The Gaga guide to planning your content marketing (Part 2)

Vinay’s note – One of the biggest challenges for any business is to stand out and differentiate themselves via their content and branding. In this advanced part of the guide (in case you missed it, read part 1 of the guide), Sorin takes us through how to turn skeptics into fans, how grow your fan communities and the steps to launch your own product.

INTRO

If you’re reading this now, it means you’re ready for the advanced section of the Content Marketing Planning guide. This is where most content marketers get stuck and where they fail.

The only way to differentiate yourself and succeed using content online is to be brave. That means doing what other people aren’t, believing in yourself and wanting to do a great job.

Follow along and in this final part you’ll learn:

  • Why doing podcasts is even more powerful than guest posts
  • How webinars can transport skeptics into fans
  • What fan communities are and why you should focus on creating one in 2016
  • The specific steps you should take to launch your own product

 

5. Interviews = podcasts

Content marketing planning - give interviews

Major popstars tend to give a lot of interviews. Some appear in written form for magazines. Others are just audio. While the most complex and fun are talk show interviews. Sometimes they’re just question and answer segments, but other times the popstars will also perform on the show. They’re providing value, but also talking about what goes on behind the craft, behind the work.

We as content marketers should be aware of what’s going on around us. We should also be confident in our message and our abilities. That means that doing interviews or podcasts shouldn’t be hard. They should be seen as extra opportunities to teach people what you’re good at.

It’s sometimes seen as ego-maniacal to get on lots of podcasts, hoping to drive traffic to your product launch and get initial traction. The thing you have to ask yourself is: Do you really believe in your product? If the answer is yes and it benefits people, why not talk about? Providing value for people is always the right thing to do, no matter what shape it takes.

First – follow Ryan Holiday’s advice – start from the bottom and work your way up. We’d all love to be invited on Mixergy and talk to Andrew Warner, or on This Week In Startups for a 1-on-1 with Jason Calcanis, but it doesn’t work like that. You have to first build up trust cache. That means:

In order for others to trust you, you have to earn the trust of people around them.

Start looking at the interviews Andrew and Jason give. What podcasts are they going on? What do they share? What publications do they guest post for? Try to get there first – then go for the big interview opportunities.

Second – put yourself out there. No one knows you’re looking for interviews or podcasts to do, unless you explicitly mention it. In emails, in verbal communications, on social media, on your blog, etc. Talk about your credentials, what you’re working on and what you’d love to discuss with the audience. Also use past interviews as a badge of honor and trust. Do a lot of interviews, but feature the best ones on your blog.

When you make THEIR episode successful, everyone wins. Plan to make every interview the best one you can. Talk specifics, engage your host, be nice, research your audience.

Third – start your own podcast. Nothing screams “I understand how much work you put into this” louder than doing what the other person is. Starting a podcast only requires a microphone, some basic audio recording software and an idea. Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income has a terrific tutorial on how to get started podcasting. Read more in our beginner’s guide to podcasting.

PRO EXAMPLE: Andrew Warner is now known for his Mixergy interview/podcast series. But would you ever think he wasn’t confident enough to even sign an article in his name, fearing it would be on the internet forever? Mixergy has passed $1 million in revenue/year, so that’s almost a laughable situation. His secrets?

He started small – he realized that each entrepreneur and business owner has his own audience. When that entrepreneur tweets or shares the fact that he was on the Mixergy podcast, his audience will tune in.

Once you get a small guest, you can use that as leverage to get bigger and bigger guests. Which just grows your traffic overall.

He then built an email community and started selling courses and branded products.

6. Concerts = live events and webinars

Content marketing planning - differentiate yourself through concerts

Not every major music star is known for their concerts. Some put on a show, while others focus on smaller venues and loyal fan crowds. Both can work equally well; artists do well in arenas (Coldplay, Metallica), while the likes of John Mayer and Death Cab For Cutie are more suited to clubs and intimate venues.

