Attention online has become REALLY hard to get, and keep 🚽
Post-pandemic, we kinda sorta need to ditch the “old ways of marketing”. (ie: FOMO/free lead-magnet/email sequence/spray and pray with ads)
The amount of online clutter that has developed over the course of 18 months, in a pandemic, is mind-boggling. For context, we are at a point in history when 20%+ of the workforce may continue to work remotely for a majority of the workweek which would translate to profound impact on urban economies, and consumer habits according to this McKinsey Global Institute, What’s next for remote work? report
There are a limited number of avenues that you can use to guarantee positive, effective visibility 😭
While there’s nuance to everything, here is a universal truth.
Those who understand the value of deploying entertaining content are seeing quick wins.
I’m seeing strategies and tactics being employed in a business-to-business context that are wonderfully reminiscent of the way in which bloggers – lifestyle bloggers, food bloggers, health bloggers – have done it for a very long time!
And I love it.
Listen, we all respect experience and love to learn from it.
Here are some things that we can learn from the advanced and extensive experience of “bloggers”, who are really the OG practitioners of wonderfully executed content plays.
Of valuable, and monetized content engines and Infrastructure.
4 specific learnings that can Blogger-ize B2B content to make it less boring
Blogger Lesson 1: Always tell a story
Let’s start this out nice and light.
The biggest thing that you can learn from bloggers is the value of a good story.
And, you know, in the interest of a little storytelling, let’s skip back to about 2008, to the case of the over-indexed food storyteller, AKA the food blogger.
That was around the time that the phenomenon of telling a story about the background of a recipe became practice.
How it was developed,
What the blogger in question was inspired by
The crowds went wild!
Then everyone started doing it because, “why not?”
Sure, I can tell you how to make a cake by saying
“take two eggs, one cup of milk, blah blah blah…”
Or I could get all up in immersive experience like
“I fully discovered the power of vanilla at 4 am on a Tahitian beach… “
So, clearly, after a few years of doing this and everyone jumping with both feet onto this bandwagon, that system started to get a little bit old.
People started to complain.
Because. Too much of a good thing.
Bloggers were getting far too self-indulgent, they said.
There was too much storytelling.
You had to scroll for miles and miles before you actually found a recipe!
At which point, obviously the wonderful technological innovators of the world came to the rescue.
A plugin was developed.
(Of which there are multiple right now)
You had a button up top, which says “Skip to recipe”.
Regardless, storytelling is a powerful, powerful tool.
While the blogger world overdid it, we are FAR from that point in the business writing world.
Storytelling is singularly the best way in which you can inject a little bit of ease-of-reading into a piece of content.
A wonderful way to bring a little bit of pleasure into someone’s day.
And because of the value of a metaphor or an analogy or a tale or an experience in facilitating audience understanding, it will always remain relevant.
Blogger Lesson 2: Capitalize on email
The second point that I want to touch on; again, nice and easy. Bloggers deeply understand the value of email.
Many bloggers, including the very visual ones, do tend to publish in the “blog” format (duh!).
It would be under a tab, in the old days, that simply said “Blog”
Maybe there would be some sort of landing page, that was pretty.
Or in the very evolved cases, of which there are many, a really well-organized website that’s full of content that answers people’s pain-points on the subject.
Essentially, the core format was text + image,
(Obviously there were layers – videos, not so much podcasting, but many people are now starting to use that too.)
The immediate, and obvious, thing to do with that was to take the blog to email.
So many of my favourite bloggers, who I’ve kept on my tightly-curated list, way after I left the blogger world years ago, I continue to read, purely because of how well they handle their emails.
In practice, at the very least, you can take the exact same content on a blog or a podcast or video into your email system and send it out.
That said, there’s room for a little bit of improvement from there.
Consider giving it a copy edit to make sure it continues to work in an email format.
The best performing emails for us, and much of our roster of clients, do tend to be long-form text emails, which are broken up with a bit of imagery. Whether that’s graphs and charts on the more serious end of the scale, or gifs and memes, (like this email, or a number of clients, regardless of how serious the subject matter. Pro tip: works particularly well in finance, legal and healthcare)
Think about investing in emails like bloggers do.
Often we see people trying to create “a newsletter” separately.
And trying to create articles for their website separately.
Hold still a minute and this terribly obvious aha moment will happen when you’ll smack yourself in the figurative forehead and say “why aren’t these the same thing FFS???”.
What if I’m worried about duplication?
Here’s what you need to know.
It doesn’t matter.
