Cornerstone Content Strategy

Episode 997: Cornerstone Content Strategy, with Stephen Woessner

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Cornerstone content strategy—Learn how to expand your audience and find the real golden nuggets by using the cornerstone content strategy.

Your cornerstone content strategy is an important piece of your agency that will help expand your audience if you do it correctly. Learn how Stephen does it by tuning in to this podcast episode with Onward Nation.

Stephen Woessner is the founder and CEO of Predictive ROI, a digital marketing agency, and the host of Onward Nation — a top-rated daily podcast for learning how today’s top business owners think, act, and achieve. Onward Nation is listened to in 120 countries around the world with over 28,000+ email subscribers.

Since the advent of the commercial Internet, Stephen has collected tens of thousands of data points that have given him the ability to identify what he calls the “8 Money Draining Mistakes” and the “8 Money Making Opportunities.” Darren Hardy, then-publisher of SUCCESS Magazine, interviewed Stephen to discuss how business owners can identify and fix the mistakes.

Stephen served in the United States Air Force, spent six years at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse as a full-time academic staff member and taught digital marketing classes to small business owners throughout the state including the prestigious School of Business at UW-Madison, has owned five businesses, and is the author of three books, “The Small Business Owner’s Handbook to Search Engine Optimization”, “Increase Online Sales Through Viral Social Networking”, and “Profitable Podcasting.”

His digital marketing insights have been featured in,, The Washington Post, and Inc. Magazine.


What you’ll learn in this episode is about cornerstone content strategy

  • Stephen offers a high-level review of the “Sell With Authority” methodology outlined in the book of the same name he co-authored with Drew McLellan
  • How the research presented in the Edelman Trust Barometer illustrates that an audience trusts industry experts and people like them more than anyone else
  • What four key qualifications serve to make someone a true thought leader, and why does each of these qualifications matter when creating your cornerstone content strategy
  • The three steps to take to “plant your flag of authority” within your chosen niche and with build trust and credibility with your target audience
  • How “cobblestone content” can lead people back to your cornerstone content and down your sales funnel
  • How to find the real “golden nuggets” in your cornerstone content that can be sliced and diced into your cobblestone content
  • Stephen provides several real-world examples of slicing and dicing content and the power of cobblestone and cornerstone content in thought leadership
  • Why a weekly Q&A session can be a fantastic way to connect with your audience, and how content can interconnect and cross-promote to expand your reach
  • What other powerful and proven resources, tools, and other content Predictive ROI found useful in reaching out to their audience
  • Why low-pressure and no-pressure email content can turn out a surprising number of high-quality leads




Cornerstone Content Strategy: Full Episode Transcript


Get ready to find your recipe for success from America’s top business owners here at Onward Nation with your host, Stephen Woessner. 


Good morning, Onward Nation. I am Stephen Woessner, CEO of Predictive ROI and your host. Welcome to hard-to-believe solo cast number 99 over the last almost six years. Now, this is the 99th solocast that I recorded Holy Bananas. That’s a lot of solo cast. And then my team here at Predictive ROI let me know if something was kind of cool the other day, and I just was not paying attention to this at all. And I probably should be, but I just wasn’t anyway. I think it’s been a couple of weeks. Maybe it’s about three weeks from now. We’ll be Episode 1000, which has a cool milestone Episode 1000. 


And it just happens to be that Episode 1000 is also my 100th solo cast. So that’s kind of neat. So I’m trying to plan something really special for episode 1000, and solo cast 100. So stay tuned for that. Looking forward to bringing that to you for today for today’s solo cast. So, for the solocast number 99, we are going to do something a little bit different, right? I am doing something a little bit different. Here’s what I mean by that. So there’s both an audio version and a full video version of this solo cast, which, interestingly, I’ve actually never done before. As far as a solo cast, we always record, not always, but as of probably the last year or so, we’ve been recording our episodes in full video format so that we can also share the golden nuggets of our guests. 


This is the first time that I’ve recorded a solo cast in full video. Okay. So, I’m going to narrate sort of the visual elements, the best that I can if you happen to be listening to this in audio only like on Apple podcasts or whatever your preferred channel is. But I did that because there are going to be a couple of places in this conversation that I’m going to want to illustrate with a visual. And I’ll certainly tell you when I’m like drawing on my iPad, but I wanted to be able to cement that in whatever the golden nugget was, whatever the key takeaway was. I wanted to make sure that it gave you the visual in addition to the description of the strategy and how to take it out and apply it. 


But I also want to make sure that it gave you the visual as well so that you and your team could go back to the video to see the visual and take that as an example to place into your business. Okay. So that’s why the dual format of audio and video will be inserted into the show notes for this episode. So if you just go to and like I said, go to the show notes of this episode, you’ll see the full-length video there. and I hope that that is helpful. Okay. So what are we going to cover today? First, we’re going to go high level with respect to the Sell With Authority methodology as Drew McLellan and I CEO of Agency Management Institute, and I described that in our book Sell With Authority, the Sell With Authority methodology, again, just going very high level. 


