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Duetto’s Jason Freed on Content Marketing and Future Trends: The Thinks Out Loud Interview (Thinks Out Loud Episode 228)

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Jason Freed of Duetto talks content marketing with Tim Peter on Thinks Out Loud

Duetto’s Jason Freed on Content Marketing and Future Trends: The Thinks Out Loud Interview (Thinks Out Loud Episode 228) – Headlines and Show Notes

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Duetto’s Jason Freed on Content Marketing and Future Trends (Thinks Out Loud Episode 228) – Transcript

Tim Peter: (00:00) Well, hello again everyone, and welcome back to Thinks Out Loud, your source for all the Internet marketing expertise, your business needs. My name is Tim Peter, today is Friday, September 7, 2018 and this is episode 228 of the big show.

Tim Peter: (00:18) Thank you so much for tuning in, I really do appreciate the fact that you come back and join us week after week. I would like to, as ever, start by thanking our sponsor, SoloSegment. SoloSegment focuses on site search analytics that unlock revenue, and they focus on AI-driven content discovery for your businesses, so you can really look at how you improve search results, and improve customer satisfaction for your business. You can check them out at

Tim Peter: (00:49) Now I’m really excited today because, as I do periodically, I’ve got a guest this week and we’re going to be talking with somebody who’s really cool and really smart and knows a ton about content marketing and that’s Jason Freed of Duetto. Now, Jason has been with Duetto since June of 2015. He’s their managing editor, which I think is fascinating that a software company has hired a managing editor to focus on reporting, and writing, and editing news and information about the company, to help tell the company story most effectively.

Tim Peter: (01:29) Jason is really passionate about content marketing, he’s really passionate about hotel technology. He works in the hotel industry, obviously, and he has some truly unique perspectives on hotel distribution and revenue management best practices, but, more importantly, he has tremendous insights into how you use content marketing to grow your business. So, without further ado, I’m gonna start our interview with Jason Freed.

Tim Peter: (01:58) So, Jason, thanks so much for joining me today. I’m here with Jason Freed, who is the managing editor of Duetto’s marketing department, and Jason, thanks for being here.

Jason Freed: (02:08) Thanks for having me, Tim.

Tim Peter: (02:09) My pleasure. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself, who you are, what you do, things like that.

Jason Freed: (02:14) Yeah, sure, so I am the managing editor at Duetto. Duetto is a hotel technology company. We provide software as a service to the industry to help them better collect analytics, and then price the rooms based on those analytics. I’ve been there about three years, little over three years, and I came from the journalism side, so I was in the newspaper industry for about 10 years, and, you know, kind of a sad industry at this time. I think you’ll find a lot of people in my boat who wanted … Who really, really liked working at the newspaper, and wanted to be a journalist and just couldn’t feed their family on it. So, that’s where I ended up looking into BTB magazines, and I became BTB editor, and my first gig was writing about hotels, and covering the hospitality industry.

Jason Freed: (03:18) I really enjoyed it. Picked up on it quickly, and it’s very obviously a hospitable industry.

Tim Peter: (03:25) We try.

Jason Freed: (03:27) Great, great. Yeah, so everybody was welcoming, and able to sort of teach me, and interviews went super smooth, and I really gravitated toward hotel technology and, you know, really enjoy the space, and learning about it, and writing about it. You know, and then I think, as Duetto was looking to build out it’s content marketing strategy, they looked to find an editor, somebody who was good with good with wordsmithing, and I think it was a great fit for both of us.

Tim Peter: (03:58) That’s awesome. It’s really interesting that a company like Duetto I went ahead and brought somebody in who was a journalist by trade, right? Can you talk a little bit about how that played out, what was their thinking around content marketing that said, “You know what, we really don’t wanna go with a marketer, we want to go with a journalist to do this.” What’s what’s your take on that?

Jason Freed: (04:23) Yeah, sure. I think they wanted somebody who knew the space. It’s sort of a tough industry to learn, I think, as you know, it’s so fragmented, there’s so many pieces and parts. I think it took me a couple years just understand the whole relationship between management departments, and ownership, and brands, and franchises. I think they wanted somebody to come in who at least know the basics of that, and then, you know, I think it was important for them to … They really wanted to build themselves as thought leaders in space. So, to do that they wanted somebody who understand the challenges, and the pain points that the industry was facing, and that it wasn’t can be a huge learning curve to sort of understand that stuff.

