In our last blog we discussed Seth Godin’s Purple Cow and how we must have not only remarkable marketing but a truly phenomenal product as well. This week I’d like to talk about what I learned from Ann Handley’s Inbound ’15 presentation on “Good Content Vs. Good Enough Content.”

The Status Quo

As marketers, we’ve all been guilty of taking the easy way out at one point or another; putting out content that satisfies the status quo, which goes something like:

  1. Here’s the problem.
  2. Here’s how we overcame it.
  3. Everything is awesome.

The problem is that with the overwhelming amount of content hurled at consumers, this approach is easy to ignore and difficult to engage with. Instead, companies should be asking themselves:

  1. How do we lead?
  2. How do we make our customers deeply smarter?
  3. How do we make the world a better place?

Get Big

Asking these kinds of questions will help you to refine your story, which is exactly what sets you apart from the rest of the pack. Creating engaging content is the top challenge of inbound marketing. How do we do it? Like Tom Hanks in 1988, you’ve got to want to be BIG!

Tell a bigger story, be braver in your marketing, and use a bolder voice.
A bigger story will put your product in context of what other people care about. Handley accurately refers to this as “converting more people into your tribe.” Here’s an example:

Blue Bottle Coffee

Blue Bottle Coffee is a specialty coffee roaster. What’s remarkable about them? They “roast coffee on vintage gear, put it in compostable bags, and… get it to their customers within 48 hours (of roasting).” But what’s really remarkable is the way they create useful, deep content for their constituency.

When Michael Phillips, Director of Training for Blue Bottle Coffee decided to create a video to promote the brand, he focused on providing potential customers with information that leveraged their knowledge to position themselves as subject matter experts. He created a ONE HOUR class, “From Plant to Cup: Brew an Amazing Cup of Coffee” and shared it on Skillshare. This was no pithy two-minute YouTube attention grab. It was a serious tutorial complete with assignments, resources and a project gallery. All of this served to lend gravitas to the presentation and the company itself.

The point is: deeper content connects.

You say you’d like another example? Why, sure. Let’s talk about bullsh*t.


Fueled By Bullsh*t

Toyota found its hydrogen fuel-cell technology coming under fire from critics including business magnate, Elon Musk, who said in 2013 “Fuel-cell is so bullsh*t. The only reason fuel-cell is big…it’s a marketing thing. But the reality is, you take the best-case for a fuel-cell vehicle…the cost of the fuel-cell system, it doesn’t even equal the current state-of-the-art in lithium ion batteries.” Responding in kind, Toyota tasked famed director Morgan Spurlock to create a video entitled “Fueled by Bullsh*t” taking the naysayers to task and presenting hydrogen as the future of fuel. They even go so far as to show how a fuel-cell-powered sedan can be run on a truck-full of processed cow manure that has been converted into hydrogen. This kind of storytelling is attention getting and effective.

Action Items

Now, here are some actionable ways you (yes, YOU!) can tell bolder, more authentic stories:

  1. Insist on content integrity. If necessary, put together a team of experts (internal and external) to vet all content.
  2. Target a narrower audience based on reliable personas. Think of these personas as proxies for real people.
  3. Challenge assumptions about your market (see Toyota example).
  4. Tone of voice is your bravest asset. It should be able to communicate answers to the following questions: Who are you? Why do you do what you do? What are you like to deal with?
  5. Use your bold content to attract the like-minded and repel the timid.
  6. Follow the rule of FIWTSBS (Find Interesting Ways to Say Boring Stuff). Think footers, captions, buttons, etc… Look for ways to insert personality in unexpected areas.
  7. Make sure your brand can be clearly defined in three words. Perform the following exercise by filling in the blanks:
    We are ____.
    We are ____.
    We are ____.

Related Articles