The Content Marketing PlayBook

42 content marketing tactics, over 50 case studies and hundreds of resources – The Content Marketing Playbook: 42 Ways to Connect with Customers is packed with lots of ideas to execute on your content strategy.

We have invited Joe Pulizzi and Jonathan Kranz the authors of The Content Marketing Playbook to  get an insider look into the making of this great and informative eBook.

Joe Pulizzi is a leading author, speaker and strategist for content marketing. Joe, founder of client-vendor matching site Junta42, is co-author of the highly praised book Get Content Get Customers, recognized as THE handbook for content marketing. Joe writes one of the most popular content marketing blogs in the world.

Jonathan Kranz has written a huge stack of content, advertising, direct marketing, and public relations materials for consumer and B2B clients in financial services, banking, insurance, high-tech, healthcare, education, and other industries. Jonathan is also the author of Writing Copy for Dummies and The eBook eBook: How to Turn Your Expertise Into Magnetic Marketing Material.

Joe Pulizzi

Blog Junta42 Twitter juntajoe Junta42

Marketers have to create a story that customers and prospects want to listen to.

Jonathan Kranz

Blog Kranzcom Twitter jonkranz

Content marketing means meeting customers on their own terms.

Ambal Balakrishnan: Joe & Jonathan, it is a great pleasure to discuss your latest eBook – The Content Marketing Playbook. Thanks for finding time out of your very busy schedule to provide your valuable insights to our readers. What prompted you to embark on creating ‘The Content Marketing Playbook’?

Joe Pulizzi: Content marketing seems to be the buzz word for 2009.  There are lots of experts talking about the value of content marketing, and that’s great…but a much lesser number are actually talking about clear, concise examples.  That’s why we developed the Content Marketing Playbook.  A marketing professional can quickly get an idea of why and how they should use a particular tactic.  Now that doesn’t mean content strategy isn’t important…it’s still paramount, but that wasn’t the purpose of this.  The Playbook should be used as a great tool to brainstorm and imagine the possibilities to position your company/brand as a trusted solutions provider (through content).

Jonathan Kranz: My role in the Playbook begins with a cool social networking story. In advance of publishing The eBook eBook: How to Turn Your Expertise Into Magnetic Marketing Material, I spent a lot of time online, following bloggers, Tweeters and thought- leaders interested in content marketing. Joe, obviously, was (and is) one of the big guns in the field. When I saw that we were both scheduled to speak at a virtual online conference, I introduced myself to Joe and we arranged a phone call. Naturally, we had a lot of common interests. And when Joe happened to mention, as an aside, that he had started a kind of guidebook to content tactics, but was bogged down with work, I offered to help with the writing.

Ambal Balakrishnan: Give us the background of how you gained an interest in Content Marketing.

Joe Pulizzi: People don’t want to be interrupted, but they still want to have relationships with the brands they favor. About a decade ago I realized that the way to do this was for marketers to become their own publishers. In 2000, I started helping brands become their own publishers while at Penton Media. When I left Penton in 2007, my goal was to spread the concept of “marketers as publishers” or content marketing to the masses. Writing Get Content. Get Customers. was an important part of this process. The great part is, now there are many people consistently discussing content marketing and the benefits of this philosophy. Great things are starting to happen, and it’s only the beginning.

Jonathan Kranz: Whereas Joe came to content marketing from a media angle, I came at it, unexpectedly, from direct marketing. Several years ago, I was brought in to a lead-generation project in which the premium – or offer – was a “top ten” booklet relevant to the target market. I wrote the book, plus most of the supporting marketing materials: direct mail, print ads, email, web copy, etc. All of it focused on one thing: the value of the information in the booklet – not the product, service or brand. The results were staggering: the client had asked for 500 qualified leads; the campaign pulled in 1,200, representing (after sales) $1.2 million in new business. The key? The offer wasn’t a gimmick – like a flash drive or an iPod – but something immediately relevant to prospects’ needs. That’s what awakened me to the power of content marketing.

Ambal Balakrishnan: Please walk us through the eBook writing life-cycle. How did it evolve on its journey from concept to launch?

Jonathan Kranz: Joe came up with the idea and began with a rough outline that matched various tactics with potential examples. When I came on board, we started by reviewing our list: adding missing tactics, deleting less-promising ones, and consolidating others that were similar. Then we agreed on a standard format: a brief definition or explanation of the tactic with an annotated example of the tactic in action. This, in turn, would be complemented by short bullet lists suggesting who should (or should not) consider using the tactic, plus three key “play points” with advice about execution. Once we pulled this together in a draft, we went through a few rounds of revisions to clarify our points and examples.

