I have a confession to make.
When Chris and I founded Spokal in the summer of 2012, I didn’t know what “content marketing” was.
Well, that’s not entirely true.
I’ve always been a fan of permission based marketing, which is the heart of inbound strategies.
But the power of content marketing was a wonderful surprise.
Over the last 2 years, I’ve been amazed at how fast the content landscape has evolved, and how much I’ve had to learn not only to get up to speed, but to really understand where we’re headed.
We are creating, consuming and sharing an unprecedented amount of content.
That’s no surprise.
But if we look at the global trends, we start to realize we haven’t even crossed the start line yet.
More Cellphones Than Toilets
It’s all about access.
Last year, the World Bank released a study showing that in some nations, people are prioritizing phones over basic goods, sacrificing everything from transportation to daily meals to be connected. As a result, more of us have access to cellphones than toilets.
Clearly, we crave connection.
As Brene Brown shows, it’s hardwired into our DNA.
Now, 95% of our global population is connected wirelessly through mobiles, and over 21% are linked through smartphones. This will only increase, as eMarketer predicts close to 50% of cellphone users will have smartphones by the end of 2017.
This all boils down to one thing.
As Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen outline in their book, this accessibility is creating a new digital age, as more of us have the tools and desire to create and share digital content.
Too Much Of A Good Thing
Content marketing isn’t new.
It’s actually older than traditional advertising and Edward Bernays “Torches of Freedom” in the 1920s.
Yet because it’s now easier than ever to create and share, we’re facing an unprecedented content explosion.
In 2003, we created more information every 2 days than the entire amount we created before that time. Last year, we created that same amount every 10 minutes. That means every 10 minutes – or 600 seconds – it becomes increasingly difficult to create content to engage people.
This is an exponential reality.
Even with the rise in connectivity – and the realization that more of us are finally surfing the internet on mobiles than desktops – there’s still there’s too much to consume.
Once you understand this, you realize how essential it is to create world class content to even stand a chance of being discovered by potential customers.
This would be feasible if it weren’t for…
Your Most Important (And Fleeting) Asset
We don’t have enough of it to do content properly.
At least, not like we did 5 years ago.
We’ll never be able to keep up with the vicious cycle.
That is, unless we significantly streamline the process.
That’s why automation will become more synonymous with successful marketing campaigns than social media in the next 5 years. Because to do it right – to achieve success online – it won’t be a matter of keeping up with social or digital trends, but who can continually harness them better than their competitors to rise above the noise, gain a following and convert fans.
This is why I’m excited about what our team is doing at Spokal – because small businesses will increasingly need the ability to navigate this digital world at a fraction of the cost and time that large businesses do.
Our mantra has, and always will be, to support small businesses so they can do great things.
And on that note, I have some news.
The Time Has Come
It has been a remarkable journey with Chris and our team, and now it’s time for me hand over the reins as CMO of Spokal.
I never could have imagined the adventures we’ve been on over the last 2 years. As many of us who take on all encompassing projects know, it’s near impossible to translate that experience into words, let alone the reality that – for me – my part in Spokal’s journey is over.
So, instead, before I sign off for the last time, I want to share some stories with you that you probably didn’t know about Spokal:
1. Our first customer was a magician.
Yes, a magician.
2. We spent last summer growing our business in the Caribbean.
It was such a fun idea that we became a remote company. Our CEO Chris is there working and kitesurfing, while the rest of our team is distributed across Europe and North America.
3. We used to be called netlek.
4. Before that, Chris bought the url for Thrizer, so technically that was our alpha name. We still use it for our testing server.
5. We’re bootstrapped.
With the gracious support of Canadian programs like IRAP, SR&ED and the Generator 3.0, we’ve been able to leverage our resources and build a growing company that’s still 100% owned by its’ founders.
6. Chris was the third member of Launch Academy, now Vancouver’s biggest co-working space for entrepreneurs. But at the beginning, we were squatting on 12 desks out of Pot Farm’s offices in Gastown. That’s where Chris and I met.
7. We released the first version of Spokal in September 2012 and charged $20 for it. It was embarrassing. But the fact that people paid showed us we were onto something.
8. We had a 70-85% churn rate on our first platform. It was a hard reality to come to terms with, and we spent the next 6-12 months rebuilding Spokal so that it worked the way our customers imagined it would.
Of all the lessons I’ve learned, listening to your customers is one of the most obvious in theory, yet one of the most difficult in practise. And from my experience, it’s almost always worth it.
Chris and I spent a lot of time looking for the right person to lead Spokal’s marketing branch, especially our blog that many of you have come to enjoy.
We’re excited to finally announce that we’ve found the newest member of our team: Sarah Burke.
Sarah was born and raised in Dublin, and after spending much time learning, teaching and speaking (in Gaelic, of course!), she was ready to embrace her Canadian roots and moved to Vancouver last year. Now she’s excited to take up the Spokal banner and work tirelessly to continue our vision of empowering small businesses.
I look forward to seeing what Sarah does. She’s funny, smart and a wonderful writer. I’m happy to hand over the reins to such a deserving person.
Finally, I want to thank everyone who made my part in this journey possible, especially my cofounder Chris. With you at the helm, I have every confidence that Spokal will continue to grow into a wild success.
And now, nothing waits but the road ahead.
Be bold, be brave and as always, have fun.