epic content marketingStories are nothing new. They’ve been around for as long as we have. The earliest humans gathered around the campfire and figured out that effective storytelling was the best way to pass on the information that was vital for survival. They knew that truly connecting with their audience in an emotional way was a matter of life and death.

Some businesses think storytelling is about explaining what you sell or telling people what you do. But effective storytelling explains what you do for your customers. The power of stories lies in making the reader and the consumer part of the story.

That is the trick to creating Epic Content Marketing.

I had the honor and pleasure of writing the foreword for Joe Pulizzi’s upcoming book Epic Content Marketing where Joe states that “Publishing is the new marketing.” As it is the only way to “cut through the noise, commotion and bad information that is right now cluttering up your customer’s digital space.”

The world is now swimming in content and information. While we, as content consumers, are having fun creating and consuming all of this content that moves around the world in milliseconds, marketers and businesses are struggling. We are struggling in a growing battle for customer attention.

The era of one-way, single-threaded, brand-directed mass communications is officially over. And yet most of the content and the messages coming out of businesses today is firmly stuck in the good old days. As marketing tactics have become less and less effective, businesses have responded by creating more and more promotional content that no one wants, no one likes and no one responds to.

The only way to reach our audience in today’s information-drenched, content-saturated world is through Epic Content Marketing that emotionally connects with the people we are trying to reach.

I met Joe Pulizzi at a conference just a few short years ago. I was so thrilled to meet him because I heard him talking about how content marketing was nothing new but that it is still a young and immature discipline at many brands. I heard Joe show examples from some of the greatest brands in the world like John Deere, Proctor & Gamble and Red Bull.

The biggest obstacle to creating Epic Content Marketing is in the “why?” – helping our teams to understand that if we think and act like a publisher, we will create more of the content our customers are looking for. And LESS of the content they ignore. One of the biggest challenges in content marketing is to put the needs of our customers ahead of our own and to tell stories that connect with people.

To create Epic Content Marketing, you have to identify your potential customers’ top questions and search terms. Document the questions about how your solutions generally can help a business with its biggest problems: how to grow, how to reduce costs, how to beat the competition, how to gain loyal customers.

Then meet with teams across your organization to walk them through the step-by-step process of how to answer those questions using the content types and channels that your customers are using.

At a minimum, try to be helpful. Ideally, try to even entertain them. Help them become successful in their careers. Because if you do this, they will not only know who you are and what you do but also that you are a partner for their business.

No matter where you are on the journey to creating content your customers want, remember that it is not about creating more content. It is all about creating Epic Content Marketing that will help your business to truly stand apart.

To learn more about Joe’s upcoming book, visit EpicContentMarketing.com or check out this Slideshare:

Let me know what you think in the comments below. And please follow along on TwitterLinkedInFacebook  and Google+ or  Subscribe to the B2B Marketing Insider Blog for regular updates.

About Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner is the Head of Strategy for the leading content marketing platform, NewsCred. He is also the author of B2B Marketing Insider, a contributor to Forbes and a frequent speaker at industry events covering topics such as marketing strategy, social business, content marketing, digital marketing, social media and personal branding.  Follow Michael on Twitter (@BrennerMichael)LinkedInFacebook and Google+ and Subscribe to B2B Marketing Insider by Email

20 Comments

  1. Robert Ryan said…

    The more epic the better – just might try get myself a copy of that book, looks good..

  2. Joe Pulizzi said…

    Thanks Michael for all your support. Really looking forward to seeing you at #cmworld in a few weeks. It’s been too long.

  3. Reginald said…

    Hi Michael,

    Thanks for sharing this. Well written especially when you say about knowing your customer’s question.

    In fact, I consider that the most basic in marketing. When it comes to marketing, you need to know what your customer wants and make whatever you write, sell or promote, work for them.

    Excellent write up with a great SlideShare. Keep that up buddy!

    Reginald

    • Michael Brenner said…

      Thanks Reginald, this is the ultimate marketing problem for marketers: prove that we are focused on customers and not just on pitching products.

  4. Ray said…

    Hi Michael,

    Really interesting synopsis and I agree pretty much everything. But I would suggest that epic content marketing needs to be considered beyond the buying cycle, if you know what I mean. Say for example, you produce a piece of epic content that hooks a prospect and is a catalyst for a sale ultimately or maybe it is not. At that point in time, the content answers a question or solves a problem for the consumer – great. But I would suggest that really great content marketing would be delivering relevant, timely content to that consumer a year or two years down the line, regardless of whether they end up buying or not. A sign of great content marketing is someone continuing to consume your content after all perceived paths have been exhausted to move them along a buying cycle. I think a compliment to epic content marketing would be a statement like ‘Yeah, I still get emails from ‘Company X’ – I evaluated their product a while ago but didnt end up buying – but their content is still awesome.’

    Does that make sense? Epic Marketing Content has a time dimension :)

    Great post as usual

    Ray

    • Michael Brenner said…

      Hi Ray, I completely agree. Epic Content marketing is a continuous process and so at any given time, it should be good enough that it is touching potential customers in the buying cycle and those who have not yet been hit with their “zero moment of truth.” That is why I think producing helpful and even entertaining content is just a way to begin relationships with content consumers who may turn into customers and may not. But more than likely, they will have an opportunity to influence a sale by saying something positive about you. Or maybe they are a potential employee or partner.

  5. Pawan Deshpande said…

    I think you mean “foreword”, not forward.

  6. William Steward said…

    Another good share Michael, thanks. Will have to have to grab a copy of the book when it goes on sale.

  7. What a great opening description of content marketing. I have seen a lot of descriptions of content marketing and it’s benefits but none of them hit the nail on the head like the statement: “he earliest humans gathered around the campfire and figured out that effective storytelling was the best way to pass on the information that was vital for survival.”

    It is now a matter of brand and business survival. The internet has been established as a comfortable new environment where business can flourish. Now brands and businesses need to respond with the same tactics of storytelling about their services with high quality content marketing.

  8. Luisa said…

    I’m so happy that I know you Michael :) especially now that I took a position in content marketing! I can’t tell you how far behind Germany is, it’s sad… But I’m up for the challenge! Your posts are always of great help! Thanks for that. Do you know by any chance if Joe’s book will be available as ebook? I don’t do paper backs no more :)
    Keep it up!

    • Michael Brenner said…

      Thanks so much Luisa. You are the great talent we let slip away and hope we can get you back someday! Let me know if there is ever anything I can do to help you. I don’t know for sure but would be pretty certain the book will be available as an ebook. I don’t read paperbacks anymore either. Stay tuned.

  9. Hey Michael,
    Stunning article here! I definitely agree with you that we have to connect with our readers emotionally if we want any chance of them reading our content. Here is something that I like to do when creating content to try and reach the readers emotionally.

    I interact with people without causing them to feel as if they are being sold. Anytime we think that we are being sold we head to what many call ‘the lizard brain.’ This makes individuals feel suspicious and in charge of watching for danger and confrontation. Instead we must get people to the buying part of their brains. Whenever we are in buying mode we are more inclined to ask, for instance, “Does this come in my size? ” and follow the salesperson eagerly. I call this part of my brain ‘my purring cat.’

    Thanks again for a great article,
    ‘TC’ Teresa Clark

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