Monday, November 23, 2015

How to Become a Content Marketing Rock Star [Book Review]

Originally posted on the PR 20/20 blog.

What's better than taking something you love and combining it with something else you love? It usually creates something even better than the two on their own. Kind of like "You got chocolate in my peanut butter" and "You got peanut butter in my chocolate" (that’s from a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup commercialfor those that don’t know that reference). Is there anything better?
For me, take a little bit of rock music and combine it with content marketing, and you've not only got my attention, you've got me screaming for more. I've written about this crossover before (read it here). Nobody is doing it better than Jason Miller (@JasonMillerCA), senior manager of content marketing and marketing solutions for LinkedIn (and rock photographer and blogger
If you've had the pleasure of seeing him speak, you'll know that no one matches his enthusiasm. He attacks the stage like your favorite band's lead singer and gives you every hit you want to hear. And by hit, I mean face-melting marketing knowledge (to steal his description) that he breaks down so you can apply it to your strategy.
Jason’s new book, Welcome to the Funnel: Proven Tactics to Turn Your Social and Content Marketing up to 11, is like a written version of his presentations. What comes across loudly is his drive and passion. He's worked hard to get to where he is and explains how we can replicate his success.


Become Hybrid Marketers – Learn All the Instruments

Jason begins with explaining the concept of "hybrid marketers." (Side note: This is a concept that is also a point of emphasis to Paul Roetzer (@paulroetzer) and PR 20/20 (@PR2020). Read Paul’s article, Hybrid Marketing Professionals: The Next Generation of Talent and downloadEvolution of the Prototype Marketer for his thoughts on the subject.)
As hybrid marketers, the five areas we need to understand are social, content, email marketing, SEO and analytics. Jason argues that while we don't have to be experts in all areas, we need to be able to know how each works and the roles they play in comprehensive content marketing strategies.

Build the Big Rock

The rest of the book is divided into "sides" of an album: Content Marketing, Social and All Together Now. With no lack of band examples, he guides us through some of the bigger content projects he’s created in his career, including the concept, promotion strategy and results.
The most notable concept is his "big rock." A big rock content campaign creates one major piece of gated, or downloadable, content (i.e. ebook, whitepaper, etc.). Then, the “big rock” is broken up into smaller pieces of content (i.e. email, blog, social media posts, etc.) that fuel your content strategy for the next few months. Think of it as a band putting out a new CD and using the hit singles to fuel its sales.
This book is a fun read and very relatable. His successful track record speaks for itself, and the best part is, it's not intimidating. These are real-world lessons that you can apply. So if you love marketing as much as I do, and are a fan of bands like Kiss, Judas Priest and Guns N' Roses, you need to get this book now. What are you waiting for? This one goes up to 11!

Monday, November 16, 2015

3 Outstanding Content Reasons Why I Still Love Facebook

If you’re like me, you spend a lot of time on social media…especially Facebook. Facebook isn’t necessarily my favorite platform, but it’s what the majority of my friends and family use, so I inevitably spend most of my social media time there too.

Among the random posts of vacation photos, food/drink pics, random thoughts on random issues, promotion of people’s latest projects (and I’m including myself in all of the above), there are some posts that I go out of my way to find or pay attention to. These posts stand out to me because they are more about sharing an aspect of my friends’ lives that they’re genuinely passionate about and shows off their creativity and artistry.

Here are 3 content examples I look forward to most and keep me loving Facebook. Not surprisingly, these are three highly creative artists. 

Man Cave Messages by Joe Kalinowski

Man Cave Message with Joe Kalinowski (photo via Joe Kalinowski)
Every Friday morning as I’m getting ready for work, I’ll check Facebook around 6am. Along with the usual mix of random morning posts, there’s one in particular I look forward to from Joe Kalinowski, creative director for Content Marketing Institute. His weekly Man Cave messages offer short, inspirational thoughts and stories based on a word or phrase he chooses.

How did the Man Cave idea come about?
About 5 years ago, I was having a particularly rough day. The stars weren’t aligning for me between work, home and the general business of the day. I walked away from my screen for a few minutes, put in my headphones and the song Soulshine by Gov’t Mule came on. The right song at the right moment put everything into perspective for me and the day just got better. I wanted to share with my friends the inspiration that I found that day, so I just jotted the word “Soul Shine” on a half sheet of paper and took a picture of myself at my desk holding it. The little bit of self-expression felt good, so I followed it up the next week, this time with a few sentences about the word I wrote on my handheld sign.

