Authors Posts by Mark

Mark

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Author of The Content Revolution. My focus is to encourage businesses to adopt an owned media mindset to build leads, visitors and sales. Companies can now have total control of the spaces that they have ownership of. It's time to make a stand and create content that makes a deeper connection with your audience.

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create a genre

Whenever you start creating something new, it has to be for someone else. The target audience is never you.

If you don’t create your own genre where you give something to others that they haven’t seen/listen/read before, why bother?

Do we really want another podcast, blog or video series that says nothing and entertains no one?

A lot of people go into things without really thinking there is an audience in the first place.

The question that starts everything is always, ‘who is this for?’ Creating content that resonates with others is all about doing something that you can only do and make someone else’s experience with you a positive one ie. it made them think, it made them laugh, it made them action.

So, what’s the best way to make your case?

 

Where This All Started

I have a group of six friends, we have been close since school (so this means around 30 years and now I do feel like getting a walking stick). These are the closest people I feel connected to and the type of people who will forever keep me grounded.

create a genre
This is five of them, but we’re missing Steve.

Three of them want to start a Fantasy Football podcast.

The world of WhatsApp has brought us all closer together, so the sharing of ideas and conversation is a continuum.

We are all in the same Fantasy Football league, that kicked off last weekend. We all love football and all know one another to the smallest of detail from personal quirks to the ongoing #banter.

The idea is to progress this where the connection is the weekly Fantasy league and what is happening within the world of point scoring and looking to win the league this year ie. who to pick, people to look out for and the threads of fun and controversy from each week.

The idea is to test this out and if people have the time, it becomes a regular thing. Other avenues can then be explored, such as hosting and investing the time and effort to making this work as a fully functioning podcast. It is ok to give it the, ‘bloke down the pub perspective,’ as one of my friends put it, but the bloke down the pub is normally someone who other people like to listen to and are familiar with, rather than a stranger walking into the room and launching to no one.

This is where the problem lies. I am putting this in the wider context and not just my friends.

Naturally there are Fantasy Football podcasts of all shapes and sizes and various degrees of quality. No one ever wanted to make something for one other person or a group of six friends. The time to research and record would make it a continual drain on the week if the audience could be counted on both hands and broadcasting into a vacuum.

The point I am trying to highlight is that most people and businesses go into something and not know who will listen, watch or read. Recognising who your audience is key, whereas in reality, this all just going into a bucket with the rest of the competition.

 

Create A Genre

What is the only thing that they can do?

If this project becomes something they decide to progress with, and comfortable in learning about a new medium and accept that the first few months will be pretty average (in terms of presentation and entertaining), the success could be in finding a genre that they sit alone within, nurture and grow within.

This is how they can potentially create a genre:


  • the Fantasy Football podcast just for people who are near the bottom of the league
  • the Fantasy Football podcast from people who have done this for 25 years but don’t take it seriously
  • the Fantasy Football podcast only for people with a 15 minute window before they have to make their weekly changes
  • the Fantasy Football podcast for people who don’t know much about Fantasy Football but do it as everyone else is in the league
  • the Fantasy Football podcast for people who don’t know Fantasy Football

 

What About You?

If you are looking to build momentum within a medium, do something only you can do.

Just because other people are doing something, doesn’t mean that you can and make it a success.

When it comes to creating a podcast, or getting a blog up and running, I now recognise it is a complex but ultimately a rewarding experience (in terms of audience growth and connection). You have to respect the medium and not jump onboard without reading the instructions or the unwritten etiquette, just because it wasn’t a very costly investment at the start to set-up.

For instance, the Marketing Homebrew podcast started in January 2015 and it took over two years to be comfortable with it and not resort to another weak Skype interview based podcast. From the little things like smiling when you are talking, these are all uncomfortable practices that take time. I now know that everything that the podcast is centred on are for people who are looking to take control of the land that is theirs and cultivate their own harvests, without relying on someone else. There are hoards of other marketing podcasts out there, but the ‘ownership‘ genre that I am looking to maximise is one that I am aware that there aren’t too many people on that same land. It was the act of recognising and then doing, that allowed an audience to build.

Unless you can find a genre that you can own, you can’t just turn up and recognise that just because you have published something for four weeks that it makes you the almanac.

You can’t put time into something and then throw the towel in. You have to invest time in something that you truly believe in and where you sit away from others within your field, but becomes attractive enough to draw people in. In the immortal words from Seth Godin, ‘don’t find customers for your products, find products for your customers.’

 

So, What Can You Do?

These aren’t the definitive answers, but if you are looking to make that step into something new then you have to create something where you have the right intentions and really know who this is for.

Here is how you can create a genre.


  • you focus. If you paint a broad picture there becomes too much to look at and not enough to pay attention to. What can you really hone into that picks up on themes that others have not necessarily tapped into?

 

  • align people to what you do. This is all about someone else. How can you add value to someone else’s week, without sounding the same as everyone else? If you can do this, people will become more attached to you.

