Content, Inc. Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: Content, Inc. describes a six-step model you can use to do your marketing long before you need it, without even having a product, or spending a lot of money, so your entrepreneurial venture will be a guaranteed success.

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Content, Inc. Summary

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Joe Pulizzi is a day one content marketer. He used the term “content marketing” as early as 2001, while being vice president of a media company and managing the custom marketing programs they created for other businesses. As time went on, he started to realize how important content marketing would become in a post-advertising world and eventually founded the Content Marketing Institute in 2007. CMI went on to become one of the fastest growing media companies ever and is now the industry’s go-to source.

CMI now also hosts Content Marketing World, the largest content marketing event in the world and publishes Chief Content Officer, an industry magazine.

Joe speaks and educates people about content marketing all around the world, and his books are part of that mission. Content, Inc. is his latest one, and it’s about how entrepreneurs can use a six-step content marketing approach to keep their business from falling flat on its face – before it even starts.

Here are 3 lessons to help you become a great content marketer yourself:

  1. Start by picking one platform, focusing on it and showing up regularly.
  2. Build an email list to stay in touch with your most loyal followers.
  3. Diversify across channels over time – but not too early.

If you’ve ever dreamed of starting a business, this is it. It’s free, in your control and 100% matches who you are, so what are you waiting for? Let’s go!

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Lesson 1: Pick just one platform initially and consistently show up.

Sometimes I get emails from people, who pitch me their business idea and ask me to share it. 9 out of 10 times this happens, it’s someone approaching me cold. I’ve never heard their name and now I’m suddenly supposed to help them promote their stuff. All of my responses to these requests start with “I wish…”

I wish they would’ve contacted me sooner, commented on a blog post of mine, engaged with me on Twitter, or just sent an email saying hi. Because even just a 30-second message would’ve kickstarted our relationship and turned you from stranger into friend.

The people who send these emails are the same ones that look at the progress bar of their funding goal two days before the deadline, and are disappointed because it sits at 50%, not 98%.

If you want to raise money, start a business, or sell a product, the best time to start connecting with people about it was two years ago. The next best time is today.

Content marketing is the simplest way to do this. Where most people get hung up when starting is focusing on one platform. Because big brands are present everywhere, you think you have too. But you get by deciding to stay small. Think about it.

If you ONLY build a Youtube channel, you’ll reach a big milestone, like one million subscribers, a lot faster. Setting up a Facebook page and getting 10,000 of those one million to like it is a lot easier than growing both simultaneously.

So pick one platform and commit to a consistent publishing schedule. Just show up regularly (I like once a week for starters) and don’t worry about the rest – for now.

Lesson 2: Connect with your most loyal followers regularly via email, the list is your best asset.

It’s almost 2017, yet most big brands don’t even consider getting more email subscribers as a goal. This either shows a lack of awareness, or worse, a decision to use content marketing as a means of distribution, instead as a way of sincerely connecting with their customers and audiences.

An email subscriber is entirely different from a Facebook fan, a Twitter follower, or a LinkedIn connection. By following you on social media, people only signal you that they tolerate you in their feeds, nothing more. You’re part of their content machine.

But when someone gives you their email address and invites you into their inbox, they volunteer to become a part of your content machine, your project, your life. You get to control 100% of the content you send to them, you can contact them at any time and you can start week-long 1-on-1 conversations.

The quickly growing numbers some businesses manage to pull off on social media make it tempting to start there, but in the end, that’s a decision to build your house on someone else’s lawn. There’s nothing inherently wrong with it, but you have to be aware that over time, you have to build assets you own – and an email list is your best bet for doing that.

Lesson 3: Once you’ve established one channel well, diversify by spreading to others, but don’t do this too early.

One of the biggest reasons people never start content marketing is that they’re intimidated by the sheer size of successful people’s platforms. You look at someone who’s a contributor to Forbes, Entrepreneur, Inc. and Time, with 100,000 Twitter followers, 50,000 Facebook likes and a blog that has a million readers and think: how the hell am I supposed to be on all these channels, all at once?

The answer is: you’re not. What you’re seeing is only an end result.

Take fashion entrepreneur Mimi Ikonn, for example. She has 16,000 Pinterest followers, 19,000 Twitter followers, a whopping 1.3 million on Instagram and over 600,000 subscribers on her personal Youtube channel.

How did she get so big on all these platforms? By not being there at all.

For the past six years, she’s posted a video at least twice a week on her main Youtube channel, Luxy Hair. It has almost three million subscribers. Once her main channel got so big, diversifying into others came easy. Her 19k Twitter followers are merely a splash of the big wave her Youtube channel made.

Focus now, diversification later. That’s how it works, not the other way around.

Content, Inc. Review

Great primer about content marketing, you’ll still have to figure out a platform and how to create great content for yourself, but to grasp the principles of the, in my opinion, most powerful way of marketing (and potentially setting yourself free financially), Content, Inc. is the perfect read.

Who would I recommend the Content, Inc. summary to?

The 23 year old recent graduate, who’s in his first job, doesn’t like it, and can’t see himself doing this for another 40 years, the 59 year old vice president of marketing of a big company, who still spends money on billboards, and anyone who’s overwhelmed by social media.

Last Updated on August 3, 2022

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Niklas Göke

Niklas Göke is an author and writer whose work has attracted tens of millions of readers to date. He is also the founder and CEO of Four Minute Books, a collection of over 1,000 free book summaries teaching readers 3 valuable lessons in just 4 minutes each. Born and raised in Germany, Nik also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration & Engineering from KIT Karlsruhe and a Master’s Degree in Management & Technology from the Technical University of Munich. He lives in Munich and enjoys a great slice of salami pizza almost as much as reading — or writing — the next book — or book summary, of course!