7 secrets of mesmerising marketing
Written by guest blogger Dave Thackeray.
Flutter your eyelids in the direction of any blog, social network or BNI meeting and there'll be someone peddling instructions on creating a content marketing strategy.
Which is all well and good, if you have the constitution of an ox, and the devotion of Mother Theresa. A strategy is something that many aspire to, and to which only a few commit.
The reason so few people have useful websites, rather than shop windows full to the brim with dusty old products, is because they aren't schooled to chunk down.
You have to start somewhere. You have to want to do it. You have to understand that marketing isn't an overnight thing (every business leader says it took them decades to become an overnight success).
You just have to start. And follow some basic principles (of which there are 7).
Then - and only then - I guarantee that, together, we can start building a more effective and more profitable web.
A few months ago John Scotland came to our workplace to give us a two-day web video workshop.
It was ace - he showed us ways to film with our iPads. He added value by showing us what to do to expand our collection of gear - with extra lenses, holders connecting to tripods, and audio recorders.
There comes a point, though, where you're better working with what you've got. Of doing the best you can with a limited selection of distractions until you get the hang of things.
I remember the first time I went out shooting a series of golf instruction videos. I had two cameras on tripods, a Zoom H4n audio recorder, a shot list, and a couple of hours. We tried filming six scenes. SIX. I salvaged a couple of bearable videos after heavy editing, because I'd tried biting off more than I could chew.
The curse of us having everything at our fingertips is we see people with years of experience knocking out some seriously incredible work - and then look to emulate it with less experience than an infant in art.
Those kids' paintings on fridges of new parents: you're not going to see them exhibited at the Gugenheim any time soon, are you? All those colours, all those brush strokes. That's your first shot at an award winning video.
You have to keep it simple!
Stay on message, do the very best with the least. MVP is a well-weathered acronym in the world of app development. It means Minimum Viable Product. Eric Ries mentioned it in his book The Lean Startup:
The product with the highest return on investment versus risk.
What can you produce today that will stand for something, not kill you with the time it takes to make, and give you sufficient motivation to do it again tomorrow or next week?
Stand for something
The content graveyards of the internet are full of stuff that makes no sense, or that people have put out there simply to agitate, rather than creating change.
Whenever you pour your heart into something, at least make sure it matters to you. That it means something to the people around you. That you want it to stand alone as an exemplar of your craft, or a new way to do something - smarter, simpler, speedier, or smilier.
Be honest, be authentic, use integrity and empathy. And be your customer's concierge. Any way you can be valuable and grow your reputation as an expert in something meaningful, is time well spent.
Be in it for the long haul
My entire career has rotated around being a voice for those without one, or showing people how to find theirs. For some, no amount of workshops, 1-2-1 coaching, strategies spoonfed or customer feedback will change their ways.
They'll give it a shot, and return to old habits. It's the same with anything that needs fresh perspectives.
That's why Tony Robbins is so successful; why Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares and The Hotel Inspector are so popular and return to our screens for countless series.
Few of us see things through. We love to be inspired, but we frequently fail to act upon our learnings and need reminders - no matter how expensive in time or resources they might be.
Guy Martin is one of my heroes.
Aside from being told time and again that he's me with sideburns (and I'm yet to adopt the broadness of his northern accent yet if his star continues to rise and I'm called upon to kiss babies on his behalf, I may start elocution lessons), I admire greatly his intolerance of failure.
This is a man who got told he had average fitness yet five months later became the fastest man on a bicycle (UK readers only).
We all want to feel like we can make a difference, that we can change the way we are, but without some kind of superhuman commitment we always revert to our old ways.
But you can find your inner superhero. You just need a cape.
You don't need to get on You've Been Framed. Being fun first and foremost means fun for the people making it.
I got on my high horse the other day about the recruitment industry. I made some valid points borne out time and again. I loved writing it because it's a subject I'm passionate about. It scratched an itch, and it moved people.
One important corollary here. If you're wearing your heart on your sleeve, there will be people out there wanting to pull it off.
While you'll have a lot of support for what you do, there will be an equal measure of snarky folk denigrating your efforts.
You can handle them in one of two ways: sift their comments for the golden insights, or ignore them altogether. It all depends on how confident you are in what you have to say, and whether trolls ever have anything constructive they can add to the debate.
Make it matter
I don't subscribe to this bunkum about spending hours poring over keywords and keyphrases on Google. When you've struck gold with your ideas, make sure they're optimised for search engines (SEO), and share them diligently across all your favourite social channels. And have other share them for you.
How do you know when it matters? When it's as fascinating to your team as it is to your clients and customers.
I always use Wistia as a shining example of how content can be compelling and create customers.
Their blog is packed with information relevant to your audiences. They don't just look inside their organisation for inspiration: they'll interview influencers across the industry to bring you the lowdown and establish themselves as thought leaders:
That video showed Adam Lisagor of Sandwich Video, star of a recent article at the Wistia blog. LinkedIn continues to make it difficult to embed videos so settle for a link click.
Buffer, too, is renowned for punching out actionable content.
Make it actionable
That's another way of looking at how impactful your content can be. As well as moving people, can it also advance their prospects? Can it take your product to the next level of usefulness? Is there a hack or a tip or a trick or a technique little used?
The New York Times' antique video on no-knead bread still gets hundreds of thousands of views every year. It's a perfect example of evergreen content. What's yours?
Take your time
Saturday saw me tugging at the missus' sleeve around a sizeable walking circuit. During that meander we wandered through some village where a lot of men dressed like surgeons were playing a game best described as cricket.
Working in the fitness profession, you'd think the only way to make yourself feel fantastic was to crank out 1,000 miles on an exercise bike and take seven consecutive high intensity aerobics classes.
But the beams on these cricketers faces wouldn't have looked out of place on the dial of a lottery winner.
With the work rate of a sloth, they went about an entire afternoon tossing the odd ball, hitting the odd stick, and eating sandwiches. And they looked the happiest people on earth.
Compare that to Twitter, where everything moves at lightning pace and after a sustained bout of engagement chances are you'll feel nothing but remorse and disappointment.
In a world where everything happens quicker tomorrow than today, creating content is the perfect excuse to slow down.
In my world it takes at least three good walks to make a masterpiece. As you might already have guessed, this isn't one.
But to make something really special, take my advice. Walk with your least cynical colleague. Your most approving customer. And your thoughts.
And then make it happen.
Would you like to talk more about Marketing and any tips you may have? Tweet me @davethackeray.