 

  • stop thinking you have to always tell stories. The reason I used a story about my friends in this article is to provide context. If you think you have to scratch around to find a story because you are told to, it just won’t work. If you can find a way to be of value, this is far stronger.

 

  • if you can find a space where no one else is squeezing the life out of, it’s ok to start off being messy. You can’t swallow the book and start off like a pro. If you want to play the guitar, you have to keep at it, rather than giving it an hour every other week.

 

  • you don’t dabble. If you don’t put the effort in, why should anyone else? If you have a business where you are looking to build your audience, but don’t think you can commit or the time to invest, then continue advertising and borrow from someone else by paying them.

 

  • if it doesn’t feel right, stop. The more you start to become uneasy then you can reassess and find the momentum. If it becomes something that starts to loose a clear voice and starts veering to sameness, stop wasting time.

 

  • don’t chase pure originality. It is far easier to figure out what is existing and to give your own angle to it. For instance, the majority of what I share is focused on a content marketing approach, this enabled me to find an anchor within The Content Marketing Institute. However, what I talk and read about is from a very UK perspective and what is happening this side of the Atlantic.

 

  • to be heard and taken seriously, you have to ask. Once you start to find your space, to give you a lift up, you can associate with other good people within your field. Click here to have a look at the people who have taken part in the Talking Content Marketing project. I then wrote an article to find out why people agreed to spend time with a stranger (me). You can read that here.

 

  • you don’t have to go deep on purpose, it is better to entertain. Whilst you need something you actually believe in and champion, it doesn’t mean you need to be holier than though. In a recent article in Campaign, Jeremy Lee asks, ‘what has happened to wit, edge and subversion? Have these attributes been sacrificed on the altar of brand worthiness?’

 

  • you need to schedule. To become consistent, there has to be a sacrifice. If you are working on a new podcast, then you need time for preparation, recording and publishing. You can’t put it at the bottom of the pile. If there is an evening where this becomes the focus, then this is blocked and the evening with friends happens on another evening.

 

  • go too clever or left-field, you will lose people. If you try to appear too smart and think you can blind others with complex sentences and structure, people won’t get it. A comedian such as Peter Kay has such an appeal with others based on highlighting the vignettes of everyday life, that people connect with. I think this applies in a B2B capacity where you discover the intricacies within a marketplace and shine a light on it.

Every point mentioned here comes back to two traits we all need more than ever in a digital age, having a point of view and creating an affinity with others. This is something that no automated chatbot can do.

 

Lets Round Up

You are one of 7.44 billion people, however, there is only one you. The experiences, the groups, the views, the knowledge, the faults are all things that no one else has. This is what gives you the armoury to share something that others haven’t taken on board before.

If you can take out the default switch that goes back to sounding the same as others, then you have the ability to become important to others, based on the things that you stand for and the ability to consistently deliver to the people who matter.

If you do what everyone else does, you get the same as everyone else.

The world does not need another podcast, blog or videos, but those who are winning are those who attract an audience through clear values ie. Air BnB, Lush, IKEA. You can create a genre by figuring out what makes you different and clear on the point of view that you present. This is what attracts people and those who don’t fit, to turn away, you didn’t want them anyway.

A genre creates a connection, this leads to people coming back and for others to not put you in the same bracket as everyone else. Don’t let sameness be the thing that puts you in an orderly queue.


What about my friends’ podcast? Well, it looks like they are going for the podcast for people who just don’t have the time (or knowledge). You can have a listen here.

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content longevity

Instinct tells you to always create something new. You can maximise impact by using what you already have.

A popular question asked seems to be centred on how to have the ability to consistently create (write, record, film), without running dry of ideas. Finding persistence seems to be a daunting area when talking to others (when related to ownership, not renting). This is understandable where we are looking to find relevance in a Tinder driven world.

Does this mean that people aren’t interested in building an asset base of ongoing work, but the minimum amount of creation to achieve conversion?

To achieve growth you need longevity.

It is not a case of choosing between instant growth (by throwing money at it) OR longevity.

 

Getting Others In Quickly

content longevityThis is something seen from the recent IPA Bellweather Report (published during July). This report made reference towards the increase in marketing budgets, but this is broadly concentrated within the digital space. In these pretty unstable times, short term digital solutions are seen as a more robust solution to traditional media channels. It looks like the focus is very much on getting people into the funnel, by any means necessary. Lets worry about keeping them there later.

So, if there is the inquisitive nature of how much to produce and the other on this trade off between growth and longevity, lets see if we can find a middle ground within this article.

THE MIDDLE GROUNDYou can keep people engaged/entertained/connected/motivated without the impulse to relentlessly create more.

Lets look at it another way, you can still create a really good meal during the week from what you already cooked with the Sunday dinner.

As a child Monday dinners were always better than the Sunday roast. My mum would make more inventive meals from a bubble and squeak to a chicken pie. This was in a totally different place than the meat and two veg. Buzzfeed has a far more extensive list of 35 ways to use up Sunday’s leftovers. I don’t know what it was, it just tasted better, maybe the chicken was left to marinate, maybe things just taste better 24 hours later (you’re with me on cold pizza, right?).

