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Give away the recording, but sell the show

According to Zazzle Media, 60% of companies struggle to produce content consistently, and 65% find it a challenge to produce engaging content. You can quickly overcome this obstacle if you think of your company in terms of experiences, rather than products or services. Products and services quickly become commodities, but experiences don’t. When we think in those terms, we can start to free ourselves to “give away the recording, but sell the show.” What do I mean by that? We have to look no further than at one of the most iconic bands in history, the Grateful Dead. We can learn much about content marketing from the Dead, who were true innovators when it came to marketing.

Products and services quickly become commodities, but experiences don't. Click To Tweet

In Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead: What Every Business Can Learn from the Most Iconic Band in History, authors David Meerman Scott and Brian Halligan illustrate how the Dead went far beyond being just another touring band to become a cultural movement. The Grateful Dead used free content to build a social network of fans before Mark Zuckerberg was even born. They pioneered many of the ideas we now use in social media and content marketing. Instead of banning recording at concerts, the Dead actively encouraged audience taping and distribution of the band’s legendary live shows. This turned attendees into raving fans – a word-of-mouth marketing force that out-performed most of the contrived corporate attempts we see today in social media.

And the live show is still our main thing. ~Jerry Garcia

Content marketing, in its simplest definition, involves giving away something valuable in order to sell something related. The Dead knew that its related “thing” was not the band’s recorded albums, or even the bootleg recordings of the shows, but the experience of the live show itself.

Rather than restrict recording and bootlegging, the Dead saw the practice as a gift from the fans, not a gift to them. The distribution of recordings from fans to future fans intensified and channeled desire for the authentic experience of a Grateful Dead show. Plus, getting people to the live venue fueled the other profit center for the band – merchandise.

You may have noticed that […]

Why no one is reading your content

It’s only going to get worse – as more and more people keep creating more and more content, the likelihood that someone is actually going to read what you’ve written is getting slimmer and slimmer. Still, we see top marketers say things Gary Vaynerchuk saying, “The more content I put out, the luckier I seem to get.”  And Bill Gates said, “Content is King.” It seems like all anyone talks about is content, content, and more content. You put out a ton of content, yet all you hear is crickets. As a result, you give up, and stop spending so much time creating content – you’ve got better things to do, right? If no one is reading your content (or watching it or listening to it), is it worth it? Should you keep going?


Stop and consider why. Why are you putting out content in the first place? Then, take a look at the world’s top websites: Amazon, YouTube, Facebook, even your local news sites. What do they all have in common? They all produce a ton of content, and not just monthly, weekly, or even daily, but continuously. Every time you go to one of these sites, you are presented with new information. I recently did a survey to verify this.The results were not surprising, but hopefully they are enlightening to anyone who is running their own website as to why visitors go to a website in the first place, and why they return (or not).

In response to the question, “How often do you visit this site?” 84% of the respondents said they visited Facebook either more than once a day or several times per week. But business sites are visited “Never, Seldom, or Occasionally” a whopping 92% of the time.  So, it seems that sites which have more frequent content updates are visited more frequently.

To verify this, I then asked the question, “What are your reasons for returning to this site?” I included a choice for the obvious answers, such as “interact with friends on Facebook” or “buy something on Amazon.” But respondents could select multiple answers to this question. These answers were quite revealing: 42% said they go to Facebook for “latest information and updates” and 50% said they go to business sites for the same reason. 33% of people go to Facebook for “Personalized Content” and 25% go to business sites for the same reason. Even though people are visiting Facebook much more frequently than they are business sites, the reasons why people are returning to a site are essentially the same – they are looking for good, personalized content and updated information.

Content is important, but you are not getting any traction from your content – why and what can you do about it?

The first thing is to make sure that you […]

How Behavioral Marketing Works

We would all really like to think that we are not under the control of marketing. We’d like to think that we get to make our own decisions, and that people and companies aren’t learning about us in order to sway us one way or another.

But luckily for companies, that’s not really what happens. Now, in real time, they’re able to see how their marketing is working to influence behaviors. You know where people are looking online, what they’re looking at, what their interests are, and perhaps what their dislikes are. Knowing that can help you deliver better, more targeted information in order to, of course, sway their behavior.

Even if you aren’t very sophisticated in your behavioral marketing, you’re likely putting the tenants to work in your emails. You’re sending a message and then you’re asking someone to do something after reading it. What else do you need to know about this subject? This graphic explains it.

They Do This, You Do That: How Behavioral Marketing Works



I had the honor of interviewing someone this past week who has been called the greatest sales trainer of his generation, Eric Lofholm (you can listen to the interview at Eric is a master sales trainer who has helped over 10,000 students and has helped generate nearly $500 million in revenue in the last two decades. This interview got me thinking about how traditional sales techniques can be applied to typical shopping cart software. The answer lies in telling a compelling story. The story behind a product or service is the key factor in getting someone to resonate with your offering and to remember it. Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” The feelings that stories evoke is instrumental in making a sale, regardless of the method you use to tell the story. Here are some ways you can tell your story:

The long description of EVERY product or service you offer on your ecommerce website should tell a story. There are multiple ways to tell a story, called storypaths. This is a common example, called […]

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