Tags Posts tagged with "owned media"

owned media

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Inspiration for blog posts can come in all shapes and sizes and from the unlikeliest of places.

Here are my proven ways for you to have that greater sense of achievement when you press that ‘publish’ button. I am here to make you more fulfilled and ensure what started as a commitment never becomes a, ‘I did it a couple of times in March.’

One of the biggest questions that I am asked is, ‘how do you not run out of things to write about?’ The simplest answer that I have is that I am relentlessly curious about how the world of marketing is shaping for small businesses in the mid part of this decade.

However, you may not be in marketing and that answer may not mean anything to you. Lets just cut right to the chase; you may only be here to read bold headlines and answers.

How can you create a consistent bank of original work that you can trace back to a bit of inspiration or just by digging deeper?

These are the places that have helped me write new articles every week since 19th January 2012. This is your very own route for blog inspiration.



One of the biggest personal and professional changes for me was the moment that I started reading again.

Everything traces back to this book from Chet Holmes called The Ultimate Sales Machine (published in 2008). I picked this book up and since then reading has helped shape how I look at the world. More importantly every book I have read helps me become more creative and more strategic.

What I do is share what I have learnt and put my own interpretation on a theory into my daily life. Have a read of an article from 2013 that is simply ‘Why We Need To Read A Book’

Your Experiences

The week you experience is something that no one else can copy.

This provides the opportunity to almost create a diary of what you encounter and the people who are part of it.

No one is going to tell you that your week is wrong and whilst we are all being told to create original content, there is nothing more personal than documenting the challenges, rewards and frustrations you have. This is where your personality comes to the fore.

One of my quickest meetings to blog articles was from earlier this year when a company asked me, “Can Twitter generate an extra £150,000 per year?” This question made me think and realise the answer that I should have gave during the (wasted) meeting.

If you don’t want to read, the question made me realise that there is a new illiterate. It is our duty as businesses to adapt and continually learn.

a) Do Things b) Write About It

My whole human cannonball approach is to do things and then share what I have learnt.

I seem to have built a bank of blog articles that either link back to the Marketing Homebrew podcast, the Once Upon A Time event or the Content Revolution book.

This puts you in a position to document what you have done that no one else has achieved. This is the fingerprint that defines you and no one else.

See what I mean, it’s easy to tell someone how they need to create effective content, but even better if you can share what you have learnt by showing your own examples that doesn’t refer to Red Bull, Airbnb, Coca Cola or pulling out the Oreo Cookie ad.

Google Alerts

If we’re getting a bit into the Marketing 101 and travelling down the safe marketing path, setting up Google Alerts for your industry can uncover some hidden gems.

Here is an example that this works. When recommending this for a commercial interior company, you have to see beyond the ‘contract awarded to key word for $50m’ or the ‘how name of person transformed key word into a multi million business.’

The ability to share and comment on something that brings everyone together becomes content gold. Something still related to the commercial interior world, but from a different angle within Google Alerts becomes an opportunity to comment on the world’s first character branded colour, Minion yellow.

Your Passions

Nothing flows easier than believing in something and standing vehemently beside it.

This is what drives your enthusiasm. What you started (or starting) doing has to be more than, ‘I am doing this to make more money than the job I previously did.’ There has to be a reason and a purpose for what you are pursuing.

The thing that ignites my spark is the ability for businesses to persistently create something with limited barriers to entry. Companies now have the ability to build an audience that they have complete control of, what a fantastic opportunity for all of us. When looking over the blog topics, the majority of my articles are centred on businesses marketing as though it’s 2015 and owning what is theirs.

If you haven’t yet read The Content Revolution, download the opening section by clicking here that explains the situation we are in today and the opportunity it presents your business (no need for you email address, just download the PDF).

Categorising Notes

I know that I have lost hundreds of great ideas over the years believing that I would remember them. Trust me, you won’t remember them.

I started using ‘Notes’ on my Mac and iPhone, but now everything is synced via Evernote into categories. This could be links for articles that I need to read (but haven’t got round to), to noting ideas that come into my head, through to pages from books that introduce an interesting thought process.

Embrace Analytics

Looking back at what you have created and how it resonates with others is important to finding a thread to what can progress into a much more substantial topic piece.

Have a look within Google Analytics – Behaviour – Overview to see which pages and articles resonate and what doesn’t. For instance, my thread at the moment could potentially build momentum into a finely crafted sweater. The thread is based on the role an owned media approach has for business and what you have to consider for it to work.

I promise you that if you haven’t done this yet appraise where you are. If you have spent hours crafting the ‘About Us’ page, no one is bothered anymore.

