Danny Iny recently published his book ‘Engagement From Scratch!’, a collection of essays from some of the world’s most prominent online experts that answered the question: If you had to start from scratch, how would you build an engaged online audience?
As I read each essay I had at least one light bulb moment that had me scrabbling for my ideas notebook. These ideas will definitely be shaping my business marketing over the year to come and I’ve jotted a few of them down for you.
Danny Iny (Firepole Marketing): Don’t sell yourself short. Create content people would pay for.
Brian Clark (Copyblogger): Engagement without conversion is useless. Plan a content schedule that builds up to a product launch or event.
Danny Brown (Bonsai Interactive): Don’t be afraid to be open and speak honestly.
Guy Kawasaki (Alltop/Enchantment): Set yourself up as a likable, trustworthy, quality-driven person in your niche.
Mark W Schaefer (Business Grow): A blogging community is only the beginning. My community has become customers, my collaborators, my friends.
Mitch Joel (Six Pixels of Separation): Your audience doesn’t have to be your client base but your client base must be part of your audience.
Anita Campbell (SmallBizTrends/BizSugar): Dream big dreams. Set small goals.
Marlee Ward (MarleeWard): Building an audience is like growing a garden; it needs tending.
Tristan Highee: No one wants to read blogs from a robot. Let people get to know you through your content.
Derek Halpern (Social Triggers/DIYThemes): Push 1, 2 or 3 buzz buttons to get your content remarked upon. Buzz buttons are: taboo, unusual, outrageous, hilarious, remarkable (really cool), or secret.
Now I actually had a lot more light bulb moments so this is a book with some serious value. Download or buy your own copy of Engagement From Scratch to find your own moments. You can download a copy for FREE.
An Interview with Author, Danny Iny
Danny very generously shared some of his time recently, which gave me a chance to quiz him about the process of creating quality content, self-publishing the book and his big lessons along the way.
I started off by asking Danny the person he had in mind when he started putting ‘Engagement from Scratch!’ together and what people can expect when they read it.
Danny: Well, when I started working on the idea of ‘Engagement From Scratch!’, the person I had in mind was the early-stager – whether it’s a blogger or an entrepreneur – anyone who has a message of some kind they want to get out into the world. And they’ve got nobody right now.
If you look around, a lot of the literature – whether it’s books, whether it’s blog posts and so forth – about how to do anything relating to engagement, it always tends to assume that you’ve already got an audience: here’s how to get your audience more engaged; here’s how to interact with them. But what if you’re starting from scratch? I felt that there were a lot of people who were in that situation who weren’t sure where to turn, and so that’s what I was looking to do
Belinda: You have mentioned that you were quite surprised by the variety of responses you received from your experts, and I love the idea that there isn’t one right way to build that community. Do you have any steps that people just can’t avoid when they’re trying to build that momentum?
Danny: When I started looking for consistent threads what I found is that you need to know who you’re writing for, you need to know who your audience is, you have to work hard to create stuff that is incredibly valuable for that audience. And once you know who they are and what to create for them you’ve got to get to work and keep on working for quite a long time.
Success is there to be had by the people who are willing to do the work but the work is substantial and there’s a lot to be done, and a lot of my co-authors were very consistent about that – you’ve got to do the work and it’s not easy. This is, as they say, not for the faint of heart.
Belinda: What would you say are the big lessons you learnt from the whole marketing and promotion process, because it sounds like you approached it with a really good strategy – is there anything you’d go back and change?
Danny: Sure, I made tons of mistakes. I produced two video trailers; the reason I produced the second video trailer is that after investing lots of time, energy and money into the first one I realised it wasn’t all that good. After getting some very good advice from Mitch Joel, one of my co-authors, I went in a totally different direction. So that’s one example.
[You can read Danny’s post, Traffic Generation Café, that explains everything he learnt creating his video promos]
Danny: Another big mistake that I made is the Nominate Your Engagement Superstar contest that we ran to build buzz and excitement before the book launched. Well, I’m in Canada and our Thanksgiving is at a different time and I didn’t realise that I had scheduled this contest for American Thanksgiving, when nobody is in front of their computer. So that’s just a couple of examples.
The goal should never be to avoid making mistakes. The goal should be to find out what’s a mistake and what’s not a mistake as quickly and effectively as possible so that you can do more of what’s right and less of what’s wrong.
Belinda: I also wanted to mention the big competition you’re running on Firepole Marketing right now, of which I’m very pleased to be an entrant. Could you give everyone an overview about the Marketing That Works ideas contest?
Danny: For sure. Well, Firepole Marketing is about marketing that works. There is a ton of blogs, sites, resources, etc. that talk about marketing and most of them boil down to the five things to do with Twitter and the six things to remember when you’re doing your elevator pitch, and stuff like that.
And that’s not what we’re about, we’re about marketing that works and – despite being good at what we do – we are not arrogant enough to pretend that we have a monopoly on all the good ideas in marketing. We invited people to submit their best, smartest, most cost effective, most innovative marketing idea to the contest, and the 20 finalists, the 20 people who put the most interesting and valuable – in our opinion at least – ideas on the table were invited to write up a guest post explaining exactly how the idea works and how they can apply it.
Belinda is one of our very impressive entrants into the contest, so if you haven’t read her post then you should head over and you should read it; it’s really good. And there are other posts; you should check them out too.
[Aww shucks! Edit – the post no longer exists as Firepole Marketing is now Mirasee]
Belinda: Thank you very much for your time today, Danny. I’ve been really impressed and I’ve found your book very interesting. Is there anything else you wanted to add before we wrap up?
Danny: Just that the book is available for free, EngagementFromScratch.com. If anyone has any questions for me or anything like that, go to Firepole Marketing. There’s a big button that says ‘contact us’, send me an email – it goes straight to my inbox – and I’m very happy to interact with anyone who’s interested in doing something.
That wasn’t all.
The interview also delved into:
- What quality content really is, when to charge for it and when to give it away
- The biggest trap writers face when trying to write for their readers
- The benefits of self-publishing your content, with some great advice to boot