Tim Peter: (05:14) That makes a ton of sense. That makes a ton of sense. So, can you talk a bit about why you think content marketing … This can be, you know, Jason’s point of view, this can be Duetto’s point of view, but why do you think content marketing is valuable in a space? Why do you think content marketing is something that is so important for Duetto, and for what you do?

Jason Freed: (05:34) I would hope that my take on it, and Duetto’s take on it is similar, at least somewhat aligned. You know-

Tim Peter: (05:41) As the managing editor, you’d think that’s important.

Jason Freed: 05:44 Right, right. I mean, first of all I think it’s just the basics. For any company, spelling, if you’ve got a spelling error on your website it’s horrible. Accuracy, and then it gets more importantly. You know how you want your website content to be attention grabbing and clean, but more importantly, then if you’re good at it, it starts to get a little bit more challenging. You look at brand awareness and messaging alignment, you know you want your messaging on social media, and your blog. Even at events, on what’s displayed at the events, and even your sales collateral that you’re putting together, you want that messaging sort of aligned, so you’ve gotta start thinking a little bit more strategically about how you want to position the company.

Jason Freed: (06:32) Then, I think, lastly, as I was mentioning for Duetto it was important for them to sort of build a thought leadership campaign, and be recognizable out the industry at events, and in trade magazines, and that way when people are thinking about getting something to help them solve their pain points, you come to mind. But I did want to note on that thought leadership point that you can’t fake it, right? So, that’s why I was glad to join Duetto, a company that I had worked with in the past, that I knew they weren’t smoke and mirrors, they weren’t just out there trying to push some content, that they really didn’t have a product to back it up. So, you can’t … And, you know, Patrick and Marco, the co-founders of Duetto are just so passionate about the industry, and they come from the industry, and they know the industry, and they’re so smart people, that I felt I wasn’t getting myself into a situation where I would be writing puff pieces, if you will.

Tim Peter: (07:34) Right, that makes … Actually, that’s a really interesting point, because I know one of the things people talk about with content marketing a lot is this idea of authenticity, right? So, here you are talking about thought leadership, and these folks were authentically, are authentically, thought leaders, right? It’s not, we’re going to generate thought leadership, or we’re gonna pretend to be thought leaders, they definitely had a perspective and a point of view. Is that something you would think is true? I know this is an incredibly leading question.

Jason Freed: (08:03) Yeah, no, no, no. Yeah, I mean, for me, I think there are companies out there that are trying to fake it, and I’m not gonna name names ’cause I don’t even know any off the top of my head, but it’s easily recognizable, you can see it, right? Like, these people, they could’ve been writing the content themselves, right? They’re smarter than I am when it comes to this stuff, but they don’t have the time to be producing content-

Tim Peter: (08:34) Right, they’re busy running a company.

Jason Freed: (08:36) Yes, exactly, exactly.

Tim Peter: (08:38) Right. That’s fantastic. So, apart from the authenticity thing, which you can certainly double in on this if you want to, but apart from that, what are some common mistakes you see when people think about their content marketing, when people think about how they create content to tell their brand’s story, what are the mistakes you’ve seen folks make?

Jason Freed: (08:56) Yeah, well, it’s funny, coming from the journalism world, and learning AP style, and all the spelling and grammar and punctuation that you learn, you see mistakes in copy all over the world, right? Even on signage, I’m walking through somewhere, and I’m like, “Oh, that apostrophe shouldn’t there.” Or, “That should be a semicolon.” So, those are really common mistakes that you see almost every day, but then mistakes that I think some content marketers fall into some [inaudible 00:09:33] traps maybe is using all aggregated content, right? If you’re just like picking content from various places, and aggregating them into a newsletter, and sending it out, maybe there’s some benefits to that, but there’s probably a little bit more benefit to doing something unique, spending some time on putting together some content that people can’t get anywhere else.

Tim Peter: (09:56) Right. So, being original, bringing something else to the conversation, beyond just making a list of links.

Jason Freed: (10:02) Yeah, I think so.

Tim Peter: (10:03) Yep.

Jason Freed: (10:05) Yeah, and then again back to what we were just talking about, content. You can have content people who don’t understand the business that they’re writing about, and that’s not gonna work out. You need to give your content people access to, whether it’s leadership in the company, or the product people in the company, they need to be able to have those conversations and be able ask questions so that they understand the messaging that you come across.

Tim Peter: (10:40) So, having things like this, kind of like do interviews, or have discussions with them about the thing, even if the person you’re talking to will be the one creating the content, at least sort of plumb their knowledge, right?

