Skateboarding every day for seven years exposed me to a lot more than a set of wheels bolted into a piece of plywood. Skateboarding meant great friends, dedication, creativity, injury, recovery, cops, sponsorship, guts, style — and to my surprise (and likely yours), it also meant lessons in content marketing.
Yes, I was on the receiving end of some great content marketing 13+ years ago, long before content marketing became what it is on the Web today. The skateboarding industry was shredding it with organic, quality content way back in 2002. And to this day, what first comes to mind when I think of skating isn’t board specs or product features — it’s damn good content. Check out the following four tactics used by the industry then and now:
1. Show ’em What You Got
Zero Skateboards, originally a clothing company formed in 1996, shook up the skating industry and became one of the leading skateboard brands in less than three years by taking ownership of their media. They created content that was not only sought after by skateboarders, but it was also nearly impossible to duplicate. True subject matter experts, authorities in the sport, demonstrated their skills, and matching those skills was a tough proposition for other content creators.
In fact, Zero founder Jamie Thomas‘ gritty video contribution is ranked overall the 2nd best skate video section from 1999-2009 by Transworld. The full-length “Misled Youth” video contributed greatly to Zero’s brand success.
Of course, what stole the show was never-seen-before skate footage that raised the threshold what people thought was possible with a skateboard. But the genius was in the fact that each scene was a direct demonstration of the brand’s product value.
The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as the art of communicating with your customers and prospects without selling — or in other words, “noninterruption marketing.” Zero mastered this.
Can you create content that demonstrates the value of your product or service in an entertaining way? Most audiences love to watch entertaining videos, especially those featuring content they can’t find anywhere else. Give it a go.
2. Be Prolific
When you create and distribute a killer piece of content, hopefully your audience loves it. Sometimes it won’t resonate as well as you’d hoped. Either way, it’s time to make more.
Need proof? Neil Patel, one of today’s top 10 online marketers, has written more than 300 guest posts about content marketing in just the last three years, on top of his five or six per week on his own sites. He shows no signs of slowing down. Neil’s highly actionable, data-driven content is what his audience cannot get enough of, so they keep tuning in.
In the days before YouTube, a skateboarding fan would have to wait a month or two until a new skate video was put out to see new footage. To fill the gaps in content production, the top brands found success by continuously producing high-quality images and sequences and publishing them in magazines. Look at how the brand Shorty’s consistently generated content that was, in many ways, better than video:
In the late 1990s, Shorty’s consistently published quality content on every channel they could. The result was a much larger fan base for the brand and consumer anticipation for more.
Is there an opportunity for you to regularly deliver more content than your competition?
3. Build a Strong Team
Consistently producing content at a high level is no small feat. Since 2010, producing enough content remains a major challenge in content marketing.
Building a strong team is a proven way to overcome a demand that no one person could realistically supply by him or herself.
In the ’90s, Flip Skateboards, based out of Huntington Beach, California, assembled a talented team primarily consisting of international professionals. The brand achieved global appeal through the likes of Geoff Rowley (UK), Tom Penny (UK) and Rune Glifberg (Denmark).
The big three each had unique specializations: Rowley, Thrasher Magazine’s Skater of the Year in 2000, attempted the biggest handrails and sets of stairs he could find all over the world. Penny brought an influential smoothness and technical ability to the mix. Glifberg, known as the “Danish Destroyer,” turned professional as a vert skateboarder who primarily skated half-pipes.
Having multiple contributors is a way to show a variety of different strengths and styles, a way to reach a greater number of audience segments. As a marketer who wears several hats for work, my favorite publications are those that give me the most bang for my buck and time. Convince and Convert, for example, is a strong resource to go to for a wealth of social media strategy information, which is their main specialty — but, they don’t stop there. C&C leverages a team of experts to provide in-depth knowledge in additional areas of marketing, such as content and email, which is valuable for improving my skills in multiple areas.
Who can you team up with to help diversify your content and grow your audience?
One of the top ways trust is earned is through authenticity. You can’t fake it, and audiences will know if you try.
Some of my favorite content pieces are when you get a glimpse behind the scenes and see what goes into the work. Andrew Reynolds, long-time street skateboarding pro and perfectionist, is an example of someone who puts his heart and soul into his craft, and it shows:
Seeing how Reynolds lives and breathes skateboarding reminds me of Rand Fishkin in his epic Moz Whiteboard Friday marketing videos. Rand educates and entertains in such a personal way that you feel like you’re right there in the room with him.
The best brands and creators prove they’re the best by living it, not doing it because it’s what somebody said works.
So, when it comes to your content marketing initiatives, take a tip from skateboarding. Drop hammers. Shred it every time out. Trust me, your audience will be stoked.