Remember that old 1980s movie “Field of Dreams?” Kevin Costner is driven by the constant whisper … “If you built it, they will come.”
Well, in his latest book, “Content Inc.: How Entrepreneurs Use Content to Build Massive Audiences and Create Radically Successful Businesses,” Joe Pulizzi isn’t whispering. He’s screaming, “Build an audience and success will come!”
What the Book is About
There must be something in Cleveland drinking water because Joe Pulizzi and Dan Kennedy share an “attract ideal customers first” philosophy. Dan Kennedy’s famous quote is: “Some people sell things so they can have customers. We have customers so we can sell them things.” This is exactly the kind of philosophy you’ll find in “Content Inc.”
Author Joe Pulizzi (@JoePulizzi) started with a product to get customers, but was unsuccessful. What worked for him (and hundreds of other companies that he profiles in the book) is creating great content, building an audience and then selling them what they want.
It’s a simple solution that isn’t easy. Thankfully, Pulizzi has constructed a six-step process to get the job done.
Step 1: Uncover Your Sweet Spot
Pulizzi claims that if you’ve been trying to build an audience and have been unsuccessful at it, this is the first place to look. Do you have a sweet spot? Have you exploited the intersection of a skill you have with a passion?
Step 2: Tilt Your Content
If you don’t have the level of audience that you’d like, Pulizzi says the next most likely mistake you’re making is NOT leveraging the power of the “Content Tilt.” Content tilt means having a unique point of view on a popular topic. Don’t worry, “Content Inc.” provides lots of examples and worksheets that you can use to uncover a unique point of view.
Step 3: Build Your Base
This is where the real work begins. The first step is to select your main platform. And yes, once again, this is where Pulizzi says folks will get easily sidetracked. Pulizzi wants you to sit down, focus and choose a primary platform; blogging, video, podcast? Pick one. DO NOT — repeat — DO NOT allow yourself to get distracted, it will dilute your efforts.
Step 4: Harvest the Audience
Once again, focus is the name of the game. Pulizzi is a huge advocate of owning your audience, and that means getting their email. Not everyone will agree with this approach, but that’s his point of view. It’s helped him and countless other build a profitable business and this sections shows you how to do that.
Step 5: Diversify
Only after you’ve done these first four steps can you start spreading your wings and your platforms. Why? Because you already have a loyal audience that is following you wherever you are.
Step 6: Monetize
At this stage of the game you are ready to monetize. Pulizzi recommends doing this as soon as possible. Be ready with a business model and deliver killer value.
An Entrepreneur’s Vision Comes to Life
Like most entrepreneurs Pulizzi’s entrepreneurial journey began with one end in mind and morphed into something completely different. He has a background in communications that he used as an intern for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Then an opportunity opened up at Penn State where he completed his Masters Degree in Communication.
Armed with a lot of education, he came to Cleveland and worked at a lucrative position at a publishing company. Then in 2007, he plunged into entrepreneurship with an idea for a fabulous product — but no income to support his family.
This is where creating killer content and building a thriving and engaged community came to the rescue.
“Three to five times per week I was creating and distributing helpful content targeted at marketers — in large companies — the audience I wanted to reach eventually with my new product. A few months later, I was starting to build a small loyal following.”
This was the beginning of Pulizzi’s Content Marketing Inc. Empire. And his secret sauce isn’t a secret anymore; build an audience and the rest will come.
Yes, You Can Do This
The best thing about “Content Inc.” is the confidence you’ll get. Pulizzi gives so many examples from businesses all across the spectrum; online, offline, brick and mortar, services, and even industrial companies with small audiences.
I loved the templates and worksheets that are included in the book as well. Pulizzi says that the two factors he most attributes to his success are writing and tracking his goals. This is the first worksheet. As I mentioned earlier, he also says that choosing the right audience and the right platform are also key and he helps you do that as well.
About the only thing I would have liked to see more of in “Content Inc.” is some critical assessment of which platforms are best for which type of content or business model or your marketing style. Admittedly, this is a tough proposition given the rapid expansion and evolution of media platforms today. He does give you some foundations upon which to judge and choose a platform, but I can see a lot of folks stumbling in this area.
Is “Content Inc.” for You?
If you’ve been trying unsuccessfully to build an audience and wondering where you went wrong, this is the book for you.
I would recommend “Content Inc.” for small business owners; brick and mortar, online experts and even manufacturers and industrial companies. Believe it or not, the more you think you can’t benefit, the more this book will show you how you can leverage content to build a profitable audience.