Jason Freed: (10:54) That’s like a big thing that I’ll probably keep going back to, it’s really important. I feel fortunate that I can ping the co-founders of my company at any time, and just say, “Hey, I’ve got this quick question.” And if they don’t know the answer, they’ll say they’ll put me in contact with the VP of product, or the VP of engineering. I can ask that question, and that’s that’s immensely helpful, right? I couldn’t imagine being stuck in a position where it was just like you, we need you here to create the message, and we need you to just write, and just push out blog and collateral, but we’re not gonna give you any information on what the product is, and where we want to position ourself in the space. So, having access and being in those conversations is immensely helpful.

Tim Peter: (11:48) That’s fantastic. That’s really cool. Is there anything else that you can recommend that marketers who were handling their content marketing ought to be doing differently from what they’re doing, apart from that?

Jason Freed: (12:02) Yeah, so, I think, just to build on that a little bit, building on the access to leadership thing would be just allowing your content team to collaborate with the other departments, especially within marketing. Even if it’s graphic design, or paid search, or whatever other departments in marketing there are. Collaborate with those, so that everybody is sort of on the same message, or at least aligned on the same page. It might be even like, the logo of the company, if the person designing the logo sort of understands the message, and you understand the message, and that, you know, the sort of unique differentiators for your company, it just helps. It helps everybody sort of build a coordinated strategy.

Tim Peter: (13:00) Yep, that makes total sense. Just out of curiosity, can you talk a little bit about your content calendar process, or things like that? How do you come up with do you talk about, or like …

Jason Freed: (13:13) Yeah, yeah, I mean, it’s an ongoing conversation, and we’re always trying to improve it. Actually, adding those conversations as we speak. Yeah, we use Google Docs for our content calendar, so it’s in the cloud and shared with everybody, anybody on the marketing team has access to it. I think we started it, or I started as sort of an editorial calendar where we were just putting blogs, and press releases, and white papers on there, but it’s grown into sort of more of a content calendar that includes events, and just aligning, like I said, aligning all the other different people that fall under the marketing umbrella as well. So, now we’ve got speaking opportunities and all that stuff sort of on the same calendar, and that allows us to … Well, we’re trying to get to a point where we’ve got four, or five, or six core topics that we want to discuss throughout the year, and let’s have all this content aligned along that same messaging. Whether it’s our unique differentiators, or OTAs in the space, or cloud technology. Having sort of all of our pieces aligned along that same topic.

Tim Peter: (14:35) Does it allow for you … It sounds like, when you’re talking, you’ve got four or five or six core topics that you wanna talk about in the course of the year. I assume, again, I don’t want to put words in your mouth, so tell me if I got this wrong, but I assume that then allows you some flexibility and freedom if something comes up, you know, Google announces a new thing, or Expedia announces a new thing, or something along those lines, that allows you an opportunity to say, “Well, we can’t talk about that because we don’t have room in the calendar ’cause we’ve planned this thing out to death.” Is that right, or is there another way to think about it?

Jason Freed: (15:06) Currently, we’re at the opposite end of the spectrum, we’re more flexible than we are structured. I’d like to get to the point where we’re more structured. But yeah, I mean, I’m writing blogs the day before the need that need to go the next day.

Tim Peter: (15:21) I wouldn’t know anything about that. We’re not gonna say what the date is today when this episode airs.

Jason Freed: (15:29) Yeah, right, exactly. So, you know, I guess I was speaking from a point where I’d like to get to with the editorial calendar. It’s not quite there yet. I mean, sure, we’ve got long-term plans, and quarterly plans, and monthly plans, but we’ve also … We’re also very flexible day to day. You and I were at the hotel data conference recently, and I’m still writing amazing coverage from that, that I thought some of those panels, and the speakers really were thinking outside of the box a little bit, and I really enjoyed some of that. So, that just happened, and I’ve got to turn that stuff around for …

Tim Peter: (16:11) Speaking of, I know we’ve been talking about content marketing, but I’m gonna shift the conversation for a minute. Because you’ve been around hotel and hotel tech for so long, I’d love to hear your thoughts on what’s going on with the future of the industry? ‘Cause I think that that’s appropriate across a lot of sectors, too, right? Where do you see things going, where do you see some things that people ought to be paying attention to?

