There’s an email waiting for you from the boss:
“Hey, check out what [COMPETITOR] just did. It’s really nice. Can we do something like this?”
Who knows if the competitor’s campaign performed well. It looked nice to the boss and it’s now a new task on your to-do list. Too often in marketing, we operate in “fear of missing out” (FOMO) mode. It’s not just the boss. When our competitors are the first to experiment with infographics, YouTube videos, SlideShares and heck, even TikTok, we feel pressure to respond.
Quick! Let’s do what the competition is doing. Forget strategy! Time is of the essence.
I have a contrarian mindset. I think there’s more opportunity in what others are not doing. In this article, I’ll highlight three ways to find success by avoiding the crowds.
Take Advantage of 'Off Days'
I’m an avid podcast listener who tunes in seven days a week. I used to listen on my drive to work. These days, I listen during long walks around the neighborhood. Most podcasts publish new episodes on weekdays. Two of my favorites, New York Times Daily and ESPN Daily publish a new episode Monday through Friday.
During the week, I prioritize new episodes based on a tiering. I listen to my favorite podcasts first. When those are done, I see what’s left and listen to those. There are some podcasts that publish frequently during the week — I might not get to many of those episodes, since other podcasts take priority.
Are you beginning to see an opportunity here?
I subscribe to the Rockstar CMO FM podcast, hosted by fellow CMSWire contributor Ian Truscott. Ian interviews marketing leaders whom I always find interesting. He publishes a new episode every Saturday. Of the podcasts I subscribe to, none of the others publish on Saturdays, which means Ian has the field all to himself.
Each Saturday morning, I open my podcast player and see a new episode of Rockstar CMO. There might be podcasts (from the week) that I haven’t listened to yet. Guess which podcast I choose every single Saturday morning?
You guessed it.
Hint: Sunday is wide open as well, so consider jumping on that bandwagon — I’ll take your episodes on a Sunday walk with me.
There’s a similar dynamic with email marketing. Why promote your deal on Cyber Monday, when every other retailer is doing the same? For B2B emails, I advised a few clients to skip the Monday before Thanksgiving and try the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend.
Because few other B2B brands send emails that day. And we know that people will check their emails over the weekend.
Related Article: I'm Not a Growth Marketer
Ignore SEO (for now)
Unless you operate in a niche of a niche (i.e., with keywords that have little competition), SEO is a hard game to play. The order of Page 1 organic results (for your target keywords) has already been decided years ago. Paid search for those same keywords can cost you a large caramel macchiato per click.
SEO is still important and I don’t suggest abandoning it altogether. However, what are you writing for when you develop content for SEO?
The search engines.
Instead, switch your focus and write first for your target audience. Without thinking about keywords or key phrases, develop content experiences that wow them and make them yearn for more like it. If you create content that your audience loves, you might find that SEO benefits accrue to you naturally.
Inbound links will come your way. And search engines will notice when your target audience is satisfied (e.g., higher time on page, higher clickthrough rate from SERPs, etc.).
Related Article: SEO Is Killing Content Quality
Be Less Social
Whether you’re a B2C or B2B brand, the days of sharing 10 to 15 (or more) articles per week is less and less valuable to your audience. While other brands in your industry continue to do that, try two opposite approaches.
The first is to change your social presence from a sharing vehicle to an engagement vehicle. On Twitter, your “Tweets & replies” tab should have far more interesting things than your “Tweets” tab. Reply to tweets from customers, prospects and influencers. Have your brand participate in Twitter chats. Quote-tweet interesting insights from other users.
Secondly, look to social media as a listening tool. Curate private Twitter Lists of users and observe what they’re saying and doing. Create lists for customers, prospects, partners, competitors, analysts, influencers, etc. Analyze the topics and publications your social media audience is posting about and use that to inform your content calendar.
Related Article: Is Social Media Marketing Dying?
Navigate Your Way to Success
Once, I was on a road trip with friends. There were three cars in total and we were stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the Interstate. I entered our destination (a restaurant) into a GPS app, which had me exit the highway, then drive along side roads for several miles. The other two cars stayed on the Interstate.
I arrived at the restaurant first and waited 40 minutes for my friends to make it off the highway. There’s an analogy here to your marketing strategy. Taking the road less traveled can put you far ahead of your peers.