Ambal Balakrishnan: Who is ‘Content Marketing Playbook’ addressed towards?

Joe Pulizzi: Marketing professionals at non-media companies. We guarantee that any marketer, of any size, will get at least a couple of gold nuggets from the Playbook.

Jonathan Kranz: People tantalized by content marketing as a strategy, yet hungry for practical insights on tactics in order to execute that strategy effectively.

Ambal Balakrishnan: How is the marketing landscape different than what it was a decade back?

Joe Pulizzi: Simple answer — we went from a few, to thousands of communication vehicles over that time.  Consumers have learned to ignore or block the messages they don’t want. That means that marketers have to create a story that customers and prospects want to listen to. Enter content marketing.

Jonathan Kranz: Traditional marketing methods have taken a major beating. Direct marketing response rates have plummeted and ordinary advertising has been undermined by new customer behaviors: customers don’t sit around to “see” or “hear” your messages; instead, they seek out information they want when they want it. Content marketing means meeting customers on their own terms.

Ambal Balakrishnan: You have some great case studies in ‘Content Marketing Playbook’? How did you pick these examples?

Joe Pulizzi: It’s easier than you think.  Most of the case studies were provided by Junta42 certified content vendors.  Since we review these projects on a regular basis (because that’s part of what Junta42 does to properly help marketers find expert content vendors), we simply had to reach out to our partners.
Ambal Balakrishnan: What are the 3 key lessons you want readers to take away from your book?

Joe Pulizzi:

  • Everyone is a publisher. If you aren’t publishing via one or many of these outlets, you are going to be in trouble.
  • Don’t be afraid. The best way to find out what works is to start, get customer feedback and continue to evolve the program.
  • There is no silver bullet, but there are 42 (and growing) ways to get your story out to customers…to present yourself as an expert in your industry…and to ultimately change the way you do business. What an opportunity!

Jonathan Kranz:

  • Think from your customer’s point of view. It’s what they need, not what you want, that matters.
  • Experiment. Most of the 42 tactics are relatively cheap (especially compared to media buys and DM). Expand on what works, abandon what does not.
  • Jump in. You’ll learn best by taking action, gathering feedback, measuring results, and making adjustments.

Ambal Balakrishnan: What one “get started on right way” change do you recommend to the reader of your ‘Content Marketing Playbook’?

Joe Pulizzi: Listen! Your customers are either talking about you, or talking about things that are important to them all over the web. Listen, then start finding a way to get yourself in the conversation.

Jonathan Kranz: Joe’s nailed it: Listen. Then listen some more.

Ambal Balakrishnan: Please recommend 3-5 resources (books, blogs).

Joe Pulizzi:
Where to start:

Plus:

Ambal Balakrishnan: What kind of projects are you involved in when you are not writing, blogging, speaking, or consulting?

Joe Pulizzi: A few that are not ready to be released, but the big one is continuing to tweak Junta42 into a truly helpful content marketing service for marketers. Also, keeping an ear to the ground in the industry looking for opportunities (like with the Playbook) to spread the gospel of content marketing to the masses.

Jonathan Kranz: I serve on the board of directors of Notre Dame High School  in Lawrence, Massachusetts. As part of the innovative Cristo Rey Network, students attend four extended school days, then spend the fifth day of the week working in a corporate/white collar environment; the money they earn helps defray the cost of tuition. This is our sixth year as a school. Despite operating in what the Boston Globe has described as the poorest city in the commonwealth, both of our graduating classes to date have achieved 100% acceptance rates to four-year colleges!

Ambal Balakrishnan: Jonathan & Joe, thanks for taking the time to discuss your eBook and sharing your insights with us.

Joe Pulizzi & Jonathan Kranz: Thanks Ambal.

Read The Content Marketing Playbook and keep it handy. You will find great ideas for every kind of marketing project you tackle. Download The Content Marketing Playbook FREE here. Get The Content Marketing Playbook’s Table of Contents here.

Over to you…

What is the one lesson from The Content Marketing Playbook you will put to use in your next Content Marketing project?

The Simplest, Most-Efficient Way to Write a Case Study: The story behind the Making Your Case ebook

I was introduced to Jonathan Kranz by Michele Linn a few months back. Both Jonathan and Michele are regular contributors to our  Case Study Experts Interview Series. Jonathan Kranz is the principal of Kranz Communications and a 13-year copywriting veteran. His guest post today focuses on his eBook on case studies – Making Your Case: Everything you and your colleagues need to write compelling, lead-generating case studies (which has a fresh new look!). The ebook includes how-to’s on case studies and also some handy extras:

  • Step by step instructions for writing the three essential parts of any successful case study
  • Advanced tips for making your case study more engaging, more credible — and ultimately, more productive
  • Access to three videos about key case study topics
  • Secrets for crafting headlines and subheads that lure readers into your story
  • Handy worksheets you can use as a template for writing your own case studies

Jonathan Kranz

Blog Kranzcom Twitter jonkranz

“The power of the case study is rooted in its reality—a real story about a real client with whom the reader can empathize.”

Jonathan Kranz’s Bio

Today, Jonathan Kranz enjoys the confidence of numerous clients and agencies, but unlike most independent copywriters, his career didn’t begin with them. Instead, he had stints as a follow-spot operator in a regional theater, a park ranger on an allegedly haunted island in Boston Harbor, and as a summarizer of documents in large-scale litigations (think: Melville’s Bartleby the Scrivener). After completing his MFA in Creative Writing in 1995 (and publishing a number of short stories in literary journals such as the Missouri Review and the Green Mountains Review), he leap-frogged agency life and jumped into freelancing with both feet. Since then, he has written a huge stack of content, advertising, direct marketing, and public relations materials for consumer and B2B clients in financial services, banking, insurance, high-tech, healthcare, education, and other industries.

Jonathan Kranz’s Guest Post

Case studies have long been a part of any B2B marketer’s playbook. With the ever-increasing role of the Web as THE place where potential buyers conduct research before making purchasing decisions, case studies have become even more popular as key pieces of online content.

And yet, they are ever more problematic. Why? Because if there isn’t a simple way to write them, they won’t get written. The case study will be deferred. It will be delayed. But it won’t get done.

The ebook, Making Your Case: Everything you and your colleagues need to write compelling, lead-generating case studies evolved out of the in-house marketing writing seminars I conduct within corporate marketing departments. In these sessions, the demand is for a simple, step-by-step process anyone – not just professional writers – can fulfill.

With simplicity in mind, Making Your Case has been designed to:

  • Break the case study into three basic sections: challenge, solution, results
  • Reveal the key ingredients that make each section credible, memorable and convincing
  • Link to videos that explain important points in greater detail
  • Offer worksheets readers can use to build their own cases
  • Give readers successful formulas for writing engaging headlines and subheads

In addition to the above, the ebook provides advanced tips and example copy based on a hypothetical business.

Making Your Case is free and doesn’t require any registration: you may download it here.

I also highly recommend the following resources:

You can download Jonathan Kranz’s eBook at Making Your Case: Everything you and your colleagues need to write compelling, lead-generating case studies.

Jonathan Kranz’s The eBook eBook

We are very excited to bring to you Jonathan Kranz’s The eBook eBook: How to turn your expertise into magnetic marketing material.

Jonathan Kranz’s The eBook eBook covers these topics

  • Real-life examples of marketing successes you can emulate
  • Guidelines for identifying compelling content
  • The secrets to telling unforgettable stories
  • Hints, tips and secrets for organizing your ebook
  • How to supplement your ideas with stats, graphs, quotes, anecdotes and more
  • The right way introduce your ebook
  • An even better way to conclude your ebook to encourage reader action
  • Practical pointers on tone, theme and style
  • Suggestions for promoting your ebook

We have invited Jonathan Kranz to discuss his eBook.Today, Jonathan Kranz enjoys the confidence of numerous clients and agencies. After completing his MFA in Creative Writing in 1995 (and publishing a number of short stories in literary journals such as the Missouri Review and the Green Mountains Review), he leap-frogged agency life and jumped into freelancing with both feet. Since then, he has written a huge stack of content, advertising, direct marketing, and public relations materials for consumer and B2B clients in financial services, banking, insurance, high-tech, healthcare, education, and other industries. Jonathan is also the author of Writing Copy for Dummies.

Jonathan Kranz

Blog Kranzcom Twitter jonkranz

Buyers learn to trust the sellers who engage in authentic relationships.

