Here is a transcript generated by of The Content Mix podcast interview with Alwi Mohamed Suleiman, content marketing master, on how to gain customers for life:

Carlota Pico 0:13
Hi, everyone, and welcome back to The Content Mix. I’m Carlota Pico, your host for today’s show, and I’m excited to introduce Alwi Mohamed who is head of content at Content Market King, and also has over a decade of experience in marketing. Welcome, Alwi, and thank you so much for joining us today on The Content Mix.

Alwi Mohamed 0:34
Thank you so much for having me. It’s a pleasure to be here.

Carlota Pico 0:37
Well, the pleasure is mine. Alwi, thank you so much for joining us. Could you tell me a little bit about your journey? How did you get to where you are today?

Alwi Mohamed 0:45
Well, believe it or not, I used to be a bookkeeper. And well when I was traveling to the Netherlands, I decided to stay and study here a while back ago. And I started, I studied International Business Management. And once I finished a study working as a marketer, and in one of the companies in my early days in my in my career, I worked for a company and we were being refreshed by the competition. Because we had a really low budget. And about that time, there was not a lot of talk about online marketing. So I was investigating avenues to help level the playing field. And I stumbled across online marketing. So then I studied about it, I taught myself PPC, SEO, and helped the company create their first website. And once that was done, we started doing online marketing. And it exploded. I mean, we went from having a few people locally to people coming from all over. The benefit of that is Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, even Germany coming to buy at our showroom. So a little bit of a background, it was a furniture export company, which export from Italy and Turkey. And it had the showroom in in Rotterdam. So by the time by the time I left there, we had competitors trying to copy us in the way we created ads and the way we created organic traffic. So we went from being such a small company that nobody knows about, to one that was having international customers and had a lot of, let’s just say, a lot of attention from really big competitors. Like [inaudbile], for example. If you’re in the furniture, industry, you know who they are. And that’s what led me to online marketing game. After a while, I realized I had a talent–I’m a creative person. And my strongest attribute is creating content. Because it was that creation of content that actually got a lot of people attracted to the to the brands I worked with. And so I decided to create Content Market King and focus more on content. And luckily, I have a strong backbone in SEO and PPC and in digital marketing in general. And behind that the whole marketing concepts.

Carlota Pico 3:36
What an exciting journey, Alwi. So tell me what type of content did you create that attracted such a large audience to that brand that furniture brands?

Alwi Mohamed 3:45
Useful content, useful content, I would say we were doing things that others weren’t doing. So we were publishing videos, blogs, about about the type of mattresses for example, if you’re overweight, if you have sensitive skin, if you have trouble sleeping, you know, we gave people tips. So that was attracting a lot of a lot of customers. And from the PPC side of things, we created a lot of content that was basically very, very specific to a very specific group of people. So again, if it’s people who are having problems with their backs, and they’re looking for a certain type of mattress, we created, we zoomed into that so we were really focused and we went in, you know, we went in for the kill basically.

Carlota Pico 4:41
Okay, fabulous. So then, of course, I have to ask you Alwi: Is there ever a perfect piece of content?

Alwi Mohamed 4:48
A perfect piece of content? Luckily, thank god, no, because if we had if we had a perfect piece of content, we would stop growing, you’d stop learning. And even After more than a decade of content and online marketing experience, I’m still learning. Now you can technically create a perfect piece of content based on a certain formula. Again, if it’s technical, like the SEO, the hashtag, how do you write it, the amount of words or characters, the meta description, and all of that, you can get all of that really well. But, you know, Google, the next day, they change the algorithm, they change everything, and then you start to do it all over again. As for content for people–that is content for machine–as for content for people, it’ss again, it’s a difficult thing to get the perfect content, because the same target audience will have people who read the same piece of content and react differently. But again, that’s the beauty of it–you don’t want it to be perfect. But what you want it to do is resonate with the people and help them and make them take action, and make them share it because they think, you know, this is something newsworthy, and this is something I want the person that I love, who is in the same industry or on the same situation, with the same pains to use, you know, as a solution. So that’s what you’re looking for, you’re not looking for a perfect piece of content, because it does not exist, basically.

Carlota Pico 6:31
Okay, so if a perfect piece of content doesn’t exist, how do you create content that is perfect or good for machine, and also equally as viable for the person?

Alwi Mohamed 6:44
Well that’s the thing with Google is now, they’ve come a long way. If you create content that is useful for people, the machine will love it also. Back in the day, you used to have stuff keywords, you used to really focus on the technical stuff. Now you do that, because it’s good. But I would say I would put like 80% you do for the human and maybe 20% for the machine, because it’s good practice. But if people find that your content is useful and helps them, you know, it resonates with them, it will be reflected on how they behave on your website on that particular page, that particular piece of content. And that will send signals to Google, to say, you know what, this is a really good piece of content.