Webinars and live events are a great tool to connect with your fans. You attract new leads and nurture existing ones. Focus on creating a win-win situation: your fans will get to understand more about a topic you’ve been talking about, and you’ll grow your influence.

Since trust and influence are keys to advancing leads down the customer’s journey, you can use them to sell your product and services. Think about it: you’ve got a targeted audience, interested in your message, who’ve set aside about an hour out of their busy day to hear you talk.

Provide them with enough value, insights, testimonials and case studies, that they’ll end up asking you: “How can I buy your product?” before you even announce it. There’s no greater feeling than hearing that bell sound each time you make a sale, while you’re talking in the webinar. Once other people see and hear that notification, their trust will grow. And you’ll win them over.

Mention a discount and special bonuses that are only active for a short amount of time (during the webinar + a few hours after). That will instill a sense of urgency and they’ll start asking themselves whether they can afford to LOSE such a great offer. Once you get them there, you’ve got your first customers from a webinar. Congratulations!

You have to remember, your target isn’t to have thousands upon thousands of webinar viewers right away. It takes a while for your audience to grow.

Live events are a more complex version of webinars. They usually involve more than 1 person, multiple cameras, a few topics and lots of preparation. A good example of a live event is Unbounce’s Digital Agency Day.

Lastly, if you’re worried about expensive tools and software, we’ve tested 8 of the most popular webinar apps here. You’ll be surprised at how easy and cheap some options are (and how expensive and complicated others can be).

Learn more about Webinar Marketing in our extended guide.

PRO EXAMPLE: Amy Porterfield made $1 Million in 21 days, selling an online course. Starting as a biker girl for Harley Davidson and working for Tony Robbins soon after, she gained experience with presentations and selling. Her secrets?

She gained the confidence to sell by focusing on what she knew, providing lots of value and keeping a smile on her face. She slowly grew her website and her email list, in the hopes of selling something through a webinar. Her first attempts didn’t drive sales, but she persevered.

Partnering with webinar experts and product creators, she learned a lot and developed her own course about Facebook Ads. Since others had the marketing machine the promote it, she could focus on building the course. It was her first success and she never looked back.

She passes her knowledge on through her “Webinars That Convert” course that retails for $997.

7. Fan communities = email lists and private groups

Content marketing planning - nurture your fan community

Just like Lady Gaga has her Little Monsters community, business owners should be focusing on selling more than products: they should be pushing out bold ideas. Your audience should find them so enticing that they’ll sign up for email lists and join private groups.

Fan communities give the end-user a sense of exclusivity. Inside Little Monsters, you’re no longer Sonja from down the street, you’re TheWizard. You can create an alter ego, engage with people who have similar interests to yours, all in a community curated to adore the person at the top. It’s got a somewhat digital cult vibe, with specific symbols and words, a charismatic leader, with incentives to purchase products and share the community with others.

These don’t translate well to digital marketing. Following a single leader or entity is off the table from the get-go. Marketers and visitors alike enjoy multiple perspectives, different tones of voice. For that reason, it’s not uncommon for them to be part of multiple communities, with a looser grip on leadership.

Taking the concept of fan communities and applying it to Content Marketing means we’ll have to make a few changes.

First – we don’t require the production and distribution power of entities such as Blackplane. It’s enough to create a special fan-only email list or a secret Facebook fan group. And since there are new communication platforms popping up every day, make sure you stay in touch with the latest trends – Slack, Blab or HipChat. ProductHunt is a great place for cutting-edge products and services.

Second – specific user titles are fun (Lord, Commander, Admin, etc.), but may not apply to us in all situations. You do want to recognize the key members of your community who are driving the conversation forward. They’re the lifeblood and you need to keep them close and satisfied.

Third – fans should also become co-creators and partners in Content Marketing. Members of these communities will include business owners, bloggers and fellow marketers. Why not use these for feedback, guest posts, interviews and testimonials?

