This blog post, which has been forming in my mind over the last week, could be quite a long one. Half of me thinks I shouldn't be publishing it on House Planning Help (and on Regen Media instead), yet the other half feels that I have a duty to do it here, even if I fail to communicate my message. I know that my blog is about energy-efficient homes and I'm trying to become someone of value in this area but I've also been thinking about the bigger problem of climate change.
Let me rewind a bit. My background is in media and I don't think this interest will ever go away, nor would I want it to. Part of my decision not to continue a path in radio was because I believed things were changing and the opportunities for presenters were reducing each year. Of course, the Internet has had a big impact on traditional media. This is not surprising. It's happened across most industries.
I Always Keep Learning
I really enjoy learning and over the last few years I have spent as much spare time as I can afford reading, watching and listening to material that I believe will help me grow. I'm sure lots of ambitious people do this. So when I was made redundant from my last job I had a fairly clear idea that I wanted to set up a business and that its heart had to be focussed on climate change, the most pressing problem we all face. I know people don't like talking about this but as the stakes get higher I want to be doing whatever I can to help lessen the impact. Now that I've started I regret not doing all this sooner.
In the future our generation may be regarded as self-centred for doing very little, even though we had the opportunity to do much more. I want to be able to say I gave it my best shot.
Knowing how the Internet can give anybody a voice I turned to content marketing to set up my platform. The subject would be house building, a topic I have always found fascinating. My focus would be energy efficiency because this is a common sense approach and there's much more to be done, and I'd just see where it leads me. My background in television and radio probably gives me an advantage but when it boils down to it, anyone could do it. I suppose I do love making content, which is always good when it comes to content marketing!
After 6 Months I Have The Foundations of an Online Community
I wouldn't say I'm the world's best person at doing this but I've kept learning every step of the way. As I reach the 6-month mark I've created an audience out of nowhere. I'm approaching 10,000 downloads for the podcast, I'm averaging about 1000 unique users per month on the website and I've neglected my YouTube channel so nothing's going on there (but it's my aim to change that this year!). This may all seem fairly small scale – and it is – but I'm moving in the right direction and I know exactly what to do. It's just having the time and resources to do it! I'll get there.
The point I'm trying to make is it's working. So long as I keep producing great content, the community that is engaged with this content will grow. There's another way of thinking of it, that you attract these people because you make a connection. That's why this form of marketing is so powerful because you build up trust before you then use that trust for a purpose. In most cases that has been about selling a product or service at the end. I personally feel that's not the only use of that influence. It could be used to tackle a bigger goal. Before we get to this bit I need to go back to last week.
Influence-based Marketing Could Help My Local Town
I'm part of a group called ‘The Future of Hertford'. Hertford is the town where I live and I want to do whatever I can to help Hertford grow. In my mind the feel of the town has changed quite a lot, even in the 8 years that I've been here. I'm sure places will always get better and worse – it's a cycle. I wanted to join this group to see if I could have a positive impact in any way. Over the last year we've been putting together ideas and have been taking our time to get the strategy right to plot out our town's future.
In many respects our town is lucky because it has so much going for it, but where it's struggling – and I think this is happening everywhere – is that shops are closing down because of pressure from the Internet. I don't know what it was about this particular meeting or perhaps it's where I am in my knowledge of content marketing but I suggested we play the Internet at its own game: use it – the influence from content marketing – to attract people back into the town. The minute I came up with the idea, I got very excited. I knew that, if done correctly, it would work. All we needed was a niche. In this case, I suggested that we make that topic about regenerating towns. Like I've done with House Planning Help we, as a town, could start an investigation into discovering what the answers are. Everyone in our group is so passionate that I can't see how we won't generate some amazing content. Great content means attracting an online community. We also have the benefit that local people will probably be interested in content that is about Hertford, so our online community is likely to have its most loyal following in the town. As we build up the online community it's up to us how we use the influence after that.
There was a strange atmosphere in the room. I imagine there were those who didn't have a clue what I was talking about and a handful of people who could understand I was onto something. As if to emphasise the point a reporter from the local paper, who I didn't even know was attending this meeting, jumped up and came over to me to ask if I could do an interview. I smiled to myself, as I could see this would make a nice story for him (content).
Perhaps because I've worked in an industry that constantly demands content, I have a better sense of it.
Climate Change is Happening
I was quite excited for the rest of the day, but I couldn't stop my brain thinking. Could content marketing go further? Could it reach a higher purpose? And that's when I wondered the big question, could it help tackle climate change in any way? If you're a climate change doubter then watch this short video.
