are the watch outs that you need to know or here’s how you evaluate tort lawyers when they come calling for you, because you’ve got a case or something like that.
Scott Rogerson (19:35):
I love those checklists blocks. Those are the best, right? The questions you should ask your lawyer for you, you decide working with them. Those are awesome to create. And you said it, those are the assets, right? And so from a finance background, that’s cap ex is what we try to educate our customers, right? That’s something that you’re investing in, truly investing in that you’re up content subscription or your curation strategy. That’s all off X, right? Those are things that are coming to support. And then they may fleet because you don’t want to be curating an article from six months ago today.
Mickey Cloud (20:08):
That’s a, that’s a super interesting way to frame it up because the CapEx or OPEX kind of thing, because it’s, it’s probably my number one challenge when talking with folks in, in this, in these types of sectors is getting them to, they can all kind of see the value of, um, that type of content, but it’s the time and money it takes to produce it. So Gary kind of has this, uh, he’s kind of coined the B2B content marketing strategy, like the host of the party strategy, right? So if you were a lawyer or a dentist or a real estate agent, like you should create a recurring content series where you interview people related to were tangential to your industry as a way to bring value, to educate, to provide that thought leadership, because then that interview to your point can be turned into the blog post.
Mickey Cloud (20:56):
It can be turned into a video content series, a podcast, a short form clips can be taken from it when someone says something really awesome and things like that. And almost everyone I’ve talked to like nods along with that, like, yeah. Yeah. And then they’re like, but I want you to do it. He’s like, well, like you have to understand, you’re going to have to put your time or you’re gonna have to put investment into this. Whether that’s your time or your money, like that’s where they’re balking. So I guess, how do you like, cause I hear you talking about like, this is the CapEx is the OPEX. I believe that these companies, they need, they definitely need both. Do you ever end up trying to help sell them on like yes, up content can do this, but you also need to be creating your own.
Scott Rogerson (21:35):
Yes. Every time Mickey, I mean, if it’s going to be successful, you have to do both. Right. And we kind of almost began every call with trying to evaluate where their mindset is. As it relates to these two things, they’re seeing curation as the silver bullet to no longer have to create content. There was a huge problem there, right? And we will say in that conversation, look, this is not right for you today. You know, what you need to first do is either work with your current team or work with somebody, a strategist. We’ve got a number of agency partners who can help support that effort because I sometimes find myself getting swept back into that. And I try to pull myself away, right. And say, look, you need to do the hero hub hygiene thing. Right. You know, what is it that you’re about?
Scott Rogerson (22:20):
You need to own that piece. What are those main perspectives that only your organization can bring? You need to own those pieces, a hygiene piece of how do you keep those things fresh and keep supporting them up. Content can fill that void for you. And it can do that with 10 minutes a week is the time that we’re asking. And we try to also to your point, encourage people not to fully automate the curation process because then it’s not curation, right? It’s an aggregation strategy of here’s a bunch of stuff. That’s met a bunch of things. Maybe you’d like it versus here are some things that I was reading that I think are going to be particularly interesting to you. And that time should still be human time, but spread across your team to find those best things. You know, curation should be the discovery of that content should be automated.
Scott Rogerson (23:09):
The distribution of that content should be automated so that you can spend time picking from that final lot. After it’s gone through all the filters, putting a little bit of your thought process on that, if you can, and then maybe identifying one of those articles to your point that says, you know, this said ABC about tort law. I totally disagree with that. This is a great blog post now that I should actually create further and flush this out and have a response to this piece. That’s from a well-respected area, indicating my difference in perspective, because those are the things that then resonate with people throughout the funnel, not just when they’re ready to buy. And I think too many times we just focus on the I’m writing for the person who’s ready to buy. And if they come to my site, I’m not going to let them leave until they buy. And that is not going to work in today’s day and age would be lost in that
Mickey Cloud (24:01):
Branding is a better sales strategy, you know, so you’ve got to create that top of funnel value content that brings value to, to folks. So I’m curious how it kind of, uh, so we talked a lot about kind of the B2B content marketers, but how has the product evolved to kind of fit needs to other users? Um, you know, whether it’s, uh, different, you mentioned kind of earlier some of the, um, you know, the, the icebreaker tool or things like that. And I guess how, like, who are the other, what are the other use cases for, for, for,
Scott Rogerson (24:34):
Yeah, we’re seeing, so there’s two kind of emerging use cases. I think we touched on more than the traditional store Berkley focusing in the marketing audience. Those were our key buyers for people in the marketing departments, usually in B2B using it for one to many communications, sharing out the social, my weekly email newsletter of here’s the things you should be reading this week, or having maybe a resources section on my website that has these curated articles all still very effective. Um, but with the last year in particular, we’ve seen more and more usage by the sales team of this content of, instead of it going out from the brand it’s going out from Scott’s inbox to Scott’s prospects saying here are some articles that I think you should read either still one to many or with icebreaker, which is our collaboration. One of our collaborations with HubSpot, I’ve opened up your contact record Mickey, and here are the articles that I set up contents recommending just three, not a whole litany that you should share with Mickey to continue the conversation.
Scott Rogerson (25:32):
And we support that discussion. And that’s just a kind of, here’s the article like, you know, great conversation last week. Here’s an article. I think I thought of you about when I was reading would look, look forward to getting your thoughts on this, right? Not selling you something, but I’m starting that conversation. And this is particularly great for those maybe next quarter, we can make a decision. Let’s revisit this in six months type leads that are out there. It’s not really closed. Yep. Certainly not one either. You got a long way to go on. So how do you have that conversation? We’re seeing even more growth recently in the e-commerce side, particularly amongst lifestyle brands who want to create a community and in order to create a community, you can’t just be talking about your wares all the time. Right? So if I, if my brand means a, B and C, prove it right with your own content, but also curated articles that are also talking about those concepts so that your website is a resource for more than just the purchase of your product.
Scott Rogerson (26:32):
And as a resource for that community to get information, they want both original and curated and really trust your brand trust again. And then the final area, at least today is in the HR side. So the talent branding, retention, personal and professional development area and the growth of including lifestyle content across all of those areas where it used to be very much to your, you know, the example, I’m a tort lawyer. I want to find content about tort law, right? And then one of the things that you run into in a lot of cases for some customers is I would write all of those articles better than what they wrote. So I’m not, I don’t want to share any of that stuff. Like, okay, well, what’s the ripple out from there? You know, before I know that I want a tort law article, what are the challenges that I’m facing as a, as an individual?
Scott Rogerson (27:19):
What leads me down to that pipe to say, I need a tort lawyer. Cause it’s not just like I wake up one morning and I’m like port laws where it’s at, you know, and what are the other things that let me know about you or your brand as a humanizing concept? You know, we have a lot of financial services, customers who traditionally were sharing a hundred percent financial planning content. Now it’s that, and about 30% of the content is now travel or wine country, or these are the charities and the causes that our organization or our firm really cares a lot about. And it was a interesting conversation with those groups, which is, what do you talk about with your client before you talk about their retirement plan? What’s the conversation, you know? Oh, I hate small talk. Yeah, totally. I hate small talk. What are you, what are you talking about though?
Scott Rogerson (28:06):
What are, you know, I’m oh, I’m talking about this, you know, ALS event that were, are, are firms really invested in, and that’s actually where I met six of my clients will stop sharing Motley, fool articles all the time then, and start sharing the articles that are actually interesting to you. Right. And we can help you find those. I think that’s the other piece that we’re going to start to see is that the human beings are taking a more leading role or a spotlight role. And the brand is supporting them and looking like rock stars. Whereas I think at least when I was in consulting, it was very much a, the brand is the rockstar. And if you work for the brand, you become a rockstar by osmosis. Right. And I think that’s flipping and we need to do a better job of supporting those team members to share what they want to make them look great. And giving them that opportunity to choice requires both original and third-party.
Mickey Cloud (29:00):
Yep. So some of those evolutions, um, or those use cases that you mentioned that are emerging for you, um, did obviously coincided the past 18 months with, with, with COVID. Did, do you think there’s a connection or do you think you would have been on this growth trajectory in a way?
