I just finished reading “Ctrl Alt Delete,” the new business book from Mitch Joel (Mitch was a keynote speaker at last year’s Content Marketing World, and is keynoting the Content Marketing World Financial Summit this September in Cleveland). Simply put, this is one of the best marketing, business, and motivational books I’ve read in quite some time.
Throughout the entire book, Mitch offers dozens of thoughts and ideas that have direct impact on what we do in content marketing. Here are six of the ones that made the biggest impact on me, and some of my own interpretations:
No direct relationships = no future
“For a brand to truly shape its own destiny, it must lead the relationship with the consumer…”
Our focus, as marketers, should be to do everything we can to communicate directly with our customers and prospects. We can no longer rely on advertising and middlemen to distribute our message. We need to ensure that our content marketing is so good that it draws customers to us… and stays so good that they never leave. Wherever you can have that type of relationship with your customers online, that’s where you need to be.
Utilitarianism marketing rules
It’s been interesting to read both Mitch’s book and Jay Baer’s new book, “Youtility,” at the same time. Why? Because both consistently hit upon the same concept — marketing as a utility for customers.
“Brands will need to make their marketing more useful. Period. End of sentence.”
Utility marketing is all about providing something that customers not only would want to use, but would also find so valuable that it becomes an important part of their lives. Think Nationwide’s mobile app that’s specifically built for people who’ve just been in a car accident.
The keys to utility marketing that works:
- Thinking about the customers’ needs first, and your brand objectives second
- Removing any and all barriers to giving out the useful information
- Creating it, giving it out, and allowing the audience to read it without requiring anything in return
- Making it worth talking about to others
- Keeping it amazingly simple
- Filling a gap — your marketing doesn’t have to be earth-shattering, just useful
Conventional wisdom states that we now live in a three-screen world (TV, computer and mobile). Mitch’s advice: “Stop counting screens.” Everything that people are doing right now is happening in the palms of their hands — whenever and wherever they are. Right now, there are more active mobile phones in the world than people. And what’s most amazing about all this information is that we are only at the beginning of its potential.
No matter what business you are in, look at the habits of your consumers. Most likely, your prospects and customers start and end their days with a mobile device close at hand. What if you start looking at your marketing from this perspective… before looking at anything else?
For your content marketing to be successful, you need to both use and believe in digital as the first and foremost priority. If you have members of your team who don’t truly and primarily think in terms of digital communications, you need to make drastic changes now. Yes, storytelling has been around forever, but consumers have never had as much power and choice as they do right now. Digital has made this possible. Make it a priority, not just in your business culture, but throughout all of your business processes.
Kill the content
Every brand creates content, but how many are leveraging great brand storytelling? Very few.
We need to stop producing lackluster content and start telling the greatest stories ever told. In Mitch’s words:
“What’s my hope? That brands start reinvesting in great stories instead of investing in people to simply blog, tweet, and update their Facebook page.”
Take a break from the content you are creating right now and ask yourself if it will truly have the potential to make a difference in people’s lives. The great brands of tomorrow are the ones telling the best stories today.
Ask two questions
Before Mitch publishes any piece of content, he asks himself:
- Will this content stand the test of time?
- Will my children (and their children) be proud of their father (grandfather) when looking at this?
Everything (and I mean everything) will be saved online forever. We are actively creating our own history, and that of our brands.
Are you proud of the legacy you are building?
Joe Pulizzi’s latest book, “Epic Content Marketing,” will be released in September 2013. You can preorder it now on Amazon.com.
Cover image via Bigstock