“This post is part of a new chapter for SlopeFillers that breaks the old anything-and-everything topic lineup and organizes weekly posts into themes. This week is content marketing.”
When it comes to content marketing, perhaps the perfect example of a company that not only preaches but practices, is Copyblogger.
I first started reading Copyblogger when I realized a few years ago, as I often do now, how badly I suck at writing. I have my sporadic moments of literary averageness, but they’re few and far between. Copyblogger, on the other hand, has a jealousy inducing ability to crank out winners day in and day out. This content slowly built a massive audience which served as the foundation for a incredibly successful business that sells everything from web hosting to optimization tools and WordPress themes.
A couple years ago, a crazy talented writer with a crazy interesting story joined their team. His name was Demian Farnworth, and here’s what he had to say about himself, resorts, and content marketing.
Gregg: Demian, tell us quickly about you and your story and how you ended up with Copyblogger.
Demain: I knew Brian Clark and the blog since 2007, wrote for it a number of times through the years, and back in 2011 I started working for myself. About eight months in I realized I didn’t like freelancing, so started looking for other jobs. Didn’t have any luck until I ended up doing some work for Brian toward the end of 2012. He offered me a full time position, and as a writer that was a no brainer. Copyblogger is the place where writers rule the roost. You can get a deeper appreciation for my education as a writer if you check out my blog (thecopybot.com), especially the series on “the Education of a Writer“.
Gregg: In your words, Demian, give us a quick, 30-second definition of “content marketing” so we’re all on the same page.
Demain: Content marketing is an advertising method where the company becomes a publisher. It cuts out the middleman. In traditional advertising magazines would build huge audiences, and then sell exposure to those audiences. With CM, you build the audience and sell the product directly.
Gregg: Copyblogger is different from resorts (and most businesses) in that the blog achieved massive success first and you were able to build products that matched the audience. How different or difficult is it to start with the audience and design content to match?
Demain: The difficult part is the waiting and the creating. It takes time to create content, and it takes time to build an audience. But once you have the audience, you have a ready-made machine for producing successful products. Copyblogger Media builds products their audience wants. We look for a need in the audience and try to fill it. This is way more profitable and productive than the other method: creating a product and then trying to build an audience to buy it. Your chances of success plummet with that approach.
Gregg: Looking at Copyblogger’s own content strategy, I see two parts. The first is unique content published regularly. Talk a little bit about Copybloggers strategy there. What are you goals with each article? Do you post on a set schedule or let great topics come?
Demian: The goals of each article differ. Lately you’ve been seeing a lot of series. That’s been on purpose. One reason we do series is to cover a hot topic. That was the case with the Google Authorship and Google+ series. Giving people relevant and timely information.
We also want to give them evergreen content. Content that never goes out of style. When you land on that page from a search results page, we want you to feel like that piece was written for you today … even though the information can be true five years ago or five years into the future. All of these series are scheduled, but we’re not afraid to interrupt that schedule if a great topic comes along.
Then, of course, we create the occasional piece that will drive a lot of traffic but amount to minimal conversions. Those are usually the viral pieces, and are merely used to broaden our exposure.
Gregg: The second part is a deeper layer of value in a free ebook course available only to those that provide contact information. How critical is the list of “leads” you generate from that campaign?
Demian: Building your email newsletter is huge. Those are the sweetest leads you could ever get. And you can do that through the ebook or content libraries. That’s how you deepen the relationship. The inbox is the most intimate space online. EVERYONE checks their inbox. If you can get permission to enter their inbox, then you have gone from being known, to being liked, and possibly trusted. That trust will grow as you deliver meaningful, valuable content, and selling those people will be a lot easier. This is exactly what Groupon has done.
Gregg: Going back a bit, in the case of resorts where their product has existed for decades, what should they keep in mind as they develop a content strategy intended for a preexisting audience?
Demain: You should learn everything about your target customer. Including who your most profitable customer is. I’d start by exploring historical data and identify customers with the highest lifetime value. Focus on those customers, and cut out the fat. Then build a business (even if this means you stop doing something you’ve always done and start doing things you’d never say you would do) for those customers. Resist trying to serve the masses. People have a lot of choices where they can ski. You have to create a business based upon a unique selling proposition that no other competitor can imitate. This is where you marry what you do so well with a meaningful customer need only you can fulfill.
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