Content Inc: A book review by Bob Morris

content-incContent Inc.: How Entrepreneurs Use Content to Build Massive Audiences and Create Radically Successful Businesses
Joe Pulizzi
McGraw Hill Education (2015)

How content marketing can help to create or increase demand for whatever you then offer to a market that did not exist before

In this single source, Joe Pulizzi provides about all you need to know in order to use content marketing to build a massive audience and create a radically successful business. Content marketing? Briefly, “By concentrating on building an audience first and defining products and services second, an entrepreneur can change the rules of the game and significantly increase the odds of financial and personal success…Once a loyal audience is built, one that loves you and the information you send, you can, most likely, sell your audience anything you want. This model is called Content Inc.”

He introduces a six-step process:

1. The Sweet Spot: “Simply put, the entrepreneur needs to uncover a content area that the business model will be based around. To make this happen, we need to identify a ’sweet spot’ that will attract an audience over time.”

2. Content Tilt: ”Once the sweet spot is identified, the entrepreneur needs to determine the ’tilt,’ or differentiation factor, to find an area of little to no competition.

3. Building the Base: “Once the sweet spot is found and the tilt occurs, a platform is chosen and a content base is constructed. This is exactly like building a house. Before we get into all the paint and pictures and flooring options, we have to plan and install the foundation.”

4. Harvesting Audience: “After the platform is chosen and the content base is built, the opportunity presents itself tom increase the audience and convert ‘one-time readers’ into ongoing subscribers. This is where we leverage social media as key distribution tools and take search engine optimization seriously.”

5. Diversification: “Once the model has built a strong, loyal, and growing audience, it’s time to diversify from the main content stream. Think of the model like an octopus, with each content channel being one of the arms.”

6. Monetization: It’s time. You’ve identified your sweet spot. You’ve ’tilted’ to find an area of content noncompetition. You’ve selected the platform and built the base. You’ve started to build subscribers, and you’ve even begun to launch content on additional platforms. Now is when the model monetizes against the platform.”

All of these six distinct steps are fully explained in Content Inc.

These are among the several dozen passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Pulizzi’s coverage:

o Content acceptance (Pages 15-18)
o Adding audience to sweet spot (43-52)
o Aspiration vs. needs (68-71)
o Key word searches (74-76)
o Custom publishing (79-81)
o Platforms (85-94)
o BuzzFeed (90-91 and 164-165)
o Website publishing platforms (93-94)
o Content ideation (98-102)
o Repurposing content (131-137)
o Subscribers (142-151)
o Influence marketing (171-182)
o Tips for executing a book (204-208)
o Three and Three Model (204-216)
o Process of acquiring a content platform (230-234)
o Joy Cho (269-275)

For whatever reasons, content marketing remains one of the most effective, albeit one of the least appreciated means by which to accelerate effective cultivation of those among whom you wish to create or increase demand for what you offer. In this volume, Pulizzi provides an abundance of invaluable information, insights, and counsel that can help almost anyone in almost any organization to build a massive audience and create a radically successful business. I presume to add three points of clarification. By “entrepreneur,” Pulizzi means someone who has not become hostage to what Jim O’Toole so aptly characterizes as “the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom.” The entrepreneurial spirit should be alive and well at all levels and in all areas of the given enterprise.

Also, initially, he asks his reader to set aside all thoughts about coming up with a new/better product or service and concentrate on locating a market segment that is currently under-served, if not wholly neglected, or creating one that does not as yet exist. He cites more than a dozen examples in the book of precisely that focus and initiative. Finally, meanwhile, he does not advocate abandoning what has been until now a core business. Rather, leverage its resources until the new venture becomes self-sufficient.

Obviously no brief commentary such as mine can possibly do full justice to the material that Joe Pulizzi provides. However, I hope I have at least indicated why I think so highly of the book. Read other reviews of it and if you are encouraged by that, read the book and form your own opinion.

One final point: Content marketing really is a contact sport that requires an effective team to succeed. You will need to recruit some colleagues to help establish and then nourish various relationships. Patience and persistent are imperative. There will be setbacks and disappointments, of course. Keep the faith. During rough times, remember this observation by Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

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