“It’s wet under there.”
We were pulling up carpet at the fishing camp we’re fixing up this past weekend and discovered that one of the guest bedroom closets that backs up to the bathroom is an absorbant flood zone for some sort of leak we didn’t know about until now.
The process of pulling up carpet is typically gross in general.
Foam that sticks to concrete.
Seeing all the things that have been intentionally covered up.
But when it becomes an archeological dig and you hit water, it’s extra gross.
The leak isn’t horrible.
It’s a slow bit of water that appears on the floor every once in awhile (believe us, we did a weekend’s worth of watching).
But it’s there.
And we thought not using the sink while we wait for a plumber would help us isolate the source.
But it kept happening.
So… likely the toilet is involved, we think. It’s the only one in the camp.
But once our family left and Sal went back to meet the plumber (who didn’t show, by the way), he couldn’t recreate the leak.
We’ll try again when the plumber is actually available (turned out he had a chemical burn incident that explains the no-show).
And, for now, we won’t put down new flooring or finish work in the closet.
There’s no point in doing it until the issue is resolved.
Is there a newsletter lesson here?
But it feels more like a content marketing one:
Don’t skip on foundational stuff.
And don’t ignore it when it needs fixing.
Because you don’t want to use amazing content (like your newsletter, social media posts, podcast, or blog) to get people’s attention and then not actually be able to help them learn what you do and how it can help them.
They need to be able to understand what you do and convert.
Otherwise you’ve got a leak in the closet and can’t put the pretty new floor down.
You’ll find more thoughts on this topic in this issue’s Marketing section.
Update: We’re ripping up some metaphorical carpet over at Audience Ops (a Simple Focus brand) and it’s going to be fun.
It’s also got me very focused on the larger category newsletters fit into: content marketing.
So focused, in fact, that we’re going to begin to shift the balance of this newsletter from mostly newsletter with some marketing content to mostly marketing content with some newsletter tips.
Send me feedback if you have thoughts on the transition.
And for anyone who read last week’s issue and is curious: Nora will be able to use my old calculator. Score!
A Bottom Up Content Approach
I’ve been having an ongoing conversation with the Audience Ops team (and clients) lately about what types of content a brand should create first.
It’s really enticing to want to start with more creative mediums, “Oh, let’s do thought leadership pieces,” before you have some fundamentals in order.
What I’m in favor of is something I’ve started calling a bottom up approach (I’ll let you know if the name sticks), which basically means a brand should have the product marketing and proof it works nailed down before investing in top-of-funnel SEO blogs.
And my main point here is that if your content marketing objective is to draw attention to your brand by creating valuable content, you’d better have what you sell and why to buy it nailed down so the value you distribute can actually lead to conversions.
In other words, don’t write checks that can’t be cashed.
It’s why I love starting with CEO/founder-led brand narratives case studies:
You talk directly with the person who decided it should exist in the first place about why they built it AND with buyers about why they bought and results they’ve seen.
This week, Shiv Narayanan reinforced this idea twice:
Here, he provides an order that prioritizes core messaging:
- Product Marketing
- Sales Enablement
- Customer Marketing
- Nurture Content
- Thought Leadership
And, in this issue of How To SaaS, he offers a framework that encourages companies focus on differentiation to prioritize GTM:
- Invest in understanding market dynamics and customer pain points
- Build a strategic narrative to educate the market on how to resolve those pain points
- Create content to educate buyers on the strategic narrative at every stage of their journey
- Leverage demand generation channels and campaigns to scale distribution to ideal buyers
Go follow Shiv. He’ll inspire you.
LinkedIn Content Marketing Goodness
My LI feed is sizzling lately with solid posts about content marketing (and also a bunch of people plagiarizing, so watch out). Here’s what resonated:
Types of Content
Lyndsay Cambridge writes “you often have to go bigger and better with your content to stand out”. Her LinkedIn post offers 4 content types that actually stand out.
How do you feel about SEO? Nicole Bump acknowledges our (sometimes frustrated) feelings and explains why a strong SEO strategy is actually an asset.
To top that off, “SEO should be the seasoning, not the steak.”—John Bonini reminded us that, ultimately, people determine content’s success…not Google.
