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:
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: