German Pilsner and Brett Saison (Same Wort)


Netting 12 gallons of wort from each brew day I’ve had to get creative with my recipes and fermentation (parti-gyling, staggering hop additions, and doctoring). This split batch of Pilsner and Saison was pretty straight-forward, identical worts (including dry hopping) with two diametrically-opposed yeasts: one a lager (WLP800 Pilsner Lager), the other a Belgian mixed-culture (3031-PC Saison-Brett Blend). No better example of the old adage that “Brewers made wort, but yeast make beer!”

German Pilsner

Appearance – Clear (nearly crystal) bright yellow, just a shade darker than my Berliners for palest. Fantastic head retention, dense sticky white, with a full covering down to the last sip.

Smell – Nose is clean, the herbal-lemon hoppiness comes through fresh and energetic. The best nose on any Pilsner I’ve brewed. Maybe a hint of diacetyl as it approaches room temperature, although my wife (and chief diacetyl tester) has yet to note it.

Taste – Flavor is similarly clean, no yeastiness or yeast character. The hop bitterness is firm, but not rough or lingering. Malt adds a faint fresh-baked white bread flavor in the middle, not grainy. Hop flavor is saturated, without being grassy like noble hops tend to be when used for dry hopping.

Mouthfeel – A hair full for than a classic German Pilsner, perhaps mid-way to Bohemian (thanks to the yeast, and/or higher chloride). Still medium-light and pleasant for my palate. Slightly stinging carbonation, but nothing approaching the carbonic bite of my least favorite pale lagers.

Drinkability & Notes – Chock another one up for Firestone-Walker, Saphir will be my new go-to for Pilsners! A wonderfully drinkable beer that doesn’t cross into being an India Pale Lager with a distinctly American-hop character and assertive bitterness.

Pilsner on the right, Saison on the left.

Brett Saison

Appearance – Appears a shade golder thanks to the haze (and wider glass). Head retention is slightly lower, but the lacing is clingier.

Smell – The hop aroma doesn’t come through nearly as clearly. It’s hiding behind the yeasts’ green apple skin, peppery-spice, and melon. The Saphir does add a delicate herbal-liveliness that too many “Bretted” saisons lack, especially as it warms. A bit more ethanol too, thanks to higher attenuation (and a warmer fermentation).

Taste – Apple is there again, although a bit more bruised than in the nose. Typical French Saison-type tropical fruit and spice. The Brett finally shows up in the finish, all leather and horse blanket. This blend does a lovely job balancing the “saison” and the Brett, not going fully wild-funkmotron as too many Brett Saisons do. Mild acidity, not enough to clash with the solid hop bitterness. The maltiness from the Pilsner is obscured. Bone dry.

Mouthfeel – Leaner mouthfeel, not tannic or drying though. Same carbonation, thanks to the manifold.

Drinkability & Notes – I’m reasonably pleased with the Wyeast Saison-Brett Blend given the relatively short turnaround on this batch! The Brett provides depth without dominating the saison-iness. I think the Saphir does well here, although not in a starring role like the Pilsner.


Source: The Mad Fermentationist

German Pilsner and Brett Saison (Same Wort)

Saphir-Hopped Pilsner (and Saison)


I often daisy-chain similar batches by harvesting the yeast from one and repitching into the next. While this can be convenient and cost-saving for any strain, it is especially valuable for 100% Brettanomyces and lagers where the pitching rates are higher than ales. After brewing this tmavé, I wanted to brew a brighter and hoppier lager.

Pilsner has long been my favorite pale lager. Clean, hoppy, and delightfully drinkable. I’ve brewed more of the rounder-maltier Czech-style than the bitter-crisper German-style, but I enjoy both. I’ve been looking for the right hop (Saaz, Perle, etc.), but traditional European varieties don’t have the high aromatic oil content that IPA drinkers are accustomed to (hops like Citra and Simcoe have total oils over 2% compared to many noble-leaning cultivars which hover around 1%). Compound that with no dry-hopping, and you get a Pilsner that doesn’t have the hoppy aromatic profile that I’ll aiming for!

Pilsners don’t travel well, so I tend to buy American when I don’t have my own on tap. Firestone Walker Pivo is one of my favorites (along with Victory Prima Pils and Hill Farmstead Mary). I decided to take a cue from Firestone-Walker’s Matt Brynildson and dry hop with Saphir (they add Spalt for late-boil additions, but I wanted to feature the new-to-me variety). Saphir has a total oil content of 0.8-1.4%, not bad considering alpha acids are under 3%. The aroma reminds me most of Crystal, with some citrus mixed in with the herbal.

Rather than imitate the classic water profile or techniques used by German brewers, I employed a similar water profile and hop timing that I would for an IPA. Although rather than blend sulfate and chloride, I focused on chloride as advised by the December BYO story Firestone Walker Fever, which included the recipe/process for Pivo. I dry hopped at 50% apparent attenuation, the same time I started ramping up the temperature.

One of the advantages of blogging is that occasionally I get free stuff! I received a Javelin Pro thermometer (order on Amazon and I get a cut) courtesy of LavaTools! It is a more reasonably priced ($55 compared to $99) alternative to the Thermoworks Thermapen. It even has a few added features like magnets embedded on the back, and a back-lit display. Sadly it shares the Thermapen’s hinged design, which I find to be an annoying less-sanitary two-handed mechanism to turn the unit on and off (despite being splash-resistant a hinge is also a liability where sticky wort is involved – which killed my Thermapen). In comparing the Javelin Pro side-by-side to my five-year-old $19 Thermoworks Super-Fast Pocket the response time is slightly faster going from room to mash temperature, although the saved second is more valuable for finding the coolest spot in the center of a roast. Luckily the readings of the two were within a couple tenths of a degree; accuracy is by far the more important factor when it comes to brewing! If you have lusted after a Thermapen, the Javelin Pro is a nice budget pick, but I wouldn’t suggest either if you are buying it specifically for brewing.

