Do you wonder why some websites seem to have a lock on organic SEO traffic with Google? No web marketing team can write all the content needed to create new content marketing space online. Blue Ocean Strategies by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne is a critical book because, on first inspection, online content marketing feels like a red ocean of “bloody competition.”
A blue ocean shift means moving yourself, your team, and your organization from cutthroat markets to wide-open new markets in a way that your people own and drive the process.
To shift from red oceans of bloody competition to blue oceans of new market space depends on three key components: having the proper perspective, a clear roadmap with market-creating tools, and building people’s confidence at every level to drive and own the process.
Today’s post on Blue Audio Oceans examines four things to help your company, brands, and products discover new content marketing space online by creating community, asking for help, crowdsourcing your content, and engaging friends of friends:
Cirque du Soleil is a favorite blue ocean example. Before Cirque, "circus" had four pillars:
Lions, tigers, and bears oh my could be experienced more immediately and directly than in any zoo.
Trapeze artists, tightrope walkers, and seemingly death-defying acts.
Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey or other traveling acts came to your town on a predictable annual schedule.
If you looked at Ringling Brothers' P&L, we'd bet eighty percent or more of their profits came from the arcade games within the midway. Low cost to operate and maintain "arcade games" funneled circus fans’ money for a cheap plush doll or Chinese toy to pay for the exotic animals, daring duos, and all that travel.
Sound familiar? Before Craig's List, newspapers used a similar model. Features, sports, and editorial spent the money classified ads generated. When Craig's List gave online classified ads for free, the precarious newspaper business model crashed. Upside-down pyramids like circuses and newspapers are vulnerable to blue ocean shifts because a tiny tap tumbles a poorly balanced business.
Ironically, Canadian Guy Laliberté founded Cirque in 1984. Not ironic because 1984 was a book by George Orwell depicting a dystopian future, but because Guy created a new market space back then, changing what "circus" means, and toppled the pyramid in the year of Orwell's "future."
Cirque's blue ocean created new pillars and new market space:
Derring-Do became exciting, themed art and dances in the air.
Themes such as The Beatles Love, Michael Jackson One, and Mystére build new shows from existing brands and extend Cirque's reach, excitement, and perceived cutting-edge freshness.
Venus, such as the Bellagio, Mandalay Bay hotels, and Disneyland supplement touring shows and are moving much of the travel expenses from Cirque to their audience (a cost many are glad to pay). Cirque fans will likely go to the new "circus" in Vegas or Orlando instead of waiting for Cirque to visit. Again, we'd bet venue shows make most of Cirque's profits while touring shows experiment with new acts, themes, and ideas.
Prices for exciting, themed art and dance in the air are much more expensive than a trip to the circus; if you want to attend the Beatles Love show in Vegas, it costs between $200 and $1000 per ticket.
We estimate the profitable Cirque P&L shows that twenty percent of their shows generate eighty percent or more of their earnings, and that's why the Cirque creative team never sleeps. There is no upside-down pyramid where expensive shows, animals, and travel depend on profits from outdated arcade games.
"Circus" was a red ocean with a precarious business model, so Guy Laliberté used creativity and imagination to discover the blue ocean that is Cirque du Soleil.
Before discussing Moon Audio and Audio Advice, some preambles are necessary. First, I've worked with and admire Drew and Nichole Baird, founders of Moon Audio. Second, as I write this, I'm listening to Keith Jarrett on excellent-sounding Fostex TH900 headphones with Drew's Silver Dragon cables.
I'm also a customer of Audio Advice, where Jon Day helped build my Sony TV with JBL speakers and McIntosh amplifier. This post isn't a review, but I highly recommend Moon Audio and Audio Advisors and will include links in Resources at the bottom of the page.
Oh, and my second preamble is about the tribal nature of high-end audio and most businesses. Audio, particularly high-end audio, is a self-reinforcing tribe with a unique language such as "audiophiles," "sound decay," and "EQ." Audiophiles spend time and money chasing after the perfect sound.
The audio tribe is "self-reinforcing" because when listened to, treated fairly, and rewarded with incredible experiences, audiophiles pay back with reviews, recommendations, and support. Supportive communities and most businesses have something similar, like audiophiles becoming "self-reinforcing" when online traffic, sentiment, and purchases move faster and faster. Websites accomplish more and more, even as the creators, brands, and companies behind them do less and less.
Drew Baird is an engineer who got mad. As a newlywed with a family on the way, he wanted great audio cables but couldn't afford or justify what felt like unreasonably expensive options, so he made his own. He gave extras to friends, and his friends told their friends, and Drew's Dragon premium audio cables were born. "Premium" is a little misleading because Drew builds great-sounding cables that aren't as expensive as many others; his cables are within reach.
Drew builds cables with high-quality silver and copper – 99.99998% pure. He can match sound signatures from popular audio gear like the Fostex TH900 headphones guitarist Ralph Towner is now playing into my ears with cables built to accentuate, amplify, and improve the sound.
If Fostex TH900 lacked bottom-end base response, Drew would have suggested Black Dragons because his copper cables help with the base. Since Fostex has a warm sound, Drew replaced the factory cable with his Silver Dragons to accentuate mid and high-end sound. Drew's art, science, and engineering make good audio gear sound excellent, great gear sound amazing, and exceptional headphones sure to make you feel like the perfect sound is attainable.
How did Drew find a blue ocean in an Amazon-influenced red ocean such as audio? Drew and Nichole have done a lot of intelligent things, including:
Drew's blue ocean comes from the combination of intellectual property, his Dragon cables, his sound matching expertise, and listening to and creating an online community.
