Cultivating a (Good) Content Farm: Chris Baggott on Content Marketing Lessons Learned as a Chicken Farmer

Chris Baggott, founder of Compendium and co-founder of ExactTarget provides content marketing lessons learned from his other calling — as free-range chicken farmer.

content marketing lessons

As the one of the founders of email marketing platform ExactTarget and the current founder of content marketing platform Compendium, Chris Baggott could easily share several software industry related anecdotes to emphasize the innumerable benefits of effective content marketing.

But that would be too easy. So, in the second part of his two-part Q&A with OpenView Labs, Baggott chose to illustrate the power of great content through the lens of his other business endeavor — as the owner of a farm outside of Indianapolis that focuses on sustainable agriculture.

Yes, you read that right. Below, Baggott talks about how his farm (Tyner Pond Farm) created incredible demand for its free-range chickens by using a simple content marketing strategy, and why that strategy can impact just about any company’s bottom line — whether it sells cloud-based B2B software or responsibly-farmed poultry.

Your reputation as a software entrepreneur precedes you, but you’re also very proud of your newest endeavor as the owner Tyner Pond Farm. How has your content marketing prowess translated to that venture?

The beauty of content marketing is that it can be used in just about any industry. The application, delivery, and consumption of content will vary slightly across industries or markets, obviously, but its ability to communicate a message and provide value is almost universal.

For example, about a month ago, we were preparing to complete all of our chicken processing. So, to coincide with that, we published several posts to Facebook, Twitter, and our blog to raise awareness of when that processing would occur and to encourage customers to order their chickens early to ensure optimal freshness. We ended up selling 300 chickens before we processed even one of them, which is a pretty powerful content marketing testimonial on its own.

From there, however, I asked my customers to submit reviews and recipes after they cooked their chicken. The response was great and we ended up with all of this great chicken content that we could use for our blog, Facebook page, and website.

Best of all, it was mostly evergreen. So when I go to sell chickens again I’ll have this reservoir of great content that I can reuse for blog posts, e-mail newsletters, and social media updates. That content is hugely valuable because it helps me win searches for specific chicken-related keywords, and I didn’t have to invest a ton of time and money into creating it myself.

What do you think is the biggest content marketing challenge that companies face today?

When I co-founded ExactTarget, marketing relevancy was all about having the right data to feed your communication strategy. Ultimately, every company’s goal with online marketing was to deliver the right message to the right customer at the right time. Without the right data, you couldn’t really achieve that goal.

That’s no longer a problem. Most marketers now have more data than they know what to do with, and they have access to tools that can help them leverage it. So, the biggest challenge marketers face today is creating enough relevant, targeted content to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time.

Unfortunately, most companies’ content library isn’t substantial enough to address each of their buyer personas’ needs and buying stages, and that’s partly because they focus too much on creating single use content.

How relevant or specific does content need to be, and what are some easy tips for companies that want to enrich their content archives?

Let’s say you’re a 35-year-old married father of four and you go to Expedia to research a family vacation. After your browser session is over, Expedia sends you a follow-up e-mail to try to convince you to go to Hawaii. It includes pictures of spring breakers and all-you-can-drink coupons. What are you going to do with that e-mail? You delete it, because it’s not relevant to your needs.

Now, if Expedia’s e-mail shows a picture of a happy family on the beach, a list of family-friendly resorts or discounts, and a blog post written about why Hawaii is a great place for families, what are you likely to do?

Ultimately, the more relevant content you have, the better your chances are of delivering something of value to your buyers. Now, I’m not saying that you should turn your company into a content farm. I am saying that if a customer shares a success story or a positive review, you should be thinking about how you can maximize its value and create additional, relevant content from it.

Maybe you could write a blog post about that customer’s pain point and talk about how your product addressed it. Or you could share a quote from the customer’s review on Facebook and ask other customers to submit their stories. You might even ask a customer to do an interview for a podcast. All of that repurposing creates new, unique content that will live on the Web forever and help you reach the right buyers at the right time with the right message.

Editor’s note: This is the second of a two-part Q&A with entrepreneur Chris Baggott. For more content marketing lessons, read the first part, Repurpose, Revisit, and Recycle: Chris Baggott on the Secret to Maximizing Your Content Marketing Investment.

After founding ExactTarget in 2001 and serving as its CMO until 2006, Chris Baggott founded Compendium, a content marketing platform that helps organizations capture and create original content in a branded hub for distribution to any marketing channel. Considered a marketing futurist and voice of online marketing best practices, Baggott’s blog was named the best online marketing blog by MarketingSherpa and “Best of the Web” by Forbes.

photo by: SMcGarnigle

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