Considering I work for a market research company and nearly three-fourths of our traffic comes from inbound marketing, I always have my eye out for interesting content marketing examples built on the creative use of data. It almost feels a bit like cheating, having access to research and analysis tools, but really anyone can create compelling content using their own data and a bit of storytelling skills. What I’m talking about involves a keen mix of both art and science, information and emotion.
Branding and its siblings, messaging and advertising, don’t get enough cred from startups in my opinion. I think that’s because it is more difficult to draw a clear line from “branding” to “customer acquisition” and anything that isn’t easily measured is usually pushed down the priority order. While that’s understandable – you can’t do everything all the time – I believe branding is a growth lever that needs to be examined more often by founders and marketers alike. Here’s how to start framing that process by combining word of mouth marketing principles with competitive market analysis.
It’s been a while since I engaged with IFTTT (If This Then That), a free service that allows even non-technical people to connect various digital services. IFTTT recipes – basically “if THIS happens then do THIS” – are an easy way to automate nearly unlimited tasks. I spent some time last week analyzing new recipes and experimenting with my own to see how someone could automate Twitter activity through the service and hopefully grow your follower base. This isn’t one of those “from 200 followers to 200,000 in 7 days!” deals; my goal was to simply learn a bit about IFTTT and find out if I can keep a Twitter account somewhat active without manual oversight.
(Seriously, how many lame ass copywriters you think came up with a similar headline, but probably like 3 months before I did?)
In case you forgot all about this, since I’m super late to address it, our friends across the pond ran an online contest to name a $288 million dollar research vessel because science. Because the internet, at times, is fantastic, the contest got gamed and the name “Boaty McBoatface” quickly shot to the top of the leaderboard. It actually ended up winning the contest as well as capturing the glory of the global media for a few brief days. We’re talking from the NY Times to the BBC and everywhere in between.
Here’s a thing that happens: sometimes early-stage entrepreneurs find themselves light in the old wallet and needing to make some side cash while growing their startups. That’s been me at several points in my career, including recently. So, in true ego-centric marketer fashion, I figured why not combine my consulting efforts with a new experiment that builds upon the most-read blog post I’ve ever written? And so, our hero embarks upon a new journey into the depths of the freelance hell known to many as Upwork.
My life is overtaken with email marketing. I even built a startup that runs primarily on email. Over the past 12 months I’ve written, designed, and pressed “SEND” on well over 1 million emails. I also happen to read A LOT of email newsletters, which means I go through the sign up process multiple times a week. I present you these numbers not to share the sadness that is my life, but to back up the claim I’m about to make: such marketing luminaries as Gary Vaynerchuk, Jay Baer, Ann Handley, and 500 Distro (among others) have completely overlooked a huge opportunity to make an impression on their audience through email marketing. Here’s where they dropped the ball….
At the celebratory cocktail party immediately following our end-of-cohort demo night for the accelerator BoomboxFM completed last summer, I found myself chatting with Henry Copeland, the founder of Blogads, amongst other ventures. We had spoken a few times throughout my time in Durham and he always pushed us to think a little differently about varying aspects of our business, particularly how we approach startup marketing. On this night, mere minutes after we razzled and dazzled the crowd with our impressive (or so I thought) growth engine that was acquiring 2,000+ new users every single week, Henry posed a question that quite frankly scared the ever loving shit out of me: “What would happen if you turned off all marketing for the next 6 months?”