How to Create Content That Engages Prospects and Customers

social media book reviewsWhen Rick Short, director of marketing communications for Indium Corporation, began thinking about his social media strategy, he started with keyword research.

He identified 73 of the most important keywords his prospective customers would search for. Then he created 73 different blogs that focused on each keyword and assigned a dozen employees to write those blogs.

The results amazed him. Once the blogs took off, customer contacts increased 600% in a single quarter. And everyone who contacted a blog author, commented on a blog post or downloaded a white paper opted in to the company’s customer database.

Can you guess what Indium makes? Underwear for Victoria’s Secret? Chocolate bonbons? Power tools?

No, they make solder paste and other electronic assembly materials.

content rules“Most people in the world can’t believe that people really care about this stuff,” Short told Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman, authors of the book Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business. “But my customers do… They love this stuff!”

Customers like circuit board manufacturers, solar panel manufacturers and the semiconductor industry.

So what can you learn from Indium? It doesn’t matter how obscure your product or service is. As long as you fill a need in the marketplace, you have customers. And you can use the same techniques that Indium used to attract prospective customers.

Namely, focus on content. Content is king, remember? Because we’re a species that communicates using words that are strung together in sentences, paragraphs and stories.

But we’re not talking about stringing together a bunch of words that will interrupt people who are trying to read the newspaper. We’re talking about stringing together a bunch of words that will attract people who are looking for that exact group of words.

Because that’s exactly what people are doing – searching for information. At the time they need the information. Not before, not after. And they’re searching the Internet.

“Your customers read blogs, they Google their purchases and they query followers on Twitter or friends on Facebook,” write Handley and Chapman. “This means that your key to igniting sales is to create online content and optimize it so that it appears on the first page of search results when your customers search for you or the products or services you sell.”

5 Rules for Creating Great Content

Here are some of the rules for creating content:

#1. Show, don’t just tell: Rather than focusing on why your product is great, show people. This can be accomplished through well-crafted case studies (also known as success stories). This type of content draws people in because everyone wants to achieve success. You can create case studies by focusing on a problem faced by a customer, how your product helped solve it, and what the results were.

#2. Stoke the campfire: Try creating content that gets a conversation started. Remember those childhood overnight camp outs? The best times are often had around the campfire. And content that is highly sharable will spark a flame that will care it to other places. This type of content could include new trends in your industry. You could highlight hot new research to your customers and prospects.

#3. Play to your strengths: Do you have a radio voice but can’t write at all? Perhaps you should be focusing on podcasts instead of white papers. Maybe you’re really good on camera? Focus on where your strengths are and produce content in your comfort zone.

#4. Speak human: The people you are targeting are not search engine spiders and are likely not as technically knowledgeable as your engineering team. Speak to people in a voice they understand. That means losing complicated jargon and instead adopting a conversational writing style.

#5. Reimagine: Have you got some great content that is sitting idle? How about repurposing it. For example a great presentation can be transcribed and turned into an ebook.  A white paper can be the inspiration for multiple blog articles.

Your Complete Guide to Creating Content

content rulesIf you’re still struggling with your content marketing campaign because you have no idea what to write about, you need this book. It’s the complete guide to creating content that will draw prospective customers directly to you.

Content that educates, establishes you as an expert and engages potential customers. “Engaging with people is how your company will survive and thrive in this newly social world,” write Handley and Chapman. “Online content is a powerful envoy for your business, with an ability to stir up interest, further engagement and invite connection.”

In the book you’ll learn:

  • Eleven content rules, with an entire chapter devoted to most of them
  • Nine ways to differentiate your content from everyone else’s
  • Thirteen steps for feeding the content food chain
  • Twenty-five tips if you don’t know what to say

You’ll even learn the 1-7-30-4-2-1 publishing schedule so you can produce content at a steady pace. Here’s a tip: You’ll know exactly what to publish daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, semi-annually and annually.

After all, producing good content is like building a campfire – you have to keep the fire burning long enough to gather all your friends around it and tell stories.

Because that’s exactly what you want your prospective customers to do. You want them to gather around your content and share it with their friends.

If these techniques work for Kodak, Boeing and the U.S. Army, they’ll work for you. We guarantee it!

Social Media Examiner gives this book five stars.

Do you use content to grow your business? How has it helped? What tips can you share? Leave your comments in the box below.

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About the Author, Ruth M. Shipley

Ruth M. Shipley is a freelance researcher and writer who loves to write a good story. Because that’s what most people love to read! See her Social Media Examiner page for more stories about social media books. Other posts by »




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  • http://www.cygnismedia.com/social-media-application/ social media application

    Go with Trends because new and unique content will attract the audience

  • http://www.facebook.com/vicki.mcleod Vicki McLeod

    you should get commission on that one! i just bought the book because of your recommendation!

