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. Read more
West Coast! It’s been a long time since we’ve seen each other, maybe too long.
Let’s get together at the Intelligent Content Conference 2013 in San Francisco on February 7-8, 2013. I’m packing now to bring some East Coast fun to the City by the Bay.
If you’re a content marketer, this is one of the big conferences you should attend. I’ll be there to deliver my presentation on Feb 8th at 2:00. Here’s the description:
Channel-Agnostic Content Strategy for Happy Marketers
Learn why “intelligent content” is an inevitable future for multi-channel marketing. Developing channel-agnostic content is rapidly becoming the only way to address the proliferation of emerging channels and new devices. Brands are publishers and content is liquid. Marketing teams need to consider how to share messages across the platforms that their customers are using. Intelligent, channel-agnostic content development, governance, and maintenance will ensure that your marketing team is happy (i.e., employed) and prepared for the future.
You’ll see a lot of the stuff you’ve come to know and love including my sparking personality, these rock-hard abs, and some amazing comic book art. Read more
If I had stock in Home Depot, Lowes, or Sears, I’d be pretty annoyed right now. I’d be looking at the impending storm that’s about to hit the East Coast, and think, “why aren’t these retailers ready for Hurricane Sandy?”
To that, I’d add, “again.”
Yup, this is the second year in a row that retailers are not ready for the consumer demand in times of emergency. Last year, we were hit with an epic, freak storm that knocked out electricity for four days. The folks with generators were just fine, but the rest of us were, well, very cold.
You’d think that people would learn from last year and already have generators, batteries, bottled water, canned goods, gasoline, and other things like that. But they don’t. People are people. They don’t usually do a good job of taking care of themselves and typically wait until the last minute to do their Christmas shopping. People are like that and will always be like that.
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. Read more
Never use ten words, when you can say it in five. Never use a ten-buck word, when a five-buck word will do.
These are old phrases that I remember from my days working as a journalist. The idea was not to dazzle people with your thesaurus, but to communicate and report your story. Save the flowery language, they used to say, for your novel.
If you’re developing your content strategy for your new brand website, be sure to include a section in the style guide about writing. Let your whole team know that the purpose of your website is to serve the needs of your users. It’s not an opportunity to stretch your legs as a writer and express yourself with brilliant prose. Read more
As I was riding the bus to work this week, I observed at least two people streaming Netflix to iPads.
The lower-end iPads include WiFi, but the upgraded models offer 3G wireless service. That makes it easy to stream Netflix wherever you are. Like, for instance, the bus.
This may seem like a minor point, but for content creators and content strategists, it is a significant development worth considering. For example, as you develop your content strategy, you’re probably thinking primarily about the website and mobile experience. This means a robust website that scales appropriately for mobile users.
If you create transmedia assets, you may also be thinking about familiar channels like YouTube and Vimeo for video. Maybe Slideshare for presentations. Perhaps an eBook on Amazonor at BarnesandNoble.com. Again, this all makes sense.
Have you considered the bus? I mean, you know that mobile users are accessing your website on mobile device, and they may be on a bus. But when you think about long-form streaming video, you probably aren’t thinking about an iPad 2 streaming video on a bus. Read more
Here’s a novel content strategy for you. Make some awful content. And when you’re done with that, make some more bad content.
How is that “content strategy,” you ask? Good question.
This year I published a book called “Creating Comics from Start to Finish.” It’s a book for people who aspire to create comic books. I included a section for writers where I offered the concept of the “Rule of 10.”
I won’t go into the whole thing (buy the book), but the Rule of 10 is all about practice. Specifically, if you are a writer, you need to create 10 stories before you even dare to pitch your stuff to an editor. By writing these 10 stories, you will write through your clichés and stiff storytelling. You will write through your amateurish experimentation, which nobody should have to pay for. Read more
And, I am proud to report, that none of the panelists actually uttered the phrase “content is king.” (We’re too cool for that.)
Last week, I spent a half day at the DTC National Conference 2011 in Boston to participate in one of the pre-conference workshops. We were arranged panel style in the front of the room to talk about pharmaceutical marketing related topics.
I was on the panel “Optimizing the Brand Web Site” with some impressive panelists:
- Prodeep Bose, SVP, Multichannel Strategy, the cementbloc
- Michael Peroff, Managing Partner, Strategic Domain, Inc.
- Phyllis Schneble, EVP, Sales & Marketing, dLife
- Bob Erlich, CEO, DTC Perspectives – Moderator
While the conversation was focused on pharma brand websites, it was a conversation that could have easily been about any industry. Basically, if I had to summarize it in a few words, it went like this. Read more
NetFlix experience is quite good, but I find myself playing with my Instant Queue almost as much as I watch actual movies. The NetFlix recommendation engine is amazing, and it exposed me to several movies and documentaries that were right on target. Streaming NetFlix through the Roku is a pleasure.
Hulu Plus is definitely attractive, since I am a big fan of well-produced television shows. Something about a serialized story appeals to me in both comics and TV. However, adding another $7.99 monthly subscription on top of the NetFlix sub is going to get expensive fast. At this point, NetFlix seems to have an adequate collection of TV shows, so I’ll stick with that for a while.
Adding custom channels is pretty easy, so I have updated the Roku XDS with Blip.tv and Revision3. Here the experience is rather uneven. The connection and content are fine, but some of the programming is barely a step above cable access. It’s too bad because I like the idea of watching long-tail TV shows.
That said, I am happy to watch iFanboy on Revision3 much more than I do on my laptop. Big improvement.
It’s worth noting that this whole Roku and NetFlix upgrade traces back to the local movie theater raising prices last year. The ticket price of a first-run movie increased one week from $9 to $11. Just to be clear, I typically went to the movies on a Tuesday and the price increase was on regular 2D films. I can understand the price increase on 3D movies because there are special projectors, glasses, and good stuff like that.
It’s not like I couldn’t afford the $2, but it was kind of annoying that they skipped over $10 and went right to $11. Product pricing and perceived value is certainly a psychological game in every industry. In this case, the price jump bummed me out, and I was in the habit of seeing a new movie just about every week.
But I still need my movie fix…and good luck trying to find a local video rental store. Okay, we have a RedBox near us, but for whatever reason, I just never remember that when I am in movie mode.
So NetFlix on the Roku has filled the void left by regular movie theaters. It’s not quite the same, but the combined depth and variety of their library of movies, TV shows, and other content is truly impressive.
I’m looking forward to exploring more channels on the Roku, just to see what’s available. There are a few premium paid channels, and if the content is good and the price is right, I may give them a try.
Well, one week in and I am pretty happy with the Roku. I haven’t really explored it fully, nor have I tried plugging anything into the USB slot. Check back again for more Roku, NetFlix and other streaming reports.
More good readin’:
As most copywriters will agree, it’s actually more difficult to write less than to write more. It’s easy to blabber on until you get around to making your point. That’s fairly easy.
Write tight. Now that’s hard.
This is especially true online. People aren’t necessarily looking to “read” your magical prose. They are looking to get to their destination content. They want you to help them get there with the least amount of clutter. Words — when abused — can be clutter.
Google is a company that is always trying to gain an extra edge in efficiency. Their famously austere homepage shows that they want nothing to stand in the way of your search.
Google gave Gmail a makeover. For those of you who are unfamiliar with their old homepage, they provided a side-by-side comparison. According to Google, they cut some 250 words from their copy. They are literally saying more by saying less. Or at least using fewer words.
It’s important to recognize when your reader actually wants more detail, particularly when they are trying to determine if your product or service is what they want. At that point, you need to give them the information they need to make a decision about your product or service.
Check out your own website. Could your copy go for a little nip/tuck? Is your otherwise smart, valuable service drowning in a sea of prose? If so, sharpen your pencils and start editing.
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