 

Making Your Dinner Go Further

Let me share what I am doing at the moment where I am making my Sunday dinner go further.

I consider my Sunday dinner as my writing. It is where the main thought process sits and happens every week. It has become my own tradition (have a read about finding new rituals). I put things in the slow cooker on a Friday and throughout the weekend (by this I mean using Evernote to collate the ideas and let them come together slowly), the dish is finally served every Thursday morning (click here to get your serving if you don’t already get it).

What I have now started doing is turn the Marketing Homebrew podcast into a ‘best of’ (I don’t want to call it ‘remains’ or ‘left overs’). These are the topics that relate to an owned media approach and people building rather than forever renting to grow their audience.

The reason I am doing it this way, is that Ian (Rhodes) handed over the reigns of the podcast to myself at the end of June. Ian’s ever increasing workload wasn’t sustainable for balancing a podcast. I originally thought that when I started this, in July, it would be a case of finding more time during the week (which I am currently struggling to find). My original thought process was to create something from scratch. Again, the default position was to create something new. Find people to interview, find different ways to record, find new things to talk about. It was all about the pursuit of ‘new.’

I decided to look at what I had already created and make the Sunday dinner into a different meal.

There is alternative originality in taking something from its original format and giving it a different taste.

I decided to do this:


  • recognise the most popular articles that people have read from the blog. I find this via Google Analytics and the most read articles
  • collate articles where there is a crossover. A popular theme for me throughout 2017 has been alignment (I pull these together)
  • record weekly Marketing Homebrew podcasts that are around 15 to 20 minutes each week
  • the script is already produced, I just need to adapt it so it feels more natural, rather than listening to someone who is reading and starts to sound uncomfortable hearing it read, word for word

It seems to be working, people are still listening.

content longevity

 

Going School Textbook On You

Lets bring all this into a school textbook format of what I am saying. Out come the old school principals to how this all works and one you are probably aware of.

The Sigmoid Curve, in its most basic explanation highlights the representation of time and activity. So, the longer you are committed to something (writing, audio or video), the greater chance you have of building your audience.

It works by:

  • the seed of an idea develops
  • it slowly becomes introduced to audiences
  • growth is experienced ie. growth of subscribers to a larger customer base
  • growth slows and then stops
  • decline naturally happens

 

content longevity

 

You can make this work in your favour, but it looks like businesses are happy to chase the short term increase, only for them to find a quicker decline. You can be in control and understand how you are gradually building your audience, or you can look for the next place to advertise on and chase what is new.

This is what you can do. Rather than a continuous stance to make new things all the time, you use what you have created and produce a second sigmoid. So, rather than starting from scratch with a new podcast, after Ian handed over the reigns, I took what I have already produced and adjust the medium it is communicated within (from blog to audio).

 

 

What About You?

This is something that you can take onboard, by reinforcing a message within different channels rather than a pursuit to always look for something new.

That blog that drove a decent response of readership (by this I don’t mean a family member that gave it a like on Twitter), or led to someone getting in touch, or reaching out to you when they didn’t know you before, provides an excellent basis to build on. It shows there was an audience who was receptive. Everything here relates to look at what is converting.

From the Slideshare visual, to the video series, to the posts on Medium and LinkedIn, these all help reinforce a message, rather than looking to build a new fire everytime.

For instance, a series of interviews became a Slideshare presentation, that became a whole section in The Content Revolution book.

You should not be thinking about where the next piece of content is coming from (and when the next thunder bolt of inspiration hits), but how you can reinforce a message that you resolutely stand by.

From my side, if you look through the blog articles from the past three years, nothing has really changed. It is just having a deeper understanding and leaning into it. Sharing multiple perspectives and providing real life analogies for people to connect with does work. All I really do is deliver the same thing (embracing content ownership from a clear point of view) in a different way, until someone has internalised it.

Another old school textbook reference is coming…

This comes back to another old school principal and the ‘rule of seven.’

Very simply, a prospective buyer should hear or see the marketing message at least seven times before they will buy from you. Repetition is important. However, after nearly 150 shows of the Marketing Homebrew podcast, this has not generated one lead (but that was never the intention).

If you are prepared to put the effort in and take on board what you have in front of you, the rewards are there. Back to my mum’s cooking, it’s like a pot noodle or my mum’s left over chicken noodle soup. One is instant and takes no effort, the other is more gratifying if you are prepared to put more effort in.

 

Lets Round Up

It doesn’t matter how much you should make, but keeping track on the problems you can solve.

If you are going to keep the wheels moving, you don’t have to relentlessly focus on just one wheel to make everything run smoother. When the focus moves to longevity, you can identify common themes to explore deeper and also to introduce within new channels, that have converted elsewhere.

Look at what you have in front of you and what you have done, rather than trying to climb over a wall that you can’t quite manage to look over. Things can become a lot easier to manage when you find content that has already connected and to continually remain relevant.

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If you are investing in the long term, you have to create cues for people, so it becomes easier for them to participate and have that sense of belonging.