AudioAdvice.com doesn’t have Moon Audio’s intellectual property. They focus on home theater ranking for almost 132,000 keywords with an estimated value of almost $200,000 a month or $2.4M a year. With more than 6,000 pages indexed (in Google) - note how the chart below grows gradually over time. Google likes slow consistency.
Audio Advice hasn’t “rolled up” the space. Their content hasn’t built a castle competitors can’t breach without spending too much. HomeTheaterReview.com has 10,500 pages indexed and they rank for more than 215,000 keywords, so there are strong competitors that could turn AudioAdvice.com’s ocean red. When the Internet scale advantages help a single competitor gain more and more faster and faster, the space is “rolled up” and fully red for competitors trying to pry organic listings away from the castle, from the dominant and trusted source.
AudioAdvice.com sells strong brands such as my JBL L100 speakers, and Marantz, McIntosh and Mark Levinson amplifiers. Sharing and educating in person or online is a big part of selling high-end home theaters. A quick back of the envelope word-count on their Ten Best Turntables under $500 post comes in at more than two thousand words – so they have great long form content, and lots of it.
There are two recommendations I’d make If I was still consulting with Drew and Nichole at Moon Audio or working with Jon and the team at AudioAdvice.com:
Mobile First Content Marketing structures content for phones first and foremost because if your content looks great on small screens, it usually also looks good on big screens. The reverse isn’t always true. Responsive web design isn’t enough anymore. We recommend mobile first content marketing:
Use Accordion Menus – break long form content into smaller pieces by using an accordion menu, a menu that keeps the content on the page but only displays it when clicked.
Add Interactivity and Personalization – accordion menus replace a sea of words with menu options visitors click to read what they want. This promotes a sense of interactivity and personalization.
Add Read Later Widgets – you may want to help customers bookmark and come back to your content with a “read later” widget. We’ve linked a post about the four best tools in Resources at the bottom of the page.
Share Vox Populi Information – review Google Analytics with an eye toward sharing information about your most shared, most read, and most commented on posts. Bring in the wisdom of your crowd so hot posts get hotter and your hottest posts may “go viral” or build shares and readership faster and faster as you do less and less. Sharing your internal data also helps build trust.
Accordion Menu Example
Use accordion menus to make long pages with thousands of words feel interactive and personal, no matter what type of screen is viewing your content. Here is an example of an accordion menu.
Clicking on The Pro-ject EVO pops the content up. Readers can easily survey all options and select what they want to read. The content remains on the page so Google’s spider still reads it, but your customers aren’t overwhelmed with words.
No website, marketing team, or company can create as much content as they need. AudioAdvice.com is a great example. With more than 6,000 pages, you'd think they would be doing great, but competitors threaten to turn their ocean red with escalating content creation costs, producing diminishing returns.
Before joining WTE, my startup Curagami worked on a "community in a box" application. As a former Director of Ecommerce, I knew how red content marketing oceans turn when fighting entrenched. It is easy to become obsessed with fighting for content marketing scraps.
It is better to create an online community where customers inform, sell, and educate each other. Crowds are more intelligent than individuals, as shown in the TV gameshow Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? (where a group of children outsmarted most adult contestants). Sadly, Curagami is gone, but Eric and WTE are working on a community-in-a-box application called Rideology. Rideology is creating an online community to develop an application. Moon Audio, Audio Advice, and others can use WTE's community-in-a-box to build content castles.
There is no way your team of content creators can roll up your keywords and create a content castle. If your team curates and oversees more than they write, THEN you have a chance to make a content fortress with millions of keywords and hundreds of thousands of pages indexed. To learn when WTE's Community in a Box application becomes available, use the form below and we'll let you know when it’s out of beta and ready to help your online marketing.
To say I love and depend on my Fostex TH900 headphones with Moon Audio's Silver Dragon cables featured in our Holiday Gift Guide for Techies is a vast understatement. However, like many reading this post, I work in an open office where I have three jobs as WTE's Content Marketing Director:
Every website needs original content, so visitors become customers, and that content must earn shares such as Flipboard's recent share of our Flipboard Beats Twitter post.
The number of things we can write about is always infinite, while the group of the content we should blog about, you can usually count with fingers. I mine content using Flipboard to see what is blowing up in social media, such as how ChatGPT blew up, so we included several posts about ChatGPT in our Sign-of-the-Times magazine. Spyfu is my favorite keyword research tool, and I promise a detailed post about why soon.
Several friends are laughing about how hard this job is for me as I write. Still, data means nothing until attached to our imaginations and prioritized into a product (of some sort), so thinking about STUFF is more than thirty percent of my job.
Without my Fostex noise-canceling headphones, I couldn't write, research, or think. Sometimes, Keith Jarrett's piano or Springteen's poetry sound so good music becomes a pleasant distraction. And oh, what music I hear. My Fostex TH900s have a warm sound with plenty of bottom-end base.
I suspect that is why Moon Audio's genius owner Drew Baird suggested his Silver Dragon cables to boost and clarify mid and upper-range sound. Drew asked me about what kind of music I loved. When discovering I listen to jazz and rock, Drew suggested his Silver Dragon cables. And oh, what cables they are, and "amazing" is inadequate to describe the experience.
I've worked for Drew and Nichole over the years, so I had a chance to hear my Fostex TH900 headphones with and without Drew's Silver Dragon cables. The upper end of favorite jazz riffs, such as Miles Davis on Kind of Blue or any Gary Burton album, was suddenly and unmistakably clear as a ringing bell with Drew's Dragons. Likewise, the silence between Clarence Clemons's Born to Run notes was astonishing.
You get the headphones you deserve, and if you love music, you deserve the latest Fostex cans with Drew's cable recommendation. You know what my cable recommendation will be - Silver Dragons!