Enhance your next cornerstone content strategy by applying our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Cornerstone Content Strategy: Insights from Edelman and ROI Thought Leadership


And then specifically, why are going to be answering the question using some third-party data from Edelman? Edelman is a global PR agency that every year for the last, I think, 20 years. So a couple of decades have been publishing their annual Trust Barometer. So you’re going to pull up a nugget of that research and share that with you. And then also, even though it was our study, we commissioned a study that is still third-party data that our research partners and Predictive. So our research partner is Audience Audit, which was founded by Susan Byer. And so When Susan’s team in our team collaborated with Nord to produce the research study that we called the ROI thought leadership, it was fascinating that some of the findings that we, that we, that we found, I guess, the, the, the key research findings really knitted together in an integrated with the Edelman findings, which was completely not on purpose because the study is we’re of course done independently, but I want to share those to you or share those with you because there are quite compelling as to why that you should plant your flag of authority and what makes somebody a thought-leader in the eyes of the audience, which is really the only opinion that matters the eyes of the audience or the opinion of the audience. 


Okay. So then once you decide that you’re going to go down that path and want to be known as the expert in your niche, then how do you do that? Like, what are the essential ingredients to the recipe? So we’ll cover this and then I’ll sort of give it away as far as right now, as far as what essential number three is. And that is, don’t be a one-trick pony, which means being consistent with your cornerstone content and making sure that is available across so many channels. Awesome. So then once we take that content, when you’re creating a cornerstone content on a consistent basis and is helpful in this meeting and so forth, and we’ll get to that in a minute, but then how do you slice and dice that like a pro how do you make that channel agnostic up and down the sales funnel and the sales funnel is not linear. So how do you create the right experience and share the right content at the micro or the small level to really move your prospects through the sales funnel and then deepen relationships at that same time? So one of the result outcomes of doing all of this and so that you can fill your sales pipeline with the right fit prospects, we’ve all felt what it feels like in order to work with the wrong fit client, right? 


So how can we structure this in such a way that the prospects that are flowing into your sales pipeline are the right fit while at the Sell With Authority, methodology is a great way to do it. Okay. So that’s what we’re going to step through. And again, audio and video format, and you can find the video in today’s show notes. Alright, so let’s start working through, and the first piece that I want to share with you around the Why, as I mentioned just a minute ago, is the Edelman 2020 Trust Barometer. So again, if you go to the Edelman website, which I think is Edelman PR, or if you just Google Edelman PR and Trust Barometer in Google we’ll bring up the direct Search result for you, and you will be able to go to the most current report. 


And I would encourage you to do that because one is heaps of great data. I mean, Edelman’s research is truly exceptional. It is very, very good. And so there are 84 slides in this particular presentation that you can download the PDF or 84 slides within the PDF. Excuse me, we are going to look at one because I want to zero in on this one piece. Then we are going to go to the ROI thought leadership and show you a result outcome there or research finding them. All right, so let’s step into the piece that I want to share with you. This is the first visual they might sound a little bit wonky if I try to narrate it because what we’re looking at on the screen is a chart that goes from essentially a high bar graph to a low bar graph on the right, as a scales from left down to the right side in the title of it is influenced, built through Authority and empathy. 


Enhance your next cornerstone content strategy by applying our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Cornerstone Content Strategy: Why You Don’t Need Millions of Followers


And the reason why I’m including this is that I think oftentimes business owners think, gosh, in order for me to have influence in order for me to be seen as an expert, in order for me to be seen as the authority in a space, I need to have a million social media followers. I need to be to sell. I need to be a celebrity or I need to have a celebrity endorser, or I need to be so famous. I need to be Internet famous. I need to do all of these things, otherwise, why is it anyway, are you going to pay attention to me? And I actually, that is completely false. It is a hundred percent not congruent with the data that Edelman has found. So I’m going to zero in on the bottom, right scale of this chart. 


And we are going to take a look at the lowest-scoring categories of people. If you will, they are creating influence and empathy in Authority are actually the influencers with millions of followers and or celebrities. So influencers with millions of followers score 34 and celebrities score 30. So very, very poorly. So on the flip side of this and on the far left of this scale, we’re going to zoom in here. We’ll take a look and see that industry experts score a 60, and our person like yourself scores 59. 


Okay. So what does that mean? It means that people who are seen as industry experts, who are the ones who we are building the most influence Through Authority and empathy above or any other category of audience or participation, a segmentation, okay. Above anything else, industry experts are the leaders. Then, the next difference, by just one point, is a person like yourself. Meaning is that the audience? Do you do your prospects? Do clients identify with you because you’re similar to them? Meaning the same industry, and you have the same interests. You may attend the same peer groups or masterminds or whatever. 


Enhance your next cornerstone content strategy by applying our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Cornerstone Content Strategy: Essential Steps to Stand Out


You are really plugged into their niche. And you’re seeing that as an authority in the space, ’cause you teach and share and share content that is helpful. Okay. So, industry experts and people like yourself are the ones that score the highest in being able to build an influence through authority and empathy, which is a huge and complete reverse of a celebrity or someone who has a million social media followers. Okay. So, that’s another reason why you should be planting your flag of its authority. So you are seen as the industry expert. Okay. So now let’s move on to one of the qualifications or actually four qualifications that we found in our study, the ROI thought leadership of what makes somebody a thought leader. 


