If you can connect the dots and showcase your journey, it can be more rewarding than saying to everyone, ‘heyyyy…we’ve finished!’
Content marketing efforts become easier when you stop looking at content in isolation but as part of a much bigger picture.
We seem to be heavily drawn to the final reveal ie. the video, the book, the audio, but what if you document the journey that goes alongside? This becomes part of your content creation efforts, where everything still aligns to what you do and the role you provide to others.
Why concentrate on the campaign, when you can reveal the expedition? It all comes down to the ability to create value beyond what you are selling. This is about why you are in business. You have the channels available, it is a case of the momentum to do it.
Showing The Proof
This way of connecting the dots and not just the wholehearted focus on showing the final big picture, is exactly what the team from Treehouse Digital are doing at the moment. The video production company are creating a short family film called Treaters. This will be released on Halloween.
What they are doing is sharing the whole process that goes into making the film. Their production diary is documenting how everything works. It becomes an education from all aspects from writing to visual effects.
I asked Paul Hamblin, Executive Producer, why they decided to document the journey and take onboard a side project, “It all started with us realising that we need to show people how we make cool stuff. Whilst andabout us’ page is fine, people don’t necessarily ‘get’ the Treehouse way of working. We know that once people have visited us they normally understand what we’re capable of and we wanted to show that to the world.”
“We wanted to stop telling people and actually show them. This way when we talk about pre-production, or VFX, or story creation people will be able to see beneath the hood and realise we have nothing to hide.”
“There is nothing like showing people your process to prove you really do know what you are doing and you’re not hiding behind overly structured marketing materials.”
One of the biggest investments in this project is setting time aside from the day to work, isn’t this something that Paul and the team are a little apprehensive about? Paul explained, “In some ways it’s actually a relief. I think potential clients can look at our channel and if they like the way we work then could be a possible match. If they don’t get it or don’t like it then to be honest they’re not going to be a good client. It also applies a really good magnifying glass of pressure on every element of our pipeline, which will encourage us to improve. Hopefully we’ll watch it back in a couple of years and cringe, that’ll mean we’ve carried on improving!”
Why This Approach Works To Break Things Down
Here are some takeaways and what I see from this approach to break down a main activity into a relevant side project:
- Treehouse are making Treaters even more relevant when it is released
- A library of content assets are going to be built over the coming months that will be just as relevant in a years time from now. It can be the gift that keeps on giving.
- Every piece aligns itself to the main feature and also what Treehouse does as a company
- It informs and entertains, not a blatant ‘look at us, aren’t we good’ promotional effort with a house tune in the background and people looking at Macs as part of a plush showreel
- They have the ability to reach out in the build up (even being covered in this article), rather than one big ‘KAPOW’
- The content can be (and should be) optimised before the main piece
- Treehouse can become a resource that documents how the whole filming process works by providing education not just for an audience but potential Treehouse clients
- They are effectively marketing their marketing. Producing one big piece (Treaters) may not be enough. By creating and sharing videos, helps to amplify the message of the film
- The Treaters films, provides more exposure to the voice of Treehouse than it does with the final product (the short film)
- The videos that Treehouse are creating, they are building a growing media asset
- These videos will be the Treehouse map, that shows others how everything comes together and how things should be done
- This ‘side project’ can move potential clients to direct action (and strengthen bonds as there is transparency)
However, there is also one trait that I am seeing from a company that is putting their efforts into creating a short film with a defined timeline that goes outside of the boundaries to send an invoice to someone else. This represents a company that lives to film, rather than films to live. This is a key differentiator within a marketplace that is full of video production companies.
Treehouse are maximising the distribution potential for how they work, not just sitting in isolation whilst they produce a film.
How This Relates To You
Rather than communications being short term and campaign led, are there ways for you to keep the continuum and showcase how everything ticks?
During June, I highlighted the importance for businesses to have a long-term marketing view to their communications. The article noted a report from the IPA that highlighted the increase in the number of short-term campaigns since the global financial crisis a decade ago. Since 2012, the biggest drop with businesses has been within market share and penetration. These findings sit side-by-side with an increase in the number of short-term campaigns (something that is in existence for less than six months).
Lets look at the Treaters project and treat it as something that relates to your business. It could be a research project, an event or an industry information piece you are looking to release in the coming months.
The findings for the final project (the big picture) can potentially be broken down into smaller pieces (joining the dots).
- blog posts that relate to the main activity
- podcast that links to the overall project (that can be continued after the release of the main activity)
- extract podcast clips on sites such as Clammr (click here to what I do with Marketing Homebrew)
- speaking opportunities
- weekly newsletter articles
- social media posts
- SlideShare presentation
What I am trying to highlight here is getting content that you have already produced into the hands of more of the (right) people.
Each example above, highlights the ability to reach different audiences with your best work. It allows distribution over a far greater land than one major piece sitting in isolation in one space.
Buy in at senior level becomes easier when an initiative is invested across multiple platforms. It is the joining up of the dots that provides the reward, not just sharing with everyone the final picture. When you piece everything together, it makes the final activity more meaningful. If you can make the puzzle easier by allowing people to connect within your own domain, this creates an independent value from the work that is invoiced/paid. It also creates a deeper sense of honesty. Paul explains, “We pride ourselves on our transparency, and up until now we haven’t backed that up with anything public. This way we are really shouting from the rooftops that we genuinely are what we say we are, and we really do believe in a transparent and honest process.”
Bringing the Treaters project back into the article, or a project that you can showcase that has so many dots to it, a key element of success is to keep up an ongoing distribution of content. This helps the continuum, the ability to build an audience and be continually relevant to others.
Lets Round Up
This is not about the scramble to post at high frequencies but being strategic to what people are comfortable to consume and how they want to consume it. Just because there is a long list of channels to place your message within, doesn’t mean that everyone of them is going to be suitable. It all comes down to those where you are prepared to be committed and stick with.
As seen by Treehouse, you don’t need to be publishing videos every other day. To have a deeper effect what you create and distribute has a purpose that links to your overall message.
If you have owned properties where a story can flow and take others on a journey where they feel part of something, it seems odd that for so many years, people have seemed happy to put the effort into the website, the film, the print and stand back as though they have won the race. If you flip things round, the finishing point becomes the start.
The reward is joining the dots, this is where the participation and connection becomes part of a continuous quest to create relevance at every opportunity and not one grand reveal.