People Not Things Sell

Indebted once again to friends at Pam Neely’s How To Fix Your Broken Content Marketing ROI is a must read. Every point Pam makes we agree with and support, but there is another dimension to today’s content marketing – people – we stress too.

Jump to 5 How To Become A Great Web Marketer Tips via Fareed Zakara’s interview with Ray Dalio.

Let’s go back to your WHY. If you haven’t read Simon Sinek’s Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action you should. There are two keywords in Sinek’s title – everyone and Inspire. Those words hold keys to creating content marketing Return On Investment (ROI).

We love Pam’s, “Don’t forget the Calls-to-Action,” tip because CTAs are lacking in most content we read. Good to go back to WHY you are creating content in the first place. Content marketing is a MEANS not an END. If your content speaks to larger human values, if you are creating a MOVEMENT, you inspire and so win hearts, minds and loyalty.

We’ve published over 2M words supported across 10 social networks and 7 blogs (some ours, some companies we worked for / with). Our most viral posts? Infographics win the “see it got to share it immediately” award, but content about our FRIENDS who happen to be great curators or content marketers wins consistently and overtime. With this hard won truth in mind here are our 5 Ways People Can Fix Your Broken Content Marketing ROI:

  • Ask for HELP.
  • Create An Ambassador Program (with some gamification).
  • Curate 90%, Create 10% (make your content about THEM).
  • Reward, Value, Encourage & Listen to PEOPLE.
  • Create a Weekly, Monthly and Yearly CONTEST to Reward Contributors.

How To Fix Your Broken Content Marketing ROI image

Ask For Help

Take a look at’s Ambassador program link. The cost of creating this program was tiny compared to their results. A few hours writing and designing the page resulted in:

  • Feature on, the leading authority in Moon-Audio’s hifi space.
  • Over 100 applications (applications poured in after the HeadFi feature).
  • Ability to create new “missions” such as “Review Contest”.
  • Review Contest has increased online reviews by 10%.

Don’t let that last bullet fool you. Yes, we would have loved more great reviews, but surfacing a handful of people who love to write about audio-gear for the LOVE OF IT is huge. Huge because Moon is beginning to know their 1%ers. The 1:9:90 Rule says:

  • 1% of visitors will contribute valuable User Generated Content.
  • 9% will SHARE content especially when it comes from the 1%ers.
  • 90% of visitors READ and are important for TRAFFIC, but harder to engage as advocates.

So knowing your 1%ers is key. Asking for help brings your 1%ers to the front. When you KNOW your 1%ers, the customers willing to advocate, sacrifice and help, online marketing costs GO DOWN. Ask 1%ers to curate, contribute and judge FOR YOU. Arm your 1%ers to advocate your brand, company and website.

Tyranny of Perfection and Big Tex

Don’t Wait & No Tyranny of Perfection

We call the desire to create perfection “Sistine Chapeling”. The tyranny of perfection means you WAIT. Waiting kills online marketing. Waiting means the bus passes you by and no matter how you run catching up is impossible. GO NOW, go early, ugly and often then listen carefully to the shares, comments and additions your content creates.

Your content is ALIVE.

We don’t write “posts”. We start conversations that change US. We travel a path that leads to sustainable online community. Sustainable means Return-On-Investment (ROI) is scaling faster than costs. Your content is springing legs and walking around the world influencing people and finding your 1%ers, your advocates.

See content marketing’s “time” problem? If you DO SOMETHING today it may generate negative results, but “results” help. Feedback matters. When you are an Internet market and web develop, you FAIL in public. The key as Ray Dalio notes below, is learning FAST, listening and risking everything for a good cause.

But how?

Create an Ambassador Program. The Ambassador program FORMALIZES your creation of online community. Create an Ambassador (or buzz team, or whatever) page, explain how your program works and ask for help. Don’t create a “perfect” page or spend tons of time trying to figure everything out. You want and need customer (Ambassador) help to do “figure everything out” so Go and GO NOW.

Fareed Zakaria’s interview with hedge fund manager Ray Dalio shares 5 “How To Be A Great Web Marketer Tips” including:

  • Think more about how “the machine” (i.e. Google) works than most.
  • Be in the middle of it.
  • Have great humility and fear.
  • It’s not KNOWING it’s what you do when you don’t know that matters.
  • Find smart people who disagree and listen carefully.

Curate 90%, Create 10%

Imagine you create the “perfect content”. You spent six months polishing, changing and debating. Now you debut your “perfect content” and NO ONE CARES. One reason no one cares is you haven’t included them. You assume YOU and YOUR TEAM understand “perfection”.

Hubris is dangerous online. The web shifts like sand on a beach – daily and sometimes in BIG ways. The only way to “know” anything is to see what is happening, know yourself and stick toe, foot and then leg into the water. And you MUST encourage customers to join you.

