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Sunday Email: Two words — Content Strategy

This email was sent out to my email list on November 29, 2020.

Sunday EmailsNik Sharma

Hey you, happy Sunday! I hope you had a very happy Thanksgiving week, whether that was with family, friends, or by yourself, and I also wanted to just say, truly from my heart, thank you so much for being a reader of this email. It started as a way to get that 40-page deck to people internationally, and as of Friday, we hit 5,000 subscribers. I'm extremely grateful that you take 5-10 minutes out of your day to read this, and for the many of you who have forwarded this along. 🤗❤️ Respond with one thing you’d like me to write about in the future, and I’ll also send 2 of you a JUDY kit (chosen from the people who reply).

All the brands we work with at Sharma Brands saw record sales on Black Friday, some hitting their first $100k days, and others hitting over $1.5M in sales. It's been really nice to see so many businesses that struggled earlier this year have a moment to make up for lost revenues.

If you didn't have a brand live, one of my best friends, Jason Wong, who I've known for many years now, launched his own course on how to source products, build a brand, and launch. He's not a "course guru" kinda guy, and I normally hate courses, but Jason has launched and sold multiple businesses, and is one of the smartest guys I know in eCommerce. I asked if he would give a discount for my email crew, and he's giving $1,000 off to anyone who wants to sign up this week. Again, I HATE courses, but Jason's course will make its money back in the first 2 weeks of launching. Check it out here for yourself.

This past week, I was talking with one of my clients, who's launching a men's telemedicine brand in February of next year, and one of the things we spoke about was a really solid content strategy, so I thought that could be a great topic for today's email. Levels, one of my portfolio companies, also created their launch strategy using my brand deck, and with their content strategy at play, they're now averaging about 100,000 visitors per month on their site, and raised a Series A with A16Z. It pays off to have a solid content strategy working for you.

For a solid content strategy, what I would recommend is similar to what you might find if you read Gary's Content Strategy, which was led by one of my good friends, Colin Campbell. It's the idea of taking signals of what's working, and expanding on those signals with content, and then multiplying distribution by taking advantage of different platforms.

It's the exact same way David Perell and I write articles like The Customer Acquisition Pricing Parade or The Amazon Arbitrage — we take signals of over-indexing engagement, double down on the points that people interact with the most, expand on the content, and then find multiple places to distribute the content, whether it's an owned-and-operated website + email, Medium, LinkedIn, Reddit, Twitter, etc.

Here's how I would go about it for this company specifically, which is pre-launch:

1. Launch a specific destination to host the content in an owned-and-operated instance. This looks something like a "Blog", but I hate that word, so because this is a Men's telemedicine company, let's call it a "Playbook". You can host it at playbook.companyname.com for now, so you can start adding SEO value to the main company's domain itself while you begin driving traffic, piddling users, collecting emails from SEO traffic, etc.

2. Create a list of signals to look for. This could be from this company's call-in radio show, tweets from the CEO or the brand account (including looking at their accounts' best-performing tweets), sending a survey and identifying exactly why people signed up for the early access list, hosting a poll on Instagram stories, etc. Many ways to collect this, but the most important thing is simply understanding what people will give a crap about when it comes to the content. This is also important because the reverse of that is what people will likely search for in Google, as prospective customers. For example, if they want to know about optimizing their body's Vitamin D, that's a signal to create content that answers the question of "How do I optimize for more vitamin D".

3. Create the content using a long-form video, or a long-form article, and have someone with high expertise do this. In this case, it would be the CEO, who's also the Chief Medical Officer of the company. This shouldn't take more than 1-2 hours per piece of content, and it should be extremely thorough, addressing all the possible questions, context, and related situations that could arise with someone reading about the main topic of the article. The reason you want this to be a long-form video or article is to be able to do step 4, but more than anything, in the early days of a company, writing everything out helps you refine messaging, think through gaps/holes in the product roadmap/solutions, and make sure that you create a bulletproof business.