Now that you’re ready to start creating your own private fan group, let’s look at some key features you should take into consideration:

  • Get to know your users. Once you’ve gathered a few hundred fans, it’s time to start your surveys: what do they like, why are they there and what are their marketing struggles? Based on these answers, you’ll shape your community and your future products.
  • Reward your early-adopters. No one wants to join ANOTHER Facebook group or have ANOTHER email subscription. Create incentives for your first fans – both digital and physical. Think in terms of special user status, early discounted access to products and services, t-shirts, stickers, books, etc. Understand their efforts and reward their work. With a little luck, they’ll be the only ones you need to grow your community – since they’ll be handpicking the next fans. Similar to how Dribbble is using invites to filter out bad or unprepared designers.
  • Make it about their experience. Focus on empowering your fans to learn, create and share with each other. They’ll remember you as the trigger for their development, and they’ll want to give back to the community. Resist the urge to push your promotional announcements every day.
  • Build the community before the product launch. It’s tempting to only use the newly-created community to launch your own product. After all, managing a community takes time and effort. However, having a nurtured community by your side means sharing collaborators at your disposal, any time you need them. Put in the time and start your community early on.
  • Let it grow organically (but help it get there). You could do a lot of giveaways and “bribe” users to bring their friends in your community. But that’s not hip. Create initial incentives for the group to flourish, but try to make them as natural as you can. You want existing fans to bring in their best friends, not invite their entire address book.

Lastly, here are a few tools and services to get your started building your own private community:

  1.   BuddyPress
  2.   Facebook Groups
  3.   Discourse

PRO EXAMPLE: Aladin Happy built GrowthHackingIdea, an invite-only email community dedicated to sharing amazing hacks to grow your business. He gained over 400 upvotes on Product Hunt and he’s now grown the community to over 25,000 subscribers. His secrets?

Once you clicked on the Product Hunt link, you gained access to the community. All you had to do was enter your email address and voila! You were in.

Since the beginning, you were informed that if you want to get people in, you would have to use your special reference link. Otherwise, they just couldn’t subscribe. This made it that much more mysterious and sought after.

Once he built the community, Aladin was free to branch out and monetize – VIP mode to give you a growth hack every single day (as opposed to the once a week free version), a webinar to teach you how to build similar communities and a 4.7/5-reviewed book on Amazon.

8. Albums = your products and services

Content marketing planning - launch your albums

This is it. The big one. The thing you’ve been working for all year. Whether it’s a book, a product or service, all your efforts have been to promote this launch. Hopefully by now, you’ll have at least a few partners and subscribers. Otherwise, you’ll be like that indie singer down the street, playing his tracks in cafes and on street corners, mentioning that he also has an album out. You don’t want to be that guy.

Musicians live and thrive thanks to their fans. If no one buys their albums, they can’t release another one. They can’t go on tour. They can’t live. Promoting singles and doing videos is just an interlude towards an album launch. That doesn’t surprise us anymore. We understand the record industry, we understand that music is a business.

Let’s take that same approach with Content Marketing. It’s fun when someone creates a lot of good content and gives it all away for free. Neil Patel has been doing it for years. But now he’s leveraging that authority, creating webinars to sell different consultation packages. Again, that shouldn’t surprise us.

The reason it still does is that we imagine bloggers and content creators as employees with hobbies. It’s hard to wrap our heads around the idea that a blog can be a business. And a blogger can be a self-employed business owner and entrepreneur.

But once we manage to get past that, we’ll start playing the real game. We’ll treat our own content with respect and maturity.

A product launch can be a stressful period, so let’s break it down to its core. You need:

  • An audience
  • A product
  • A launch sequence

Let’s have a look at each element:

8.1 The Audience

We talked a lot more about fans in the previous chapter. Without a specific audience, it’ll be near impossible to have a great product launch. You won’t get feedback, initial traction or massive sales.

Plan your audience building activities at the start of the year. That way, you won’t feel like you’ve left something out.

Software is less important than intent. If you create a great user experience for your fans, they’ll feel your involvement. They’ll start giving back and pretty soon you’ll have a living organism that autoregulates and reacts to your actions (good or bad).

There’s never a bad moment to keep asking questions and continue learning more about your audience, to serve them better.

