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The Content Revolution
Understand the Art of Content Marketing, with Comprehensive Tips from a Master
Last month, Independent Publisher featured Chris Buckingham's Crowdfunding Intelligence: The No-Nonsense Guide to Raising Investment Funds on the Internet from LID Publishing as our Indie Groundbreaking Book for November. This month, we are highlighting another book from LID Publishing, one that serves as something of companion piece to Crowdfunding Intelligence. Where Buckingham's book acted as a guide to help businesses and entrepreneurs execute successful crowdfunding campaigns, this month's groundbreaking book takes a look at how written marketing content has evolved in the 21st century.
The Content Revolution, written by marketing consultant Mark Masters, seeks to unspool the brave new world of content marketing. The subtitle of the book promises to help readers "Communicate what you stand for by telling a better story," and that goal is the heart of the matter for what is an engaging, helpful, and easy-to-understand introduction to the latest philosophy in content writing.
What Is Content Marketing?
The Content Marketing Institute defines the concept of "content marketing" as a "strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action." As Masters discusses numerous times in The Content Revolution, the old styles of advertising and marketing were primarily built around interruptions: commercials that interrupted a TV viewing experience, advertisements that broke up a magazine or newspaper reading experience, or popup ads that interrupted a web browsing experience. Today, those methods don't work anymore. With Netflix and other streaming services, TV viewers can often bypass commercials entirely; with virtually all content available online, most of us aren't even exposed to magazine or newspaper ads anymore; and with popup blockers and AdBlock technology, it's even easy to avoid online advertising.
Written content, as a result, is one of the best ways that businesses have left of catching customer attention. But as Masters notes in the pages of The Content Revolution, most brands aren't creating content that actually does catch customer attention. Instead, the common approach is often either to load content with keywords in pursuit of search engine optimization, or to use an extremely sales-y approach. Content that takes the "you should buy our product or service because of features X and Y" doesn't work because it's been used so many times before. Meanwhile, simply telling your customers that your brand is an expert voice on a certain subject or industry doesn't work either. Customers are discerning enough to figure out who they trust on their own, and content marketing is all about showing and not telling in order to earn that trust.
The Flaw of the "Expert" Model
"Instead of marketing ourselves as experts, we need to recognize that we are enthusiasts who are still learning the tools of the trade," Masters writes in the introduction to The Content Revolution. The message is a refreshing one because it's not one we often hear. If you are involved in marketing or branding for your job—or even if you are just working on building a personal brand for yourself on social media—you have probably always thought that the goal was to come across as an authority or expert, so that everyone else would flock to you in order to witness your brilliance.
But while there's nothing wrong with expertise—and while the end goal with content marketing is still to become, as Masters puts it, an "influencer"—experts and authorities are also, by definition, less approachable than their more fallible contemporaries. Masters highlights humility as a key part of the content marketing equation, because brands that seem humble, down-to-earth, passionate, and direct are the ones that customers will want to forge connections with. When customers connect with the content that you create on an emotional level, they will be more likely to remember you or follow your brand for the long-term.
The Basics of Content Marketing
So how can you build an emotional link between yourself or your brand and the target audience you are seeking to convert into paying customers? Throughout The Content Revolution, Masters not only provides a thorough discussion of what content marketing is and why it works, but he also goes into a good bit of detail about how content marketing practices can be implemented.
The base goal in content marketing is to entertain or engage with your customers on a higher level—whether that means providing content that appeals to their personal hopes, dreams, and goals, or writing an article that answers their questions or solves their problems. Masters sketches out an easy-to-follow map of how to get there, from defining the identity and personality of your brand (ostensibly, figuring out your "voice"), to building a community of people who trust your branded voice, all the way to converting that community of loyal followers into valuable paying customers.
With tips about website design, blogging, email communications with customers, and much more, The Content Revolution covers a lot of ground. Rather than being overwhelming, though, the book feels comprehensive and complete, thanks largely to the fact that Masters practices what he preaches throughout. Using playful visuals, relevant stories, applicable scenarios, and a personable down-to-earth voice, Masters writes this book as a case study of sorts for everything he is telling businesses to do. The result, fittingly, is both a helpful guide to the concepts of content marketing, and a master class of content marketing in and of itself.
Are you interested in learning more about content marketing and how its principles can help a business cut through the busy web of disposable content flooding the internet these days? The Content Revolution is available on Amazon.com or directly from LID Publishing.
Craig Manning is currently studying English and Music at Western Michigan University. In addition to writing for IndependentPublisher.com, he maintains a pair of entertainment blogs, interns at the Traverse City Business News, and writes for Rockfreaks.net and his college newspaper. He welcomes comments or questions concerning his articles via email, at firstname.lastname@example.org.