Content Marketing Made Easy

Not that long ago, the means to communicate with the masses were in the hands of a privileged few (owners of printing presses, newspapers, television networks and the like). Today, that power is held by any of us with the talent to capture the attention and imagination of the public. The computer, cell phone, video camera and internet have made average people of limited means publishing and media powerhouses.

Once, your ability to spread the word about your product was determined by you advertising budget. You needed big bucks to get your product or service on television or radio, to get it in magazines and newspapers. If you had the budget, you didn’t need much else.

FTR’s digital editor, Joe Sills, just published a terrific story on leveraging YouTube for your business. I’m going to take a step backward — to some concepts that are more basic.

I think we’re in the golden age of self-marketing — the convergence of inexpensive means and the idea that your message (and not your media) defines you.

If you’re a tackle retailer, you no longer need tens of thousands of dollars to advertise on television, the radio or in newspapers. For a fraction of that you can spread the word yourself online through “content marketing.” I put it in quotes because I think a lot of people have the wrong idea about content marketing.

If you’re not familiar with it, think of it this way. Instead of marketing through advertising (which people are naturally wary of), you market through editorial content — the meat and potatoes of media. Instead of marketing by interrupting your audience with a commercial, you market through the program itself. Instead of marketing through the stuff that most people want to skip, you market through the stuff they’re looking for in the first place.

You (as the marketer) identify key content elements (stories, videos, podcasts, etc.) and create them for mass consumption. Then you give them away to those with the power to disseminate them or possibly to the end consumer. That’s kind of an elaborate way to say that you tell your own story and give it away to the outlets that can help spread it.

Does it work? Yes. If you do it right. It can work wonders.

Is it expensive? No. In many ways it’s more cost-effective than any other type of marketing. But it can be far more time-consuming and is definitely more challenging than buying an ad in the local newspaper.

Keys to Good Content Marketing for Tackle Retailers

The keys to good content marketing in the retail tackle industry are pretty straightforward:

  1. Create quality stuff (like videos or stories) by offering information that your audience wants to know. Most of this will be educational content — how to rig a popular bait, how to find fish on the local fishery, how to select quality gear, how to use the baits and lures that are working right now.
  2. Find one or more platforms to distribute this content — your own website or Facebook page, the local newspaper or radio station webpage, the local television news program.
  3. Don’t try to sell anything to anybody.

The first two are pretty self-explanatory. The third may seem counterintuitive, so I’ll explain.

Fifty or 60 years ago, a commercial didn’t have to be very good to succeed. It won market share simply by being out there where few others could afford to be. And the pitch didn’t have to be very sophisticated because the audience wasn’t being constantly assaulted by marketing efforts.

That’s no longer the case. Today, you cannot turn on the radio, television or your computer without being hammered by marketing. Even our clothing is a vehicle to create brand awareness. When you’re up against an assault like that, you have to do something different to either be noticed or to not offend your audience.

Indirect Marketing

The soft-sell is the way to go. Instead of bludgeoning your audience with jingles, celebrity endorsements and coupons, you’re going to give them something for nothing. In exchange, you hope to convince them (1) that you can be trusted, (2) that you are an authority on the subject matter, (3) that your products or services are of high quality and (4) that you are worthy of their support.

Do that (in about that order) and you win. You get customers and you make money. If you fail — and there are lots of pitfalls out there that make failure an easy option — you’re back to square one … or worse.

The days of “new and improved” and “but wait, there’s more!” are over. They’ve been replaced by “here’s how I do it, and you can, too.”

Nuts and Bolts

From a practical nuts and bolts level, how can you make content marketing work for you? It can be as easy as using your smartphone or camcorder to record a how-to video. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but it does have to be in focus, reasonably well-lit and have sound that a viewer can understand. Fall short on these basics, and you’d be better off doing nothing at all.

You don’t need sophisticated editing equipment, either. Just get the video done in one take. That won’t be tough since you’re going to make it short — 90 seconds at the outside. Sixty seconds is better. Thirty seconds is better yet. Long enough to get the message across, but no longer.

No need for fancy music or graphics (though they don’t hurt). You want to bleed authenticity, not production costs.

Emphasize educating your audience, not selling them. You want them to learn and to trust. Selling comes later. Actually, selling is happening all along the way but in a manner that’s not very overt.

Do a little branding. Wear a cap or shirt promoting your shop or the product you’re featuring. Mention it once or twice, but don’t lay it on too thick. If you do, you look like a salesman and not like someone your audience can trust.

Today’s buyer is relatively sophisticated, rather wary and extraordinarily cynical. If his “salesman radar” pops up, he’s going to start backing away from your content. You want to appear that you’re offering “something for nothing” and that will be easy if you do it right because that will be exactly what you’re offering.

In Search of a Platform

Once you have the content looking, sounding and feeling just right, you need to place it. Your own website is good, but it’s even better to put it in other places where more people will see it. The bigger the audience, the bigger its potential to make you money.

It shouldn’t be too tough to find outlets for your content. If the quality is there and the content is primarily educational with little sales element, other platforms should be interested. They need content to keep their platforms going and your price (free!) is just right. If they turn you down, ask why. It may be that your content lacks some professionalism. Fix it.

Finally, keep this content coming. One story or video won’t have much impact. Stay at it and produce content regularly — weekly is good. Daily is great. Monthly is not enough to make a difference. Repetition is important. You are creating awareness first, turning it into trust and transitioning it into business. It will take time, but unless you plan to shut your doors soon, you have that.

A rising tide lifts all boats. Let’s be that tide.