One way to do that is to expand your product/service portfolio.

Expanding your range of products, that connects everything together, has to come from establishing a clear identity that makes it easy for people to make an association. There comes a point when communicating your message to the world, doesn’t just have to sit within a website.

 

Connecting Those Dots

In a recent article I looked at the importance of letting others connect the dots.

The article highlighted what film production company Treehouse Digital are doing with a side project that reveals everything that goes into making a film via a series of short videos in the build up to a launch at Halloween (have a look at how they are getting on here).

The Treehouse Digital team

When you are 100% committed to what you are doing, you have to make sure you colour in the full picture, so people aren’t left to their own assumptions to know what the picture is, or what it is.

In a B2B context, this could be the corporate video that tells an eloquent story about a business, but does not provide a message on the value created for others (which is something that Treehouse Digital are doing at the moment).

Connecting the dots represents bringing everything that you create into one overall image, so people can say, ‘that’s what they are all about!’ When you are ‘all in’ you realise that what you believe in should not just be within the confines of writing, but looking at other opportunities that can make everything else sharper.

To have a wider opportunity to bring others to you, once you have established a channel, there is the ability to explore and make other platforms work. It just makes everything more colourful. If all you have is just a blog, the image could be a bit heavier on just one colour, but when you add splashes of colour via other media channels, that goldfish starts to look like a clownfish.

 

Additional Streams Of Income

Whilst one medium becomes the glue that binds everything together, there are other ways to create additional income that may even surpass the original intentions.

Lets look at total Star Wars revenue, up to December 2016. The total box office revenue for all Star Wars films (including Rogue One) is over $6 billion. The total Star Wars franchise revenue is over $30 billion (from toys, books and games). The additional Star Wars revenue streams are five times more profitable than the original platform. When Lucasfilm sold to Disney in 2012 for $4 billion, that looks an absolute bargain.

In the words of Ryan Holiday in his latest book, Perennial Seller, ‘if you are trying to make something great, you must do the making.’ In order to build an audience, you have to explore and do the work that allows future opportunities to open up. You can’t sit back and think that having imaginary friends is going to be the route to deeper connectivity and people wanting to buy from you and have an ongoing relationship (see below).

 

Where I Have Been Going Wrong

When coming back to the dot-to-dot analogy, it makes me realise where I have potentially been going wrong.

This is something that I have to hold my hands up.

Whilst I have been connecting the dots over the past few years, I don’t think the picture inside has been has clear as it should be. From the writing, to the podcast, to the weekly email, to the monthly events, everything comes back to this idea of businesses having the ability to build their own audience, with a long term owned media approach. I can now see that the cues that have been in place for others to follow has not been as clear as it could be.

Having a week off, it provided the time to reflect and made me realise that you can be too focused on going from dot to dot and celebrating the success of getting to the dot (such as the Once Upon A Time project and to some extent the Marketing Homebrew weekly podcast). For instance, if you have just launched a website, there becomes too much of a focus on sharing with everyone how the website looks, rather than progressing how the website grows into a living, breathing entity with a role to inform and entertain.

The problem that arises is that you can forget that the whole point is to create a clear, big picture that people can easily recognise.

However, sometimes you don’t even need to join the dots as the picture for some is that obvious (these are the people who listen to the podcast, know that their in-box at 7am will have an email from me in it and come to the You Are The Media Lunch Club events). This is something that I noticed with my daughter, whilst on holiday last week. I asked her if she knew what the picture was she had just started joining up, she said, ‘a horse,’ and she was right. Some people get it and are able to make that connection a lot easier and how everything comes together.

However, to many other people, the meaningful work you create has to contribute to the bigger picture and for them to make that sense of connection.

This is what I have now decided that provides clarity to everything:


  • the whole You Are The Media project (the email, the events, the writing), requires a visual mechanism for people to recognise the connection with everything

 

  • I want to support others in creating a reflective experience so they can take a long term, owned media approach on board. On 24th May 2018, there will be the You Are The Media | Conference (to be located at Shelley Theatre, on the clifftops here in Bournemouth).

The identity. Everything now has a clear visual cue for people to associate with. From the Strategy Days to the weekly email, there is now a sense of union to everything. I want people to feel as though they are part of a club, to learn from and be part of something.



The conference. This will be a day on Thursday May 24th where I will bring together proof of brands who are taking ownership and building their own space and control of their own audience, or those practitioners and leading figures from the world of marketing/content marketing today. Every person who is part of the You Are The Media ‘club’ will receive a discounted rate. As an aside, a huge thanks to Marcus Wincott and the team at Media Lounge, who are helping shape this new look (and the website).



I will announce the speakers in September and for you to book your space. I hope this is something that you can be part of.

 

What About You?

To do something that people want to be a part of, you have to dig deep for the long term. It does not have to be confined to just one space for eternity, there can come a time when it means learning new skillsets. Not everything has to sit on a WordPress site.

Inertia and the way that things have always been done, will always hold a company back.

