A Reader’s Digest article from October 1991 told an amazing story of how one national skier, who was...
Hi everyone, I thought those of you who are my regular readers might want to know that my blog post “A...
The 1960s Myth of Too Much Time in the Future I heard that in the 1960s, Time magazine reported that a subcommittee...
The ancient Roman lawyer, writer, scholar and great orator, Cicero, once said this about the power of...
Today I want to share some lessons with you about how to come up with content marketing topics. It’s a lesson...
Today, I am going to attempt to do something very difficult. I am going to try to help two groups of people at...
In the past, I posted about The Little-Known Content Marketing Deal That Sears Made With Extreme Makeover:...
The other day, I was watching the PBS series “American Experience” and learned something I never...
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Joe Pulizzi, the founder of ContentMarketingInstitute.com - one of the leading thought leaders behind the content marketing and social media movement
Want To Learn How To Create Better Content?
Welcome. I have 21 years of experience in creating content on a regular basis, so I know it’s much easier for me to create content than it is for you. I realize that I know methods that you don’t. I know techniques for how to present my content that you don’t know.
Because of that fact, I want to teach you what I know. That way you can have a head start on creating compelling, engaging content.
If you are interested in this, I’d like to send you some free lessons, which are excerpts from my upcoming e-course.
These free lessons will teach you:
Read my most recent posts below...Read More
A Reader’s Digest article from October 1991 told an amazing story of how one national skier, who was training for the Olympics, came up with a new racing technique.
And after you read this great story, I will show you what this new racing technique and the desire to come up with new content marketing ideas have in common.
Here’s the story the Reader’s Digest article shared…
“When Jean-Claude Killy made the French national ski team in the early 1960s, he was prepared to work harder than anyone else to be the best.
“At the crack of dawn he would run up the slopes with his skis on, an unbelievably grueling activity. In the evening he would lift weights, run sprints–anything to get an edge.
“But the other team members were working as hard and long as he was. He realized instinctively that simply training harder would never be enough.
“Killy then began challenging the basic theories of racing technique.
“Each week he would try something different to see if he could find a better, faster way down the mountain. His experiments resulted in a new style that was almost exactly opposite the accepted technique of the time.
“It involved skiing with his legs apart (not together) for better balance and sitting back (not forward) on the skis when he came to a turn. He also used ski poles in an unorthodox way–to propel himself as he skied.
“The explosive new style helped cut Killy’s racing times dramatically. In 1966 and 1967 he captured virtually every major skiing trophy.
“The next year he won three gold medals in the Winter Olympics, a record in ski racing that has never been topped.
“Killy learned an important secret shared by many creative people: innovations don’t require genius, just a willingness to question the way things have always been done.”
People seem to have the same question when it comes to content marketing: How do I come up with new ideas?
I will answer that question in detail in my upcoming “Content Boosters” online course, but it comes down to two things:
You need to pay attention to the things that are around you. Ideas are all around you – if you pay attention.
You need to not only take time to observe what’s going on around you, but you also need to find time to think about what you observe and how (or if) it relates to content marketing.
How did Jean-Claude Killy up with his paradigm shifting new racing technique?
No! Instead he did these two things:
*This is how ALL creativity and breakthroughs take place, whether it’s in sports, education, art, or content creation.
These two things require one thing; TIME.
We’re all so busy in life, juggling so many things, that none of us has any more time to give away.
Or do we?
Was Jean-Claude Killy less busy than the other skiers? No!
He just used his time in different ways than the others.
If you really want to be able to keep coming up with new content marketing ideas, then it’s going to require you doing these two things.
And that will require you figuring out how to find the time to do these things.
I’m sorry. There’s no other shortcut or secret to creativity.
But if you’re willing to find the time to do these things, then you will begin to come up with new content marketing ideas.
There are 8 days left for you to grab a copy of my recording called, The 3 Keys to Increased Focus, Efficiency, and Creativity.
I am only offering this recording until August 30th at 12pm PST.
These three simple things are NOT content marketing methods.
They are methods to apply to your life that can help you to become better at prioritizing things.
They’ll also reveal to you some overlooked ways you can reschedule your life to fit in the time to do things like observe and contemplate.
Just to be clear, these “3 keys” are NOT just something I made up. I discovered them.
1. The first key is something that many of the “Greats” from the past implemented daily in their lives.
2. The second key is based on an ancient concept which was unknowingly implemented by one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th century.