The wort (pale, hoppy, and fermentable) seemed perfect for a funky saison as well, so I pitched Wyeast 3031-PC Saison-Brett Blend into the other half. I even did the same dry hopping. Should make for an interesting tasting later this week!

Saphir German Pil/Belgian Saison

Recipe Specifics
——————–
Batch Size (Gal): 6.25
Total Grain (Lbs): 10.38
OG: 1.052
SRM: 2.9
IBU: 34.3
Brewhouse Efficiency: 82 %
Wort Boil Time: 75 Minutes

Grain
——-
98.8% – 10.25 lbs. Weyermann Floor Malted Bohemian Pilsener
1.2% – 0.13 lbs. Weyermann Acidulated Malt

Hops
——
0.93 oz. Magnum (Pellet, 11.00% AA) @ 60 min.
2.00 oz. Saphir (Pellet, 2.60% AA) @ 0 min.
2.00 oz. Saphir (Pellet, 2.60% AA) @ Dry Hop

Extras
——–
0.50 Whirlfloc @ 5 min.
0.50 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 5 min.

Yeast
——
White Labs WLP800 Pilsner Lager
or
Wyeast 3031-PC Saison-Brett Blend

Water Profile
—————-
Profile: Washington, Hoppy

Mash Schedule
——————-
Sacch 1 – 20 min @ 146 F
Sacch 2 – 30 min @ 156 F (Direct)

Notes
——-
11/14/15 1.25 L stir-plate starter of two-month-old Wyeast 3031-PC Saison-Brett Blend.

Brewed 11/15/15 – Brewed 12.5 gallons, but all ingredients/process details scaled so it can be brewed as is for 6.25 gallons of Pilsner or Saison wort at the end of the boil.

Mash: 2 gallons distilled, 2 gallons spring, 3 gallons filtered tap. 7 g CaCl. Weyermann Floor-malted Bohemian Pilsner. Measured pH at 5.27 five minutes into the mash. 2 gallon cold/distilled untreated sparge water. Collected 7.5 gallons of 1.045 runnings. pH=5.45 five minutes into the boil.

Allowed the flame-out hops to whirlpool for 10 minutes and settle for 20 minutes before chilling.

Saison: Chilled to 72F, settled for 10 minutes post-chill, ran off 5.5 gallons. 30 seconds pure O2, pitched the entire starter, and left at 71F ambient to ferment.

11/19/15 Dry hopped with 2 oz of Saphir, fermentation was beginning to wane

11/26/15 Keg conditioned with 3 oz of table sugar.

12/20/15 Moved to kegerator.

Pilsner: Switched to recirculating with 10 lbs of ice, chilling to 48F. Settled for 10 minutes, and ran off 5.5 gallons. 60 seconds pure O2, pitched a little over 1/2 cup of thick slurry from the Tmave Pivo (WLP800) which had been settling at 32F until the morning, then allowed to warm closer to pitching temperature. Fermented at 52 F ambient to start.

11/19/15 Only down to 1.036 (31% AA). Nice krausen, surprised it is so high. Upped temperature to 53F to make sure it doesn’t stall.

11/21/15 1.026 – 50% AA, added dry hops (2 oz of Saphir) pellets and upped fridge to 59F.

11/22/15 24 hours later, up to 64F ambient.

11/29/15 Kegged into flushed Corny, moved to 50F to begin crashing. Gravity 1.012. Held at 32F after dropping 10F every 12 hours.

1/12/16 Hooked up to gas. Managed to plug the poppet immediately.


Source: The Mad Fermentationist

Saphir-Hopped Pilsner (and Saison)

A Recipe for Failure: 6 Mistakes Marketers Make When They Copy Tactics

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You spend a lot of time reading blog posts and e-books to learn how to market your business more effectively.

So, why isn’t it working?

Sure, you might be getting some traffic, maybe even a few sales, but are you getting a stream of both that’s growing steadily?

If you’re like 95% of business owners or marketers, you’re not.

Although you’re using all the same tactics the pros are using and succeeding with, they just don’t seem to work for you.

Some business owners spend years repeating this fruitless cycle until they deem online marketing a failure.

And it’s a shame because it could help them a great deal.

You and I both know it.

Do you want to know the cause for these struggles?

I can sum it up in one sentence:

It’s not enough to know how to use a tactic. You need to know why it works.

Let that sink in for a second.

Anyone can read an article on a popular blog like Quick Sprout or Backlinko and learn about marketing tactics that work.

They are usually broken down step-by-step so that just about anybody could figure out the technical details.

But what most marketers don’t realize is that certain tactics only work in certain situations.

You can adapt many of them to your specific business, but in order to do that, you first have to understand why they work.

The best way for me to show you the mistakes you might be making with tactics is to show you the most common ones.

And that’s what I’m going to do for the rest of this post.

1. The most common content marketing blunder: A product-audience mismatch

It absolutely kills me to see this mistake.

It’s one that beginner marketers make, but it’s not until they become more experienced that they see the results of the mistake.

You see, many marketers learn to use the tactics they read about really well.

They are persistent and work hard to apply those tactics, which helps them drive traffic and convert that traffic to subscribers.