Where did the name “Man Cave” come from?
My basement doubles as my hangout and my office. It is the landing spot for a ridiculous amount of mementos, sports memorabilia, Star Wars toys and pretty much anything else my better half will not let me proudly display in the confines of the upstairs portion of our home. I am the proud father of two young ladies, so being that my basement is where I hangout the majority of my day, it seemed only fitting that it was deemed “The Man Cave” by the family.

How do you choose your topic each week?
It is so incredibly random. I get a lot of ideas from what’s happening in the world of social media. I also base a lot of my topics around personal events and experiences. A good portion of the folks who see my post are right around my age – children of the 70’s and 80’s. So, I receive a lot of feedback when I do the good old nostalgia posts!

If you’re struggling for a topic, where do you go for inspiration?
My family is a huge source of inspiration for me. If I am really struggling, I go back to the basics where it all started. I disconnect for a while, put in the headphones (maybe go for a jog around the ‘hood) and just let the mind wonder.

What motivates you to keep it running each week?
I was pondering about keeping it going, and one Friday I didn’t post one. Within a few minutes of my normal “post-time”, I received a few messages and emails asking where my Friday post was. That was and still is my motivation. I am unbelievably honored that so many of my friends and family look forward to my silly little ramblings and I thoroughly enjoy the conversations that they get going.

Chuck G – Acoustic Rock by Chuck Greinert

Every few weeks or so, I’ll be on Facebook on a Friday night, and I’ll see the post from my buddy, Chuck Greinert (web developer/designer for MetroHealth), asking for requests. He makes videos of himself playing the requests on an acoustic guitar. The first time I saw it, I was impressed by how good Chuck is on the guitar. I’d only seen him play drums before that (and he’s an awesome drummer). It’s a fun way to watch a mini acoustic concert with a mix of 70’s-80’s rock with some newer stuff mixed in too.  I’ll usually check back on the following Saturday mornings to see if there were any songs that I missed. Check out the video above and his website,

Where did you get the idea to record yourself playing on post it on Facebook?
The idea is basically a reminder to people that I play the guitar. I'm predominantly known as a drummer. However, I'm in the process of putting together a patio/bar act that I can supply in 3 different formats (instrumental, guitar + vocals and guitar + vocals + my homegrown backing tracks). It's a good "reminder" to people that I am still in the process of doing something musical with more to come.

What made you ask for requests?
I know a hundred million songs, but sometimes I get in a rut and wind up playing the same 20 - 30 songs all the time. So asking for requests jogs my memory on the songs I've forgotten. Either that or I wind up trying something new and maybe it sounds good enough to polish and put in the set. It's also just a fun, interactive way to get people's interest when they are feeling a part of it.

When you get a request, what’s your process?
The recording process is one-take, but I allow myself some time to going over the song a couple times, find my key, familiarize myself with the piece then record...because a lot of requests are songs that I may have never tried before.

Ever consider any live playing on apps like Periscope, Meerkat or Google Hangouts?
I have considered doing something "live" but the request portion would be difficult because it would be me noodling around for 10 minutes to show something for like 3 minutes. But I have recently downloaded Periscope and in the past have used LiveStream for my old band (Fabulous Disaster) to broadcast portions of our band practices.

What are your favorite songs to play?
I'm not a fantastic guitarist or an over-the-top singer (as you well know). But my strength comes in combining those two facets and playing and singing on a song to where it turns into performance. My favorite songs to play acoustically are Photograph by Def Leppard, Let It Be by The Beatles and Are You Gonna Be My Girl? by Jet. I'm also working on a Hendrix mash-up of Little Wing, Hey Joe and Purple Haze.

Rock’N Roll Cocktail by Jason Miller

Jason Miller with KISS (photo via Jason Miller)
Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a big rock music guy. I love going to concerts. I also like to mix in some rock music comparisons with the marketing I do. This is what instantly drew me to Jason Miller, senior manager of content marketing at LinkedIn and author of Welcome to the Funnel: Proven Tactics to Turn Your Social Media and Content Marketing Up to 11 (see my review here). He worked for Sony Music earlier in his career and is well known for infusing rock references into his content.

I was following him for his marketing insight when I started to notice posts with concert photos. I then realized that they were photos he had taken. These were incredible photos too (see the samples above that happen to be my favorites)! You can see all of his photos at

My favorite story about his photography was from a couple of months ago. He was shooting Hall and Oates, when right before the show, they added a few seats for a VIP. The VIP turned out to be none other than Sammy Hagar!

How did you get interested in photography and shooting concerts?

