Last year, Guy Kawasaki was preparing to speak at an annual conference. He had just published his ninth book, and contacted Penguin Publishing to fulfill 500 digital orders of Enchantment. The publisher, to his dismay, said that they could not fulfill the order. He was slightly upset.
As disgruntled anchorman Howard Beale said in the film Network, many authors are mad as hell, and they are not going to take it anymore.
Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch channeled their anger in a positive way by launchingAPE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur. This resource not only dispels the mystery and mechanics of self-publishing, it also provides two other benefits: it demonstrates how entrepreneurial authors can turn misfortune (stonewalling from traditional publishers) into an advantage, and teaches marketing leaders how to spread good content across untapped channels.
Any marketing leader who takes content marketing and innovation seriously must add this book to their required reading list. Here’s why:
1. Owning more pieces of the value chain has benefits. Kawasaki asserts that “publishers are in a period of doom and gloom. Large, once proudly independent publishers such as Random House and Penguin are clinging together.” O’Reilly Media, however, is taking a different tack. They allow readers to download books in as many formats as they wish, across all devices, and sell directly to customers. It’s an author’s and bibliophage’s dream.
2. Take a calculated risk with “rising stars.” Many established publishers are eschewing fresh talent because they are not proven. In publishing vernacular, that means a business author who has not previously sold at least 10,000 copies of their book. Lisa Earle McLeod, author of Selling with Noble Purpose, fits this description. She persuaded Wiley to publish her book—even though her previous book did not sell 10,000 copies. The bet paid off. Selling with Noble Purpose reached #2 on CEO Read’s business seller list, and was a top 10 Amazon seller in the category.
3. Become familiar with your product development process. Kawasaki’s book is brilliant because it decodes the publishing process into discrete functions: agents, editors, editorial assistants, copyeditors (an essential, evergreen function), designers, and publicists.In the digital publishing world, the need for an agent or publicist has diminished. New roles have emerged, such as author distribution services. In exchange for a percentage of the book retail price, Lulu, Blurb, and Author Solutions can reduce the stress of doing these functions alone.
4. Life’s a pitch. Get comfortable with it. APE provides a powerful list of bloggers, authors, and thought leaders to help you promote your book. IndieReader.com, for example, forged an alliance with USAToday and HuffingtonPost. You can submit your book to their IndieReader Discovery Awards contest and be virtually guaranteed your book will be reviewed. NetGalley’s $399 subscription promises you six months of fame among 85,000 bloggers and book reviewers.
5. Establish and disseminate your own industry vernacular. APE contains a glossary of every publishing term you will ever need to know. I now consider APE’s co-authors the leading resource on all things digital publishing.
In my opinion, APE is required reading for content marketers and marketing leaders, even if you cling to traditional publishing. If you want to be King Kong in your field, and think more like an entrepreneur, it’s time to grab a copy.
Sue L. Blanchard, recently spoke with Mark Heard, Director of User Experience and Content Strategy for Evans Hunt. As the strategist behind branded content for clients like ATB Financial, Agrium and NASA, Mark alludes to the content he plans to present during CMA’s luncheon on June 25, 11:30 to 1 pm, at the Fairmont Palliser Hotel.
Mark, tell me about your work in digital user experience and content strategy.
I came to digital user experience and content strategy by way of journalism and communications. I spent my 20s doing overseas development communications gigs with the UN around Asia and writing Travel Guidebooks. Best job in the world, but tough to pay a mortgage on the proceeds.
Travel writing parlayed well into user experience and content strategy work: it’s all about creating the information customers want and need, and making sure they know where to get it.
At Evans Hunt, I work with our clients to help them understand their customers’ journeys and the content those customers need along the way.
You create strategic plans to manage digital content. What factors do you consider?
The most important ones are customer needs and wants. One of the biggest challenges organizations face is getting themselves out of their own internally-focused mindsets. Many have a base set of assumptions about their users or customers that may in fact not be true. The result is that they spend a lot of time on content and marketing that their end customers may, in fact, care little about.
The other component is guiding organizations to become great content creators. Content Strategy isn’t rocket science (aside for NASA’s, I guess): it’s all about understanding your organization’s strategic goals. Once we do that, some restructuring is often needed in order to create the content team. On the governance side of things, many organizations are missing a few key roles that are required to create great content.
