I recently received a call from a new customer. After talking through what he needed from us, he asked, “By the way, who handles your marketing?”
I asked, “Why?”
“Well, I Googled a few different things when looking for a vendor for this project, and you popped-up on page one in every search.”
That might have been my proudest moment as a part-time content marketer.
My name is Tony Gnau, and I own a Milwaukee video production company. We started in Chicago in 2003 and still have an office there. About a third of our business remains in the Chicago area, another third comes from Wisconsin, and the remainder is from customers scattered all over the country from New York to Hawaii.
Yes, we have a customer in Hawaii… PRETTY AWESOME!
Anyway, when I started my content journey I was blogging about 300 words, every day, for an audience of executives and business owners. I did this for a couple of years and wasn’t getting any traction.
After getting to know Andy Crestodina and Amanda Gant at Orbit, they agreed to look at what I was doing and suggest a better content plan.
That meeting changed everything. We changed my audience, the number of words I was writing, the frequency… everything.
Did it work? Yes!
I documented it as a case study for Orbit a few years ago. We doubled our web traffic for two consecutive years, and we saw significant business gains directly tied to our content.
Let me get you up to date. In the previous blog post, the last year I had statistics for was 2015.
Here’s where things have gone since then. The last full year we have numbers for is 2019. Drum roll please…
Not bad, right?
In 2018, over 85% of our traffic came from organic search.
You might think, hmmm, that makes sense. T60 has been working at the content thing for a few more years, so it stands to reason their numbers would keep going up like that.
True. Sort of.
We have continued to blog and create video content (we are a video production company after all); however, we haven’t done much of it.
Actually, in many ways, we’ve really been failing.
I can hear you now… Since 2015 you increased sessions and users by more than 300%, and you’re failing?!
Yes… we have been failing. Let me explain.
Part of our content strategy was to post content at our own blog once a month. Something substantial. Something super helpful. Every month.
During the last three years, that would have amounted to 36 blog posts.
We only wrote 21.
And if I’m being honest, only about six of those were really the high-quality content we should be posting.
Just six blog posts over three years.
A big reason for our initial content marketing success is we created a juggernaut. We wrote the post, How-to Figure Out Video Production Cost, targeting the key phrase, video production cost.
That post alone continues to draw thousands of views every month, and we continually update and promote it.
Here’s the thing, and I hope you can relate, producing substantial, helpful, high-quality content like that is hard.
It’s really hard, and between the customer work coming in and wanting to maintain a good work/life balance, we weren’t able to devote as much time to creating content.
So… instead of working harder, we worked smarter. I know, total cliché, but true in this case.
We decided if we’re not going to put our hearts into this every month, let’s pick our spots and do it when we can.
That meant writing fewer high-quality posts, but making sure the ones we did write were really good and focused on a couple key phrases we wanted to target.
We went ahead and created some posts for our blog, and we also wrote some guest posts for other blogs linking back to our own site.
We now rank on Google page one for those phrases, and it didn’t take long. While it took us a year to rank for that initial juggernaut, I’d say we were ranking for the new phrases just a few months after going after them.
The secret sauce… a couple of things.
First, those were key phrases ripe for the picking. When we looked at our Domain Authority compared to the Domain Authority for the pages already on page one, we knew we could compete.
Second, and this can’t be under-estimated – the juggernaut.
I’m no Google insider, so I can’t say for sure, but having a post that’s been killing it for years on Google must have helped… big time!
As we were devising this new strategy, we likened it to surfing a wave.
We figured we had built up a huge wave with the “video production cost” post, so let’s create some related content. We’ll focus it on good key phrases for us that we can compete for, and let’s see what happens.
This is the strategy we’re sticking with for the time being. I’m already planning a couple of key phrases we’re going after in the coming months, and we’re hoping to ride the wave again.
It’s important to note, this all started with that first big hit of a blog post. I’m now a huge believer in focused content.
When people ask about our content success, my recommendation is always the same. Don’t try to do too much. Focus on a manageable approach and go after it.
What’s a big question your audience has regarding your type of business? Pick one nobody else wants to answer, then… answer that question.
Your competitors might not want to answer that question because it’s hard or uncomfortable. Do it anyway, and be honest about it.
Focus all your energy on answering that question. You need to build your own wave.
For us, it was all about video cost. As we looked at other video production company websites, nobody included prices. The number one question we received from all of our customers was always, “How much does a video cost?”
I don’t think our fellow video producers were trying to hide their prices, it’s just a tough question to answer because there are so many variables.
Figuring out a way to break it down and share it with our audience changed the course of our business.
Because we focused on answering a tough question and did it well, we get to surf this awesome wave and you can do it too.
So… what question are you going to answer?