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Fresh Cuts

  • Writer's pictureDrew Donaldson

Brew Your Own: Content Marketing

At least that's what I always thought. For years I had dreamed of crafting the perfect IPA, Amber Bock or Oatmeal Stout, only to be disenchanted when I heard how difficult and arduous the process was and how a single mistake could ruin your whole batch. Worse yet, you wouldn't know if it was ruined until days or even weeks later.

The icing on the disenchantment cake came when I pulled the trigger and bought a homebrew kit a few years ago.

I tried my best to follow the directions, but at the end of the process, the beer just wasn't any good. So to the attic, the kit was banished, never to darken our kitchen with its hoppy aroma.

Until a few weeks ago...

As new parents, we've been spending a bit more time around the homestead (not having to maintain a social calendar does have its benefits). I decided that I wanted to give brewing beer another try, so I dug out the old kit, cleaned the dust off, and headed down to the Lancaster Homebrew store to purchase ingredients and ask a half-million or so questions.

After absorbing as much knowledge as possible and buying the required ingredients, I was ready to start brewing. It was then that I realized how similar brewing beer was to building a content marketing campaign. So I did what any marketer with a great analogy would have done: I put together a webinar and taught a bunch of college students how to brew beer, I mean how to master content marketing:

Step 1: Plan and Prepare your materials

I had to make a couple of runs to the brew store before I had everything I needed to brew my first batch. With a little more planning, I could have saved myself a lot of time and gas money.

In content marketing, you may not need many materials, but you should have a plan. What kind of content do you want to make? How often will you make it (consistency is key)? Where will you post it? How will it tie into your business's goals?

Step 2: Sanitize Everything.

Every brewer on the planet will tell you that this is easily the most critical step and often the one everyone messes up. You have to keep in mind that brewing beer is a living process, and the last thing you want is to start that process in a dirty environment.

The same is true for content marketing. Maybe you tinkered at writing a blog in the past or threw up a couple of errant videos on YouTube. Before you start a new campaign, consider going back and sanitizing your channels to give you a clean slate. Does this mean you have to erase every post you ever made on Facebook? No! Just make sure all the posts that are still live are positioning your brand in the best light.

Step 3: Mix your ingredients

The next step is one of the more complex yet easiest to complete as long as you're

following a formula. You'll start by steeping your grains in a mesh bag in hot water, removing the bag after a few minutes, rinsing the grains off with fresh warm water before mixing in your malt (barley and sugar), and bringing the mixture, now called the wort, to a boil. It's hard to mess up this step as long as you follow the recipe.

Producing unique, high-quality content is all about following a formula. Now, this doesn't mean there is no room for experimentation? of course not! Your content will be painfully flavorless if you don't endeavor to make your content stand out in the crowd. That said, many marketers have come before you and have figured out some basic rules of the road.

Such as:

  • Blog content should be between 1500-5000 words.

  • Video content on YouTube should be 10-20 mins long.

  • Webinars should have 40-45 content and 15-20 minutes of Q&A.

  • Social content should always ask for engagement.

  • Take these guidelines to heart, and it'll make your life much easier to plan and execute your content.

Step 4: Consistency (temperature and otherwise)

So all your ingredients are in the pot. You now have three jobs:

  1. Don't let the sugars burn

  2. Keep a close eye on the temperature

  3. Be patient

The wort will cook for around an hour at a gentle boil. It is critically important that you keep the temperature in the ideal range for your recipe. This means, in most cases babysitting your stove while the wort cooks and stirring occasionally.

Publishing content consistently is critical to your marketing's success for two main reasons.

  1. It gets you in the habit of creating content on a regular basis.

  2. It makes sure that the audience you're building always has new content to consume.

By publishing on a schedule, you're building both creation and consumption habits. Both of which are incredibly beneficial to your marketing efforts. As your content builds steam in the form of an engaged audience, the last thing you want to do is kill the heat.


Step 5: Add your hops and kill the heat.

Hops, I really can't say enough nice things about them. I grow a few varieties in my backyard just because they smell so amazing. That said, I'm not about to put a bunch in a salad bowl and eat them for lunch. Hops are incredibly bitter. That's why you add them to beer to help cut the sweetness of the grains and sugars.

The same can be true for specialty content, say a long-form how it's made style video or a yearly research guide on your industry. Those aren't going to be content pieces you produce every day, but they have a strong place in your content lineup and help break up your regular programming.

You add hops at the very end of the boil. Usually in the last ten minutes. Once your boil finishes, you kill the heat and immediately start chilling the wort, usually by submerging the pot in Ice until it reaches 80 or so degrees.

Content burnout is a very real thing; it may seem like a very "first world problem" complaint, but the reality is creating content on a regular basis is a grind. It's 8:32 pm right now. I'm on step five, and I want to have this wrapped up by tomorrow morning. Plus, I need to put together a PowerPoint and a few other items. I'm going to be up till midnight, or later and tomorrow I'll do it all over again. That's why it's essential to know when to take the heat off. While consistency is the goal, you must accept you will never be 100% consistent. Do what you can and take breaks when you feel it's right. This isn't an excuse to slack off; it's just permission not to work yourself to death.