3. The third key is based on a mindset that both modern productivity experts and an ancient group of people agree upon.
NOTE: At the link above you’ll find more information such as:
Photo from Killy.com
I thought those of you who are my regular readers might want to know that my blog post “A 213 Year Old Business Reveals Two Content Marketing Secrets of Today’s Publishing Empires” was featured on ContentMarketingInstitute.com’s podcast “This Old Marketing.”
You can hear the full episode here.
Or you can just listen to just the final segment where they talk about my post below:Read More
I heard that in the 1960s, Time magazine reported that a subcommittee of the United States Senate was assembled to discuss the topic of time management.
They gathered the best experts in the field because they were concerned about the advances in technology.
What were they concerned about?
They thought advances in technology would lead to a big problem by the end of the century.
They thought people would have so much free time, thanks to technology, that they wouldn’t know what to do with all of their free time!
They thought there would be so much free time that workers would have to cut back on how many hours a week they worked, or how many weeks a year they worked, otherwise they would have to start retiring sooner.
But the reality of how things have turned out is much different.
Many of us have a chronic problem.
It’s a problem that, for most of us, is getting worse and worse every year.
It’s something that – if it isn’t gotten a hold of right away – will keep us from really living life to the fullest.
It will rob us of our true potential.
What’s the chronic problem?
In a New York Times article published on June 30, 2013, Tim Kreider, wrote about what he called The Busy Trap.
It was so popular it received 800 or so comments.
I believe it was so popular because he hit a nerve about the realities of our modern American lifestyle.
And it’s nothing like they dreamed it would be in the 1960s.
Listen to what Tim Kreider said…
“If you live in America in the 21st century, you’ve probably had to listen to a lot of people tell you how busy they are. It’s become the default response when you ask anyone how they’re doing: ‘Busy!’ ‘So busy.’ ‘Crazy busy.’ It is, pretty obviously, a boast disguised as a complaint. And the stock response is a kind of congratulation: ‘That’s a good problem to have,’ or ‘Better than the opposite.’”
Then Kreider goes on to say, “Busyness serves as a kind of … hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day …. [We’re] busy because of [our] own ambition or drive or anxiety, because [we’re] addicted to busyness and dread what [we] might have to face in its absence.”
This is such a widespread modern America problem that many of us forget that it’s a problem that has actually been around for a long time.
Socrates warned his contemporaries about it with this famous saying, “Beware of the barrenness of a busy life.”
I think many of us know deep down that Socrates was right.
And our gut tells us that Tim Kreider is right about the busy trap.
We can feel it tightening around our own lives but we just don’t know how to escape it.
We all know this is a problem, but we’re not quite sure what the solution is.
The result is this:
And that’s just the beginning of how busyness impacts our lives.
The thing you need to realize is that busyness is one of the most common and widespread “dangers” of a modern life.
There are other dangers and their combined impact is robbing us of three main essentials to success:
What are you going to do about your own busyness?
I’d encourage you to come up with a plan today.
There are three keys I discovered to attacking this problem with busyness.
I discovered them by analyzing some of the habits of the “greats” from history and by putting those together with some ancient practices and viewpoints.
If this topic sounds like something, that you’d like to get more information on, then I’d encourage you to learn more here…
At the above link you’ll find:
NOTE: This is a repost from my other site BayBusinessHelp.com
Photo by martinak15
The ancient Roman lawyer, writer, scholar and great orator, Cicero, once said this about the power of words…
“Nothing is so unbelievable that oratory cannot make it acceptable.”
Remember that quote, because when you read the stories below you’ll learn just how true that statement is.
Have you ever thought about how powerful words are?
They have the power to literally change the world.
Let me give you three quick, real-life examples to show you just how powerful they can be.
He always wanted to be an artist, but his efforts to succeed in that arena always seemed to fall short.
He applied to the Academy of Fine Arts twice and was rejected both times.
In World War I, he applied to serve in the German army and was accepted, even though he was still an Austrian citizen.
His main job during the war was that of a messenger.
His service in WWI ended in a gas attack that he somehow managed to survive.
No one who looked at this failed artist at this point in his life would ever imagine what kind of an impact he could have on the world.
He was disillusioned that Germany had surrendered and later would join a group called the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (NSDAP).
It was then that his artistic talent finally came in handy.
He designed their party banner, which had a swastika in a white circle on a red banner.
His name was Adolph Hitler.
Hitler soon gained notoriety for his powerful speeches among his fellow party members.
It was this same talent for giving powerful speeches, in person and via radio, which would catapult him to become the leader of Germany.