So the first one was that they shared ideas that helped me get better, right? Are they sharing content that truly helps me be better at my job? Second is that they share ideas that I haven’t heard before. They’re not repeating the same thing over and over again. They are not grabbing somebody else’s headline or somebody else’s content and then repackaging a tightening it and trying to pass it off as their own. These are new innovative ideas that I haven’t heard of before. The third is they seem genuine again. They seem like me, right? They’re like yourself in that second piece that we just saw in the Edelman research, right? That they seem genuine and you have a lot in common with that person. 


Awesome. And the last is, that they’re an expert. They work in your industry and they have a deep well of expertise and you know exactly where they’re coming from. They’ve got the war wounds to prove it. They’ve also had success too, but they have been around the block before. Okay. So now that we’ve covered those couple of pieces, let’s talk about the, let’s talk about how you plant your flag of authority. What are the essentials? What are the things that you must do in order to plant your flag? Well, there are three of them, the first one, and I’ll go again, narrates on our way through this here as I’m drawing on my iPad at the moment. So the first one is you’re going to get very clear about the niche that you serve. 


Total clarity. Now, the way Drew and I define niche doesn’t necessarily have to mean industry. Although it could write, you can certainly specialize in a particular industry, but also you could, you could build a niche around an audience, for example, maybe, or maybe you have a depth of expertise around a particular audience and your clients and our prospects want to hire you because they want to be able to reach that same audience. That too is a niche. Or maybe you have a superpower you’re the best in the world at a particular skill or service or something like that so a superpower can certainly be a niche as well. 


Enhance your next cornerstone content strategy by applying our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Cornerstone Content Strategy: Essential Steps to Success


So I don’t want you to just think that you have to choose a particular industry. That’s the only way to define niche because it isn’t, and you can also name a couple of those together, which would strengthen your niche even further. Alright, so now let’s take it into the second essential, which is having a clear POV or point of view, meaning why is it that you approach the work the way that you do? What are the strongly held beliefs within your business about the work that you do? Why do you care so much? Why do you have the passion? Why do you give a rip? Why do you want your prospects and clients to be successful? Why do you want your audience to be better every single day? 


Why do you truly care? What is moving you to do what it is that you do? What’s your point of view? That is the lens that you look through to the rest of the world through a that’s the lens that you use. And so your point of view really helps set some demarcation. It helps set you apart from it makes you unique from your competitors. That’s a clear point of view. And number three is don’t be, as I mentioned earlier, a one-trick pony. Okay. And that means that if you’re going to be creating content, big meaty pieces of cornerstone content, which we’ll get to in just a second, that means that it needs to be channel agnostic. It needs to be found across many channels and smaller cobblestones. 


What is the cornerstone content strategy? Okay. So now let’s get into the actual cornerstone definition. So, the cornerstone is literally the first stone that is set when a building is being constructed. It is the first stone. So if you think of the architect mapping out the plans for the building, that person decided, okay, we are going to start with this stone, and then the next stone and then the next stone, and every stone thereafter is set in relation to the cornerstone. So if the Cornerstone is off by, or even a small percentage or just a couple of degrees, and maybe less than that, as every stone gets stacked in relation to where the Cornerstone was set up, the entire building is going to be off. 


How to build a cornerstone content strategy? So your cornerstone represents your niche. Your point of view in everything, like exactly the coordinates of where you decided to plant your flag and then your cornerstone content, rams that flag into the ground over and over and over again. It helps you plant your flag in a very, very solid ground. So it was very important that your cornerstone honor’s niche in point of view and doesn’t aimlessly wander through the wilderness because then your entire content strategy would be off in an indirection. Okay. So that in, and then cornerstone content, as far as characteristics, it’s big, it’s meaty, it’s helpful, it’s consistent. 


Enhance your next cornerstone content strategy by applying our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Cornerstone Content Strategy: Building Your Path to Success


Right? So think video series, I think podcast series, I think annual research that then gets cut up. I think writing a book that you cut up is a year’s worth of content in one book. So again, think big meaty super-helpful, and consistent that’s cornerstone content. OK. Alright. So now let’s think about cobblestones or once you’ve created the weekly or annual cornerstone content that is sliced and diced. These are the slices and dice and if that’s even important, the slicing and dicing, and these are the smaller pieces, they hang off of the cornerstone. 


And so, but there’s really this unique characteristic here. So not only are you slicing like the golden nuggets out of a cornerstone but it becomes a cobblestone. Okay. That’s great. But also how you’re setting or lane the cobblestones in a path because when somebody consumes the little info snack or the little cobblestone that leads them back to sometimes if they want to take that path, there’s always a path. It leads them back to the big Cornerstone, right? So the cobblestones or the small little info snacks over time, really help develop trust with the audience, but then also leads back to the cornerstone. 


How to build a cornerstone content strategy? And so they can consume the big piece if they choose to. Alright. So now let’s look at that in relation to a sales funnel. So here at now, I’m drawing again on my iPad for if you happen to be listening to this a lot, just audio only here at the top of the sales funnel is the macro level, meaning this is where the cornerstone content CITs. It goes out to the under-dressable audience. So if let’s say that you had a podcast series I’m you would have no idea who in particular like specific individuals are downloading or who or your subscribers to your podcasts, it’s just not data that’s available. 


What is the cornerstone content strategy? It is an unknown meaning. So you’re putting this Cornerstone content out into the macro audience. It’s at the top of the funnel, but they are unaddressed. You can’t reach them by name now when they step into the next stage in the sales funnel, which is micro that’s what we’re creating this smaller cobblestone. And oftentimes not always, but often times, that micro content tends to be gated. So think of e-books or checklists or video series like private video series, which may be an online course, mini-course, or webinar. There’s a litany of things that you can be creating at the micro-level that are gated or not gated, but they’re smaller cobblestones that hang off of the big cornerstone, and then it might grow. 


Enhance your next cornerstone content strategy by applying our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Cornerstone Content Strategy: Turning Nuggets into Cobblestones


How to build a cornerstone content strategy? That’s where you’re developing enough trust that somebody says, yeah, I think I do want to give my email address in order to get that thing. But also that takes a lot of trust. It’s taken even more trust today. ’cause people are so used to and really turned off by giving you their email address and then getting pounced on. It doesn’t feel awesome. So yeah. So you need to make sure that when you create your sales funnel, that isn’t one of the results of outcomes because it feels yucky. You don’t like it when it happens to you. And so you can be assured that your prospects don’t like what we get when it happens to them. Okay. So now, let’s make the assumption here that you’ve decided on your cornerstone content. And I’m going to give you an example of how it relates to a podcast or not because this podcast is the only channel, and clearly, it is not. 


So you could use this example, I’ve just chosen podcasts. You could use this example of four videos, you can use this example for maybe you’re going to interview somebody for your blog and your blog happens to be your Cornerstone content. So this is channel agnostic. I just happened to choose a podcast example from one of our editors. So, let’s talk about how to slice and dice your content, your big Cornerstone content into smaller cobblestones. We call that slicing and dicing. So let’s slice and dice like a pro. Alright, so here’s what we’re looking for when we’re thinking about slicing and dicing, we’re looking for the golden nugget. 


So let’s say the typical podcast episode that I might record with a gun. So let’s say it’s 35, maybe 45 minutes. And within those 35, 45 minutes, our guests are going to share a lot of really insightful things, and that’s great in their super, super helpful what we’re looking for. Our really super prime takeaways, the key lessons of everything, and the super smart that they shared are three or four major standouts, and we call those golden nuggets. So the golden nuggets are the big, really awesome takeaways. Every episode has them amazing. And so then we distill the episode down to really find those golden nuggets. 


Okay. So what do we do with them once we find him, and that’s what we’re going, or that’s what I’m going to walk you through right now? So the entire episode airs on a podcast channel, and then we take the golden nuggets, and we slice and dice those out of the Episode into this smaller cobblestone. So here’s what I mean by that. So, I’m going to use as an example, the encore interview that I recorded with Kevin Harrington, one of the original sharks, a shark investor’ on Shark Tank, the ABC show Shark Tank. So this was the second time that the encore, I guess this is the second time that Kevin had come back to Onward Nation. Then, we applied this recipe to Encore. 


Enhance your next cornerstone content strategy by applying our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Cornerstone Content Strategy: From Conversations to Visual Gems


Really, really cool. So, okay. So here we go. During the conversation, one of the cool things that he talked about was the story of how he created it. He is actually the inventor of the infomercial, and he shared that story. He talks about how, if you remember back in the gosh, I think he was in the mid to late eighties. Do you remember the Ginsu knife on TV? You know what? It slices it dices it unless kind of funny that this is slice-and-dice content like a pro anyway. And so the way that the Ginsu knife, well, Kevin actually went to like a home show in Dayton, Ohio, which is where he was living in at the time and actually saw Arnold Arnold Arnold’s last name is escaping me at the moment, but Arnold is the inventor of the Ginsu knife. 


And he saw him doing a demonstration they’re in front of like 10 people and like seven or eight people after the demonstration was done, both the knife and Kevin thought, gosh, there’s got to be a better way to do this. What if we bought unused airtime? What if we filmed this demonstration? What if we put that on TV and while law, the infomercial was born right then and there? So honest to goodness. So when Kevin shared that with me, I thought, aha, this is a golden nugget. In fact, probably a series of golden nuggets that we can take out of this episode and share, and we can share those visually. So if you’re watching this on video right now, you’ll see that we took several golden nuggets here and we took the quote and then turned that into an image, a graphic that we could then share on LinkedIn in a long-form or long-form posts is what I meant to say. 


So, there are no more than 1300 characters, but we can write some content around that and share it either on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or on Instagram. I also took the graphics of the quote, and I embedded those into some of our e-mails. We tend to send about three emails a week, do you know, sharing golden nuggets of what we think would be helpful to our office audience? Ah, and so this may be the episode that is much more consumable because what happens is when somebody would see the Cornerstone or excuse me in the car cobblestone and think, Oh, that’s an interesting quote. I think I do want to listen to that episode downloads go up. Awesome. Then, our helpfulness to our audience increased because we were giving them a small little info snack, making them lead the path to the full episode that much easier. 


Okay. So now let’s take a look at that a little bit deeper. So then this quote, then we just looked at it before in graphic form. We’re looking at a UW again now, now in graphic form, that actually quotes the video version of that snippet. So, now where you see here on the screen when I saw Arnold, the inventor of the Ginsu knife, we’re taking that out of that graphic, that little video clip, where he is sharing that golden nugget, where Kevin is sharing that golden nugget. We took that 92nd or two-minute video clip and that became, and when we transcribe it, and that became essentially the content for the long run LinkedIn post, and then we upload the video natively to LinkedIn, and then we write a no more than 1300 character long-form LinkedIn post and post that and share that content that way. 


