There’s this charismatic, orange-clad character trotting the globe evangelizing a better way to build your business. Joe.
Joe gave it a name. Content marketing.
Joe gave it a home. Cleveland.
Joe gave it a main event. Content Marketing World.
And Joe wrote the bible. Epic Content Marketing.
Epic isn’t Joe’s first book. It’s his third. “Get Content, Get Customers” bears the name Joe Pulizzi as a co-author. “Managing Content Marketing” does too. If you ask me, they’re kind of tame titles. Regardless, readers collectively gave both books 4.5 stars.
Those works were warm-up acts. Next, Joe had the audacity to hunker down unassisted, bang out a 300-plus page instruction manual for content marketing, and call the hard-covered beast “Epic.” The cover even has a Star Wars like treatment.
The force best be with it. And the book damn well better contain commandments for the new media age of marketing. It better reach higher, dig deeper, deliver the ABCs, XYZs and birds and bees manual for the ages.
It does. If you’re looking for the bible of content marketing, here it is.
I’ve raved about other titles on my bookshelf before, namely “Content Rules” by Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman and “YouTility” by Jay Baer. But I’ve yet to shelve “Epic Content Marketing.” It’s remained on my desk since I got it.
I’ll tell you why, but only with little sneak-peek glimpses into a few favorite pages.
What is Epic Marketing?
First, what’s epic? Merriam-Webster’s definition is “very great or large and usually difficult or impressive.” That’s a good start because it’s where Joe’s going with his book theme. However, when he gets around to defining it, he does so by introducing six principles of epic content marketing.
- Useful—The content fills an unmet need, largely by answering customers’ questions.
- Consistent—The content needs to be delivered regularly, says Joe. I’ll add it needs be consistently great. Marketers fall down on both counts more often than not.
- Human—It’s not journalism and content marketers are not reporters. Epic calls for a personal, human touch. Your voice needs to come through.
- Opinionated—Experts have strong point of views.
- Amazing—Pulizzi writes your goal should be to become the very best in your niche and deliver amazing value.
- Non-salesy—I was tempted to skip this one. My reason: it seems very similar to point #1. But it bears repeating: epic content avoids “sales speak.”
Content marketing commandments
Throughout the book, Pulizzi hits content marketing from every conceivable angle including epic examples, FAQs, processes and so forth. I don’t want to give you complete Cliff Notes because you need to get a copy and read it.
Instead, I’m flipping to the end of the book where Joe presents two long and powerful lists in what are my favorite sections. The first of the lists presents content marketing commandments Joe says hang on his wall. It’s a long list. Here are some favorites.
“A blog can be, and should be, a core part of communicating with and marketing to your customers.” Amen. I might change “a core part” to “the core.” It’s a subtle difference, but my point is you must create a blog as the centerpiece of your marketing and instigator of the dialogue you aim to inspire.
“A brand is a relationship, not a tagline.” You got that, right? No one’s going to tell their friends about your tagline, but they will share their experiences.
“Hiring an editor is not a want, but a must, for all organizations.” So true, but so often ignored. You do indeed need your people to tell your story, but if your stories lack the polish of professional writers, you’ll find it impossible to gain traction. Subject matter expertise + great writing = effective content.
“Ninety percent of all corporate websites are terrible.” You’re reading a blog about content marketing. You care. Make sure your website is a top tenner.
“There is no one right way to do content marketing. Be willing to experiment.” When you play it safe, you blend in with the pack.
“There are no shortcuts to great content marketing; it takes a lot of elbow grease.” If you’re struggling with content marketing you already learned this lesson. If you’re new, you’ve been warned. Content marketing isn’t a good fit for every company.
This section, the book’s finale, is great. Pulizzi titles it “Go tell your story,” which is what content marketing’s all about. He presents a list of 42 (he likes that number for some reason). My favorites…
“Develop and refine your content marketing mission statement.” Joe’s storytelling tip #1 inspired this article by yours truly. Do not pass go until you understand its significance. The book’s website also offers a free chapter on this topic.
“Find one or multiple partners and launch a content marketing project together.” This tip’s important in so many ways. Collaborate and you’ll see.
“Consider that maybe less content will mean more impact.” The content craze has inspired far too much garbage. If you want results, create consequential works.
“Assign one employee to SlideShare and figure out how to leverage this tool as part of your content marketing plan.” I’ve spoken my piece on SlideShare here on the iAcquire blog.
“Stop one content initiative this year.” They’re not all going to be winners. You need to know which initiatives worked and which didn’t and tighten ‘er up.
“Sit down with every salesperson and ask him what his customer pain points are.” This is editorial planning 101. You’re going to take a proactive approach to answering questions.
“Set a goal this year to double the number of email subscribers to your content.” I’m proud to say I accomplished this last year. I also offered a 3-part lesson on how it’s done.
“Develop a content marketing metrics plan for your CEO or supervisor that includes only those metrics that will make the case for company business objectives.” Sound daunting? Here’s how to tame that analytics beast.
“Create a piece of content this year that would be completely unexpected and see what happens.” I got nothing. But I love that.
“For every story you have for next year, plan on developing 10 pieces of content.” This is called repurposing. You might not hit the 10 mark every time, but if you want to kill it with content, develop big themes, go deep and put your work in play in a variety of formats and media.
Have an epic year my friend.