What I learned about marketing from my garden plants
My experiments with content marketing are similar to the my experiments with the plants I grow in my house.I planted different seeds at the same time, in the hope of getting vegetables, but they are all not growing at the same speed. One plant did not even make it.
The growth of tomatoes, green chillies, capsicum, and okra plants are not proportional, even when all of them have the same soil, water and environment.
On a professional front, I am doing organic marketing where I pick several channels for customer growth without knowing which channel will start working. We can not be sure which channel will sprout and start giving results. There is past performance of channels in different startups but that does not guarantee to work for our startup, because of different different market scenarios, timing, customer knowledge and awareness level about the topic. There might be a big change in customer behaviour in the past years; things that make your customer curious, the way customers use the Internet and apps, and algorithms of social channels.
People were sharing a lot of articles on productivity when Buffer launched its blog, but now most of Buffer’s audience is aware of the topic. Arguably, sharability of buffer’s articles were impacted negatively and they lost half of their social referred traffic- as shared by buffer’s content marketer Keven.
Farmville was a popular game that become an instant hit on Facebook. Then Facebook removed its gaming section and Zynga's business plummeted.
Growth hacks of Airbnb are no longer relevant. You can not repeat the success of Airbnb by posting on craigslist, because those APIs have been removed by craigslist now. Airbnb saw a spurt of growth during the political campaigns for Barrack Obama, when people had difficulty in finding hotels. That was the right timing to tap and it may not come again.
When I plant a seed, I know what kind of fruit it is going to produce. If I am planting tomato seeds then I can expect only tomatoes and not cherries. But there is no sure way of predicting whether the seeds will sprout or not, and which plant will grow enough to produce fruit. All I can see are the leaves, the week-by-week growth, and I can predict the timing of the fruit based on the weekly growth of the plant. If my plant stopped growing then I can try to add fertilizer or cut the weeds. But there really is not much I can do to hasten the growth.
Just as I have limited space in my garden,I have limited time and resources in my startup. I cannot plant seeds for 10 plants if I have the space for only six. As a gardener I know that no plant will grow if I allocate below minimum required resources. I apply the same strategy in content marketing,by picking a number of channels that I can handle well with currently available resources.
Take an example of blogging for content marketing: you will see initial response of users, then you can check the ratio of customers who are reading your article versus social shares versus comments. You can measure the average time spent by the user on each article and then be able to decide if blogging is the right channel for you to make a connection with your customers.
If you have a good response on your blog then set a monthly target of traffic and promote your blog (promotions are the fertilizers for content marketing) to see if you can figure out one distribution channel from where you can attract new users.
If my plant stopped growing, I cannot wait for months. I can wait for a few days (or weeks) depending upon the time left in the current season of fruit. If my plant fails to grow further in the waiting period, I will not get fruit in the current season even if the plant resumes growth. I have to take hard decisions of replacing it with other plants.
If blogging is not working, try video marketing. Else Slideshare, or infographics. Make sure you give sufficient time for each marketing experiment.
If you expect fruit in a few days of planting seed then you will keep changing plants but never see fruit. If you are ready to wait for the plant to grow then the season will change and you will not see any fruit. You will also lose the opportunity to try another plant.
In marketing, test all channels of growth that can be harnessed to communicate your message to your audience. Try Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram, but stick to the one or two that work best for luring your audience.
In conclusion, you should not plant more than your capacity, you should wait for reasonable time to see growth, and you should not expect to see fruits before nurturing your plant.