Scott Rogerson (29:18):
I think we would have been on the trajectory, but the slope would have been far reduced, uh, if it weren’t for the last 18 months. So I, you know, I think this is not just an up content unique thing. I think this is either the content curation industry in general, but also just the digital transformation. If you want to go a layer out in general, many of these previously very stodgy industries, right. Led by a quote unquote, old boss, all the, all the terms here, we’re very resistant to this, right? Because it was working, it’s not broken. Why would I fix it? Right. And then everything broke right there. They couldn’t go to in-person events anymore. The conferences were done, right? The sales team was off the road. The content that they did have was created 18 months ago and was no longer anywhere near relevant because let’s be honest.
Scott Rogerson (30:08):
The world pretty much changed over the last 18 months. And so they needed to revisit all of that. They couldn’t just rewrite everything. So what, how else am I going to do this? My team, my sales team is demanding content because they have to be present on LinkedIn. They have to be communicative to their prospects and email. They need to know what’s going on in the world and they can’t leave their addicts. What do we do? Right. And I think that is where we’ve seen a tremendous growth. And what I’m excited about is it’s the slope isn’t petering off. And it didn’t Peter off when things seem like things were going to be back to normal right now to stay additive bit to this. And I’m very excited for where it can now continues to evolve. So I think we probably in 18 months probably did three years worth of growth as an industry of how we approach content.
Mickey Cloud (30:58):
I think, yeah. You can apply that. Just even just like the adoption of zoom techniques of like virtual meetings and things like that. And like how to, you know, like I remember early on in a law firm that was run by one of the old heads kind of thing reached out to me because we were on a association kind of zoom. And he was like, you seem really good at like operating in this world. Can you, can I like hire you to come teach our team how to use? I was like, that’s not really what my company does, but like, I mean, I call with you and
Scott Rogerson (31:34):
Yeah, it is amazing though. Cause you know, even this conversation, right. We probably wouldn’t have said like, oh this is weird. Like look at us having a video call. Right. And working from home, like, why aren’t you in the office? Why aren’t I in the office? Well, why would we be right? I think we both have young families, like what’s the point right. To be doing that. So it’s very different. Uh, and there’s a lot of benefits to it and I think we’re all still trying to figure out how to address some of the drawbacks.
Mickey Cloud (31:59):
Yep. So last question I wanted to hit. So, you know, when you’re, you’ve mentioned kind of building while flying a couple of times is obviously the name of the podcast when you’re doing that and it’s, you’ve got to stay calm under pressure. Right. So, you know, when your back’s against the wall or if you you’ve got, you’re faced with a tough decision for your business, like what’s that internal kind of pilot’s checklist, if you will, that helps you kind of make, uh, what you think is the right decision.
Scott Rogerson (32:22):
I mean, I think the big piece with that is there’s a, in my view, there’s a big difference between building while flying and pivoting for eternity. Right? So I would, I would think for us, I would say we didn’t really pivot because we didn’t really know how we were going to get from where we were to where we are. We had, we still had a view, you know, those initial tenants were still true, helping to find, helping to distribute integrating for the actual last mile and focusing purely on curation and letting everybody else succeed with distribution and creation that has never changed for us. We’ve faced a lot of interesting and a lot of very hard moments, particularly early on, you know, in 20 16, 20 17, from our perspective, a lot of people viewed use of third-party articles as like what happens when you wake up and you realize you don’t have anything to post today.
Scott Rogerson (33:16):
You can go find an article to throw in there to say like I’ve got the posting calendar done. And that was really it from a strategic stamps. So we had to continually have faith that we saw our own team having success using this. And we could start to see those leading edge customers having success, even though that number was not huge, right. We were not entering a market that already had a proven winner. And we were just trying to do what that winner did a little bit better or a little bit differently, right? There were no industry reports on curation. There are today. Uh, so we had to believe in that process, we also had some just direct scares for us of a funder who was actually a lead funder of ours, waking up one morning truly and saying that round that I was going to lead for you, that’s supposed to close a month from now.