I'm not really bothered why climate change has happened, because that's the past, but I am interested in what it means for the future. Is there anything we can do to stop this temperature rise? As I've found out more during the House Planning Help Podcasts my personal view is that everything's already gone too far and we will see significant rises in sea level (that will be devastating). You may hold a different view. Either way, we have to change how we live on this planet as fossil fuels are depleting with every day that goes by, as well. We can start now while it's easier (and a choice) or learn the hard way when life is also tougher. I feel that whatever is coming is a reminder that we are just another species on the planet and not above nature's laws.
We Have to Change How we Live on This Planet
If we can avoid further global temperature rises, then we have to coordinate this lifestyle change on the biggest scale ever known. This cannot only be told to people but must be embraced by them, so that it is second nature. We have to start with the end in mind. What will our lives look like in the future if we, as individuals, are not contributing to climate change? The sad reality is it's a gigantic paradigm shift. I know my Carbon footprint needs reducing, but do I have the courage to do everything that's required? I don't have the answer to this question yet but I hope I can find that courage. I'm certainly taking steps in the right direction.
Getting back to the global picture for a moment, I do feel I've figured out something. The Internet has arrived just at a time when we need it most. We need to penetrate the minds of everyone on this planet, instilling the message that we each have a responsibility: we are in this together. It's still a long shot but we can't give up.
Marketing Has Changed
So, let's get back to content marketing. It's in its infancy, really. Think of the Internet as a field of dreams. You can own a part of the Internet but only one part, a niche. The early adopters have already built significant communities. They try to sell information-based products on the whole, because that's the easiest thing to do. Of course, their strategies will work with any product. It's all about influence. There are niches that are filling up: how to make money online, how to do content marketing, how to podcast, how to blog, how to use social media, etc. What happens is people, almost with celebrity status, become known as the ‘go to' people for a given niche. You have to remember that this is all about the world, not just in England, America, China, Nepal, wherever . . . That's why people are scrambling to get themselves out there.
There's nothing to say how long this will continue because if everyone did it no content would ever get consumed, or perhaps only the best content. At present, it works and many niches remain untouched or only in their early days.
Why am I sharing this with you? I think it's because the early adopters will always have more influence. The reason for this is because they have given us brilliant advice. They are the people that have helped us advance in some way and for that reason we will always be grateful (unless they do something untoward to lose this status). That means that a pyramid is forming in each niche, where the person at the top is the most influential. I've already heard one brand saying things like: ‘The number 1 Internet marketing and business show since 2005‘. This is because they want to make it clear where they are in this chain.
It's Time to Get Our Priorities Straight
In my mind the most important issue of our generation is the environment and therefore our best hope of influencing people to change their ways is if ‘the people with the right way of approaching the topic' are at the top of these pyramids for their given niches. I don't think it matters what your niche is but it does matter that you're near the top of this pyramid.
I'm taking a big risk here in looking stupid if I'm wrong, but I don't think I am.
Creating a Platform Doesn't Happen Overnight
Another fundamental in the process of content marketing is that it doesn't happen overnight. Think of a tree. If you want a tree today then you should have planted the seeds years ago. The next best time to plant those seeds is today. Content marketing works in the same way. You need to build a platform (which is effectively a community of people) and that takes time.
I'm not denying that this is hard work and a never ending process, but there are currently rewards for those who do it.
Having attracted YOU as an audience I hope you are getting to know me as someone who is genuine. I'm only sharing this information because I feel we need more focus on the topic of climate change. It is not going away.
I've picked my niche and I will continue to produce content about energy-efficient homes. There is still time for you to enter this area or others. I don't want anyone to rush into this but if this blog post has got you thinking, then my one call to action is to find out about a handful of people. I personally believe their podcasts to be their most powerful form of communication, but they are everywhere online.
Smart Passive Income – Pat Flynn
This is Your Life – Michael Hyatt
Internet Business Mastery – Jeremy Frandsen and Jason Van Orden
Everything you need from them is FREE. Be warned, they will try to sell to you! Just listen to how they use their influence. The process is very clever. I haven't bought anything from them but I have consumed enough of their content to feel that I owe them something. There are many, many other people who are harnessing this marketing approach, but I've chosen these people because I trust them the most (famous last words!).
The Right Influence Could Just Change People's Attitudes
My idea is to build up influential people across any and every niche going (where your personal passion lies) . . . but with a common thread, these people realise that change in how we live is inevitable. By portraying this new lifestyle in as many different places as possible, greater change could occur.
I would love to know what you make of this. If I have wasted your time then I apologise, but I felt compelled to share these thoughts. My biggest hope is persuading you by my action. If I can amass a sizeable of community of people who care about building better, more efficient houses, then that should say something.
What lifestyle changes are you making? How can we shift attitudes worldwide?