The intermediary is dead.
We don’t need to rely primarily upon the media or some other conduit to communicate with our prospects and customers – we can do it ourselves.
Eventually, every company is going to have to think of itself as a TV station and a magazine. Telling your story and answering customer questions with thoughtful, relevant, engaging content can improve your awareness, lead generation, conversion rate, sales, and loyalty.
This is the premise of Content Rules, the new book from Ann Handley (Chief Content Officer for MarketingProfs), and C.C. Chapman (founder of DigitalDads). Without question it is one of the most clear, concise, useful and actionable business books I’ve read in years. And because creating or curating content is important for all companies, it’s a book that I hope will find a broad and enthusiastic audience.
Content Rules combines big picture thinking about the role of content, with step-by-step advice and helpful tips about precisely how to create content that matters. Interwoven throughout are instructive examples of companies doing it right, and links to specific pieces of content that epitomize the lessons within. The book concludes with an entire section of case studies, wisely covering businesses of many sizes and types.
Not Content for Content’s Sake
While content of any type can help your company (provided it’s search optimized well), the best content marketing programs are based on engaging content that makes you think, laugh, share, or all three. As cited in Content Rules, a survey by MarketingProfs of 5,000+ businesses found that “producing engaging content” is the top challenge for content marketing programs. Even a cursory browse of the Web will underscore that finding, as inane Web pages, videos, and Webinars are omnipresent like gypsies with a “like” button.
Content Rules helps you avoid that trap, by recommending that content be created through the eyes of your customers – the people that you’re actually trying to influence. As stated beautifully in the book:
The inherent tension in marketing is that companies always want to talk about themselves and their products or services. Everyone else, meanwhile, only wants to know what those products or services can do for them. Creating content as a cornerstone of your marketing allows you to truly place yourself in your customer’s shoes, to adopt their vantage points, and to consider their thoughts, feelings, and needs. In short, it allows you to get to know the people who buy from you better than any customer survey or poll ever could.
Even if you have never created a piece of online content in your life, you could do so successfully with help from this book. Once you’ve been disavowed of the notion that the content should be about your company per se, the authors advocate for understanding or discovering the stories you can tell; thinking through what behavior you want content consumer to engage in; selecting valid success metrics; and atomizing your content by breaking it into smaller pieces.
Content Rules wisely emphasizes that content marketing is a process, not a project. Just as a magazine doesn’t have a single issue, nor should your content program, and the book provides several useful guidelines for establishing an ongoing editorial calendar, with content created not just by the marketing department, but from all over your company.
If content is important to you, please join the authors of Content Rules, me, and tons of other content marketing folks at the MarketingProfs Content Marketing Crash Course. 17 online classes, one very low price. Save $200 if you use “JayBaer”. Starts December 3.
Content Marketing for B2B
The section on content marketing for B2B companies is very strong (and important, as we’ve talked about here at C&C that content creation is perhaps more important for B2B than for B2C).
I also very much enjoyed the chapters devoted to particular content archetypes and production advice. By itself, the chapter titled “If Webinars are Awesome Marketing Tools, Why Do Most of Them Suck?” is worth the cost of the book, if you participate or produce Webinars on a regular basis.
I produce more content than most people, and I advise and espouse about content marketing almost every day. And I still found a lot of value in this book. It’s an easy and compelling read, lends itself to skimming and highlighting, and has real case studies and examples that you can mimic in your own business.
Content Rules takes a complicated and critical element of modern business and demystifies it with humor, instruction, and panache. Nicely done.
(Note: I know the authors. They are friends. MarketingProfs is a former client. I am quoted in this book. The publisher of this book is publishing my book. The editor of this book is my editor too. But trust me, this book rocks, with or without my ties to its creators).