Enhance your next cornerstone content strategy by applying our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Cornerstone Content Strategy: Leveraging Conversations for Deeper Engagement


So those were just a couple of examples of how you can take in Episode, how you can find the Golden Knights I get. It is how you can transform them into a visual format. Then, you can see that even deeper by grabbing the actual video from their recording and turning that into a golden nugget that you can put into a long-form LinkedIn post for your audience that way. So now you’re taking an app and transforming it in five or six different ways just on the surface. And I’m going to show you how many more examples beyond that. OK. So now let’s take a look at another one. So here in episode 966, I had an opportunity to interview Tim Cameron Kitchen, who is the founder of Exposure Ninja, which is an SEO web development. 


Come on, how many in the UK are amazing absolute teams an absolute rockstar is a team of absolute rock stars, is what I meant to say. And so there are incredible. So I asked him if he would be gracious enough and kind enough to come back to Onward Nation and teach me how to get to the top of Google. So we can talk about it about some SEO kind of best practices and so forth. So he did, in fact, I’ve set that aside for just a second. I’m kind of combining a couple of things accidentally there. So, I asked him to come back to talk about SEO and how it has changed during that conversation. He mentioned his last name, this book, and how to get to the top of Google. 


And during that conversation, I thought, wow, that’s no, no, no. And is that a great book title? I’m like, that’s a great webinar title. The video title there is kind of a cool title. So after the Encore in, after we shared the encore and so forth, I thought, Hmm, I wonder if he would be willing to co-teach a webinar with me. So what I did was I decided to a record a video about how to get to the top of Google. I highlighted a couple of things out of that episode, and that became a Saturday video for us. So we shared by email, and that turned out to be a super helpful video. It was great sharing Tim’s expertise in the video. 


And that ties back to the Episode. Wonderful. So that’s an example of a cobblestone linking back to the cornerstone, but then I reached out to Tim and I said, look, this is, how do you get to the top of Google thing? It was a really, really cool thing would be willing to teach a 60-minute webinar alongside me with our audience about how to get to the top of Google. And he’s like, sure, I’d be happy to do that. So we go from an Encore Episode that leads to a video for our Saturday, a video series that then turns into a webinar, which is now a free replay for anyone in our audience. And it’s that much more being helpful to our audience who are concerned about how to boost traffic to their website. 


Enhance your next cornerstone content strategy by applying our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Cornerstone Content Strategy: Turning Conversations into Valuable Resources


It was awesome. And it all got sliced and diced essentially out of that encore episode. Okay. So now let’s take that and think about it from a resource library perspective. Okay. So right now, I’m showing on screen just a small screenshot or excuse me, a screenshot of a portion of our resource library at Predictive ROI. Go to So what I meant to say, and these resources, where do they come from? The content actually comes from many of the Onward Nation interviews. So we will knit together. You know, a few of the guests who we think are complimentary and think, okay, we can take this person to this person. 


Oh, that person over here has a great complimentary experience. Oh, let’s create a culture ebook based on these three or four guests. Amazing. Then that goes into our resource library, or let’s take this guest’s insight from that guess and combine it with this one here. And all of a sudden, that becomes a Trojan horse of sales ebook, right. And then, pretty soon we’ve got a built-out resource library. There is super helpful gated content. It helps us build our list. Yay. But in return, it has a screaming cool value exchange what we call it, meaning our audience’s willing to give us their email address because of the value of what they think they’re getting and in return, which is commensurate with the exchange of the email address. 


Okay. So now let’s go back to the screen here. And so a little bit of an apology. If you’re listening to this, just audio only, I just strongly encourage you to. I’m also going back to the video because what we, what I’m showing on screen right now is if you had four times a month Cornerstone content, and in this case, an episode how that could turn into 520 tweets, annualized of course a 104 blog posts 52 to maybe 156 email campaigns. And it goes all the way around the center of your cornerstone content here. The point is that if you’re to do 52 episodes or 52 videos, it could really turn into thousands and thousands of smaller cobblestones thousands and thousands of smaller cobblestones. 


Enhance your next cornerstone content strategy by applying our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Cornerstone Content Strategy: The Power of Q&A Sessions


So I think we’ve produced maybe about 10,000 podcast episodes here for clients and for ourselves. And I think at last count, it’s turned into 500 or maybe 650, or some thousand smaller pieces of cobblestone content. I mean it’s just a really big number when you get focused on slicing and dicing your content like a pro. Okay. So now I want to share with you a couple of pieces around maybe some of the biggest winners. So, now what we’ve done is we’ve gone to a high level of Sell With Authority, right? Planting our flag of authority, cornerstone content that lbs the flag and very solid In from ground, the niche end point of view or are your coordinates are the flag and then we’re going to plant it, and then the Cornerstone content pounds it into the ground and then slicing and dicing that Cornerstone content into smaller cobblestones. 


Awesome. Now I want to share with you a couple of key lead gen strategies. Actually, you could call them List-Build and then lead gen strategies. And the first one is the weekly Q and a. We started this Erik, and I started the weekly Q and A about maybe about three months ago. Now, gosh, I should have the date here that would have been helpful. Let’s call it October of 2020, and now gosh, so that would be much longer than that because this is March now, and the recording, I’m so I think that’s probably right. Maybe the beginning of November, I think, would be more accurate. At the beginning of November, we started to beta test the four-week beta tests to see if we should continue doing this. 


And we’d decided to just call it a Q and A. An open mic Q and A, and around a particular business issue. Right. And we know that our clients are prospects. Our audience is very concerned about filling their sales pipeline with the right fit prospects. Right. So we decided to not get super creative are cute or whatever we decide to call it Q and A how to fill your sales pipeline Q and a. And it’s an open mic every Wednesday at 12 o’clock noon central. Okay. So what I’m gonna share with you now is the exact recipe that we use in order to create that, right? I’m going to show you on screen. 


Hence the reason why I wanted to do this as a video also because I wanted you to see the actual e-mails that we send in. If you’re on our email list, now you probably get these a couple of times a week. I’m so feel free to use that content. But if you’re not on our email list, I want you to be able to see these so that you can take and apply. Okay. So let me first share the numbers with you regarding how this started as a beta. It was the very first time that Erik and I decided to have a Q and A, and we have two people attending now. To be clear, we are thrilled. Do we have two people? We have a great conversation. It was awesome. Really amazing. And I think that we were super helpful to the two people who attended. 


Enhance your next cornerstone content strategy by applying our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Cornerstone Content Strategy: The Journey of a Q&A Series


So it was a blast, and Erik and I afterward thought, okay, that was, that was a lot of fun. Now, we need to figure out how we can make the registration process better because we felt like one of the reasons why people didn’t attend was because the registration process was really informal. It was like, here’s the link. We didn’t really promote it all that much if you have time. Awesome. We hope to see you. They’re two people actually remembered enough to attend the great session, but we knew we could do better as far as improving the process. So we put that into the process quickly and the next time that we offered him, we had 20 people. Awesome. Then we decided to have a guest speaker or a guest expert join us. 


Then, we increased to 34 people, which was phenomenal. And then we had another guest expert, and this time, we took it. It was a twist of how to promote that through the guest expert’s channel by giving them some content that they could share. And then we had 128 people register, and we’re like, Holy bananas we are on to something. And so we got super excited, and we’ve never looked back. We’ve had a weekly Q and A just about every Wednesday unless, you know, it travels, or there is some sort of a client conflict or something like that. But, I think we’ve only missed once, maybe twice, in the last, probably four months. 


So we’d been super, super disciplined about it. Okay. So let me share, ah, the actual visual example. Oops. That was not the right deck there or the right slide. So now let me share a visual example of what the email is that we send out. Again, this is another reason why I wanted to share the video with you as well so that you can see the actual promotional example. It’s such a silly photo of me, Erik, and I waving to the camera, but I am sending it here. This is the actual email that we sent on Tuesday, December 8th. You can see that the sender is me with my email address. The distribution is the full list and the subject line simply reads tomorrow’s Q and A. 


Enhance your next cornerstone content strategy by applying our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Cornerstone Content Strategy: Mastering Q&A Engagement


Then, we insert a photo of Erik and myself waiving to the camera, just for context, to show who we are. Then the email goes on to read be sure to join us for how to fill your sales pipeline, open mic Q and A on Wednesday, December 9th, meeting the next day, a one o’clock Eastern, 12 o’clock Central. And then we explain the why behind it, maybe a little bit about the logistics. Erik, and I will kick it off with five to 10 minutes around one of our latest strategic insights, best practices, or test results we think will be helpful to you and your team. Okay. So a sidebar here for context: what we’d been doing is we’ve been running a lot of experiments, even more than we normally do in the Predictive ROI lab, where we come up with a new idea, see a new idea, hear about a new idea. 


We run it through the Predictive ROI lab, meaning we run it through our audience first and does our audience respond well? Do they hate it? Or do they love it? What we get actual data in. If it works, then we share that. And so we pull, we’ve been pulling that into the Q and A’s and saying, well, you want to know the best subject lines, the last 20 that we ran, here’s the actual data, and we share that kind of stuff. So that’s been really cool. So then, let’s go back to this. Okay. So now, back to the email, we open mic to answer all of your questions about lead gen and how best to feel your sales pipeline over the last month. We’ve had some epic conversations during the sessions. Why are we doing this? We want to help you brainstorm ideas, strategies, and action steps that you can use to fill your pipeline. 


So you can confidently step into 2021 and then a link where they can find all the details. And I’m encouraging our audience that now is the time to double down. So, that is the actual promotional email. Obviously nothing fancy in it works really, really well. So again, this does not have to be a boy. I keep going to do the wrong deck. This does not have to be complicated. This does not have to be overly creative. And so don’t make it complex. Keep it simple. So now let me show you an example of, let’s say, that you’re going to have a guest joining you. And so at the end of November on November, no, actually December 2nd, excuse me, is when Drew McLellan from Agency Management Institute, my co-author of Sell With Authority joined us the first time as our guest. 