Repurpose What Has Been Done

I have always stated that when I started blogging I was rubbish.

There was no theme to progress and was a stereotypical business related blog that had no individuality ie. how to be good at speaking, making Twitter work. They were pretty flat and done everywhere else. However, what I noticed was that there were seeds from earlier articles that could be progressed into more substantial work.

This fits the belief that we are always looking for the next idea, when we need to take stock of what we have already created and look at new ways to develop. Lets not get so fixated on creation, but curation of what you have uncovered that hasn’t been said elsewhere.

The Power Of Asking

If you are inquisitive about your industry, the channels that are available today lets you reach out in ways that you have never been able to before.

All it takes is to ask and for others to recognise that you are pursuing something that is far greater than expecting someone to tweet a link once they have contributed. This is how I have created my ongoing Talking Content Marketing series, since November 2013. This is intended to show a snapshot of where marketing is in the mid part of this decade and bring in the voices of authors and influencers from within the marketing industry.

A good space to ask and to also use as your content curation hub is Quora. This is an endless space of questions and debate. Who knows maybe an answer someone provides either becomes a contributor to your next article or the topic idea for your next post?


Friends & Other Conversations

I don’t want to go all soft and twee on you by saying ‘friends’, but you never know where a throwaway comment from someone else can end up.

For instance, I have an article on Mark Schaefer’s {Grow} blog, titled, “No One Cares What You Know, Until They Know You Care.” Little did I know that this was a quote from former US President, Theodore Roosevelt, but that’s not the point.

What matters is that this statement was mentioned by a friend one evening over a beer and I took it from there.

It planted a seed for me to understand that to become a valuable resource to others you have to invest time, learning and understand how you can be of use to others.

Be Lazy (the cheat)

I’m not endorsing this 100% (as this article is about digging deep) but if you find yourself looking at a blank screen, don’t feel like signing up to anything and a quick tool to give that momentum, there are two places that I recommend.

Hubspot’s Blog Topic Generator

All you need to do is enter three words and the end result is a spark to ignite your writing.


Portent’s Content Idea Generator

Sometimes you just need to throw in your topic area and see what comes back at you (guarantee that you’ll keep clicking to see what ideas are thrown at you)



The sources for ideas and inspiration are all around you (don’t forget your in-box too).

I am sure that I have missed places that have possibly helped you. If I have, let me know or comment below. People are generating the momentum for something that they haven’t done before. When it comes to finding topics to write about, as you can see, there is an abundance of places. I can’t buy into the ‘but we have nothing to write about!’ lame excuse. I hope these are helpful to you.

Image at the top courtesy of Julija

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What are you doing that is actually different from everyone else? I say it’s time to show our hands.

My last article I stand by the belief that we have to offer the experiences that we have created, rather than just telling everyone the theory (here is the ‘Stop Banging On About Storytelling‘ article). Action and being present today, holds more weight than a thesis. It’s all about the value we create, rather than repeating what someone else has said (there is enough of them on your Twitter feed at this very second).

This article I want us to recognise that showing an approach and mindset, is how we become different from the crowd.

The One-Way Traffic You Can’t Overtake

It’s time for businesses to stop an approach that tells everyone that they know best. For instance, the company providing social media training, only to find that every Tweet they write is just a long list of links and barely any engagement with anyone, does not give someone the right to tell others what to do. A one-way barrage of what is effectively advertising is by no means an approach that creates a sense of community and sharing a belief system.

Our roles as businesses are effectively being part of the table on one big game of poker. To those who aren’t familiar with how poker works, the winner of each game is decided by the ranks of players card, where some are hidden from show until the end of the game. Betting starts on every round based on the rank that a person believes their hand is worth, compared to the other players.

A player can ‘raise’ based on the strength of their hand or they can fold. At the end of each game the winner is determined if everyone else has ‘folded’ or the hands are revealed when there is more than one player looking to win ‘the pot.’ The player with the winning hand, based on the order of rank, wins.

Why Companies Throw Their Cards In And Fold

This analogy is where we are today. Many businesses choose to keep their cards close to their chest and eventually ‘fold.’ All they can muster is weak product based messages on how good they are, stating the increase in turnover over the past 12 months and the ‘excellent bespoke service’ they provide the world. This isn’t a strong hand it’s just B2B service waffle that we have all become accustomed to.

Those who are ready to show their hand are the ones who are prepared to present how they have done it. The company that is providing social media training where their proof is merely links and one way traffic, is going to loose to a higher hand of a business that shows engagement, conversation and longevity of relationships (N.B. as an aside have a look at Trevor Young’s ‘Cultivating a Village of Support for Your Personal Brand’ Slideshare presentation). This is what businesses need to be prepared to do.

