Before the Olympics fade from your memories, I want to call your attention to the skiing aerialists, whose death-defying leaps, mid-air gyrations and improbable landings inspired these five lessons for content marketers looking to ramp up their game.
Lesson #1: You Must Have a Game Plan
Unlike other skiing and snowboarding events, aerialists actually have to submit their intended flight plans in advance and are judged accordingly. Marketers seeking the best possible outcomes from their content are well advised to map out at least a six-month program, including “tent pole” topics and desired outcomes.
Lesson #2: Aim High But Not for Perfection
After soaring, spinning and twisting, the aerialists come down to earth praying they can stay on their feet; in fact, this year’s bronze medalist actually fell down a bit on his landing. The lesson here for marketers is simple: aim high, because anything short of awesome will be ignored, but don’t let your lofty aspirations prevent you from getting started. As they say, you’ve got to be in it to win it.
Lesson #3: Risk Taking is Rewarded
This year’s gold medalist, Anton Kushnir from Belarus, did a triple somersault that no one else has attempted, much less landed. In 2012, P&G’s Charmin brand had the guts to release an app called Sit or Squat that helps people find clean public toilets. This well-branded load of content is scatological, silly and, ultimately, incredibly handy, especially when the urge strikes at an unfamiliar locale—users have already flushed out over 170,000 restrooms!
Lesson #4: Calm Your Fears
Not a single aerialist will deny they feel fear before each jump, and it is little wonder most are ecstatic at the end of each landing. We’ve noticed a lot of trepidation among marketers new to content development, wondering if they have the right stuff to "cut through." This fear is justified given the growing morass of ignorable drivel and is only overcome once they start seeing the impact of relevant, distinctive and best-in-category content drive awareness, leads, loyalty and referrals.
Lesson #5: There are Many Roads to Success
Of all the sports that involve skis, aerialists come from the most varied of backgrounds, including gymnastics, diving and trampolining. Like aerialists, good content marketers can come from diverse professional backgrounds, and should not be afraid to use their prior experience to their advantage. Joe Pulizzi, author of Epic Content Marketing, tells the story of how Marcus Sheridan, the owner of a pool company in Virginia with no prior writing experience, saved his business (and then grew it dramatically) on the strength of his blog, which answered every question he thought his customers might ask.
Final Note: There is no such thing as an overnight sensation in aerial skiing—these crazy cats train for years on trampolines and by jumping into pools. Similarly, content marketers know it takes months if not at least a year to build a successful program. The good news is that once you ramp up successfully, the results seem to snowball.