red-bullI love Skype. I just had a call with my good friend, George. We chatted about how I’ve moved away from agencies that focus on quantity over quality but how there is so much competition.

“Why don’t you just do it differently?”

Touché …

I thought I’d give it a go, for this post at least.

I thought about reverse engineering the thought process of other successful companies, and then I thought -- which company has the most epic marketing out there? 

As an extreme sports nut, I immediately thought of RedBull.

They are a house of media. No, seriously, they are. RedBull Media House has acted as a catalyst to propel the company to what it is today -- a worldwide brand with sales of over $3 billion. As part of their digital strategy, their YouTube channel has had over 800,000,000 views, acquiring over 3,400,000 subscribers as a by-product.

I watched a couple of the videos on their channel (included below) and here are the thoughts they provoked.

Create a Love Mark

Love Marks -- an insanely insightful book authored by Kevin Roberts, CEO of the advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi -- emphasizes creating an emotional attachment between consumers and brands. Traditionally, passion and love are not things easily created or scaled, but if you focus on the very core of a consumer’s mind -- inspiration and aspiration -- you can be loved at scale.

RedBull did it with Felix Baumgartner's 128,000 ft jump. Anything is possible, and the 36,000,000 viewers know that too; a huge success. On the face of it, Felix’s jump looks like their best campaign to date, but it’s not their only impressive feat. For instance, as a downhill mountain biker, Cam Zinc’s 78ft back flip off the edge of a cliff on a mountain bike at RedBull Rampage had me in disbelief. It touched an inspirational nerve -- to be better, at more than just biking. Nearly 1,000,000 mountain biking fanatics have witnessed the same thing.

RedBull does this at scale, targeting different segments of their audience, with tailor-made videos that will spark the feeling I mention above.

So ... what bugs your target audience, or what does their heart desire? Connecting that with your brand, can you explore this through content? What will turn “another brand” into “I love that brand”?

Create Content Gaps, Then Fill Them

You can label a content gap whatever you want. When the user’s search intent is not being served, there's a gap that needs to be filled with someone's content.

What if you didn't just fill existing content gaps, but created a content gap and filled it at the same time? Let your consumers find you. I’m not saying let’s all be visionaries (yee-ha!), just be a bit more creative.

Look from a birds-eye view at the content landscape. What would people want if you offered it to them? How can you present that to them in an engaging way? Just one exciting piece, or a series of content? Figuring that out makes you epic.

Some of the best marketing efforts by RedBull are pieces of content that, by Google's Keyword standards, nobody even wants. The biggest opportunity online right now is to be different.

Enter James “Bubba” Stewart, a motocross racer. The first African-American to win championships, 2nd on the all-time win list of supercross wins. He and RedBull’s marketing team went and made this video (from a helicopter, no less). There was very little in the form of rider profiles in video form at the time. Great content -- you got me!

Objection Through Competitor Analysis

I’ve talked about competitor analysis; analyzing results for keywords you are targeting. What if they are wrong? What if information is misguided? Well, then you’ll model yourself on, and create, mediocre content. 

For instance, this is a post that really got me thinking -- a highly controversial post, to be sure. But it got me thinking to a point where I thought, who is High Speed Internet? And next time I see the name Carson, I’ll be sure to take five minutes and have a read. He asked questions and he certainly got the attention of the Inbound.org community.

Be objective. Think. Ask questions. It’s interesting.

Robbie Maddison does insane jumps on a motorcycle. What weren’t his competitors doing? The longest jump ever? He did that. What about going vertically, instead of horizontally? On New Year’s Eve, he did just that; jumped on and then back off a stupidly high building -- for fun -- and loads of people watched, too.

Combine Strategic Processes

SEO has become a profession infatuated by the language of links. A more bilingual approach is required, though, combining the pieces of the puzzle. Content ideas -- through to creation, promotion, analytics and strategy adjustment -- they all need to be factors.

I myself have a heavy focus on content. Too heavy. I’m neglecting the other processes that are part of a successful digital content strategy right now and that is setting me up for a big, fat, you guessed it -- failure.

It can take a while to put the pieces together, but they can’t be ignored. So I guess the takeaway is to analyze sections of strategy that are being neglected. Or, on the flip-side, is there a segment being over-compensated for, simply because it’s what you know or enjoy?