Are you simply “checking the box” when it comes to distribution? In another post, John Bonini challenges this approach and suggests strategizing distribution before creation, not tacking it on afterwards.
Great Content Rules Them All
Sara Stella Lattanzio’s post explains why “just creating” is no longer enough. “Have you noticed? 😮 By now, most questions related to marketing success can be answered with ‘𝗴𝗿𝗲𝗮𝘁 𝗰𝗼𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗻𝘁’.”
Funnel Stage Strategies
How do you strategize for funnel stage? Turns out there are contradictory opinions out there:
Everything Should Fit: In this SEJ article, Kristi Hines offers 5 tips to improve your content strategy and number 2 is this: “Make Sure Everything Fits Into Your Sales Funnel.”
Don’t Create for the Funnel: On the other hand, Ashley Lewin argues that creating content for funnel stage at all is a huge miss. Instead, she simplifies it to this: “Create content for your audience, not your funnel.”
My take: Ashley Lewin’s urge is more about mindset shift than demonizing the funnel. If we strategize for the funnel alone, content gets... forced. Like we’re trying to build a linear journey that isn’t linear at all. Ever.
So what she’s getting at is that we shouldn’t prioritize based on what we need someone to do but instead focus on what they would actually benefit from consuming.
I’m on board with that, but, as mentioned above, I do think your product messaging and story should be prioritized, even if they begin to iterate as you create more and more for your audience.
Does Your Writing Stand Out?
Josh Spector of For the Interested tweeted 13 ways to stand out, including storytelling, humor, and desire. Full list here.
Discovered via For the Interested.
Dumb It Down
Is your writing too complicated? Here are 2 resources designed to help you simplify.
- Swap your words: When you need a reminder to use plain English instead of big words and formal sentences.
- Shorten your sentences: When your sentences drag on, here are 6 tips on how to shorten them.
Stop Overcomplicating It
This week’s Publishing Insights include examples of publishers who are finding success by simply doing what they do well, and offer ways you can simplify, too.
- Cox Enterprises just bought Axios. Sara Fisher explains why it matters here.
- In the UK, The Times, The Telegraph and The Guardian seem to all be in a good place. Esther Kezia Thorpe attributes this to two things: 1. They are spending more and making less 2. They are focusing on reader revenue.
- “Numbers do not speak for themselves.” In this Nieman Lab article, Joshua Benton makes a case for making it easier for readers to understand complex data in stories.
- Readers want privacy but also expect personalized results. Ray Schultz looks at how publishers can balance the two.
- In this INMA article, Jodie Hopperton uncovers 4 different ways publishers can incorporate personalization.
7 Ways To Monetize Your Newsletter
Think you don’t have enough subscribers to monetize your newsletter? Vidya started monetizing with just 480 subscribers and is sharing 7 monetization methods (plus examples) to help you get started.
Discovered via Inbox Reads.
Streamline Your Newsletter Creation By Setting Your Default Subject Line
Seth with Curated, here.
Did you know that you can customize the default subject line for each new newsletter issue you create in Curated? In Curated, the subject line is known as the “Issue Title”. Customizing your default issue title to match your subject line style is a great way to streamline your newsletter creation process.
Here’s how to do this:
- In Curated, click the gear icon at the top right of the page to open a drop-down menu and click Settings
- In the Publication section, select Issue Title Format
- Edit the text box to customize your issue title template
Now whenever you create a new issue in Curated, the issue title will be the default that you’ve set.
By default, the issue title template is “Issue %%issue_number%%”. The text surrounded by the % sign is code that translates to the issue number your newsletter is on once you create a new issue. Another piece of code that you can use is “%%issue_date%%”, which translates to the due date for the issue. For example, if you created an issue with “%%issue_date%%” as the issue title and a due date of September 1st, 2022, the issue title would update to “Sept 1 2022”.
If you have any questions about this, let me know!
New to Curated? Make a copy of this Getting Started with Curated Checklist to help launch your newsletter (public, private, or paid).
Opt In Challenge
Design For Email Clients
No matter which platform your readers use to receive email, they should be able to experience the best version of your newsletter. This week your Opt In Challenge is to read this article on the differences between Gmail and Apple Mail, and consider some design tweaks if needed.
Discovered via Email on Acid.