Foo Fighters (photo via Jason Miller/
That’s a good question. I’ve actually never been interested in photography at all to be honest. I was writing for a music blog purely for fun and to keep my connection to the music biz. Motley Crue’s publicist reached out to me asking if I was interested in reviewing the show here in San Francisco back in 2012. I said “of course” and he mentioned he would leave a photo pass for me and that I could photograph the first three songs of the band’s set. I had never picked up a camera in my life, but that night I went out and bought a Nikon and stayed up trying to figure out how to use it. My photos turned out so bad and I was so upset that I screwed up such a cool opportunity with one of my all time favorite bands, that I vowed to master low light photography. Several hundred show later, I think I figured it out.

Alice Cooper (photo via Jason Miller/
Which has been your favorite?
There have been so many. I’ve been VERY fortunate to photograph some legends as well as some incredible new bands. If I had to pick my favorite shoots, one would certainly be KISS. Other than that, Lamb of God, Cheap Trick, Roger Waters, AC/DC, Faith No More, Foo Fighters, Courtney Love, I could go on for a while, but those are my top favorites.

Any bands you’re dying to shoot that you haven’t yet?
Yes! There are a few. Muse, The Who, Motorhead, Metallica, Spoon, and I think I would like to photograph a European Metal festival at some point. Maybe next year.

I’ve heard you mention a book coming out of your photography. What’s the status on that?

The book is called Down in Front: A Story from the Back of the Crowd to the Front of the Stage. It’s been in the works for about a year now as I’ve shot over one million photos, I’ve had to narrow them down to less than a hundred of my favorites. I’m trying to tell a bit of a story with them as well. I’m looking at releasing it in January or February.

Slash and Myles Kennedy (photo via Jason Miller/
While I'm impressed by these posts and the abilities of these three, I'm happy to call them friends as well. Thanks for your posts and please keep it coming!

What posts do you look forward to? What unique content do you seek out on Facebook? Tell us in the comments below. If you like this post, please share it with your friends. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Partying in the Flats in Cleveland with Candlebox - is it 2015 or 1995?

This weekend I did something I haven’t done in 20 years or so. I partied two straight nights in the Flats in Cleveland! Add in that Saturday night included a Candlebox concert and it was 1995 all over again.

I didn’t planning on writing a post about my weekend, but there were two reasons that I had to. First, with Maize, Cleveland Scene (@Cleveland_Scene) brought in Candlebox (@Candlebox) to give a free show. We don’t get opportunities like that often (especially given that we’re the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame City), so I want to thank them and promote it as much as possible. Second, Kevin Martin (@IMKM), Candlebox’s lead singer, was so gracious and appreciative of the crowd that was there, I had to share it.

Maize: Scene’s Inaugural Fall Festival

Scene put on this festival to celebrate the revival of the Flats. Highlighting the new restaurants and shops in the Flats would have been reason enough to attend. Add the bands, including the Spazmatics and Candlebox and now you’ve got a party! They got a nice crowd, and judging by the booths running out of drinks, likely a bit more than they anticipated.

Crop Rocks
It was a great opportunity to experience some of the new restaurants in the Flats. Over the course of the weekend, I went to Punch Bowl Social Club, Beer Head, Crop Rocks, Crop Sticks and Alley Cat Oyster Bar. They were all had great food and drinks and were fun. It’s a far cry from The Basement, Beach Club and Fagan’s from yesterday…although on both nights were out by 11pm, so maybe it gets crazy later…lol.

I was most appreciative that they brought in a true rock band in Candlebox. These are the types of shows that should happen more often in Cleveland. They don’t even need to be free, but we need to get more rock bands to come to Cleveland. So, thank you Scene, for a great choice in bands.

It was a fun event, not without a few hiccups. Candlebox went on stage an hour later than scheduled (they brought an opener that Scene didn’t know about). By that time, there were no more booths open for drinks or food. And, once the sun went down, it was downright cold. Again, it’s November in Cleveland. All in all though, these are things they’ll learn from for next year and it didn’t take much away from my experience.


Candlebox was the main reason we went to the event. I’d seen them at least three times back in their heyday in the 90’s. Even though lead singer Kevin Martin is the only original member still in the band, I was looking forward to seeing the show.

To say that Kevin Martin is a class act is an understatement. By the time they went on the outdoor stage, the temperature was in the 40’s (colder with the strong wind) and the crowd had dwindle to around 150-200 people. Add to that multiple audio issues with the vocals for the first three songs. I wouldn’t have been surprised at all had they played five or six songs and got out of here as fast as they could. But despite all that, they ripped through a 13-song set and Martin was as appreciative of a crowd as I’ve seen any audience. Throughout the show, he was reaching out to shake hands and bantering in between songs.

