Founder & CEO of Trainual
From 0 to 800 Clients In 1 Year:
How This Startup Used Content to Grow Fast
About This Episode
In this episode of The Content Coalition, we interview Chris Ronzio, Founder and CEO of Trainual.
Over the last 5 years, his additional firm, Organize Chaos, has worked with hundreds of companies in dozens of industries and invested in building 6 of those businesses to over $30 million in annual revenue. Now, Chris’ third business, Trainual, is an online platform for business owners and employees to document what they do in simple step-by-step processes. Chris and his team are on a mission to systematize 25,000 small businesses through their technology.
Tune in as Chris shares more about Trainual and its content marketing strategies.
What You’ll Learn
- [02:19] What Trainual is and how they empower businesses
- [03:40] How content marketing accelerated the growth of Trainual
- [04:45] Trainual’s content marketing strategy since day 1
- [07:30] How this startup’s launch created tons of buzz that led to lots of content creation
- [08:39] How Trainual released all their front-loaded content and got their messaging out
- [12:29] Learn the detailed strategy for one of Trainual’s Facebook Ads that you can apply
- [13:50] Find out which retargeting strategy works best and how to implement it
- [15:46] How Trainual utilizes written content as part of it’s content marketing strategy
- [16:55] 1 actionable thing to implement within the next 24 hours
- [20:25] Other tips for creating and repurposing content
Shaina Weisinger is the Founder and CEO of Repurpose House, which turns long-form content into optimized videos and images for high engagement social media strategies. Shaina has a background in video production for digital marketing and is on a mission to show content creators the untapped potential and repurposing power of the content that they already have. She has taught about content in many publications including DigitalMarketer, Inc., and Startup Nation, and continuously offers valuable takeaways by interviewing industry experts from world-recognized brands such as GoDaddy, HubSpot, MarketingProfs, and more through her video podcast, The Content Coalition. She loves to laugh loudly, be obnoxiously competitive on the volleyball court, treat her dogs as her kin, and recover from tripping on or running into almost everything within a five-foot radius. Learn more about Shaina here: ShainaWeisinger.com
Chris: So we use a lookalike audience on our website and we can get more into this if you want, but we’re targeting people that are like our best customers. So the way we do it is when someone signs up for the ad, they hit a page that’s like a welcome page and we fire a pixel there to track that. Now they’ve become a customer. And initially we were just retargeting or or setting up our audience based on those people, people that had put in a credit card and signed up. But then what we saw is if we had a wave of bad people sign up, we were all of a sudden getting a wave of worst people. We’re based on the bad people. So we changed our rate or our strategy. And so now we fire off triggers or events for the Facebook pixel based on when someone is adding content and inviting users and Trainual you all because then we know that they’re active, we know they’re actually using the site.
Shaina: I’m Shana, I love dogs. I trip a lot and I happen to have a knack for making pretty sweet videos for businesses. But the more videos we made, the more questions I got about how video and other content can be leveraged to make a bigger impact in their marketing. I mean, 44% of marketers say that producing content is their biggest challenge. Get content marketing is 62% less expensive than outbound and produces three times more leads. Now I know a lot, but I certainly don’t know it all, so I’ve made it my mission to talk with content, kings, Queens, and bosses to learn as much as I could about crushing content marketing and I’m taking you along with me. Welcome to the content coalition.
Shaina: All right. Hey guys, we’re here today with Chris. Ron’s CEO. The founders CEO was the title. It’s 178 good. Okay. All right. On it. Same. These, I like it of Sres Mule, getting gold business out of your head. You’ve had multiple businesses over the past. I we go way back. I’ve known him for a very long time, but first business was doing game footage.
Chris: Yeah, sports. It was a event video company. It was called EVC. So we did youth sporting events all around the u s
Shaina: awesome. And so he did that and then he had organized chaos. You still organized chaos is still with us, correct?
Chris: Yes. Organized chaos is kind of on hold right now because the current business Trainual you will originated out of organized chaos. So it’s like organized chaos had a baby and then that baby grew up to be really attractive and now we just want to focus on that baby and we kind of cast the rest of the business aside for now
Shaina: say love you. My friends life is cruel. It’s cruel sometimes. So tell us about Trainual. What does Trainual we’ll do?
Chris: Yes. Trainual will is a simple platform like you said, to get your business out of your brain. So as you’re building a business, it gets complex and there’s more products and services you offer and you hire more people. And the way that most businesses fail is when those people just aren’t doing things consistently. They’re not doing things like you used to as the owner. So you go from learning how to do something yourself, to having to delegate it to other people and train mules, the step in between where you can document all those things that you do and make sure they’re crystal clear so everyone does in the same way.