4. Distribute like crazy through owned platforms and third-party platforms. One long-form article can turn into multiple tweetstorms, Instagram story content, a post on LinkedIn and Medium, a thread on Reddit, a guest-post or contributed post on a high-domain-authority website, and also great content for your company's main website. If you create a long-form video, that can turn into Twitter videos, FB videos (where you can easily boost to your potential audience for a penny a view), LinkedIn videos (where reach is free and easy to get), Tik Tok videos, Instagram posts, YouTube long-form videos (the second largest search engine), and you can also find publications, whether it's Harvard or MSN Health, who would want to post these videos too. Everyone is looking for more content to post, especially the sites and publications with the biggest audience, so feed it to them, and in exchange get the eyeballs and backlinks for SEO.

5. Rinse and repeat. Find new topics using your signals, create content, and distribute. As a CEO, you can focus on the long-form content and leave the chopping/distribution to someone who has more bandwidth on their plate.

If you have any additional thoughts, I'd LOVE your feedback on this. I think I'll end up turning this into a deck, and would really value your opinion. It has worked really well for Levels, and I'll be putting together a case-study style deck with actual metrics from their growth.

Onto some fun stuff...

Software/App of the Week:

Paloma — the best tool for FB Messenger

We’d been trying shopping quizzes for JUDY that were doing okay, but I felt like I wanted to move that feature of quizzes higher in the funnel, so thanks to Michael and Greg at LALO, I was intro’d to Kelsey, the founder of Paloma.

I’d never seen Messenger scaled well for eCommerce, but after hearing Lalo had success using their platform to drive sales (especially with quizzes), we decided to give it a try and to my surprise, Paloma turned FB messenger for JUDY into a higher-performing channel. They're a fully managed service so we brainstormed with Kelsey and the team, and they put together the flows that we drive ads to. The result? Higher CVRs, higher ROAS, and lower CPAs, all while getting tons of customer data.

Kelsey offered 10% off for anyone who wants to try it out by clicking here.

DTC Brand of the Week:

Zappos.com

I can't think of any other brand that I want to talk about today, except Zappos.com. I never got to meet Tony Hsieh, but when I was at VaynerMedia, we hosted a party during ShopTalk 2019 at his famous Las Vegas Trailer Park where he had his llama. Just the fact that he opened his home, where he actually lived, to let us host an event, I remember being mind blown, thinking, "This guy is so rich and he opened his home to us."

Tony Hsieh was someone I always idolized since beginning my career, especially the way that he took control as a CEO of things like customer service, customer experience, and just doing whatever he could to make the world a better place. He's proof that you don't need to sacrifice your integrity and kindness in order to build an incredible business. I'll leave it with one of my favorite Tony Hsieh quotes:

“Chase the vision, not the money, the money will end up following you.”

It's the same foundation I was raised on — do what you love, and everything else follows, and it's how I live my life today.

Tony, thank you for everything you did for the world, and especially for the foundational pieces you created in eCommerce. ❤️

Resources:

I don't have many resources this week, as I was super heads down. I would definitely suggest signing up for Morning Brew's Retail Brew newsletter, written by Halie LeSavage, and their Marketing Brew newsletter, written by Phoebe Bain.

I did a live podcast with my friend Alex, the CEO of Morning Brew on DTC, investing in brands, and other general marketing-related things. You can check it out here!

I've sent stuff from Garrison Yang before, but this is another great Twitter thread. We zoomed on Wednesday for 2 hours talking through what the future of commerce x influencers look like, and he wrote an incredible summary.

That's all from me today, I hope you enjoyed this email! I'm currently flying back to NYC and couldn't be more excited to get back to the grind. There's something so special about the energy and vibrations in NYC itself.

If you think this email could be useful to anyone else, feel free to forward it to them. If you think they’d like to sign up to get these weekly emails, you can direct them to https://sharma.ck.page and I would be forever grateful 😊

I hope you have an incredible week. As always, you can always shoot me a note at nik@sharmabrands.com, or shoot me a text at 917-905-2340.

Thanks,

Nik

Nik Sharma

CEO, Sharma Brands

917-905-2340