Scott Rogerson (34:05):
I’m not doing that anymore. I’m also leaving the VC game and I want my money back in two weeks or you’re done, I’m shutting the company now. And so that was a big pilot, like what do we do? Like, is this worth it right? Do we still believe in it? And again, looking back at our customer success, right. Is what we believed in. Did we, you as a team still enjoy doing this, right. This could have been a very easy opportunity to just be like, yeah, like, and we could easily make that excuse for years later. Like, ah, yeah, this guy was a real jerk and that’s what you’re like. Okay, well that’s um, but let’s power through that instead. Um, our customers, I would say is the biggest thread through all of that. So we are highly communicative with our customers. We know them on a personal basis, even though it’s a SAS tool, we are very heavy on the support, heavy on the video calls.
Scott Rogerson (35:01):
And I think that has, what’s allowed us to build wall flying because we’re all of those ideas, you know, that, Hey, it’s more important than just discovery to also focus on the collaboration. And Hey, it’s really important to start integrating with these tools. And we have like a Google sheet that has tools that people have mentioned that they’re using up content with now tallies next to it. And once it hits 30, we go to that company and say, Hey, we’ve got 30 joint customers, the friction isn’t great. How do we make it better? You know, MailChimp then our integration and partnership with them is a good example. So I think our customers are our pilot checklist first and foremost. Um, and we really lean on them heavily. And then our team as our team still enjoying it, do we still believe in it? And then is the, is the thesis still defensible? Right? Maybe it’s not right. We don’t know. We won’t know until we get to the end. Right. But can we stand up and defend that this is the direction and point to proof points and say, this is why this is working. Yep. Those are probably our, it’s a short checklist, but those I think are our three biggest ones to know to keep flying.
Mickey Cloud (36:07):
Scott, thanks so much for the conversation. Really appreciate
Scott Rogerson (36:10):
It. Yeah. Thank you, Mickey. This is great.
Speaker 1 (36:14):
Well, now that we’ve finished that thoroughly interesting interview, we’re getting ready to land, but before we do Mickey and I caught up on some of the themes and topics that stuck out to us,
Mickey Cloud (36:24):
Yes, we liken this to the post game show where we break down the key lessons we all can benefit from, including us here at the Sasha group here is the Sasha sidebar.
Katie Hankinson (36:40):
Hey Mikio is just, it seems to do Scott Rajistan from content. Uh, got me thinking about, oh, well the, all of the advice we give our clients about how to think about content.
Mickey Cloud (36:51):
Yeah, no, he, um, I loved also that he, you know, this piece of technology he built because it was something that he was trying to figure out how to solve for repetitive, low, low value efforts that his own agency was going through and then kind of stumbled upon a tool that was making things more efficient and then it kind of grew like, and then he realized, oh wait, there’s, there’s a, uh, there’s inbound interest for this type of thing, um, out in, out in the world and kind of took it out of the agency context and started like, all right, I’m going to scale a SAS business.
Katie Hankinson (37:24):
So his company essentially will curate content around any particular business context to help companies essentially add to what their own content efforts like
Mickey Cloud (37:37):
It’s all based on like collections. So you, you, you and multiple people in your organization, and this is where it kind of interesting because it scales right. Like can sign up for, um, people to like th the, the, the high effort high value action is like the time to research and find the good, the good kind of curated articles. And so he makes it so that you’re spending most of your time on that and not on the low, the lower value kind of more repetitive side. So yeah, it’s kind of collections around a topic and it could be industry specific. Um, it can be, um, topic dependent, all those types of things, but it’s, it’s how do you kind of, um, serve up third-party content, um, for that either on behalf of your brand or in a sales fashion, um, to, uh, and so it’s been really this idea of, uh, it’s complementing kind of the content creation that you should already be doing.
