Content Rules

Summary Written by Vanessa Chase

The Big Idea

Everyone is a Media Outlet/Publisher

"…creating and delivering relevant, valuable information to people will drive new business to you. Figuring out what your prospective customers are interested in, creating stuff that meets those needs and delivering it to them is what you need to do."- Content Rules, page xviii

Not so long ago, if a business wanted to tell people about their services they would put together glossy brochures and send people flyers in the mail. Producing materials like this was a marketing and advertising standard. But times of have changed and communication with potential clients has become much more robust. In fact, the internet makes the barriers to entry to being a media outlet or publisher virtually non-existent. With that, however, has come the unspoken expectation that business offer value-added content to their audience.

Although this is extra work for the business, the benefits of being a content producer are many. In producing content businesses can become the go-to experts in their field while developing know, like and trust with their audience. These days business is about more than just the monetary transaction and Handley and Chapman urge businesses to embrace the change.

Insight #1

You Always Have Something To Say About Something

"Every piece of content you create doesn’t have to be perfectly crafted, nicely argued or well said."- Content Rules, page 80

For people who are new to content marketing and content creation, one of the most overwhelming prospects can be just figuring out what to say in all that content. The fear is that you won’t be able to be a wellspring of ideas for ever. What happens when the well runs dry? Does business come to a screeching halt? These are the kinds of thoughts that can start to crop up if you’re not careful!

Handley and Chapman suggest a twofold approach to figuring out what to say. Start by creating a core message. This will be the engine for all of your content. It’s that one thing that you want to continuously convey to your audience. It might be similar to your traditional marketing message, or it might be something else entirely. Decide what it will be, write it on a post-it note and keep it handy whenever you are working on content creation. Once you have determined that message, Handley and Chapman suggest many approaches to creating relevant content. This includes: talking with your customers, interviewing luminaries, monitoring search keywords, create how-to content and invite guest posts.

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Insight #2

Listen and Learn

"In addition to creating content, you are also building a community of fans and customers around you. It’s crucial to take care of your community by listening and responding to them when appropriate."- Content Rules, page 115

One of the great things about social media is that is allows businesses to directly interact with their community of fans and customers. But that also means that you have to be listening and interacting – not just being a PR message broadcasting machine. Handley and Chapman emphasize the importance of great online listening many times in Content Rules because in addition to interacting with your online audience, you can also learn a lot from the conversations and in turn can create better content. They suggest setting up a “listening dashboard” to track conversations and coordinate your efforts.

Your listening dashboard should be comprised of:

  • An RSS reader to keep up with relevant blogs
  • Google Alerts so that you can track when and where conversations about your business are happening
  • to get a quick snapshot of conversations on Twitter

Content Rules is a great handbook for any business to add to their library. Whether you’re new to the world of content creation or looking to hone your strategy, you’ll be sure to find a few new ideas in this book.

Does your business have a content marketing strategy? Do you think it’s been a valuable asset for your business?

Read the book

Get Content Rules on Amazon.

Ann Handley

Ann is the Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs, a rich and trusted resource that helps businesses market their products and services smarter and better. Entrepreneurs, small-business owners and marketers in the world’s largest corporations make up its 361,000 subscribers, making it the largest in its category. (Does that sound like marketing-speak? It’s not; it’s just true.)

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