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Review: Rock Your Marketing with Content Rules

Posted on Feb 7th, 2011
Written by Lee Odden
In this article

    Ready to elevate your B2B brand?

    TopRank Marketing drives results with content, influencer, SEO & social media marketing.

    Book Review: Content RulesIf I were to write a tactical “how to” book on Content Marketing, I’d like to think it would be a lot like “Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars and More that Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business”.

    After knowing Ann Handley online for several years, I finally met her in person at a B2B MarketingProfs event in Boston last year. I met C.C. during a GM sponsored blogger dinner during SXSW. Both are “walk the talk” people when it comes to content marketing, so it’s more than fitting that they should join forces to write a “put it all into action” book.

    There are a lot of reviews of this book out already and for good reason. Companies see the growing value of content marketing but don’t have the expertise in execution.  This is one of those books destined to get dog eared, marked up and put to good use.

    Here’s the short version of my recommendation for Content Rules:

    “Content Rules by Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman is THE handbook on how to rock at content marketing. This book is rich with proven, practical advice on how to advance your business from two people who KNOW content.”

    A lot of business books read like textbooks. I have 5 sitting on my desk now waiting to be reviewed besides this one. A few of those I’ve had longer and had to put down. Besides being chock full of “doable” advice, Content Rules is a business book that’s actually enjoyable to read.

    The double entendre of the title is earned by the hat tip to content as a high impact method of marketing but also through the 11 rules shared in the book. Below I’ll share the titles of those rules and my own perspective on what they mean.

    1. Embrace being a publisher – I’ve mentioned in my PR presentations, “If you want to get in the media, become the media” and the same logic holds true with content marketing. If you want to engage and inform with content, then start thinking like a publisher. The planning, logistics, creative process and all the other things that go with the content and media business are essential.
    2. Insight inspires originality – One way communications without empathy with the customer’s needs is simply ineffective.  To me, content marketing strategy is aligning true business goals with those of your customers.  That means a keen understanding of your key messages as well as the information needs of your customers where ever they may be in the buying and lifecycle.
    3. Build momentum – The alignment I just mentioned above means creating content with a purpose, with a particular objective in mind and desired outcome. Don’t just inform readers, give them a natural progression of what to do next. Inspire them to take action.
    4. Speak human – When you really connect with customers, it’s through relevant, timely and digestible information. In the same way SEO professionals optimize content based on keywords most important to customers than company executives, so must the content marketer empathize with the language of their customer.
    5. Reimagine – Repurposing content just to get another copy out isn’t nearly as useful to objectives as planning the reuse of content from the start.
    6. Share or solve, don’t shill – Content that helps customers see how your products or services will solve real problems will reinforce credibility for the solutions you offer – without selling.
    7. Show, don’t just tell –  Some of the most effective content marketing is focused on education and helping customers visualize solutions involving your products or services in the context of their lives.
    8. Do something unexpected – The rise of content marketing means a lot of other companies will be reading this book and doing very similar things. Be different, be creative and think of unique ways to communicate your message and add value.
    9. Stoke the campfire – Content that inspires conversation between brand and customer is great. Brands inspiring conversation between their customers is even better.
    10. Create wings and roots – Ground your content with key points of view and at the same time encourage it’s reach into the social sphere. Extending reach into social discussions can reveal even more content creation opportunities that will best resonate with customers.
    11. Play to your strengths – As I mentioned in the post last week about how small companies can be big online, you don’t have to be all things to all people in the content marketing world for your industry.  Focus on the channels and messages that are true to your brand and the customers you’re trying to reach.

    My characterizations above don’t do the book justice but hopefully you get the idea. For the real deal, go  buy the book: Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business

    Part two goes into the specific How To’s ranging from video to webinars followed by a number of case studies (U.S. Army, Kodak, PinkStinks) that illustrate real-world examples of effective content marketing in action.

    I have to say, it’s nice to see our client Marketo, who are leaders in B2B marketing on their own, mentioned prominently several times as well. At the end of the book is a handy content marketing checklist and you know, we love checklists here at Online Marketing Blog.

    This book is timeless in its advice and I appreciate a great deal that it comes from people who are practitioners. As you can tell, I do recommend the book and suggest you check out the official website, Twitter and Facebook page for more info on the book and tour currently underway.

    Thanks Ann and C.C. for the opportunity to contribute my small slice of SEO advice in the book and overall for a very useful guide that all marketers & communicators can benefit from.