My five-year-old has fallen in love with BMX racing this year. He begs me to take him to the track every day after kindergarten, and when he’s not riding his bike, he’s watching other kids race on YouTube.
He recently found a new favourite YouTube channel made by Scotty Cranmer, a very talented BMX rider. Scotty and some friends make these great videos where they do challenges and set up obstacle courses and all this goofy stuff, and they get hundreds of thousands of views. They’re currently just on the cusp of 1.5 million subscribers.
I watched a couple of these videos with my little dude, and I realized that Scotty actually owns a bike shop called SC Bicycles. He has both a physical store in New Jersey as well as an online store selling bikes and bike parts.
The shop serves as a backdrop in many of the videos, but is otherwise only mentioned in passing here and there. Attention is never specifically drawn to it, but viewers would become well aware of SC Bicycles.
This is content marketing.
These videos do an amazing job of marketing SC Bicycles and of creating a strong brand. And the biggest reason they’re so effective is because they do not sacrifice the quality of the content for the sake of the business.
That is the golden rule of content marketing: Do not let your sales goals, your call to action, your pitch, whatever it is — do not let any of that ever impact the quality of the content.
The content has to come first. It has to reign supreme. It has to be king.
Everything else comes second, even if it feels like you’re leaving money on the table, even if it feels like you’re not directly affecting the bottom line. It has to be great content above all else. That is the golden rule of content marketing.
If you’ve ever attended one of my seminars, you’ve likely heard me use the example that the best piece of content marketing of all time (in my opinion) is The Lego Movie.
The Lego Movie is a 90-minute commercial for a toy, really.
Except it’s not a commercial because it puts the quality of the story above everything else. This is content marketing. There’s no ask. There’s no call to action. There’s no promotion. It’s just awesome content.
Alongside the movie, Lego released more than 20 Lego sets based on scenes in the movie, collectible minifigures, and many other products. Lego sales climbed 14% after the movie’s release.
Content marketing is media that people are interested in consuming.
Good content marketing is media that people want to share with their connections because they found it so valuable, informative, entertaining, etc.
Great content marketing is media that people would pay to consume. Lego did it with a blockbuster movie. People (me included!) paid them to watch their marketing.
If Scotty Cranmer made a movie in the style of his YouTube channel, I have no doubt his audience would pay to consume his marketing. It’s great content marketing.
More than two years ago, I wrote about how I believe skateboarding brands largely pioneered content marketing and helped it rise to popularity.
The same content-first philosophy can be seen here in a similar industry. There’s a phobia of being too self-promotional that many other businesses could take some lessons from.
If content marketing is a path you want to go down, know that it requires a lot of patience and commitment. It’s a very different activity than advertising or other forms of marketing. But the result, when done right, is an enormous amount of brand strength that can’t be topped by an advertising strategy.
But doing it right means following the golden rule religiously.