#1 Marketing Strategy: The Content Sprout Method
Nowadays there’s so much attention coming from all these different sources and so many things vying for your attention, right? How can a content producer keep up?
When I watch Netflix, sometimes I’ll take out my phone and start watching YouTube videos…then all of a sudden I’m watching an Instagram video. And if you have all your notifications on, you’re constantly distracted by the next shiny object.
So how are you supposed to get people’s attention when they’re getting distracted every single minute of the day?
The key thing is something we’ve been talking a lot about this year: Omnichannel Marketing — being everywhere that your potential viewers and readers are.
The Rule of SevenThe Rule of Seven is an essential branding maxim: People need to see your brand seven times before they decide to take an action. Click To Tweet
This is where Omnichannel Marketing comes in. If you go omnichannel, you’ll get those seven touches far quicker and in much more varied ways than if you solely use Facebook posts or email newsletters.
But how can you produce the volume of content to be omnichannel? Easy: The Content Sprout Method.
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What’s the Content Sprout Method?
When there’s a great piece of content, it becomes the ‘seed.’ From the seed, we can start ‘sprouting’ new forms of content.
Here’s an example:
Each morning I film a YouTube Live simulcast to Facebook and Instagram, so with one Live, I’m already putting out content to three channels at once:
After we post the Live on YouTube as an evergreen video, we:
- Create three or four YouTube videos from the topics
- Take the audio and put it onto the Growth Everywhere podcast
- Using Rev, we get the transcript from the video, add captions, and natively post the video on my personal LinkedIn and the Single Grain Facebook page (with the time limits, we sometimes shorten the video for these channels)
- We’ll create a 30-second Instagram teaser video linking to the Live
- Then, taking the transcripts, we’ll decide if it’s meaty enough to create a 2-3K word blog post out of it
- Once we publish that — it usually takes a week or so to turn around the blog post — we’ll make it into an Instagram Story post
So one Live video just turned into 13 pieces of content on five channels.
And the ‘Seed’ content doesn’t always have to be a Live; it can be a blog post, a YouTube video, a podcast…. Anything that has the potential to ‘Sprout.’ Just change what the Sprouts are in accordance to the Seed channel (e.g. if you publish a blog, turn it into a Live topic, etc.)
If a topic or medium has been shown to perform well in the past, or if you’ve sprouted it and it’s already performing well, ‘pollinate’ it.
Pollination means pushing to your email list, teasing the Live beforehand with a series of ‘coming soon!’ emails, or putting ad spend toward it. We’ve found Instagram Stories Ads to be very effective but we are constantly testing new ad types. We run paid ads and retarget people to get the most reach for the least ad spend.
More Content AND Higher Audience Engagement
I put out the Growth Everywhere podcast and for the last few years, I was putting out an original interview on Mondays, then republishing interviews Tuesday through Sunday because I thought they were helpful for people.
Then the Growth Everywhere podcast plateaued. At its high point it was getting 90K downloads a month, but now it’s around 50-60K, which is still good and I’m seeing new growth.
I love that audience because they’re entrepreneurs like me, and inspired the way I am by other successful entrepreneurs — the ones that I interview.
I wanted to add more value for the Growth Everywhere listeners, because if my audience was plateauing, that meant that I wasn’t increasing the value of my podcast. I realized I could take my YouTube audio and post it to Growth Everywhere on the days that I’m not releasing new interviews.
I don’t do anything without data, though, so before I started that, I surveyed my audience. I asked “Do you guys actually want me to take videos that I’ve done from YouTube and then put it to audio as well?” People were open to it, so we’re going to track the success.
If you’re just starting out with content marketing, pick the medium you’re most comfortable with — podcasts, blogs, YouTube videos — and perfect that. Take a year or so to get it right.
Once you’ve perfected that, start thinking about how you can ‘Sprout’ that content into different forms, different pieces. It’ll help more people discover you on the channels they prefer, whether that’s podcasts or written content.
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What Resources Do You Need?
The best thing about the Content Sprout Method is that you don’t have to 10x your team along with your content. Headcount is always the most expensive part of a marketing team, but here you can use virtual assistants or contractors.
We have an in-house team, but use Rev.com for transcripts — once we get the transcripts, we turn them into a long-form blog post by massaging the language a little.
You could hire a journalism major or intern to do this for you and send it to your editor. Or, because you’ve already created the content, you can also hire a less-expensive freelance writer or content agency to take the raw transcripts and create the blog posts.
Customized Content to Fit Each Channel
My one caveat is: don’t copy/paste the same exact content to each platform — there are specific tactics for each one.