In a recent survey published on McKinsey Quarterly (July), the biggest barriers to company success in the digital age is highlighted by a siloed mindset, a fear of taking risks and a weak customer focus.

Behaviour has told businesses to act the way that they have always performed in way to draw people to their products and services in the quickest time possible.

To do work that can build you an audience you need to be brave and take those (calculated risks), open up and bring other people to your space and walk in the shoes of others to help solve real problems. How can you motivate others and take the lead if you can’t relate to the needs of other people, as you have become detached from your own?

In the words of Seth Godin, “The gulf between “risky” and “feels risky” is huge. It turns out that value creation lives in this gap. The things that most people won’t do (because it feels risky) that are in fact not risky at all.”

There are sacrifices to be made. Mine happens to be making two evenings a week more work centred (writing and the weekly email) than watching TV or going out. It all comes from taking action and letting the seed of an idea (that aligns with what you do) form through feedback and graft.

 

Lets Round Up

When you take the lead and not become enslaved by thinking that just because Facebook was telling you had reached a number of people, as a measurement of empty success, you can direct the future better.

People will align themselves with you if you can share something deeper than the product or service you sell. What you do is assume a role and make it easy for people to interpret.

From a personal perspective, I hope that the simple visual cues help tie everything back to taking on board an owned media approach, centred on a consistent message to a targeted audience. Whether written, audio or in-person, there is a form of visual processing, that is intended to provide something that has meaning and a clear association.

You can’t be too focused on the precision of getting from one dot to the other, the whole point is to create a picture that everyone knows what it is. The great thing is that you are completely in control of it to allow yourself to grow within a land that you continually tend to.

To find out more about the You Are The Media | Conference and news as soon as it is released and You Are The Media member special rates, leave your email below.


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Just because you have a good idea, doesn’t make it a good idea. Everything has to tie back to your objectives and strategy.

When you dilute something you lose the essence of what it is in the first place. Adding too much water to something that originally had a lot of flavour, eventually becomes water.

There has to be a framework from that initial spark of an idea. The side project promises nervous anticipation of the unknown, which is why they can be such a powerful part of your overall armoury.

However, we can be easily led astray just because something doesn’t have a significant cost investment next to it, but the drain on other resources, notably time, can become huge.

I have seen over the past few years, business owners jumping onto wagons with one wheel and horses with three legs that become a burden.

The business coach who offers the two day ‘how to use social for business’ seminar at £700 a ticket to the entrepreneur looking to share knowledge with an industrial marketplace and the half day seminar in the local hotel. Both solid topics probably filled with an abundance of relevant information to share, but both suffered ie. events pulled, because:

  1. they didn’t have an audience in the first place
  2. what they were looking to preach didn’t tie back to anywhere on their respective websites and the core belief/foundation of their business

If you are pursuing an owned media approach where you control the flow and connection with others, the goal is to refine what you do, not widen it.

When it comes to alignment, the ventures that you pursue have to match your mission.

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retention

Whilst it is important for your message to reach out, the seal of approval is when people want to stick around.

The only way for people to stay with you is for them to see a quality of work that you can keep the momentum with.

The only way for people to read/watch/listen is when you say/do something that others don’t.

This article can be broken down into two trains of thought that link together.


1) Amplifying content does not matter when you have nothing interesting to say

2) Retention won’t happen when you are obsessed with squeezing people down a funnel to sell to them


Samemy Same Same

Avoiding/cutting/breaking through noise is not the problem, being the same as everyone else is where the real issue lies.

If you have a voice that matters to others, then you can take a side step away from the ‘noisy world’ mantra.

This is something that Kevin Kelly shaped in 2008 and is still true today with his 1,000 True Fans principal. Kelly explains that where we can create (with a defined voice), it allows us to interact with people directly. In the past there was an intermediary or someone blocking the way ie. a publisher to get to an author, now we can have contact on a continuous basis to connect directly with an audience.

The numbers you need are relatively small. These are true fans that will purchase anything you produce. Kevin Kelly mentions 1,000 people to make a living. He states that it is not for everybody as there is a lot of work in servicing and connecting, without the help from outside.

 

What About You?

You need people where a message connects with them and aligns with what you do.

You could spend a huge amount of time honing on a message that is the same as everyone else. No amount of amplification is going to help you, when you sound and look exactly the same. Whether it is taking a theme that already exists and adding a new layer, or modifying an approach but putting your own slant to it, this is how people start to take notice.

The value that you provide is triggered when someone else notices something that you communicate that compliments his or her belief system. It is something that they haven’t seen elsewhere, as opposed to a digital marketing company sharing an infographic that social media can help a business.

 

Keeping People

Once you have something to say that others can connect with is when you have the ability to move someone from a stranger to a subscriber. However, someone is going to turn their back when they realize that all you are doing is squeezing them down a funnel where the awareness – consideration – decision – purchase – advocacy, type approach is looking like putting on a pair of Speedos when you’ve spent the month on burgers.