Enhance your next cornerstone content strategy by applying our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Cornerstone Content Strategy: Mastering Engagement


And then he was also our guest on December 30. So December 2nd and then again, December 30. So, in the subject line, we just chose Drew McLellan because Drew is well-known among the people on our list, which is great. Then we will include a photo of Drew, and then very simply we’ll start with Drew sharing. One of his latest insights or sales funnel building has, and then we’ll go open mic. And then I go on to say one of the many things I appreciate about Drew, and I know you will too is how generous he is in sharing his smarts. Without a doubt, you’ll pick up several golden nuggets that you can take and apply directly into your business regardless of the niche that you serve. 


Okay? So that’s how we were promoting our guests and the results were astounding. And so again, we have 128 people for that particular Q and A session with Drew. Amazing. So, and then here is an example of, if you’re looking at it on the video here, let me switch my screen. This is an example of us providing the little snippet of content that Drew could include in his newsletter, where he went on to say, I’m going to be a guest co-host on Predictive ROIs, Phil, your sales pipeline, Q and A. I would love to see you there. And then he shared the logistics. And then also the fact that we are giving away copies of our book, Sell With Authority, to anybody who requested them. 


So let me now show you a couple of the other sort of behind the scenes tools that we’ve used in order to create this weekly Q and A. So the first thing is we built out a landing page that’s in Click Funnels. And so if somebody goes to, I believe it is the direct URL. They will get a page that looks just like this, where they can register for that week’s Q and A. So after every single Q and A, we changed the date. We refresh the infusion, soft, and downstream to make sure that everything is updated so we can be taking in registrations nearly immediately for the next weeks, Q and A. 


Enhance your next cornerstone content strategy by applying our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Cornerstone Content Strategy: Crafting Effective Reminder Emails for Q&A Sessions


So awesome. That’s a great system to be able to have, and we use Click Funnels to be able to do that. And then, we have a downstream email sequence. I’m not going to go through and read all of these like a day before. I’m going to give you the highlights here, and then you’ll be able to see them. For example, if you want to screenshot the video, you will be able to see the full text. I’ll go slow enough so that you could actually screenshot them if you wanted to look at them, but at a high level, what we do is as soon as somebody registers, we have send a reminder email or a confirmation email, excuse me, but as a reminder email sequence, so that at least 50% or more of the people who register actually attend live. 


And so this sequence is very important to make sure that that happens. So, the first is a very simple confirmation email. Hey, your spot is secure, which is the one that you see on the screen right now Hey, your spotter is secure, Erik and I are looking forward to seeing you, and then the logistical details, the title, the date at the time, the title of this session, the date and the time, and then the link, ah, the zoom link where they can access it. This is probably important too, is that for the Q and A, we are only doing that in Zoom meetings, like a typical or atypical zoom meeting. We’re not doing it with the Zoom webinar product or anything like that because we want to make sure that everybody had that interaction, the collaboration, and really what we’ve seen. 


It’s been amazing. So like, some of the same people are coming week after week after week, which is so cool. And then they start answering other questions before Erik and I can even get to answering the questions, which is great. It is amazing to hear other people jump in and say, gosh, do you mind if I share my point of view on that? No, that would be fantastic. And so that’s really, really wonderful to be able to see that. And you wouldn’t be able to do that with the Zoom webinar product, which only works in the typical Zoom meeting. It’s just easier, in my opinion. Alright, so let’s go back to it, then we send a 48-hour reminder. So again, if you want to grab a screenshot of this, please feel free to do so. 


Enhance your next cornerstone content strategy by applying our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Cornerstone Content Strategy: Creating a Warm and Engaging Q&A Experience


Very simply. It’s just reiterating the logistics of the data and the time and the Zoom link. So, we are sending that out 48 hours before the actual session. The subject line, this is in your calendar, right? So that goes out, like I said, 48 hours before the actual session. And then, as you might’ve guessed, there’s a 24-hour reminder again. A pretty similar context is just, we’re continuing to make sure that one, that reminded that they had registered, but also to make it super easy, to be able to go where’s that link. Oh yeah. I’m just going to grab it right out of that email that I received before. And then this might sound a little bit surprising. 


We actually do a 60-minute reminder, and then when we’re live, we actually send out the final email saying, we’re live, come join us. Erik and I are now live and here’s the link, right? So we do all of that and knit all that together. We are using FusionSoft or keeping the CRM distribution in order to make sure that we get good attendance at each of our events, okay? Now, or a Q and A session. There’s one more piece. And that’s what I like to call the campfire effect. Remember maybe when you were a kid, or maybe you still like to go camping now as a family. You’re sitting around the campfire and you’re a roasting hot dog or Marshmallows and telling ghost stories or whatever and feeling really good. 


Some bonding moments may be some family history stories. Remember when grandma did that, or remember when grandpa said that, or did your uncle Joe know what this meant? Like, it feels really good. It feels good. Or you’re hanging out with friends, maybe, I haven’t seen him in a while, and it’s just the bonding in that togetherness feels great to write. Okay. And then at some point, the campfire is over, right? And then you kind of walk away from the campfire, and maybe it’s the next day or a couple of days later or something like that. Or maybe you are back in school, and you bumped into that person in the hallway, or if you see somebody in a grocery store and that person is obviously still your friend and relative and that kind of stuff, but it’s sort of the specialists at that moment, its kind of worn off right. 


