Matt Siltala is speaking at State of Search and is the Founder of Avalaunch Media, and a search & content marketing leader. Matt’s clients have included Webtrends, Steven Covey, Home Depot, and the ESRB. We interviewed Matt about how Avalaunch got started, common mistakes in content marketing, and the backstory behind his (in)famous beard.
1. What’s the backstory of Avalaunch Media?
So, how far back do you want me to go? haha – I was working for a company that “coached” people in Internet Marketing way back in 2003. Before this time, I had started some side projects with some buddies and created several ecommerce sites, even a dating site that we eventually sold. As I got better at marketing my own sites and helping those I was coaching, word spread quickly. Before I knew it I was getting requests of side projects. Eventually, there were so many side projects that I felt I was losing money staying at my “corporate” job, and mind you – this was a very well paying job. Luckily I have an amazing wife, who didn’t flip out when I told her I had quit my job to go full time on my own. During this time one of my buddies in the ecommerce stuff was finishing up a law degree at Alabama (ROLL TIDE) and another was at a crossroads with his current positions. We had a good talk about decided to bring all we had going on into one company.
We then called “Dream Systems LC” and because we had so many Internet marketing requests and clients we decided to have a DBA as Dream Systems Media (our whole thought process was sticking “Media” at the end of a name that we already had established. Some branding strategy huh? We continued to grow and eventually needed a name to match the kind of clients we were attracting. There was a huge process (too long for this here) in how we re-branded into Avalaunch Media, and it should be told at some future point, but for now as they say “the rest is history” and we have been building up the Avalaunch Media brand since about 2012. We still own one of our ecommerce sites, and I credit our ability to stay “up to date” with what is going on in the world of search (as an agency) to that site. You cannot know what your clients are going through unless you are going through it yourself – I am a firm believer in that.
2. What are some of the most common mistakes you see in content marketing?
Not having a plan, simply put. LETS CREATE AMAZING CONTENT is what we hear all the time, but there needs to be more of a thought process that goes into that. There needs to be a strategy laid out before ANY content is developed. What is the goal of this piece of content? Is it for brand awareness? Is it for community building? Are you looking for social mentions? Are you wanting it to earn links, so your SEO is easier? Are you wanting it to get you leads and sales? You need to answer these questions first, and what the biggest goals are with your content. We get new clients all the time that don’t want to do any more infographics or video because the last time they “invested” in that type of content it “did nothing” for them. You then drill down and figure out, there was no plan, (and you help them see this and where they went wrong) and once you help them realize this it becomes much easier to make them happy again.
3. What are some of the best content distribution or sharing strategies you’ve seen?
When you are working with a company that has their own internal data on a hot topic, that is gold. It is one thing to create an amazing infographic with data you have to search for on the web, but a completely different ball game when you are sharing first-hand data from the actual source. These types of content ALWAYS do better when you give the consumers a peek into your inner workings. Also, when you collaborate with authors on big sites. They are already established and know what their readers want and if you can help them come up with some kind of visual that will aid their writings that is a win-win for both of you.
4. Where do you think content marketing is headed overall?
Not just because I speak of it all the time, but the visual content is not going away anytime soon. Look at all the major social networks out there, they are all very visual. Even Twitter, who a few years ago was only 140 characters of text is full of images and video now. Go look at your stream and I am guessing at least every 5 posts you will see something visual. I see interactive video (which we have been doing a lot of here at Avalaunch Media this year) as the next big thing in visual content. I recently gave a presentation at Pubcon talking about this and you can find my slides here: http://www.slideshare.net/MattSiltala/consuming-content-from-vintage-to-interactive
5. You said your LDS mission was life changing. What were your most important takeaways?
I grew up fast. I learned that there was a big world out there with views different from my small little town I grew up in. I learned to love people, and I mean really love them and find their good qualities no matter their background or situation. It was also very amazing for me to learn all about so many other faiths and beliefs. I served my mission in Fiji (yes, I was lucky) and feel I became an island boy those two years. The best compliment I ever got was from a (native) companion that called me a “local”. It mean I got it, I got the culture and I tried to become a part of it (at least while I was there).
6.What was it like working with Steven Covey’s organization?
Where do I even begin to answer this question. This organization is the motivation for so much that drives the workfront and society today. The main thing I learned though was to never give up on your dreams. Don’t wait around for someone to hand something to you, go make it happen yourself. I would say the drive I got from them, was the most valuable thing.
7. Who do you look up to/reach to when you get stuck?
I have so many amazing peers in this industry, but a few really come to mind – Debra Mastaler would be top of that list. She has always been in my corner and my #1 fan in this industry. She tells it to me like it is, she never sugar coats anything and I have grow so much because of my relationship with her. Also, my business partner, David Mink – he too has been my #1 fan, or I should say “believer” in me. I have known David since we met in college and were roommates. I would not be where I am today without him – no question in my mind. Others that I cannot fail to mention that have always been there for me are Andy Beal, Matt McGee, Will Scott and Michelle Robbins. There are so many more that have helped me along the way, but these are those that stand out in my mind when you ask that question. Last but not least, my amazing beautiful wife – she has never batted an eye with any of my crazy business ventures. She is my rock and foundation and without here NONE of this would be possible.
8. What is the most interesting place you’ve traveled to?
A little 17 square mile (to the best of my memory) little tiny south pacific island called Rotuma. we could ride our bikes around the whole island in like 4 hours. Its not really a place you can go visit unless you know people and I was lucky enough to have lived there for about 5 months. The people are amazing, the culture is amazing and the island is the most beautiful place I have ever been.
9. How did your famous beard get started?
Is it famous? I had no idea? hahah Well, one day I just got tired of shaving – it grows fast and I have to shave all. the. time. and I was just done, so I stopped shaving and the longer it got, the more my wife liked it and just told me to keep growing it (again she is the most supportive person on the earth to me) and I blame my “friends” who may or may not be listed above in an answer as to making it infamous … not famous (see @Siltalasbeard on Twitter)
10. Your beard even has its own Twitter account. How did that happen exactly?
Whoops I guess I kinda answered this above, but I was in Seattle speaking at an SMX Advanced and one of my buddies said “I can’t see past Matt’s beard, that thing is so big it needs its own Facebook account” … not something you say with a carload of Internet marketing and social media types. hahaha I’ll just leave that there.