If you have a clear voice that is different from the rest, you will never maintain a subscribed audience if all you are doing is looking at everyone as an immediate £ sign once someone has provided their email. No one was every inspired to create commodity work ie. how to make 100 extra subscribers per day, through to how to grow a huge audience on Twitter.

Everything here represents the objective of volume, rather than connection as a means for growth.

Whilst we are all here to sell products and services, we are not here to sell to people whose feet aren’t comfortably under the table yet but have given permission for us to build a dialogue and share. How many times have you connected with someone on a social channel only to find an automated or direct message that was intended to sell as soon as you accepted (or even worse, like them on Facebook)?

 

Retention Is Where Success Lies

When you focus you can find a message that resonates. This becomes scalable.

From a personal perspective, my blog was once generic business articles that had a vague connection to marketing, over the years have become a heavier focus on companies taking ownership with an owned media/content marketing approach.

In order to keep people, you need to have something that doesn’t fit in the same box as everyone else and then have the ability to connect.

Where people become captivated by reach, my fixation is retention.

Let me explain.

You will never develop a level of trust when you shove someone through a sales funnel/pipeline. Whilst I acknowledge that my job as a marketer is intended to help hasten the connection/interaction journey, there has to be the onus on being the solution that someone wants.

I used to believe that retention was about having someone waiting on your every moment of pressing the publish or send button. This idea of thinking that the world of fandom (or I think we call it advocacy in the B2B world, that then just became crazy fans) is just not true.

However, what is true from a B2B perspective is that you can produce ongoing content that is of a quality that someone wants and they know what they are going to get every time they see you enter their feed/inbox/print/someone else’s space. There is no need to think that people will start getting anxious when you haven’t posted one week (just as long as that doesn’t stretch to a number of weeks where you are silent).

I used to think something was wrong when subscribers didn’t click through to read articles or unedited versions on the Thursday, You Are The Media email.

However, I could see that people clicked through on other weeks. Rather than thinking that I have to create more about the more popular articles and I want people to consume the email and the Marketing Homebrew podcast every week, I have learnt that is fine if weeks are more popular than others.

Here is the critical bit.

Whatever someone has experienced (or consumed), I want him or her to stick with it.

The routine that happens every Thursday (the email) or the Friday (the podcast), it’s not about thinking that you have to have a Game of Thrones ‘keep them hanging on for more’ cliffhanger every week, but acknowledge that those people who subscribe and listen know what it is going to make them feel.

 

Trust & Comfort

Whatever they experience, you want to make someone feel comfortable when you are back in their space and they know what they are going to get (based on what you believe in that is different from someone else).

You don’t need to be persistent that every subscriber has to go through everything four times as though it was a love letter when you was 15, as long as they are with you and you don’t deviate from what they gave you permission to do ie. be a part of their week/month that is a healthy place to be.

It is better to become a regular destination for other people to come to, rather than a kebab shop because you was hungry and they were giving away a free can of Tango.

Whilst you will always have unsubscribers, that is absolutely fine, you just weren’t meant to be together. However, what is important and what I am 100% fixated on is to focus on what will keep people as subscribers. From my side, this means people are part of the journey that manifests into other areas, such as the You Are The Media Lunch Club, that started in 2016 and the You Are The Media | Conference that is taking place in May 2018.

I highlighted in an article from February 2017 that it is better to feed your community than to grow it. Looking back, one cannot happen without the other. You grow your community by having something to say that resonates. You feed your community by being persistent and continuous. This enables people to come in and out when they feel comfortable.

The article highlighted the need to provide momentum for others where they genuinely feel part of something. People will quickly find out if something comes across as false or has no meaning to participate. The objective is for others to take notice, come onboard and provide the momentum to build their own responsibility and persistent with their own efforts. From writing more through to progressing with a seed of an idea, this is how a community works when it becomes a place to collate thoughts, talk and everyone to have a shared interest.

 

A Quick Stat

The average number of tactics used by UK business in the annual Content Marketing In The UK report from the Content Marketing Institute are eight methods of communication. Lets flip this from the pursuit of consumption to the objective of retention.

retention

Everything comes down to trust and relationships that are encouraged to build. Whilst growing your audience is important, you also have a duty to keep them.

 

Lets Round Up

The biggest threat for businesses today is sameness. Uniformity can destroy businesses.

Whilst it can be seen as risky by looking to move away from playing it safe, the businesses I have highlighted at the Lunch Clubs have all looked to create their own pools, rather than accept they have to be in the same sea as everyone else ie. people who have created events that were not served in a local area, through to websites that go against the industry standard. It is this approach that people take notice and want to see how the journey plays out.

These are businesses that have moved away from a product centric message and to one where value for others takes precedence (just look at Michael Grubb Studio, Crimson Guitars, PCOS Diet Support and Farrow & Ball).

When you switch from the pursuit of chasing numbers and reminding everyone about the credibility of volume but focus on retaining those who want to spend time with you, it can create a far healthier future.

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content marketing

In order to deliver value so others come on board with you for the journey, you have to be disciplined. To some this is never going to work.

