10% improvement is average no one wants to be average

How much marketing are you doing? Are you doing content marketing? Are you seeking any traction from your efforts? Do you have a single metric that you’re measuring to gauge your traction?

Many businesses wouldn’t like the answers to these questions. They may be doing marketing, but it’s not getting traction. They have no single metric to measure traction, and it’s probably hurting their pocket books.

That’s where The 10x Marketing Formula, by Garrett Moon and Jay Baer has been written to help you. As the book’s title would suggest, it’s supposed to help you make 10x improvements in your marketing, not just little 10% increases.

You can get an audio version of this in Should I Read It 016. Subscribe to Should I Read It so you don’t miss any of the books that matter.

Specifically The 10x Marketing Formula has been written to help you get 10x returns on your content marketing efforts. Moon and Baer know of what they speak because their company CoSchedule has a blog that has 10x results. They’re telling us about the systems and ideas that they’ve used at CoSchedule to build that 10x system.

They break the book up in to three main sections. The first section is all about resetting your mindset on marketing. You can’t be the company that goes for 10% improvement, you need to think like a start up and go for hockey stick growth with your marketing.

The second section is entirely devoted to teaching readers the 10x marketing formula that the authors are using in their business. This second section is broken down into four phases which follow the marketing phases that the authors want you to use.

Section three is where the authors want to provide you with the final tools you need to have a full 10x marketing toolbox.

Scrappy Marketing

Section one starts with a promise about the outcomes you’ll receive by reading it.

In Section One, you will learn to press the reset button on your marketing mindset and become a content hacker.

The first thing that the authors do to help break the marketing mindset that will kill your business is to remind you of the dream that most content marketers have.

The dream of content marketing is that it’s going to be a magical funnel that drips money into your bank account. Its lure is that it will create an inbound sales machine. And the prescribed formula is: high-quality content + audience building = increased revenue and business growth
Step One: Create amazing content and optimize it with some SEO love.
Step Two: Visitors experience this amazing content, falling in love with you and your brand
. Result: Credit cards slide out of wallets while you sleep.
What should you do when it doesn’t work like that?

If you’ve tried content marketing, then you know it often doesn’t work like that. Of course we don’t hear about the 1 million sites that don’t have the killer content marketing, we only hear about the 25 that seemingly come from the shadows to success in a week.

When I deal with my coaching clients, the biggest issue I see is that they’re writing content for their peers not for their clients. Developers have lots of code in their posts and are all giddy when some developer they look up to comments on their site.

Unfortunately said famous developer won’t be paying them any money to do work so their business continues to struggle.

Most content marketers focus on traffic or likes or shares as well and while these are valuable things, they don’t pay the bills. What you need is paying customers.

To turn an audience into paying customers, your content needs to be engaging. It has a job to do, and that’s to provoke an active response. Beyond likes, clicks, and shares, you need people to buy your products and services as a direct result of each marketing channel. If you struggle here, you’re not alone.

That’s the gist of the first mindset change that Moon and Baer want you to make. They want you to stop measuring traffic, they want you to focus on paying customers. Later on they’ll give us a path to move from traffic to conversions that they feel most business must follow.

The second big mindset change they want businesses to make is to get away from the monolithic marketing plan.

Smart business, marketing included, is based on wise decisions. Culture is vital, and planning isn’t evil. But regardless of how much time we spend on our marketing plans, they’re guesses about what will happen in the future. They are big bets based on assumptions that are almost certainly flawed and unaccounted for in the great and powerful marketing plan.

Much like the Gantt charts we spoke about when we looked at Scrum, big marketing plans are usually broken within a few weeks but then never revisited with the new information that we have. That’s the problem with them and why you shouldn’t be doing them in some many year long strategic plan that doesn’t change.

Instead of some all fired huge marketing plan that looks great on paper, Moon and Baer say that we should be content hacking and growth hacking. While they have been strongly against huge marketing plans, they’re not trying to tell us to just wing it because that would be irresponsible.