Taking A Different Approach

This is more than looking to differentiate; it’s about showing a more considered approach and having the evidence on show that will stand-alone. This is the ‘royal flush’ that will beat any other hand when there is evidence and proof that an approach works. The companies who provide pure methodology from earlier rounds are going to be trounced by the bigger hands that show proof, value and creativity.

To stay within the game of poker, businesses need to be committed and if what they currently have, doesn’t feel right, it’s time to fold. A low scoring hand of a couple of press releases, sporadic blog posts and thinking that the local business magazine ½ page ad is the answer to your new customer prayers, is sooner or later going to have to fold, with a minimum return.

Focusing On The Owned Media Approach As The Poker Metaphor

So now you get the poker metaphor. I know this is probably a pretty well used comparison with business, but I’m going to take it down the route of creating an owned media approach and more importantly, making it work.

Lets make it even more meaningful:

1) Show A Love And Genuine Enthusiasm For The Game

Those who are genuinely enthusiastic with how media channels work and looking to develop an owned media approach manage to show a love of the game. This is contrasted to those businesses that dabble, don’t have a good understanding but are prepared to waste money and time within spaces that guarantee no return whatsoever. It is important to remember that when it comes to playing the game, it’s much more than the cards you are dealt, it’s the persona you present to others.

2) You Can’t Win Every Game

The seasoned player acknowledges that they can’t win every game, but are prepared to study and know when it’s the right time to make that move or make the sensible decision to fold.

In a business context, there are moments when you just have to fold. A couple of years ago I worked on the If You Could Go Back project. This was a series of interviews with local businesses on three things they would advise their younger selves at the beginning of their professional career. The intention was a learning tool for new businesses or those looking to make that leap into self-employment. This was such a time intensive project that when it came to taking things to the next stage ie. print and finding a sponsor, it just didn’t materialise. It was time to fold.

3) Some Always Think They Are Dealt Poor Hands

Many businesses think that they are forever dealt poor hands and can’t seem to work out why they don’t get better cards.

This comes down to showing a genuine understanding of the game you are playing (see point 1). You can’t have the expectation that you can just show up to see a return. This is similar to the businesses that think that a smattering of a few blog posts, will result in either a burst of subscribers or the promise of converting prospects to customers. To then become frustrated that there is no return and then put their endeavours to an eventual close. This reflects more on a business who is not prepared to develop new channels rather than thinking that the audience aren’t ‘out there.’

4) Become Better Informed To Fold Or Push Harder

All players will at some point loose hands. However, if a long term, more patient view is taken, then it becomes easier to make a better judgement to stop or to progress. It is ok to take a steady approach, loose hands as long as there is a goal in sight.

The If You Could Go Back project could be considered as a loss, but the long-term goal was to look at ways to build an audience as well as the role for my business to provide useful information. Similarly, Ian (Rhodes) and myself have discovered that the cards we are currently being dealt with on the Marketing Homebrew podcast project are pushing us harder so we are in for the next round.

5) Some who play often can make a career out of it

Those players who move from enthusiasm, to study, to delivery, to wider recognition can become revered and respected players within the poker circuit.

This is similar to those who can build an audience, take ownership of channels that are theirs and become recognised as influential within their marketplace. This is a totally different space from a sporadic approach and thinking that the whole focus for your content efforts is within text on a screen. It is an all encompassing, committed mindset that can innovate, adapt and continually learn that will rise above the competition.

6) The buzz of the unexpected becomes a spark and an explosion

The player who enjoys being part of the game and does it with real enthusiasm, knows that learning and application can become a real buzz. To the business adapting to a content mindset the unexpected also means a hands-up acknowledgement that we are not experts, just people and businesses who are relentlessly curious with a goal to find the truth and give meaning to what we are doing.

The quicker businesses stop telling everyone that they are the experts, the better. It’s a reality check to acknowledge that it’s the journey we are on and the value we provide that is more rewarding than the finishing line of saying that we are ‘the one’. For instance, my graduation day at University was one of the most underwhelming occasions days of my life. I know this wasn’t the case for my parents, but sitting through a three-hour ceremony just to hear my name, after three years of having the most fun a person in their late teens/early 20s could have, puts it into perspective. My own living proof that the journey to get to that degree was more worthwhile than the degree itself.

