In tennis, you strike a ball just after the rebound for the fastest return. It’s the same with investment. – Masayoshi Son
Let’s say you run an IT business.
You want to talk to people about cybersecurity.
That’s a big thing right now – so where would you start?
You might begin by typing words into Google – an initial search – to see what else is out there.
In 2019, you’ll get around 110 million results.
Limiting it to your city will drop that to around half a million.
I keep returning to a course on content strategy and then drifting away.
It has hard truths that I struggle with.
For example, it argues that you must have a clear idea of who your customer is and have a strategy to deliver content that that customer can be inspired by, identify with and find useful enough to share.
I just want to write about stuff I find interesting.
But let’s say you wanted to do this properly, where should you start?
Probably with reading.
What is everyone else doing out there?
You know the old story of the two guys who come across a bear in the woods.
One of them bends down and starts putting on his running shoes.
The other says, “Are you crazy? You can’t outrun a bear.”
The first one says, “I don’t need to outrun the bear. I just need to outrun you.”
So let’s say you read the first 20 results.
Or, if you’re lazy, like me, put some code together to get you the first hundred results in a text file for easy reading.
And then you start reading.
You discard the job adverts, see the usual ones from Universities offering courses and you’re left with a few associations, government organisations and a small number of competitors.
Now, what are they doing?
Some offer services – pretty straightforward descriptions of what they do.
Others offer articles – ones that seem to be written to order, in some cases.
Is that enough reading?
Maybe we should look at interviews or posts by people who have experienced ransomware attacks.
Read about exactly how common attacks start and work.
You could quite easily pull together a book on all the information someone might need.
Or you could curate information – point to stuff that is good.
Is all this going to help?
It may, if it helps you be found more quickly than the competition.
You won’t find out until you try.
That’s the thing with content marketing.
If you have content then anyone coming across it has a reaction – a good or bad one depending on your point of view.
If they see all the stuff you have and are put off by the effort of competing with you then you’ve just given them a content shock.
It’s like the advice that the best way to win a war is to persuade the other side not to fight.
I think the most useful model to keep in mind when starting is the idea of outrunning the competition, not the bear.
Do more than everyone else.
Create more content, be in more places and reach customers earlier.
It’s very hard to persuade someone to do something because it avoids a bad outcome.
When something bad happens, however, people will spend any amount of money to fix the problem.
The trick is being there to get the ball on the rebound – when the thing happens that makes your customer think they need what you do.
How you do that is about tactics and resources.
All the things that the academics say you should do.
And which I still need to learn.