Once upon a time everyone watched the same TV shows (24.35 million people watched an Only Fools and Horses episode in 1996), we all watched the same ads and we received our news from a handful of sources. We now live in a time where anyone can create content, for free and distribute globally.

The companies who are seeing results are those with a defined point of view and have the ability to deliver this on a consistent basis to a targeted audience. In his latest book, Known, Mark Schaefer highlights that people ‘became known through commitment, constancy and repeated practice.’

However, I have seen where it doesn’t work where a content marketing/owned media approach will just not deliver a return. I am breaking this down into three areas focused on care, rhythm and knowledge.

References this week:

Dropbox Business blog www.dropboxbusinessblog.co.uk

ExperienceUX www.experienceux.co.uk


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email subscription

When people subscribe to something they find interesting, being part of a world that is continually described as ‘noisy’ doesn’t come into the equation.

Delivering messages as though you are the virtual paperboy with information someone else wants, is a stronger place than putting the local free paper through someone’s door, just because they have a letterbox. When did anyone want to read the free paper that is full of ads and Asda’s latest deals falling out? Even more importantly, did anyone even ask for the free weekly title?

That’s the same for many companies, who think that emailing the latest offers is the way to treat people. This is not a strong email strategy to adopt. The messages you communicate becomes stronger for people to buy-in when you send to an audience who have made a commitment and subscribed.

Brands Are Binning

Pub chain Wetherspoons (June 22nd) have decided to delete their entire email database (nearly 700,000 people). The database has been wiped clean. This is a brave move to put everything in the bin. Wetherspoons are saying that they will use their social channels to promote deals and their news stories will reside on their website.

I guess there are two sides to this story. The cynical side is that the brand is wary about the onset of the EU’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) from 25th May 2018. How many of the 700,000 people who receive the monthly email, had actually subscribed and opted in to receive?

In 2015, Wetherspoons had used a third party company to run their website and hackers had accessed. The site was hacked and details of 650,000 people were compromised (read more here). So, if you look at the security side and potentially heavy fines next year, they acted now.

When it comes to abusing people’s trust, last month (June), Morrison’s were fined £10,500 by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) for sending over 130,000 emails to customers who did not want them in the first place.

The other side is Wetherspoons are acknowledging that sending blanket emails on curry nights and cider weeks just do not work. A recent article from Marketing Week commented, “it takes guts to start from scratch. Too often marketers persist with the old way, especially around data, through fear of change.”

GDPR And The Level Playing Field

This whole notion of making sure you know what you are getting into, rather than blanket sends and thinking that everyone is your audience, comes down to getting your house in order.

I spoke to Mark Gracey, owner of digital consultancy Flavourfy, who is currently educating businesses where the future lies when it comes to GDPR awareness.

I asked Mark what are the main issues small businesses need to be aware of when it comes to email? Mark replied, “Data protection has always been about having a lawful purpose for processing data. Processing for the purposes of marketing (an email marketing list) has always required consent, but the GDPR introduces much stricter rules around how that consent can be acquired.”

“Specifically, consent must be freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous. What this means is that as well as providing information about what data you’re collecting, why you’re collecting it, how it will be used, who it will be shared with and how consent can be withdrawn. You also need to make sure the subject has taken a positive action to consent to the use of the data in that way. In marketing terms this means that it will no longer be possible to use pre-ticked boxes or vague wording.”

“These new rules though, don’t just impact new data collected. Your existing marketing data needs to be compliant too, so if your existing email list contains email addresses which don’t meet the new requirements you’re going to have to refresh your email list and seek ongoing consent.”

What About You?

Someone subscribes when they see something worthwhile to subscribe to.

It is the promise of something they don’t know (yet), but interested in finding out more.

When someone recognises a space they want to be a part of, they are more likely to give consent.

In the words of Seth Godin (10th July), “Online voices that were seduced by the promise of a mass audience are coming back to the realization that the ability to deliver their message to people who want to get it is actually the core of their model.”

By having GDPR looming on the horizon next May, it starts to provide clarity when it comes to having a genuine reason for others to opt in:


  • build a known subscribed audience

OR


Today, we are all part of a level playing field, so why not take the initiative?

Those who manipulate, cut corners and look for the quickest return in the shortest possible time are the ones who will get found out. Have a look at all those companies you never knew you subscribed to by having a quick check at unroll.me

I chatted to Anne Janzer, author of Subscription Marketing where the essence of a subscribed audience can become a huge asset to your business.

Anne explained, “When you connect with people on social media, you don’t really have control over the relationship. You can’t control when (or whether) people see your communications, and in what context they appear.”

“Social media is important, but an email relationship is more personal, if you do it right. A small email list of loyal, engaged subscribers is much more valuable to your business than hundreds of thousands of people that you blast content out to. The smaller group probably generates more long-term value for your business in sales and referrals.”

How To Build Locked-In Subscribers

What can you do, to start nurturing a subscribed audience? Here are seven areas to think about:


– A unique voice. The topic area may not be unique within the entire marketplace, but the way that you deliver it, is unique to you. Finding your voice represents what you believe in and also helps shape your overall company message. Companies need to tune their voice to achieve differentiation. You can stop worrying about the ‘noise’ (that seems to be every marketers favourite word) when you have something ‘different’ to say.

