Limited edition

Bizarrely, I’m sure there used to be more scarcity.

Things used to be a must-have or a must-attend or a must-watch by the sheer fact there wasn’t many of them.

A sold out gig or comedy tour will invariably add more dates.  A blockbuster film will now always be the start of a franchise. A video game’s launch will be followed weeks later by some extra downloadable content.  A University will add more degree programmes rather than reject students.  Christmas used to be one day, then one week, then one month, now it is a trade fair that lasts for a quarter of every year.  Even Halloween is something that now lasts for weeks rather than hours.

Nowadays, everyone always defaults to more.

Scale is more important than cool.

Cool takes discipline.  It takes saying no to the money.  It takes leaving some people locked out.  It takes leaving demand unfulfilled.  And that discipline, it seems, is getting harder and harder.

Exiled

It’s hard these days for me to get to watch the football team I grew up supporting.

It’s a bit of a trek to get there, expensive to get in, and I have two young kids so can’t always get the sign off.  So the club isn’t getting the ticket dosh off me that it used to.

I’m in my late 30s so I’m not going to buying and wearing a replica shirt – doesn’t do much for me these days.  So the club isn’t getting the merchandise dosh it used to either.

But I still give a shit about the club and the team.  

I can’t watch the matches through an online season ticket because that facility isn’t available.  I would pay for that.  I can’t listen to the live match commentary on the local radio online because I don’t live in the area and that service is geo-locked.  I wouldn’t pay for that, but you can advertise to me if you want.

I can’t be alone in this.  I actively want more engagement with my club, and am happy to pay for it if the product is good enough.

So: how do clubs make money from people like me still giving a shit?

Rock, DJ

Having spent the last few years trapped in a tsunami of email, I recently read a book on workplace productivity.

I’ll tackle that subject on another day, but suffice to say it’s transformed my life.  The book is called How to be a Productivity Ninja, by a guy called Graham Alcott, if you’re interested.

A lot of the tips and techniques in that book have really helped me out but aside from that, there was one phrase in the book that I really liked.

Graham talks about using social media, notably Twitter as a way to short-cut your route to interesting and helpful information. He talks about it in terms of using other people to help you get to the stuff you want, without having to search and search through all the mountains of other stuff.

His approach – use Twitter for information in the same way that you used to use radio stations for music.

The people you follow become your “Information DJs” – you select them over time and they add value to your life by saving you time and connecting you with the relevant stuff from the world around you.

Lovely phrase that – Information DJs, totally nails it.

Unsubscribe

The vast majority of B2b emails I receive are terrible.

The majority of B2b emails I’ve sent throughout my career have been too.

Unsolicited, untargeted and with low open rates and absolutely no chance of contributing to the bottom line.

The ability to contact buyers directly is a privilege, and yet we waste it by poor segmentation, poor personalisation and general disrespect of our audience’s time.

But still, it ticks a box.  It looks like activity is happening in the marketing department, so B2b marketers are happy, and the sales teams they work with at least feel somewhat pacified.  It’s the marketing equivalent of tidying up your bedroom by kicking everything under the bed.

I think we all should be better.  Lets spend more time on each email.  Lets decide that one size does not fit all and if we’re going to interrupt people and infiltrate their inboxes, lets do it with a bit more respect.

Conference Call

I’ve noticed that I’m going to a lot fewer conferences these days.

Granted, I’m a bit busier now than I once was and that is certainly a factor.

But also the choice is different now. It used to be go and hear the insights or stay and wallow in your ignorance. Now the choice is go and hear the insights or stay and follow the insights via the hashtag.

And the second choice also gives you the insights from the audiences as well as the speakers. It isn’t as good as being there but the gap between going and not going has definitely narrowed.

I’ve no real idea how conference organisers can get round this. You can’t *not* have a hashtag you luddite. And the profile that people tweeting from your conference gives you is good, right?

Like a load of things, digital tech has meant that added value has to be found elsewhere. It will be interesting to see what people come up with.

Taking my own advice

I’ve been ignoring my own advice recently.

I often talk to people about social media stuff. I’ve taken enough credit for other people’s work over the last few years that people sometimes mistake me for someone who knows what they’re on about. Fools.

It is very easy to start off with loads of good intentions and then dry up, leaving your blog or Twitter or Instapinterest as a tumbleweed filled wasteland.

And that is exactly what has happened here. I haven’t posted on my own blog for months.

Yeah I’ve been busy, new job and all that, blah blah blah. No excuse, get a grip, make it happen. That’s what I’d tell someone else.

So, I’ve decided to give myself a kick up the arse. And inspired by a couple of my favourite blogs – Unofficial Partner and Seth Godin I’ve decided to take a new approach to this.

