If there was a yellow jersey for great content marketing, British pro cycling team Team Sky could have displayed two prizes at its 2016 Tour de France (TDF) celebration dinner last night in Paris.
The first, of course, would have been the yellow jersey won by team leader Chris Froome. Froome, the 2013 and 2015 TDF winner, returned to the 2016 edition as the heavy favorite and comfortably won. Sky was dominant for three weeks as its carefully developed sporting plan was confidently executed on French, Andorran and Swiss roads.
The second yellow jersey would have been deservedly awarded to whomever planned and implemented Sky’s absolutely delightful “Mini Team Sky” video series. As content marketing goes, Mini Team Sky was absolutely gold. (Please excuse the mixing of sporting metaphors).
The Utility of Training Wheels
The series is comprised of seven sub-two-minute videos, featuring Sky’s top three British cyclists; Froome, Geraint Thomas and Ian Stannard, along with “younger” versions played by three boys who appear to be 4-5 years-old. Sky Team Director Sir Dave Brailsford is played by an equally small version who encourages his squad to demonstrate core principles of cycling success; from equipment and the fundamentals of teamwork, to fueling and recovery. Unveiled the week before the race began, the first video has earned almost 1.4M views. It and the other videos are brilliantly executed.
What is Great Content Marketing
In the content marketing world, you can’t turn around without tripping over a recommendation to create great content, fresh content and engaging content. But what is great content? TL; DR: This video series.
Education and Entertainment and Engagement
Mini Team Sky is a really great example to point to if you’re ever asked to define what is great content marketing? It educates and entertains. By incorporating unforgettably cute kids celebrating the joy of bike riding and food, it also engenders viewer engagement to generate shares and likes. This is the trifecta most content marketers shoot for, isn’t it? (At least in the context of content marketing that isn’t created for direct response purposes).
Now, will the series move the needle in terms of sales? Perhaps although it clearly wasn’t conceived for that purpose. In terms of brand reinforcement, however, it’s awesome.
Push the Creativity Envelope
I loved the Mini Team Sky project within the first 30 seconds of watching the introduction video. The concept was great. The script and tone were on point. The production excellence was obvious. What I especially loved was the fact that this is the world of pro cycling, an industry where tradition, and a “this is how things are done” mentality have ruled for decades.
Creativity Will Set You Apart
Creativity on the marketing side of cycling team operations hasn’t exactly flourished, notwithstanding Team Sky and Orica Bike Exchange’s Backstage Pass (BSP) video series, which is now in its third year. Other than launching websites, most cycling teams are following the same marketing script teams have been using since the mid-1990s. Yet, the success of both of these video series proves that opportunities exist. Content marketers who want to stand out can by committing to being creative content marketers. If you’re a content marketer, or pay for content marketing, this should be your goal or expectation.
Creativity Isn’t Easy
Coming up with content marketing ideas that educate and entertain aren’t easy. They also are not usually the fruits of your first deep thinking ideation session. My advice is to keep pushing beyond what you think is a great idea. Let the ideas simmer and revisit them a couple of days later. In my experience, the extra thinking time is worth it. Sky clearly got it right.
Create Content Then Market It
Distribution and promotion are key in content marketing. Too many content marketers fail to appropriately commit resources to promote their content, despite advice to invest a majority of resources in the marketing and promotion of whatever you create.
Distribution: 75X More Reach With Facebook Video than YouTube
I don’t have details on Sky’s promotion activities but what was clearly evident is that Facebook was far more effective than YouTube for promotion. Look at this chart with views as of 7/24/206 at 5:00 pm PST. The views are pulled from Sky Loves Cycling, a program Team Sky runs in parallel to its official race-centric online marketing presence.
Views: Sky Loves Cycling Social Channels
|Introducing Mini Team Sky||1,361,278||106,107|
Up until this summer, Team Sky had demonstrated its sports marketing acumen with one-off projects such as Chris Froome’s ride from the UK to France via the Eurotunnel (Chris Froome, Team Sky and Jaguar: ‘Cycling Under The Sea’).
Riding beneath the English Channel was definitely cool but not a departure from the cycling-marketing-to-existing-cyclists approach that has persisted for at least a half-century with the exception of the Lance Armstrong period.
As a marketing campaign, Mini Team Sky was different in a “Man, I’ve got to share this” kind-of-way to people who may not even own a bike. It had a virality that was a perfect accompaniment to one of the biggest sporting events on the international calendars. No question, it’s one of the great content marketing projects so far in 2016.
Chapeau to the Team Sky marketing team, and Froomey, of course for doing his adult thing pretty well, too.