I recently ran 14.1 miles over 24 hours through the Adirondack mountains in upstate New York.
Before you dismiss this as just something “runners” do, you should know that before to this event the longest distance I have ever run was 3 miles.A few weeks ago I was, according to my wife, “sedentary.”
Now I love my morning run.
It took a torturous and life-changing event called the Ragnar to flash-transform me into a passionate athlete chasing the next runner’s high. (Listen to Laura and I talk about the run on the PS Podcast).
On the 12-hour drive home to Michigan I tried to dissect why Ragnar, a 12 person, 200-mile, overnight relay, is the latest extreme-fitness phenomena.
As I outlined this post, my teammates were enthusiastically sharing their experience with fellow runners. Our exhausted and giddy ad-hoc content marketing team created Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter magic chronicling our Ragnar adventure. Ragnar had just created 12 brand ambassadors that were marketing their next event – for free.
What if you could capture just a sliver of this enthusiasm for your business?
Hold that thought as I walk you through why Ragnar’s grassroots content marketing works:
Find the Passionate Few
Your customers aren’t professional marketers. They aren’t dreaming up new ways to market their business. You’ll need to show them how they can turn their passion into unique content that shares their experience and promotes your business in the process. You can Spark your readers creative juices by giving them an examples of the type of content you want to see.
Prime The Pump
Ragnar shows teams how to showcase their unique identity with:
- Ragnar team van designs
- Unique and often irreverent team names. My team of Michiganders chose “Mitten Madness.”
- Tagging: A Ragnar endorsed prank where you sneak up to a competitor’s van and add your team’s name. Think of it as graffiti for runners.
Make It Easy to Share
Grassroots content works best when it only takes a few moments to create and share on multiple networks.
Carefully select social platforms that already serve your audience with easy to use mobile apps with dead-simple sharing tools. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are the obvious favorites but Pinterest is quickly gaining on the pack.
Ragnar’s Instagram feed plugs alpha-runners into the experiences of 2,000 other Ragnar finishers.
My team spent hours finding and sharing jaw-dropping scenery photos and hilarious runner costume pics. We dutifully liked and shared our favorites with our audiences. Here’s the thing – we were promoting Ragnar and loving it. That’s “Grassroots Content.”
Dress Your Fans
How does a loyal reader show their pride and dedication? What is your brand’s uniform? Creating “gear” for your passionate few is a smart way to bond your readers closer together and get free advertising in the process. By the way, this is a tactic for small and itsy-bitsy businesses alike. A simple laptop sticker is all you need to get the ball rolling and stories flowing.
Ragnar Gear was more popular than water during the race. My team couldn’t wait to crater their monthly budget and bring home bags stuffed with Ragnar loot. I religiously wear at least one piece of Ragnar flair everyday. I am a walking billboard and proud of it.
Keep It Simple
It’s easy to confuse complexity with effectiveness. But complex content marketing strategies are often risky and expensive. They require legions of staffers, a hefty budget, and time that you may not have.
Don’t get caught in the complexity trap, look for the simple strategy that can be executed flawlessly every time. Can you summarize your entire content marketing strategy on a 3×5” index card? If not, look for ways to trim the complexity even if it means setting aside tactics.
Ragnar strategically positioned “Hydration Stations” throughout the race course. But to my disappointment these stations only had water. Water is awesome but I was craving Gatorade. I couldn’t figure out why Ragnar overlooked such a critical component until I caught a glimpse of their team packing up the race for their next event.
A team of workers were packing road signs, cones, tables, and signage into the back of a semi. The team was well-practiced and were rapidly filling the truck with hive like efficiency. The last thing to go in the truck was the large orange barrels that were used to dispense water at the Hydration Stations. An ad-hoc assembly line was unscrewing the tops, spraying them out with a water hose, and quickly dried and stacked in the semi trailer.
Now I understood why I didn’t get Gatorade. Hosing out a sticky, wasp attracting, Gatorade container would take time slowing down the reload process. Water was simple. Gatorade was a pain. I’ll bring my own Gatorade next time.
Your brand sets the expectation for your business. Every business and person has a brand. The first impression a person receives when visiting your blog creates your brand.
Neglecting your visual appeal cripples your ability to stay top of mind with your reader, attract partners, and cut through the noise in your niche. Start refining your brand by giving your blog and social profile’s a graphic makeover. Hire a designer to create a memorable and modern logo. Invest in a premium WordPress template to quickly present a well-organized blogging presence.
Remember that branding isn’t optional. It’s required.
Ragnar’s simple Viking helmet is iconic. A fellow Ragnar finisher knows what the brand means – you’re a fanatic.
By the way, I’m already signed up to run the Chicago Ragnar in 2015 and I’m already selling. That’s the power of Grassroots Content.
Let’s talk about how you can apply these lessons on Google+.