Step 6: Pitching your yeast

Your wort is now lukewarm, and it's time to transfer it to your fermentation vessel and pitch your yeast. Pitching is just a facing term for sprinkling a packet into the vessel and stirring it. There are different kinds of yeast for the different types of beer you might brew, and matching the right yeast to the proper brew is critical to achieving the flavor you want.

The same can be said for the channels where you choose to publish your content. Long-form videos will do best on YouTube, whereas your short-form videos might do better on TikTok or Instagram. Blog posts should always reside on your website, but they can be promoted on various social media platforms, yet how you promote it might differ slightly depending on if you're on Facebook or Pinterest.

Step 7: Prepare for the Krausen

The Krausen is the much-feared bubbly head to accumulates on top of certain types of beers while they ferment. It pops up seemingly out of nowhere. One day you'll take a look at your fermenter, and all will be well the next day, BAM! KRAUSEN-pocolypse. The Krausen is a by-product of the yeast you use and the brew you're making. Yeast eats sugar and expels both alcohol and gas. The gas travels up through the beer and creates a foamy head that can grow continuously throughout the fermentation stage. This is why leaving headroom in your fermenter is essential. So the Krausen has a place to expand without blowing off the lid of your fermenter.

Content marketing does a really funny thing,

it works.

I know, I know, you're saying, "Of course, it works. Why else would you be spending so much time talking about it?"

But it bears repeating, Content marketing works, and while it might not work overnight, you very well might wake up one day to an article of yours going viral in your industry. With that virality may come an influx in customers, and you'll want to be prepared for that onslaught.

This isn't to say buy a thousand umbrellas on a sunny day, only to make sure you have a plan in case you have the good fortune to be overwhelmed with new customers. Like with step one, having a plan and making preparations is critical. The last thing you want is to waste your moment in the limelight looking like a nervous teenager at a talent show.

Step 8: Patience and Observation

This is easy on paper but murder in real life. The reality is that beer is not ready overnight. It takes weeks to get beer to the point of drinkability. While you may not be able to reap the rewards of your labor the next morning, you will start seeing changes almost immediately. That's why it's essential to take a regular reading with a hydrometer so you can track your beer's progress through fermentation.

Content Marketing is not a get-rich-quick scheme. It will not make your business a success overnight, nor should it be the only tactic you employ to market your business. That said over time, it will net you significant gains both in your ability to reach new customers and nurture existing customers to the point of sale.

In order to capitalize on those gains, you should always be analyzing your content's performance. What type of content is getting the most traction? On which channels? Paid or unpaid? What's the content ROI? What stage does it most effectively target?

By continually analyzing your content's performance, especially in the early days of your strategy, you'll be able to optimize your approach as your go. This ensures that you produce the most impactful and engaging content and limit the amount of time and money you spend on "low value" (in your audience’s perspective) content.

Step 9: Bottle the magic

Fermentation is complete, and all that's left to do is bottle your beer. The bottling process is pretty simple. You start by transferring your beer into a new clean vessel and mixing in a bit of sugar to restart the yeast's fermentation process so that they'll carbonate your beer after it's been bottled.

Once you have a library of content for your business, now is the time to start thinking about creating high-value assets. Can you take a collection of blog articles and turn them into an eBook? Can you take questions you've answered in your AMA (ask me anything) live streams and build FAQs? Have you created enough product reviews that you can create a buyer's guide?

Finding ways to "bottle" your existing content in new and interesting ways will not only provide your audience with unique curations of content but will provide lead generation opportunities that your daily content may not provide.

Additionally, the time you need to spend creating these long-form assets is minimal and almost entirely limited to curation and design as the underlying content has already been created.

Step 10: Start again.

The good news is your beer is finally in the bottle; the bad news is you have a least two more weeks before it's ready to drink. Yup, that's right! There is no cracking a cold one on bottling day unless you like overly sweet flat beer. But the good news is that the next two weeks provide an excellent opportunity to start brewing your next batch! And while that might be the last thing on your mind after you put in all that work, think of this: In two weeks when you're ready to bottle your next batch. Your first batch will be ready to drink. Nothing is more motivating than tasting the fruits of your labor.

Content marketing is a never-ending journey, but that doesn't mean you have to feel like Sisyphus. Creating content is a heavy lift, and it's not always going to be the most enjoyable part of your day. But every day you put out content and remain consistent, you get one day closer to your goal. When that day arrives, and that first client walks in your door saying " I read your article" or "I watched your video," it'll be just as sweet as the first taste of the oatmeal stout you brewed in your basement.

Final Tip:

The best time to brew beer was six weeks ago.

The second-best time is today.

Shamelessly stolen from an old Chinese proverb, but true nonetheless. It is hard to put so much effort into something that you won't get to enjoy for weeks (or even years in the case of wines and ciders). But I promise the effort does pay off.

Content marketing can feel a lot like brewing beer; it's time-intensive, requires consistency, and isn't going to deliver results overnight. But it does produce results, and even though the results may not be immediately evident, they will come with time.

At GroHaus, we understand that launching a content marketing plan is a huge undertaking, especially for a small business. We want you to know that we are here to help! Book a free coaching call with us today

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