Over 19,000,000 million views later, and it's safe to say that the pieces of The Athlete Machine worked for RedBull.

Generating Content Ideas

Generating content isn’t easy, especially if it’s a process you go through daily. On more than one occasion, I’ve started a document template for a post idea -- blank screen for an hour. Nothing. Zilch.

So where do the best ideas come from? Passion and skill; what you love and what you know. Passion allows you to look at things from a different angle -- one that’s much more interesting.

I think it’s fairly obvious; I love extreme sports and business. A fresh angle has given me the opportunity to question everything. That’s not to say I’ll start writing about extreme sports every day; my readers probably don’t care for it. But it will mean I start pulling a lot more takeaways from the things I read and watch -- from things I’m passionate about -- and incorporating those takeaways into my work.

It’s safe to say Danny MacAskill doesn’t read trials riding blogs to improve his skill set. His passion drives him to train, think of new ideas, and put them into practice. Besides the intense bike skills he has, the level of creativity in this video is worth modeling yourself after.

Better Than Just “Good Enough”

Let’s be realistic. There are some amazing companies and individuals popping up online -- many of those are creating content strategies. If you are building a digital content strategy that is just about “good enough,” these people will crush you.

Rankings aren’t everything. If you truly go the extra mile, creating a lasting impact on a viewer, it goes behind one unique visitor. My blog posts take me a ridiculous amount of time. That doesn’t instantly equal quality, but it does mean I make the effort and if I see success from them, it’s been well earned.

I often generate content then ponder, is this good enough? It’s a form of writer’s block I get regularly. The video below made me realize I already have a process to overcome this. Once you feel your piece is complete, leave it in draft mode for a few days before scheduling; keep it on your mind. 

Often when something’s in the back of your mind, you’ll see a lot of it. You want to buy a house? Suddenly for sale signs are everywhere -- even though they’ve been there for months! The same thing will happen with your content. You’ll start seeing things you can add to make it better, which you can use to adjust your piece before hitting Publish.

RedBull takes everything to the extreme, and that’s what allows their content marketing efforts to stand out. So when I’m researching blog post ideas or even editing content, I’ll be sure to remind myself of videos like this.

Create Series and Timelines

Schedule is huge in any digital content strategy. Viewers get used to that post every day, week, or month. But RedBull does something slightly different (but nothing new). Series, not timelines. For many of their videos, this correlates to their events, such as the Signature Series they run.

This is huge. It gives a reason for people to return. After I watched one of the Signature Series episodes, I must have watched 10 in a week. I also stopped watching a couple as they didn’t interest me. What does that give RedBull? Data.

They can see which series as a whole is performing well, then see which individual episodes are outperforming or underperforming. They can better craft their content strategy next time. This is insanely helpful for targeting tiny segments of their demographic, whereby the data they receive may not be as large and therefore, as reliable. They’ll be able to rely on their bigger data sets.

Talking of small, that brings me to the inspiration for this section. The All Access series Redbull runs in Sealand -- said to be the smallest nation in the world (there is some debate). RedBull took their guys to skate there and 2,200,000 skaters have relived their experience.

Repurposing Well-Received Content

I referenced Danny MacAskill’s “Imaginate” above. But before that, they did a similar piece with him -- just as creative and fun to watch for bikers. It’s actually the video below that came first (“Way Back Home” in 2010) -- with over 30,000,000 views.

Compared with other videos (with a lot less views), that gives them a strong chance of success if they repurpose or “rework” the content. Use MacAskill, as even the people that didn’t know he has immense skill, do now. Then, piggyback off the success of that content -- use the structure to replicate its success.

It wasn’t until three years later that “Imaginate” went online, and it’s already had over 18,000,000 views.

So the takeaway is, the content creation process doesn’t have to be 100% unique. Of course, the content itself needs to be, but the idea, the person, the structure, and other components that you can attribute success to previously, can be used time and time again (and adapted to be made even better).

RedBull’s marketing team knew this would be well received before they started making it.

Okay, this is getting kind of long. Plus, I’ve got the itch to watch one of the Signature Series videos.

content mapping

Originally published May 26, 2014 8:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017

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