Inadequate distribution of content is your number one problem. It’s everyone’s number one problem. We create far more than we distribute.
Not even a 10th of the people that you’re targeting are seeing your messaging. So the honest truth is no one will notice.
If that feels hard to accept, then know this. Those who do notice are usually impressed at your constancy and discipline.
And even if that feels inadequate know that you can bring in the nuance by:
- highlighting different details.
- breaking facts down.
- spotlighting one key finding
There are many ways to handle it, but really thinking about maximizing email is a way that B2B can steal from bloggers who have done this well for decades!
Blogger Lesson 3: Invest in visual content
Beauty is something that bloggers do particularly well. Specifically, they have learned to do this on the cheap.
First, technology is a wonderful thing, you will find that most bloggers will have a decent production suite.
Whether it’s for photographing things or for shooting video or, making sure that the environment that they are in is well lit.
You will find that many bloggers, either have a personal ability to write, which I think is kind of non-negotiable in today’s world for all marketers. They invest in learning and in external people – both paid and collaborations.
In 2020, when your common-or-garden variety of silicon valley bro popped around, flashing the eggplant pic of the day, entirely unsolicited lists of their equipment for their ‘pandemic production studio’, bloggers smiled secretly. Any blogger worth their salt had had a “video wall”, a decent camera, and some hacks that made your head spin for achieving better lighting.
They truly are worth studying and modelling.
Do NOT use this advice as an excuse to “rebrand” or “create a sub brand” Instead, stay within the boundaries of whatever brand you’ve established at this point and think about these three key areas.
- Theme. Always theme content around key messaging. Theming is your friend, even if the theme is something terribly obvious. For us, we work heavily with the theme of our podcast The 4 am Report. Everything we do has some sort of a sleep theme associated with it. So for example if one of us has to send out a little present to someone, instead of going through 1000 possibilities, we pick one of a few sleep themed gifts we’ve pre-approved and systematized. It really does simplify and cut efforts. It gives you that opportunity to take things far with your visuals. Even if from a budget perspective, your theme only allows you to do stock photos, that’s fine. Find a visual vocabulary, a series of analogies, and stay within those. Even if you’re broke AF and all you can do are free GIFs, pick a pop-culture universe or two and stay there. For example, I do tend to favour a clever Schitt’s Creek meme. Because I’m a writer, and Canadian, and love to channel powerful icons of inclusion to make my points. Enter David Rose.
- Palette. I think it’s really helpful if you’ve already got a brand palette. Your colours, your fonts etc. your, This is where you want to use it! Make sure that you have lots of intelligent options. In the old days, you had a brand guideline so that you could paint a billboard once a year, or put out an ad once a quarter in the right colours. Today, you’re using that sort of brand palette like SEVERAL TIMES A DAY. Make sure you have options.
- Structure. Fully understand what your distribution focus is and make sure you have the right orientations to make messaging on various platforms look good. If like us, you perhaps use email, blog posts in different formats, and LinkedIn that requires vastly different nitty gritties of sizing. White you mustn’t get terribly derailed, do you want to aim for the right orientations: vertical, horizontal, square – that sort of thing. We often see people (us included) put out something in a square format for something that needs a rectangle, and you just see the bust of the person with their head cut-off. When that happens, you’ve done your content some serious injustice!
Blogger Lesson 4: Constantly educate
By far the best for last.
The biggest and best thing that we can learn from bloggers is how to consistently educate. Bloggers masterfully package expertise into masterclasses (way before LinkedIn & co. found it) and bootcamps (hardcore discipline anyone?), short courses for development, and masterminds.
Many bloggers deployed these free or minimally charged.
I’m really pleased to see this starting to translate into the B2B world. Wonderful!
Because the curse of knowledge is real. What is obvious to you is NOT obvious to everyone. So teach!
Let’s all start taking away the idea of “the course” and using it in different places:
- use it in your orientations
- use it in your process education
- use it in your certification requirements
Courses can become a powerful tool for your customer success teams and account management teams to have assets in one place and cut repetitive work.
So there you go! Your four key lust-worthy learnings from bloggers.
These are worth applying.
Take away one, and do it consistently.
Give yourself a 12 week challenge. That should give you a decent runway for some qualitative measurement if not feel-good attribution.
Entertaining content goes beyond “funny haha” into light, easy, user-friendly, and truly a pleasure to consume.
That’s the quickest way to cut clutter in an oversaturated landscape.
Kinda like if you’re the guy with the hand-written sign in Times Square.
That sign better be f^cking clever to stand out.