Entrepreneur: Scott Martin

Biz: Groundswell Origins

Tilt: Sustainable growth marketing

Primary Channels: Podcast, book

Other Channels: X (11.3K), LinkedIn (11.1K), Instagram (10.6K), Facebook (17K), community, website (individual), website (business)

Time to First Dollar: First day

Rev Streams: Consulting, paid community, book

Our Favorite Actionable Advice

  • Persistence pays off: Don’t hesitate to ask for the sale or partnership. Sometimes, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. The same holds for your content business. It takes time to grow and monetize an audience. Consistently show up for your audience, and they will reward you.
  • Build an audience before you need it: You can’t immediately monetize your audience. Focus on building an audience even as a side hustle until you are ready to go full-time. It can mean earning your first dollar on day one as a full-time content entrepreneur.
  • Pay attention to the audience you have: Don’t just focus on gaining new subscribers. Growth is necessary, but if you don’t take care of the audience you have, you start to lose trust and audience members. 

The Story of Scott Martin

In the early 1990s, Calgary restaurant owner Jeff Fuller took his employee Scott Martin under his wing. He fed him books about entrepreneurship and marketing. That’s when Scott first read The Pursuit of Excellence by Ryan Hawk and Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins. Scott was hooked. 

He attended a presentation about how the internet would change the world from a venture capitalist Cameron Chell

“That’s what I want to do,” Scott recalls. “I’ve been learning about excellent customer service, and I want to apply it to this new thing (the internet) that’s come up.”

He repeatedly called Cameron, asking for a job. He was eventually hired as long as he promised to stop calling. That was in 1996 when Scott joined FutureLink, selling websites at a time when he had to explain what a website was.

A year later, Cameron helped Scott spin off his own company NextClick – The Personalization Agency. He was enamored with how the internet and technology could provide the ultimate customer service personalization. Later, he founded the nonprofit Personalization Consortium to advocate for ethical information management.

Agency life takes a turn

NextClick didn’t survive the dot-com bust in 2000. Scott quickly landed a gig at Critical Mass, a large digital agency. A short time later, he landed at another agency, only to leave after nine months because he disagreed with what he viewed as “extreme billing” – charging clients the maximum to generate a larger profit.

In 2003, he started Strategic Direct Marketing Group, which eventually built and sold its own loyalty platform. But over 10 years later, Scott tired of agency ownership. “I fell out of love with it because I was like, ‘It’s about the people, not really about me. I love marketing. I love solving problems. I love innovating and that kind of stuff and I was just doing less and less of it.” 

He sold SDMG in 2014.

Becoming a content entrepreneur

Scott knew he wanted to help people and realized he needed to do something sustainable and uniquely different from typical agency life. In 2016, he founded Groundswell Origins, a consulting business that focuses on sustainable growth marketing and content marketing.

Named for a type of ocean wave (Scott is a surfer), Groundswell Origins also served as the premise for his philosophy and teaching. Scott consults and teaches clients how to shift their thinking, create a groundswell of audience buy-in and brand momentum, and stop the growth hacks mentality by focusing on sustainable growth marketing. 

Unlike many content entrepreneurs, Scott earned his first dollar immediately. He landed a consulting client on day one based on his over 20 years of experience in the marketing world.

Building a content business

Scott considers himself a heretic of marketing. He asks unconventional questions and strives for sustainability, both the process and the results. 

In 2019, he launched the Groundswell Origins podcast, where he interviews outstanding humans, not just marketing professionals, about the pursuit of sustainable growth marketing. He has interviewed Dave Navarro, Guru Singh, and The Tilt’s Joe Pulizzi. Entering its sixth season, Scott hasn’t monetized the podcasting, viewing it as a content marketing tool for his brand.

A year ago, Scott started a community, The Inner Circle, for founders, creators, and entrepreneurs on the Mighty Networks platform. For the first year, membership was free, and membership grew to 1K. Scott met with members every Monday on a live call. The community members also got access to the podcast show notes and courses. 

Scott also sold a $22-a-month membership for The Inner Circle community. The 40 paid members received all the free community content, small group coaching, and an internal magazine, Marketer Magazine, filled with trends and micro strategies. 

He hoped the free community would compel people to subscribe to the paid version, but he found that wasn’t the case.

On March 1, Scott revamped The Inner Circle to a strictly paid community, charging $44 for a monthly subscription. Members get everything in the original paid membership, as well as access to a vault of courses and reduced rates on future course offerings. “I would rather serve a smaller group of people who are engaged and pay attention in the community,” he says.

Groundswell Origins sends a free newsletter to over 3K subscribers every month or so, though he would like to turn it into a weekly newsletter.

Last year, Scott published a new content product, his book Groundswell: The Unseen Wave of Business Growth. It outlines how to build sustainable growth marketing and that the groundswell theory is only one of many ways. Publishing a book not only provides his audience with the blueprint for his content business and ideas, but it also helps establish him as a thought leader and provides another stream of revenue. He plans to write additional books.

Get stories of content creators and business advice for creator entrepreneurs every Tuesday and Friday in The Tilt newsletter. Subscribe today.

About the author

Marc Maxhimer is the director of growth and partnerships at The Tilt. He holds a bachelor’s degree in English and mathematics education and a master’s degree in educational administration.  He previously taught middle school for 16 years.  Marc lives in (and loves all things) Cleveland with his wife, two daughters, and dog.