If you’ve worked in marketing during the last decade, you’ve probably heard of “big rock content” a term coined in 2011 by Jason Miller during his time as a Marketing Manager at LinkedIn. The premise is simple: Create a robust piece of content in a space where your brand wants to own a topic or conversation, and then repurpose that content into multiple sub-topics and smaller assets.
“Create a robust piece of content in a space where your brand wants to own a topic or conversation, and then repurpose that content into multiple sub-topics and smaller pieces.”
In other words, big rock content is of such high quality that your audience can’t help but check it out, no matter what form it comes in. The content we’re talking about must be groundbreaking — better than anything else out there. By first busting through the noise with your big rock, your company can then build a stronger connection with your audience and re-engage them through supporting content (your small rocks).
This sounds great, in theory, but what does this look like in action? We’re so glad you asked! In this post, we’ll use Show Business as an example of a big rock (video series) that we supported with additional content. Let’s dig in!
The origin story of Show Business actually starts years ago with Brandwagon, a first-of-its-kind talk show for marketers. The show was a huge hit with our audience, and we knew we were on to something. It even inspired us to launch the Brand Affinity Marketing Playbook, which explained why brands should invest in creating binge-worthy content to build a following.
Over the years, we’ve become huge advocates for the power of Brand Affinity Marketing and how binge-worthy content can create genuine connections between your brand and audience. We’ve launched several of our own video series and podcasts in order to do this and have shared our lessons learned along the way.
However, we knew there was still something missing. We wanted to empower anyone and everyone to feel confident creating meaningful content for their brands — beyond sharing what we knew, we wanted to really make sure we were teaching people how to apply those lessons. Thus, the idea for Show Business was born. More than just a standalone video series, our intent wasto create an educational experience that people walked away from ready to create their own binge-worthy content.
We knew that Show Business would be a cornerstone piece of content for our brand — our big rock! — and we knew we’d need a ton of support to earn it the attention it deserved. Because of that, we elevated the content early in the planning phase as we mapped out our full show launch and promotion plan.
Here are a few questions you can ask to help define your own big rock opportunity:
- What does our audience (niche) care about?
- What topics are relevant for our business?
- Where does overlap exist between our audience and business?
- Is there demand (search volume) for this topic?
- How competitive is this topic?
- What are our goals with this piece of content?
- How can this topic be broken into smaller support assets?
- Do we have the resources to execute this project well?
Content can be a super broad term, so let’s narrow your scope. For Show Business, here’s a list of the content we created for specific channels to support the show launch and ongoing promotion.
One of our main goals with Show Business was to empower creators and “non-creators” alike to make their own show-driven content.
To help folks along, we created several guides, templates, and decks that follow along with each episode. Instead of making traditional PDF downloads, we built these assets in Google Drive so that anyone can easily access and collaborate within the resources.
We included behind-the-scenes videos and bonus footage throughout the course experience as a way to further engage our audience. This was actually easier than it sounds because we had all of the film already captured! We simply had our editor suss out the best parts and put together a montage for each episode.
Here’s a sneak peek at some of our bonus video content:
Outside of the core Show Business experience, we created a blog calendar chock-full of supporting content.
Instead of doing a hard sell and focusing on why folks should watch the show, we took a wider lens and crafted ideas around our experience bringing the show to life and lessons learned along the way.
We’ve already rolled out a few of these pieces, like Behind the Curtain with Wistia Studios: Pre-Production for Show Business, and we have several more stories and perspectives to share over the coming months. Even this post is part of our Show Business promotion!
In addition to net-new blog content, we compiled a list of relevant existing articles to update with links and references to Show Business. Since the series is all about creating a video series or podcast, we focused on content related to show production and promotion, like this post on creating a studio mandate.
Another way we rallied around the idea of show creation was to host a webinar after Show Business launched, in which we discussed the ins and outs of remote video production.
While we captured most of the film before the pandemic, we did have a few local participants that we directed and recorded remotely. This experience, on top of producing Wistia business videos for things like product launches and virtual events, resulted in great content for our monthly webinar series.
Chris Lavigne, Head of Production and remote video extraordinaire, hosted the live event on Wednesday, May 17th. While Show Business wasn’t the focus of the entire webinar, we did pull in key moments and invited all viewers to hop in and watch the series. We also sent registrants the direct link to Show Business in our post-webinar email workflow.
Of course, we can’t talk show promotion without talking about social media. To really bring Show Business to life across social platforms, we created unique video clips and snippets for each platform. We kept these clips super short and snappy, with the end goal of driving folks to the website to watch — and it worked! Social media has been our top driver of referrals, second only to email.
