Ever wonder how staining your deck is like content marketing?
Yah, me either. Until recently when I spent three days staining my deck!
When you spend three days on anything, you have plenty of time to think about stuff. And, where my mind goes sometimes scares me. But, I actually did find a connection.
So, here are three similarities between deck staining and content marketing.
1. There's a Process
When you take on a project like staining a deck, it's not something you just jump into some random afternoon: "Hey, I think I'll stain the deck today."
Anne was going to be out of town Memorial Day weekend with some girlfriends, so we decided that would be a good time for the project. (Luckily, the weather cooperated!)
We knew we wanted to do something different than we had done in the past. The light colored stain just wasn't doing it for us any more. So, we did some research and explored a variety of ideas on the web before finally coming up with a color scheme we really liked.
To reach this goal, there were several things I had to do:
- Check our existing stash of painting/staining supplies (brushes, rollers, etc.)
- Get the sanding equipment and materials
- Pick out and buy the stain and paint
- Purchase any new supplies we didn't already have in the stash
- Sand the deck and railing
- Clean off the deck and railing
- Stain the deck
- Allow for drying time
- Paint the railing
- Allow for drying time
- Apply a second coat of stain
- Apply a second coat of paint
And, there were more little steps in between, like cleaning up after each day, blowing off the dust after every three to four planks, taking breaks for water and beer (you know, the important stuff!).
The point is, it involved a detailed process of steps. We started with a definite goal in mind; and then I planned out and implemented the steps needed to accomplish that goal. This is the first similarity I recognized. Content marketing isn't just about deciding to start writing a blog.
Content marketing involves setting goals, investigating existing assets, exploring options and opportunities, defining the best tools to use to reach the goals, implementing the tactics selected, assessing the actions taken, and adjusting as necessary along the way.
Just like staining a deck, your content marketing strategy needs a plan and a defined process in order to end up with the results you're looking for.
2. It Takes Time
Now, when I say I stained my deck, I mean I went all the way down to bare wood and started from scratch. I used an orbital sander to remove 13 years of wear and tear, 13 years of stain on top of stain, 13 years of embedded pollen, 13 years of dog nail scratches. It was not fun.
I burned through about 40 sanding pads over the course of two days of back breaking effort. Each plank required its own unique level of grinding, turning, and angling to get all those layers of previous years torn away. It took time!
This is what brings me to the second connection with content marketing: It takes time.
And, just like most of our clients, I underestimated the time it would take. My plan was to sand everything and lay down the first coat of stain on day one.
We do our best to explain, up front, what's involved in the content marketing process. But, it's rare that clients fully understand the time involved in building an effective content marketing strategy and implementing the tactics associated. And, like me at the end of day one, there's sometimes frustration when this realization hits.
But, when there's a clear understanding and expectation around the time involved, everything works out wonderfully.
3. The Second Coat Makes All the Difference
If you refer back to the list of steps in the process above, you'll notice the last couple involved second coats of stain and paint. After that first coat went on, it looked great - what a huge difference between what we had before...
But, the REAL difference came with the painted railing and the second coat...
Content marketing's "second coat" comes once the initial foundation has been laid, once a good bit of the content is in place, and it's starting to show some traction. The second coat of content marketing is in the flexibility, the ability to move, reconsider, and adjust to what we're seeing. The second coat of content marketing is when we recognize a piece of content is really shining, so we redirect focus on that content versus something we may have originally planned; or it's when we realize something we thought was going to be awesome didn't turn out to generate the results we expected, so we need to rethink the message or the platform or the timing of a tactic.
What do you do now?
I bet one of two things are going through your head right now:
- Man, that deck looks awesome!
- I never thought about the connection between a deck and content marketing.
If you're new to this and are considering content marketing and whether or not it will work for you and your business, check out all these articles and videos on content marketing.