Growth hacking has never been code for being irresponsible and unaccountable. Running fast doesn’t mean running without strategy. But strategy in this context isn’t traditional fare.

10x Marketing wants us to become growth hackers with three constraints.

1. The one metric you care about

Content hackers doggedly pursue growing one, and only one, metric. It’s the gas pedal to slam on—the one metric that will accelerate your business more than any other.

Your one metric might be traffic, it might be email list growth, and it might be paying customers. Later on in the book they give us a way to decide our single metric and in what order it should be one of the options above.

2. Specificity

Content hackers set specific goals for measuring the one metric that matters. They’re not looking for “more” users or “increased” revenue. They are dead-set on a $ 100,000 increase in monthly sales.

It’s easy to say “read more” and then read an extra book in the year while patting yourself on the back. Sure this is more, but is it what you intended? Moon and Baer want us to break out of these vague goals and make ourselves find a hard tangible goal that we commit to.

3. Timeline

Content hackers define a clear timeline for when their goal will be a reality. It’s a specific month, day, and year. And ideally, it’s much shorter than what sounds safe or comfortable.

The final constraint is a timeline. How fast do you need to grow that podcast? How many people do you need on your email list by when? With this constraint you are now forced to choose certain activities that grow your business well. You can put off the vanity metrics of “more” traffic or daily posting and focus only on the actions that are getting you the results you committed to.

Next we need to look at the four phases of The 10x Marketing Formula as they will be the backbone of the rest of this section of the book.

The four phases are:

  1. Plan
  2. Execute
  3. Publish
  4. Analyze

Phase 1: Plan

To start the authors explain Blue Ocean and Red Ocean thinking, which comes out of Blue Ocean Strategy. Red oceans are where all the predators are already feeding. It’s red with the blood of the food. Blue oceans are open and calm and ready for that single person to take control of.

Regular content marketing is just like swimming in the red ocean. It’s filled with noise, thrashing, and fierce competition. Everyone’s begging for the same audience’s attention—and they’re doing the same things to get it. They’re simply trying to swim faster than the rest. This is what gives us a market bloody with competition and yielding stagnant growth.

Most content marketing is people just copying other people. It doesn’t work because there is so much noise around it in the first place. It’s going to be hard, almost impossible to stand out in that crowd.

That’s why Moon and Baer want you to start building competition free content.

Competition-free content is content that adds tremendous value to your customers and audience that only you can produce. It’s content that stands out through topic, structure, or media type. And it renders competition irrelevant because it exists in uncontested space. This is where you create stuff that stands out while being impactful and meaningful.

Part of my competition free content are these book reviews. I’ve looked around and don’t see people providing content like this. I know that people have asked for it and that when people are planning on reading a book they often check to see if I’ve said anything about it first.

They provide us with three steps to finding our competition free content.

First we need to stop and look around to see what the competition is doing. We need to try and figure out what resonates with your ideal customers. What are they already sharing and interacting with?

Second, research the top 10 posts on topics that are related to your content. You’re supposed to ask yourself two questions here.

  1. What is consistent about their content?
  2. What stands out most prominently?

So, how long is the content. Are there content upgrades to pull people to email lists? Are they giving deep how to content? What type of calls to action are being used?

Finally, you strategize. You can’t just create different content, you must find the different content that you can execute on well. If you can’t execute well on it, better than others, then it’s going to look bad and it won’t achieve your 10x marketing results.

Here is where Moon and Baer also deviate from some content marketing principles I’ve heard many times.

… content that isn’t actionable is seldom beneficial. This is the stuff that tells what to do without ever showing how to do it.

I’ve often heard that you need to tell they WHY and sell the HOW. So you tell people why they need to write better proposals, but never actually show them, that’s the part you sell them. The authors argue that by showing them how, they’re still going to purchase from you because you’ll have services that help them to do it just a bit better or they want to move faster than they can on their own. They hire you as a coach to make this move faster.

