Comics for Content Marketers

comics-for-content-marketers1-smOver the past three or so years, I’ve been getting up on stage and talking about visual content marketing and what web designers can learn from comic book artists. You can see one of my decks here: “Seven & a Half Tips to Jump Start Your Visual Content Strategy.”

At the end of my presentations, there are always a few people who talk about how they’d like to check out a few comics, but they don’t know where to get started. Or that they’ve walked into a local comic store, were overwhelmed by the choices, and left without buying anything.

Hence, I’ve compiled a list of a few comics that curious, intelligent adults may want to explore. All of this is based on my personal preferences, so your actual mileage may vary. Oh, and none of these have anything to do with content marketing, except that you probably saw me speak at a marketing conference.

Or maybe it’s brain candy that will help you become more effective at visual storytelling.

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Infographics and Visual Storytelling with Author Ross Crooks

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Ross Crooks of Column Five Media

Better, more powerful devices have made it possible to tell better, more powerful visual stories. These days, content marketers are discovering that infographics can help express essential information and complex concepts.

Infographics (aka information graphics) are becoming an essential tool for visualizing concepts that may otherwise be locked in databases and spreadsheets. In the hands of skilled designers, infographics strap a jetpack to your data and help it reach a wider audience across multiple devices.

Data visualization is nothing new, but we’re seeing an emergence of innovative techniques for showcasing and sharing ideas. Some infographics are a single static image, while others are complete interactive stories.

For content marketers, infographics represent another way to provide value and engage with their target audience or existing customers. Brands must consider new and creative ways of creating utility, and infographics are becoming a cornerstone of strategic and tactical plans.

I caught up with Ross Crooks Co-Founder And COO of Column Five Media, an agency with offices in Newport Beach, CA and New York that creates visual stories for brands. With his partners Josh Ritchie and Jason Lankow, Crooks co-authored the book INFOGRAPHICS: The Power of Visual Storytelling, an essential guide for anyone interested in visual content strategy. The book is packed with examples and explanations that will help you get started building your own infographics. Continue reading

Epic Interview with Content Marketer Joe Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi at window

Joe Pulizzi, the godfather of content marketing

He’s been called the “godfather of content marketing” and with good reason. Long before we were attending content-themed conferences, Joe Pulizzi was trying to convince his clients that content was the next big thing in marketing. It took a few years, but he’s convinced large and small companies to hire Chief Content Officers (CCO) to manage their content marketing efforts.

In a world where the loudest, brashest voices seem to get the most attention, Joe Pulizzi has be spreading the word in his own polite, friendly Midwestern way. He’s a power player in marketing, who hasn’t moved to one of the coasts to work at a power agency. He embraces the town of Cleveland, and if you’ve been to one of the conferences he hosts, you’ll see that Cleveland embraces him right back.

From his early days in custom publishing all the way to being a publisher, Joe Pulizzi is living his craft. He heads the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), which was named one of the fastest growing companies by Inc. magazine. CMI is an emerging media powerhouse with a voice in every channel. And consistently, that voice sounds a lot like Joe Pulizzi.

His collaborators and partners, including celebrated speaker Robert Rose, are a who’s-who of marketing gurus. His Content Marketing World conference in Cleveland is one of the must-attend shows for anyone in marketing, not just in the vertical of content marketing. It’s a fun, smart event that reflects the collective charm of the entire CMI staff.

As an author, Joe Pulizzi has published three smart, actionable books on the topic of content marketing. Each is fresh and vital, but Epic Content Marketing is the work of a mature, intelligent ambassador for the entire industry. If you haven’t read it yet, order it from Amazon and put it on the top of the stack on your nightstand.

If Johnny Cash was The Man in Black, then Joe Pulizzi will surely be known as The Man in Orange, due to his citrus-inspired wardrobe. If nothing else, he is consistent in his visual branding.

The book is as unique, colorful, and quietly awesome as Joe Pulizzi himself. It further cements his position as one of the most influential thought leaders in marketing. And if you know this business, that’s saying a lot.

Joe shared some thoughts in an email interview about content marketing, publishing, and the future of content marketing. Continue reading

Brandscaping with Author and Marketer Andrew Davis

Andrew Davis

Andrew Davis, author of Brandscaping, brings personality to marketing.

Andrew Davis is the guy you want on your marketing team. He’s smart, passionate, funny, and has an uncanny knack for nailing it.

His book Brandscaping: Unleashing the Power of Partnerships captures the essential rules of modern digital marketing. And if you had to distill it down to just one idea, it would be that marketing isn’t for loners. These days, you have make some friends and try new things.

And Andrew Davis is very good at identifying good partnerships and great marketing. In his book, he writes about large and small companies that are discovering new customers, simply by thinking beyond their traditional owned, earned, and, well, whatever campaigns.

He is like your favorite coach who both applauds you for reaching a new personal best, but also suggests that you can do better. He deconstructs successful campaigns, admires the work, and then suggests clever ways to make it even better. He’s smart, nimble, and it comes through on every page of his book.

But Andrew Davis is more than a writer. He’s also a surprisingly good speaker. When I met him this year, we were participating in a series of videos for Content Marketing Institute.

At Content Marketing World 2013, Andrew delivered a presentation on Brandscaping: The Secret to Unlocking Bigger Content Marketing Budgets and Driving Faster Results, and was the highest rated presenter at the conference. Not bad, considering the marketing legends at the event.

Despite his non-stop speaking schedule, Andrew found time to participate in an email interview with me.

BUDDY SCALERA: First, can you tell me what your book Brandscaping is all about?

