I was quick to sign up when I heard that Copyblogger was hosting their first content marketing conference, the Authority Intensive. It was right up my alley. They had a lineup of speakers that was a roster of my heroes with people such as Seth Godin, Ann Hadley of Marketing Profs, Sonia Simone and Darren Rouse just to name a few. Additionally, they were only selling 400 tickets, which would facilitate networking.
The other great aspect of the conference was that we were all in one room so we didn’t have to choose between sessions. The message we got over the two days was what I expected and it was loud and clear. In order to build and maintain a successful brand, you must write content. But what was reiterated throughout was that it is not enough to produce boring, bland, regurgitated content.
A recent survey showed that 58% of businesses are now churning out content and pushing it to social channels. If we have a hope of standing out in this miasma of words, we need to produce what Darren Rouse termed “Epic” content. Whoa. Tall order. That call to action triggered my lizard brain, as Seth Godin refers to it, to feel very overwhelmed, my inner voice telling me “Forget it. Just give up now.”
Instead of writing my blog post, I found myself spending hours trying to track down errors discovered by a Raven Tools SEO audit of my site, from a free 50-day trial of this program the Raven team offered as a sponsor. I know myself enough to get that this busy work was really resistance to doing my real work, which should have been writing this week’s blog post.
We all have resistance. Steven Pressfield coined the term to mean any and all of the things that come up to keep us from doing the things we know we should do to be the people we want to be. Doing a site audit was much safer and easier than trying to write something personal and important that would be useful to you, my dear Filename.
Throughout the conference, I found it interesting as a psychologist that the concept of empathy kept coming up. Darren Rouse, Lee Odden and Ann Hadley mentioned it specifically and almost all of the speakers spoke about it, except for maybe WordPress developer, Bill Erikson who talked about the need for Mobile Responsive websites and using HTML5, which are not particularly empathetic topics except if you realize that almost half of your website visitors are trying to access your site through mobile. A lot of businesses are not tuned in to what would make a better mobile experience for their customers.
Ann Hadley was so emphatic about the effort to understand customers that she said we must develop “pathological empathy’. What are their dreams, hopes, needs and behaviors? Knowing this we can do more than publish articles, we can create content that is generous, relevant and ridiculously useful.
We need to tell stories about people, provide experiences for them, go out on a limb and make them come back for more. When you break it down, the question becomes what kind of content can you create that will have your customers feel such a connection with you that that would be compelled to tell their friends?
People want to be connected and want to matter. I have a friend, Grant Henry, who has a kitschy, wildly successful bar in Atlanta called Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room and Ping Pong Emporium. To Grant’s surprise he is raking money and has been from the start. I believe it is totally due to the fact that Grant has a super power which makes everyone think they are one of his 14 best friends.
Grant has a personal Facebook profile with 5,000 friends. He spills his guts and tells it like it is and is as authentic a character as you will ever come across. Three years ago Grant started what he named “Church”, so he would have his own bar to tend where his fourteen friends could come in and hangout. His soft opening was wildly successful and his bar, with its team of bartenders, has been at capacity ever since. We still feel like we are one of Grant’s fourteen friends, and of course I am one of them.
Doing things to help create this connection, whether online or off, takes going out on a limb. Going against advice, Grant made Church a non-smoking bar. Turns out even the smokers appreciate this. He took a stand and made it work.
My daughter is in restaurant marketing and went with me to the Authority Intensive. Amanda has worked in restaurants since she her first job at 14 in an organic juice bar.
Amanda is now working as a brand manager in a corporate 500 company, for a specialty restaurant group with fifty locations. This brand carries over 200 different craft beers, cocktails and a huge selection of interesting international food choices. While we were in Denver, she took me to visit one of her restaurants for the first time.
Afterwards we were talking about how she could implement ridiculously useful content for her brand. Since I had never been there before and know nothing about beer, I was a little overwhelmed with all of the choices. I thought that this would probably be the case for a lot of people , leading to a huge opportunity for their company to educate their customers about all they varieties of their beers.
They could write about the various beers and even host educational beer classes at their locations across the country. This could be epic and would definitely create a buzz. After graduating from “beer school” people would feel more connected to their local restaurant. They would be inclined to tell others about it and want to bring their friends in to show off their beer expertise. Can’t you see how this could go a long way to creating more connection and community with their clientele?
Does the mandate to create Epic content stop you in your tracks? What do your customers need? How can you be ridiculously useful?
If you are just starting out, don’t let this mandate to produce Epic content stop you from starting. Darren Rouse reminded us that we all started somewhere and most of us were not particularly good at it when we started. Every so often I go look at my “starter blog” and remind myself about how far I’ve come. Check out Blog by Knight and you will see what I mean!