The strategy behind the content

the strategy behind the content

At the end of each year I reflect on what I need to do more of or less of … what is working now and what will be working in the coming year.

A lot of this reflection is spent on the time I spend creating content. It’s significant. I thought I would share for you my strategic view of the strategy behind the content streams going into 2016. Here’s a summary of where things are headed:

the strategy behind the content

Written content

A few years ago, a fella name Jonathan Barrick started reading my blog. He eventually sought me out at a conference because he was a true fan of my blog. When he was made a marketing director for gShift, he decided to make that company a sponsor of my podcast The Marketing Companion. The company also sponsored my latest book The Content Code, and invited me to their hometown of Barrie for a paid speaking engagement a few weeks ago. Out of that speaking gig, I have been hired by two organizations for consulting.

The point of this story is … what is the value of my written content? Everything. It is the source of my authority and attracts fans who turn into customers like Jonathan.

In an era where many people are de-emphasizing written content, I deem that it is critically important, at least for me, and that is where I will continue to spend the bulk of my content-creating time in 2016 and beyond.

Podcasting

It was a big decision taking on a podcast. I didn’t want to do anything that would dilute the quality of the blog. But together with my partner Tom Webster, we have come up with a system for The Marketing Companion that is effective and successful.

The format of the show is designed to fit our busy schedules. We don’t have guests — too complicated. We only record twice a month — that’s what fits our busy schedule. Also, recording every other week keeps it fresh and fun. Any greater frequency would turn it into a chore. So our numbers are lower than other podcasts because we are not weekly but I think that raises the quality of the show.

This is an important point — I did not start a podcast in 2013 to chase the shiny new object. This was a serious and mindful decision. I did it only after spending many years building a core audience on the blog and finding a way that I would not let that audience down.

In terms of strategy, podcasting is important to me because 1) I made me learn to be a podcaster, which makes me a better teacher and consultant 2) I am more open and human on the podcast and I think that helps establish my personal brand 3) we are getting to the point where we can monetize and maybe make a little money from the thing 4) It helps me reach a new audience who may buy my books or hire me some day.

The harsh realty of podcasting is that the feedback and metrics are not very good but I sense that this growing audience may be even more loyal and passionate than my blog fans! Podcasting will continue to be an important part of my content eco-system.

Books

I have written five books in the last five years. There was no master plan to do this. I just had big questions I needed to answer like “how do I become powerful on the Internet?” (Return On Influence ) and “how do I succeed on Twitter” (The Tao of Twitter) that demanded something much bigger than a blog post.

Writing a book is the hardest work I do. I do not slap together bits of research and the odd blog post like some of the other books out there. I give birth to a book over the course of a year. It is a painful, exasperating, and draining process. Creating something great in 70,000 words requires sacrifice and discipline.

In 2016 I do not have plans to write an “epic” book because I do not have that big question in front of me that deserves that kind of work and commitment. However may write some smaller books that can help people on specific marketing and career issues.

Strategically, books have been important as a passive source of income and to provide big ideas that make me attractive as a keynote speaker. They will always play a role in the mix.

Video

I have not been big with video over the years but have been scheduling occasional “Office Hours” on Blab that puts me in front of the world. I truly love this format and I’ll be posting the finished discussions on the blog and YouTube more often.

What is the strategy with video? I believe video amplifies your personal brand more than any other platform. There is something special about seeing a face and hearing a voice. Hard to quantify but I will probably publish more video in 2016 than any other year so far.

Online webinars/training

This is probably my biggest opportunity. Many people are now offering online webinars and “mastermind” courses and I have not done that yet for a variety of reasons.

However, in 2016 I will be introducing a masters-level, accredited, online marketing course through Rutgers University. Not ready to say too much about it at this point but it will be the most complete and innovative program in the field. If you would like to know more about it, drop me a line at mschaefer700@gmail.com and when the course is announced I will let you know the details.

Newsletter

An email newsletter is sort of the glue that holds the content marketing plan together. It is your best source of “reliable reach” to your most passionate fans. In 2016 I intend to improve the quality and consistency of my email newsletter offering when I overhaul the website.

Distribution

It will come as no surprise to you that a growing amount of my time will be dedicated to content distribution in 2016. Content has no value unless it is seen and shared. I intend to be more formal about this in 2016 as well as to get some help with the growing task of content distribution. A big change for 2016 and beyond is where content gets published.

Other 

Slideshare — For the past two years I have been publishing high quality slide presentations that tell a story on a theme. These take a lot of work and the views of these productions have been declining. My theory is that Slideshare has become more popular and there is more competition for views than a year ago (Content Shock in action!) I will probably take this back a little in 2016.

Photography — I love Instagram but use it strictly for personal fun. In fact I hate it when people promote anything on Instagram.

Pinterest — I have dabbled in Pinterest but with my B2B services business, this has not been a priority. It is a tremendous platform but not my drug of choice.

Whew. Well that’s a lot of content planning, isn’t it? What’s on your mind for the coming year? How are you thinking about content strategically?

mark schaefer

Illustration courtesy of Flickr CC and Boston Public Library

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  • Mia Sherwood Landau

    Mark, this is a fascinating glimpse into your future. I’m curious about the newsletter. How many pages/words and how often do you plan to publish it now? And why? Do you think there’s sort of a newsletter revival going on? Thanks!

  • I think an opt-in newsletter holds all your marketing communications together. It has always been important and probably will be going into the future. My newsletters are a mix of news and information and average about 1,000 words. If you subscribe to the email version of the blog, you’ll get the newsletter too.

  • Mia Sherwood Landau

    Ok, I wasn’t sure if you meant print or digital. I get the online newsletter, but honestly didn’t think about it as separate from your blog. I experience the emails as “hearing from Mark” and honestly don’t discern the difference between the newsletter and the blog posts. But I understand what you’re saying.

  • That’s good. I mean it to be seamless : )

  • Gerry Tacovsky

    It’s interesting your ‘Other’ will go down to zero percent. Does that mean you will stop experimenting with other / newer platforms or you will only focus on what you know works now?

  • Great question Gerry. It’s a matter of time and focus. I don’t have the time to experiment on a continuous basis. And if you look at history, most stuff you try isn’t going to be around in a year any way. I will probably continue to do a few Slideshares and dabble in some other formats but it will be negligible. I owe it my students and clients to know what’s new but it will have to be a pretty sure thing before I spend much time on it. If you look at where most businesses are spending their money, it is on the same platforms as two years ago. Things do not change as quickly as they seem : ) My strategy is to be a fast follower.

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  • Mark, interesting and helpful. This explains how you divide your content creation time. What is your experience about percent of overall time spent on content?

  • The amount of time i spend on content ebbs and flows. I spend about 5-6 hours a week on the blog. Creating a new speech or a new class is all-consuming and I may work on that for weeks. A new book takes months. I need to do more work on distribution in 2016 and will also automate some of it more.

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