Here are a few examples of top-performing posts across social media:
Show Business was our biggest project to date, and we wanted to give Wistia fans the behind-the-scenes scoop on what it took to bring the show to life. We released a bonus episode of our business podcast, Talking Too Loud, with Adam Day, Lead Producer, and Kelly Cheng, Director of Growth and Media, collaborating to pull back the curtains.
The dynamic duo walks through what it took to create and launch a 20-episode video series from start to finish. From coming up with the idea to the full marketing strategy, this episode goes deep.
Podcasts have grown exponentially over the past few years. If you have a brand show, consider hosting someone from your company to talk about the project and provide a new perspective. If you don’t have a show yet, no worries. Look for shows within your industry or your niche where you can pitch topics for a guest appearance.
Now that we’ve walked you through a real-life example of big rock content marketing, let’s explore the five critical steps to making this strategy work.
Getting started is often the hardest part of any big project. We feel you! Coming up with ideas that are aligned with your brand and your audience is an art, not a science.
The key to finding the audience peanut butter to your brand jelly is to deeply understand your niche. Interview your customers, mine online forums that your audience frequents, and use other audience development tools like SparkToro to uncover hidden gems.
Where does your niche hang out online (or offline)? What keeps them up at night? Where do they go for inspiration? What do they find funny? Who do they follow or look up to? These are the questions you should be asking to guide your content’s direction.
For Show Business, we recognized a gap between where marketers are today and where they want to go in the future. We had tons of buy-in for the idea of building brand affinity, but many marketers weren’t sure how to take action and get started. That was our “aha!” moment.
Every piece of content or project should have both goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) that explain how your team will measure success. How you measure success is totally up to you — the most important part is aligning on these goals and metrics and then having a plan for collecting and communicating this information. This could be formal reporting at a set cadence or a reporting dashboard that everyone can access on-demand.
For Show Business, our primary goal was to generate marketing qualified leads (MQLs). We measured this by tracking landing page traffic, conversions (form submissions), engagement throughout the series, and the number of people who complete our course certification.
To streamline the lead generation process, we use HubSpot for lead scoring and nurturing. When show viewers enter their email, they start accruing points for each action they take. This helps us qualify leads before they engage with someone from sales to make sure they’re a good potential fit for our products. We also use Google Analytics, DataBox, and Mode to track performance metrics.
Here comes the fun part — bringing your big rock to life! It’s time to think about the entire project from a holistic perspective and plan out each moment from start to finish. We highly recommend having a strong project manager (or two) on hand to lead this effort. Even if you don’t have a dedicated marketing project manager, you likely have some super-smart folks on other teams that could spearhead the project plan.
For Show Business, we had Evanna Payen, Senior Growth Marketing Manager, and Tyler Borchers, Audience Development Manager, running the show from behind the scenes. They used Asana to manage the entire project from start to finish.
After you’ve figured out how you’re going to create your big rock piece of content, it’s time to plan how you’re going to release it into the wild. This step entails creating a full launch and distribution plan, not only for your big rock but also for all of the smaller rocks that pop up along the way.
For Show Business, we planned a pre-launch phase to build hype and awareness before the big launch. This gave us two weeks to spread the word and build an email list of interested viewers. After the pre-launch phase, we officially launched the show on our website and leveraged email, social media, and press to alert the masses.
Remember — the work doesn’t stop after you launch your big rock moment. Keep the momentum going with ongoing promotion and support from your smaller rocks.
After your big project is live, it’s time to tackle your smaller rocks. There’s no hard and fast rule for how many support pieces you should create or how often you should release them, but you can figure this out during your initial planning phases.
During the planning process, take your big rock and identify sub-themes or sub-topics that could stand alone. Don’t be afraid to get creative here! Content can be as niche or meta as you want here, as long as it ladders up to the bigger rock.
And keep in mind that content isn’t limited to just blogs. Think about how you can support your big rock with other formats. Graphics, podcast episodes, videos — the opportunities are endless!
If you create a piece of cornerstone content for your brand, you should also consider how you can extend its shelf life long after it launches. With a big rock marketing strategy, creating supporting content helps you get the most value out of your video series. This benefits both your audience and your show’s promotional efforts.
Whether you create downloads, blogs, or bonus video content like we did for Show Business, the amount of supporting content you squeeze out of your big rock is entirely up to you. Just remember, when life gives you a big rock, make smaller ones and enjoy the rewards!