You should never start your content marketing plan with any benchmark other than that which helps you define your objectives, and serve your audience.
Assertion – One Big Reason
The one big reason you should ignore this article is, it absolutely makes zero sense to think about creating any type of content, or interacting with any type of infuencer, BEFORE you determine your goals, and the needs of your audience.
No one, not in any organization of any size, should EVER start their content marketing strategy by examing anything other than your goals, and the needs of your audience. To say that you should think about creating a $25,000 eBook, is about as useful a piece of advice as telling you to go to a destination without giving you an address.
There is absolutely NO logic to defining a quality benchmark like a $25,000 eBook, without the context of purpose. Who is the eBook for, and what purpose will it serve for both the creator and the reader?
For a small business, the audience that John Janstch caters to, it is plain and simply, putting a huge wall in front of anyone trying to get started in content marketing.
Fantasy vs Reality
I am a small business owner. My clients are small business owners. My bible is “Duct Tap Marketing” written by a man I believe is the man when it comes to small business sales and marketing strategies, John Jantsch.
So why am I so critical of the guest post on his blog?
I discovered Duct Tape Marketing at a time when I was still trying to make sense of it all. Duct Tape Marketing, both the book and the blog, connected the dots for me. More importantly, it resonated with me in that it addresses, very specifically, the needs of small business owners.
The Duct Tape Marketing system is custom built for small business owners. There is nothing fancy about it. It is down and dirty practical, usable advice to help small businesses improve their performance with more effective sales and marketing.
There is a lot to the system that makes a lot of sense. What resonated most for me is the way John connects content marketing with all the other components of his system, specifically and particularly, his other book “The Referral Engine.” (MUST READ)
Indeed, at the core of the Duct Tape Marketing system is a well designed, well thought out, internet presence including but not limited to content of all types AND a business blog.
So what about Kris Kilbourns article makes me crave further understanding? First, when I go to read an article on the Duct Tape Marketing blog, I expect to be presented with useful information about how to do effective sales and marketing as a small business owner. I leverage much of John’s ideas, theories and principles in my work helping other small business owners do the same.
Kris’s article is, in my opinion, not written for me and is certainly not written for the clients I work with.
In the article, Kris gives three tips. I struggle with two of the tips as it pertains to both my world and the world of my clients.
- “Create World-Class Content”
- “Build Relationships with 800-Pound Gorillas”
On the surface, these seem like legitimate pieces of advice. A deeper dive into the detail though reveals where my expectations were shattered.
“Create World-Class Content”
I had two concerns in the detail of this section. One, Kris makes the following statement, “Everyone is Blogging”.
First, this just isn’t true. It isn’t true of big businesses and it most certainly is not true of small businesses, John Jantsch’s target audience.
I have encountered many, way too many to count, small business owners that either see no reason to blog, or are blogging with absolutely no purpose, and hence, no results.
There are a lot of people who need to jump on this band wagon. Not because they expect to be celebrity bloggers. But because they expect to meet the needs of the buyers in 2014 and beyond.
What’s worse to me is the next claim, “If you’re just launching your content marketing plan, you’re still behind the crowd.” What are we suppose to believe, that all hope is lost? Should I or the people I work with cut and run, feeling there is no hope or place for the new bloggers?
Blogging is not a competition. Blogging, for most of us, is a way to connect with our target audience. It is a way to build better relationships. John Jantsch himself, in his definition of marketing, tells us that we need to get people to know like and trust us. How do we go about getting people to know like and trust us? John himself, and the entire Duct Tape Marketing system, will reveal that the secret, in today’s world, to earning likes and trust, is content. What is the easiest way for a small business owner to create content that builds trust? A Blog.
Now, for your piece of the pie, for your following, you do not need “World-Class Content”. What you need is content that the people who work with you and the people you want to work with down the road, FIND USEFUL.
If you don’t believe me, just ask Marcus Sheridan. Here is a pool guy who knew nothing about content marketing or blogging. Yet he used both to save his pool business from bankruptcy. What does he do now? He travels the universe telling people that utility trumps “world-class”.
Next, Kris references a guy named Neil Patel. Check Neil out. But seriously, DO NOT make the mistake of thinking Neil is your benchmark. Yes, you should strive to be excellent. Yes you should have high standards. But you should also set realistic goals and expectations. After all, reality is at the center of action. If you think Neil is your benchmark, you will not, trust me on this, take your first steps.
Imagine if you just started to play golf and the instructor showed you a video of Tiger Woods and said, “Play Like Him”.
So, Neil alone is a scary benchmark. But Kris made it a little worse for me by revealing the amount of money Neil spends on creating eBooks.
Seriously, please, for the love of all that is holy, do not believe that a $30,000 eBook is what you should strive for. I’ve read enough useful eBooks to know that sometimes a well thought out list of tips presented in a PDF or HTML page is really useful content.
Neil Patel has a lot to offer a small business owner. Striving to replicate his own methodology is really not one of them. These things need to be taken in small bite size portions. This is the only way of thinking that will result in action. Action is what you need to take.
“Build Relationships with 800-Pound Gorillas”
I have a background working for 800-Pound Gorillas. I am an expert on how they treat the small of us. It is not good. Sure, wouldn’t it be awesome if you could give a quick call to Hubspot and say, “Hey, you guys are really smoking, I would like to ride your coat tails a bit, can I write something on your blog?”
Not practical advice.
And in fact, there is a ton of value in building strategic relationships with the not so big animals out there. What’s really important is not just exposure, but who you are getting exposure to. Remember, you are really not trying to be Seth Godin ( a sentiment echoed by John Jansch in about 18,000 different posts books and videos).
You are trying to attract more people into your circle and keep them there.
Also, when you are first starting out, networking is critical and also time consuming. You cannot afford to spend your time trying to get companies like Hubspot to post your content. And, getting them to post may not actually even produce results. What?
Yes, that is correct. Your goal in all of this is not to become famous. It is to get more clients. It is to keep your current clients happy. You don’t need to be viral. You need to be converting. There are a ton of people waiting to convert in the lesser known, not so famous, not so traveled cracks and corners of the offline and online world.
Why Do I Care?
Why do I care about any of this? I care because I am trying to grow a business around helping other businesses realize the benefit of content marketing. If my job isn’t hard enough, it is made even harder by the misconception that the goal of online marketing is to become a celebrity. Absent the ability to become “World-Class”, what then, in the minds of the small of us, is the point?
Guest Blog Out of Place
John Jantsch has an obligation to all those of us who he has inspired to greater heights of performance. He built his brand around us and about us. His “talking logo” is he makes game changers out of all of us. We go to his blog to find answers. We examine his material to find the truth.
We expect that when we return, we will find what we are used to, what we have grown to expect, a sanctuary for small business owners across the globe, sharing in ideas and best practices designed for us. We don’t need to know about people that spend $30k on an eBook. We need to know about the people that make it happen with a buck, some brains and a ton of hard work.
My story is no different than yours. I had no budget. I didn’t have a clue. I really sucked and didn’t really know why. But I read. I studied and I learned. I am making it happen. I didn’t do it with an IBM sized marketing budget. I did it by reading books like Duct Tape Marketing and following the thoughts and ideas of guys like John Jantsch and Marcus Sheridan.
Don’t be afraid to do the same. You do not have to be class to the world. You only have to be class to the community of those you serve. Think of their needs. Create useful content. Don’t worry about being a celebrity. And you will succeed.
I don’t have anything for you to download here. What I want is for you to share the hell out of this article so that people like us find comfort in knowing they can set realistic goals and objectives and become a game changer.
Thanks for reading. Thanks for stopping by. Thanks for sharing.