My core marketing strategy is to produce valuable content to showcase my expertise and build relationships with potential clients long before we ever meet.
And whether it's blog posts, longer articles, podcasts or videos – the core challenge for anyone following such a content strategy is coming up with interesting stuff to “write about”.
In fact, the number one reason I hear from people who want to get into blogging or content marketing but have struggled to do so is that they just can't imagine producing enough interesting material. Or they've tried and then run out of steam.
Well, let me introduce you to Dave Gorman.
Dave's a comedian based here in the UK. He started his career fairly gently by writing for established acts, and his first show at the Edinburgh Fringe “Reasons to be Cheerful” was based on an analysis of whether the items mentioned in the Ian Dury song “Reasons to be Cheerful #3” actually were reasons to be cheerful.
So far, so not very much.
But then Gorman hit on a brilliant idea which would propel him towards 4 bestselling books, sellout live shows and his own TV series.
And it's one we can all use ourselves.
The simple idea was that instead of trying to think of interesting things to write about for his act, he would do interesting things – and then write about those.
It turns out that people are far more interested in the weird or exciting things you've done that in the weird or exciting things you've just thought about.
So Gorman's 1999 Fringe show was called “Dave Gorman's Better World” and was created by him writing thousands of anonymous letters to local newspapers asking for suggestions from the public on how to create a better world – and testing them out to see if they worked.
His next wheeze was triggered by spotting that an assistant manager at small Scottish football team East Fife had the same name as him. So he drove 450 miles to meet him and photograph the event. He then set about meeting another 53 Dave Gormans across the world (one for every card in a pack of cards plus the jokers apparently). He chronicled his adventures meeting these Dave Gormans in the book and TV show “Are You Dave Gorman?”.
Next, he resolved to live his life according to a literal interpretation of his horoscope each day. Turned out pretty well when he bet everything he had on rank outsider Ian Woosnam (who he shared a birthday with) winning the Dubai Classic golf tournament (which, of course, he travelled to see) and won.
After that, he started his “Googlewhack Adventure” when he became obsessed by finding google search phrases with only one result – and then travelling the world to find the person behind that single result. The result for him was another bestselling book and TV show.
More recently, he travelled America avoiding all corporate outlets and using only family owned hotels, restaurants and petrol (gas) stations. “America Unchained” was again a bestseller.
Then he challenged the public to take him on at any game of their choice – from poker to darts to Khett to Cluedo to Kubb. And of course, he travelled to play them and chronicled his adventures in yet another besteller.
So how can we harness this approach for ourselves?
The key is that people are more interested in what you've done than what you think.
What I mean by that is that it's great to have new ideas, theories about your field, predictions for the future.
But what really gets people hooked is hearing about practical experiences.
You can cull those from your own personal experience. Or you can interview others or create case studies.
Or you can do what Dave Gorman did: go out and do something interesting.
You recommend a particular approach to leadership, for example? Use it yourself. Get your clients to use it and record the outcomes. Video interview them afterwards. Get them to chronicle their experiences.
You show people how to get more traffic to their website? Create a live case study from scratch. Build a website, put some content on it, follow your traffic strategies and record the results.
In my case, I test out the marketing strategies I recommend myself. A lot of what you see on my blog is a result of my own experiments (particularly with online marketing) to see what works and what doesn't.
You can do the same.
You want inspiration? You need something interesting to write about?
Then do something interesting.
Here's something on a similar vein. PR Guru David Meerman Scott describes how he got 50,000 twitter followers. Not by obsessing about getting twitter followers, but by publishing 4 books, doing 126 talks in 15 countries, shooting 125 videos etc. In other words, doing interesting stuff makes you an interesting person to follow. Read more here: The secret to getting 50,000 followers on twitter.
So what's your source of inspiration and ideas for great content? Drop me a comment below, I'd love to hear and share.