Their set list was heavy on their debut album (that’s a good thing!) and also included a cover of Pearl Jam’s Alive, their drummer, Dave Krusen, was Pearl Jam’s original drummer. Martin’s voice sounded as good as it ever has. I had forgotten how good they were live and this show brought me right back to the 90’s.

After the final song, Martin said, “See you next year!” and I hope they do come back. I’ll be there.  Martin walked off the side of stage where there were no barriers and took photos with the crowd. I can’t wait for next year’s Maize Fall Festival! Thanks again, Scene!

What are your favorite memories for the Flats from the 80’s and 90’s or from a Candlebox concert? Tell us in the comments below. Thanks for reading and please share it with a friend.

Candlebox Set List

Don’t You
No Lights
She Come Over Me
Sweet Summertime
Best Friend
Cover Me
Go Your Own Way (Fleetwood Mac cover)
Alive (Pearl Jam cover)
Far Behind

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Content Inc.: How to be Successful by Growing Your Audience First

Note: This post originally appeared on the PR 20/20 blog

I remember a session at Content Marketing World 2014 where Buddy Scalera (@MarketingBuddy) was interviewing Joe Pulizzi (@JoePulizzi). Pulizzi was telling us how he made the decision to leave his job and start his own company. He explained his thought process, what challenges he faced, what was important to him and how that led to the creation of Content Marketing Institute.
It was one of the best sessions of the conference, until one attendee mentioned that she wasn’t learning what she anticipated based on the title of the session, How to Create a Dominant Media Brand. So, Pulizzi switched to listing out the specific steps to build your brand.
Luckily for those that enjoyed his personal story (and understood how it related to building his brand), he’s continued to share it in blog posts, podcasts, and now in his brand new book, Content Inc, appropriately released in time for Content Marketing World 2015.
With Content Inc.Pulizzi lays out the steps to create a successful business by using content to build your audience, before you even have a product. While the book offers many examples of entrepreneurs that have used this approach, the process is easily transferable to corporations that are looking to build and implement a content strategy.


Start by Documenting Your Goals

Before going over the Content Inc. approach, Pulizzi reminds us that we must first document our goals and review them regularly. This practice has been preached consistently for well over a year now, as the annual research done by CMI and MarketingProfs (@marketingprofs) consistently shows that the most successful content marketers perform these two actions.
Documenting your goals makes them real. Pulizzi quoted Doug Kessler (@dougkessler) at CMWorld 2015, “If you don’t write it down, it doesn’t exist.” Reviewing them regularly keeps you focused on achieving what you set out to do.

Building Your Audience

How can you start a company with no product or service? That seems like a logical question, but so is “How can you create a successful product or service if you don’t know what your customers need?”
Build your audience by focusing on their pain points. Use this information to form the solution that only you can offer. You’ll be able to create the product they need if you understand your customers better than anyone else.
Start by building one audience. Become the trusted expert to solve their problems. Once you’re successful with this group, then expand to another audience and repeat. 

6 Steps to the Content Inc. Approach

Pulizzi spends the majority of the book describing the six steps to the Content Inc. approach:
  1. joe_contentThe Sweet Spot:  This is the subject matter in which you have an abundance of knowledge or skill, as well as passion. The knowledge gives us expertise, while the passion drives us to be successful.
  2. The Content TiltThe content tilt is how you differentiate your content from your competitors. I love the example of Claus Pilgaard. He discusses the taste of chili pepper varieties while everyone else is talking about the heat.
  3. Building the Base: Choose one platform and become the industry leader on that channel before expanding to other channels. It may take years, but the best media brands all started with one channel that they dominated. Your best bet is to choose a channel that you own.
  4. Harvesting Audience: Your goal is always to grow an audience. Ideally, you want to build your email audience because that becomes an asset that you own. Social media audiences are good, but the platforms technically own those lists and can restrict your access at any time.
  5. Diversification: This is when your audience is growing and you’re ready to expand into new channels. Pulizzi describes the “three and three model” that he finds most successful. The first “three” are for building a personal brand: a blog, a book and speaking. The second “three” are for business: digital, print and in-person events.
  6. Monetization: This might just be the holy grail of the process. Now that you’ve established your expertise and built your audience, you can charge for your product or service. Pulizzi offers multiple examples of ways to monetize your content.

This is Not a “Get Rich Quick” Approach

If you’ve been reading Pulizzi’s blogs or listening to his This Old Marketing or Content Inc. podcasts, then you already know that this is not fast approach.  On average, it takes 15-17 months to monetize a content marketing program. You need to have patience and stick to your strategy, especially when it’s taking longer than you want to prove your success.
For those of you that are applying this strategy in a corporation, you’ll have to fight even harder when your CEO grows impatient and wants to change up the program to spur results … or end it all together. This is one reason that you review your documented strategy regularly. It will help keep you focused, and remind you to stay the course toward your end goal.