Sometimes, they do this for years.

And that’s why it’s heartbreaking…

…because despite all that work, they’be been building the wrong audience.

When they finally decide to sell a product to that audience, they fail. There are two main scenarios where this failure occurs:

  • Scenario #1 – Trying to sell an existing product to the audience
  • Scenario #2 – Trying to replicate a successful product and then trying to sell it to the audience

These scenarios happen because of one mistake: not understanding the product-audience fit.

Why not understanding product-audience fit leads to failure: First, you need to understand that every type of content attracts its own type of audience.

For example, if you create incredibly in-depth content like I do, it attracts those readers in your niche who are extremely passionate about your niche and will devote a lot of time and effort to it.

But if you create content like “10 quick tips to do X,” you’ll attract people who just want a simple solution. They don’t actually care about “X.” They just want the result.

And those are just two examples.

The point is that each tactic you follow will produce a different type of audience.

What happens as a result is that you end up with an audience of many different types of people.

When you’re selling a product, your goal is to make that product as appealing as possible to your audience.

If a large part of your audience is interested in it, that means you have a good product-audience fit. This is similar to the product-market fit concept.

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Can you see the fatal flaw in copying tactics yet?

Since your audience is composed of many different types of people, it’s going to be almost impossible to find a product that appeals to a large portion of them. That’s basically what happens in scenario #1.

Sometimes, you’ll get lucky by copying those tactics and create an audience that is fairly cohesive.

That’s a great thing and gives you a chance to succeed.

But most marketers then enter scenario #2.

Since they’re used to copying tactics to generate traffic and subscribers, why wouldn’t they copy product tactics as well?

They’ll come across posts like this one by Derek Halpern in which he talks about how selling courses has helped him generate well over 6 figures.

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Then, our marketer will think something like, “That’s a great idea. I should make an online course to sell to my audience!”

Maybe that sounds familiar. If not, be wary of falling into that trap.

That’s because once you decide to create a product, you need to be ready to invest months of hard work creating it and possibly a lot of money as well.

What often ends up happening, as you might have guessed by now, is that the product flops if it doesn’t fit the audience.

And in many cases, it won’t.

If your audience isn’t interested in learning how to do everything themselves, they won’t be interested in buying a detailed course.

Instead, you’d be much better off selling tools that automate things or services that get them the results they want.

If you only take away one thing from this post, let it be this:

Always consider the audience you’re building with different tactics. Then, sell products that match their desires and needs instead of just creating the latest, trendy type of product.

2. You can’t only give value

What’s the first lesson of content marketing?

Give value.

The basic idea is a sound one because it’s based on the rule of reciprocity.

When you give people something, they feel obligated to give you something in return.

In the context of content marketing, you give them valuable content, and in turn, they give you their attention and even email addresses.

The more value you give, the more traffic and subscribers you typically get (as a general rule).

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If you understand that, fantastic.

But here’s where most marketers go wrong.

They give, and give, and give some more until they can’t give anymore.

They don’t understand that you need to give your readers an opportunity to give back to you in the form of financial support.

In other words, you need to sell products.

If you don’t, you don’t have a business—you have a hobby.

Eventually, you won’t be able to afford to keep creating great content for your audience, which limits how much you can help them.

But if you have a business that generates revenue, you can afford to invest in even better content.

Selling products isn’t an evil thing: The reason why so many beginner, and even intermediate, marketers are so hesitant to sell something is because of how they perceive it.

They believe that by selling a product they are “taking” something from their audience.

And while I understand where this feeling comes from, it’s also completely ridiculous when you start to examine it closer.

First, and most important of all, products can be good.

I am more than happy to pay a lot of money for my favorite products. They add a lot of value to my life.

I’m sure you have products like that too. In fact, everyone does.

So, why can’t you create a product like that for your audience?

You already understand them well enough to produce valuable content, right? So, the next step is to create something larger that can have an even bigger impact on their lives.

The second thing you need to realize is that your audience has been paying for your content the whole time.

Not with money, but with their attention and time.

Both of those things are very limited and worth a lot. Your audience is still giving you something in return for the value you give them.

The takeaway: Marketing isn’t just about giving away content. It’s about finding multiple ways to make a difference in your audience’s lives and getting compensated for that work.

You don’t have to resort to tricking or scamming to build a successful business. Just focus on creating as much value as possible, but give your audience a chance to buy products from you.

3. What opt-in conversion rates are really determined by

Most content marketers have the same basic goals.

Create content.

Get traffic.

Turn that traffic into email subscribers.

Marketers have finally learned the value of email subscribers, and the conversion rate from traffic to subscribing has become a huge focus.

This has led to endless posts about tactics you can use to increase your conversion rate.

Since everyone is using the same tactics, they should get about the same results, right?

But that’s not what’s happening.

Even with the same tactic, one person will get conversion rates below 1% while another will get conversion rates over 20%.

The truth is most marketers don’t understand what factors determine conversion rates. They blame the tactic and keep searching for more tactics to try.

If this sounds familiar, stop it.

Instead, take a minute now to learn why you’re not having the success you should.

There are two factors that determine opt-in rates.

Factor #1 – Exposure: On a basic level, no one can sign up for your email list unless they get the opportunity to.

Therefore, if you have zero opt-in forms on your site, you can’t get any new subscribers.

Exposure is the “easy” factor, and it’s what most conversion rate blog posts focus on.

They convince you that pop-ups, content upgrades, sidebar forms, or any number of different tactics will produce the best conversion rate.

