I am an idea person. Insights come to me all of the time and they can come from surprising sources. But on this...
My Surprising Journey into Content Marketing I can’t believe it, but it’s been 26 years since I first...
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...
Joe Pulizzi, the founder of ContentMarketingInstitute.com - one of the leading thought leaders behind the content marketing and social media movement
I can’t believe it, but it’s been 26 years since I first began experimenting with creating content to capture people’s attention. (I’ll explain more of that story in my course.)
It was 15 years ago that I built a website in a small niche. (I’ll share more about this story too.)
At that point in time, I had never paid attention to marketing or cared about it at all.
But after creating that site, I suddenly needed to figure out how to get traffic to it and cause it to grow.
That’s when I began reading about marketing. I read every old, classic book on marketing that I could. I read every internet marketing guru at the time (approx. 1999).
I began to apply what I was learning and grow that little website.
And in the process of growing and improving that website, I began to really have an interest in marketing.
Not only that, but I found out I really had a knack for it.
Something else surprising happened…Read More
I am an idea person.
Insights come to me all of the time and they can come from surprising sources.
But on this particular morning that I am about to tell you about, I didn’t expect to get an important insight into the power of content marketing.
I was just expecting to eat breakfast.
Let me explain…
I woke up one Saturday morning and learned that my wife had made breakfast for my sons.
As I came stumbling into the kitchen in a half-awake stupor, she asked me if I wanted some “flapjacks”.
I thought, “That was weird. I’ve never heard her use that word before.”
So I replied, “You mean ‘pancakes’, right?”
She said, “No, They’re flapjacks. Actually they’re called ‘Kodiak Cakes’ and they’re really good!” (My kids, who were already sitting at the table and eating them, agreed that they were really good.)
I said, “Kodiak Cakes? What are those?”
She then set the box on the table and said, “Read the back…”
I grabbed the box and flipped it over to see what she was talking about.
And there on the back on the box I found this amazing story…
Years ago, flapjacks were the hearty mainstay of frontiersmen from the frigid Yukon to the wilds of Alaska, and from the Rocky Mountains to the High Sierras.
These rugged mountain-men and homesteaders relied on a traditional flapjack that combined the rich, substantial taste of whole grain wheat with the light mellow taste of whole grain oats.
Although the old-timers knew of the excellent taste and abundant energy they received from their daily flapjacks, they didn’t fully realize that they had stumbled onto a superb nutritional combination.
Their flapjacks contained a powerful source of carbohydrates, protein and fiber – all with very little fat. Since then, the original flapjack has quietly disappeared from North American tables.
Today, few people even know that the frontier flapjack and the ordinary pancake are not the same.
Many are now discovering for the first time that the original flap-jack tastes a whole lot better than the lifeless creations that commonly pass for pancakes these days.
At Baker Mills, we set out to restore the flapjack tradition.
In the process, we soon realized we had to get serious about ingredients – real taste and real nutrition demand real ingredients.
The old recipe could not be compromised for profit.
Inexpensive fillers such as bleached flour, white sugar, vegetable shortening and artificial additives that have taken over so many baking products were definitely out of the question.
Only with a commitment to use the original ingredients could we restore this lost tradition.
We believe we have made good on our commitment with Kodiak Cakes, using only the finest American wheat and Canadian oats.
Kodiak Cakes, are not for the fainthearted, but for those who, like the old frontiersmen exploring and settling untamed wildernesses, require nutrition, vitality, and taste.
Wow. I couldn’t believe what I had just read.
I had never heard of flapjacks described in this way.
It was a history lesson, a story, and an amazing invitation that was “not for the fainthearted.”
I never knew there was a difference between flapjacks and pancakes, but now I did.
Not only that, I knew what made these flapjacks so special.
After reading the box, I had to try them.
And so when the next hot batch was ready and placed on the table, I made my move and snagged a batch off of the plate – before my boys swarmed in for them.
I put some butter on them and poured the syrup over them.
I was now ready for my first bite.
I plunged the side of my fork into the stack and wiggle it so I could cut off a small wedge of the stack to try.
I then stabbed the wedge with my fork and popped it into my mouth.
They WERE really good – just like my wife, my sons, and the box said they would be!
I seriously think they’re some of the best “pancakes” – oops, I mean “flapjacks” – that I’ve ever had from a box.
As I finished eating my first plate of Kodiak Cakes, I realized I had just experienced one of the often overlooked powers that great content marketing has.
When we usually think of content marketing, we usually think of it in terms of its “pre-purchasing” power.
In other words, we usually focus on its ability to influence prospects BEFORE they buy (i.e. by drawing attention to your company, by encouraging them to know, like, and trust you, etc.).
But the revelation that I got that Saturday morning during breakfast was the impact of content marketing’s “post-purchasing” power.
This is the overlooked power that great content marketing has…
Content marketing has the power to not only sell your product or service, but to BOOST your customer’s experience (and pleasure) with you product or service.
The copy written on the back of the Kodiak Cakes box is so good I’m tempted to take it apart sentence by sentence.
But I won’t.
Instead, let me just point out three important lessons you can learn from the makers of Kodiak Cakes.
Don’t limit your content to the these pre-purchase avenues. Instead, create content that will be featured on your products themselves (or on/in the sales copy or sales scripts you use to sell your services).
Baker Mills didn’t waste the space on that box that their flapjacks come in. They harnessed it by filling it with content and story.
Its Impact: This drew me in and made me care more about the product.
Tell the story of how your type of product or service began to be offered to people. Paint the picture of its impact and its intrigue. Point out the good, the bad, and the ugly of how your type of product or service came to be and how it has evolved over the years.
Baker Mills explained things I never knew: what the difference was between pancakes and flapjacks, what type of people ate them, what made them flavorful and good for your health, etc.
Its Impact: This me gave information and categories I didn’t have before. This gave me criteria I would now use to judge and compare every other pancake mix. It also created intrigue and context for what I was about to experience.
Explain your origin story. Tell them why your company offers the unique product or service that you do. Paint a clear picture of how your product is different, better, etc. Be descriptive in telling your customers what it will be like to experience your product and service.
Baker Mills told me they weren’t just concerned about profit, but they cared about taste and authenticity. They were committed to using the original ingredients and carrying on the tradition of the frontiersmen. And they explained how they only used the finest ingredients.
Its Impact: This caused me to experience Kodiak Cakes before I even tasted them. It made me an ally of Kodiak Cakes. It even challenged me to be like one of the rugged and brave frontiersmen who explored and settled the untamed wilderness.
Do you see how these three things impacted my breakfast that morning?
I wasn’t just eating pancakes. I was eating flapjacks.
And they weren’t just any old flapjacks.
They were flapjacks influenced by the tradition of the frontiersmen. They were flapjacks with the emphasis on real flavor and real ingredients.
That created meaning, anticipation, and the sense of adventure to my regular, old breakfast experience.
Now don’t get me wrong.
You still need a good product or service. Kodiak Cakes really are great flapjacks.
You must have a great product or service, if you plan on using the above three “secrets”.
Because great content marketing that is used in the above ways to promote a BAD product or service will just make a bad product or service seem even WORSE.
But great content marketing that is used in the above ways to promote a GREAT product or service will make a great product or service seem even BETTER.
Apply these three “secrets” to your business today.
If a company that makes flapjack mix can use these methods, then so can you.
P.S. If Kodiak Cakes sound like something you want to try, then you can learn more about them on their website: KodiakCakes.com.
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