By any measure, content is marketing’s new and ever-expanding ‘it.’
So-called content marketing is all the rage in business and branding circles everywhere. Regardless of type — consumer or B2B, digital or traditional — marketing campaigns now run on content. Today, even Coca-Cola spends more money creating its own content than it does on television advertising.
For authors, book publicity and promotion is no exception: Content is king — if you never run out of ideas. For articles, blogs, podcasts, videos, social sharing, media interviews, and more, you need a constant pipeline. Or as one content marketing expert put it, “you need to keep feeding the beast.”
But how can you keep the ideas coming? Here are seven surefire ways to ensure you never run out of content.
Fix a problem.
No matter your specialty, odds are you’re in the business of problem solving. So build on that role to develop content. What are your prospects’ pain points? What keeps them up at night? What problems must they solve to be happier and more successful?
Your know-how may be the answer. What’s more, this tactic doesn’t require a lot of extra preparation or research. You already have the knowledge and standing to provide actual solutions.
Share a secret.
Merriam-Webster says a secret is “something kept hidden or unexplained.” In treating your work as something kept from public view or shared only with a select few, it becomes special. Share uncommon advice, look behind the curtain of a business or trend, or put a surprising new spin on an old idea.
It’s only human to want to learn a secret. Be that someone who is already in the know.
Ask a big question.
“A wise man’s question contains half the answer,” said the Hebrew poet and philosopher Solomon Ibn Gabirol. When it comes to creating content, don’t hesitate to ask big, audacious questions — the kind that can grab an audience, provoke intense thought, and lack easy answers.
This not only engages and energizes people but also keeps them coming back. They like being challenged and aroused. Additionally, they’re more likely to share this type of content, and that helps generate buzz.
Debunk a myth.
Particularly in the digital age, most disciplines suffer myths, rumors, falsehoods, and just plain old bad ideas. Such misconceptions can be serious (i.e., vaccines cause autism) or harmless (i.e., bulls hate red). Either way, they are misguided and untrue.
Surely there are myths in your own field, so why not debunk one (or two or three)? You can set the record straight and give people the facts they may need to move forward with certainty.
Tell a story.
More and more, storytelling is a critical skill in business and communication, leading in effect to a ‘tell-not-sell’ marketplace. Consider that as you’re developing content, and work to create stories that are simple, universal, and emotional — three of Pixar’s 22 rules of storytelling according to Emma Coats, a now-former storyboard artist at the acclaimed animation studio.
Hieroglyphics were a means to tell stories in ancient Egypt, and tens of thousands of years before that, cavemen were scribbling stories using a stick for a pen and mud for paper. A lot has changed since then, but at their heart, stories haven’t. Telling them makes us human.
Illuminate current events.
Whenever possible, connect your content to hot topics. That means illuminating current events, news stories, emerging issues and trends, new research data, or rising debates in your field. In this way, you can insert your voice, expand on the conversation, and offer affirming or opposing viewpoints. Likewise, don’t hesitate to be bold. You might counter a narrative, challenge the status quo, call out mistruths, or even be a contrarian.
All that to say, use your content to show that you have your finger on the pulse, know your stuff, and are willing to put skin in the game.
An easy way to fill the pipeline is to repurpose content already in your arsenal.
Use parts of your book or website to create bylined articles. Spawn ‘new’ pieces from previously published items by editing them to look and feel different. (Hint: Change the title, rewrite the opening paragraph, and then reorganize and lightly edit the rest of the copy.) Turn a YouTube video or PowerPoint presentation into a podcast or blog post. And if you conduct a poll, produce an infographic with the results.
The point? Never think an item is ‘one and done’ after a single use.
Finally, remember it’s not about you. In other words, avoid the hard sell. People are looking for substance and value, not a blatant sales pitch. Inform. Inspire. Educate. Entertain. Do whatever it takes to make your book publicity and content relevant. Only then can you really earn people’s attention — and never run out of ideas.