What Celebrity Chefs Can Teach You About Content Marketing
Nov 12, 2012 3:00 AM - Posted by Brad Smith
There are three main ways to build traffic, increase your exposure and get more customers online.
Tactic #1: is partnerships. You can “piggyback” off others success and use their traffic and exposure for your own gain.
However if you’re new, or unestablished in a market, then no one is going to partner with you. And the best partnerships develop over months and years. So you can’t expect something like this to fall in your lap overnight.
Tactic #2: is advertising. Most small and medium sized companies think advertising is a waste of time. But it’s actually incredibly powerful if you do it correctly.
The obvious downside is that you need a lot of capital up-front. So you have to spend $100 to bring in $20 of profit. And then continually reinvest that $100 over time.
And it’s my personal favorite technique because with one investment (of time, money and energy) you receive multiple returns:
- You get referral traffic from other websites
- You get high-quality, Google-proof links for SEO
- You get viral social media mentions, shares and new followers
- You build your brand name and reputation as a thought-leader
- And you get “inbound” customers and clients looking to buy
The downside is that it doesn’t work very well for most. Too many companies think content is a commodity, and want to pay $20 per piece. Or they quickly rush to throw up a blog post in 30 minutes so they hit some imaginary blogging quota.
And this behavior leads to mediocre returns. Or worse — wasted time, money and energy that they can’t get back.
So why does excellent content get a disproportionate return on investment… while cheap, rushed content stays invisible?
Here’s what separates the pros from everyone else.
How Good Chefs Make Quick Decisions
One of my favorite T.V. shows is Chopped on the Food Network.
Basically, four chefs compete to create an appetizer, entree and dessert in only 20-30 minutes. Three brutally-honest judges grade their work, and the loser is sent home after each round. The final contestant left standing wins $10,000 and gets the bragging rights of being a Chopped Champion.
But as with most game shows, there’s a catch.
Right before each round begins, they are given mystery ingredients to use in some creative way. The more they can take these ingredients and reinvent them, the better.
The problem is that many times, the contestants have never even heard of what the ingredient is — let alone how to use it.
These mystery ingredients can get pretty random, and the contestants have to pull them together somehow for a composed dish — regardless if they know what it tastes like.
But what good chefs do know is a solid framework for making quick, accurate decisions.
They know all of the essential elements that are supposed to be in each dish. They know how to balance flavors to make sure the dish is composed properly. And they understand how different types of foods — and their relationships — work well together so they can make something out of nothing (in under 20 minutes).
For example, they will start with the ingredient they know the most about and get to work quickly (because the clock is ticking). They’ll decide on a general direction, like the overall style of the dish that will pull everything together.
Then the chef will move on to the random item that they’ve never heard of. They quickly assess, taste, and try to determine what it reminds them of. Then they’ll use it as a substitute for another well-known ingredient.
And ultimately, they’ll make a great tasting dish from “mystery” ingredients that they’ve never used before.
How do they do that?
And how does that apply to marketing?
Why Most Companies Fail with Content Marketing
Content marketing is one of the best sources of long-term traffic.
But for most people (and organizations), it isn’t. Mainly because… their content isn’t any good.
Maybe there’s no lead in the content to draw people in and get them interested. Maybe it’s not optimized well enough to provide any long-term benefits. Or perhaps the distribution was weak so it didn’t reach enough people to really take off.
Either way, there are fundamentals in marketing — just like cooking — that have to come together if you’re going to see a positive return on your investment.
Let’s apply that to creating content. There are 4 or 5 specific ways to open a piece of content and get readers hooked. Once you know what they are, you can look at any type of content and know in 5 seconds if that person knows what they’re doing, or if that piece of content will be successful.
There are steps you can take, and different techniques you can try to apply, that will help you ultimately be successful in any market.
But there’s no magic bullet.
They don’t hand out recipes on Chopped. Contestants have 20 or 30 minutes to make whatever they can, with brand new ingredients each round.
Sometimes they go down a certain path and it fails. But that’s OK, because they eliminated some questions in the process. Now they have better idea of the correct path to take.
And if you have a good decision-making framework, with the right skills and training, then you can adapt them to whatever position you’re in — and still reach your goals.
Creating content is the backbone of online marketing.
Every case study, social media update, and email you write should be created according to specific principles.
The first step in marketing is to get someone’s attention. And content is the tool you can use to grab attention, hold their interest and build trust.