  • http://www.colemanmg.com Antonio Coleman

    Ruth..what a smart move by this company..more and more small businesses should try to adapt this marketing style..

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  • http://www.cc-chapman.com/ C.C. Chapman

    Hope you enjoy the book and that it helps you out. Let me know what you think once you’ve had a chance to read it.

  • http://www.cc-chapman.com/ C.C. Chapman

    Thank you for the detailed review!

    I always love watching how each individual who posts a review focuses on different parts that hit home for them. Always curious to find out which pieces hit home.

  • http://frankjkenny.com/ Frank J. Kenny

    Great review. I will put it on my reading list.

  • http://www.ExpandTheBrand.net Tia Dobi

    It’s disappointing that Social Media Examiner would publish an article entitled “How to create content that engages prospects and customers” and then not make good on the promise of its headline. Why the publisher choose not to inform us that this was a book review rather than a how-to is puzzling . . . and void of the most basic journalism/profesisonal writing standard. I also don’t find the writing compelling. It’s sort of like a comedian who promises : “How to be funny” and then his presentation falls flat. I’d like to suggest SME include a “Rate this article” feature on its site. Time is precious – this piece could have stopped after the paragraph about creating 73 different blogs based on 73 different keywords. (and how many readers have the time/resources/initiative to do that?) I had 40 different email signatures when I was an executive recruiter. and yes, specifics sell. Unfortunately, this article falls short of that.

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Hey C.C. We were happy to review your book

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Tia, thanks for your valid criticism. I will take it up with my team

  • http://thecontrapuntist.com contrapuntist

    I have to agree. I was expecting something a little different based on the post title. Reviews should be labeled accordingly.

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    I have enhanced the article. Hope you find it better

  • http://theresadelgado.co Theresa Delgado

    The 5 suggestions were nice and the story about the 73 keywords started well, but who has time to build 73 blogs? I surely don’t have a staff of 12 employees. The practicality of building 73 blogs and each of them having quality content is a little far-fetched.

    Maybe this post can put point #5 “Reimagine: How about repurposing it.” into action?

  • http://twitter.com/DavidJCorr David J. Corr

    Well said Theresa, I was thinking the same thing.

  • http://www.57pixelmedia.com Shelly

    Great article

  • http://paynelessadvice.com/ Donald Payne

    Once again you have my creative juices flowing. I will definitely have to look into the book. As an author I have tons of content but I am not sure if the content I am sending out is exactly what my readers want to read. My feedback is inconsistent, which makes it hard to judge what works and what doesn’t.

  • http://www.facebook.com/JCunninghamVA Jackie Cunningham

    The wheels are turning now! Just downloaded the book to my iPad and will put it at the top of my reading list. Writing content that engages people can be a challenge. I’m a huge fan of SME and will give this one a read based on your recommendation.

  • cherylpickett

    I think #4 might be the easiest to tackle for most people. Reviewing what you’ve written to make sure the average reader will really be drawn in is an easy place to fine tune. From that aspect, it really doesn’t matter if you’re writing a book or blog. If you miss there, the rest won’t help much.

  • http://www.ExpandTheBrand.net Tia Dobi

    Thanks Mike. Appreciate Social Media Examiner’s dedication to quality product [content] and service to help us navigate the social media jungle. As the 5 tips show, content is king. And packaging is emperor :-D. I really like Tip #4 “write conversationally.” Me thinks David Ogilvy would give this article a big thumbs up with his teachings “You can’t bore them into buying” and “It’s not creative if it doesn’t sell.” Social Media on!

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  • http://twitter.com/Pride_ly Pride.ly

    I did not get the impression that writing 73 blogs was being suggested. But it did demonstrate how focus on good old fashion keyword research and content still has power in marketing. The 73 blogs was just a very controlled demonstration.

    Even if you have a singe blog. Providing content that gives value and that is well optimized is the point I took away.

    More importantly is that it holds true no matter how obscure the niche. I just want to know how they came up with 73 keywords for their niche and how they evaluated them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/vaspec35 Heather Wilches-Brooks

    I will definitely take everyone’s advice because I create content but gauging is completely different. I love interaction of others and want to hear from them often, but that doesn’t always happen so…I am off to read the book, thanks.

  • http://felixrelationshipmarketing.com/ Juan Felix

    Hi Ruth. For a book review this article is ok. I have to agree with contrapuntist and Tia. I also expected something different, based on the title. Still the post holds a lot of value. Thanks for sharing.

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  • http://www.kimgusta.com Kim Gusta

    I completely agree with your recommendation to get a copy of Content Rules. It’s one of the best business books I’ve purchased in the past 5 years. If you want concrete ideas and solid tips for building outstanding content, get this book.

