New York Times Journalist Brent Staples, a Pulitzer Prize winner for his coverage on race relations, has been writing about U.S. Military base names for years. Two days before George Floyd was killed, Staples published another editorial piece on the military issue, entitled, Why Does the U.S. Military Celebrate White Supremacy?
In it, Staples urged the U.S. Military to rename 10 military bases named after Confederate officers. According to the New York Times, the 10 bases are among the more than 1,700 Confederate monuments and other named tributes nationwide. The list includes an Alabama high school named for Jefferson Davis; Washington and Lee University in Virginia; and 11 statues in the U.S. Capitol.
After years of not much at all happening around this issue, this time the fire was lit. Staple’s plea skyrocketed to public importance in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement.
According to Staples…“If you write about something long enough, the moment comes around when people can grasp it. It may be after Trump leaves, but I think this matter is rolling downhill with tremendous speed.”
If Staples was a marketer, he would have given up years ago and nothing would have happened. Marketers don’t have the patience or the tenacity of journalists.
For content marketing to truly work, it takes years, often times many years for the content to catch fire, enabling audience growth.
September, 2009 marked the two-and-a-half year anniversary of starting my blog. Money was hard to come by and I was doubting myself. I was at a low point. I pretty much gave up.
Luckily I decided to keep going a little longer. Six months later everything took off. Two months after that we received a million dollar offer for the business. Five years after that we sold for more than 20 million.
Patience is everything in this business. Not only do you need it, you have to instill it in the minds of your co-workers and the executives in your company. Spreading patience involves as much internal education as it does time.
Second…the Hook (differentiation)
Being different is essential.
David Portnoy left corporate America in 2003 and founded Barstool Sports (see image above), a publication devoted to fantasy sports, gambling predictions, sports culture and gratuitous pictures of models. Portnoy himself described the content as sports/smut. For distribution, Dave personally handed out copies to Bostonians around subways and street corners.
Since that modest start, Portnoy executed the Content Inc. model to perfection, selling two stakes in Barstool Sports (one in 2016 and one in 2020), the latter one valued at $450 million dollars.
Good for David.
But with the complete stoppage of all sporting events by mid-March, content for the site was hard to come by.
Enter the stock market.
Since that time, Portnoy personally live streams his daily stock trading activity to millions of sports fanatics turned day traders. Portnoy regularly chastises big-time investors like Warren Buffett and actively promotes stocks as “bets.” Basically, he’s treating the stock market like gambling. There is no difference to him or his fans (maybe he’s right).
Bloomberg, and many other media sites, give Portnoy some credit for the recent Robinhood Rally, a nickname for the explosive growth in a basket of stocks led by Gen Z and millennial traders via trading site Robinhood (which added 3 million users in March alone).
I smell trouble. Portnoy regularly live streams how “he can’t lose” or “the market can only go up” or “push your chips in the middle, do not take profits.” When you hear those kinds of words, from anyone, the bubble is about to break (if you don’t believe me, see the Internet bubble of 2000 or the real estate bubble in 2007).
But regardless of whether I believe him or not, what he is doing is pure genius. Here are a couple points worth considering:
– Portnoy actively screams against the establishment, which is perfect for his audience of anti-establishment 20- and 30-year olds.
– He’s raw and unfiltered. He doesn’t care what anyone thinks (sound familiar?).
– He produces content every day. He’s always on and consistently there for his audience.
– HE IS DIFFERENT. He talks different. His advice is different. Simply put, he stands out. Portnoy’s content hook is the size of Nebraska.
Long-story short, he’s created a very specific message to a very specific group of people, delivering that messaging consistently. It’s no wonder he’s built an audience of millions in a very short period of time.
Any person or company can do this with focus and patience (see the first story), but most companies opt against it.
Using this kind of process, I believe any person can build an asset worth five million in five years…but it is a TON of work and most are not willing to do it.
The following was an excerpt from Joe’s newsletter. Only subscribers receive the full version.