Offering a detailed explanation of how to create great content, Epic Content Marketing: How to Tell a Different Story, Break through the Clutter, and Win More Customers by Marketing Less by Joe Pulizzi is arguably the best book on the subject available today.
From SEO to email marketing, all inbound marketing tactics rely on great written content to be effective. There are several areas in your inbound strategy where you can get away with less-than-amazing quality, but your content is not one of them.
Content marketing is an extremely competitive space and it’s not as easy as it once was to stand out from the crowd. With so much conflicting information online about content marketing, it can be frustrating to put together a strategy for your business that you feel confident in.
Fortunately, there is a formula that’s proven to work and that’s exactly what Pulizzi shares in his book.
This formula is broken down into six principles that describe epic content -- content that attracts more people, converts more customers, and grows your business quicker!
I’m going to share a summary of these six principles outlined by Pulizzi, along with insights to help you apply them to your own business. However, I recommend that you pick up a copy of the book for yourself because there are too many gems to include in one book summary.
#1. Epic Content Fills an Unmet Need
Epic content has a purpose -- it fills a need, answers a question, or adds real value.
Why should a prospect read your latest blog post? That’s the first question you should ask before even drafting an outline. What’s in it for them?
Often we stress the point of creating content that informs people and helps them solve a problem, but Pulizzi describes that content can also be useful by filling an emotional need. It can be funny, inspiring, or even sad -- as long as it is engaging to your buyer persona.
Your goal is to fill their need in a way that no one else is doing. Obviously, this can be challenging, but the remaining principles will add clarity to how your business can create content that stands out from your competition.
#2. Epic Content is Delivered Consistently
For people to consider your brand as a reliable source of epic content, you have to deliver content consistently. Realistically, every piece of content isn’t going to be epic, but it needs to be really good every time.
Pulizzi points out that businesses are often terribly inconsistent with their content marketing and this quickly turns prospects away to other brands.
If you were to get a monthly subscription of Inc or Fast Company, you would expect your magazine to arrive every month and you expect it to deliver the same quality of content each time. This is a reasonable expectation since you are paying for your subscription, after all.
While your brand’s content may be free to prospects and customers, they still expect you to be consistent with quality and quantity. Your consistency in one area of business reflects what potential customers can expect from your company in other areas.
People require consistency to stay engaged.
#3. Epic Content Requires a Unique, Human Voice
One of the key takeaways that Pulizzi adamantly stresses is that epic content is NOT journalism and you are NOT a news reporter. Therefore, your content should have a human voice, even if it’s not what you think is “professional.”
Humor, sarcasm, storytelling -- however you actually communicate in real conversation is how you should convey your message in your content. Most big corporate websites have blogs that get little engagement, if any because they don’t have a human voice.
Prospects don’t want to connect with faceless businesses, they want to connect with the people behind the brand. Granted, humor isn’t appropriate for all industries. However, you can show compassion, enthusiasm, or any emotion that’s relevant and real.
Remember, people connect with other people, so don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through your content.
#4. Epic Content Expresses a Point of View
Another advantage to not being a journalistic entity is that you have ethical, freedom to be completely opinionated. It might sound like the safe option to not choose a side in an argument, but it’s also the boring option and boring content doesn’t get read.
Can you imagine if we didn’t take a stand against traditional advertising?
While we have plenty of data to support our argument that Inbound Marketing is far more effective than outbound, we also make it clear that we are biased with our opinions. We could state the facts and leave it alone, but that would be boring and less effective.
By expressing our point of view, we are able to attract prospects that agree with us and we’re able to persuade prospects that are unsure about Inbound. Businesses that refuse to abandon their outdated marketing strategy aren’t our buyer personas anyway, so turning them away with our point of view does no harm.
Don’t be afraid to express an opinion -- if people want a stale summary of the facts they’ll go to Wikipedia.
#5. Epic Content Avoids “Sales Speak”
Your company’s blog is your best outlet for PR and promotion. By all means, your company should be taking advantage of this opportunity. However, you should be aware that promotional content, or content that’s focused more on your brand than your buyer personas, is not epic content and will get less engagement.
You want the majority of your content to be focused on your prospects and customers. This type of content is shared more and gets your message spread to more people.
By publishing great content on a consistent basis, your prospects will actually want to see your promotional content. However, brands that constantly promote themselves get annoying quickly.
The idea is to give far more than you ask for in return. This is one of the fundamental principles of Inbound Marketing that businesses often forget.
#6. Epic Content is Considered the Best In Its Niche
According to Pulizzi, epic content is considered to be the best in a given industry. Realistically, this isn’t going to happen overnight. However, the long-term goal is to create better content than all of your competitors.
The best content doesn’t necessarily mean the longest and most detailed. It’s important to realize that most businesses are creating mediocre content and they’re doing so inconsistently.
In every industry, there is typically only a handful of companies creating epic content. By following these six principles, your brand can immediately join that small handful of brands that are creating epic content in your industry.
As your business grows and you have more resources to invest in your content marketing, you will that creating the absolute best content in your niche is more realistic than you think.
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