The Seven Rules of Content Marketing

The following rules were presented as part of an Ideas Marketing webinar derived from Ann Handley and CC Chapman’s book Content Rules. Some were taken directly from this great book, others were my own interpretation.

Content solves problems Rule 1: Create Content to Solve Problems

Content marketing is not a licence to go going blah-blah-blah. If you’re not out there solving someone’s problem you’re going to have limited impact. This comes back to the old cliché about Twitter when someone says, “Oh, I just ate a hamburger for lunch,” or “I just went to the shops,” or whatever. We don’t care! That might be nice to promote your personality and it’s way better to use your personality to educate, assist and entertain. And, ultimately solve problems because that’s what business is really about. If I can help you get your results then I’ll get rewarded along the way. And the same applies to your content marketing – use it for good!

Good content attracts Rule 2: Good Content Attracts Customers Like a Light Attracts Insects

The old way of doing business by only advertising was all about pushing your message out to anyone nearby who would listen or watch. Content Marketing is the opposite. It’s more like sitting outside on a hot summers night and turning on the light. All of a sudden bugs seem to come from nowhere attracted by the bright light. If you’re putting out really good content that helps, then people will naturally gravitate toward it. For instance, the search engines will pick it up because other people are liking it; you’ll get some social media juice because other people are re-tweeting your message and so forth. They’ll start passing it on. And that’s what good content is about. It’s an attraction process.

Great content gets shared Rule 3: Great Content will have Customers Spread the Word For You

Following from Rule #2, if you’re creating and sharing great content then you can incite your own promotional army. The ultimate version of this is a campaign that gets passed on by one person to another and goes viral. Think Susan Boyle and Blendtec. Whilst you can aim for this, it’s a bit like trying to win lotto. A little luck is involved and no one has really cracked the code to do this consistently. It’s more likely, if you keep sharing great content you’ll build a strong reputation. And when someone along the way mentions the problem that you solve, they might just suggest, “Ah, you need to talk to…” Content marketing can make or break your reputation!

Bonus: Ten Great Viral Campaigns

Design content to be shared Rule 4: Design Your Content to be Shared

When I first started doing BookRapper, I made an early decision to design it as a PDF document. Given I was originally selling subscriptions I knew some would pay to access the pdf and others would share it freely to their friends and colleagues. Whilst this meant I didn’t get the direct revenue from all copies, it did mean that Book Rapper reached a much wider audience. And, this is an important consideration for your content marketing: design it to be shared easily. Whilst we might want instant dollars, sometimes it better to spread the word and sell indirectly. The bottom line: your content marketing is aimed at generating sales – and – you don’t have to make sales off every piece of content you put out there. You simple need enough to make a comfortable living.

Design Content to Build Rule 5: Design Your Content As Building Blocks

Following from Rule #4, it’s time to think about your content in a strategic way. In particular, to think of the building blocks within your campaign.

Chris Anderson originally wrote one article about the Long Tail that was published in Wired magazine. He received so much feedback and comments that he started expanding on the article in a blog. As he wrote more blog posts a fan base joined in and eventually this became his best-selling book. This is an example of using your daily or weekly action to produce content and building it into something much bigger.

The opposite approach was how Book Rapper became a stream of content. I’d sit down for a couple of days and write a 10-15 page document. Then I’d break this down into 10-20 blog posts and a series of tweets. Then I turned them into a 26 tweet series and a slideshow to create Twit Rapper.

Using webinars I follow a similar path. One 45 minute webinar can become a set of slides, an audio podcast and a video. And, then this can be broken down into 10-20 blog posts, a bucket load of tweets and more. And, this works the other way too. The first 8 webinars formed the basis of the one-day Ideas Marketing workshop.

Rather than creating random content, stop, and think for a moment. Ask yourself, ‘What does this lead to?’ What’s the bigger picture? Or, what are the smaller elements here? Content creation doesn’t have to be invented from scratch all the time. You can repackage and reformat to share your ideas in different ways to different audiences.

Use your strengths to create your content Rule 6: Create Content Using Your Strengths

I think there’s lots of people that are so stuck in their own way of doing it that they forget that other people aren’t like them. You’ll hear them say things like, “Everyone must do this”, or “You’ve got to be doing webinars”, or “You’ve got to be doing it like this”. And, it’s like, “Okay that might suit you, but it doesn’t work for me.”

This is particularly evident around books. Everyone wants to create a book. I even had a conversation with a world class singer who wanted to write a book rather than produce an audio product. Yet, I find a lot of us – me included – are not natural writers. So, if you’re not a natural writer, you need to find your own way of creating your content. The best part of this is if you truly find a way that works for you then you’ll most likely create your own unique way of doing it which will increase your results. A great example of this is Gary Vaynerchuk. He’s not a natural writer (he’s happy to admit his books are transcribed) and he is brilliant behind the video.

Remember, as the old adage goes, you’re the best in the world at being you. This is your competitive advantage – make the most of it!

Rule 7: The Marketer With the Best Content Wins!

If you produce good content, you’re more likely to attract an audience. And if you’re producing great content, you’re more likely to have other people sharing it for you. And if you can do that, you’re going to increase your marketing efforts, and ultimately, your sales revenue as well. And that’s the name of the game. Produce great content and that’s your best opportunity to market your services and the best way to get results you want.


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