The Secret Key To Content Marketing

I love blogging.

I have a note near my desk that I would like to do nothing but teach and blog.

They are my two favorite parts of my job.

They also happen to be the primary drivers of new business for SageRock.

It’s been this way since the beginning.

When Rocky and I started SageRock in 1999 we had no money for advertising. So we did the only thing we knew how to do: We wrote.

Since then we have tried many different kinds of promotions:

  • Trade shows.
  • Direct Mail.
  • Ad buys.

Nothing has ever had the effect of content marketing.

The difficulty of content being your primary driver of new business is that it is labor intensive. You can’t simply buy your way out of writing a blog post 3 times a week.

Over the last 12 years we have always had very clear patterns of behavior.

  • We would write and write and write.
  • Then we’d get super busy with work.
  • Then we’d stop writing because we had to get the work done.
  • Then the new business would slow down.
  • And then we’d start writing again.

That seems like a potentially workable strategy. But here’s the thing: Getting an audience back after not creating content for a while is incredibly difficult. There is no guarantee they will come back. And very often it’s a new set of people that start following you again. You lost the other people when you stopped writing. They moved on.

It is always much harder to get an audience than to keep an audience.

So once again we are in the same spot we have been in before. We’ve been building a lot of great content. And we’re getting super busy. And once again I’m being pulled back into production. Last week I built out 2 comprehensive audits for clients. They are fun to do but they take a ton of time.

I have vowed not to fall into the same pattern I always fall into. I am going to do everything I can to stay in the writing and teaching role.

We’re trying some new techniques this time around.

The primary issue is often my salary. I take a good sized salary. (The same as our COO.) He then is often stuck because he is paying me to write, sell and teach. So he isn’t able to hire new people for production. Therefore he often asks me to do my fair share of production.

This time around we are now paying me hourly and commission on anything I sell. I turn in my hours bi-weekly. I have different hourly rates for when I am producing, writing and selling.

Here are my hourly rates:

  • Production is $50/hour.
  • Internal Administration is $30/hour.
  • Internal Marketing (like blogging) is $15/hour.
  • Sales is $10/hour.

I then also make 15% commission on anything that I sell.

This new setup interests me because SageRock is only paying me for what I produce. I’m not sucking down unneeded revenue through the year that could go towards production.

Then if there is profit at the end of the year we will probably split that up somehow as well.

I’ve been using this approach most of the year. It’s been a great way of keeping the company profitable while also building good infrastructure. And most importantly I’ve been able to continue to market and sell because I’m not dipping into money that should go to building our production team.

If you look back at this blog you will see that I have consistently put out a piece every Monday, Wednesday and Friday since May.

I’ve been really consistent (3 days a week) since May 9. I then didn’t post anything between then and April 7. I posted about 1 post a month in January, February and March.

Here is a screen shot of traffic just to our blog. It is comparing April 2011 to October 2011.

We had 566 more visits in October compared to April. And we had 497 more unique pageviews. Our average time on the page is up 16 seconds. Our bounce rate is still very high. But it is mostly due to Greg’s Meta Description Length post. People come to that page as a reference and then leave.

Our organic Google traffic is up nearly 16%. Direct traffic is up 17%.

And if traffic numbers don’t interest you our revenue is considerably up. I’d tell you those numbers but they aren’t in yet. I’ll probably do a financial year in review post early in 2012.

Considering we have not done any other marketing this year besides training, teaching and content there is little doubt in my mind that it works.

No matter how you look at the numbers it works.

But here’s the thing. It’s starting to slow down. While I have been really diligent keeping up on this blog I have fallen down in one key area.

There is more to this than just spitting out content. There is more to it than even producing quality content.

I didn’t start this blog post with having a cliffhanger in mind. But because I rambled on long enough for one post you will have to wait until Wednesday to find out what the secret key to content marketing is.

See you Wednesday!

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