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And to be fair, some of those are better than others.

From an exposure point of view, pop-ups are fantastic. If you set a pop-up to show up after a page loads, almost everyone will see it, which means they have an opportunity to opt in.

This is where most marketers start and stop.

They go from exposure tactic to exposure tactic, trying to find one with a better conversion rate.

Most of these marketers never get more than a low conversion rate because this is all they’re focused on.

But smart marketers know there’s one more piece to the puzzle.

Factor #2 – Value: For some reason, value is often ignored when it comes to opt-ins.

Most sites offer a weak incentive to sign up for an email list. For example:

  • Sign up to get more posts like this
  • Sign up to get a free checklist
  • Sign up to get some exclusive content

Seriously, do you think your content is so damn good that everyone will opt in just so that they might not miss a post?

Even I don’t think that.

Those examples I’ve given you are not valuable.

Sure, they have some value, but nothing that’s going to make a real difference in your readers’ lives.

But what if you offered someone $100 to sign up for your email list?

I bet just about everyone would sign up because that’s an insane amount of value.

Now, obviously most people can’t do that, but do you see how the value of the offer affects your conversion rate?

The real formula is something like this:

Opt-in rate = Exposure * Value of Offer

A valuable offer alone isn’t enough, however; you also need to get it in front of your audience.

But when you have a tactic that gives you exposure along with an offer that is actually valuable, that’s when you get incredibly high conversion rates (e.g., Bryan Harris often gets over 20% conversion rates).

Most marketers spend very little time on creating a valuable offer, and then they wonder why their conversion rates suck despite trying all the different exposure tactics.

It should be clear to you now why this doesn’t work.

So, how valuable should your offer be?

There’s no specific amount. Just make it as valuable as you can.

As an example, look at the sidebar on Quick Sprout, which contains an offer for a free course:

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As you can see, I value it at $300.

If you’ve taken the course, you’d probably agree that it’s not far-fetched.

While it wouldn’t make sense to give away $300 in cash, I am able to give away this course because it costs me virtually nothing after the initial creation costs.

So, ask yourself how much your current offer is truly worth.

In the case of low conversion rates, it’s usually not much.

Find an effective exposure tactic or two, and then spend your time and effort testing the value of your offer. You’ll have far more success.

4. Being first counts for a lot

If you rely on bloggers to show you new tactics, I have some bad news.

While you can find effective tactics in blog posts, most of them have been discussed and tested behind closed doors in mastermind groups and private chat groups.

This means that by the time you finally see a tactic, many marketers have been already using it.

Why is this a big deal?

It’s a big deal because you miss out on first-mover advantage.

While this term typically applies to technology, I think it also applies to marketing tactics.

Basically, it states that the first company to offer something new will have a great advantage over those who come after.

That’s not to say that copycats can’t be successful, but it’s much harder for them to succeed than for those who are first.

When it comes to marketing tactics, first-mover advantage would simply mean being one of the first to use a particular tactic, before hordes of marketers jump on the trend and saturate it.

A great example of this is using infographics to build links.

As you might know, I used infographics extensively in the past. I still occasionally publish them but much less often because they’re not as effective anymore.

From 2010 to 2012, I published 47 infographics, which generated 2,512,596 visitors and 41,142 backlinks from 3,741 unique domains. That comes out to an average of 53,459 visitors and 875 backlinks from 79 unique domains per infographic.

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In the following 2 years, my results declined dramatically even though the infographics were just as good (probably even a bit better).

The infographics I produced during that time period produced an average of 21,582 visitors and 371 backlinks from 34 unique domains.

Overall, the results declined by over 50%!

And since then, the results have diminished even further.

No doubt you could still create infographics that go viral, but it’s much more difficult now.

Instead of struggling to compete with thousands of other marketers doing the same thing, wouldn’t it be better to find a new tactic to be among the “first” to implement?

How to get a first-mover advantage of your own: The fundamental reason why most marketers are behind the curve is not even because they rely on blogs for tactics (although it doesn’t help).

Some blogs do mention tactics early enough that you can still be part of that first group (there were certainly blogs mentioning infographics during 2010-2012).

But there’s one thing about infographics back then that you can’t appreciate now:

It was much more difficult to make a great infographic back then.

There were fewer designers who were experienced with them; they charged more; and there were no tools like Canva to help you produce them by yourself.

So, if I ask you now why you didn’t create more infographics during that time period (assuming you were in marketing then), the answer probably isn’t because you didn’t know about them.

Instead, you found out about them, but they seemed difficult.

And that’s the key marker you should be looking for.

Tactics get easier over time as more case studies are published and as tools are created to make it easier to implement them.

Not coincidently, as tactics get easier, more and more marketers start using them, lowering the results they produce.

Ideally, you want to get on the ground floor of a tactic.

To do that, look for unsaturated tactics that seem difficult to use.

This means that you will have to figure out how to execute them. It’s going to take you some extra time and resources upfront, but that will allow you to get better results before others catch on.

I can give you a few tactics right now that are still pretty difficult but getting easier and more popular every day.

First is webinars. While they’re not exactly “new,” they haven’t been adopted nearly as fast as infographics.

This tactic is currently producing fantastic results, and I’m holding webinars regularly on NeilPatel.com.

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Webinars take a lot of work, and there are still some difficult parts, but if you’re willing to put in some work, you too could get the same results. If you’re interested, here’s my guide to getting started with webinars.

Second, what about using tools as a link-building and traffic-generation tactic? The Quick Sprout analyzer tool is responsible for hundreds of thousands of visits, a ton of links, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue.

