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Q&A with Mark Masters: sand, sun and a content revolution

Meet Mark, a global content marketing author and speaker. He talks about Portuguese beer, how people can unlock their content marketing mojo, and the significant benefits of nurturing a community.

Mark Masters is a global content marketing superstar, and his book The Content Revolution has seen him speak in countries including Brazil, the US and Norway.

 

His UK-based marketing company We Are The Media helps organisations create and own a narrative within their marketplace.

 

Mark’s ethos of “becoming a voice” is centered on empowering people to build and create an owned asset, so they can engage their audience directly.

 

And Mark practises what he preaches. In 2013, he started a side project called You Are The Media (YATM) to demonstrate how to build a community that isn’t reliant on dominant platforms such as Google and Facebook.

 

Today, YATM boasts a community of more than 2,000 people, and offers conferences, workshops, Zoom shows, lunch clubs and a podcast, among other things. Its April ‘Month of Learning’ features a line-up of thought leaders, and we wanted to make sure that you know about it, and have the chance to participate.

 

Despite Mark being synonymous with content marketing, he started his career in London advertising agencies. However, his penchant for fresh air and the beach saw him move to the beachside town of Poole on the south coast of England 14 years ago.

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Mark lives and breathes his ethos of “becoming a voice” and engaging your audience directly.

What do you do?

My current role is leading the ship from a strategic perspective to help customers identify the role they can, and should, play in their marketplace.

 

From there, we create editorial schedules and, with a team of journalists, help them effectively become ‘the media’.

 

I’ve always believed in both the importance, and ability, of others to be self-sufficient, independent, resourceful, and to have a voice.

It’s incredibly empowering to have the ability to say something to an audience on a consistent basis, so that people don’t want to go anywhere else.

Can you tell us about your Month Of Learning?

The pandemic heightened the importance of companionship offline, and shared learning online.

 

Our April You Are The Media Month Of Learning is dedicated to helping people find their content momentum, recognise what they stand for, and find and promote their voice.

 

I’ve enlisted the help of global thought leaders, including Mark Schaefer, Sonja Nisson, Doug Kessler, Trevor Young and John Espirian, to help others learn how to unlock their content mojo.

 

I don’t believe in a generic one-way online conference, or passively watching a stranger talk at you for 50 minutes. So, instead, we structure the month to include a dedicated weekly topic, a study group and interactive time with our teachers.

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YATM’s Month Of Learning provides access to global content marketing superstars.

And just as importantly, we present a lens informed by the JTBD framework that helps brands and their partners tune what they deliver at important moments along their customer journeys.

What mantra are you living by this year?

The UK has had a tough pandemic and my 2021 focus is based on just three things: my family, work and YATM.

 

The pandemic revealed to many of us how much time we wasted on travel, the lure of shiny objects, and meandering from idea to idea.

 

This year I’m focused on appreciating what I have, recognising that life doesn’t have to be complicated, and being thankful for the people around me.

What’s the most important thing marketers that can do to drive commercial outcomes?

Build a space, and an audience, before you need it.

When the pandemic struck in 2020, one of my first thoughts was should YATM go quiet until everything has passed? Effectively, this would have seen the weekly YATM email continue, while all the events paused.

 

I reached out to the YATM community and floated the idea of trying a Zoom show where we travelled around the world to meet others. Our community loved the idea – and I realised shared connection was even more important to our community now than ever before.

 

We’ve done this show every month since March 2020 and about 100 people attend each one.

 

YATM has also reaffirmed the importance of the long game. The ‘ask’ – whether that be of presenters or our community – is so much easier when everyone is equally invested and familiar.

 

YATM has given me the most joy in my career.

 

My advice is that building an audience – irrespective of whether that’s customers or subscribers – is so much more important and rewarding than having people to address and sell to.

 

You need to show up every day and share your time, knowledge and work so that people trust you. Ultimately, trust breeds commitment.

What’s a cracking book you’d recommend or podcast you swear by?

I’m currently really enjoying Mark Schaefer’s Cumulative Advantage.

 

From a non-marketing perspective, a book I highly recommend that ties in with the world in which we now find ourselves is Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom – it’s about living life, acceptance and having hope. We’re all very lucky, it doesn’t matter where we’re living on the planet.

Who are your go-to thought leaders, and why?

There are so many good people out there. What I did a few years ago was find a way to reach out to many of them, and in 2015, I created a project called Talking Content Marketing, where I asked people five questions. I was surprised that when you reach out to people you respect and admire, they say ”yes”.

 

Over the years, these people have become my friends, YATM online guests and, hey, they’re even teachers for the YATM Month Of Learning.

That’s the beauty of all this – when you have a topic area that you believe in and stick with, the longer you participate and are seen, the more the thought leaders become friends and allies.”

Our favourite qu: What’s your top beer or wine recommendation?

My favourite beer is a Portuguese pale lager called Sagres. A friend told me it was on offer at the supermarket last week (it’s never in the supermarket) and I now wish I’d filled the trolley up… twice!

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