And the rest of his corrupt, evil story is – as they say – history.
He was an Italian journalist and novelist who was disillusioned with his government.
He would’ve remained in obscurity except for one reason: he was a powerful communicator.
He would later become the editor of the Socialist party newspaper, Avanti (meaning “Forward”), which gave him a platform to spread his ideas.
The power of his words and his messages over the radio gave him an ever-growing influence over the people.
His name was Benito Mussolini and he also eventually became a powerful dictator.
And his horrible acts are now well-known as well.
These two psychotic dictators, who had tapped into this power of words, would eventually unite in their desire to dominate the world.
What would be the key to stopping them?
The power of words.
He didn’t begin his life with any hint of military greatness.
He took the exam for the British Royal Military College three times before he finally passed and was allowed entrance.
While he was in the military, he wrote military reports for some British newspapers.
Later he wrote two books on his experiences in the military.
He went on to become a Member of Parliament in the Conservative Party for Oldham, a town in Manchester.
Not only that, but he was the first to achieve the title of First Lord of the Admiralty. Everything in his life seemed to be going great.
Then something tragic happened.
He wasn’t directly involved in the disastrous Battle of Gallipoli, but he still resigned his post. Why? Because he felt responsible for proposing the expedition that had taken so many British lives.
His career seemed to be over.
That is, until a twist of fate brought him back onto the scene.
By the late 1930′s, Hitler and Mussolini had joined forces and Hitler was slowly taking over more and more of Europe.
The British Prime Minister Chamberlain didn’t know what to do. WWI was still fresh on his countrys’ mind and he didn’t want to enter war again, so he tried to appease the Nazis.
By 1938, Winston Churchill – the man who had taken 3 attempts to enter British Royal Military College, the man who had resigned in shame after the Battle of Gallipoli – couldn’t take it anymore.
He began to use the power of words to publicly express his criticism of how Prime Minister Chamberlain was handling things. He repeatedly gave speeches warning his countrymen of the danger that the Nazis posed.
On May 10, King George VI appointed Churchill as Prime Minister and Minister of Defense. And this was just in the nick of time.
Within hours, the German Army began to invade the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Belgium. Then, just days later, German forces entered France.
At this point, Britain stood alone against the Nazi onslaught.
On June 18, 1940, Churchill gave a powerful speech to the House of Commons, warning that “the Battle of Britain” was about to begin.
It was Churchill’s powerful words and speeches that kept the resistance to Nazi dominance alive.
His willingness to speak up created the foundation for the eventual alliance with the United States and the Soviet Union.
And again the power of words changed history.
The power of this one man’s ideas had helped influence other countries to join in the war and stop Hitler.
The power that words have really is amazing.
As Cicero said, they really can make anything seem acceptable.
If you ever doubt this fact, then remember this failed artist, this unknown journalist, and this failed government official.
I just want to encourage you, that as you learn to harness their power, to make sure to use them for something that is worthy and right.
Photo by floeschie
Today I want to share some lessons with you about how to come up with content marketing topics.
It’s a lesson from Edward Bok. Who is he?
Edward Bok lived from October 9, 1863 – January 9, 1930 and he was an American editor and Pulitzer Prize-winning author.
He was also editor of the Ladies’ Home Journal for thirty years. You read that right… for THIRTY YEARS.
During those thirty years, he learned some important lessons about the type of content that people really want to read.
He reveals these lessons in his autobiography called “The Americanization of Edward Bok The Autobiography of a Dutch Boy Fifty Years After” (1921).
Here are 3 of his lessons:
Bok said, “…the average popular magazine of 1889 failed of large success because it wrote down to the public—a grievous mistake that so many editors have made and still make. No one wants to be told, either directly or indirectly, that he knows less than he does, or even that he knows as little as he does: every one is benefited by the opposite implication, and the public will always follow the leader who comprehends this bit of psychology. There is always a happy medium between shooting over the public’s head and shooting too far under it. And it is because of the latter aim that we find the modern popular magazine the worthless thing that, in so many instances, it is to-day.”
Think about the type of content you enjoy most.
The kind of content I enjoy most is the kind that speaks to me as an equal, shares intriguing insights, or helpful information.
It is information that make me feel better about myself or my situation.
It is not the kind that makes me feel stupid or hopeless.
You need to make sure that the topics you choose and the ways that you address these topics do the same.
Now let’s look at Bok’s next counter-intuitive suggestion.
That might sound like strange advice, but listen to why he advises this.
