I just got back from Chicago, where I delivered my book workshop to the latest group of incredibly interesting and diverse entrepreneurs-in-the-making. Their willingness to share and support each other was truly amazing to witness. At a certain point in the day, I stepped back and watched them have at it. Here is a shot of the group (click to enlarge):
Directly under my left armpit (my left, your right as you are looking at the picture) is the wildly funny and talented Colleen Wainwright, known in many circles as Communicatrix. She delivered 90 minutes of social media and branding wisdom, enhanced by gorgeous PowerPoint slides that would make Seth Godin and Garr Reynolds weep in appreciation. I was definitely jealous, and motivated to clean up my slide templates.
Sometimes it is worth having killer-looking content to reinforce your knowledge.
When scrappy comes in
On the same trip, I had the opportunity to meet with two longtime virtual friends, author and speaker Barry Moltz, and journalist and author Alexandra Levit. I met with them at different points in the weekend, and was able to capture short interviews on my Flipcam.
The criteria I used for the interview questions was audience relevance.
Barry published a book last year called Bounce: Failure, Resiliency and Confidence to Achieve Your Next Great Success about dealing with failure. (I did a podcast interview with him on the book here). So I asked him for a minute or two of advice for people feeling deflated from losing a job or experiencing a slowdown in business. Here is his response (link here to YouTube video):
As for Alexandra, she writes for the Wall Street Journal, so I imagined that most of you would kick me if I didn’t ask her about good ways to pitch the media. She gave some wonderful tips here:
Notice that the quality of these videos is not perfect. I could have dressed them up by adding titles or music introductions, but for the purpose of this post, I wanted to show that even raw content can be really useful. The key is capturing useful information for your readers (or listeners) and sharing it right away.
My third video is one I took while wandering the streets of downtown Chicago. I had a moment where I stopped cold in my tracks when looking at all the large office buildings, and realized something about my market. I know that if I shared the moment with you visually, you would understand it better than if I just wrote about it in words. Here is my scrappy video moment, proving that Chicago is indeed the Windy City (link to YouTube video here):
What does “scrappy” mean?
I define scrappy for this purpose as something done quickly and with few resources. So it could be a quickly shot flip camera interview, a small recorded audio piece, or a short, informal blog post.
To be “good scrappy,” it should be juicy information that takes an informal tone.
“Bad scrappy” would be information unimportant to your audience, done in an informal tone.
I received my favorite example of scrappy marketing material at South by Southwest when I met the delightful Steve Spalding of Crossing Gaps. Steve and his crew help creative people tell good stories using the web. Otherwise known as marketing.
After gabbing away intently over drinks, Steve handed me this business card:
If you have trouble reading the type, it says “About this card: Learning to forgive is important when your business partner forgets the business cards at home. Find us @ crossinggaps.com”
The true story was just that: the Crossing Gaps team hand-wrote unique business cards on the airplane when they realized that someone (Steve?) left them at home.
The result for me was a huge laugh, and direct insight into the fun and creativity of this team. It was scrappy at its best.
Lose the tie or nylons and let your scrappy self loose
How can you mix “quick and scrappy” with your overall buttoned-down content:
- Have a nice “mother ship” (Chris Brogan’s word for your blog or website that is the hub of your social media activities) that looks clean and inviting. It is the equivalent of an elegant black dress that you can dress up with funky earrings. If your blog or website looks nice, you can add some tidbits of quickly made videos that will still be visually appealing.
- Have some good tools available, like a Flipcam or good quality audio recorder (If you don’t know what that looks like, download the incredibly helpful e-book from my client Cristy from Online Sound Advice).
- Use scrappy means to get a quick interview with a really interesting person. My workshop participants know of my (platonic) obsession with John Legend and Matt Lauer. If I get stuck in an elevator with them, or, say, happen to be camped out on their lawn when they get the morning paper, I want to have my FlipCam handy.
- Know when you need to have better quality material. If you are selling a set of DVDs of you delivering a workshop and charge $500 a set, you should not consider recording on a FlipCam. That is a time to use professional equipment, and good editing. Again, it doesn’t have to be perfect to sell (often our own standards are higher than that of our target audience), but it does have to reflect the value of the product.
- Let your personality shine in scrappy content. Steve Spalding’s hand-drawn business cards are a perfect example. Don’t worry if your hair isn’t perfectly coiffed in your videos (you saw mine in Chicago, right?), just let your ideas rip.
I would love to see some more examples of good quality scrappy content. Your favorites?