Content marketing–telling stories and sharing helpful, relevant information–plays a key role in building your personal brand.
Although branding is usually discussed in terms of behavior, the quality of the content you prepare for building your personal brand, or the building your employer’s corporate brand, is equally important.
“As many speakers at Content Marketing World 2013 emphasized, your clients and prospects don’t really care about you; they’re more interested in their own challenges, goals, and problems.”
To break through your clients’ and prospects’ indifference, you need to create an on-going stream of content-relevant stories that will create emotional connections with your market.
That’s why the Content Marketing Institute’s Joe Pulizzi wrote Epic Content Marketing: How to Tell a Different Story, Break Through the Clutter, and Win More Customers by Marketing Less.
Qualified, timely advice
Epic Content Marketing is a how-to reference guide that is as current as the Coca-Cola’s Content 2020 initiative which focuses on replacing creative excellent with content excellence. (See Coca-Cola Content 2020 Initiative Strategy Parts 1 and 2 videos.)
Organized in 5 parts, Epic Content Marketing addresses every aspect of content marketing that individuals building personal brands for themselves, or corporate brands for their employers, are likely to need in order to succeed. Topics include:
- PART I. Content Marketing–there and Back Again. The 6 chapters in this section provide an overview of content marketing, including its history, the reasons it exists, the business case for content marketing, and an informed look at tomorrow’s media companies.
- PART II. Defining Your Content Niche and Strategy. The next 7 chapters address the homework that precedes content marketing success, including creating a personal statement that combines your business objectives with the information needs of your audience. This leads to detailed chapters addressing audience personas, defining your market engagement cycle, and identifying your content niche.
- PART III. Managing the Content Process. Creating a process for producing content involves building an editorial calendar, managing time and resources, understanding the different content types, and creating a content platform and a sustainable content channel plan. There are 7 short, but detailed chapters in this section.
- PART IV. Marketing Your Stories. Content, even highly-relevant, story-based content, needs to be nurtured. The 3 chapters in this section describe how to put social media to work amplifying your content, as well as alternative content promotion techniques. This section also describes how to leverage social influencers in your sphere.
- V. Making Content Work. Chapter 24, Measuring the Impact of Your Content Marketing, (see below), is one of the most valuable chapters in Epic Content Marketing. This chapter will help you justify your content marketing efforts to impatient, bottom-line C-level clients and executives. The last chapter, The Evolution of Your Epic Story, helps you prepare to remain at the peak of your skills in the years to come.
Epic Content Marketing covers a broad spectrum of topics, offering something for everyone, whether they’re a newcomer to the field or an experienced content marketer. Here are the takeaways that strongly resonated with me either on familiarity or the thrill of discovering something new.
- Print is not dead. Content marketing and personal branding are often viewed as either web-based media or grounded in your person-to-person communications and leadership styles. I was pleased, however, to see numerous examples of the important role that printed communications can play in Chapter 16, Content Types.
- Spectrum of content marketing options. As is also described in Chapter 16, brand-building content options also include e-learning, executive roundtables, mobile applications, online games, road shows, as well as writing books.
- Mainstream, not a niche. Coca-Cola, mentioned above, is just one of the large corporations using content marketing to build their corporate brands. Other familiar corporate brands investing heavily in content marketing include LEGO, Red Bull, and TD Ameritrade.
- Transparency. The author holds little back when describing his experiences using content marketing to build the Content Marketing Institute. At several points, Joe Pulizzi shares specific strategies and tactics used by Content Marketing Institute–and the results they obtained.
- Visual storytelling. Visuals play an important role in Epic Content Marketing. Chapters contain multiple types of visuals, including screen shots, flow charts, cartoons, tables, white paper covers. Frequent subheads make it easy for readers to locate desired information. Bullet and numbered lists are often used to save space and add visual interest to pages.
- Details. Although Epic Content Marketing is an aspirational type of book, after you finish reading it, you are left not only optimistic about adapting the ideas to your own brand and business, but you’ll know the specific next steps to take to implement the ideas. Each idea is accompanied by examples, resources, and tips.
- Creating a Content Process. One of my favorite chapters in Epic Content is Chapter 15, Managing Information like a Product. Often, content and writing tasks are viewed as “creative” and “magical. By viewing information as a product, however, this chapter emphasizes the need to create a process to plan, delegate, and track your content marketing.
- Concise. An example of the conciseness of it is the book’s Top 10 Content Marketing Questions answered in 140-characters or less.
Organization and structure
As you can see from the Mindjet mind map of of Epic Content Marketing’s Chapter 24, Measuring the Impact of Your Content Marketing, ideas logically build on each other. There’s an obvious content hierarchy, whether looking at the mind map of the chapter , or reading and skimming the chapter, following the subheads. In the case of Chapter 24, the structure is as follows:
- Relevance. Chapters typically begin with a statement of relevance, which usually involves answering the question, Why does this chapter matter? The relevance is typically story-based, often an anecdote or case study. In this case, a series of paragraph-length quotes from a broad variety of content marketing experts introduces Chapter 24.
- Three Big Questions. The first idea, or topic, is often introduced as a list, that is elaborated upon in the following sections of the chapter. In this case, the 3 questions are those any content marketer is likely to be asked by the individual or manager paying the bills for the firm’s content marketing program.
- Big Idea 1. There are two parallel ideas involved in helping readers justify their content marketing efforts to their clients or high-level managers. The first is Return on Objective. In this case, a visual, The Content Marketing Pyramid, helps readers visualize the difference between primary, secondary, and user indicators. A detailed discussion, with examples and resources, follows.
- Big Idea 2. Balancing Return on Objective: Part 1′s emphasis on user metrics is the next topic, Return on Objective: Part 2: which focuses on return on investment. Between these two approaches, most readers will gain a new perspective on answering the questions they must answer if they are to deliver trackable content marketing success to their clients or employers.
- Closure. Chapter 24 concludes with implementation tips, plus an Epic Thoughts summary of key ideas plus Epic Resources for readers who want to learn more.
A similar structure, or rhythm, is used throughout every chapter in Epic Content Marketing.
Finding content for personal branding success
Engaging, entertaining content, offering helpful, relevant, information, is the primary currency used in corporate and personal brand building. Epic Content Marketing is an excellent guide for improving your content creation and content curation skills. Epic will help you to create the process needed to take your brand to the next level. Do you have a content process for personal branding success? Share your content experiences as comments, below.
Roger C. Parker is an author, speaker, and coach who can help you build your personal brand by writing more efficiently. Get my free 99 Questions to Ask Before You Start to Write workbook or ask me a question.