For instance, we don’t publish links to our YouTube videos on Facebook and LinkedIn. These platforms want you to post natively — take the time to add captions and then upload the file to the actual platform. Or simulcast to Facebook and Instagram. Then write custom descriptions for each platform.
For instance, on LinkedIn I use the tactic of a description with compelling questions to get comments. I also tag people who I know have something to say on the video topic.
When we were just pushing our daily Marketing School episodes to LinkedIn, we’d be lucky if we got 600-700 views. When we started to get a little more focused in terms of how we were writing our descriptions, as well as posting natively to LinkedIn, we started getting 5-6K views. Once we started getting more views, and getting people to comment and share, the momentum built on itself.
Or think about Instagram — people don’t usually sit and watch 10-minute videos there. So we take the best part of the video and post it for people who just want the snippet. If they want to watch more, we add the link to watch the full video. We also take quotes from Growth Everywhere episodes, Lives, and YouTube videos, and create graphics that are super share-able.
People stay a lot longer on YouTube vs. Instagram so we started putting our Lives on that platform.
So think about how users engage with each platform. What do people like to see? What will they share with their friends? Social media platforms want you to stay on the app longer, so anything you can do to make your content engaging to the specific platform will reward you in their algorithms.
Content Sprouting Will Help You Become a Micro-Brand
Once you’re everywhere, you can start to build momentum by becoming a micro-brand or a micro-celebrity in your niche. You don’t have to be a big Instagram influencer, but if you put out quality content you can build quite a following.
Once you have a reputation for being knowledgeable in your field, and once people start to take notice, you’ll have a lot more options in your business. People will want to work with you because they’ve seen that you know your stuff.
How Do I Get Started?
Don’t let any fears that you may not provide value or aren’t good at having a voice deter you from getting started. Everyone starts somewhere and eventually you’re going to get better. You’ll get more and more followers.
I would challenge you to drop the ego. Forget about you. Just think about the value you can provide to other people. Often, people don’t start videos because they don’t like how they look on camera, they think they’ll sound weird, they think people will judge them. And yes, people comment on our YouTube videos sometimes, and the more followers we get, the more haters we get, too.
But remember, you may suck when you get started, you may suck the first year, but eventually you’ll find your voice.
I remember my first blog was ericosiu.net and I just wrote about whatever. I didn’t really find my voice until later. But then I started realizing, “If I just talk about business and entrepreneurship, it’s gonna get better and better.” And eventually that became Growth Everywhere.
Just the other day, I was doing a session with Entrepreneurs’ Organization. One guy joined the group and said he’d been following me for a couple years, and he told me: “You know, Eric, you’re really starting to find your voice now.”
The point being, I may have two podcasts and a YouTube channel right now, but I had to start somewhere. You can, too!
The key is to continue to improve. Even if it’s one little piece, put value into the world. What ‘seed’ content can you share with the world? And then, later, when you start to get better, think about sprouting. After that, start to think about pollinating. Layer the content, and things start to compound.
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How We’re Using the #1 Marketing Strategy
We’re going to keep podcasting because Marketing School is now trending to 1.2M downloads per month. We’ll also keep Growth Everywhere, but publish an interview once a week and the Live audio on the other days.
We’re adding Lives to our normal video line-up, but we’ll continue to do guest collaboration videos (like our Leveling Up series), Quick Tips, and tactical videos. So we’re not stopping our production, we’re adding the Lives to it in order to 2X our YouTube content.
We use analytics to double down on the video topics and formats that are working. The nice thing about the Lives is that I can workshop topics and see if they gain traction before getting someone to write a 4K-word piece on it.
We are not only going to continue publishing on our blog, we’re going to DOUBLE our content production with the Content Sprout Method. Yes, same team, 2x the content by adding Live and YouTube content for those who prefer to get their marketing tips in article form. In addition to doubling production, we will publish 3,500-4,000-word, super in-depth pieces — which can then be turned into a video series.
We’ll continue to do webinars, but cut back because we’re spending time and resources on more content production. If we’re hearing that people want webinars, we’ll consider starting them up again.
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I’ll also continue speaking, but I’m going to pare it down to super targeted conferences. You can Content Sprout your conference keynotes and workshop by posting the video to your blog and YouTube channel, as well as pulling articles topics from that content. That being said, conferences are a huge investment of time and resources, so I’m going to be very strategic about where we go.
So that’s it! If your marketing is stagnant, or if you think you can’t produce the content that your competitors are, use the Content Sprout Method to increase content volume and brand alignment.