Jason Freed: (16:32) Yeah, that’s a great question, and to your point, I think you’re seeing a lot of industries going through shifts, or evolving, if you will, because of digital and the role of technology. You know, obvious examples that everybody points to are Uber, and Amazon, and AirBnB, I think in the hotel space. I mean, I do think the industry is sort of at a tipping point where it’s going to evolve rapidly, like all those other industries did. I’m not saying I can predict the future, know what’s gonna happen. But seriously, Tim, think about when we used to have to call a cab. Think about, like you’d dial this 800 number, and you’d get a dispatcher, and you’d tell them your address, and you’re lucky if it’s an hour. It’s probably the next day, you’ve gotta call in advance to get a ride to the airport. All that has just changed, and it’s just like the click of a button, and it’s … Not the travel, and not the hotels, and hospitality is ever to become a clickable button, but I do see it evolving.

Jason Freed: (17:49) I see it, I see the leisure space evolving, and I do think it’s a little bit because of AirBnB. I think there are times for the leisure traveler, often times for the leisure traveler when booking an AirBnB or something similar makes more sense than booking a hotel, I mean-

Tim Peter: (18:09) Sure.

Jason Freed: (18:09) You’re just in a more comfortable environment, you’ve got more space, you’ve got the kitchen, you can cook. If you’re on the beach or whatever, you’d rather be in a home than a hotel. Go ahead, I’m sorry.

Tim Peter: (18:23) No, all I was gonna say was I completely agree with that. Obviously, I do a lot of work in the hotel space, I’m very pro hotel. I try to do what’s right for hotel owners and managers every chance I get. I also had the opportunity, a few years back, two years ago, I was doing work in Paris over a three week period, so I was there several weekends in a row, and I was fortunate enough to be able to bring my daughters over for a couple of days over a weekend. I’ve got two teenage daughters, obviously they need their space, they need privacy, things like that. We were able to get an AirBnB in a fantastic location where they could have their own room, I can have my own room, it worked out great. We had a kitchen, my one daughter is vegan, which we weren’t sure going in how that was gonna work out. Paris, as it happens, Paris has a wonderful vegan food culture, too. I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I hadn’t really thought about it much.

Tim Peter: (19:19) It was way, way less expensive, unfortunately for hotel owners, than renting two hotel rooms, right?

Jason Freed: (19:26) Right.

Tim Peter: (19:26) I mean, so it just worked out really, really well and it was an absolutely appropriate trip for that kind of an experience, right? We could come and go as we wanted, there was lots of flexibility in how, you know around the apartment for part of the day, ’cause the girls were jet lagged or things like that, it worked out really well. So, yeah, there’s going to be times where those are appropriate trips.

Jason Freed: (19:50) Yeah, totally agree. Don’t get me wrong, like some people are saying, “Oh, the hotel industry’s going away.” No, it’s not. There’s always going to be … Group businesses is such a huge base of business for the industry, and then meetings. The meetings business, and the business travelers are always going to want hotels. What I’m afraid of is they’re gonna lose a little bit of that leisure business, unless they sort of find a way to adapt, or evolve, and make the booking experience easier, and more personal. That’s a real challenge, like making that stuff easy in an industry that’s very fragmented, and struggles with integrating technology. I mean, that’s like almost making a monumental shift for the industry. So, I don’t know. I feel that we need to step on the gas a little bit, and start thinking about this.

Tim Peter: (20:51) Right, no, that makes perfect sense, that’s all I’m saying.

Jason Freed: (20:54) Just quickly, back to that Paris story, Tim. Anytime you mention AirBnB you get like a similar story of somebody who had a great experience there. That’s building, we talk about building brand awareness, that’s word-of-mouth marketing which is the best kind of marketing you can get, in my opinion.

Tim Peter: (21:15) Absolutely, oh, absolutely.

Jason Freed: (21:18) I stayed in one one year in Nashville. It wasn’t an AirBnB, it was it was very interesting. It was like a hybrid AirBnB, hotel, right? So, it was an old apartment building that had like twenty-five apartments, and they just bought it and converted it into sort of this hotel, but there is no front desk, you just kind of, you book and then they send you a code, and you punch the code in to get in the door. They don’t have on staff housekeeping, I think they sort of outsource it from somebody. I started thinking, “Wow, this this makes so much more sense from an investment standpoint.” You don’t have this owner, and then this operator, and then this brand. It’s all these fragmented pieces that each take their parts of profitability, so, I don’t know, I just see, sort of, some evolution happening there.

