The Beatles Played Before 18 People – Everybody has to start somewhere.

Content marketing can feel like walking to school uphill both ways, in the snow, with no shoes on; especially when you start.

It’s different.

It’s tough.

It takes a different mentality and time for the results to show. Even though you do marketing and have a website, in many ways, you’re restarting marketing from zero – especially when it comes to that website, measuring marketing leads, and other analytics. 

But that’s OK. As the saying goes, you’ve gotta start somewhere. Before the Beatles became THE BEATLES, they had to grind their way in small clubs all over England and in Germany.

Bored last week, I clicked on one of those ubiquitous “Wonderful Pictures of Whatever” links. Clicking along and the photo above caught my eye for no real reason – that’s a boring sock hop, I thought. The caption grabbed me by the throat, “The Night the Beatles Played for a Crowd of 18.”

Well, Lady Madonna, still my gently weeping guitar as it walks the long and winding road before I submerge, holding your hand because I wanna, in my yellow submarine.

18 people?!!??!!

And I am the walrus and watch out for Maxwell’s Hammer.

Everyone Starts at the Beginning

Before Beatlemania, the Beatles regularly played small clubs, like The Cavern Club in Liverpool – capacity of 300 or so. There is a list of Beatles concerts on Wikipedia. Seeing the progressively larger venues through the years is an interesting glimpse into the growth of the band’s popularity – from The Cavern Club to Royal Albert Hall to Shea Stadium in the U.S. (the largest grossing outdoor concert at the time).

So your website traffic is more Cavern Club than Royal Albert Hall. That’s OK.

I’ve been through this with Websites I’ve helped create for AIIM and for websites from my time at an agency. For the four years of inbound marketing for the copier dealer market, I saw a LOT of websites.

Many had been around for years, not many were very effective or had a lot of traffic. [Momentary digression: Web visits is one of the most overhyped and useless stats around UNLESS you don’t have a lot of it. Then it becomes important to increase Web visits (that’s people looking at your website) until there is enough traffic to begin tracking conversions, time on site, purchase path, and all of the other statistics that help identify the best way to lead someone to making a purchase. Basically, before you can sell something, you have to have people in your store and your website is your digital storefront. I digress; this is a post for another day.]

The goal of content marketing is to turn visitors into leads and leads into sales through quality content, a defined buyers journey, nurturing, etc.

But the first step is to get more than 18 people in your crowd.

That’s why you blogging is so powerful.

Community: Day 1

I know what it’s like to start a site from scratch, push the button, and see the big, fat zero in Google Analytics. (Also the excitement of seeing the first two visitors and then realizing it was just two co-workers next to me looking at the new site.) I helped to develop and grow a community site for a professional organization from zero to generating more traffic than the AIIM site itself. 

We got that Web traffic primarily through blogging (read about getting started with blogging here). 

While I didn’t call it inbound or content marketing at the time, that’s what we were doing. Our goal was to bring together a community of information professionals by supplying them with useful information.

By becoming a useful, trusted resource we were able to add calls to action to our membership, training courses, and a variety of online and in-person events (and we created blog posts and other content from the training materials and events as well).

Without the blogs, none of it would have worked. I recruited a cast of 30 to 40 experts across enterprise content management topics and let them do their thing. The result was improved traffic to the website, the ability to let more people know we existed, and the ability to cross-sell. After we became HubSpot users for the blog and marketing automation, we were even able to track sales back to specific pieces of content. This same process works for copier dealers (or any industry).

We had similar advantages to what you have.

  • We had an existing website and a well-established professional membership (we knew we’d get some traction, we just didn’t realize how much). YOU have customers who like you and are loyal. And you have an existing website to launch an inbound strategy from (even if it might need effort to make it an effective website).
  • We had the luxury of many experts willing to share their knowledge with an audience of their peers. YOU have tremendous knowledge and expertise in your sales team, your service technicians, and leadership. You know your industry and what your customers are interested in.
  • We were “sorta” doing content marketing. YOU have the advantage of maturing inbound methods. Inbound marketing has become more structured, effective, and supported by research. One example, HubSpot’s Inbound conference grew from 2500 attendees in 2012 to 10,000 plus in 2015. If you’ve ever run an event, you know how explosive that growth is.
  • You also have the advantage of being able to tap into those of us who’ve learned (and keep learning) from mistakes and successes.

Just Do It

Nike does have that right – just go. 

The first step is the hardest. Paul and John started by strumming out those first chords. It’s time for you to start pecking out those first blog posts.

Before you know it, 18 can become 8,091 – the attendance at the Beatles’ first U.S. concert at the Coliseum in Washington, D.C.

Your content marketing efforts might start small, but to grow, you have to start.

Keep playing those small gigs and writing those blogs and a few years from now you – and your company – could be a superstar.

Aldershot photo from Mashable

Coliseum photo from The Washington Coiseum and the Beatles Get a Second Act

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