Make it easy

My wife is a huge fan of BravoTV’s Top Chef, and I have to admit that somewhere along the way, I got drawn into the show as well. And while I’m not a fan of reality TV as a genre, I do enjoy the food and watching the “cheftestants” prepare their meals.

Like any good multi-media, multi-channel marketing strategy, Top Chef has taken to the internet to provide some companion content to the show. Coming mostly in the form of blogs and twitter accounts from the judges, every Thursday we get some more context and perspective on what we saw the night before.

After a few weeks of my wife regaling me with snippets from Chef Tom Colicchio’s blog, I went off in search of the blog myself, only to be utterly disappointed and, at the same time, not at all surprised at what I found.

A fan of RSS feeds, I rely on Google Reader to aggregate and centralize most of my online content consumption. Twitter is a great way to surface important topics, but for me, nothing beats RSS for sifting quickly through large piles of content.

Like many of its contemporaries, BravoTV lacks any sort of RSS implementation on its blogs. Sure, there’s a Top Chef twitter account, but it doesn’t, as far as I can tell, include any links to the Top Chef blogs, which is itself yet another miss on Top Chef’s part. I’m sure it made sense in some meeting somewhere, the idea that dedicated fans will want – need, even – to go directly to a website to read the newest blog post the second it comes out. By doing so they’ll let us collect data, serve them ads, and cross-promote any number of other initiatives. A good deal for all.

The thing they’re missing, of course, is that the most loyal customers are the ones that follow your RSS and twitter feeds. Not only are they the most loyal customers, but they’re the most likely to promote your stuff to their friends. While its important for us to figure out ways to accomplish our business goals (metric tracking, serving ads, cross-promoting other initiatives, or whatever), doing so by increasing the number of hoops through which our “best fans” should reasonably go assumes a scarcity and uniqueness of content that will never be true again. (Hat tip to John Gruber, whose analysis of the Daring Fireball RSS Feed membership is one of my favorite takes on this topic).

So in the end its up to us to 1) get as many people to see our stuff as possible, 2) reduce the number of steps our fans go through to get the content they really want, and 3) figure out how to accomplish our business goals under that framework.

Because without readers/customers, it doesn’t matter how good the content is or how many different wants we’ve devised to meet our business goals.

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