Three tips to “encourage customers to join you”:

  • Curate User Generated Content (UGC) on your website, blogs and social media.
  • Ask for Help (create an Ambassador program to formalize your ASK.
  • Market in MOVEMENTS not one-off campaigns (no Sale, Sale, Sale).

When you curate content from OUTSIDE you gain authority and trust. Think of the TRUST associated with the outside thought leader as helping you. And if you curate customer content you walk your talk. Curating content from customers signals you listen, care about and reward customer collaborations.

You can’t delegate presence. Your tweets, Facebook posts and G+ create your company, brand and website’s tone. Will someone say mean and inaccurate things? Yes, but you want those conversations to happen on YOUR platforms not the Yelps of the world.

When they do happen, when someone complains having your trusted advocates stick up for you is far more compelling and trust creating than anything you can say or do. Your goal becomes creating a relationship with people where they are willing to walk on glass for your brand, company and website.

We don’t walk on glass for people who don’t know we exist. Digital listening such as ReTweeting, following back and sharing content (with permission and/or attribution) begins to create the kind of trust needed, the kind of trust where walking on glass is possible.

Once people see that you care, are present and want to learn, evolve and listen asking for help and creating movements can gain traction. Asking for help is HARD, but necessary in today’s marketing. Asking for help sounds risky and vulnerable, but nothing builds community faster than the kind of authenticity asking for help creates.

If you are present, caring, listening and evolving thinking about the BIGGER THING is the final step in molding sustainable online community. The “Bigger Thing” is the “Movement”, the thing we want to JOIN and walk on glass for. Joining means we are not alone. Joining means we’ve found our brothers and sisters. Joining means the sum of our parts is greater than the whole.

When it comes time to create your 10% make sure you create movements not “endless sale BS”. This does NOT mean you can’t make an offer. Creating movements means you make offers in a larger context. “Larger contexts” tap into what we love and why we are here – to help and serve each other.

Contests & Games Pie graphic

Contests & Games

Imagine you must paint a long fence on a hot day. Now imagine painting that same fence with 10 friends. Huck Fin in Twain’s the ‎Adventures of Huckleberry Finn understood the “new seo”. By making painting a fence FUN and full of JOY Huck’s friends volunteered to help.

You need your online tribe to volunteer to help too.

Make your content FUN, full of inspiration and JOY. 90% of the time curate content from others. There is no ONE WAY to win hearts and minds. Contests and games are FUN and, done right, they inspire. Figure out how to gamify your content marketing. How can visitors compare themselves to one another? What are your community building benchmarks? Do you have a leaderboard? Is your leaderboard motivating or de-motivating?

The core of all gamificaiton comes down to a few things including:

  • Understanding your ASK (what you want your community to do) and thus how to “win”.
  • Knowing how YOU (a member) compare to THEM (everyone else).
  • Valuing contributions, even non-winning ones, and provide social rewards (follow back, curate).

People image

Reward and Value People

You can’t fake love. Either you LOVE collaborating with people or you don’t If you don’t find a job far away from the web. The web is about taking risks and rewarding those you know who take risks too. Ambassadors sacrifice time and energy to believe in YOU.

Belief can’t be faked either. The web’s triple irony is:

  • Belief in your self starts a conversation where others can believe in you too.
  • What others say / think about you MATTERS so check in frequently.
  • Confidence means being willing to fail in public & failing means you are real & trustworthy.

Personas Example

Weekly, Monthly, Yearly Contests

Publish a schedule and then keep it to build trust. Another way to build trust is to champion your champions. People are fascinated by OTHER people so share your tribe. Your potential customers look for “like me” moments. Like me moments happen when we read about or “meet” someone like us, someone we respect, like and trust. Funny how we seem to respect like and trust those like us (lol). Usually we want someone a tad better. How do you become a better chess player? Play with better chess players.

Same is true for web marketing. When your customers discover “like me” archetypes they want to join too. Best way to create a “like me” connection is feature, share and reward members within your tribe particularly representatives of your personas.

A persona is a fancy name for a segment of customers with similar traits. Think of a woman driving a minivan. How old does you mind paint the woman? Does she have children? If you are like most you formed an image of a woman between 35 and 50 with children.

Let’s name that persona Sarah the Soccer Mom. Now imagine your email marketing. Your email creative (the offers and information you share) should arrange content Sarah would find more relevant at the TOP of her email. You may eliminate some content altogether as not relevant for Sarah the Soccer Mom.

This “conversation” with Sarah is most productive when YOU (the marketing team) hold up your end. You share relevant and timely information with Sarah and the rest of your tribe. You don’t simply PUSH content at loyal Ambassadors. You refine relevance, listen carefully to 1%ers and 9%ers and evolve faster and better, better and faster.

And that is how you become a great web marketer and win hearts, minds and loyalty online.