B2B Book Buzz: Content Rules

Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and more) that Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business

Content Rules is an impressive, fun-to-read, relentlessly upbeat manual about how to develop a content marketing strategy and construct interesting information for your intended readers utilizing a range of digital media. I pre-ordered this book in fall 2010 and have since applied some of its advice with raving success. Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman, chief content officers for Marketing Profs, emphasize that “content is king” online. But it’s hard to sustain an enduring schedule of interesting material. This book breaks down the steps and provides a navigable road map for attaining your content strategy goals.

Content Rules is an excellent resource for B2B marketersContent Rules will help you discover content in every department of your organization, package it in every conceivable format, then syndicate it across the web. A comprehensive reference tool, the book is chock full of supporting data from Marketing Profs and insightful case studies.

Handley and Chapman begin with the 11 “content rules,” then expound on them in the subsequent nine chapters.

Think like a publisher. Develop a schedule for your content. The monthly checklist is a good model on its own for a solid online marketing game plan.

Solve problems, don’t sell. Use the six characteristics of a good content idea or story: truth, relevance, humanity, passion, originality, and surprise.

Be relevant. Express the gist of the content piece in one sentence to stay focused on the message and purpose.

Find the human element. Even in B2B marketing, find a way to relate to your reader as a person, not a marketer.

Exude passion. The fact that you care should shine through your writing. Passion is contagious.

Be original. Share your own fresh, unique perspective.

Surprise the reader. Compelling content arouses curiosity and has an element of the unexpected. Use surprise to engage your audience.

Continuing in the authors’ familiar, witty style, the chapter titled “The Content Lifecycle” commands marketers to “reimagine; don’t recycle.” With solid suggestions for redistributing, bundling and dissecting content in a variety of formats, Content Rules shares a deceptively simple publishing schedule. “Feeding the beast” is critical to building your content buffet.

In a rare nod to business-to-business companies, Content Rules suggests B2B marketers place emphasis on listening to and analyzing target audiences and building buyer personas. The book includes a succinct list of questions B2B marketers should ask about their prospects and customers, accompanied by a table to help analyze the results.

The how-to section says you should have a killer blog as your content hub, and includes guidelines like defining your purpose, setting a reliable schedule and creating momentum. Referring back to the initial content rules, this chapter suggests that anyone who can talk can write a blog; just write the way you speak. The Easy-Peasy Blog Post Template is a valuable tool to share among any marketing staff.

The chapter on webinars should be a standalone eBook (knowing Ann, it’s probably already on Marketing Profs). It’s full of particulars on how to ignite your business using this robust and engaging content medium. The 25-step list on creating and producing a webinar is a must-read for any marketer thinking about launching a webinar program.

Content Rules addresses, head on, what it takes to plan, produce, and distribute quality content as the basis for audience engagement that pulls website visitors and leads to conversion. It positions this process as the essential ingredient to achieving online marketing success.