Bok said, “It is the rare editor who rightly gauges his public psychology. Perhaps that is why, in the enormous growth of the modern magazine, there have been produced so few successful editors. The average editor is obsessed with the idea of ‘giving the public what it wants,’ whereas, in fact, the public, while it knows what it wants when it sees it, cannot clearly express its wants, and never wants the thing that it does ask for, although it thinks it does at the time. But woe to the editor and his periodical if he heeds that siren voice!”
This reminds me a lot of what Steve Jobs said, “You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.”
When I write blog posts, I never just write about topics people are wanting.
I try to write about things people don’t even know they want or I at least want to approach common topics in uncommon ways.
Here are some examples:
Do you see how these posts are topics that are beyond what people would even realize they want?
You need to do the same thing when you choose the content you create: move beyond just the topics that people say they want.
If you’re wondering how to do this, then listen to what Bok says about this in his last lesson.
Bok said, “The editor has, therefore, no means of finding it out aforehand by putting his ear to the ground. Only by the simplest rules of psychology can he edit rightly so that he may lead, and to the average editor of to-day, it is to be feared, psychology is a closed book. His mind is all too often focused on the circulation and advertising, and all too little on the intangibles that will bring to his periodical the results essential in these respects.“
In my last post, on ContentMarketingInstitute.com I shared some content marketing lessons from Ben Franklin and I said, “Never forget that technology changes constantly, but in general, people do not change. Their collective desires, needs, and even their idiosyncrasies have all remained much the same throughout the centuries.”
Bok is expressing the same kind of idea here.
The topics that he found to be the most popular were the ones where he focused on these types of collective desires, needs, and idiosyncrasies that are in all of us.
If you want to come up with magnetic content marketing topics, you must do the same.
When you are searching for topics to create content about, make sure to base them on these basic things.
And when you create content make sure to be as creative and intriguing as you can in how you approach and present these topics.
The next time you sit down to come up with ideas for your content marketing topics, then keep Bok’s unique lessons in mind.
What do you think about Bok’s lessons? Do you agree or disagree with them?
Post your comments below!
If you would like to learn some of the methods I personally use to make common content uncommon, then click the link below…
“21 Types of Content We Crave”
“Scott’s concepts in 21 Types of Content We Crave are absolutely brilliant! He simply breaks down an actionable approach that any content marketer can and should start using immediately. I highly recommend Scott Aughtmon as a valuable resource for both entrepreneurs and marketing professionals.” – Bryan Kelly/ WhatTheSpeak.com
I happened to come across an interesting article on NYTimes.com yesterday.
It explained that applications to universities have skyrocketed while acceptance into universities is dwindling.
Stanford received 42,167 applications for the class of 2018 and sent 2,138 acceptance notices, for a first-year class that, ultimately, will number about 1,700. That means they only accepted 5% of their applicants!
But it was as I was reading the article that I came across something that surprised me.
It’s a “positioning” lesson that we can learn from Stanford and the other most prestigious schools in the U.S.
This is what I read in the article that got my attention…
“One of the ways that colleges are measured is by the number of applicants and their admit rate, and some colleges do things simply to increase their applicant pool and manipulate those numbers,” said Christoph Guttentag, the dean of undergraduate admission at Duke.”
Then it goes on to say…
“A generation ago, it was rare for even highly competitive colleges to offer places to fewer than 20 percent of their applicants. In 2003, Harvard and Princeton drew exclamations of dismay (from prospective applicants), envy (from other colleges) and satisfaction (from those they accepted) when they became the first top universities to have their admission rates dip below 10 percent. Since then, at least a dozen have gone below that threshold.”
In other words, the LOWER the admission rate, the HIGHER the prestige.
The answer to all of these questions is that it’s the universities with the high application rates and low admission rates.
It’s not the schools who have plenty of space and will take any student, that attract the top students and teachers!
Those schools are not the ones with the most prestige.
Think about what this can teach you as a business owner:
That means you if you want to raise the quality of clients, improve how you are perceived in the market, and be able to increase prices you can charge, then you must learn to position your business like Stanford and the other prestigious schools.
Side Note: I think this is a wise strategy in the business arena, but I am not saying that I think this is a good or ethical practice for schools.
I am not sure what the best, balanced and ethical approach should be for schools – so they can attract the best students and teachers, and charge decent prices, but this method in the educational arena seems a little “off.”
Photo from giuliana_mirandaRead More
Today, I am going to attempt to do something very difficult.