Enhance your next cornerstone content strategy by applying our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Cornerstone Content Strategy: The Campfire Effect & Super Signature


I still have the memory, but the warm campfire effect that you were feeling has gone well. So that’s an opportunity for you after the Q and A to send what we call the campfire effect email; it’s not salesy, but it was all about being helpful. And there’s something down below that maybe you could say is hell, is a salesy. And it is called the super signature. It’s something that I learned from a colleague of mine. His name is Tommy Moore. And when he shared that with us, I’m like, Oh my gosh, it was awesome. Can’t wait to run that through the Predictive ROI lab. So let me show you what this looks like and sorry for those of you who are watching this on video, I’m going to zoom in here. 


Because the type is so small, but here the subject line is just a replay link, and it says Stephen sends because that’s a note to my team. I always send this from my personal inbox. I never do like like an infusion soft or keep campaign. I want to be able to send this personally so that they know it was just an added personal touch as opposed to down at the bottom, you see the unsubscribe link. So this is just another way that I can raise the bar and make it a little bit more high-touch. Okay. So then it’s Hey, good afternoon. Thanks again for registering for today’s Q and A session, during which Erik and I co-hosted amazing content for the lead generation. 


Thanks for the awesome discussion. It’s a great way to step into it. So here are some quick next steps. A full recording has been uploaded to our Facebook group. So, for every one of our Q and A’s, we take the full recording and put it out to our Facebook group, which is also called How to Fill Your Sales Pipeline. And it’s a free Facebook group. We put every single recording there because this is private, and we want to make sure that our attendees have access to the recording. We want to make sure to bring them even further into the Predictive community inside the Facebook group. And then we say, if you are not all, remember, Oh, no problem. Just go here. And we give the money. I think where they can join if they choose to be. 


And then we take a minute to kind of promote if you will, if you want to say promoting, ah, the next Q and A is on a Wednesday, blah, blah, blah in here are the details. Then, down at the bottom, you can see what Tocky calls the super signature, and it works extremely well. So let me break this down really quickly here and talk about how the first two options in a super signature are additional free content. So, for us, if you happen to be listening to the audio version of this option, number one is, Hey, who is subscribed to our Onward Nation podcast. Option. Number two is to download our free 30-page executive summary of the ROI thought leadership. 


Enhance your next cornerstone content strategy by applying our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Cornerstone Content Strategy: Last Bit of Advice from Stephen


Both of those are Free. Both of them are extremely helpful. So awesome. Now, in points three and four, these are ways to step into a paid relationship with Predictive in a really easy way. So, point number three is the sales pipeline ignition program. If you want to feel your sales pipeline in the next 30 days in a format that is done for you, then sales pipeline ignition might be a way to do that. If you’re interested in here, I think, or then we say we’re starting a new case study group of Predictive in March, and we’ve got X number of openings if you want to onboard three to five clients. So in the next month or so, you’ve got the time to do that. 


You might really want to be a part of our case study program. So just reply here with the word case study in the subject line, and then I’ll be in touch. So we put that at the bottom of many of our emails and it’s amazing, the type of low, no, no pressure at all. So this has not been a high-pressure sales tech in the last little bit. And it’s amazing that the quality of leads comes our way as a result. Okay. So that’s why I wanted to share it with you because you could put it at the back end of your campfire effect. E-mail okay. So that’s what I want to cover with you. I wanted to, so let’s just do a quick review. 


Yeah. So again, at the top, we talked about why you should plant your flag of authority, and then we looked at some Edelman data. Then we looked at some ROI and thought leadership data, and this is that. So yeah. Your flag of authority is one of the outcomes of the Sell With Authority methodology. And then we took that a little bit deeper and thought, Hmm, okay. So what is it, the three essentials, if we are going to plant my flag and authority and then we took the one trick pony when deeper into cornerstone content and then talked about how to slice and dice that content into smaller cables, where are those fit within the sales funnel and talked about the strategy of the weekly Q and A which has been an amazing piece of micro-content right. 


Because somebody has to register for it, so technically, it is gated content no one can argue, you can argue that the weekly Q and A is actually a cornerstone content in and of itself. And that might be a fair argument, but because we have it gated, that’s why we’ve decided to classify it as micro content. But it is, without a doubt, one of the most recent and one of the best things that we’ve been able to do for business development in developing relations and in a completely no sales pitch format at all. So what has just been amazing as a people then drop us an email afterward and say, Hey, what you said today was really interesting? 


I’m wondering if you could be helpful to us as we grow our business. And it’s amazing when that happens because you’re being super, super generous. You’re following the ten truths of what it is to be in Authority. And you’re following the Sell With Authority methodology. And when you do that, your prospects come to you. You attract the right fit prospects and repel the wrong ones, which is great, but you attract the right prospects. Okay. I hope that you found that helpful. I look forward to crossing paths with you in the next episode. And I look forward to seeing you back for Episode 1000. Remember that solo cast 100, which is coming up here in just a few weeks until then until I have the chance to see you again. 


Now is the time to double down. Onward With Gusto. 


This Episode is complete. So head over to for show notes and more food to fuel your ambition. Continue to find your recipe for success here at Onward Nation. 


Enhance your next cornerstone content strategy by applying our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework

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