Success isn’t random.
That’s a well-known fact, and my conversations with our clients over the past year through content like Digital Marketing Done Right and our Q&A series have only reinforced that for me. Our most successful clients don’t rely on chance or hope to build their business.
It came to a head in our recent Q&A with Business RadioX (BRX). BRX has been building their own business for almost 20 years, and they’ve had their site on Rainmaker Platform for over six. Our Q&A focused on how to create a successful podcast, and over and over the same point came up — “be intentional.”
“Our experience has been that when you design a show, it’s going to hit whatever you aim it at,” said BRX’s Stone Payton, “so you better be real intentional and real careful about what you aim it at and think about why you’re doing a podcast.”
That point applies to podcasts specifically — but there’s a broader application across your marketing mix. Every time you decide to create a new content pillar, you need to do it intentionally.
Three Areas To Check Before Creating a New Content Pillar
I’ve been in discussions where decision-makers say “This is popular. We should have it.” That’s not a good way to get started. Yes, popularity can help — but it only matters if you check these three areas first.
Does My Audience Want This?
“This is what’s kinda sad for us. They’re investing all this money … and then they [new podcasters] quit after less than 10 episodes. They’re not seeing the ROI that’s worth the time, energy, expense that goes into managing a podcast,” said BRX’s Lee Kantor.
This comes back to one fundamental question: does my audience want this?
If your audience doesn’t want the kind of content you put out, you’re not going to be able to build a following. Our most successful clients are the ones that understand this and create content that matches exactly what their audience wants.
Think of Gastric Health, one of our recent Digital Marketing Done Right guests. Dietician Dawn Boxell’s most successful campaign came from outreach to fed-up people in weight-loss surgery groups on Facebook that were looking for an escape from the cycle of gaining and losing weight. Or Fred Schenkelberg, who’s built a content network for reliability engineers at Accendo Reliability that offers blogs, articles, ebooks and more. Each channel is run on a simple model: does this appeal to our user base? If not, it doesn’t survive.
Avoid channels your audience doesn’t use or want.
Don’t discount the possibility of including them as a creator and not just an audience member, too. As Lee noted, “In our world, the business model we’ve chosen, the fundamental reason someone wants to start a podcast is they’re trying to grow their business … If you invite someone on your show to talk about what they want to talk about and you give them a space to sell their work, you build a relationship in the space of 45 minutes.”
Think outside the box. But if it looks like you’re going to be screaming into the void on your new venture, don’t start it in the first place.
Does This New Content Match Our Brand?
Channels are often brand-agnostic, but tactics aren’t. Some channels may be an easier fit for your brand than others, though few are completely off-limits if you have the right angle. As we covered, podcasting has a lot of utility for B2B if you’re using it as a prospecting tool — but not necessarily as much if you’re trying to build an audience. B2C podcasting tends to have a much bigger audience. Visual brands can take advantage of Instagram — information-rich brands may do better on YouTube, LinkedIn or Facebook.
In all cases, the type of content is guided by the channel, but not determined by it. Creating a new podcast for your commercial roofing business where you interview local business owners might work. Creating an irreverent humor podcast like Bill Burr or Bobby Lee might not.
Brands are shaped by “no” as much as “yes.” Just as you have to decide what your brand does, you have to decide what your brand doesn’t do (temporarily or permanently).
I’ve seen this in action. At one place I worked, we published a paper catalog twice a year for our customers as a marketing and sales tool. Not long before the end of my time there, we pulled the catalog despite protests from some of our longest-standing customers.
We were transitioning from an analog brand to a digital brand and focusing more on our online sales and catalog. As logistics changed and product cycles shortened, it made more sense for us to focus on digital communications — and as a result, we built that channel out. It served the brand.
Your brand isn’t just what you say it is. It’s everything you do and what you say yes or no to. Don’t create on a new channel until or unless the opportunity matches your brand.
Do We Have the Capability to Create Good Content?
Quality matters, and if you’re splitting yourself between too many endeavors, you will hurt your response. This especially applies to small businesses and solopreneurs. There’s only so much bandwidth available to create good content.
Bandwidth is increasing as our tools get better. The proliferation of free or low-cost tools for video, audio and written content is making it easier and easier to crank out volume. AI has only accelerated that.
We’ve seen AI tools come on the scene that make content creation easier, but volume doesn’t necessarily equal focus or quality, and you need to consider both when deciding whether to create a new content pillar. Effort doesn’t matter, but quality does.
Video is one of the biggest areas where this is noticeable. Short-form video like Instagram, TikTok and Facebook or YouTube reels significantly outperforms high-quality video on the major platforms. Just because it looks cheap or amateur doesn’t mean the messaging is. “Good” doesn’t necessarily have to refer to production value these days; something that’s less produced is less “good” in terms of production value, but it may let you authentically connect with your audience in a way that something more polished wouldn’t.
We talked about that in our discussion with Business RadioX. They considered using video (and do it for some of their clients), but it was harder to set up and they didn’t see the return on investment. They decided to double down on audio podcasting — and so far, the results are paying off.
Analyze what’s working best for you. Is this new content pillar going to actually build your business? What’s the most important task you’re doing? The least important? If you can’t make it fit, it doesn’t belong.
Be a Content Marketing Success
Our most successful clients have something in common. When they decide to create a new content pillar, they’re intentional about it. Check these three areas before you decide to create something new. And if you need a hand, we’re here to help. Just drop us a line, anytime.
Rainmaker Digital Services