7) If you are forever bluffing, you will get found out (MY FAVOURITE)

Those who make it through to the next round, but constantly bluffing as their sole strategy are sooner or later going to be exposed. In the role of business, this comes back to my previous article where I am seeing more and more people telling others how to do something and layout the steps when they haven’t dedicated time and effort in understanding how a discipline works. Just because social media is free to use, doesn’t give someone the right to tell others what to do, just because they spend more time on Twitter than someone else. Success comes with creating a strategy, exploring, evaluating and re-evaluating and being more creative than the competition.

To become accomplished at poker you have to be committed to study to then choose the right moments to attack. This is similar for the roles that we play within our marketplaces where we can now take complete control of spaces that we own and have the ability to create and share. This provides the opportunity to dominate the competition and take a larger share of the pot. It’s time to become an influential player that provides value and meaning to your audience.

Image at the top of the article courtesy of Pheezy

Karate Kid_what isn't content marketing

The term content marketing can start to lose it’s meaning. So, what is not content marketing and what should it mean to businesses?

This form of marketing has built resonance since the term was coined in 2007. What I’m starting to see, is that any piece of content that is created is regarded as content marketing:

Sainsbury's Christmas Ad

The Sainsbury’s Christmas World War One Video – This isn’t content marketing, this was an advert.

Facebook Year In Review

Facebook 2014 Year In Review – This wasn’t content marketing, this was an automated algorithm.

Jaguar_The ID Group

This dull social post on LinkedIn from Jaguar – This isn’t content marketing, it’s native advertising.

aldi_no frills

Aldi’s ‘No Frills’ message – This isn’t content marketing, it’s an ad campaign.

It’s a bit like thinking that karate is just karate without the teaching of the full discipline from Mr.Miyagi. If you can punch, kick and watch a Bruce Lee film, you know karate. Many businesses are now ticking the box called ‘content marketing’ because it is easier than ever to create and press the ‘publish’ button. Businesses complete actions without tying the whole meaning together. For a content marketing approach to have meaning you need purpose and direction.

A Term Not Too Comfortable With

Like many this is a term (‘content marketing’) that I have always had an issue with, but I accept that it is here to stay. It just seems to mean too many things to too many people. Whether audio, copy, video, illustration it all fits into a square hole called ‘content.’ For instance, I went to Bournemouth Aquarium at the weekend and should I start talking about the content that was within the fishtanks? The content was different and so was the size and shape of the tanks.

There is a lot of content out there, but that is ok. It just means that we have to become more defined with the audiences we are targeting and to become more relevant than our competition. This is where I find it fascinating. We can now build an audience and convert prospects into customers. These will be people who will come to you and not someone else, without relying wholly on the old methods of borrowing audiences via advertising, spending all your money on Google Adwords and purchasing lists of strangers.

The Old Path

If we follow an old formulaic approach of thinking we can tell our audience what we want them to know, it just doesn’t cut it any more. Hiding a sales pitch within an article for it to stand out from the 2009 A to Z book of SEO, where key words are in place at any given moment like a game of ‘Bop-it,’ fails its purpose to educate and inform.

We need to define what content means to us as businesses so we can attract a better (and more informed) audience. We can share with those who subscribe and to create a more purposeful reason for people to buy from us.

I found that to become more relevant to my audience, I had to move away from the ’10 ways to get people to retweet you’ type of articles. I needed to look more at the issues that I have faced and what I am doing to make an owned media strategy to work by controlling an asset (such as this blog). From the successes (and fails), this is what I share.

The Role Content Marketing Should Play

What is it that you do that can become the pillar for you to stand behind? I’ve had a think. I’m not going to use this article to define the meaning of content marketing, you can read a more informed article here, but to look at the role it should play for your business:

1) You provide solutions to real problems

When my customers introduce a question and answer section to their website (no matter how silly they may sound to the person who faces these everyday), these become some of the most visited pages on a customers website (from looking at their Google Analytics).

I guess this is because it is the starting place where you begin to mean something to someone. A relationship may not have begun to develop, but this is in a different league from the ‘news page’ showing the company day out last April. A business is looking to become relevant to the people it wants to attract.

2) Identify a different angle to a topic

It doesn’t matter what industry you are in, the easiest route to take is to represent how your industry has behaved since time began. If you are an estate agent, you’ll demonstrate how good you are and how busy the last quarter was for selling homes or if you are a digital agency, you’ll state how influential you are to your audience. I think Ian Rhodes says this better than me.

Ian Rhodes_The ID Group

While the world goes down one route, its time to head in the opposite direction. You can do this by becoming inspired. I don’t want to turn into a life coach, but from a Talking Content Marketing interview with Mitch Joel, I love what he highlighted that, “Being inspired is not a destination, but you need to get inspired and proactively look to become energised. I read a lot of books and to everyone reading is always accessible, from the library to any major news site, there are many places to become exhilarated.”

3) Become a useful resource that reflects character

The role of committing to a content first mindset is to become regarded in the eyes of others as influential. It doesn’t matter how many Twitter posts you create with a link to an article where you attempt to look more important with the dogmatic approach of ‘yes….I am the oracle to all things about social media, but don’t ask me about Google+,’ what matters is that you draw on experiences made. I find it wrong when companies wax lyrically about a platform or channel they have little or no experience. With the intention to educate others on something they have little knowledge about.

We don’t have to become experts in everything related to our respective industries, what we have to become is meaningful to those who are ready to participate with us.

Hubspot’s Joe Chernov highlighted in another Talking Content Marketing interview:

You can’t position yourself as an influencer — not in a way that has any staying power, anyway — any more than you can position yourself as being clever or attractive. That determination isn’t yours to make. It’s up to the “influenced” to decide if you are influential.

4) You entertain, you challenge

It is time to realise that you are competing with everybody.

If you take the stance that the new website that went live in 2013 is ok as it is, then you have lit the stick of dynamite. The old way of thinking from my agency days was that the website meant that you had done enough and the race was complete. Today, having a website merely means that you have been accepted to run the race.

I’m not just talking websites here but others places to get people to think and to show personality that represents who you are. I’m taking the jump next month into the world of podcasting with the Marketing Homebrew podcast.

Someone who does this brilliantly is Jay Baer and his Jay Today three minute videos. With an iPhone 6, he records each video. This is then on YouTube and the audio is on iTunes. Jay Baer is the King of repurposing content. Have a listen to the Rainmaker interview from the end of last year, with Brian Clark, where he explains more.

5)  educate, don’t manipulate

It’s easy to put the call to action on everything you create for people to email you to immediately work with you. Relationships don’t work that way.

For others to make truly informed decisions, the information that we collate and build needs to strike a chord that is valuable to someone else and to help them form an opinion, rather than a straight ‘this is the answer.’

Hiding a piece of content as a glorified sales pitch, is now becoming even more visible as we become wiser gatekeepers with the deluge of content that is served in our direction. It only takes a second to unsubscribe or stop following what someone else has to say.

As businesses we have to serve a wider purpose to make our audience more informed. We don’t have to sound important anymore by using clichéd language. We just have to be informed, in tune with the industries we are part of and understand the world around us. Trying to sound professional by using jargon is weak. Being individual, passionate and interesting can make you Hercules.

6) you can evoke an emotion

If someone reads, listens, watches what you create and thinks, ‘right, back on with my life,’ then you have to dig a bit deeper. If we want others to remember us, we have to create a reaction.

Whether that reaction is to enquire, subscribe or buy, relationships are built by people, not logos. It is our duty as businesses to mean something and to become relevant to others. The thing is it is becoming even more of a challenge to adopt. According to Start-Up Britain, during 2014 there were over 581k businesses registered with Companies House. The previous record was 2013 and 526k businesses. There are more of us competing, but there are more of us looking the same.

Doesn’t the world look a better place when you make a commitment to build longer-term relationships that move beyond the three-month ad campaign. While the world becomes more competitive, we need to adjust and take advantage of the new opportunities we have to grow with the spaces that we have complete control over (such as our website and our email). Taking on board an owned media mindset means that you have to work a little harder, but you can make a difference.

Not About The Masses

According to IBM, 90% of the worlds content has been created in the past two years. This is not something to make us feel uncomfortable, but to feel assured that most of the content created is not worth seeing. The opportunity businesses have is to understand the industry they are part of, understand how to develop and implement a strategy that in turn helps to develop an audience. The biggest challenge that you have is to rise above the noise and to become meaningful to others.

Since the introduction of the printing press during the 15th century, the world has been awash with content. Where we are in 2015, our challenge is to create better content with the technology that we have to attract an audience. The added bonus is that this a fraction of the cost that it was around five years ago. We can now become significant to others via the content we create. It’s not about engaging the masses, it’s about appealing to the people who want to know us better.

Stories Drive Revenue

We can now tell real stories and drive revenue. It’s time to look at who we are, why we do what we do and become more comfortable with the tools at our disposal to illustrate the role we play.

Coming back to the Karate Kid analogy at the beginning of the article. Daniel had to ‘wax on, wax off’ before he could win the tournament. It’s not about the shortest route to success by ‘sweeping the leg’. This is what we need to do as businesses to understand the meaning for what we do. To master a content marketing discipline takes time and practice, but with a dogged commitment it can reap the reward.

Image at the top of the article courtesy of Gareth Simpson