June 16, 2018
Through a series of embarrassingly honest stories set against a backdrop of maverick marketing philosophies, David J. Ebner presents a world where writers, artists and creatives are the modern-day kingmakers. In this book, the tenants of search engine optimization (SEO), brand voice and tone, marketing personas, the marketing funnel and advocate marketing are defined and dissected. Ebner argues that, in content marketing, authorial voice is the key to storytelling, tone helps establish long-term brand authenticity and shared emotional experiences are why viewers become subscribers and subscribers become customers.On a planet far, far away, a premium is being placed on content that possesses the ability to engage a reader in a long-term love affair with a brand, and on that planet, the tide turns in the favor of creatives.
As a content creator, there were a number of parts of this book that resonated with me. It was fun to feel a connection with someone who has a deep appreciation for the artistic side of content creation but is also ruthlessly scientific in measuring the results achieved with the content. At the end of the day, that’s Content Marketing.
It’s the art of really good copy that moves someone emotionally combined with the science of where and how to use it. Which distribution channels the content is leveraged on and which demographics and audience personas are targeted are some of the more scientific bits. When the mushier side of old school advertising makes a baby with hardcore data-driven marketing, and you build relationships by delivering valuable content, you get Content Marketing.
The Three E’s of Exceptional Content
Every content creator wonders at some point, “How can I create better content?”
The section that I will remember most from this book is about David’s “3 E’s.” In a nutshell, these are three key ingredients to creating content that performs really well. The content must be…
…and in that order of priority.
In my work creating content over 5-6 years now and observing how it’s received, I totally agree with David’s priorities here. And I find this 3 E’s mnemonic a helpful way to remember each ingredient. I will be teaching my team (and any collaborators that I work with) to think about these things.
It Must Be Entertaining
We all have access to such a wealth of content these days that we don’t have time for reading something that isn’t entertaining.
You know this to be true.
Even if you KNOW you need to glean the information contained in a boring article, you still struggle to make it through.
You get distracted.
Check your e-mail.
Your mind wanders.
In the sea of content in which we all live, our pleasure-seeking brains only have time for content that is actually enjoyable to read.
That’s why it’s so critical that as content marketers, we focus not only on creating content that is helpful and converts (the next two E’s), but that is legitimately fun to read. None of the other elements will matter if the content is boring.
It Must Be Educational
I’m not much of a fiction reader, so I read almost exclusively for education in one form or another. I would suggest that most audiences content marketers target are also going to read their content primarily for education. David says that “most of the value that someone gains from content is through the retention of new knowledge.”
Aside: I think there is potentially value in a piece of content that is strictly entertaining. You could probably foster some brand loyalty by just being fun and giving people a much needed reprieve from their daily grind. But the opportunities to do this and do it well are few and far between (at least in the spaces where I practice).
One of the reasons that educational content is so important to content marketing is that seeking to answer a question is one of the primary ways that people stumble upon new content. They head to
their favorite search engine (let’s be honest, they head to Google) and they search for their question. They click on results that are likely to have the answer to their question.
It stands to reason that if you want your content to 1) be found, and 2) perform, then it should help people answer questions that they have. Not just in a buyers journey sort of sense where your content answers questions a prospect would have about your product. It doesn’t need to be nearly that self-serving in many cases. It merely needs to be helpful.
For example, educational content for a car dealership looking to get you to buy a minivan doesn’t need to be “10 Reasons You’ll Never Regret Buying a Minivan.” In fact, I would argue that it should NOT be so self-serving. There’s likely more to be gained from your would-be minivan buyers from producing the article, “Top 5 Leasing Mistakes You Should Never Make” and giving them seriously helpful advice about how to not screw themselves on a new lease.
The goodwill that strong educational content builds with your prospect is invaluable.
Educating someone without asking for much or anything at all in exchange also leaves them in your debt. If you do an above-and-beyond job of educating someone when they don’t need something from you, they’ll surely remember you fondly when they do need whatever it is that you’re selling.
It Must Be Engaging
Finally, all of this content creation is for naught if the content isn’t engaging. And by engaging, David means that it moves the reader to engage with it. To do something. Effectively, this means taking a call to action.
That could be anything from moving on to another article, all the way to a long form fill where they share a bunch of personal information in exchange for even deeper and more valuable content.
As content marketers, the art we create isn’t worth much by itself; it must also convert.
However, if you can measure results that show that the art you create engages with humans on an emotional level that moves them to take action, your art will make you wealthy and powerful, my friend.
Content is king, and leveraging the Three E’s will make you a kingmaker.