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Tools are difficult to make because you need to know how to develop or hire a developer. That’s what gives you an opportunity to massively benefit from making one.

But have no doubt, there are already tools being developed so that non-technical marketers can make their own simple tools.

These will become more and more advanced in the coming years, and creating tools as part of content marketing campaigns will become more common and less effective.

5. There is no single perfect email outreach template

Outreach has been a huge part of marketing tactics for the last couple of years as more and more businesses have realized that they should be using white hat techniques.

Of course, many articles have been written about writing emails to help you drive links, mentions, shares, and all sorts of useful things. On top of that, many tactics include email outreach as a main component.

And in those articles (the best ones at least), the author typically includes a template of what they might send in an email. For example, here’s a screenshot of a template I provided in a past post:

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It’s a good email.

Sorry, I should really say it was a good email.

Since I published that, that exact template has been sent thousands of times (even to me a few times!).

Obviously, when someone receives an email (or more) that is exactly the same as the one they got in the past, they’re going to realize something’s going on. The email obviously isn’t personal, and the recipient is going to feel used.

The emails you see in templates are often very effective at first. However, following the first-mover advantage concept, they will become less effective over time because other marketers will start copying them.

If I publish a template email, I will never personally send that one again because I know that it will produce diminished results.

If I say an email is converting at 10% and then give you a template, don’t expect to get the same results if you just copy that email. Other people will as well, which will impact the email’s effectiveness.

Using email templates the right way: Does all this mean that you should ignore templates when you see them in posts about tactics?

Not at all. What it means is that you shouldn’t just straight copy them.

Instead, break them down section by section, and determine the purpose of each sentence. Then, rewrite them so that you have an entirely unique template that accomplishes the same purpose.

For example, the first sentence of the email above is:

I love the work you do on (site name). In particular, I was blown away by (title of content you linked to) when I was researching my latest post.

The purpose of that line was to show how you came across your target’s site.

You could rewrite it in many ways to be completely unique but still mention the post on their site that you were interested in. For example:

I’m a blogger myself, and I was seriously impressed when I came across (title of content you linked to) when I was doing some background research for my next post.

This opening is very similar in meaning and effect to the original, but it doesn’t look like a duplicate.

Do this for each line in the template, and you can create your own template that will get similar results to those of the original.

In most cases, you can improve upon templates: When it comes to email outreach, templates are used to save time (instead of writing emails from scratch).

However, that limits their effectiveness because they aren’t usually personalized.

In general, the more personalized an email is, the more likely it will be opened and acted upon.

You can also improve the effectiveness of templates if you understand their limitations.

If you’re willing to add some sort of offer or gesture of value to the person you’re emailing, it will take more time per email, but you will get better results.

For example, in the above email, you could say that you’ve shared the post on social media or signed up for their email list. Just make sure you actually do it.

6. Some tactics depend on having an existing audience

The final mistake I often see marketers make is trying to copy tactics that require an audience when they haven’t built a sizable one yet.

Some tactics are best used when you’re starting out, and some are best left for when you have an audience.

Let me give you a few examples.

Writing about controversial topics has long been a great way to generate comments and links because people love to talk about controversial topics.

The only problem is that they require a great deal of authority.

For example, I wrote a post about why link building is not the future of SEO:

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It got hundreds of comments and tons of shares on social media.

But the only reason I was successful with this post was because I already had a large audience to show it to, and I have a pretty recognizable name in the SEO world.

Once a discussion is started on a controversial topic, most people want to weigh in and share it with their friends.

But you can’t easily get that initial discussion without an audience.

If someone with 50 subscribers published the same post, it wouldn’t have gone anywhere.

You can use the same tactics, but don’t expect the same results: When I publish a new post, I rank for all sorts of long tail phrases in Google after the first week.

Targeting long tail keyword phrases is an example of a tactic that works best on established sites.

Quick Sprout has tons of domain authority and hundreds of high quality articles. That’s why I rank so fast and easily.

But if you are on a brand new domain, it will take months of link building and content publishing to rank for long tail phrases.

This is an example of a tactic that can work even if you don’t have an audience, but it will work slower and take more effort.

What you need to take away from this is that when you read about a tactic, first consider whether it will work with your audience and website.

If you think it will, consider if you should expect to get the same results as the author. If not, lower your expectations, and prepare to put in more work.

If you don’t think a tactic will work for your audience, save it for later, and find a more suitable one.

Conclusion

Marketing tactics are the most popular topics in the marketing world.

It’s great to learn about new ones and add effective ones to your arsenal on an ongoing basis.

However, if you blindly copy them, it’s unlikely that you will find much success for the 6 reasons that I’ve outlined in this post.

I urge you to determine whether you’ve made any of these mistakes in the past and to understand them so you don’t repeat them in the future.

If you avoid making these mistakes, you will find that the tactics you apply will work much better than they have in the past.

If you’ve made any of these mistakes, please share the details in a comment below. I think it’d be great for others to hear so that they can learn from them too.


Source: quicksprout

A Recipe for Failure: 6 Mistakes Marketers Make When They Copy Tactics

A Business Is More than Just Content: 4 Areas You Should Worry About

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Have you heard about it yet?

It’s probably the single biggest consequence of the rise in popularity of content marketing.

It’s called content shock.

People are being overwhelmed by all the content produced, both good and bad.

There’s a lot to be said about it and the way it will force content marketers to evolve.

But I’ll get to those topics in the near future.

First, there’s something more important you need to understand.

A business is more than just content.

