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Photo by Yeshi Kangrang

Why I changed our content marketing strategy

Embracing the power of focus

Note: If you’re here for my Recurring Profit story, click here for the whole thing. If not, ignore this note. 😉

I find traditional content marketing comfortable, but comfortable isn’t often the best thing for business.

When I say traditional content marketing I mean putting out mostly written content full of a lot of free value, repurposing it across multiple platforms, and building an email list by promising more. By giving away a bunch of stuff for free, I hope to get people hooked on my content.

The trouble is this ends up being a recipe for me hiding behind my computer screen, which results in freeloaders consuming my content and hardly anyone getting to know me.

I’m not giving up on content marketing entirely though.

There are too many benefits, especially when the strategy goes deeper than “give away a bunch of stuff everywhere!” Diving deep on the strategy is a topic for another article; this story is about why I’m changing our strategy.

I’ve had some sort of business for about 15 years

Providing value comes naturally to me, whether I’m creating free content, paid courses, or other useful things. I love creating. Selling? That’s a bit more difficult.

I’ve tried simply putting up a product for sale and trying to direct traffic to it in order to make sales. I’ve tried open-and-close product launches to leverage urgency. The first doesn’t work very well and the second is exhausting — plus it feels sleazy if the product is something that could easily be available all the time.

Evergreen funnels felt even more sleazy though. I thought they required tricks like false urgency created by tools like ClickFunnels that felt dishonest.

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Photo by Jamie Street

Last summer I realized I was wrong

In my search for automation solutions I came across Haley Burkhead. Something about her approach to business drew me in. She didn’t try to use traditional content marketing and she had evergreen webinar funnels but her content was still helpful and encouraging. It didn’t feel slimy.

After some months of watching what she was doing we decided to join her Recurring Profit program. You can read the whole case study about our year in the program here:

The program showed us a way to lean into our strengths and leverage the power of what worked for us.

While Haley doesn’t do much that could be called content marketing — her podcast being a possible exception — her program doesn’t eliminate it entirely. Instead the program guides members through evaluating their strengths and creating a plan that works for them and their business.

Here’s what that is looking like for us:

  1. On December 5, 2019 we kicked off our new program for aspiring writers with a live training (webinar). We provided a bunch of value to our audience in a strategic way that led to a sleaze-free invitation to join our paid program.
  2. I immediately made the recording of that training available as a sort of lead magnet and followed it up with a short series of emails sharing stories and pointing subscribers back to the replay link or inviting them to join the program directly.
  3. Because I have a strong backlog of valuable content from my years of content marketing, once new subscribers finish up the initial email sequence, they begin to receive more valuable content about twice a week.
  4. Finally, we set out to determine the best lead-injection strategies to use — that is, how to attract new people to our one lead magnet.
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Photo by Tom Parsons

Step four is where things have gotten interesting

By more or less continuing to do what we were already doing we have brought a few more members into our program organically. We continue to post to social media, for example, and share the link to our training with anyone we meet that it might help.

Focusing on one single lead magnet has been so freeing. Before I had 30+ lead magnets of one sort or another that I could use to draw people to join our list. I didn’t realize how exhausting that was until I stopped using them. As soon as I shifted my focus toward one single invitation — “Check out our free training for aspiring writers!” — it became so much easier to write and share. Now I have a clear focus for every piece of content I put out, from short social media posts to long-form articles and videos. I know exactly who I am talking to and how I want to help them.

This doesn’t mean that every single piece of content is all about getting someone to click to register. It does mean that I am thinking about the kind of person I would love to have in our program and speaking directly to that person.

Now, I didn’t write the case study you are reading for that person

This case study is for the entrepreneurs we want to help, which brings me to a sort of awkward point in the telling of this story.

The coaches in Recurring Profit never recommend building more than one program before scaling the first to $10K months — with one exception: us.

There’s good reason for this.

Building and then building more means less revenue, while scaling shifts the focus toward bringing in more revenue with what is already built. A business needs revenue to keep running. Therefore a simple equation for success is Build →Scale →Build again when scaling has been successful.

However, at the moment when we “should have” started scaling our program for aspiring writers we decided instead to let the evergreen funnel be what it is and shift toward building a program for entrepreneurs.

But I go into more about that decision in the full case study:

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Photo by Kevin Ku

To come back to the title of this case study, here is why my perspective on content marketing has changed:

  • Traditional content marketing simply isn’t as effective anymore
  • There’s too much noise and we are tired adding to it
  • We want to inspire real change and bits of advice here and there aren’t enough
  • Our methods are cutting-edge, not easy to understand at a glance like trendy topics
  • We are looking to connect with the alert adventurers, not the average crowd

So what do you think?
Are we on the right track or have we gone off the rails?

Wife💑Mama👧👦Entrepreneur✍️Cut the time you spend writing in half:

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