So we took Groove's Content Marketing Mastery course, was it worth it?
If you read our previous post you’d know that the best marketing strategy on a budget to grow your business and get your name out there is content marketing.
We recognised this but we had a problem. We didn’t know anything about content marketing, there was not a writer among us and we were groping in the dark as to how to even approach it.
Mastering Content Marketing
Many of us in the office read Groove’s blog, it’s funny, irreverent and maybe a little too honest but above all it’s engaging and it has worked really well in converting readers into customers for Groove, their ambitious series chronicling their “journey from $0-$100k in monthly revenue” would seem like a crazy and ambitious thing to do but they achieved it and more, demonstrating the power of content marketing to transform a small startup into an incredible success.
Fortunately for us they decided to share the skills they gained in building a successful content marketing machine by producing a six week content marketing mastery (CMM) course to teach would be content marketers all that they’ve learned and then to hopefully apply it to their own business.
Not to get all meta but what you’re reading right now is in part the fruit of what we learned on the course.
Each module covers about a week’s worth of work, we weren’t able to stick perfectly to that timeline but the course allows you the flexibility to take a little longer. Its frenetic and encourages moving with speed and intent but as it’s a completely online course you’re not rushing to a classroom and you can schedule it around what is best for you.
The structure of the course
At its core the course breaks down into modules the steps Groove take in researching and producing content and then promoting it. The value they add is giving you a structure to follow, one that’s logical and easy to follow.
In the first module for example you start off at first principles. You don’t write a word of content and you’re not even thinking about promotion, what you’re thinking about instead is your audience.
What are they interested in? What are their problems and where to find the readers your content will appeal to? Basically it focuses the mind and it deals with the biggest problem head on at the first instance, that of what the hell am I going to write about.
You get an introduction explaining the basic principles and why they’re important then you’re given the homework. It’s not gimmicky and once you put your head down and get to work you see the value of it right away because all of a sudden you go from having no idea what to write about to having a couple of pages full of topics. That is invaluable.
Getting to the writing part
We do a lot of writing, writing software that is. We can wax lyrical about why only strange people use tabs instead of spaces but writing content? You’ll only get a mexican wave of shrugs around here.
Conveniently for us there’s a whole module on it in the course and it breaks the entire writing process down into logical steps which being logical people is very useful. There is though a part of writing that can’t be quantified, it’s a style, a voice. That thing which makes words have life on the page and that’s where the course comes into its own with interviews with actual content writers who provide tips on how to write and especially on how not to write, to avoid the typical business speak that proliferates marketing across the board and how to develop a personality in your text.
The videos come with PDF transcripts so you can highlight and make notes on important points.
However, there is a part in this module which details how you can instead hire someone else to do your writing if you’re not good enough which we thought was a bit cheeky. We’ve spent all this money on trying to learn how to write and now you’re telling us to go and find someone else.
We would be very annoyed at this if the course had ended here but fortunately it did not so we continued on our quest for the holy, no that’s something else. Our quest for content marketing mastery that’s what we mean.
Getting eyeballs to your content
This is where the real value from the course came from and a whole three modules is dedicated to it. In fact, stated explicitly in the course is the fact that 20% of your time should be spent on actually producing content but the overwhelming majority of your time, that’s 80% for those allergic to maths should be spent on promoting your content.
The reason why this part of the course is so valuable is because it isn’t the typical stuff you’d think of. You know posting tweets and putting your stuff onto facebook, that was basically most of what our ideas of promotion had been up to that point but here the course came into its own explaining how to find influencers in your industry and on the topics you write about, and then how to leverage them to promote your stuff and to improve your content engagement.
It seems so obvious but it really isn’t. Plus, there’s an art to persuade an influencer short on time to bother to look at and eventually hopefully share your content. The trick is not to sound like a spambot and to show you’ve engaged with that influencers own content. The course encourages you to engage with the content of potential influencers, commenting and actively engaging with long before you make an “ask” of them.
Also, it’s really cool that they just provided us with scripts we could use in our own influencer outreach.
HTML vs Plain text
Plain text is much better, has a better click rate. HTML feels spammy and people are more likely to ignore it. They back this up with a mountain of data from their own laborious research.
That’s the other thing about this course, they do the basic leg work on research for you so you can focus on writing content and promoting it. The section on the email funnel is not so useful in what it tells you to do as much as what it tells you not to do.
If you’re starting off with a tiny list it’s really not worth doing A/B testing or over optimising your list, you’re wasting time for literally no gain. We of course being at the time rank amateurs did not know this so probably would have spent an un-goldly amount of time tinkering and optimising, its more to our skill set being technical people but it’s a waste of time. Your focus should be on growing your email list and the course keeps you focused on that.
Is it for you?
If you were like us, people who knew nothing about content marketing then this course is definitely for you.
Can you find a lot of this stuff for free? Yeah you can find it on the Groove blog itself but who has the time to go and sieve that vast library for the gems you need?
What you’re paying for here is structure and for someone to guide you through the process step by step, explaining why you’re taking this step and what not to do. It’s also a great reference to go back to again and again as once you’re on the course you have access to it forever, and of course you’re learning from people who have been where you are right now and achieved phenomenal success.
Moreover, any updates are free after you first signed up and it introduces you to a whole new network of people involved in this content marketing whereby you can access their knowledge by taking advantage of the hard work Groove put into nurturing those relationships in the first place.
The other great thing about this course is that there’s no filler, it stays focused and lean only giving you what you need to make effective content and a solid plan for promoting it. It doesn’t require copious amounts of time but you still get the relevant information you need clearly explained to execute your own content marketing strategy.