Happy Freakin’ Monday Ep 11 – Education Is The New Sales Pitch

Am I alone in thinking that if someone is pushing hard to sell me something, then it’s probably because I don’t really need it? I think a lot of people have an aversion to the sales pitch because we can often see right through it or maybe it’s because I struggle with sales myself that I feel this way. That’s right, I said it, I am not a strong sales person. It is a sad truth that I have lived with my whole life. So how have I managed to build a growing media production company without pushy sales tactics?

I didn’t always know I was bad at sales. When I was younger, I wanted nothing more than to be an artist. I spent most of my twenties drawing, painting, and even creating furniture. I lived the starving artist life, I even had a studio in a dark, dingy basement, in a wonderfully shady part of Toronto. Like when I say shady, I mean a drunk guy once had a bottle smashed over his head outside our door and I had to leave as the paramedics were wrestling him onto a stretcher to try and help him... this was in the middle of the day. That’s how bad I wanted the dream.

But in the end, I never “made it” as an artist and I know exactly why. The number one reason that I didn’t find success as an artist was not for lack of talent, but because I was not very good at sales. Correction, I was terrible at selling, especially when it came to fine art.

I did countless art shows including the New York Art Expo and whenever I exhibited my work I always had this thought that, because art is so subjective, you will either love it or you won’t. Therefore anyone who loves it should simply want to buy it. But of course that never happened.

Looking back on my inability to sell, it’s ironic to think that I also used to work in retail sales. I wasn’t any better but I found that what I really excelled at was building relationships and educating customers on their options to help them make the best purchase for their needs. I don’t think my employers liked me because I never sold what they wanted but instead what the customers needed. For example, you know that protection plan that electronic stores always try to sell you? Ya I never sold that because I didn’t see the value in it for the customer... I saw it for the cash grab that it is.

When I eventually landed an account management role at a marketing agency, that client relationship focus is exactly what led me to succeed. Yes there were sales pitches and upselling but I never thought of it as selling but rather, educating. Here was something that I could see the value in for my clients and they trusted me to guide them in the right direction.

Educating clients has been my key to sales ever since and it is exactly why content marketing is so effective. Because again, the focus is on educating an audience to know what they need and why. All the while, building and establishing a relationship so that you will be the first person they call when they’re ready to buy.

Now I’m not saying you should simply wait around for them to make the first move. Don't make the same mistake that I did as an artist, but remember that when you do pitch to them or offer a promotion, they will be more receptive and won’t immediately put their guard up. Why? Because now they trust that you can help them make the right choice... and not buy the protection plan... seriously, ask an insurance broker if they can protect your property for a hell of a lot less.

See you next week!

Happy Freakin’ Monday Ep 10 – How To Write A Content Calendar

If you’re anything like me, you probably dove headfirst into a content strategy without much of an overall plan... In which case, it’s not really a “strategy” at all but more like systematic content creation. Well the good news is that it’s never too late to take your content marketing to the next level with a well thought out content calendar.

A Content Calendar is a crucial part of developing your content marketing. It is a road map, almost like a business plan that will help guide you and your team (if you have one) to more efficient and more effective content.

How? Well organizing your flow of content months in advance will help ensure that you always know what you’re posting and when. Plus you can even produce content in bulk for distribution at a later date. Think of how much time that could save. Instead of spending hours on trying to find a last minute topic, you can focus on actually producing good content.

Not to mention it will ensure that you never miss important dates. There are so many annual events, and milestones, seasonal trends, that you can leverage but not if you don’t plan ahead. I mean today, May 14th is in fact Dance Like a Chicken Day so you really wouldn’t want to miss out on that.

By planning in advance, you give yourself more opportunity to develop meaningful content instead of doing what I did last week which was a 100% result of poor planning. It was a non-episode to publish my realization that I need a content calendar.

So here is what you need to do to get started:

#1 - Research

  • Start by researching your Audience
    • Who are they?
    • What do they like/dislike?
    • What platforms do they use and how do they interact with them?
  • Take a look at your competition or allstars that you might follow  
    • Have a look at what others in your field are doing not to copy but maybe get some inspiration
    • Who are your Content Creation heroes? Perhaps they can provide some inspiration as well.
    • You might do something similar but add your own unique perspective and experience. That’s what people will come back for.
  • Look at your own existing content
    • What has worked and what has not?
    • What could be re-purposed or updated?

#2 - Planning

Now what you might find at this point is that if you have not completely flushed out your concept then you will feel the need. If you have not already you may want to explore some questions like:

  • What is your goal? And how will you achieve it?
  • What is your tone?
  • How will you create consistency?

Knowing more about your audience and what they like/what content resonates well, will help you flush out the answers to those questions.

#3 - Now You Can Create Your Calendar

Start by laying out your calendar in a document or spreadsheet. I used Excel to easily layout episode number, date, topic and additional notes and helpful links. Then add in major events like holidays but don’t forget about:

    1. Marketing campaigns
    2. Product Launches
    3. Conferences or trade shows
    4. Relevant world events

Next start brainstorming new ideas. Ideally you would have come up with several from your research but when in doubt, go back to that foundation and maybe dig a little deeper. Look for common problems that your audience might have which you can help them solve.

Try to plan out at least the first few months of content. The thing to remember is that now your calendar has been started, that planning, creation and scheduling should be an ongoing exercise worked into your routine.

Once you see the benefits that this planning has on the your marketing you will definitely want to keep that up or find yourself scrambling the night before to plan out tomorrow’s post. But hey, when all else fails, there’s always the chicken dance.

See you next week!

Happy Freakin’ Monday Ep 9 – Nothing to Talk About

I won’t lie, I left planning this video to the last minute and guess what, I have no idea what to talk about this week. That’s why “write a content calendar” is at the very top of my to- do list.

When it comes to procrastinating the planning phase I can be just as guilty as anyone. When I started this video series, I wasn’t even sure if or how I could keep making videos on a regular basis so I just jumped in head first to see what would happen. I mean, seriously, I didn’t even bother showering first...

Now here we are, episode 9 and I’ve figured out my workflow to keep them coming (and hopefully improving as we go) but I’ve still neglected to plan out the most important part which is the content! If you can imagine, it can be really time consuming and risky to try and develop a subject for a video series the night before. So that’s why I’m going to be spending some serious time on developing my long term plan and I suggest you do the same for any marketing campaign, not just a content strategy.

Planning a campaign will help you look at the big picture and establish targets. Because what good is any marketing if you can’t measure and improve on the performance? The plan is like a road map to your success. Not to mention it’s a great way to improve efficiency and brand consistency by always knowing what’s next and not missing a beat.

Simply put, it’s the best way to avoid being me in this week’s episode with nothing to talk about. It doesn’t have to be difficult either, just a subject and some key points to kick start your creative flow. Think about key dates like holidays or anniversaries or other key dates like tax season or whatever else might be relevant to your audience.

So stay tuned for next week when I elaborate more on “How to Write A Content Calendar”. If you have any suggestions for topics that you would like me to discuss, leave me a note in the comments below. Until then, have a Happy Freakin' Monday!

See you next week!