Carlota Pico 7:35
Okay, do you use any tools that help you to zoom into the perfect keywords?

Alwi Mohamed 7:40
SEMrush. And I love SEMrush because it just makes things really clear, it makes things really easy. It gives you an insight on what your competitors are also doing. And that is also really important because you don’t want to be doing stuff, you know, that may cost a bit more than usual, while your competitors are doing things that cost less and are working. So you have to keep your eye on the ball, you have to keep your eye on the competitor. And SEMrush helps you do that.

Carlota Pico 8:15
Okay, excellent. Well, how to incorporate that into my list of tools to use in the future, in the near future. Now, Alwi, let’s talk about the Content Market King. Okay. So what does it offer that other agencies or other companies aren’t able to do as well?

Alwi Mohamed 8:31
Well, I am in this habit of zooming in a particular niche. And with content marketing, what I do is, you know what they say if you give somebody a piece of fish, they will eat it for one day, but if you teach them how to fish, they will have fish for the rest of their life. So what I do more than just being an agent, I actually re-introduce the companies I work with, to the audience, validate the buyer personas, teach them how to talk in such a way that their content resonates with the with the target audience, and how to get them to take the actions that are important for their business success. So I’m a coach, I do the legwork, but I’m also a coach at the same time. So once we say okay, you know, we’ve reached the limit, you know, the contract has ended and everybody’s moving on, then don’t only get the advantages of having me being there, but they have a lifetime of advantage because now they have the skills.

Carlota Pico 9:50
Very beautifully put. Okay, Alwi, so from your expert opinion and your experience so far, what type of challenges do companies face the most?

Alwi Mohamed 10:00
In the beginning, it’s always a budgetary issue. A lot of time, to be honest, I have to have to convince them about the value, especially the non-monetary value of creating good content and spending time on it and spending money on it. And that keeps reoccurring with small companies that I work with. And what I’ve learned from that is that, you know, take baby steps with them. And the same way they should take baby steps, depending on what industry they’re in, but taking baby steps to get the customer to do what’s needed to be done to help them. So like, what is Jerry Maguire who said, “Help me help you?”

Carlota Pico 10:51

Alwi Mohamed 10:51
So, that kind of scenario.

Carlota Pico 10:54
Okay, so what are those baby steps? What do those baby steps look like?

Alwi Mohamed 10:59
Baby steps for me: basically, create the first piece of content. After we’ve done all the research, you’ve validated the buyer persona and everything, create the first–don’t analyze–create the first piece of content, make sure it’s good, make sure you have effective distribution. That’s what content content marketing is all about. Distribute it where your customers are hanging out. If they’re hanging out on Facebook, don’t be doing that on Pinterest. So effective distribution. Wait for the… I would say… wait for the impact, wait for the reaction. And I always say it’s not necessarily a like, a share, or comment, but look at the hidden metrics–how many people have viewed it? How many people have come to your website and went through it? What they’ve done–have they stayed there long? And the bounce? Did they take action? Did they do any queries? Did they ask questions? So that once we do that two, three times and they start seeing the reaction from the target audience, they start getting enthusiastic, and then they start, they want to do all sorts of things, then I have to calm them down and say, you know, baby steps–take it easy. You know, you can do everything at the same time!

Carlota Pico 12:33
Yeah, no, that’s fantastic advice. Okay, Alwi, so you said to know where your audience is, that’s the first step. That’s your first baby step–identify your audience. But your virtually can be absolutely everywhere. So how do you decide where to go to first?

Alwi Mohamed 12:51
Exactly. So the thing is, when you create a buyer persona, you make an estimation, of course, everybody knows that. And then it’s all about testing. It’s all about testing. It’s all about research that’s out there. Mom’s working from home are usually on Facebook, so that’s your starting point. And but then you branch out, you know, you go to Instagram, you go to Twitter, and then after a few weeks you look at the results. Is it really–for my brand–is it that correct that mom’s working from home look for solutions or talk about this issue on on Facebook? You’d be surprised that they don’t do that on Facebook, maybe they have a forum, there’s a really big forum that all moms go and talk because then they feel secure there. They feel that they talk to each other unlike on Facebook, where you put up stuff and people react to it. So you start where the people tell you a to go find them, based on research, but then you branch out and you go and see a where they actually hang out. And it could be sometimes multiple places for multiple reasons. But yeah, that’s how that’s how you go along, finding out to where where the audience is.

Carlota Pico 14:15
Okay, so exciting, Alwi. So now let’s put some of this theory into practice. What brands have a created great content that has just really resonated with you?

Alwi Mohamed 14:27
What brand? Well, I would go back to a brand I was working with, it’s a health and wellness, company, they had a blog, a side blog. And we created a piece of content for for ‘manly men’ you would say it’s called calisthenics, versus weight weightlifting and it has currently 103 comments and each and every comment is from the heart. And why it was great, it’s because it was something that actually I was going through myself. I was trying to find out what kind of fitness regime is good for myself because I was experiencing a lot of injuries. And, so I scoured forums, and I saw two people arguing in a forum. And I said, You know, I like this, you know, they’re both making really good points. So I just took that and turned into a blog, I turned into a conversational story, rather than a narrated story. And as soon as I put it in, within hours, I had people flocking in and commenting and everybody putting in the opinion and their advice. And that is the kind of content I think that that works really well. If you know how it feels to have that problem and try to fix it, that is the kind of content that will resonate. So what I tell my clients all the time, do you know what pain, what your customer is feeling? You know, pick up the phone, call them or have a one on one with four or five of them. Don’t just rely on digital research. Actually go and talk to them face to face.

Carlota Pico 16:10
So it’s kind of like building a business. That’s what it reminds me of, right? Because when you’re building a business, you’re zooming into your own challenges or your own pain points. And then you’re constructing a business around those challenges and those pain points. So content marketing is something similar then?

Alwi Mohamed 16:27
Yeah, exactly. Exactly. I mean, if you don’t know the problem, if you don’t know that people are suffering from the itch under the chin, and how that feels, and you start writing about an itch at the back of the ear, because it’s similar, you’re wasting time, you’re wasting resources, you’re wasting everybody’s time, and it’s not worth it. I mean, it may be the perfect, it may be a beautiful piece of content, but nobody in your target audience wants to read it. So you really need to know the pain point.

Carlota Pico 17:00
I love how simple that example is. And I think everybody can understand it. Okay, Alwi, let’s take a walk down memory lane. What have been some of your most memorable marketing moments to date?

Alwi Mohamed 17:15
Ah, most memorable moment is when–I will never forget it, because again, it was it was like six years ago, again, with with the blog–when we started, and what happened is, I was just reaching out to people–and again, we were not doing any paid ads to get people to the blog–and within three months, we had over 10,000 subscribers. Now, someone will think how do you do that? You know, I mean, an average of 3000 subscribers over a year, right? How do you get 10,000 subscribers? It was it was really simple. I created content, really good content, but then I started reaching out to other people who had other other fans who were similar to our target audience. And because I think it’s because of this–but until this day, I don’t know for sure–one of those people who agreed to work with me, and to write a blog for us was a I think you would say a “B list celebrity.” She was actually in a few movies in Hollywood, and she was talking about how difficult it was to keep a certain weight when when you are an actress. So she was talking to the youth and telling them you know, be okay, you know, be yourself. And so she started writing for us. She wrote a few blogs for us. And she brought in a lot of subscribers–a lot of people started subscribing, and then after that I had I had Hollywood fitness instructors, we had psychologists, we had physicians, we had nutritionists, all sorts of people coming in and writing the blog and they were all coming in with with amazing crowds, with amazing audiences that also fit our audiences. So basically I would urge other people also who are starting out to basically do what we are doing right now: reaching out and creating content with other marketing entities.

Carlota Pico 19:32
Okay. Excellent example. So basically to tap into the power of influencer marketing?

Alwi Mohamed 19:38
Yeah, at that time, we didn’t we didn’t have that word “influencer marketing.” At that time again, it was just you know, “Hey, you know, we have similar interests? You know, do you want to contribute? Yes? Okay!” And I wasn’t sure I and I mean, I looked at her background, but it because she was leaving Hollywood and a lot of The stuff she had done–she had covered it up, so you couldn’t find it on Facebook or Twitter and back then Instagram wasn’t that strong yet, or hadn’t started yet. I don’t know. I don’t remember. But she had to show me, she had to show me proof of the of the movies she was in and the clips where she was, whether she was an extra or she had like three minutes or four minutes of air time, and the pictures she took and I said, “Okay, she’s genuine.” But other than that, I didn’t know that she has such a big following like that.

Carlota Pico 20:37
Yeah, you were ahead of the time, right? You were doing influencer marketing before there was even a word for influencer marketing.

Alwi Mohamed 20:43
Yeah. And I think that’s the thing with marketing, we always use these buzzwords, and like, we label things. But these are things that have been there for generations, from the 60s or 50s, when people actually started, you know, turning marketing into a profession.

Carlota Pico 21:05
Definitely. Okay, so you offered our audience fantastic advice, fantastic insights, tips, everything, you name it. So then my next question would be, what’s the best advice that you’ve received?