Next The 10x Marketing Formula wants you to find your content core. If you don’t have a content core, then they argue you’ll be suffering from content that doesn’t convert. They use the introduction of the content core idea to draw a distinction between your audience and your customers.

Simply put, your content core connects the dots between what your customers care about and what you have to offer them. Notice I said “what your customers care about,” and not “what your audience cares about.” There’s a difference. Because if you’re going to get really good at generating leads and converting traffic, you have to intimately understand the customers who are already paying you.

That means you’re not racing for eyeballs, you’re looking for money in the bank. Years ago StumbleUpon was a “thing” that my clients asked about because they kept hearing that it was worthwhile for getting traffic.

At that time (and still) I always reminded them that traffic didn’t matter. I mean, who cares how many hits a carburetor site gets? What maters is how many people order the custom parts they have to soup up cars.

No client ever went for more StumbleUpon traffic after we talked about it because it wasn’t a metric worth chasing. Yet, we still often confuse a “good” site with a site that gets a bunch of traffic.

Another trap that we can fall into is writing parallel content.

Parallel content looks good on the surface. It’s stuff that’s related to your core business and that your audience is interested in. But it converts poorly because it lacks strong, clear CTAs to become a paying customer. It runs parallel to your core business, but doesn’t intersect with opportunities to increase revenue.

For me, I could write about productivity tools like OmniFocus more and I’d get more traffic but I have little to sell around application reviews. On top of that, my content survey ranked application reviews as a low value item to my email list.

That means you need to ask yourself, what content can you produce that also includes a strong call to action for something of value that you have?

Remember the statement above though about making your content useful. If you are always looking to only provide good HOW content for sale, then you’re not going to stand out.

But here’s the truth: if you teach people to be successful without you, they’ll be dying to be successful with you.

Also remember that customers don’t buy because you write well, they purchase because you’ve solved a problem for them and they think they have more problems you can solve for them.

Customers don’t buy because of content; they buy because a given product or service solves a problem. And if you can solve problems that help them win more clients, you’re in business.

I used to run a WordPress development blog and I’d regularly share how I solved some hard challenge for a client. One post in particular earned me $15k a year for 3 years in the form of a single new client. See I solved their initial problem for them in the post and that proved to them that I could solve other problems for them and they hired me.

By this point in the book you should have a content plan so that means it’s time to move into execution.

Execute your Content Plan

Remember our whole goal is 10x growth not 10% growth. You may need that up on a wall at first as you work train your brain to think of 10x growth instead of the usual “more” that many people go for.

To start executing our plan, Moon and Baer, give us three steps to take to build 10x content ideas.

Step 1: 10x Brainstorm

This is where you come up with all the content topics, posts, videos…that fit inside your content core. Remember, you must be able to execute these at a high level so if that means you don’t do videos, don’t do them.

Answer this question: What can we do to grow our (metric) tenfold over the next (timeline)?

You should have your people answer that question before they even come to the meeting so that they’re ready with ideas and primed to have more.

Step 2: 10x scoring

Step two is scoring an sounds very similar to ideas in Extreme Programming, Personal Kanban and Scrum.

They provide two scoring questions to ask. First you must ask how long the idea will take.

  • Level One: The idea will take one week or less to execute
  • Level Two: The idea will take two weeks to execute
  • Level Three: The idea will take three weeks or more to execute

So that means you’re ranking how big the project is overall. If you’re not sure at this point, then break down the project into components and rank the components. Then take the components and build them into the overall project which you should be able to rank now.

The second question to ask is if the project is a 10% project or a 10x project? Here you’re trying to make a smart guess at impact. Will the work you do have those 10x results that you crave or 10% results like everyone else is getting?

Inside the 10x question are a few sub-questions:
– How will this idea benefit your audience?
– Do you have the resources to execute this well?
– Can you ship a smaller version right now?
– Is this blue ocean?

