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Posts Tagged ‘David Meerman Scott’

Ask Steve Chazin to share ROI metrics on his first venture into e-book publishing and his response takes on an almost sing-song, Twelve Days of Christmas cadence:

A hundred thousand downloads. Nine speaking invites. Seven newspaper articles. Five actual speaking gigs. Two TV appearances. One pending TV show. And several offers of full-time employment.

Chazin's eight-page blockbuster e-book

Chazin's eight-page blockbuster

Chazin, in other words, is a walking, talking advertisement for the potential of well-crafted, value-adding content to propel its author — be it an individual, or an organization — into a higher orbit of brand recognition and business opportunity. 

How’d he do it? We’ll get to that shortly. First, some background.

 

Author Notes
A self-described “Renaissance man,” Chazin holds a master’s in electrical engineering from Princeton University. He’s currently CMO at Dimdim.com, which he describes as a “Web. 3.0 software start up aiming to change the way the world meets online.”

In the later ’90s, Chazin held marketing, sales and engineering positions at Apple. He counts himself among those who helped put the company on a return path to profitability after Apple had lost some of its product mojo and financial momentum earlier that decade.

Post-Apple, working as marketing VP for an early-stage tech firm, Chazin found himself at odds with the company founder. The two did not see eye to eye on the value of, and proper approach to, marketing.

“He is a true engineer,” Chazin explains. “And he saw marketing as the thing you do three weeks before you launch a new product. Very tactical.”

Unable to change the boss’ mind, Chazin in 2007 decided to write, in e-book form, marketing and branding lessons he’d distilled from his time at Apple. “I was really writing it for him (his boss),” he says. “To get him to step back and look at the bigger picture — the role that great marketing can have.”

Before long, Chazin began to see another, more intriguing reason for writing and promoting the e-book: To crack open new career opportunities.

Steve Chazin

Steve Chazin

Chazin wrote during his daily commute by bus and train between his New Hampshire home and Boston office. On Sept. 7, 2007, he published a blog post and, with it, MarketingApple: 5 Secrets of the World’s Best Marketing Machine. If you’d like to be download 100,001, visit Chazin’s blog.

 

Success Steps
What takeaways can Chazin offer from his experience? Here are some steps he took:

  • Develop a jargon-free news release. Taking advice from Web marketing consultant and author David Meerman Scott (who he’d hired earlier to advise his employer on marketing), Chazin developed a news release describing and promoting the book. In the release, he took pains to avoid terms such as “revolutionary” and “groundbreaking,” the sort of corporate gobbledygook against which Scott has been a vocal crusader.
  • Circulate the release to a targeted list of bloggers. Chazin researched and pinpointed about 100, including some who blog about all things Apple, and others who focus on marketing and brand. He e-mailed each a copy of the release, along with a link to the e-book (note he did not attach the book itself).
         To build his blogger list, Chazin searched Google and also Technorati, where he looked for those with high authority levels. When he found a blogger who he thought might resonate to the book, he’d check their blogroll to find other potential targets.
  • Be direct and demure. In his e-mail to bloggers, Chazin says his tone was “very simple, very conversational. Like a blog post would be. ‘Just want you to know I’m sort of joining the ranks. I’d value your feedback on this.’ I didn’t ask for an endorsement or a link. Just, ‘Hey, thought you might be interested in this.’”
  • Mini PR campaign. The day after sending an e-mail to the bloggers, Chazin distributed his “very short, very direct” news release on PR Newswire. He also had a PR firm issue a media alert, making it known he was available for comment on stories regarding Apple, social media, Web 2.0 and related topics.
  • Give design and format their due. Content and subject matter are critical, of course, but Chazin says devoting attention to design and format issues – copy length, color scheme, cover – also pays. He focused on keeping copy short (eight pages) and took time to get the color and layout feeling crisp and clean. 
         He incorporated just a slice of the Apple logo on the cover, giving the book a sophisticated feel — much like the brand identity of its subject. After he signed up with Typepad to build a blog around the e-book, he took care to make the two — blog and book – look like design extensions of one another.
  • Organic SEO. Because his e-book and blog are peppered with “marketing” and “Apple,” Chazin says he’s risen steadily in search rankings that incorporate those words, especially at times when Apple itself isn’t making news. Incidentally, he says the number of Google search results for his name has quintupled since he launched the e-book and blog.

“It just started escalating,” Chazin says. “Somebody would read it, they would blog about  it, recommed it to their friend. Somebody took it and converted into an e-paper and posted it to a SlideShare, where it got 5,000 or more views within a couple of days. Pretty soon, it was generating its own momentum.”

