I was listening to a webinar the other day and they casually mentioned that a YouTube puppet was talking about different ways of making videos…wait…what? Well the jist of what the puppet was saying was there were two different ways of producing “stuff” for your content marketing efforts.
This struck a total chord with me and made a tremendous amount of sense. To his way of thinking, elephants have one precious baby and octopuses (octopi?) have thousands of babies that they barely notice.
When you are creating content are you an elephant or an octopus?
Elephant Content Creators
Elephant content creators want to have a very small number of pieces of content that they grow, tend and nurture. They don’t want to be chasing all over and doing a million different things, they want a solid core of information that they can mind.
Much like a real elephant, they have one precious baby that they raise and nurture for long periods of time.
- Memebership site owners who only open their doors two weeks a year. Two of my favorite gals operate this way. Marie Forleo and Renae Christine both have programs that cost in the thousands of dollars and they spend the rest of the year growing their tribes and promoting their one amazing product.
- Traditionally published authors are incredibly patient. They will write a manuscript, submit it to all the top publishers, battle rejection, take years for editing and product development until at the end they have a potential block buster.
- Inventors sometimes are elephants. They come up with an idea, get prototypes, source manufacturing in China, pay for container-loads of goods and then try to sell their products to big companies with lots of hoops to jump through for placement.
There are HUGE upsides to being an elephant (no pun intended). Instead of chasing around after all the new and shiney objects you are just diligently working to develop and promote your one baby elephant.
Because you are so focused, you can do one thing amazingly well and not be distracted and running around all the time.
A downside to this is that you can spend a lot of time, money and energy making and promoting something that is not successful.
I have worked with a lot of clients who have spent years building their one magical product, only to see that selling it is harder than they thought. Inventors, manufacturers and product creators may find that by the time their baby is grown, there is not market for it.
Just yesterday I got an email from a man who is lovely and launched a big startup company that they could never get enough traction for and now they are having to close. Don’t get so myopic about your business that you don’t see a time to pivot or develop a new product line or service.
.. It is important for elephants to understand all the steps of the process and to know the path that they are going to be traveling on.
Octopus Content Creators
Octopus moms are not super nurturing. They have their 1000’s of babies and then basically abandons them to fend for themselves.
Octopus content creators are like that too. We make LOTS of pieces of content and are not that committed to any of them. If one video doesn’t get many views, we just make another one. We are willing to try just about anything and are not married to the outcome of our efforts.
- Video bloggers are a great example of this. They show up every day or at least frequently. They are not using a staff and lighting and fancy editing, instead they are keeping it raw and real. They connect with their audience and are not concerned with being “perfect”. Bunny from “Does this thing really work?” Has over 6 million subscribers who tune in regularly to watch her test products out.
- Self publishing authors are like this too. They like the freedom of being able to write as many books as they want without having to deal with publishers and editors who might want to change the scope of their work. Instead of spending years on one manuscript, they publish multiple books in hopes of having a best seller. Sterling and Stone are a great example of this. They have nearly 100 books published between them and are not looking at stopping anytime soon!
The first main upside to this one is that you are never bored. You can use your curiosity to try new things and to follow your whim where ever it leads you. You are daring and brave and willing to try anything.
There is a chance that the very next piece of content, be it a book, a video, blog post or even Instagram post may be the one that changes everything. For example, I started getting MUCH more traffic to my blog when I wrote one blog post that Google made a number one listing. I have gotten over 80,000 hits from that one post alone and the day I wrote it I had no dream that it would be that popular.
Octopus content creators cannot be tied down. We cannot schedule out our blog posts for a year and then dutifully write them when the time comes. It is much easier for octopuses to stay current and cutting edge.
Being an energizer bunny does have its dark side. We tend to jump from idea to idea, chasing the shiney objects and leaving a trail of half completed, brilliant ideas in our wake. Instead of being focused, to the outside world it can look like we are flailing around from one new thing to the next.
We fail, A LOT. Because we are not trying to make everything perfect, frequently our best laid plans land with a thud instead of a flurry of sales.
Last but not least, it is hard to work with us! My assistant is saint, having heard hundreds of “brilliant” business ideas over the years that didn’t always wind up amounting to much. Finding someone who can keep up with your frenetic pace may be a challenge of biblical proportions.
.. It is important for octopuses not to be bored. BUT with that comes a need for organization and order of what they are doing. Just recently I have experienced way more success as an elephant because I developed a system where I could still do all my doing AND also be productive and focused. I want that for you my octopus brother or sister!
Elephant or Octopus Wrapup
There is no scientific evidence for these phenomenon. This is just some theory I heard from a puppet on YouTube… BUT when I heard it it made total sense to me. I work with mostly octopuses and enjoy the thrill that comes with creating new content continually. But, we also have to listen to our elephant friends who can help keep us a little more grounded and on track.
I don’t think you could change easily. I know that when I hired a coach who wanted to clip my wings and make me an elephant, I totally imploded. Now I just think, what would he advise and I do the opposite.
Neither way is right or wrong, and I think we could all learn a little bit from each other!