Lee Odden

BADASS Book Review: The Content Code by Mark Schaefer

Lee Odden     Book Reviews, Content Marketing

The Content Code

The Content Code: Six essential strategies to ignite your content, your marketing, and your business is the latest book from Mark Schaefer and like The Tao of Twitter and Social Media Explained, it’s a must read.

I’ve known and admired Mark for several years. He is a very generous person and that generosity extends to the knowledge he shares in the content and conversations he’s a part of.

Mark has a valuable ability to take the complexity out of marketing and draw attention to the things you really need to know – and in a way that just makes sense. Let’s face it: marketers are definitely living in an age of increased complexity and information overload. The sheer volume of content now being produced has no chance of being consumed, ala “Content Shock” and businesses are hard pressed to find ways to stand out.

In The Content Code, Mark outlines 6 factors that will that will help you move beyond the basics of content marketing, social media and SEO to “unlock” as he describes it, the strategies to ignite your marketing and grow your business.

Better quality content is no doubt, an imperative for modern marketers to succeed in 2015. But what good is amazing content without reach and engagement? The importance of connecting meaningful content with your target audience through content ignition is why The Content Code is so important.

To apply Mark’s principles for your own content ignition, there are the 6 elements outlined in the book:

  • Brand Development
  • Audience and Influencers
  • Distribution, Advertising, Promotion, and SEO
  • Authority
  • Sharability embedded into each piece of content
  • Social proof and social signals

That’s right, the acronym is BADASS.

For readers that have a background in SEO, the importance of ignition isn’t new. Search Marketers have been focused on igniting content by any means necessary for years. What most SEOs haven’t been focused on (until recently) is quality content.

At the same time, the rise in popularity of content marketing and the call to arms for better quality content has created a wave of information abundance. Standing out amongst a sea of brand publishers and consumers empowered to publish is one of the most important marketing challenges companies are facing right now. The solution? Most brands rely on paid amplification and distribution to ignite their content.

But ads are not enough. Neither are organic amplification efforts like SEO, enough.

Why not create content that has amplification and ignition built-in? This approach aligns well with what we do at TopRank Online Marketing: Co-create content with influencers, brand subject matter experts and community around topics that are keyword optimized, socialized and publicized.

Shifting from a “let’s make more content” model to a content ignition model is exactly what The Content Code will help you do.

Mark interviewed me for The Content Code and here’s an excerpt to give you a preview of the very generous mentions he gives in the book:

Mark: In your book Optimize you stated that, “Content is not just King, it’s the Kingdom.” Is your thinking evolving on that or is that statement still true to the same extent today?

Lee: Solving marketing problems in terms of the attraction, engagement and conversion is all still very centered around content and strategic content creation.

Search doesn’t exist without content. There’s not much sharing going on without content on the social web. I think the distinction today is that it is not about quantity, like maybe it once was. It’s about insight.

A lot of SEO still seems to focus on coming up with really clever ways of creating content, and then more content. They don’t ever mention the word customer, nothing about customer insight, nothing about the customer journey buying cycle and so forth. I think content is the kingdom but in order to function effectively it is not about more, it’s about quality, it’s about experience. It’s about providing the right information at the right time.

What’s the role of customer connection in this? A few years ago social media was small and quiet. You could really tune in and focus on individuals who were high probability customers or sales leads. Today, the noise is growing. The number of people using these tools is growing. Is connection still possible? Can you scale? Is it important to be human or is it really just kind of raw algorithms that make a difference today?

The people working for those SAS companies will tell you the algorithm is your answer, but I think, yes, it’s still possible to scale human connection. It’s harder to do. For many companies, customers are just a name in a database and we’ve tailored specific content based on their specific personas — behavioral, demographic, or whatever. We’re nurturing them along a sales cycle. I don’t think that can be a completely automated process by any means.

I think there’s got to be an inbound marketer who is overseeing marketing automation efforts and lead nurturing because you must have human insight. You have to look for opportunities as they surface in real-time.

I think human connection is more important than ever. Companies are going to have to work harder at being able to earn the attraction of buyers early on in that sales cycle by producing more remarkable and meaningful content.

Storytelling, for example … I know that’s a cliché, but talking as a real person, being more creative, I think that’s where a lot of inspiration for those connections can come into play. I think that’s how companies are differentiating themselves.

That’s very interesting. What you’re saying is that SEO today almost harkens back to traditional public relations. If you get positive exposure on other credible sites it could directly help you move your own content, because it sends a cumulative signal to Google?

Yes. In fact, you hit it right on the head. I’ve always had a high degree of value for public relations, because our agency started as a PR firm 15 years ago. PR, the media relations specifically and the ability to work with publications for that type of visibility is more important than ever for social reach, search and moving your content.

You can get The Content Code on Amazon as a paperback and in a few days on Kindle.

Disclosure: Mark and I have hired each other in the past for projects and he is part of the Dell Insight Partner Program that my agency TopRank Marketing manages for Dell’s Tech Page One.

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About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on integrated content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely on a beach somewhere doing absolutely nothing.