The Stack is a weekly Facebook Live show focusing on the latest tools, trends, and technology in the world of sales and marketing.

In this week’s episode, Sean and Tim talk about the Content Inc. model of content marketing.

Watch The Recording:

What Chance the Rapper’s Success Can Teach Us About Marketing

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few years, you’ve probably heard of Chance the Rapper, the insanely popular YouTuber-turned-superstar-rapper. Even if you don’t know his name, you’ve probably seen his Kit Kat commercials.

The interesting thing about how he works, though, is that he doesn’t sell his music, at least not in the traditional sense. Instead, he offers his music for free, which allowed him over time to create a devoted fanbase. He then monetized this fan base by selling concert tickets, merchandise, and promotions.

Does that sound familiar to you? It should: It’s essentially the Content Inc. model created by Joe Pulizzi of the Content Marketing Institute.

The Content Inc. Framework

Step 1: Find Your Sweet Spot

The Sweet Spot is the intersection of knowledge and passion, or knowledge and customer pain points, that your product fits into.

In Chance’s case, the “knowledge” portion boils down more to a unique perspective and personality. Chance raps about the things that resonate with his audience; things that are real; things that they care about.

Step 2: Create a Content Tilt

This means creating better and more engaging content than what is already out there today. Your goal is to offer the best content option in your niche.

This is often easier said than done, especially in a highly competitive field like rapping or entertainment. But Chance put in the time and effort to hone his craft and become a better rapper, through practice and simply listening to his audience.

Step 3: Build Your Base

You need to decide what platform you are going to use to create and distribute your content. Settle on a consistent publishing schedule so that your audience grows.

Chance the Rapper started building his audience on Youtube and Soundcloud. He offered his videos for free, gradually building up his audience from a handful of viewers to the millions that he has today.

Step 4: Harvest Your Audience

Get your audience to subscribe to your content (think: newsletter) once they’ve consumed the first piece of content.

If you’re producing YouTube videos like Chance, then this is as simple as encouraging people to hit the “Subscribe” button so that they keep returning to watch more videos.

Step 5: Syndicate Your Content

Try finding other media channels to syndicate your content and share it with their audience, thereby growing your reach.

In Chance’s case, this started small — finding other YouTuber’s willing to share his videos and have him on as a guest — but grew larger as his audience did. For example, he has appeared on various talk shows and partnered with Spotify, etc., allowing his content to reach a wider audience.

Step 6: Monetize

Once you have built your devoted audience, you can convert them into customers by offering them something to buy.

We mentioned that Chance the Rapper is different because he doesn’t sell his music. Instead, he offers it for free, but makes money through advertisements (on YouTube), sponsorships (the Kit Kat commercial, for example), merchandise sales, and concert ticket sales.

How You Can Put This Model Into Action

Wondering how this can apply to your efforts? Well, it depends on if you’re an entrepreneur or solopreneur, or if you’re a marketer that’s with a company or team.

If you’re a solopreneur without a large marketing budget, the Content Inc. model is a great way to begin building up a devoted audience that will one day buy your product. In this way, you are starting with free, valuable content and using it to build trust with your eventual customers; once they know and love you, they’ll happily give you their money. Think back to the Inbound Methodology.

That being said, it’s important to note that you will need the ability to support yourself while you are building up your audience, since during this time you will not be making many, if any, sales. That means that you’ll most likely need to do keep your day job while working towards establishing your audience.

If you’re a marketer that’s a part of a team or company, the Content Inc. strategy is still a great way to build trust with your ideal customers. By offering up your company’s expertise for free and answering questions that your audience has, those people will be more likely to trust you when it comes time to make a purchase, which is always helpful.

Beyond that, building an audience through content delivery might help you uncover an unmet need, which could turn into a new revenue stream for you to monetize. Maybe you learn that your audience really wants or needs a service that you don’t currently offer; maybe you can directly monetize the content by offering it as a paid educational course or event. There are a lot of possibilities.

Tools to Get It Done

Wondering what tools can help you leverage your audience the most as you build it up?

If you’re a solopreneur without a huge budget, there are a lot of free tools that you can use when you’re starting out.

  • HubSpot’s freemium stack (HubSPot Marketing Free, CRM Free, Sales Free) will allow you to capture leads and give you insights that’ll help you make your content more effective. It will also help you begin converting your audience into leads through tools like Leadflows.
  • Mailchimp will let you send out newsletters to lists of up to a few thousand subscribers, for free.
  • WordPress is an easy-to-use and free service for building a blog to host your content.
  • Buffer will let you schedule out your social media posts.

As your audience grows and you begin making money, you can upgrade to the paid versions of these tools, which will have a lot more functionality and let you dive deeper.

If you are a part of a marketing team or company, the paid HubSpot Marketing solution is probably your best bet, as it will give you a full funnel to build your audience and convert them from visitors, to leads, to customers.

In the News:

This week, Sean talks about HubSpot’s recent investment in Sigster, an email signature campaign tool, and Tim talks about HubSpot’s most recent product updates.

  • Sincerely, Helpful: Why HubSpot is Investing in Sigstr
  • Why Chance The Rapper’s Music is Free and How He Makes Money
  • One Video. Less than Ten Minutes. All your HubSpot Product Updates.
    • User Management within HubSpot
      • The ability to add/manage Teams
      • Ability to set user access on a tool by tool basis
    • Reports
      • Dozens of new out-of-the-box reports, with a focus on Sales reports and reports for Companies
    • Workflows
      • New fields: Type, Title, Reminder Date fields
      • Task Personalization: Can add contact personalization tokens to notes within workflows
    • Integration with Facebook ads
      • Facebook lead ads, which uses Facebook data to auto-populate forms and drive conversions
      • Can now create those lead adds in HubSpot Marketing/HubSpot Marketing Free
    • Twitter
      • Large Twitter Cards for content created/hosted with HubSpot  COS
    • Messages
      • New update allows you to schedule when you want to appear as being “online” in the Messages App
    • Tool of the Week:

      If you work in marketing, then you know how important it is to have inbound links to your content. Google likes to see other websites linking back to your content, because the more links you have pointing in, the greater the likelihood is that your content is good, which means that it’ll make Google’s searchers happy. So, if you have a lot of high-quality links pointing to your website, then you domain and page authority will be higher within Google’s algorithm, making you more likely to rank high in search results.

      As a marketer, that means that at least some of your time needs to be devoted to link building, which is just a fancy way of saying “finding websites to link back to your content.” Link building is hard work, but the payoffs can be really great for your SEO efforts.

      It’s hard because it’s time consuming: You need to put the time in to identify the websites most likely to link to your site, and then you need to reach out to them, and if they respond to you  then you need to spend time convincing them to link to you.

      One of the easier way to acquire inbound links is by guest-posting on other peoples’/companies’ blogs or websites, in exchange for a link back to your own (usually in  your bio, etc.). The website you’re pitching to likes the deal because they’re getting free content; you like it because you are getting a link. Win-win!

      Well, is a website that aims to make this whole process simpler for marketers who are looking for websites to guest post on. The service comes with a number of tools, including:

    • A “Scraper” that searches for websites accepting guest posts
    • An “Editor Pitch Template” generator, saving you time writing emails
    • An SEO checker, making sure that any website you are considering writing for is in good standing. If the website has poor authority, then writing for them won’t do you any good, so this is good to know.
    • Access to editor contact information, which is so critical to successful outreach only costs $19/month, a perfectly reasonable price for such a valuable service. Check it out!

    Tune in next Friday at 1pm for the next episode of The Stack, or check out the archives for more on-demand episodes.

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