Alwi Mohamed 21:19
Well, judging from my name, you already he already guessed my faith–I’m a Muslim. And the best, the best advice I got is from the Revelation, and it says, it says in Arabic “Inna ma’al usri yusra. Inna ma’al usri yusra”. So it says the same thing twice, to emphasize. What it means or what people interpret it to mean is that “After hardship, there’s ease. After hardship, there’s ease.” But what it really means–if you really understand Arabic–it says “With hardships, comes ease.” So basically is telling you it’s like a train. So when you see the first cabin, the engine cabin, you know, there’s a passenger cabin, right after it, so they’re coming together. So when you’re having problems know that the solution is coming. And that has helped me a lot, whether it was personal life or work. And I try to remember that every time I face challenges, and every time of course, as just say there’s at the end of the tunnel, there’s light. And I think that’s the best advice you can give anybody. We live in an imperfect world, and things don’t always go the way we expect them. And I think that that kind of advice makes you stronger.

Carlota Pico 22:44
Yeah, no, that’s fantastic advice. Another phrase along the same lines is “Patience is key.”

Alwi Mohamed 22:51
Exactly. Be patient is key. Definitely.

Carlota Pico 22:55
On that note, we are going to be moving into our next set of questions, which are our rapid fire questions. It’s your recommendations for audience. So to get the section started off, I’d like to ask you about your source of inspiration. Who do you admire professional role model or an influencer, perhaps?

Alwi Mohamed 23:12
Again, as I believe for me, the Prophet, the prophet of Islam is my number one. But we’ll set that aside because not everybody follows the same faith. But my number one influencer, my number one person who motivates me is the late Muhammad Ali Clay. Why? Because he was a walking, talking content creation machine. Every word from his mouth could have been a quote, could have been a tweet. Every interview of his could have been a motivational video. The guy was just amazing and he faced a lot of challenges, and in those challenges, he was always himself. And that is what I always tell young people: “Listen, you have to be yourself.” If you’re working somewhere and you can’t be yourself, whether it’s content creation, whether it’s in sales–whatever it is– if you can’t be yourself, and use your strengths to get results–get out of there, get out of there and go somewhere else or set something for yourself. It might be hard, it might pay less, but you beat yourself. Because you don’t want to be in your 60s and realize you’ve been trying to please people and when you try to please people you can’t–you don’t please anybody.

Carlota Pico 24:37
I think that’s the most powerful message of this entire interview. Thank you for sharing that with us, Alwi. Okay, and to finish off this interview, what’s your favorite app or tool at the moment?

Alwi Mohamed 24:48
App? It has nothing to do with marketing. It’s it’s got to do with my kids. So I try to minimize the amount of apps I use. I try to be more a more organic human being if you want to be, but my favorite it’s called The Schooler. And it’s an app where everything that you learn at school, they have it in one app. And I can teach my children at home. And when they go to school, they’re like, you know, doing really well. And that helps me a lot, because I’m very busy. And and I need to have everything in one place. So I know exactly what to expect, you might have expected something with the marketing, but that’s my favorite app. I just want to show you one thing really quickly.

Carlota Pico 25:36
Yeah! Is that your favorite book?

Alwi Mohamed 25:39
This is what changed my perspective on marketing as a whole. It’s called “Youtility” by Jay Baer. And he talks about simply if you help people, you get customers for life, I swear, but if you only sell, you get customers for one day, and he is the first person I heard talking about empathy and using your brand to help people before you sell to people. And it changed completely the way I think about marketing until this day. So it’s an oldie, but it’s worth reading.

Carlota Pico 26:13
Yeah, no, and it fits in nicely with your first comments of this interview about teaching somebody to fish versus giving them a fish.

Alwi Mohamed 26:22
Exactly. Yeah, exactly.

Carlota Pico 26:24
Okay, Alwi, thank you so much for joining us on The Content Mix. It was a pleasure to meet you. You’re a very inspiring person. And I hope that one day our travels, bring us to the same city.

Alwi Mohamed 26:35
Thank you so much. It was really great to be here. Thank you for the opportunity. And I really hope that people who listen to this will benefit and, you know, get a little bit of an edge over their competitors or whatever they’re looking for in life.

Carlota Pico 26:53
Yeah. Thank you. Thank you so much. I appreciate your time again, and energy. And to everybody listening in today, thank you for joining us on The Content Mix. For more perspectives on the content marketing industry in Europe, check out The Content Mix. We’ll be releasing interviews just like this one every day, so keep on tuning in. Thanks again, have a fabulous day, and see you next time. Bye!

Transcribed by