How much should you give away in content marketing? Part 2 of 2

In the last post, we discussed a basic tactic for determining what you should and shouldn’t give away in your content marketing strategy. Let’s look at a more advanced strategy that’s derived from the old ninja clans of ancient Japan.

In the lore of the ninja, one of the most prized items held by the headmaster of the clan was the densho, or scrolls of martial techniques. These densho held descriptions of the clan’s secret fighting techniques, along with illustrations of how to perform the techniques, construct the tools, etc.

Winchendon Martial Arts Center

Their value was priceless and could mean the difference between literal life and death for the practitioners of that clan’s martial arts. As such, the techniques were closely guarded secrets, and were encoded in a very special way. Each technique was encoded in such a way that an uninitiated practitioner would read the technique and if they attempted it, as written, they’d end up getting themselves killed. The way the techniques were written was wrong.

Only those initiated by the clan’s master teachers were told exactly how the techniques were written down wrong, so that they knew what to adapt, ignore, or adjust to make them work. Sometimes it was enough to simply know that a technique should be on the reverse side; other times, the name of the technique gave a hint as to what it should feel like, rather than the written description.

We can take this technique and adapt it to our content marketing in a less harmful way. What can you safely give away? Give away the basic techniques, tactics, and methods, but make your content incomplete. Anyone who doesn’t work for your company or brand gets value, but doesn’t get the whole picture. For example, take a look at this simple recipe for cake. Ignore that there are no proportions; they’re unimportant for this example.

Eggs
Milk
Sugar
Flour
Cocoa
Yeast

If you were to bake up a cake with this basic recipe, you’d get a decent chocolate cake. However, there are two ingredients missing that could turn this average cake into a great cake – vanilla extract and salt. A pinch of salt drastically alters how our taste buds perceive flavor, and the vanilla adds a lot of depth to the flavors.

If I were working for a company that made cakes, I’d publish the basic recipe, while holding onto the “secret ingredients” for my company’s cakes that made them superior. The cake you baked with our recipe would still be good enough for when you just wanted some cake, but if you had a special occasion, you’d know that there was always something a little extra from a cake bought from our store.

No matter what your product, service, or company, there are likely basic and advanced recipes. Take a look at what recipes you have, determine what you can omit and still deliver a passable result, and use that as the basis for your content marketing. You can even tier your content marketing; a while back, I wrote a blog post about benchmarking in Google Analytics, but only premium subscribers to my newsletter got the advanced recipe.

Try this method of content marketing strategy to deliver value to your audiences without giving away everything!

…Of course, that does make you wonder what I left out of this post, doesn’t it?


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On choosing mentors and teachers

Finding mentors and teachers today is both easier and harder than ever. It is easier because the digital age permits us nearly unlimited access to information and people. Paradoxically, it is also much harder for this very reason – finding the correct teacher is incredibly difficult amidst much noise.

11 years on the path

One of the most important aspects of finding mentors and teachers is knowing what you need. Often, this can conflict with what we want. We may want cheery motivation and gentle support, but what we really need is a solid boot in the butt to get us moving. Or, we may think we needs to go through a hard-core boot camp or “man up”, but what we really need is to take it slowly so as to reacclimatize ourselves to difficult working circumstances and adversity, whether at the gym or at work. I’ve been in both situations!

How do you know the difference between what you want and what you need? Chances are, you know the difference deep down inside, if you are truly honest with yourself. It is the nagging voice in your head that says, you really should do this. You really ought to do that. It is the voice that says, this isn’t the healthiest or smartest choice, or the voice that says, that’s not going to be comfortable, let’s just put that off until tomorrow. The hard part is accepting the honesty you have inside yourself.

Once you know what you need, look for mentors or teachers who are living the results you want to achieve. It’s that simple (but not easy). Look at their lives and see what results they’re getting. If their life looks like what you want your life to look like, then ask to study with them. Be sure, however, to look at the big picture! Someone may be an incredible martial artist but the rest of their life may be a disaster. Someone may be a phenomenal marketer but they may have a miserable family life. Do unrelated things matter, if they’re achieving the goals you want? Absolutely, because their perspective on life will tend to infiltrate yours, and so will their bad habits. Look at the big picture and make your choices from that.

Choose your teachers wisely!


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Leave no fear unanswered

IMG_6221

Over the weekend, I did one of my least favorite seasonal things: climbing up onto the roof of the house and cleaning out the gutters. The reason why this task is among my least favorite isn’t because it’s cleaning (which is admittedly boring most of the time), but because it requires me to face one of the fears I’ve had since I was a child, a fear of heights.

My earliest memory of this fear was when I was 5 or 6 years old, visiting a local amusement park. I climbed up a set of cargo nets at the park, and got high enough that I was probably 30 feet off the ground when I slipped. Being cargo nets, I got tangled up almost immediately and didn’t even truly fall, but that was enough to make a negative impression on me about heights.

During my brown belt test in 1999, I took a different kind of fall, dislocating a shoulder on a rock from leaping over a practice sword. After 7 weeks in a sling and another 8 weeks of rehabilitation, I was physically back to normal, but mentally I wasn’t. I had grown fearful of the set of techniques needed to successfully handle that part of the test, and I failed the second time around on that test for that very reason.

One of my instructors, Ken Savage, took me aside and said that unless I answered that fear, unless I tackled it head on, it would continue to grow on me and gain power. So for the next 3 months, I subjected myself to all manner of dive rolling and other sword evasions until that fear lost its grip over me. Before my next test, I drove out to the woods where I took my first brown belt test with a shovel and dug the rock out of the ground, then brought it with me to my third and successful brown belt test.

That technique – the technique of challenging and answering your fears – is one of the greatest benefits I’ve gained from martial arts training over the years. It’s little more than putting yourself willingly against your fears, defeating them over and over again, until the grip they hold lessens. They never go away, but they do lose their power and don’t regain it as long as you choose to not allow them to. That’s one of the greatest secrets of success I’ve ever received: leave no fear unanswered.

That’s why every spring and fall, I’m up on a ladder and clambering across the rooftop, scraping out the leaves. It’s not fun, and my fear of heights speaks loudly to me when I’m up there, but I answer that fear with quiet defiance, one handful of soggy leaves at a time. When I set foot on the ground after I’m done, I stand over my fears once more.


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