  • http://www.epitomemedia.com.au Brigid Shute

    This is a sensational book, we’re using so many of the lessons and encouraging our own clients to get a copy and read it cover to cover. The Indium example is a great one because it illustrates that even the most niche of businesses can have a great content strategy that works.

  • http://twitter.com/acuatia Acuatia Media

    Great post! We ordered the book today… cant wait till it arrives. The 5 tips that you have included here are quite good to keep in mind when making a blog or post elsewhere.

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  • http://lighthouseinsights.in/ Prasant Naidu

    A post is incomplete with quality comments and this one has both-content and comments. Well the post title is bit deceiving but i am taking it differently.One recap of basic and important areas that bloggers should take care and get to know about a new book.
    Content is the King and Sharing with your community is queen :). #4 is my pick. Write simple and easy so that its understood by your readers. Thanks for reminding simple things, helps me to stick to the basics of blogging and great content :)

  • http://www.mobilecubix.com iPhone Application Developer

    All of You Know about content .”Content is The King”..Tell me about how i make the killer articles without reading any guide or reference

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    If you want to learn, you “need” to read the guides. It’s that simple

  • Gary Henry

    What I can’t believe is that guy had a dozen marketing employees he could put on writing blogs. I want to work there!

  • http://www.dydacomp.com Dydacomp

    Great recommendation. I know that content is key to success. Content is key no matter what industry or business you are dealing with. One way small businesses and eCommerce stores can use content is by creating compelling product descriptions that allows their products to stand out from the crowd.

    Thanks for sharing!
    Molly Griffin
    Dydacomp

  • http://www.aaroneden.com/ Aaron Eden

    This post actually made me recall someone asking a question on what topic he should blog about. I think that many people make the mistake of jumping in the bandwagon, simply because a keyword is hot in the market – from goji berries, dark chocolates…and so on. These people fail to see that readers are not looking for a ‘me too’ content when they search online; but words from the expert that will help them in whatever issues/questions they’re trying to get solved in the real world. So, what makes a great content these days? Perhaps, it’s a reflection of your passion for the thing you’re writing about, writing it in a genuine voice, and the idea of helping others with the stuff you know a lot of.

  • http://cindyking.biz/ Cindy King

    Great points Aaron! Thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.peoplebrowsr.com PeopleBrowsr

    #4 is extremely important. Messages must be delivered in a relevant way. In order for people to trust your brand and look to for honest info you must speak their language.

  • Dinoboa

    It´s still remains a selling pitch for the book…no real value here unless you purchase.

  • http://markfrisk.com/ Mark Frisk

    I agree with others who have noted that this post leaves a bit to be desired.

    It’s particularly sketchy with respect to Indium’s 73 separate blogs and the dozen employees assigned to write them.

    First, according to Content Rules, there are between 12 and 15 employees involved. And they’re not marketing people, as some have surmised in the comments. Many of them are engineers who, as the book points out, are already writing technical papers, etc. Sidenote: Finding and empowering these types of folks is exactly the kind of advice I’ve been giving to clients for years. The best, most authentic content comes from within, from the people closest to the products, so this is a very smart way to go.

    Of course, for many (most? all?) of these employees, their blog work is a sideline. Writing that Rick Short “assigned a dozen employees to write those blogs” implies that the blogs are their main responsibilities, which obviously isn’t the case.

    Second, as the case in Content Rules explains, there are indeed 73 separate blogs, but they’re all powered by Compendium software, which allows for the automated flow of content into all those blogs, dependent on the keywords used in a particular post. So if an author uses several of the 73 keywords in a post, then that post will appear in each of the blogs devoted to each specific keyword.

    By all accounts this seems to have been a successful strategy for Indium. I do wonder, however, what Google and other search engines will eventually make of all that duplicate content. I’ll have to think on that one…

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  • http://www.brosix.com/ Brosix

    great article, people do care about things they are passionate about, even if they may be boring to others.

  • Wendy Pitts Reeves

    I’d read the book before I saw this post, and it is indeed a fantastic book. Almost every page is filled with practical, clear details about the nuts and bolts of creating *effective* content. It’s rare, in my experience, to find a book that delivers so much, actually. So, although yes, it would have helped to clarify that this was more of a book review than a how-to post, I didn’t mind. The book was worth the push.

    And then some.

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  • http://twitter.com/moderncoupon Andrew

    Video is a great way to reach your audience. It’s a great idea to show it and not just tell it and it’s also great to do both. Tagging your videos well and titling them well each have fantastic search engine optimization power. Embedding a youtube video into your blog post is good on many level. Not the least of which keeps your audience engaged longer….this is also recognized by search engines as valuable and relevant and helps seo. moderncoupon.com is a small business marketing machine.

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  • http://www.webcoursesbangkok.com Anastacia Victor

     That an amazing content. kwwp it up.

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