8.2 The Product

This can take many forms:

  • An in-depth guide, based on your experience in the past 12 months writing a blog
  • An ebook full of interviews, stories, tips and tricks, based on the podcast you’ve worked on for the past year
  • A private community for 1-on-1 coaching help, based on your experience working with businesses and individuals

Don’t get too hung up on HOW it should look like. Instead, work with your community to figure out what the value and benefits should be. Once you nail those down, your launch should go much smoother.

Tools will make your process easier to handle. Content Marketing Stack is a great resource to help you research, plan, build and launch your product.

8.3 The Launch Sequence

The first 2 elements are nothing, if you don’t have this. Beyonce can just “drop” an album and people will buy it. Neil Patel can probably do the same with a book, a course or a service. But that’s because they’ve built enough trust cache with the audience that it feels natural. After enough free content given away and enough jabs, it’s time to go for the right hook.

Chances are you’re not 1 of those 2 people. But that’s okay, you can still successfully launch your product. Create a lot of good free content, build your list as early as you can, learn about your audience and create a tailor-made product just for them.

Nathan Barry and Gabriel Weinberg have great behind-the-scenes articles on how they launched The App Design Handbook and Traction, respectively.

PRO EXAMPLE: Nathan Barry is mostly known for paying attention to details. Whether it’s design, marketing or business, he’s a man that puts things under a microscope and makes them beautiful. He’s also written a few books and made thousands in revenue in 10 minutes. His secrets?

Be passionate about what you do and write about it. Find your niche and drive your message home. Be known as “that guy who…” – strive to be unique for something that matters.

Build a loyal following and continue to provide value (even a behind the scenes look at creating and launching a product).

Find a few co-marketing partners and keep your audience informed on the launch date. Ask them what you should write your book about – then offer them a discount for answering your survey.

Help people achieve more, design beautiful things and make money in the process.

OUTRO

So do you feel like a major recording artist yet? No worries – we’ve all had our doubts in the beginning. Each action should be a step forward, a step towards meeting your objectives. 

Content Marketing Planning is a process, not a destination. Click To Tweet

I’ll leave you with this quick recap of the Content Marketing system.

  1. Plan your entire year. If you’re serious about making Content Marketing work for you, you should consider scheduling all your activities. Don’t react to what’s going on around you; act on your plan.
  2. Find your band members. Even if you’re a solo content marketer, that doesn’t mean you should act alone. Find people you can trust, bounce ideas off of and use for big product launches.
  3. Work on lots of singles. You should always have draft of articles ready for your own blog or guest posting purposes. Work with lots of ideas and you’ll never ask, “What should I write about next?”
  4. Gain the confidence to do tours by yourself. There’s no better way to make a name for yourself in marketing than through guest posts. It’s easy to get started, and they benefit from the snowball effect – you’ll get more guest posting opportunities, once you do more guest posts.
  5. Create circumstances for you to give interviews. Seek out podcasts looking for guests. Get in touch with podcasters you enjoy. Start a podcast of your own and become the curator of expertise.
  6. Use concerts to differentiate yourself. Live events and webinars allow you directly talk to your audience. It gives you an effective platform for new fans to know and engage with you.
  7. Gather and nurture your fan community. You should be gathering an email list from Day 1. Once you feel comfortable enough talking to your fans, create private communities, such as invite-only Facebook groups, to offer a sense of exclusivity.
  8. Leverage past steps and launch your albums. If you’ve diligently worked on steps 1-7, this one should feel like a breeze. Use your new found confidence, your built cache as an expert, and all your connections to plan and execute a kickass product launch.

 

The comment section is open – we’d love to hear your thoughts. How are you planning your Content Marketing?

About

Sorin Amzu is a Digital Marketer and Content Marketer from Constanta, Romania. Over the years he's done everything from email marketing to Ads, SEO, Social-Media and Growth Hacking. His major love is creating content that educates, entertains and provides a solution for users. He now leads the Performance Department at Evonomix, a Business Transformation Services agency.

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