ANDREW DAVIS: Brandscaping is all about leveraging the audiences of others to more effectively and efficiently sell your products and services. Essentially the entire book asks you one question: who already has your next customer as their current customer? Thinking this way opens up tons of new opportunities to work together, creating content that both your audiences will find valuable.
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Interview with Content Strategy Author Ann Rockley

Ann Rockley and Buddy Scalera photo

Ann Rockley and Buddy Scalera at the Intelligent Content Conference 2013

Despite being a relatively young industry, content strategy and marketing owes a great deal to certain pioneers who helped shape essential concepts. Their names pop up in blog posts, at conferences, and on bookshelves because they are the true thought leaders of this evolving discipline.

Instead of becoming a fond footnote of the content strategy industry, pioneer Ann Rockley has continued to evolve with fresh, relevant insights. Her book “Managing Enterprise Content,” is, quite frankly, required reading for everyone who wants to work in content strategy.

After several years of hearing about Ann Rockley, I was fortunate enough to meet her at the Intelligent Content Conference 2013 in San Francisco. (I spoke at the conference and delivered a scintillating presentation called “Channel Agnostic Content Strategy for Happy Marketers.”) Later, Ann and I exchanged a few emails, and she was kind enough to grant me an email interview.

Fair warning. You will probably have to read this interview once, then read Ann’s book, then read this interview again to get the full impact. Ann’s very smart. I was just trying to keep up. Continue reading

Interview with Kiss eBook Author Chris Epting

eBook "All I Need to Know I Learned from KISS"

eBook “All I Need to Know I Learned from KISS”

Chris Epting is an author after my own heart. As a lifelong fan of the rock band Kiss, Chris published an ebook titled “All I Need to Know I Learned from KISS: Life Lessons from the Hottest Band in the Land” – available on Amazon.

Kiss is, of course, one of my all-time favorite bands. I rock and roll all night to their music, shout it out loud at their concerts, and pay cash for their merchandising. Kiss has touched my life in many meaningful ways.

That’s why when I heard about this ebook, I downloaded it immediately. The title alone grabbed me, but the crisp writing is what kept me reading. As a writer, Epting is a man at the top of his craft. He knows how to weave a compelling narrative that grabs you and never lets you go. I wanted the best and Epting delivered the best.

The ebook is, for lack of a better description, a long, personal love letter to Kiss. Because of his background, Epting delivers the letter from the unique perspective of an informed insider…not as someone with an ax to grind. Continue reading

Content Strategy and eBooks

Marvel Comics on iPad

The easiest thing to do is wait. When a new technology seems to be bubbling up at the edges of conversation, most people just wait. Wait to see how it turns out. See if it takes off.

When it comes to ebooks, the wait is over. Done. The handwriting is no longer on the wall; it’s being downloaded to your iPad.

Old Models, Redefined
The book business is faring much better than the music industry did when digital changed their business model. As millions of songs were being downloaded in the 90s, music companies were busy protecting their old-media distribution channels. At one time, music stores dotted strip malls and city street. Now, most are gone. Apple redefined their distribution model.

The next to be hit was the video business. Torrents made pirating easy. And since people already had home-entertainment centers, the devices of consumption were already in place. The studios were also slow to move, sticking with DVDs for too long. NetFlix was already busy redefining their distribution model. Continue reading

Use a Facebook Fan Page for Book Marketing

Facebook Fan Page

Facebook Fan Page for Comic Book School

About a year or so ago, I started to experiment with a Facebook Fan Page. It was an based in a desire to “meet” the people who were buying my books.

It was a little slow getting started, since it took some time for me to really understand how Fan Pages actually worked. As an author of very niche books, I am really excited about the passion and energy that people bring to the Fan Page.

Now that I have been running this Facebook Fan Page for a while, I thought I might share a few observations: Continue reading

eBooks Compared to Cost of Print Publishing

Nook Color ereader

Nook Color ebook ereader now supports Android Apps

As the print industry continues on an inexorable path to extinction, an analysis by the Wall Street Journal reinforces what many of us already knew. Specifically, ebooks are just less expensive to publish.

First off, I’m not a book hater. Actually, quite the opposite. I’ve had a lifelong love affair with print. I spent many years in print publishing. Now that I’ve started writing books, I’m hoping that print sticks around just a bit longer.

Unfortunately, that’s just not going to happen.

The Internet has has led to fewer people buying and reading books. That much we know.

Yet it took the combined impact of the Amazon Kindle, the Nook, and the iPad to make ebooks truly viable. These are devices that offer the features ebook readers want at the right price. Continue reading

Getting Your Book into the Library Isn’t Easy

Comic Artist's Photo Reference: People & Poses

People never give much thought to how books make it into a public library. Books just sort of…appear.

As an author, I’ve always tried to make sure my book makes it to library shelves. Sure, I want to sell books, but I also want people to read them. Plus, I am a diehard library rat, so I want my own book on the shelves.

Unfortunately, I write in a deep vertical, specifically non fiction books for people who want to work in the comic book industry. It’s not a book for comic fans or kids. It’s for people who want to improve their craft (in this case writing or drawing comics) and break into the industry as a paid professional.

That’s a pretty narrow audience that lives deep in the long tail. Marketing to the long tail is an art unto itself, but that’s a different blog post.

In this case, I found an old email that I sent to my editor when my first book (Comic Artist’s Photo Reference: People & Poses) was published. I live in a large suburban town in New Jersey, and I wanted nothing more than to see my book on the shelf at the library. I’ve lived in the town my whole life, so I figured it would be no problem.

Boy was I wrong.
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