What nuggets of wisdom do have for marketers about managing their digital content?
Know your customers’ journeys. How did they find out about you? What do they want to know about you? On what channels? At what times? Use primary research if you can – if not analytics, and secondary research; and craft your end-to-end customer journeys.
Designate or hire an editor-in-chief and a managing editor; preferably with journalism backgrounds. The key is to have people who know story-telling and publishing, to lead your content initiatives.
Measure, measure, measure. Someone needs to be looking at the analytics, so you know what’s resonating with your customers and what isn’t.
Tell me about your work for NASA?
My first large-scale content strategy project was for NASA in 2003, while I worked at a local agency called Critical Mass. At the time, NASA.gov was a very plain, static and grey governmental website, while there were literally thousands of individual websites within the organization. Kennedy Space Centre had their own site, Jet Propulsion Laboratory had their own site, and individual astrophysicists had their own sites. It was a bit of a mess. In conjunction with designing a new Nasa.gov portal to capture and present all of the amazing NASA content in existence, we helped the organization create an editorial governance model. It was no small task as you can imagine, involving editorial board design, roles & responsibilities for everyone involved with the portal, and specific workflows.
One element of the site’s content strategy was put to the test on February 1st. We launched the website the previous evening and the following morning when the space shuttle Columbia crashed upon re-entry the new site received millions of hits, and fortunately stayed up. A dark site strategy ensured users could access latest developments (for example, what to do if you found shuttle debris in your back yard, etc.)…
It’s not too late. If you are in or around Edmonton on June 4 to 6.
Every year the innovative conference format evolves into something bolder. It’s designed to engineer unique experiences, while discussing the latest trends and research in sponsorship and experiential marketing. This year we’re partnering with Canada Soccer – host of the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015™ – to draw upon the exciting energy of the matches for 3 days of mixing, mingling and mentoring. Read more…
Recent forecasts from Cisco Systems suggest that the number of online video consumers will double to 1.5 billion by 2015, with total online video consumption predicted to quadruple. Since video usage is growing, businesses cannot neglect video as a viable marketing channel. Video allows businesses to create and share remarkable content with their audience in a way that plain text will never match. People love videos because they do not always have the patience or time to read through a lengthy product description. They would rather opt to watch a video that tells them more than words possibly could.
Videos Get Results
While making and publishing videos may not directly bring in the money, smart businesses use video marketing as a tactic to improve consumer engagement, click-throughs, and traffic. A study provided by Implix showed that including video in emails increased open rates by 5.6% and click-through-rates by 96.38% when compared to emails that did not contain videos.
Videos also help to bring in search traffic since the major search engines started ranking videos in their results pages. In this blog post, Forrester Research shares that videos have a 50 times better chance of ranking within the first page Google for their respective keywords. Videos also increase traffic for businesses when they are shared, and with video marketing, there is always opportunity for videos to go viral.
Videos Recreate the In-Store Experience for Customers
Since the digital age has allowed consumers to shop from the comfort of their home, shoppers have lost the ability to actually feel, play with, and see products in person. When businesses create detailed demo videos that explain their products or services, customers do not feel as if they have lost that in-store experience when shopping online. Also, with thorough videos, customer service is no longer burdened with obvious questions such as, “How does the product work?” when the video tells customers all they need to know to make their purchasing decisions.
Videos are Fun for You and Your Customers
Creating a business video is pretty exciting once you get your creative juices flowing. Instead of typing away at a blog post, figuring out just the right words to perfectly describe your business’ product or service, you can make a video that brings your offering to life. This is a great way to let loose and go wild when you conjure up all your creative energies and make an awesome video that everyone besides your mother will want to watch.
Video Marketing is New-Age Marketing
Since social media has redefined marketing, videos have become an integral part of any successful marketing mix. Cross-promoting your videos with all the other content you have is a powerful way to strengthen the different signals you are sending to customers.
A successful video marketing campaign requires support from all your other marketing channels. Share your videos on your Facebook and Twitter accounts; incorporate them into some of your blog posts; and include them in your next email newsletter. Businesses should make awesome videos that complement their overall marketing strategy and keep consumer engagement high.
While video marketing is not a one-stop solution to fame and fortune, the power of video is undeniable.
Thanks to Gil Ngai, President at Calgary Professional Videographers Association & Chief Storyteller at Day One Media, for the contribution.