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Want to Create Better Content? Coach A Kids’ Team

Remember last fall? When you volunteered to coach a soccer team next season?

It would be a hoot, you told the club president. A great way to get outside and spend time with the kids. Sign me up.

Sure, it’ll be a little crazy, you said. But you’re a content marketer. Crazy is your business.

Well, next season is a few weeks away.

(Let’s pause here for the panic to pass …)

But all is not lost. Yes, you’ll work harder than you thought. Yes, you’ll spend more time than you ever imagined.

And, yes, you’ll become a better content marketer because of it.

You’ll become a better #content marketer if you coach a kids’ sports team, says @gregreid820. Share on X

Wait. What?

For real. There’s not much difference between the mindset and skills you need to coach kids and the one you need to generate great content.

That’s because both rely on authenticity. Kids have a sixth sense for fakery and insincerity in adults. And with content, authenticity is the name of the game. So says Core DNA in its Content Marketing Trends report for 2019.

Kids have a sixth sense for insincerity in adults. And with #content, authenticity is the name of the game. @coredna Share on X

Some of the key findings:

  • 86% of consumers say authenticity is a key differentiator that leads to a purchasing decision.
  • 73% would pay more for a product if the company behind it promises transparency.
  • 94% of consumers say they would remain loyal to a brand that provides complete transparency.

And guess who delivers authenticity? Here’s a hint: Crazy is their business.

Grab a cool drink, find some shade, and take a knee, kids. Check out these five coaching hacks that will improve your content marketing.

1. Understand your audience

Who are you trying to reach and what are you trying to communicate to them? What is their greatest need?

As a coach, your focus is not on your players’ parents. It’s on your players. Different players have different needs, just as kids of different ages have different needs. Sometimes you have to think like a 10-year-old to get through to a 10-year-old.

As a content marketing pro, you know your audience is not your client. Your client’s customers are your audience. And in the case of brands, your audience is not your brand, it’s the customers. That’s why you dig into customer research and familiarize yourself with customer avatars. Then you speak to their needs, right?

Your audience is not your brand, it’s the customers, says @gregreid820. Share on X

2. Plan your content

As a coach you need your practice plans. You can find piles of video clips, practice plan templates, and guides online. You also should be prepared to toss your practice or game plan for Plan B.

Some days, the kids won’t be ready to learn what you’re trying to teach. And some days – like the first day of school, or when there’s a full moon – you can forget about trying to teach anything new. Roll out the balls and let them play.

As a content marketer, the creative brief and the editorial calendar are your road maps. No one goes anywhere without them, right? (Or anywhere good, anyway.) You’ve thought them through and see the big picture that they create. You also need to be monitoring your analytics to see how well Plan A is working and be prepared to tweak (or even pivot) if it’s not working. And on some days, you might just want to have fun with your audience (as long as it’s on brand).

3. Clarify your message

In coaching, brevity rules. The clearer and more focused your instructions, the better. They’re kids. They don’t want to hear blah, blah, blah. They want to play. Let them. Keep a laser-sharp eye on what you’re asking them to do that practice or game. And pour on the praise and positivity.

The best content is focused content. You target one customer type at one point in the buyer’s journey. Your content fills a want or a need that the audience seeks to fulfill at that moment. Shorter is usually better. And entertaining – or some type of emotional appeal – often is more effective than facts. Benefits over features. When in doubt, it never hurts to lean a little on Cialdini’s 6 principles of persuasion.

The best #content is focused content, says @gregreid820. Share on X

4. Manage expectations

In coaching, you have a process. You put the experience in a box for players and parents – where and when practice is, what to bring to practice, how to behave at practice, where and when games are, what time players should arrive, and what success looks like. (That’s a big one. Hammer home fun and improvement over wins and losses.)

At work, you have a process and you share it with clients or team members, right? I do this, you do that. Then I do this, then you do that. You have in plain view a scope of work, timelines, project milestones, contingencies, and a shared vision of what success looks like.

5. Work joyfully

Attitude is a choice, and good leaders set and reinforce one that’s right.

Attitude is a choice. Good leaders set and reinforce one that’s right, says @gregreid820. Share on X

Parents and players should be able to watch you and not be able to tell the score. Getting worked up one way or the other does nothing to help kids learn. Pull someone for missing a pass? Yell at the ref for a call? Whip out the vuvuzela when your team scores? No one wants to play for that coach. No one’s going to remember the score. But they’ll remember the tone you set.

At work, networks crash. Vendors deliver late. People miss meetings. When adversity strikes, a boss may feel better when he kicks a trash can or screams into a phone. But that helps no one around him. In fact, it makes things worse. Heightened tension makes people rush or hesitate, causing more mistakes. Better to use the old “know, like, and trust” mantra.

Play ball

Ultimately, the youth sports coach has one job: Make the game so much fun for players that they can’t wait to come back and play next season.

Similarly, the content marketer has one job: Generate content that is so informative, engaging, and relevant that your audience comes back time and again.

Do that on either playing field and you’ll walk away a winner.

Want to have fun and improve your content marketing skills. Come to Content Marketing World Sept. 3-6. Join us for running or yoga in the morning. Learn all day. And grab a drink, a few bites, and rock out at night. Register today using code CMIBLOG100 to save $100. 

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute