THE BLOG

Can Anyone Master Content Marketing?

12/17/2012 04:48 pm ET | Updated Feb 16, 2013
  • John Fox Founder and President, Venture Marketing

The following is my third installment from a new book I'm writing (my third) on the important and pivotal role of today's marketing director: The Marketing Director is THE hope of Small Business.

I'm conducting a Content Marketing experiment. Since I have no idea how it will turn out, if you like watching a work-in-progress, follow along. Or, just wait for the results.

Can Anyone Master Content Marketing?

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You've probably read the book or watched the movie, Julie & Julia. Aside from the entertainment value, there's a lesson for all of us hoping to have loyal fans, grow our customer base and master content marketing.

If you recall, Julie cooks (and blogs) her way through all 524 recipes in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume I, in a period of 365 days.

Yes, Julie had a passion for cooking, but the key to Julie's blogging and fan base was the cookbook. It became her editorial calendar. She didn't have to think up interesting topics to write about.

Most of us have no such editorial calendar. When it comes to blogging and article writing we really have no idea where to start. Consequently, we waste countless hours conjuring interesting topics on a whiteboard.

And that's a real shame given the proven SEO/Google value a blog provides. All that terrific content trapped between your two ears or locked in the gray matter of your company's subject-matter expert... aka, your company's go-to guy/business owner/chief engineer/mad scientist.

Customers would love to read it. Google would love to index it. If only there was a way to extract it.

Hold that thought.

Finding your inner editorial calendar

In 2010, John Fancher challenged a group of us to write 99 questions on a topic in which each of us believed we had deep, domain expertise. He believed that only real experts could write 99 questions about a particular subject in the span of a weekend.

I took the challenge and wrote my list of 99 Questions on the topic of Channel Partners. [okay, I admit it's a bit boring, but I happen to know a lot about the subject. And who knows, your subject might be about ceramic powder compaction or cold-rolled steel... which are rather drab topics, too!]

The interesting thing is that all of my 99 questions were already on my hard drive. Over the years I had asked and answered tons of questions about Channel Partners, so it was more or less a matter of prioritizing and organizing.

I bet the same is true for you and your subject-matter experts.

Let's call this step one toward content marketing mastery--writing the 99 Questions.

Feeling rather smart--that I had created THE list of questions for properly managing Channel Partners--I showed my list to Roger Parker, a distinguished author and author-coach. His advice: publish the list of questions as a book. One question per page.

Never one to argue with an expert, eight weeks later I had my book up on Amazon.

That's step two.

Step three is where I am right now. I'm using my 99 Questions as my editorial calendar. Every day for the next 99 days I'm blogging my answer to one of those 99 questions.

Content Marketing shortcut?

I want to know if there's a measurable impact from publishing a lot of content about a very narrow topic over a short period of time? What's the measureable gain, not just in Google/SEO traffic, but also in important things like email signups, followers, and revenue. And naturally, I'm hoping my 99 Questions is a cool shortcut to Content Marketing Mastery.

I've been at it for a few days now. While it's too early to report an surge in traffic, I can at least tell you I'm able to write a blog post in a fraction of the time. Since the questions are familiar, I just need to add a little color commentary to provide context for readers.

Follow along each day, download a free copy of my 99 Questions book or just wait for me to report back with results when I'm done.

John Fox is the Founder and President of Venture Marketing, a B2B marketing consulting firm enabling sales reps to win more deals with disruptive, challenger marketing, compelling their customers and channel partners to re-examine how they do things and consider new alternatives. To talk with Venture Marketing and ask your B2B marketing questions, please contact us at Venture Marketing.