So, I’m making a pledge to post here in more bitesize chunks, but more frequently. No more getting stuck on thinking of a big topic. I’ll just come back here whenever something occurs to me.

Let’s see how long that lasts. Worth a try I guess.

You and Kei

I’ve been a frequent attendee at a variety of marketing conferences and industry get-togethers over the last few years. I’ve spoken at some, been on a panel at others and sat and watched intently at the majority of them. Some of them have been focusing on sports marketing, some on B2b marketing and others on more general marketing topics.

So, quite a variety of people banging on about various stuff. And the major central topic that spans everything is content – content marketing, content creation, content amplification, content on chips with a side order of content.

And a lot of that chat about content is about how the majority of people are still doing it pretty badly. As Katie Canton from B2b agency Birddog points out in this excellent post, content has gone from being the next big thing to being *the* thing, and yet only 42% of B2b marketeers think they’re doing it effectively.

So there is something missing. Marketeers left, right and centre talking about content. Not that many people doing it, and even fewer doing it in a way that they are satisfied with.

So, what is missing?

Katie’s post argues that it is content strategy. And I’d go along with that. But for me that’s the second part of getting yourself on the road to plugging the gap.

I think the first thing that is needed is the correct mindset. I think content marketing (no, sorry, good content marketing) comes first and foremost from the correct mindset. After that it is a content strategy, then it is the implementation.

I think if your mind is stuck in the wrong place, your strategy doesn’t even have a chance to be right – you’ll be too inhibited and you’ll look for content in all of the wrong places.

What do I mean? Well, let me focus on the world of football (for a change).

Great content in sport (and probably elsewhere come to think of it) comes from having one (or two, or all) of the following three things – knowledge, connections or access. Knowledge helps you impart wisdom on those who are receptive to your content, connections help you to signpost people around the web so that others can do the same and and access helps you offer an insider’s perspective on something your audience is desperate for a piece of.

I think that insider access is the easiest thing to achieve in sport. If you work for a club or governing body, you have that access in spades. As long as your mindset is correct. If you think about allowing people that access and it makes you nervous, or makes you think that you should be monetising every single bit of that access, you’re in a place where that mindset (either individually or corporately) will stop you creating great content.

An example of what I mean (taken from the club I support, Middlesbrough, and only because that’s the content I follow most closely, not as a singled out criticism – Boro actually do some pretty good stuff….):

Around a year ago, Boro signed a new striker, Kei Kamara. Now this is a big moment in the life of a football club – a new international centre forward coming in to lead the line. It is something to get the fans excited and something that drives them online to find out everything they can.

In the old world, a club would own the access to this information and feed it to the fans in the traditional ways. This would be a news conference and club interviews, as well as the morsels fed to the local media. Fans would lap it up.

And this was followed in the aftermath of the signing of Kamara. A fan would go onto the Boro website and click excitedly onto the interview with the new striker. To be greeted with this:

MFCKei

Fine. The club believe that this content should be monetised. Personally I don’t. I believe that as a fan I have a right to see that content without paying any more than money for match tickets and merchandise (or in the case of Boro, with tears over the last 30 years).

So in the old world there would be a split between the type of fans who are happy to pay and those that believe the club is unfairly denying them access to the best content.

But things are different now.

Kei Kamara himself is a prolific producer of content. He is active on Twitter and Instagram – engaging and well followed. And as part of signing for Boro, he produced better content that club could on their own. All available for free.

For example – check this out – a new signing using Instagram video to document his first ever visit to the stadium:

Now that is great content. Simple, emotive and unique. Not difficult to produce if you have the access and more importantly the right mindset to do so.

I want my club to produce this kind of stuff for me. When I go through official channels to find out how a player is doing in his rehab from injury, I don’t want a boring, anodyne statement, I want to see more stuff like this:

But using this unique access in official channels requires bravery. Some people will question the impact it will have on enhanced digital membership subscriptions. Some people will question the ability to police it, and the impact that bad publicity around your main players could have on the strategy.

There are tons of roadblocks that could be put in the way. All of which may be valid. But if your mindset is one of producing content that brings fans closer and gives them the access that they crave then you’ll find a way to overcome these hurdles.

When Kei was at his previous club, Sporting Kansas City in MLS, the club actively engaged with him to produce this type of non matchday content. It adds vibrancy and life to their YouTube channel, with very little work other than pointing the camera at someone who’ll be doing this kind of stuff anyway:

I guess the big caveat to all of this is that I’ve never worked in a club. This change of mindset and switch to a becoming a micro-publisher of behind the scenes stuff may be simply impossible. I just don’t know whether that is the case or not. And I’ve not reviewed every club’s output (I know, for example, QPR do some good stuff) to possibly make the kind of sweeping statements I’ve made here, but it’s just my opinion as a fan.

And with that, I’ll leave you with Kei: