For those that read this blog, you know I'm passionate about creating compelling content as the cornerstone of your marketing plans. That's why I was excited to finally read Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business by Ann Handley (@MarketingProfs) and C.C. Chapman (@cc_chapman).
In the book, Ann and C.C. start by presenting the case for why content is important but they don't dwell on that as most reading this book, I would assume, are already convinced of it's importance. The first part of the book is the best part as they provide a framework for content marketing with the 11 content rules which include Speak Human; Share or Solve, Don't Shill; and Play to Your Strengths, among others.
The rules I found particularly important and insightful in this section, although Ann and C.C. say they are all equally important, were Insight Inspires Originality and Reimagine; Don't Recycle.
With Insight Inspires Originality, they talk about how a good content strategy starts with the story and how the 5 Ws (who, what, when, where and why) taught in journalism school will help you focus on your customers and their needs. In my opinion, this is a great way to look at it and more importantly they argue that you need to start with the why: why are you creating the content you're creating, which is basically the goals of your content strategy.
In Reimagine; Don't Recycle, they talk about how you create 10 pieces of content out of 1 piece which is obviously crucial to a start-up with limited resources. To do this, you need to think of each piece that you create as part of a larger whole or if you start with a longer white paper or eBook think about how you can break it up into smaller chunks. Where you start doesn't matter, but creating content is an ongoing process and you need to take a broader view of the content you create. Building a publishing schedule, or editorial calendar, as Ann and C.C. outline in the book, is the key to making this happen.
It's no secret that many of the books out there talk about marketing from a B2C perspective. There are obvious exceptions and this book is one of them as they do dedicate some space to talk about how B2B is different for content marketing. I think this approach is great, and I was glad to see it, as I've always maintained you can use B2C concepts for your B2B marketing but you just need to tweak them for that audience. They explain how to do that for content.
The second and third sections in the book are about how to create the different content types and case studies. I'm sure there is value to content marketing beginners in the How-To Section but for me the Success Stories were awesome. In that section, you got to see how companies from the U.S. Army to Cool Beans and Hubspot to Boeing approach content marketing with great examples and even better Ideas You Can Steal. There is no doubt you'll grab 1 or 2, or even 10, new things you can try in your content marketing from these examples.
There is definitely a movement in the marketing world that strongly believe content is absolutely critical to your marketing success, including yours truly. It was great to see a book dedicated to this topic written by 2 authors who are experts and that can teach you both fundamentals and inspire. It's also worth noting that the book is very well-written and with a sense of humor so it's an easy read that you'll enjoy while you learn. I strongly recommend it for anyone about to start using content marketing or those that have done it for years. You'll learn, be inspired and ignite your marketing.
[Image courtesy of the Content Rules Book website]