Katie Hankinson (38:29):
Yeah, it’s funny because it makes me think, you know, we, it’s something Gary’s talked about. We talk about it. If you’re going to be successful in the way you think about content strategy, do you think of yourself as a media company? You know, you’re kind of creating a conversation that is specific and interesting and relevant and helpful to your audience, and that you have permission to talk about because it’s connected to you as a brand. And the number of times that, you know, so many business leaders are really busy during the day job, and really don’t want to think about all that content element of whether that’s original content that they need to create as a brand or simply being part of the conversation. So it’s interesting to think that there are more and more automated ways to, to solve that. And then the trick, I think then is that last flourish is the bit that you add, right? Your, you, your company pieces is the perspective on that article or the way in which you, you send it to your post sales contact to say, Hey, I found this. And I thought, it’d be really interesting for you for this reason. You know, your time is spent tailoring it and giving it context rather than writing it or finding it,
Mickey Cloud (39:42):
Oh, that’s got called out that like, this is not a curating content is not still not a silver bullet to not doing content creation. Like we should be doing both. You kind of put it in terms of like, if your content creation, that pillar thought leadership content series, which is where like my brain immediately went to, because it’s the conversation I have so often with prospects or clients that are, they are doing their job. And so to ask them to also then start creating content on top of it, it’s like pulling teeth or it’s just like, they don’t see how that effort is going to pay off in the long run. Um, and so those are the it’s Scott saying, don’t, don’t not do that. Like, you still have to do that. That’s your cap. It it’s been insured, but you’re, you, you T you pair that with curated content. That’s your op ex it’s been a juror and it’s like, the two of them worked together. So I love it. Even as a content curator, he’s, he’s, he, he’s telling people, you know, it’s still, this is not going to take it. It’s not a silver bullet for not creating content.
Katie Hankinson (40:44):
So what’s our question for everyone. I think it should be content related.
Mickey Cloud (40:49):
Yeah. I mean, maybe there’s something around, like, it has someone sent you a really thoughtful piece of content that was curated well for your conversation, whether it’s in a sales context or whether it’s just a brand sending you something that you want, your part, it’s an interest that you’re a part of that you felt like added value to your day to day.
Katie Hankinson (41:04):
Yeah. Let us know what it is. Thanks for joining us for building while flying today. I hope you learned as much as we did. We’ll meet you right back here next time for another flight.
Mickey Cloud (41:18):
If you’d like to hear more about how business owners and brands are navigating these times, tune in to the next episode. And if you’re so kind, please rate and review us, plus we’d love feedback. So let us know what you think, what you’d like us to dig into next on building while flying across brands, businesses, marketing, and more
Katie Hankinson (41:33):
Welcome to Building While Flying!
This weekly podcast is brought to you by Sasha Group. We’re the consultancy meets agency arm of the VaynerX family of companies. We help ambitious companies build strong brands that flex with the times through strategy, branding media and marketing. In ever-changing times, businesses and brands have to shift and adapt. And across all sectors, there is an air of experimentation. Business owners are trying new things out in the wild; building the plane while flying.
Our pilots, Katie Hankinson and Mickey Cloud, will be talking to a diverse range of business leaders and founders. They’ll explore how these guests tackle various challenges while staying resilient and committed to growth. Through these real-life examples of strategies put into practice, we hope to inspire you to experiment and develop your own strategies as we all navigate these uncertain times together.
Content curation and creation can (and should) live together
Scott Rogerson is the CEO of UpContent, a SaaS content curation platform built to help its users power up their content strategy and save time in their operations. UpContent spun out of Rogerson’s former agency after it was created to solve internal problems. Now it helps hundreds of companies worldwide curate content, increase thought leadership, and build deeper trust with their customers.
In this week’s episode of Building While Flying, Scott shares how UpContent was born, how it has evolved over time to meet customers’ needs, and how he sees it continuing to grow in the future. At the heart of the conversation is the belief that content curation and creation can (and should) live together within a business’s strategy; as he says, it’s a “yes, and” situation, not “either or.” Scott also stresses the importance of knowing your customers and their needs, and how UpContent continues to deliver solutions for teams of all sizes around the world.
Other in-flight topics:
- How UpContent was born
- Content curation vs. content creation
- Choosing the right business model
- How to use UpContent in your business
- How the COVID-19 pandemic affected their growth and offerings
- The importance of knowing your customers
- …and more!