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The Rise of the Storytellers

I’m taking some vacation time this week and I’m actually going to stand waist deep in the Columbia River in Oregon and cast for Trout. (Don’t worry I won’t hurt any I’m strictly a catch and release kind of guy.)  While I am away, I have a great lineup of guest bloggers filling my shoes.  This post is brought to you from C.C. Chapman.

C.C. Chapman is a leader in the online and social media marketing space. He is an avid photographer, author and keynote speaker. His most recent book (with Ann Handley) Content Rules, is a best seller that explains how companies can create remarkable blogs, podcasts, webinars, ebooks and more. C.C. is an advocate who speaks about building passionate consumer communities, and the strategic values of content-based marketing. He is the host of Passion Hit TV and the founder of Digital Dads. C.C. is a graduate of Bentley University and happily lives in the woods outside of Boston with his loving family.

Time for a bit of tough love.

You and your company must figure out how you are going to begin telling your story and creating the media to share it with others. If you haven’t started already, you must start today because you are already behind.

Ever since my book Content Rules hit shelves in 2010, I’ve spoken to thousands of people around the globe and told them the exact same thing. No matter what city I was in, I’d recieve blank stares, vocal challenges that it didn’t apply to certain industries or knowing looks from those who had been fighting this fight in their own offices. I know I’m right and my clients are benefitting from my knowledge and starting to learn how to do this.

Pick any social network you like. Look at what is being said and shared on them. You’ll see a constant wave of photos, videos, articles and more being shared. People are finding content that kicks off an emotional response to it and then sharing it with others. They are taking content that others have created and pushing it out to their communities so that others can consume it as well.

You as a business owner must create content that shares your story for others to then pass along.

Just a few years ago, you could have gotten away with saying your customers were not online or that it wasn’t important for you particular business and I might give you a pass. Now, every single age, demographic and potential customer for you is there. They have phones connected to the web. They are doing searches for everything from peaches to PCs. Your corner store can now have a global market if you so desire.

The rise of the storyteller is upon us. You can choose the medium that is right for you, but you must start creating now. Waiting isn’t an option if you want to succeed. It is that black and white of an issue in my mind.

Google continues to tweak their algorithm so that fresh and relavent content is served up when people search. If you are not giving it things to show, then you are invisible on the web. Plus, people are consuming at a constant rate and if you give them something compelling, interesting or inspiring they will reward you with their attention (and perhaps more).

The Content Inspiration and Creation Rules

Marketing podcast with Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman (Click to play or right click and “Save As” to download – Subscribe now via iTunes or subscribe via other RSS device (Google Listen)

Ann HandleyCC ChapmanThe need to produce lots of educational content is a given these days – I’ve written about both how to find inspiration and how to create a systematic approach to content generation in recent posts.

I think, perhaps, most people get this idea so the focus is turning squarely on practical ways to get this done. For this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast I visit with Marketing Profs Chief Content Officer, Ann Handley and Internet Marketing Expert and Founder of Digital Dads, C.C. Chapman about their new book Content Rules.

The title of the book has an obvious double meaning – as in these are the rules and dude, content ruuuules (think Wayne and Garth) – and it’s one of the first books that really does lay out the path for how, when and why to produce content that will help you achieve your marketing objectives in this information crazed world we find ourselves living.

And since this is a book and podcast about content I thought I would share a list of other content about the book:

You can listen to the show by subscribing the feed in iTunes or a variety of other free services such as Google Listen (Use this RSS feed) or you can buy the Duct Tape Marketing iPhone app. (iTunes link – Cost is $2.99) or Android app and listen to the show as well as about ten past shows on your phone.

How to Create a Content Lead Generation System

Content RulesEveryone’s talking about content these days and like it not you’ve got to get in the publishing game. (Content Rules – great book on the subject just out.)

Of course this doesn’t mean get the game just to play. The idea behind all of this content creation you’re being asked to do is to use it to build your business in the long term – to get more leads and sales.

The following systematic approach to content creation will help guide you in the most effective use of your limited time on the way to creating a momentum building content lead generation system.

Content Creation Strategy

Like all good systems and processes, your content lead system must start with strategy. With that in mind there are three very important concepts to consider

  • The total body of work – think big picture when you think content. Pretend (or for real) that you are outlining a book about your entire subject of expertise. Now, as you think about content work through the outline and remember that are creating a body of work that may take months and years to finish.
  • Purpose and repurpose – As you create content always think about the purpose you have in mind – drive traffic, get links, draw reaction – and the repurpose opportunities – blend several posts into an article, use it as seminar, create an ebook from a category of blog posts.
  • Medium diverse – One great way to get more bang for your buck is to republish your content in various forms. Record and archive seminars, transcribe audio and video and offer multiple forms of the same content.

Tools – Moleskine notebooks to capture ideas, Dragon Dictation or Casting Words to transcribe audio and video to text, Audio and Video capture tools such as iPhone or Flip Camera

Content Inspiration

Even with a big picture body of work approach you can get blocked when it comes to creating fresh and frequent content. It’s a good idea to have ready made sources of inspiration to turn to and help keep you up to speed on all the real time happenings in your world.

  • Questions – make a note of all the questions that prospects and customers ask and get in the habit of posting answers to these inquiries.
  • Delicious – use bookmarking tool like delicious so you can mark things you’ve found for later reading and so you can see what other people are bookmarking for categories you need to keep up on.
  • Google Reader – Subscribe to and browse 50 or so related blogs – you can do this on your phone while you stand in line at the coffee shop.
  • Alltop – Convenient way to see lots of blog posts sorted by countless topics
  • StumbleUpon – Unique way to find of the beaten path stuff about topics you choose
  • Google Keywords – Sometimes you just need to write about what people are searching for and using a keyword tools helps you know the best way to say it.
  • SmartBriefs – Daily digests of some of the best of the web on a variety of topics.

Content Automation

Few people are still as geeky about RSS as me anymore, but I still love what you can do with it. (Back archives and tutorials on RSS use)

My favorite use is to create content automatically or on the fly by installing a bit of RSS magic. Using this approach you can create fresh content for your own site or even custom filtered feeds just for your best customers.

Here’s a quick tip: Bookmark mentions of your company in delicious using company name tag, grab the RSS feed from the tag on delicious and take it Feedburner and use the Buzz Boost feature to create HTML code to publish this info to your “In the news page.” The page updates automatically every time you bookmark an news mention.

Tools: Google News, Feedburner, Delicious, Yahoo Pipes

Advertising Content

If you want your advertising to be more effective and your content to generate leads don’t sell your stuff, advertise your content.

Use your Facebook and other PPC advertising to point to your valuable free ebook or upcoming online seminar and past seminar archive. Turn your advertising into a trust building platform rather than an expensive turnoff.

On Demand Content

One of the most dramatic advances in the communication of sales messages has come in the form of presentation platforms.

With today’s low cost and easy to use video tools you can create full featured, highly engaging sales presentations and host them online to effectively generate and nurture leads night and day.

Using a tool like SlideRocket allows you to also easily embed forms in your interactive presentations and receive alerts when people view the show and complete the form.

Content Partnerships

And now for the big payoff for all your content creation.

Once you create a blog, ebook, white paper, podcast, videocast, online and offline educational seminar you can take these proven and practiced bits of content and start offering them to your strategic partners.

Let them cobrand your ebook and offer it to their clients. Invite them write guest blog content and interview them for your podcast. Offer to provide your awesome seminar free of charge to their customers.

While content creation may seem like a lot of work, using even a fraction of the ideas contained here you can make the ROI of content creation crush just about any other form of lead generation today.