Sure, you can build a business on the back of your content, but content itself is not a business.

You might say “duh,” but don’t roll your eyes so quickly.

Many content marketers and business owners are pumping out content without having any clue of how it makes them money.

You need to understand that content is just one part of marketing, let alone a business as a whole.

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What I want to show you in this post is how content fits into a business.

To do that, I’ll go into great detail about the major areas of a business you need to keep in mind and connect with your content.

Ready?

Let’s start with the first area of concern…

Area #1: If you don’t have a product, you don’t have a business yet

People get started with content marketing in two main ways.

The first is to raise sales. The biggest problem these businesses face is connecting the content with their products.

I’ll address this issue later on.

The second way is used by the group of people who come from the newest generation of Internet marketers, who begin to learn and apply content marketing because of what they see.

They read blogs like Quick Sprout, and for the most part, they only see content.

Wanting to build something similar, they start pumping out content.

Some have the talent to get some traffic, but sooner or later (often after years), they realize something:

How the heck am I supposed to make money now?

What they don’t realize is that content is just a part of the business. Even though all they could see was content, there’s a lot going on in the background.

In order for all that to happen, you need a product.

And the common reaction to being told that is:

So what? I’ll just come up with a product down the line.

That’s a very risky approach.

What usually happens is the marketer ends up building a segmented audience. Since they only care about creating content to attract viewers, they create content on all sorts of loosely related topics in their niche.

Different topics attract different types of readers, so by the time the marketer finally creates a product, only a small percentage of their audience is interested in it.

As a simple example, pretend that Joe, a golfing blogger, creates content for both expert golfers and beginner golfers.

His audience will contain both types of golfers. While some products might be attractive to both groups, most won’t.

For example, any products targeted towards beginners, like basic video tutorials or cheap golfing equipment, won’t be wanted by experts.

Similarly, most beginners aren’t going to want to spend a ton of money on the game when they’re just playing it occasionally for fun.

Now, if Joe had only those two groups, he still might do okay. But typically, bloggers like Joe end up with a highly segmented audience, and it’s tough to create a product that appeals to a large portion of that audience.

The end result?

No sales (or very few).

The products behind the scene: My point wasn’t that you need to build a product before you build an audience. You can build an audience before you create a product, but you need to create your content strategically (so that you build an audience that is interested in something specific).

My point is that all businesses have products.

If you don’t have a product yet, then you don’t have a business—you have a hobby.

Those doomed blogs that launch products that don’t sell don’t last very long.

A good business doesn’t just sell products; it sells highly profitable ones.

Furthermore, it sells multiple products to appeal to different segments of its audience.

For example, I Will Teach You To Be Rich sells several products:

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All those sales put together amount to a 7-figure business.

You may not know it yet, but I offer consulting to my readers (although mainly through NeilPatel.com). Even though you don’t see it on the surface with all the blog content, Quick Sprout is responsible for a huge amount of revenue.

The main components to profitable products: Before you rush out and create a product, take a step back to plan.

Creating a great product takes time.

Within the “product” area of your business, there are a few main things you will need to decide.

The first part is choosing a product itself. You may have the intimate knowledge of your audience to do this off the top of your head, but in general, you’ll need to:

  • survey your audience
  • look at competitors
  • talk to members of your audience
  • “pitch” hypothetical products to small sections of your audience

Based on that feedback, you’ll be able to determine what products they would and would not pay for.

After that, it usually makes sense to make a minimum viable product (MVP).

The MVP is a bare-bones first version of your product you can offer to a small portion of your audience for testing and further feedback.

You can make improvements based on that initial feedback to create a new version.

It may take a few rounds of feedback and improvement, but eventually you’ll have something worth selling.

While all this is happening, you also need to determine how you’re going to sell the product (the technical logistics) and how you’re going to distribute it to customers.

Some products, like software products, are pretty easy to distribute. But if you have a physical product, you’ll have to figure out which countries and areas you can ship to, how long it will take, and how much it will cost.

Finally, if you haven’t yet, you’ll need to find someone who can create the product. It might be a developer or it might be some supplier in China for a physical product.

Finding the right person or company can take months of searching, so it’s important to plan as far ahead as possible.

Area #2: Your content is only as good as your website

I see it too often these days…

A marketer goes to the effort of creating some really good content, but then it’s put on a website that looks like it was made in the 1990s.

Like it or not, the appearance of your content, and your website as a whole, has a big effect on the perception of your content and product.

Furthermore, remember that potential customers will judge your business based on your content. Most audiences won’t buy or return to ugly content/websites.

So, if you spend all your time on your content, now might be a good time to take a step back and evaluate the look of your website.

Your website needs to reflect your brand and content: Both your website as a whole and your content affect the perception of each other. They both need to give the impression you want.

Let’s take a quick look at a few areas of Quick Sprout.

Here’s a snippet of the homepage:

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It’s an extremely clean, modern design. Most would say that it looks great.

The same high quality logo and designs are carried through the blog:

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The sidebar isn’t just some random opt-in form; it’s clear that it’s been professionally designed.

Not only that, but the green color scheme from the homepage has been carried through to the blog pages.

Further down in the sidebar, there’s a brief area about hiring me to speak:

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Do you recognize that design from anywhere? (Bonus points if you do.)

The color scheme and the main font are almost identical to those of many of my advanced guides (also in the sidebar):

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Some readers come to my content first. The things in the content that they’re impressed with are duplicated in other areas of the website.

Other readers come to other parts of the website first. They like the homepage and sidebar design, so they read a few posts. Not surprisingly, they like the content as well since it has the same “feel” to it.