I am going to try to help two groups of people at the same time, in one post.
The two groups I am trying to help are:
1. Business owners whose websites aren’t attracting any visitors
2. Bloggers whose websites attracts readers, but don’t make any money
You’ve created a website for your business.
You’ve put up everything on there that you can think of to explain what your business does and how it can help your prospects.
But, for some reason, your website doesn’t seem to be doing much good.
According to your website stats, there are not many people visiting your website.
And those that do visit, seem to click right away only seconds after getting there.
You’ve created a great blog.
You regularly post great content.
You have a good amount of regular visitors.
But, for some reason, your blog isn’t making you any money.
You have tried some ads and things like that, but it hasn’t brought you much money.
Would you like to know a secret to making your website more effective or your blog more profitable?
Great. I have the answer for you.
It’s in the last place you’d probably look to discover the secret to an effective website or profitable blog.
The secret for an effective website or profitable blog has a lot to do with the secret behind an effective magazine.
Let me explain…
I came across a quote about magazines that exposes the “secret” behind their real purpose.
And it reveals how you can make your website or blog more effective.
The quote I am about to share with you is from a book called The 1910s by David Blanke.
He says, “Ad executive James Collins told a congressional committee in 1907…
“‘There is still an illusion to the effect that a magazine is a periodical in which advertising is incidental. But we don’t look at it that way. A magazine is simply a device to induce people to read advertising. It is a large booklet with two departments – entertainment and business. The entertainment department finds stories, pictures, verse, etc. to interest the public. The business department makes the money.’”
Did you catch what he just said?
The purpose of a magazine is to be “a device to induce people to read advertising.“
It has two departments:
1. Entertainment which provides stories, pictures, etc. – to interest the public
2. Business whose purpose is to make money
These two purposes are the same basic ones that a successful business website or blog has:
1. Provide content that interests the public
2. Make a profit
Cyrus H.K. Curtis founded the Curtis Publishing Company in 1891.
His company published the Ladies’ Home Journal, the Saturday Evening Post, and several other magazines. He was VERY successful as a publisher (someone who uses content to make money).
In the book The 1910s, David Blanke also shares a quote from Cyrus H.K. Curtis.
It’s something that he once confided to audience of manufacturers about the dual purpose of magazines.
Listen to what he told them…
“Do you know why we publish the Ladies’ Home Journal? The editor thinks it is for the benefit of American women. That is an illusion, but a very proper one for him to have. But I will tell you, the real reason, the publisher’s reason, is to give you people who manufacture things that American women want and buy a chance to tell them about your products.“
Now notice carefully what he confesses to these manufactures.
The publisher’s purpose for a magazine is to give its advertisers a chance to share with its readers about their products (which are things those readers want).
It’s not an evil purpose.
It’s the same purpose every business website has.
But notice that the publisher has someone else who is focused on something different: providing information that will benefit their readers.
This is the same purpose every blog has.
Now don’t miss this important fact because BOTH of those purposes are needed if you want to succeed.
If your website or blog isn’t effective, it is probably because you are only thinking like one of these people.
You’re either too focused on trying to sell with your website or you’re too focused on providing content on your blog.
You must focus on both.
To know what you need to do to fix this, then please read the section below that applies to you.
If you’re like most business owners, your problem is that you’re thinking too much like a publisher. The only purpose you see for having a website is to make money.
That’s why any visitors to your website quickly click away after only visiting for a few seconds.
They aren’t finding anything on your website that is helpful to them.
You need to begin thinking like an editor and begin to provide helpful (and even entertaining) information for your prospects.
It’s the only way you can gather an audience that you can help by selling your products and services to.
If you’re like most bloggers, your problem is that you’re thinking too much like a editor. The only purpose you see for having a blog is to provide awesome content.
That’s why your blog isn’t making you any money and you’re having a hard time financing the time and effort it’s taking you to grow your platform.
Your visitors don’t realize you have any products or services that they might want. (It might be because you actually don’t have any products or services to offer them! Or it’s because you never mention your products or services, so you might as well not have any!)
You need to begin thinking like an publisher and begin to promote and/or provide products and services that your readers want.
It’s the only way, in the long run, that you can sustain your efforts to provide helpful information to your growing audience.
Note: I’ll make a confession. I tend to be think too much like an editor, I focus most of my effort on providing awesome, helpful content. (*But I am going to be working on balancing this tendency out!)
What’s your tendency? Who do you tend to think more like? A publisher? Or an editor?
Post in in the comments below!