If you still feel a bit vague about this, so did I after reading it a few times. I think that you need to test it and then come back to the questions. As you move forward you’re going to keep getting a better handle on it. I don’t think there is a true prescription that they could give you.

Step 3: Find Your 10x Ideas

Finally, using the scoring above you should be able to find some 10x projects. If you have a Level One project that should have huge impact, that’s a 10x project so do it first.

Projects that take a bit longer should be thought about more because they don’t fall into the top easy wins to start.

Getting Your 10x Content Organized to Ship

Many of us have decided to do content better and then…nothing. At least a few weeks later we’re not doing it anymore. It’s like the January to February gym membership bump that happens. We start out with good intentions and then…life happens.

Marketers decide to finally get organized. They decide this is going to be the quarter they publish consistently. It’s all mapped out on their editorial calendar. Twice per week on the blog. One message per day on Facebook, twelve tweets, and a few LinkedIn messages. Everything is plotted two weeks ahead. And, at first, it feels awesome. Pressing publish, send, and post promises some real results.

Instead, Moon and Baer want us to get organized. Of course they do provide CoSchedule as an option because it is the product they sell, but the sales message isn’t over the top here.

A 10x marketing calendar should be focused on shipping.

You can have the best ideas in the world—but if you haven’t shipped, you haven’t done anything.

It should have hard deadlines for each component of you content and people should be held accountable if deadlines are getting missed.

There is a caution here though, because we’re looking for 10x content not easy content.

What I often hear from marketers is they’re so busy trying to keep all of their plates spinning that they don’t have time for strategy. No matter how much they get done in a day, their task list somehow ends up longer. So, they get stuck in a cycle of shipping anything rather than the right thing.

If that means you move from daily blogging to every other week, so that you move out of shipping “anything” then do it. If that means you move from weekly to monthly, then do it. In the minds of the authors, higher quality content is what will win out, not just more content. More content is red ocean.

Moon and Baer provide us with the phases of content they use. First they write the copy for landing pages, call’s to action, and blog posts.

Then they design any images or visuals they need.

Next up is adding any code they need to support the content. This might be something as complex as the headline analyzer that CoSchedule has built, but it doesn’t have to be anything.

Finally, you must promote your content. In fact they say this is so important that they devote two entire chapters to promoting content later. Promotion includes emails, tweets, Facebook posts, podcast appearances, Facebook ads….everything.

If that seems overwhelming, then remember that you don’t have to build a single huge blog post every week with huge giveaways. You can make a theme for a month and write 4 big blog posts using the same content upgrade for everything. You can use the same content upgrade for a whole category of content. You can do the category thing, and then when appropriate do a special content upgrade for a single post.

Do what works for you. Do what you can execute on well with the time you have.

Building 10x Workflows

10x ideas are only as good as your ability to relentlessly execute them.

Yup it does seem like a lot of work to do this, and it can be especially if you have a bunch of layers of approval that are needed all over. Remember your goal is to continually ship awesome stuff.

Here Moon and Baer walk us through a content process and help us strip the fat out of it. The main takeaway is for leaders is that you need to build a process that works and then trust it. Don’t bog it down in approvals.

Cut as many steps out of the process as possible. Make everything as repeatable as possible and provide a solid definition of done so that quality is baked right into the process.

There are two more chapters in this section but they feel like a repeat and reminder so I’ll tackle them quickly.

First you need to create a content scorecard. They give us the one that Jeff Goins uses.

Jeff Goins Content Scorecard Questions

  1. Do you open with a promise?
  2. Do you close with delivering upon that promise?
  3. Are you following an internal style guide?
  4. Is there so much value people would pay for it?

If your content answers those questions, then you’re good.

They also offer you some techniques to find that awesome content. Really this feels to me like it should have gone with the section on executing your 10x content because it’s brainstorming/research stuff which we talked about there. In fact, a bunch of it repeats exactly what they told us to do in that chapter.

That brings us to our final section of the book, learning to publish our 10x content.