And that’s what I mean when I say that your website and content design are interconnected. They both help build your brand.

All designs go stale, keep iterating: One common mistake people make is they come up with an initial design that represents their business and brand well but never update it.

Obviously, website redesigns are expensive and take a lot of time, but most young online businesses should be overhauling their websites every 2-5 years.

Otherwise, your content will evolve over time but your site won’t, which will create a gap between the quality of your content and the way your readers will perceive your content and your brand as a whole.

A good example is the Crazy Egg blog.

Over time, we assembled a solid team of writers who were producing content on a regular basis.

We even hired an editor to make sure all the content was as high quality as possible.

But the website fell behind. It hadn’t been updated in a few years, and it held back the perception of the content. Our blog posts weren’t getting quite as much attention as they deserved.

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As you can see, it wasn’t ugly, but it sure wasn’t pretty either.

That’s why we overhauled it in 2015. We kept the most important elements of the original design, but we essentially redesigned it from scratch.

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You can go to the blog today and clearly see that Crazy Egg isn’t just a website with a top quality blog but a top quality business with a high quality product.

The design reflects on everything.

If your site goes down, your content goes with it: It’s easy to forget that most of your content lives on your website.

If it goes down or gets hacked, all of your website files and content can be gone in an instant.

This is the stuff of nightmares for most marketers.

The good news is that you don’t need to be constantly worried about it as long as you take action to prevent it.

The first thing you need to do is to find out from your host whether they back up your content.

Some hosts, such as Hostgator for example, automatically back up accounts of smaller websites (under 20 GB).

You don’t want to rely on this, but it’s nice to know that it might be an option should you need it.

As far as security goes, keep your websites as updated as possible, especially if you have a WordPress website. Old plugins often have vulnerabilities that are the source of hacks.

Even if you are good about keeping your site updated, accidents can still happen, and you can find your site gone overnight.

The only reliable solution is to create your own backups. I know that a lot of marketers get turned off by technical work like creating backups, but it’s really simple.

I’ll walk you through the two main ways you can do this.

Option #1 – Use a plugin: By far, the easiest option is to buy a cheap plugin such as BackupBuddy.

Once you install the plugin and select your basic settings, go to its “Backup” menu.

All you need to do is choose the “complete backup” option, and it will automatically make a copy of all your website contents.

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You can store your backups on your computer, an external drive, or on BackupBuddy’s cloud servers (pick from the red buttons). Any of these options will work just fine.

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That literally only takes a few clicks, once every 2-4 weeks. There’s no excuse not to do it.

Option #2 – Do it manually: Almost all hosts use cPanel these days, and you can create backups for your site with it free.

There are two parts of a backup that you’ll need:

  • databases – which store dynamic content like your posts, pages, and comments
  • static files – things like your website theme

Log into cPanel, and find the “Backup Wizard” link:

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From here, choose the “Backup” option on the next page:

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On this next screen, do not choose “full backup.” You can’t actually restore that if your site goes down.

Instead, you’ll want to use the partial backup options.

You can start with either option, but you’ll need both the “home directory” (your static files) and your “MySQL databases.”

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Once you pick an option, click the “Download” button on the next page.

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After you’ve done that, repeat the steps, and download the other files you need.

If something goes wrong with your website, go back to the backup wizard, but this time pick “Restore” in the first step. You’ll then upload your static files and database individually (it’s the exact same procedure).

Create a backup once every 2-4 weeks, and you’ll never have to worry about the consequences of your site going down.

Area #3: Your customers are the lifeblood of your business, treat them right

Content marketing is all about giving value.

That’s one of the aspects of it that I love so much. Your content can actually make a difference in all of your readers’ lives.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t always carry over to the product.

Businesses tend to understand that content marketing is about providing value, but once they have a customer, they think their job is done.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. 

A past customer is about 3 times more likely to buy from you than an email subscriber or other reader in general.

You should be providing even more value to someone who buys a product from you. These are the people who make the biggest difference to the success of your business, in both the short and long term.

What I’m really talking about here is customer service.

There are a few key factors that most businesses should focus on more in the customer service area.

Factor #1 – Availability and convenience: Obviously there are many types of businesses out there, but consider the following typical scenario that may or may not describe your process:

A company spends months creating great content to start their content marketing efforts. During this time, they are desperate for audience contact. Comments, social media mentions, and emails of any sort are cause for celebration.

That same company sells products. When a customer calls or emails them for help with their purchase, they are seen as an added expense. The company trains their reps to deal with their customers as quickly as possible.

Isn’t this madness?

The customer—who has given your business money and could buy from you again in the future—is treated like a pest.

Random readers in the audience, who may never be in the market for your products, are treated like gold. Emails are enthusiastically replied to, and all suggestions for content are given special attention.

This happens all the time. And not just in business.

It happens in personal relationships too when someone puts in the effort to come off as a great person to get someone they like to go on a date with them only to get lazier over time and barely give their new significant other the time of day.

Do not let this happen in your business—ever.

Your customers should get as much attention and appreciation as possible on an ongoing basis. Their thoughts and feedback are far more useful than any reader’s.

To start with, make it really easy to contact you.

After someone buys a product from you, take every chance you can get to encourage them to contact you.

Mirasee (formerly Firepole Marketing) does this brilliantly with their products.

Here’s an excerpt from one of the many emails they send to customers who bought their training course “Audience Business Masterclass”:

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There’s no hiding email addresses or not mentioning support options to make it difficult for customers to get help.

