Your media for your audience, customers, or sponsors: What is your story bridge?

Story Bridge Originally uploaded by Cyron

From a business point of view we are all looking for that magic bullet or Holy Gail when we read, listen, or watch some bit of media. What were those "secrets of marketing" reported in the Wall Street Journal? What did Marketing Over Coffee say about using Yahoo Pipes? What did Michael Gerber say in his E-Myth book (BTW, highly recommended)? And what is it that Jason Calacanis keeps emailing me (Not for the timid or faint of heart but good material)? We all are intently tuned in, trying to discover that bit of information, that, when applied to your business, will increase revenue, sales, listeners, subscribers, downloads, or whatever other thing you've been monitoring (You are monitoring your media, right?).

Well, apply those same questions to your audience, customers, or sponsors. Whether you are blogging (mirco or regular), podcasting, or vidblogging, you have an audience that takes time out of their day to gain something of value from your media. Sponsors are supporting your media because they perceive your connection to an audience will help their needs (increase sales, revenue, leads, etc.). So how are you helping your audience, customers, or sponsors? What steps are you taking to help them connect to your media? What expectations do they have based on your marketing actions? What story can you tell them with all those metrics?

First, there really is no magic bullet, single button to push that makes it all happen, or some action that will solve all problems. The only real thing you can do is have a plan on how you are going to create your media and share your story to everyone. To help, here are some suggested actions:

  • Identify the story you want to share. This sets the tone for the next item. You probably will not have any data yet but figure out that story. What is your media about? Do you expect to have a global audience? Are you planning to connect with audience every day? Do you anticipate 20 or 30 weekly comments about your posts? Is there a story arc you will weave across episodes? Do you have a shtick?
  • Collect some metrics that you can actually use to support your story about your media. Beware the analysis paralysis! For example, for some Truffle Media Networks shows, we collect some 14 items: show downloads, ad impressions in shows, emails sent, emails opened, emails clicked, web banner impressions, web banner clicks, web visits, shows produced, minutes produced, special shows produced, #interviews produced, registered users, and conferences attended. OK, 14 items is a wee bit much. Pick ones you can easily collect. Be sure to look at the published ADM standards for guidance.
  • Weave the metrics to the story idea. If you go through all this work and don't use those metrics then why did you do it? Don't just spew the data at someone. Take that story idea (first item in this list!) and see if some of that collected data can support your story.
  • Get the story out there. This should be done through any and all means in your toolbox: Blog it, do a special show, create a document for your sponsors, email to selected friends, Twitter it, post info to relevant Facebook groups, etc. Which channel to use depends on the ecosystem of your audience, customers, or sponsors.
  • Repeat actions items above on a regular basis. Some of that frequency will be driven by your sponsors' and audiences' expectations. Monthly is usually good enough; at Truffle we operate around a monthly cycle for some items (downloads/web analytics) and a two / three month cycle for other data points (conferences/interviews).

Sharing your story will get some reactions, some good and some maybe not so good. One of the first times we published some metrics we discovered that web analytics data (banner clicks) were just really really low. Low. Really low. But that was OK because the audio portion (downloads) of the show was really good. And this was just fine for our story: getting ag related information on your portable listening device. Going to the web site was not a core element and our sponsors were just fine with that. But I panicked as I was too focused on the raw data. Remember to utilize your raw data in the framework of your story.

Final note: Some of what I just wrote is really part of a marketing and sales plan. If what you are doing is to seeking to make money from the media you produce then plans are what you need to develop and monitor in order to succeed. Covering marketing and sale plans is beyond the scope of this post. If you want to learn more, I recommend NxLeveL or the Kaufman Center for Entrepreneurship.