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It’s The Ryan Hanley Hat Trick Show!
Third time’s a charm and this is Ryan Hanley’s third appearance on our show. He was on a while ago to talk content marketing, then recently we had him back to talk about his book and ended up spending an hour in an impromptu therapy session talking about the challenges of balancing your personal life with your work. This time he’s back to talk about his book for real, which dives deep into content marketing: the hows, whys and what fors.
Is it fate or just a good lottery number that this is also episode 123? If you don’t hear from us for a while, don’t panic – it just means we’re spending our winnings from a villa in Barcelona.
Why Did Ryan Write This Book?
We’re curious – not just why he wrote this book from a content standpoint but why he went to such lengths to put out a great looking hardcover and not a much simpler and cheaper eBook.
We learn that Ryan feels a profound responsibility to his audience. Not only to produce the best work but to produce something they can be proud of owning and using.
He also says that content marketing has been “sold wrong” because usually people lead with the tactics and tips. But he says that you need to build your audience first and the tactics will follow.
Success Is More Possible
Here’s something telling: Ryan says that if you approach content marketing the right way, success is more possible.
Notice what he didn’t say.
Success is yours.
Success is guaranteed.
No, it’s just “more possible.”
The lack of hype and absence empty promises is one of the many things we love about Ryan.
Carol Lynn Unleashed
Carol Lynn has two copies of Ryan’s book and is on her second reading so I let her loose to bombard Ryan with questions.
Of course, the first thing she wants to know if why Ryan mentioned that readers can “rabbit ear” the pages of the book instead of “dog ear.”
Ryan is pretty sure he just made that up. But it sounds cool, so we go with it.
We challenge Ryan with a topic we recently discussed on our podcast – because of exactly what he says in his book – which is that the only “generations” that matter for content marketing is the connected generation and the unconnected generation.
The unconnected generation doesn’t have Internet access (or doesn’t use the Internet) and doesn’t have smart phones. The only way they know that a product or service exists is by being interrupted – by an ad or a billboard or a commercial.
On the other hand, the connected generation seeks out information. The use the Internet to find what they want, on their own time, in their own way.
This is what makes content marketing so powerful.
Mark Schaefer Wants A Hamburger
In a recent article, marketer and author Mark Schaefer says that sometimes you don’t want a relationship with a company. Sometimes you don’t want a community. Sometimes you just want a coupon so you can get a cheaper burger.
But we challenge Ryan to reconcile that with the idea of using content marketing to create that connection vs. just handing out a coupon.
Ryan wouldn’t be Ryan if he didn’t dodge that bullet. He quickly lets us know that while that may be true, even a weak connection to a company can mean the difference between a sale and no sale.
We are influenced in some way by the messaging we see over time so even though we don’t quite think about it, somewhere along the way something nudged us in one direction or another.
But more importantly, Ryan says that the idea of building community can be overrated. Community building is a tactic – and it’s not right for every business. It will work for some, but others just need to send out coupons.
War Is Averted, So We Try Again
Just for fun we decide to see if we can ignite that flame of dissent and throw Mark under the bus a second time.
We want to know: is content marketing really sustainable given Mark’s assessment that while content consumption is finite – we only have a certain amount of hours in a day to consume it – the amount of content continues to increase exponentially.
Flat demand, infinite product.
But Ryan is too slick to fall for it. He says the truth – which is that crappy content is doomed. If you want to get noticed you have to produce something great. Every time.
True Fans Are Better Than More Fans
Numbers in and of themselves are not important. It’s how many people are your true fans.
And in a twist, Ryan says that true fans don’t even have to be customers. They just have to be people who will share your every word and who will advocate for you and refer you when they can.
Case in point about numbers: Ryan has 5,000 people on his email list but 137 people who funded the Kickstarter for his book.
Do the math.
It’s not about the size of your list, it’s about the true fans.
In all our talk about not worrying about people who don’t like you, we want to know why Ryan thinks you need to be likeable.
Of course he dodges that one too because he means that you need to be likeable to your audience.
But never try to get everyone to like you.
Yup. We’re on board.
Can A Small Company Compete With Big, Well Known Brands?
Don’t lament your Google position, kids. Turns out that as a small, local business you have a big advantage over big brands that offer the same product or service that you do.
You – not them – know your local community. You speak the language, you understand the vernacular, you get their geographical references.
You can easily jump past the big players by being the authority in your small town where you can dominate over a big brand any day.
Also, Mike Brooks may make an appearance in a pink dress and tights. And something about a baton, but we won’t give it all away.
Sharing Vs. Over Sharing
We’re fascinated by the topic of authenticity so we ask Ryan, what’s ok to share and when is it too much?
Ryan says the most reasonable thing (Damn him! We want war! And Internet fights!) which is that it’s different for everyone.
You just have to know what you’re comfortable being public about.
But – in another classic Ryan Hanley twist – he tells us that authenticity and transparency are NOT the same thing.
You can be transparent but do it in an inauthentic way.
Or you can hold back but be absolutely authentic in whatever you do say.
The key is to be as transparent (share) as much as you’re personally comfortable with and be authentic (real) about everything.
People need to believe what you say. And you can fake it, but eventually you will be found out.
What Ryan Learned From A Bartender Named Christopher
In the grand finale Ryan tells us about a bartender in a hotel where he (Ryan) was speaking at a conference.
First we learn that Ryan’s favorite drink is a Kentucky Mule. Then we learn that there is such a thing as a copper cup, into which this drink is poured. We also learn that the bartender named Christopher had only one copper cup but that there were three people in Ryan’s party.
Not to be deterred, the bartender named Christopher went out and bought two new cups so Ryan and his colleagues could enjoy their drinks the following night.
He went to extensive lengths to please his customers, including things like “making ice by hand” and other such things.
The conclusion? If every business took their job as seriously as Christopher did, they would have some amazing superfans.
Your Marketing Action Item
From Ryan: Find a way to capture ideas wherever you are. Your best ideas won’t come when you’re sitting in front of your keyboard so make sure wherever you go, wherever you are, you have a way to capture your ideas. The method doesn’t matter as long as you do it. Use paper, use an app, use voice recording. Just be sure to do it every time you have an idea no matter what. If you have an idea, snag it and keep it. In other words, take your phone to the toilet.
Links & Resources
- Buy Ryan’s Book Content Warfare on Amazon Better yet, buy two. One to rabbit ear and one to keep looking pretty.
- Find Ryan, read his blog and listen to his podcast on his site
- Read Sometimes you don’t need community. Sometimes you just need a hamburger by Mark Schaefer
- Visit Marcus Sheridan’s site, one of Ryan’s “good people”
- Visit Gini Dietrich’s site, another of Ryan’s “good people”
- Check out Rand Fishkin’s Whiteboard Friday, someone Ryan finds incredibly authentic online
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