Publishing Your 10x Content

Publishing 10x content starts by adopting a Minimum Viable Marketing plan.

Minimum viable marketing (MVM) is a process of testing your assumptions about the results a project or idea will generate. In turn, you decrease your risk of making a big investment on a lame horse.

This is doing work up front on small projects to see if the big idea is worth it. If I had done this a few years ago I wouldn’t have even bother with my “Hope is Not a Strategy” course which took hours and hours and made no sales.

This idea is similar to the MVP idea most startups use. What is the smallest version that provides value to customers that we can test? Do that and see if it’s worth going a bit bigger.

For your content, before you do a whole course write a good blog post and see how many people go for the content upgrade. If they’re not willing to trade an email for it, why would you believe that they’ll part with money?

They provide a short process you can use to do this which they call the MVM Process.

  1. Define what 90% good looks like
  2. Create it
  3. Measure the results
  4. Learn
  5. Repeat with your new learning

Promote Your 10x Content

This is the only chapter that felt so much more like a sales pitch than useful content. Yes my time is valuable and yes automation is something that can save me time. Yes, I know you have a whole tool that can automate my social sharing and sure it looks good.

I agree with all of that, but they mentioned Requeue (their product) like every third sentence and it got old fast.

Let’s just agree that it’s important to promote your content. If you’re not selling it and promoting it, then few others are going to. For your social promotion needs their Requeue tool looks very cool. I’m looking at using it, but man did they oversell it so so so much here.

Another strong area to look at for promotion is email. In fact, email converts so much better than any other platform that you need to have a good email setup going. They highlight email as a way to combat the suckiness that social networks become for so many businesses.

As your audience grows, your reliance on the given social platform increases. Then what do the networks do? They slowly decrease organic reach, thus increasing the necessity of paying for the same level of exposure. Put another way, the marketplace conditions are being engineered so that ad space on social networks sells itself. To get the return your brand wants requires you to pony up more and more cash.

That means you have content upgrades so good that people would pay for them. Instead, ask for an email. It has me thinking that I might start giving away more of my books and instead focus on selling coaching only.

Finally, you need to analyze your content in terms of how it converts people into customers. If it’s not doing that, then it’s failing.

The One 10x Metric that Matters

Early on in the book we were introduced to the one metric that matters and now they really do the best job of helping us define what that is for our business.

The 10x Marketing Formula proposes three stages of content maturity.

First, you just need to get traffic. Until you’ve figured out how to get consistent traffic, the rest doesn’t matter. You need to put a number here and it doesn’t have to be 1,000,0000 pageviews a month. Maybe 1000 works for your business, maybe 10,000 does. Pick a number and write content that reaches it.

Once you have traffic, it’s time to really focus on your audience. Are you taking that traffic and building a community? Are people signing up for your email list? If not, then figure out what they want to do that.

Once you have regular conversions to your community, you can focus on business value. What do people want to part with money? Focusing here before you have traffic means you can’t test anything because you have no traffic to test on.

Most businesses I talk to are firmly in step one, but want to be working in step three. I think that I may also fall into this so I’ll be checking my content and likely taking a step back to do better on traffic.

That brings us to section three, the 10x Marketing Toolbox.

The 10x Marketing Toolbox

Really the third section, and the appendix is a summary of what the book is about. There are a few more tools in it, but not much. The thing I can say is that if you want a really quick overview of their model in detail, start with the appendix and the third section. That should get you aiming in the right direction in a single sitting.

Should I Read The 10x Marketing Formula

While there are some ads for CoSchedule in the book, there is only one section that feels over the top. Yes we know you do Requeue and it’s the best thing since sliced bread.

Putting aside that, this is a good book if you want to take a hard look at your content marketing plan. I mean, that is if you want to start getting any traction and customers with it.

If you’re happy wallowing with the rest of the internet, then wallow away and never complain about not getting any traction.

Purchase The 10x Marketing Formula on Amazon

Photo by: mooglet

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