Ambal Balakrishnan: Jonathan, it is a great pleasure to discuss your latest eBook. Thanx for finding time out of your very busy schedule to provide your valuable insights to our readers. Tell us about what Kranz Communication does?
Jonathan Kranz: Sure. Just two years ago, I would have said, “direct marketing copywriting.” But now, I’m seeing a growing, almost insatiable demand for content: web pages, ebooks, white papers, case studies, articles and more. I’m bringing a direct marketing mindset – targeted audiences, compelling offers, a drive toward action – to the emerging world of what’s called “inbound” or “content” marketing. Although many people are justly turned-off by the hype, my clients are embracing this new marketing world for one simple reason: it works.

Ambal Balakrishnan: What prompted you to embark on writing ‘The eBook eBook’?
Jonathan Kranz: A need for detailed, specific guidance. Many marketing gurus are selling the virtues of content marketing in general, but can be awfully vague in the particulars: How do you actually CREATE a successful ebook? The eBook eBook fills the gap with actionable, practical how-to’s.

Ambal Balakrishnan: Please walk us through the eBook writing life-cycle. How did it evolve on its journey from concept to launch?
Jonathan Kranz: Slowly and painfully! It began with a eureka shower moment, then became a draft I hammered out between client projects. Connecting with the award-winning designer, Patrick Ciano, really pulled all the pieces together.

Ambal Balakrishnan: Who is ‘The eBook eBook’ addressed towards?
Jonathan Kranz: Mostly toward those businesses or organizations that have intellectually complex products or services – the kinds of offers that require research on the customer’s side. The ebook is the company’s opportunity to establish thought-leadership in its industry, and to build prospect trust by sharing expertise those prospects’ value.
Ambal Balakrishnan: What makes the eBook such an essential component of a business’s content marketing plan?
Jonathan Kranz: Without trust, there is no initial contact – no grounds for further conversation between business and customer. The ebook establishes a credibility that can initiate subsequent contact. And as a marketing tool, it’s almost unbelievably versatile, serving as a:

  • Centerpiece for a viral, buzz-building campaign within the social media world
  • Magnet that draws Web traffic
  • Potential offer for a lead-gen, direct response campaign
  • Compelling leave-behind on sales calls
  • Means to attract favorable mainstream media attention
  • Great conference/convention booth hand-out
  • Push-over piece that helps convert fence-sitters into closed sales

Bernie Borges’ Marketing 2.0 Social Media Book

We are very excited to bring to you Bernie Borges’ new book: Marketing 2.0: Bridging the Gap between Seller and Buyers through Social Media Marketing. Bernie’s book aims to give a macro view of social media marketing with a focus on “what it is” and “how” small and medium size businesses (SMB) can develop a strategy, implement it and measure results.

Marketing 2.0: Bridging the Gap between Seller and Buyers through Social Media Marketing covers these topics:

  • Marketing 2.0
  • What is Web 2.0 and Social Media?
  • Think Like a Publisher: Content Marketing
  • The Lifecycle of Interaction in Social Media Marketing
  • Measuring Results in Social Media Marketing
  • Risks in Social Media Marketing
  • Benefits of Social Media Marketing
  • Case Studies – SMBs Succeding with Social Media

We have invited Bernie Borges, the author of Marketing 2.0: Bridging the Gap between Seller and Buyers through Social Media Marketing to discuss his book. Bernie Borges is the Chief Find Officer of Find and Convert, an Inbound Marketing agency serving clients nationwide. Find and Convert helps companies get found on the web and build profitable relationships through search marketing and social media marketing strategies. Bernie is a podcaster, blogger and frequent speaker on social media trends in business. Bernie is a native of New York, N.Y, and resides in Palm Harbor, Florida with family.

Bernie Borges

Blog Find and Convert Twitter BernieBay

Buyers learn to trust the sellers who engage in authentic relationships.

Ambal Balakrishnan: Bernie, it is a great pleasure to discuss your Marketing 2.0 Social Media Book. Thanx for finding time out of your very busy schedule to provide your valuable insights to our readers. Tell us about what Find and Convert does?
Bernie Borges: Find and Convert is an inbound marketing agency. We create winning marketing strategies on the web for our clients through search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC), social media, content marketing and web analytics. Our clients are mostly SMBs marketing on a national and some international scale. We are meticulous about measuring results that matter for our clients.

Ambal Balakrishnan: What prompted you to embark on writing Marketing 2.0 Social Media Book?
Bernie Borges: I started Find and Convert in 2002. In 2006 I started to hear about “Web 2.0.” As I got involved in social networking I began to recognize the opportunities for business. But, I observed that most SMBs are very conservative in their thinking. Most clients and audiences I spoke to had interest in learning about social media but were not acting on it. I wrote this book to communicate that marketing on the social web is a mindset. Business owners and executive must first understand the mindset before they embrace the tactics comprised of blogs, social networks, Twitter, video, photos, etc. The mindset must come before the tactics.

Rebels Brown’s eBook on Positioning – It’s Not About You Anymore

We are very excited to bring to you Rebel Brown’s Positioning eBook It’s Not About You Anymore. Rebel Brown is a go-to-market strategist and Spin Doctor specializing in start ups, turnarounds and start-arounds in the high technology arena. She has helped to define, position and launch over 75 individual products and companies since she began consulting 20 years ago. Her clients who are technology vendors and venture firms leverage her strategic marketing and go-to-market expertise. She identifies and transforms differentiation – customer’s crown jewels – into compelling, customer-centric value that sells. Her business is PeopleWhoKnow. Rebel’s Blog is Phoenix Rising. Rebel’s Twitter handle is RebelBrown

3 great ideas in Rebel’s eBook It’s Not About You Anymore

  • Great positioning tells a compelling, attention-grabbing story – a story that resonates with your audience and will attract prospects and customers to your door, and keep them coming back.
  • Build your positioning using three pivot points(key areas that answer the Who, What, Why and How of any story) and then provide the evidence within each area that best addresses a specific customer scenario.
  • Be prepared to change your positioning as your company evolves.

We have invited Rebel Brown to discuss her eBook It’s Not About You Anymore

Ambal Balakrishnan: Rebel, it is a great pleasure to discuss your latest positioning eBook. Thanx for finding time out of your very busy schedule to provide your valuable insights to our readers. What prompted this eBook?
Rebel Brown: This eBook is an overview of the thought processes I use with clients to create positioning strategies and stories.  It’s also the first step toward a book of the same name that goes into more depth on how to identify true value, evidence that value in compelling ways and spin customer-centric stories that compel our audiences to action.

Ambal Balakrishnan: Who is the audience for your eBook?
Rebel Brown: Positioning is one of the most important things any company can do – perhaps the most important.  Anyone in customer-facing position – from sales to marketing to service – executive management, middle management, product management and even engineering can benefit from this eBook. The eBook is written with technology vendors as a focus – but the lessons can be applied to companies in any industry and of any size – from startups to SMBs to full blown enterprises.

Ambal Balakrishnan: What’s your view on how positioning is done today?
Rebel Brown: That’s a whole book, Ambal 🙂 Seriously, my goal with It’s Not About You Anymore is to teach people how to think about positioning in a more strategic, and much more customer-centric way. We spend too much time discussing positioning internally, and not enough time actively listening to our customers, prospects, partners and the market. We also tend to focus on ‘feeds ns speeds’ and chest thumping claims – instead of telling stories about our customers, their business results and their perspectives. This eBook helps readers focus on their audience and what matters to them.

Ambal Balakrishnan: Why do you think companies haven’t changed the way they position themselves?
Rebel Brown: People and companies get locked into ways of thinking, ‘the way we’ve always done it’ mode.  We also assume that our audience’s are on the same page as we are. We spend our lives focused on our business and the products we deliver to our markets. So it’s natural to focus on what we know, what we believe, what’s comfortable for us. The challenge is that what we ‘know’ often isn’t what our audience believes or cares about.  That’s where the positioning disconnect begins.

Ambal Balakrishnan: What are the 3 key lessons you want readers to take away from your eBook?
Rebel Brown:
I think a reader’s takeaway depends on their own personal perspectives – as with any audience.  That said, there are a few key areas of focus that I think are important, all of which are around the concept of customer and market-centric positioning.

  • Identifying our true value  – through the eyes of our customers
  • Describing our value – 3 Pivot Points of Positioning
  • Spinning stories that touch our audience

Ambal Balakrishnan: What one change would you recommend to a reader of your eBook ‘It’s Not About You Anymore’?
Rebel Brown: Listen to your audience and try to minimize your own opinions.  You may be the subject matter expert – but your audience makes the rules – their perception wins every day. Get out and talk to your believers, your doubters and even your naysayers. They will teach you more about who you are, and the distinct value you bring, than hours of internal debate.

Ambal Balakrishnan: Rebel, thanks for taking the time to discuss your eBook and sharing your insights about positioning in your eBook.
Rebel Brown: Thanks Ambal.

To learn more about customer-centric positioning – Download the FREE eBook

Over to you…

What are the 3 pivot points for your positioning?

How do you tell your message in stories that resonated with your customer?