 
– Time. Once you have a unique area to focus on, are you prepared for the duration to build your voice, let it resonate with others and for them to be convinced to stand by what you believe in. By investing time, you are probably going to be taken down some cul-de-sacs that leave you empty. There is no return when the activity you pursue does not align with what you do. I have experienced this, click here to have a read of a March article that you cannot just inform people and not tie back with what you do.

 
– Reach may not be enough. Thinking that more people subscribing is a sign of success and the opportunity for more people to watch, read, listen, let’s add a further layer. Not everyone in your audience is equal. A better form of return is retention, not wider reach. It is the old 80% of revenue will come from 20% of customers’ mantra. However, it makes sense, the people who stick around are more likely to buy from you, so you need to keep them there. Retention can be a worthier objective than acquisition. Your goal is to either grow you audience, or keep your audience.

 
– Following a trend is risky. Email etiquette has told us that pressing a button to a mass audience with something to sell, will create a valid return ie. someone will buy. It just doesn’t work like that anymore. Look at the emails from retailers, who all follow the same trend of using email as a price promotion tool. As proof here are examples when the fuse was lit for 2016 Black Friday, as reported on Econsultancy. When you move away from a trend of promotion and one of value, this is where people take things they may not have been aware of. Is there a cause that you believe in? Is there a place where you want to take others to, that is different from the rest of your marketplace?

 
– Build before you sell. I only started selling products via my You Are The Media email after three years (this was last year). You have to build an audience around content that has resonance before you start selling. Using your email to have a genuine point of view, over time, will attract more clicks than thinking you have to spend on Facebook to amplify. Email works and converts when you are consistent and go beyond the products and services that you sell. The minute someone subscribers (probably the most vulnerable time of a subscriber), the last thing you should do is to start sending them sales messages. They have just supplied their data (their email address) on the promise of value. You can’t betray that trust. You will turn them into someone who is no longer interested in you.

 
– Empathy. Anne believes that “the subscriber should feel that your business is a single entity, even if it’s made up of many people.” You have to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Anne continues, “Read everything you send from the subscriber’s perspective. Ask yourself questions: why would someone keep opening emails from my business? What value am I providing? If you don’t provide value, people will unsubscribe. Your email open and click-through data can provide important clues as well. Watch what your subscribers respond to, and then offer them more of it.

 
– Clear Call To Action. Do you have a call to action? Are you trying to make an unknown visitor a known subscriber? You can’t be in it, just for the goal of more traffic and then telling everyone how many people come to your site each week/month. When you have people clicking to your side it presents the opportunity to make someone you don’t know into known traffic, by making them a subscriber.


Lets Round Up

People will opt in when they see something that they can relate to and not being coerced into something they don’t want.

Anne concludes that a subscription is just that – a relationship. Anne mentions, “There is a growing chasm between those businesses that treat email as a one-way sales channel, and those use it as a way of building and supporting an ongoing relationship. In the long term, the second group will win.”

With new principals on the horizon in the form of GDPR, audience building via a subscription-based initiative has to be something to act upon now, in terms of having an audience that you have control of, is genuine and is valid. You need to provide people a reason to come to your place. No one wanted an invite to a party, only to find out it’s a glorified networking event where business card ninja stars take centre stage.

GDPR is not bad news for companies who use email as a communication tool. There is a focus on the audience and for businesses to take an email strategy seriously and not a half-hearted attempt to cram old practices (direct advertising) in relatively new spaces. A fresh approach can help everyone. It is time to get things in place where you have resonance in someone else’s in-box.


READ A BOOK – Anne’s latest book (released 18th July), The Workplace Writer’s Process: A Guide To Getting The Job Done, you can buy here.

JOIN A WEBINAR – Mark is scheduling a free webinar on 24th July on GDPR, click here to be part of the lunchtime session.

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one word you stand for

You need to find that one word for what you stand for that doesn’t describe your product but the value you provide.

Let me explain.

Content is now showing uniformity.

Within the space of marketing, that I hold my hand up, you can categorise topics into:

  • Marketing is different today
  • You need to be noticed
  • Marketing is a lot difficult than it was
  • You need to be human
  • Don’t be average
  • Use Instagram and Snapchat

…I think you get it.

This is all the stuff that flows through the door that has been left open, with no lock on it. It just allows a constant stream with one topic presented in the same way. Imagine turning the tap on the bath, but not putting the plug in.

What about you?

What is the one word you stand for?

    • what is that word that connects you and what you believe in?
    • if someone asked you for the one thing that you represent, ‘You Stand For…’
    • can you find longevity and scope for that word that you believe in?
    • can you become creative in order to build a community around your core principals and deliver from audio to the written word?
    • can you capture the imagination and attention of others on a consistent basis?

The example that is focused on this show is PCOS Diet Support

Enjoy the show…

Mark