During the Atlanta snowpocalypse of 2011, I was doing lots of thinking about digital strategy, traffic generation, and SEO/SMO as it relates to Content Marketing and Inbound Marketing. I work for an advertising agency that has some clients involved in the fishing industry, so I wrote these thoughts down to share with my colleagues.
I certainly don’t mean to denigrate the very customers we are trying to win over, but I thought this little analogy could convey my thoughts about content/inbound marketing in a fun way. I’m not the first to make this analogy and I won’t be the last. Please don’t be offended by being compared to a fish.
Each piece of content produced, whether that’s a web video, an ad, a status update, a tweet, an ezine article, an email blast, an event, a commercial, a banner ad, or anything else, is actually a cast to try to catch some fish.
Consumers are fish. When you’re a professional fisherman/marketer, you should be an expert on presenting the bait correctly, knowing where the fish are, what kind of fish respond to certain kinds of bait, etc… If you do your job well, then you will catch lots of big beautiful fish for yourself or your clients.
But one thing to keep in mind, is that you have to know what what kinds of fish you are trying to catch. A trout is no good in a bass tournament. Neither is a bass that is too small. You need to know the goals of your clients so you know what kind of lure to use and where to use it. You need to know water temperatures and feeding habits of the fish you’re chasing. If you don’t know what/why we’re fishing, then it’s just a hobby. It all starts with having clear goals so you know what you’re fishing for and you’ll know when you have achieved success.
Another thought in this analogy, is that we should be trying to stock our ponds with nice fish. Your own website is the ultimate best place for consumers to wind up. The longer you keep them enjoying your content, the fatter they get and the easier they are to catch. Therefore, most of your social media efforts should ultimately have a goal of getting consumers to your own sites and getting them to hang out there. This is where the content creation part comes in. You must have a dynamic site with compelling content. One great thing about social media, is if you can please some initial fish, they will happily invite their fish friends to hang out with them in this nice new pretty pond!
As legendary fisherman Hank Parker says, it’s important not to be random in your fishing. Instead you need to develop a pattern so you know what the consumers are doing, where they are doing it, and why. My idea of a content marketing pattern is actually very simple. Produce compelling content, upload that content to a dynamic shareable platform (aka a blog), use a specific url to link to that nugget of content, share that link to all of your social media publishing platforms, most commonly including Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, email lists, other blogs, and community sites. That link drives traffic back to your site where consumers explore the site further, become more engaged with your content, and ideally spread your content to their fishy friends, which in turn, drives new traffic back to our pond and the cycle repeats.
One more great thing about having content that is easy to find and share is that it’s kind of like Jugging. For the non-fishermen out there, that’s where you tie a line to a floating jug, leave for it awhile, then come back later to see if it caught anything. With good SEO, that content becomes a permanent jug floating out there in the web, ready for a consumer to come across it with a simple google search. It should be noted that google rewards dynamic content, so this will also help in your search rankings.
Your site should have a clearly delineated purpose, perhaps selling a product or educating a customer or specifically to engage with like minded people. Using this inbound marketing approach correctly will drive traffic back to your site and help you achieve your goals.
But what about Facebook you say? The way to think about facebook is that it’s a giant pond and you’ve got your own personal fish feeder. You entice the fish everyday with fun stuff (status updates, photos, links, etc) and try to plump them up, they get spoiled by your brand of food, and when they are ready to be caught, you can catch them easily because they already like your food. It should be clear that just because they “like” you in the facebook pond, that doesn’t mean you have caught them. There are lots of other fishermen in the facebook pond.
If you can organize your efforts around creating a content publishing strategy that drives links back to the pond where you are the only fishermen and you’ve got the right lure for the right fish, then you are going to hook ’em (and they are going to love you for it!). That doesn’t mean you will catch every fish who sees your bait, but we all know that’s not how fishing works anyway.