Shaina: It’s awesome. We use Trainual all and it’s been amazing being able to put everything on a platform and just know that it’s there and not like in some random Google drive folder that maybe somebody knows how to get to. It’s been a game changer. I love, love it. Cool. And going through the platform was fun to see him pop up on videos. He’s like, Hey, it’s quick tip on this page. I was like, oh, this is very fancy. It’s fine. Um, San everywhere. I have content everywhere. So that’s why I was so excited to talk to Chris because um, trainuals new. When did you guys launch? January, 2018 okay. So right now it is January, 2019 so we are at one year, um, and Chris has had multiple businesses, been heavy on content. But what I was excited to talk about today is how he implemented the stuff that he already knows what content and put it into a startup. Yeah. And how that changed the game based on like the other businesses you have that maybe you didn’t do as much content. So, um, like just the big overlying question. Like how has the content helped in your growth?
Chris: Well, the decision to start Trainual you on to focus on travel content was a big part of it. So going back to organize chaos, my consulting firm, we were doing kind of management consulting services. We were telling people what to do. We were high being hired to help streamline all of their operations and we’re getting paid for that time, paid for that service. But what we were doing was really giving them content. We are giving them expertise and we were just doing it one to one for a really high dollar amount. And so as our architecture, our infrastructure grew and we hired more people, it was becoming more expensive to work with us and the businesses that we could help and touch or getting smaller and smaller as well, you know, or or larger and larger and larger. We couldn’t make the kind of impact too on it. So the turning point for me was how do I take all of the experience, all of the information, all the best practices, and instead of charging for that as consulting, how do I give that away as a marketing content to PR to promote an and amplify and scale a product which is train you on. So that was a massive shift in content was a big part of that.
Shaina: Awesome. Awesome. So what have you guys implemented content wise for like, clearly it’s a part of your operations piece, but as far as like launching the business, how did you use content? Like from day one?
Chris: Yeah, so let me go back. Before we even launched the business in January of 2018 a few months before that, I knew we were starting to rebuild. And so going through the rebuilding process, I wanted to document it kind of like it was a reality TV show or something, you know? So I started posting these like cryptic messages online and I’m working on something and I’ll tell you what it is soon and you know you, you want to get that, that vibe going of the excitement going. So we put up a landing page that was like a new versions coming, subscribe here for updates. I would send out these little weekly email blast that were just kind of from my desk, what I’m thinking. I’m years before that I had a weekly email where I was suggesting tips and so I was always kind of doing that, that content thing.
Chris: So then I hired a photographer. That was a huge step for me because I had never put myself out there visually, you know, I was writing, I was doing that, but I could not take a picture. Like if I tried to take a Selfie, I would take like 50 different ones and then delete them all and be like, well we’ll try again next week. You know, like I was just not a visual kind of communicator and so, um, hired a photographer to kind of follow me around town. Once a week she would take her camera, she followed me to meetings, we’d go to coffee shops, you’d go to client meetings, we’d sit in here in this office. And then we took all those pictures, hundreds and hundreds of, you’re probably thousands of pictures. And I finally had this database of imagery to go with a message that I wanted to say.
Chris: So I started just on Instagram simple, putting out an image a day of something with a message that I wanted to, to say. Um, then I started doing Instagram stories to get comfortable with video and just putting, you know, here’s what I’m doing today, here’s what I’m working on today. And it was amazing how much interest there was when you can just be raw and vulnerable and this broke or here’s the problem I’m having, or here’s a cool idea I had. And I guess that was kind of stupid. You know, like if you can, if you can just like get out there and say things. It was mostly for my own practice, but that was the story for the three months or four months before we launched Trainual you on. This was on your personal brand pages, things like that. Personal brand. And so the, the company pages, the landing pages, we were collecting interest, but then sort of funneling that through to my personal brand because when we launched this, I wanted the story to be here, not just, it’s a new building that popped up on the street, a new commercial establishment.
Chris: It’s like, it’s a new startup with a story and a real team of people behind it. So let’s introduce you to those people. And so we had this great imagery, the photos and videos and all these, you know, a hundred plus different live stories we had posted and all of that was a lead up to our big launch event. Um, so it was like a content steam engine or something that was really starting. Should I keep going? All right, let’s then, so then, uh, January we did a launch party and we thought, what’s the best way to get the word out there about this new software? Why don’t we have a big event and invite everybody that we know and we’ll go to a hotel here in Scottsdale and we’ll invite media and we’ll bring our photographer and we’ll put the big backdrop behind us. And you’ve got to realize, you know, of course we wanted to sell a couple plans or tell people about the product, do some demos.
Chris: But the real reason we did that was content. We wanted to have imagery, videos and photos from that event so that we can make our tiny little launch party in the corner of this hotel look like it was a real thing that we could blast out to the rest of the world. Yeah. Um, so you can leverage content and media to, to really amplify what’s going on, even if it’s just a small gathering of you and your friends. It was, it was a bigger than small gathering of friends. It was a nice event. There were, there were cocktail tables,
Shaina: there were cocktail tables. It was fancy. So awesome. Okay. So that was like leading up to launch. Yes. So it was collect, collect, collect basically front load as much content as possible. And then so then once launch happened, like how did that all get distributed?
Chris: Okay. So launch happened and it was kind of like we had prescheduled posts, I use an app called later for a social media posting. Um, was, that was how I was doing it myself. And then it was just, we were signing people up and then for the weeks after the, the signups, you, we’re very operationally focused for a few weeks after launching. Um, and then came back to like, okay, how do we get the message out there? And so the next thing we did was podcasts. And so we went on this kind of PR binge of researching all these different podcasts and all these different, um, you know, shows and radio shows and anything that we could possibly get on and just sending them inquiries. And my brother was doing it and I was doing it and our operations manager is doing and, and uh, and we got like 40 of these podcasts and so yeah, really good ones.
Chris: And so, and so being on those shows, I think the first one I did was such a, like a cluster of it, just like the Internet didn’t work and it’s fluttering in and out and, and like I forgot to grab the power charger and my computer, you know, when you’re watching your battery tick down and you’re like, oh my gosh, I hope this interview ends in like five minutes because otherwise the battery is toast. Like all those problems were happening at the beginning, but it was such a great practice. Just get out there and repeat the message. So it was really all about reps, you know, just like getting repetition, saying the same message over and over.
Shaina: Yeah. Gotcha. Okay. So let’s talk about the stuff that I get retargeted for constantly on Facebook and Instagram. Okay. You and your brother running around downtown somewhere with cameras in front of your faces. Yeah, that’s, that’s the one, right? That’s like the one that we’re getting.
Chris: Have you done this a lot? We, so we, we, the first video we shot was in, uh, San Diego. We were at San Diego in San Diego for an event. So we walked around downtown and shot this video of, of could you, could you clone yourself or how do you, how do you clone yourself? You know? And my brother would tell this story about how I always called him and said, you know, bro, I need you to take a personality assessment or I need you to, I need, I need to figure out like what’s the secret sauce and why we work so well together so that I can go and hire that type of person. And eventually I ended up just hiring him. Right? But what became, what I realize is that you can’t replicate a person, but you can replicate the results of the person. And so that message just, we recycled it over and over and started shooting these videos of us together and it’s worked really well.
Shaina: Yeah. Awesome. So, okay, I have to ask, how are the sharks talking about you guys on that, that testimonial retargeting. What is I haven’t asked you cause I want her to wait till we sat down because I wanted to get the answer on camera.
Chris: Okay. So, so that story is, so it’s really, it comes down to influencer marketing. There’s this whole industry of influencer marketing where whether it’s online or video or TV or radio, there’s personalities that, you know, know they have a brand, they know they have a following and they know it’s worth something. And so for us, we tried to look at who are the influencers or people that would be most impactful for our audience. And of course any of the sharks stood out as one of those things. So I had a friend who does a lot of influencer marketing and was working on something, um, you know, that involves him. And so we, we
Shaina: him is who, sorry, I didn’t even, Kevin O’leary. Mr Wonderful. Oh
Chris: yeah. Talking about. So it involves him. And so we um, we did like a, a, a paid kind of collaboration with him to get him to do a shout out. So yeah, it’s like, you know, it’s, where do you put, when you’re a startup, where do you put the dollars? Where do you invest in the content you’re putting out? You want it to have the biggest bang for the buck. And so something like that, that’s an authority that you can leverage to give your brand instant trust and, and more recognition. You know it as they’re scrolling through Facebook or as you’re scrolling on your website, it gets him to stop and say, hold on a second, they must be legit. That’s super valuable. So totally recommend that.
Shaina: And then you got another shark. How did was that was empty. I was the same deal. And you’re utilizing that as retargeting. How’s that? What does that ad who was that playing too?
Chris: So it is, I mean it’s playing as a to a cold audience actually. Yes. So we use a lookalike audience on our website and we can get more into this if you want, but we’re targeting people that are like our best customers. So the way we do it is when someone signs up for the ad, they hit a page that’s like a welcome page and we fire a pixel there to track that and now they’ve become a customer. And initially we were just retargeting or setting up our audience based on those people, people that had put in a credit card and signed up. But then what we saw is if we had a wave of bad people sign up, we were all of a sudden getting a wave of worst people. We’re based on the bad people. So we changed our, we our our strategy.
Chris: And so now we fire off triggers or events for the Facebook pixel based on when someone is adding content and inviting users and train y’all because then we know that they’re active, we know they’re actually using the system. So we use that as our, as our targeting audience for a cold look alike or a 1% to 5% lookalike audiences. And then we want to capture those people’s attention with something like a celebrity that they know or a mysterious kind of video or something that’s gets it the pain of what they’re experiencing. And so we cashed those kind of wide messages or those authority messages to that wide audience. And then as they hit our website and start to get retargeted, now we’re talking more about the benefits of the products and the specifics and the things they already saw.
Shaina: Gotcha. So what are the ones they have hit the first ad and you’re retarget. You’re doing like video retargeting. So they’ve seen 15 seconds of video a and are you following up with video be or what’s that? Is it, are you waiting to retarget till they hit the site?
Chris: We’ve done it both ways. He found what works better. I think it works better when they hit the site and we retarget target the users on, I think it’s a seven day a retargeting from being on the site. Yeah. Um, is, is converting better. We’ve also retargeted though based on they saw this video. So now I want to show them this one early on. Another thing we did to leverage authority was I would hold up a book like the e myth was a big one because we knew that anyone that had read the e myth had this systems and processes focus that they would be closer to understanding the solution that train you. We’ll offer, we wouldn’t have to get the education of why you need systems, you know they get it. So now they can just sign up. So I would hold up the book e Myth and just point out a read a page from it and talk about how it’s one of my favorite books.
Chris: You know I talked to the e myth organization and like they were excited cause I was kind of promoting them and it was sort of a win win that I’m promoting this book, they’re getting some brand exposure but then I’m also leveraging that authority to say, hey you read this book, well Trainual goals the next step. Here’s why you should check it out. And so we use that. And once they would watch that video, then someone that had watched it 10 seconds or something of that video, we would show another video that was on the same topic but a little deeper. So there’s this, the top of funnel you want to educate customers, just capture their attention and get them interested in your s your solution.
Shaina: That’s awesome. We just filmed a little series on that too because it’s scary the base, because he thought how he does his content is how what we do. Yeah, so it’s like the anatomy of the Gary v Video, we went through his whole deal. So that’s, and then retargeting again with something that’s still on the same wavelength but not like we’re awesome and blah blah blah. You got to give the value in some capacity. Yeah, sure. So are you doing, so that’s, we’ve talked social media, content, video, that kind of stuff. Are you leveraging much written content?
Chris: Yeah, so back in the spring I got a column with a weekly column with inc magazine and so I do my ink articles every month. Then we brainstorm topics that are somewhat relevant to the brand. But also my personal experience as an entrepreneur for 20 years. And that is another great authority piece. So it’s, it’s something I can put in my linkedin title and people reach out and you get meetings a little bit easier when you’re at conferences and things like that. So again, it’s a anywhere that you can borrow that brand recognition when you’re a startup helps, you know, we’ve got all the press outlets that we’ve been featured on our website. Um, we do, um, guest blogging on other websites, you know, HR type tools and Zapier and things that, things that are just related for people that would work in our space. Um, but in terms of written content, it’s mostly a weekly newsletter, uh, the, the ink column and then just some guest posting.
Shaina: Awesome. Very cool. So then the way that I’m kind of making sure that we wrap is I want people who are listening or watching to be able to like do something in 48 hours and it doesn’t, it shouldn’t require like a team of 50. It’s just like, what can you do today, tomorrow that’s realistic. That puts you ahead of where you are at today in your content strategy.
Chris: Yeah. What do you think? Great question. All right, so I just came back from an event called Sass Academy with one of my coaches, Dan Martell. And he teaches this great content framework, which he has some trademark name for it, but you’ll have to look it up. It’s cool. But anyway, I’m going to, I want to share with you this cause I just learned it and I thought it was really impactful. So when you’re telling a story, especially on video 62nd video or something, you can follow this recipe to a t and it’s a great way to share a lesson or share a story on a Facebook live and Instagram, anything like that. And my challenge for everyone out here would be recorded something, recorded some lesson, and then just share it. I don’t care how good it is, just share it because you need to get in the pattern of sharing and repeating yourself if you’re ever going to dial in your message to be concise enough to really attract those customers.
Chris: So the the recipe, the way that you do it is first you talk about the challenge, what’s the problem? So maybe the challenge is I can’t think of anything to talk about. I don’t like I’m an expert, I don’t know what I should share. And so then you say the opportunity. Well, what if it was easy to get an endless number of topics that you could share with other people? Like would that be useful for your business? Step three, you share a personal story. For me, it really used to be hard to come up with ideas that I wanted to share because I never took the time to write those ideas down. And when I went to share something, I was starting with a blank sheet of paper. Now you give the steps, the, the sequence of how to come up with those ideas. So here’s a few ways that you can generate content, generate ideas so you never run out of things to share first.
Chris: When people ask you a question like on your website or your Faq is, or your chatbots, write those questions down. I had an intern come in here last week. A friend of mine’s daughter that was going off to college wanted to learn about the tech industry. She asked me 15 questions and I thought, these are great questions for content. There you go. So I asked her to email me those questions and now I’ve got them just in a list of things that I’m going to start sharing. So leverage the questions that people ask you next. Make sure you’ve got a to do list or an Evernote or some place that you can collect those ideas whenever they come to you. So when I’m in line at Starbucks or driving or doing whenever I’m not supposed to be texting, I write those ideas down so that I’ve got this backlog of things to write about.
Chris: And then when I’m at a conference and I hear other people ask great questions and I’ve got an idea in my head of how I would’ve answered that if they were asking me, I’ll take a note and I’ll write that thing down. So if you follow those steps, you’ll start to build a backlog of ideas that you can talk about when you want to share something. So you might ask yourself, what if I run out of things to say. I’ve found the actually by saying things, by sharing lessons and stories, you create new stories because I’m going to say something that gets you to ask question. That crew creates another topic for me to talk about. So it’s really this endless stream of content once you get going. So to wrap things up, like I said, the framework is simple. You’ve got a challenge. I can’t think of ideas. You’ve got an opportunity. You could probably think of ideas if you had a backlog of them. You’ve got a personal story about, you know I used to struggle with this too and you’ve got the sequence of steps that you want someone to follow. So that was Kinda like a metal version of how you too can produce some really simple video content and then share it out with your audience.
Shaina: That is awesome. That was the most loaded version of like answer to that question I’ve ever gotten. That was incredible. Wow. Well thank you so much. This has been, is there any, any other knowledge nuggets you want to share? I mean I’ve got bombed with information so I’m pretty stoked about it.
Chris: No, I mean when it comes to content and it comes to repurposing your content, you know you’ve got to do what’s easiest for you. A lot of times with my ink articles, I ended up starting with a two minute video recording of myself talking and then I framed that later into a real article because easier for me to talk, you know? So if you do audio really well, do a podcast. If you do video really well, turn on your phone and set it off. If you do photos really well, you’re great at posing or something. Get a friend to take pictures. If you write really well, started a newsletter and whatever you do really well, that’s where the content should originate. But then don’t forget the other three things you know, let your content that you shoot on video, turn into blog articles. Let your video get transcribed and turn it into blog posts. You know, let your podcasts turned into show notes, all this stuff that you guys do so well. That’s really what it’s all about. It’s about just create content and the way that’s easiest for you, and then have a team that you can use to push that content out and maximize the Roi you get from it.
Shaina: Because content is, content is content, and it translates. That’s awesome. Well, cool. Thank you so much. This has been awesome. It was great to catch up. I actually, I haven’t really heard the full fledged story of the Trainual you’ll experience as a [inaudible] annual, so awesome. Thank you guys so much for listening. Go do his last 10 minutes of awesomeness that each Mark Johnson, you’re gonna have to rewind and realist and I’m excited too, so thank you Chris. All right, thanks Jamie. Bye guys. Thank you so much for checking out this episode of the content coalition. Now, whether you’re listening or watching, make sure that you subscribe to the Youtube Channel and to whatever platform you’re listening to it on, because you’re not going to want to miss out on the incredible things that I’m learning with these amazing content marketing pros. So make sure you subscribe and we will talk to you next week.