Interestingly, Chazin did not make use of social media beyond blogs. “I wasn’t that plugged in at the time,” he says. “This was in the days before Twitter, and Facebook didn’t have their application. So my social network was pretty much focused to LinkedIn and a blog that I’d never posted to until that day.”

Still, pretty soon Chazin was getting calls from reporters, event planners, students asking to quote him in their research papers, and potential employers. The rest? E-book history.

Some bonus tips from Chazin:

  • Keep it simple. “With design I focused on keeping it easy on the eyes. And boil it down. In my case, there wasn’t really a call to action except apply these principles to your own business — or hire me.”
  • Make it actionable. “What do you want your prospect, your buyer, to do next? In my case, it was contact me, which is why I put my phone number and e-mail address in there.”
  • Be modest. “If you’re trying to come across as a thought expert, but you come across as arrogant, people don’t feel they can relate to you. So, in whatever business, I think it’s important to show humility.”

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My friend David Meerman Scott* likes to encourage people to quit their jobs.

David’s been thinking, writing and speaking insightfully about content, Web marketing and social media for a while now. He seems to relish, in the midst of a speech or one of his books, making this only half-joking observation:

You might need to quit your job.

He’s not directing this advice to just anyone, mind you. He reserves it for aspiring social-media and content marketers. And not even for all of them. Specifically, for those frustrated by their inability to convince higher-ups that their organizations must get on the content/social media train.

If that describes your situation, and David’s advice seems like the only remaining option, don’t send that resignation e-mail just yet.

I spend a lot of time talking with people about the power of branded content. The eyes-glazed quotient can still be fairly high. Granted, that might mean I need to work on my elevator speech. Or, it could be we’re all still searching for easy-to-grasp analogies or similes by which to explain (and understand) why content marketing is such a breakthrough, yet grounded and logical, approach.

Here are three to consider. If they make sense, try them on a colleague or neighbor, and then your boss, before you tender that resignation.

Content marketing is like…

  • Putting AAAA in front of your name (only 180 degrees better).
    If you’re like me, you’ll simply never call a duct cleaner or locksmith that pulls this stunt. It puts them at or near the head of the Yellow Pages listings, sure. But it also feels shady, even slimy. Which means I won’t call, because my trust level is zero. Give me an authentic sounding brand and value proposition any day — even one that starts with Z.

    Today people use the Web as they once did the Yellow Pages. To get atop search results in your category, you can do one of two things:
    Pay your way. Or, produce fresh, relevant content that people want to consume — and that search engines will notice.

    In other words, for brand credibility and authenticity, content marketing is the exact opposite of tricking your way up the Yellow Pages listings. Yet, when the goal is to be found and contacted, content also exerts the desired updraft effect.

  • Hosting the Chamber of Commerce after-hours event.
    Technology aside, there isn’t much difference between organizing a LinkedIn discussion group or an online community and hosting the chamber members at your office or factory. The same goes for publishing a great value-adding magazine, newsletter or blog.

    Content marketing, done well, congregates customers and potential customers for networking, learning, even fun — and does so in a soft-sell, value-adding way. You’re the conversation starter and the gracious host. At night’s end, you get to collect all the “thank yous” and “I didn’t know your business did this!” exclamations. And you don’t even have to spring for snacks and soda.

  • Lending top employees to your customers.
    You’ve heard of the “loaned executive” concept? Where a supplier and a customer are in such symbiosis that the supplier temporarily loans a key manager or technician to jump start an initiative or fill in where the client is short staffed.

    Content is kind of like that. Only, instead of sharing human capital, you’re sharing other forms of value and support. Often information. Which usually means you can share with many more clients and potential clients, and do so without affecting your staffing or operations.

    Meanwhile, though, you’re showing extra-mile willingness and ability to think so hard and smart about your customer — and their customer, their needs, the market in which they operate — that you’re serving up insights and solutions before they’ve even asked for a loan.

Search-ability. Community. Thought leadership grounded in customer insights. At the core, isn’t that what content marketing is all about?

Or, maybe you’ve got a better analogy. If so, by all means post a comment.

If not… well, there’s always David’s advice to consider.

____________________

  • If you don’t know David, you’ll want to know his work. He’s written a best seller, The New Rules of Marketing and PR, and he’s just out with what’s likely to be another, World Wide Rave. Find him at www.webinknow.com.

 

 

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