We at Big Valley get a lot of satisfaction from helping B2B tech companies inject new life into moribund blogging programs. Time and again, we’ve helped companies embrace an “outside-in” editorial model to attract a bigger, more engaged audience that develops more long-term affinity for the brand.
The recipe works, and we aren’t the only ones to notice. When the Content Marketing Institute interviewed ~1,000 content professionals around the world for its 2022 B2B Content Marketing Insights report, 90% of the respondents with the most successful programs revealed they prioritized the audience’s informational needs over sales/promotional messages.
Still, even companies with the right philosophy can struggle to overcome organizational inertia and bad habits. Case in point: too many great blogs get left on the cutting room floor – or processed into pablum – by organizations that are either too skittish or too bureaucratic to let their blogging program flourish.
That’s when content leaders have no choice but to shake things up. But how? I think we can take inspiration and learn lessons from four lads from Liverpool who made their first record, nearly 60 years ago.
If you’re not familiar with the evolution of the Fab Four’s recording habits over the years, here’s the gist. When they hit the studio in 1963 to make Meet the Beatles!, John, Paul, George and Ringo knocked out the greatest debut album in pop history – and in less than one day. They never spent more than three hours recording any given song. (Contrast that with the making of Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band four years later, when the group practically lived in the studio for months on end, embellishing their music with new instruments, new recording techniques and new technologies.)
Turns out both approaches produced timeless music. But if you want to create a great corporate blogging program, blog like you’re making Meet the Beatles!
Identify your best creators. The best content rarely originates in product marketing or sales. You have to identify your Lennons and McCartneys – that is, your best writers, videographers, designers and other creators who produce compelling, audience-centric content time-and-time again – and let them do their thing.
Shorter is better. There’s a place for longer (~1500+ word) blogs when you’re trying to optimize for search on a key topic. But when it comes to the editorial, insights-driven content that should predominate your blog, shorter is better. It challenges your creators to provide value in a format that respects the audience’s time. (The longest song on Meet the Beatles! is “I Saw Her Standing There,” clocking in at 2:50.) Publish more blogs in the 500-700 word range.
Publish more, faster. The Beatles pumped out classic music at an astounding rate, releasing multiple albums and hundreds of songs in a few short years. Whether you’re a startup or public company, you need to publish on your blog with predictability and frequency – at least once if not several times per week. Your best creators are almost always deadline artists, too, capable of producing a lot of great work, fast. Unleash them.
Slash the number of reviewers. Peter Jackson’s great new film, The Beatles: Get Back, documents how few people were in the studio with the band during those sessions. They usually included their legendary producer George Martin and two or three other close confidants, each with an important role to play in bringing the best out of the artists.
In our world, every good content professional is in service to the business and has many stakeholders to manage. But that doesn’t mean every suit needs to offer an opinion on every song – or, in this case, every piece of content your team produces. That’s the road to pablum. Simplify the approval loop as much as possible. (Some of those former reviewers may very well thank you.)
Play. An interviewer once asked another music legend, Bruce Springsteen, how he manages to bring so much joy and energy to his live shows. Turns out, it comes down to having fun. “That’s why musicians call it playing music,” he said with a smile. “We’re not working music. We’re playing.”
Creating content for a company is serious business. But it can also be fun, particularly when it comes to blogging. Experiment more. Try a new voice or a new approach. Play.
The blog is where the business has a precious opportunity to give a microphone to new voices and to show its human side in ways you can’t do through your quarterly earnings announcement or the eBook on your latest widget. So save the Sergeant Pepper’s approach for those.
Blog like you’re making Meet the Beatles! – and It Won’t Be Long until you’ve got an enthusiastic audience screaming for more.