Instead, they make it clear that if you need support in any way, they are happy to try to help you as soon as possible. Customers don’t feel like a nuisance—they feel valued.

Factor #2 – Go above and beyond to fix the problems: You can encourage your customers to contact you every time you get the chance.

But once you get those emails or phone calls, you need to deliver on your promises.

Yes, customer service costs your business money.

Actually, let me fix that:

Customer service costs your business money—in the short term.

In the long term, however, truly great customer service is the way you win lifelong customers who will spend hundreds or thousands of dollars with your business.

I urge you to not try to solve the problem as quickly as possible. Instead, try to solve it as thoroughly as possible.

Make the customer as happy as possible with your reply.

If they’re confused and need help, schedule a personal call with them as soon as possible. Or record a quick video showing them exactly how to do something.

When you go above and beyond by doing things like that, you show that you really do care about them, and that’s why they will be loyal customers in the future.

Factor #3 – Follow up after purchase, and make sure they’re getting results: If you have a great customer service team and process in place, you’re almost set.

Except there’s still one big problem…

Most people won’t contact you even if they’re having problems with your products.

Many will just forget about your product and never use it again. Guess how likely these people are to be repeat customers.

You’re right, not very likely.

You should follow up multiple times after someone purchases your product to make sure they’re having a great experience with it.

The more complex your product is, the more you should check in with them.

Remember that example email I showed you above? Here’s another one that Danny Iny (founder of Mirasee) sends his customers a few months after they buy his training course:

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That’s only a snippet, but you can see that he again encourages anyone who isn’t getting the ideal results to contact his team for more help.

This shows his customers that he truly cares about their success, which makes them more likely to reach out and get help.

If his team goes above and beyond, he’s going to turn a lot of those customers who might have been on the verge of giving up into successes and, in turn, lifelong customers.

You should follow up after a customer receives a product to make sure they got it in good condition with no problems.

But you should also follow up at least once more after your customer has had time to test out the product thoroughly.

Factor #4 – Content isn’t just for before the sale: There’s another aspect of producing content that people don’t consider, which I just can’t understand.

You produce your content and publish it free because you know your potential customers will find it valuable.

So, why on Earth wouldn’t you send customers premium content after they purchase a product?

If they liked content before, I’m sure they’ll like it after.

In fact, they’ll probably like it more because your product will help them put your advice into action.

And no, I’m not just talking about regular blog content. While you should still send them that, you have the opportunity to create even more useful content just for customers.

If you sell a link building tool, you can send posts or e-books on how to use the tool for specific link building tactics. I guarantee almost all of your customers would enjoy that.

Create more content specifically for the people who matter the most to your business: your customers.

Area #4: Content is a great start, but without sales, it’s unsustainable

By now, I really hope you understand, if you didn’t before, the necessity of having a product.

We’ve established that there are two main components to your business: content and a product.

But you need to find a way to link these together, which is where sales comes in.

More specifically, you’ll need to develop a sales funnel.

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A sales funnel just describes all the steps a person will go through from becoming aware of your brand to becoming a customer.

With typical outbound marketing (e.g., PPC advertising), it’s pretty easy to define a concrete sales funnel. For example:

  • awareness – the ads themselves
  • education – a sales page you link your potential customers to that educates them about the problem they have (this is usually where you capture lead information)
  • engagement – continued interaction with the lead to increase awareness about your products
  • purchase – where they become your customer

But inbound marketing funnels are a little trickier to define.

Potential customers can arrive on your site through any number of pieces of content. Or they might first become aware of your brand or product from the content you produce on other sites.

However, you can still define a rough funnel:

  • awareness – your content on your blog or other sites
  • lead conversion – getting visitors to sign up for your email list
  • engagement – a continuous process of sending email subscribers valuable content and trying to establish a relationship
  • education – when you’re ready to begin your sales process, you start educating subscribers about the problem you’re solving with your product(s).
  • pitch and purchase – you present your product as the simplest or best solution in hopes of converting those leads into customers

As you can see, there are a lot of similarities between the two, but the inbound sales funnel is typically a bit more generalized.

Yours may not look exactly like that, and that’s okay.

Furthermore, a sales funnel like the one above is just a starting point. You want to break down each section as far as possible.

The most important section will be the product education phase. This is where most businesses would send a series of emails leading towards a sales.

Ideally, you need to create the exact emails that you will send ahead of time. You want them to relate to each other and build towards the sale.

Effective funnels aren’t made overnight: I’ve written full posts about sales funnels and barely scratched the surface of creating effective ones.

The truth is, there’s no right or wrong way to make one because it depends on your business.

One other thing that I do know is true is that your first funnel won’t be great. In fact, it might not even be good.

The good news is that you can steadily improve its overall effectiveness through split testing.

After several rounds of split testing, you’ll start to see really good conversion rates.

Focus on the part of your funnel that’s leaking the most (has the poorest conversion rate to the next step), and split test that until it’s producing acceptable results.

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Then, keep repeating the process with the next worst part of the funnel and so on. Only stop this process when the gains you’re getting are consistently insignificant, which won’t happen for a long while.

Conclusion

Content is a great asset to almost any online business.

However, it’s just one component of your marketing.

If you truly want to build a successful business, you need to think about four other areas of your business I’ve shown you in this  post.

If you haven’t given enough attention to your products, customer service, or sales, I’ve also given you specific things you can get working on right away. Start implementing these as soon as possible.

I’d love it if you could share any experiences you’ve had while building your own business in a comment below.


Source: quicksprout

A Business Is More than Just Content: 4 Areas You Should Worry About