Let’s take a look at a few sites to see some examples. We took the two top snowboarders in action sports – Gretchen Bleiler and Jeremy Jones.
Gretchen’s website is very well designed, flashy colours with all the cool effects that you see in various action sports oriented websites.
She has put enough content that keeps you coming back, however, let’s take a deeper look.
We know that the aim for any athlete’s website is to:
People want authencity.
Not PR spin. Gretchen’s content that is published is bland, corporate speak with no warmth in them. No stories, no way people can relate to her. They don’t tell much about her personality and you can see that she doesn’t put any effort into it.
People coming on to her site to check out her videos, maybe going briefly over her posts, take a peek at some photos and don’t come back. There have been some infrequent updates. You can see that there is a lack of interaction between herself and her fans – there are no comments at any of her posts, videos or photos.
Pretty much, her website has become a PR exercise than any attempt at connection. It seems like a fabricated exercise without any attempt at authencity.
Keep it simple.
Let’s take a look at Jeremy Jone’s site. Very simple. Not a lot of flashy colours or design. But how much do you want to bet that after reading two or three of Jeremy’s posts, you have a good understanding of who he is and what his thoughts are. You get the feeling that you’re reading the deep thoughts of Jeremy, who took the time to reveal his authentic side.
Look at his photos! Simply stunning! But what is most important is that he’s forging a connection with his fans… Take a look at how many comments his posts have generated compared to Gretchen’s. Read how personal the comments are, as fans feel a genuine connection with Jeremy.
Where is the interaction?
One of the benchmarks of a successful blog is the number of comments people put after a post. It shows people care, that they are reading and taking the time to intereact with you.
In Gretchen’s blog, there is almost a non-existent interaction. It’s more like an one way conversation..
Compare that to Jeremy’s blog, where almost after every post, there are 10-15 comments. You can see that his fans feel a personal connection with him and tell him that. They feel that they are seeing a real person and not someone who is a PR flack.
Who is Xprezo?
To work for Xprezo, a mountain bike company founded in Quebec, you have to be passionate! Founded by a former racer, the company’s philosophy is to build bikes for racers, those who want to rip, and need a bike that is dependable. Hugo Bardou, founder, that Exprezo is his second bike company.
Hugo started his first bike company, Balfa with some partners, in 1995. They specialized in downhill bikes, and in 2003, he launched Xprezo. With the launch of Xprezo, he began to focus on creating a cross country bike, something which he is intimately familiar with as he used to race cross country. This was when the WUUU was built. And then the cyclocross HOP followed. After that the freeride bike – Furax came out after 2 years of development. And in 2010, a hardtail, and an endurance bike is in the works. Xprezo definitely has a high cost to them. Xprezo maintains that this is because they were locally built, they can focus on quality control and make immediate adjustments to the models while they are being tested by the team.
But how can a small company stand against the larger multinationals? Having a chat with Hugo at the Mont Bromont Nissan UCI World Cup, he mentions that he’s not worried about generating publicity. “Our marketing plan revolves around the success of out team riders. They are the face of our company, and they provide us with a lot of visbility nationally and internationally,” explains Hugo. “We don’t spend money on large advertising campaigns.”
It seems to have been working, as they sell a lot of bikes in the provinces of Quebec and Ontario. They are also actively looking at expanding to England and WEstern Canada.
What can be done better?
Xprezo as a company has achieved quite a bit of headway with their marketing strategy revolving entirely around races and their team. However, they can do more to increase their exposure within their target audience.
1. Team Blogs
As the company marketing strategy revolves around their riders, they can focus on providing a human face to the team. What do they like, why are their bikes good? What do they hate? What have they changed on the bikes? The more information that is available about the team riders, the better is it for fans to build relationships with the company. Of course, having the team available after races to chat with the fans and then keep in touch either through Facebook or on the team website blog would be helpful.
One of the best ways to create your own blog is to use Facebook. It has a built in audience and is easily marketed to all your fans. I would highly recommend the company to create their own Facebook page and link to the team blogs. They can then create multiple fan pages for each of their riders, by making them admin, the riders can upload own content.
Check out Gary Fisher and the 29ercrew who are using blogs to their best advantage.
Nothing creates more excitement than a multi-sensory experience with the product! Online videos are the closest thing that a reader or a fan can get to actually experiencing your brand. Companies like RedBull, Kona, Roxy, QuikSilver, Billabong, The North Face and others all use video to best effect. They all realize that it’s not the features that sell products, but emotions. Especially when it’s related to B2C sales. So, if you want to convey excitement, do it through an online video. Check out our other article on how to use YouTube to your best advantage.
3. Online PR
An underrated strategy which involves creating media releases for online distribution, creating discussion groups on various forums and social media sites revolving around your brand, making comments and creating a dialogue on various off-brand blogs and websites. This is a multi-pronged approach whose goal is to create brand exposure amongst your key audiences – which in this case are dealers and consumers.
A large part of sales come from dealers in the MTB industry. You have to build relationships with these dealers as they have strong relationships with their local communities. By working with dealers, such as RubbersideDown (http://www.rubbersidedownsales.com/products.html) who exclusively deal with Xprezo bikes, Xprezo can have a local meet and greet with their riders and do bike demos. This can be then videotaped and posted online for all to see… An easy way to create great content at low cost!
Some ideas for dealer events can be:
Now contests can be both online and offline. You can create a contest that is offline and managed online. In creating contests, you’re only limited by your imagination. Here are things you have to be aware of in order to run a successful contest:
You have been staring at your computer screen for hours, stumped.
As a small business owner, you have to deal with unpaid invoices, inventory checks, vendor issues and on top of that, you have to promote your business and build relationships with your clients. So that's why you blog.
But why is it so hard?!
As an expert in your field you should know what topics are important for your clients...what their pain points are. But in the last hour or so, all you're doing is staring at a blank, white screen of your microsoft word document.
Makes you want to throw that laptop through the window....Just take comfort that you're not the only one with this problem....
Learning to be chatty...
No, it's not from relaying the neighborhood gossip online... although it can help.
It's by planning your editorial strategy and calendar weeks in advance. As real estate agents say, it's all about the location. Likewise, for content marketers it's about planning, planning, planning. Here are the steps that you must take to never run out of things to write about:
Research your competition and readers.
As you can see, an important part of the editorial process is research. And a large part of the research is the information/search habits of your readers. If you are an experienced online marketer, you already know what tools you would use to compile a list of search terms that your readers use to find solutions to their problems.
There are hundreds of tools out there but the simplest one is the Google keywords tool which will allow you to determine the keywords used by a particular site. So, if you want to quickly find out some of the keywords that your competitors are using, simply type in their domain and you would get a list of their keywords and phrases. Use these keywords to use as a foundation for your blog posts.
Know your sources
You need to find an issue that hasn’t been beaten to death already by competitors or experts. If there’s only really one main issue at stake, give it a novel spin; zoom in on a detail; zoom out to put it in context – anything to keep things fresh and make people want to know more about. Spend the time to create a source list that will allow you to keep track of breaking topics:
The editorial calendar is a great way for you to beat writers block. There are other benefits to creating an editorial calendar such as: