DivvyHQ Book Club: Powering Content by Laura Busche
“You’ve been creating content since the day you were born.”
Some may look at that quote and say “What?” But, if you’re someone like me, someone born after the year 1990, it is important to sit back, examine, and realize that people around my age have been creating content since we were old enough to hold a device. We’ll probably regret it later, but we’ve essentially gone public with our lives, creating blogs, making videos, posting to social media, you name it!
Laura Busche, author of Powering Content: Building a Nonstop Content Marketing Machine, explains that humans are drawn to content even if we don’t realize it. Why? Because we are storytellers by nature. We post pictures and videos about milestones in our lives. We ask questions to our followers about stuff we don’t understand. We’re just naturally curious and with curiosity comes interest, and of course, we millennials love to think that others are just as interested in our lives as we are.
So why are some companies struggling with this whole content creation thing? Well, even though many of us have been creating content our entire lives, it can still be very overwhelming, especially when that content is forced to support some form of corporate promotional agenda.
In addition, there are hundreds of different options, tactics, and tools all claiming to be the key to a good content marketing strategy. In Powering Content, Laura Busche cuts through the clutter and provides the reader with a simple framework and recommendations to help both practitioners and execs succeed in the content marketing game.
Welcome to the World of Content Marketing
In the first part of the book, Laura provides readers with a step-by-step guide on how to make yourself a content marketing guru with “The 10 Essential Steps to Content Success”. If you’ve been in the content game awhile, these will likely be familiar, but a quick reminder never hurts.
- State what you want to achieve in creating content – Defining what your goals are. Knowing WHY you are creating certain pieces saves valuable time and resources.
- Understand for whom you are creating content – Finding your audience. Create the personas that summarize the traits of those who will interact with the content you create.
- Decide where this content will live – Choosing a group of channels that allow you to reach this audience
- Set themes, tones, and a voice for your piece – Finding your voice. One that will resonate with the audience you are trying to portray to
- Define a visual aesthetic for your brand’s content – Creating your aesthetic. Something recognizable that also relates back to the voice that you are trying to portray.
- Adopt best practices around content formats and structure – Outlining your best practices and understand how to use headlines, words, formats, and design to make your content more compelling. Think clickbait.
- Design your main content hub so that it is audience-friendly – Deciding where this content will live whether that is a website or a blog channel.
- Scale your content production process – Customizing your workflow to best suit your company. Just think Henry Ford, getting to the point where you can create good quality content fast.
- Shape and consolidate your content team – Managing your content and content team.
- Secure earned, owned and paid distribution for your pieces – SEO and distribution channels. Think Google and Social Media.
Which Hat Are You Wearing?
The next part of the book delves into three of the primary roles that content marketing practitioners will take on. All three are important to maintaining an efficient and sustainable content operation. Depending on the size of your company, these roles may be performed by as few as one person or may have teams of people dedicated to executing each part of the process.
I. Wearing the Content Strategist Hat
Defining an audience, themes, and voices are key to a successful content strategy and they are ever changing. Brand intentions and trends change and new communication channels pop up every day. Since these building blocks are dynamic, this section touches on the need to be on the lookout for emerging trends and how to tailor your strategy to always adapt to the wavering content marketing world.
II. Wearing the Content Creator Hat
Part II focuses on the storytellers, the content creators. These people must have passion and the desire to share the message. These individuals or teams must sift through the clutter and produce unique perspectives on content that matters. No pressure right?
III. Wearing the Production Manager Hat
Part III focuses on the dirty work. One of my favorite lines from Powering Content is that a production manager must handle heaps of unsexy tasks to produce a couple sexy results. Wearing the production manager hat means juggling the following:
- Steering the content production process
- Ensuring deadlines are hit
- Measuring performance
- Analyzing the data to determine what works and what doesn’t
- Following trends to inform future planning
This allows you to maintain a well-oiled content machine just like Henry Ford and his assembly line technique of mass production.
In each of the above sections, Laura Busche provides content examples and ideas that speak to the differences in business, design, and psychological mindsets. She also includes exercises – homework for the reader – that help them tell their story their own way. She help startups, marketing managers, and even execs outline everything they need to hit the ground running.
Hey now, you’re an all-star.
After reading Powering Content, I couldn’t help but be reminded of one of my favorite songs, the all-time classic, All-Star by Smash Mouth.
Stardom isn’t everything, according to Smash Mouth, and the same can be said when it comes to your company and content marketing. Much like the music industry with so many artists and genres, most marketers will quickly realize that their product is not the only product on the market or the best product for everyone in the market.
In Powering Content, Laura says the point is not to emphasize that your product is the best, but rather to focus on connecting with people, finding your fans and ideal target clients, based on their needs. This is where content marketing shines.
“We may not have the flashiest product, but we know we are the best for your needs.”
The content is there to tell your story so be careful not to portray something you can’t live up to. Leverage content to disseminate a genuine brand image and voice, which will go a long way to building an authentic relationship with customers.
One of my favorite metaphors used by both Laura Busche and Smash Mouth is that of a tool. You may not be “the sharpest tool in the shed” when you first get started, but setting goals and sharpening your tools is one of the major points that Powering Content highlights.
The book is at its best when it provides the reader with words of encouragement. Laura is aware that content strategy and management can be overwhelming for someone who is just getting started, so her encouragement goes a long way.
Executives and marketing managers in organizations both big and small looking to break into the content marketing world should definitely pick up a copy.