Tim Peter: (22:17) No, that takes a ton of sense. It reminds me—I wasn’t familiar with this, this is really cool. It reminds me, if you’ve ever used Breather for conference rooms, right? Not to name drop, or brand drop, I have no relationship with them, but it’s very same thing. They’re just, you know, in the cities where they exist, they are random conference rooms, and random office buildings that Breather, I guess, leases, and then they … You have an app, and you say, “I want this room at this time.” It’s usually a fairly inexpensive price, and you get a code to unlock the door, and you just show up. It works out really well.

Tim Peter: (22:51) So, yeah, it sounds like very much same thing, but if Breather were imagined as a hotel. What I always find interesting about this, and I’d love to hear your thoughts about this, Jason, is I think people don’t yet recognize how much disruption is yet to come, right? You look back over the last 10, or 15, or 20 years of digital, and people say, “Oh my God, we’ve come so far.” But, you know, we don’t have everybody in the world connected all the time, right? People still have to reach into their pocket and pull out their phone as opposed to a voice interface, or as opposed to something that’s a little more invisible from a process perspective that I think we’re really see a lot of behavioral changes still. I’d just be curious for your thoughts on that.

Jason Freed: (23:37) That’s heavy, Tim, that’s deep. No, I mean, I totally agree. One thing you mentioned that just jumped out at me is connecting people globally, I think is huge. Yeah, I mean, I can use my Amazon Echo and calls my mom, who’s a thousand miles away from me, but I can’t call somebody in Asia on it yet. Connecting people around the globe, as we become a global company, it becomes so much more important. I want to be able to talk to the editors that I work with in Singapore more easily, that’s like such a challenge. I think it’s getting … The communication part is getting better, obviously. We’ve got all these chat programs that you can use. We’ve haven’t gone on We Chat, but I know everybody uses it.

Jason Freed: (24:37) In terms of bigger things, yeah. I mean, it’s all happening so fast, that’s what’s crazy about it, right? I mean, look where we were 10 years, you know?

Tim Peter: (24:48) Right.

Jason Freed: (24:48) We didn’t have any of this stuff we have, Netflix. It’s crazy. Crazy how fast it’s all moving.

Tim Peter: (24:55) No doubt, makes perfect sense. That’s awesome. And, Jason, you know, as we as we wrap up here, what would be your number one take away for people listening to this conversation? What would you want them to walk away going, “Oh, that’s definitely something I wanna know.”

Jason Freed: (25:09) Not to be too self-centered on this one, but don’t think content marketing people are just writing a blog, and just bloggers. Make sure that they are involved with other parts of the marketing strategy, and team, because they should be making sure that your content is accurate and on message across all the channels, and across all the mediums on all the content that you put out.

Tim Peter: (25:43) Fantastic. Jason Freed, thank you so much for taking the time today, I really appreciate the conversation, really good talking with you, and I know I’ll see you out there, as we’re out and about in the industry.

Jason Freed: (25:53) Absolutely, Tim, thanks so much for having me.

Tim Peter: (25:55) Thanks so much for your time. Now looking at the clock on the wall, we are out of time for this week, but once again I want to thank Jason Freed for joining us. I want to remind you that you can find the show notes for today’s episode, as well as an archive of all the past episodes, by going to Again, that’s You can also find us on Spotify, or iTunes, or Stitcher Radio, or Google Podcast, or whatever your favorite pod catcher happens to be. Just do a search for Thinks Out Loud, you should find us there.

Tim Peter: (26:36) You can also find us on Facebook, at On Twitter, using the Twitter handle @TCPeter, or you can send me an email to Again, that is In addition to thinking Jason, I do want to thank our sponsor, SoloSegment. They focus on site search analytics and AI driven content discovery to unlock revenue, improve search results, and improve customer satisfaction. You can learn all about them at

Tim Peter: (27:14) Now, in addition to thanking Jason, and thanking SoloSegment, most of all I really want to thank you. I really appreciate the fact that you tune in week after week, and listen to the show, and provide comments, and send me emails, and all those great things. I encourage you to do that as you go forward, but I really do want to let you know how much it means to be that you are here week after week. So, with that I hope you have a fantastic weekend, a wonderful week ahead, and I will look forward to talking with you again here on Thinks Out Loud again next week. Until then, take care everybody.

Tim Peter is the founder and president of Tim Peter & Associates. You can learn more about our company's strategy and digital marketing consulting services here or about Tim here.

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