Who Should Read Content Inc.?

Just like Epic Content MarketingContent Inc. is a must-read for anyone looking to implement a content marketing strategy and/or needs to build an audience. Pulizzi presents the six steps in a way that is manageable, while offering examples and exercises to get you started. I don’t want to call it “easy” because that would be misleading, but this is about as straightforward as you can get for building a business or a new business approach.
With Content Inc., Pulizzi has both explained how and why he created CMI, and laid out the steps in which to build a successful business as neatly as can be done.
What books do you find inspiring and helpful? Tell us in the comments below. Thanks for reading. If you like this post, please share it with your friends.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Heavy Metal Passion Beats in the Heart of Content Marketing

If you’re into rock and heavy metal concerts, the following excerpt will make total sense to you. If not, keep reading. It’ll all make sense soon.

As I wiped the dirty sweat and blood from my eyes and brow, I gazed around at the rest of the moshers in the pit with whom I’d shared the last forty-five minutes of physical chaos, forever bonding with those who also beamed with pride and sonic satisfaction….We looked like we had emerged from the trenches of a desert war, having just survived a fury of colliding bodies and flailing limbs, animated by the sounds of Black Label Society. Our union was much more than that of ordinary fans. We were Berserkers.
-       Eric Hendrikx, “Bringing Metal to the Children”

Ok, that may scare some of you (not guys like Jason Miller, Mike Hale and Mael Roth!) and it may be a bit of an extreme vision, but I use it to illustrate the passion of heavy metal fans. Zakk Wyle and Black Label Society have their Berserkers. Aerosmith has their Blue Army, Kiss’s Kiss Army, Sammy Hagar’s Redheads, Grateful Dead’s Deadheads, Jimmy Buffet’s Parrotheads … we like our armies and heads.

I’ve met many people at concerts and standing in line for hours to get tickets. (Remember camping out overnight to get concert tickets?) Complete strangers with diverse backgrounds, we’d talk for hours to pass the time. The heavy metal community is accepting of all. In fact, a recent study by the International Society of Self and Identity shows that those who were heavy metal fans growing up “were significantly happier in their youth and better adjusted currently than either middle-aged or current college age youth comparison groups.” This is due to the sense of being included in the heavy metal community and having people who understand you and what you’re going through growing up.

Where am I going with this? Rock stars have fans…not exactly a news flash. Well, think about it without the reference to heavy metal. Does it sound familiar? Especially if you were at Content Marketing World, it should. The content marketing community is very similar to the heavy metal community. Both are incredibly strong and supportive groups. Here’s why:
  • We are the outcasts and rebels: Heavy metal fans have always had the stereotype of being the outcasts who rebel against authority. There’s an air of danger, evil and trouble. We don’t fall in line with the accepted norms. In most cases, these perceptions were based on face value without taking the time to understand us or the music.

    In content marketing, we’re also looked at as the outcasts of the marketing industry who cause trouble with different thinking. “Authority” figures don’t understand content marketing, so they dismiss it without actually learning how it might just benefit them. It doesn’t fall in line with traditional marketing tactics, so it’s ignored or barely supported.

  • We share a bond with others in our community: Heavy metal fans share a bond through the love of the music. We’ll strike up conversations easily because we can relate to the music. We share different stories about our favorite bands, concerts we’ve been through, and even life experiences where music played a role.

    Content marketers share the same type of bond for our love of content marketing. We might call it “networking”, but we can quickly find commonality in our struggle to implement content marketing and issues we deal with. We share stories of strategies that worked for us, how we try to influence our bosses and executive teams, and genuinely try to help each other succeed.

  • We spread our message to anyone who will listen: There’s nothing heavy metal fans like better than to turn someone on to a band they love. Music is meant to be shared. These days, it’s easier with social media and digital music. Years ago, you’d vote for your favorite video on MTV (remember when they showed videos?) and record tapes for your friends to check out a new band.

    As content marketers, we share articles and blog posts. We tell everyone we can about our favorite books and podcasts. We support thought leaders by sharing their content and by creating content based on their thoughts.

  • We flock to see them in person: When we hear our favorite band is playing in our town, we rush to get tickets. For those two hours or so, you’re locked into the band. It always ends before you want it to, as you know they won’t be back for at least a year, maybe two, maybe never (catch every farewell tour you can).

    Most of us are only able to go to one marketing conference per year. We find the one that we think is the best (in my case, Content Marketing World here in Cleveland!). I look at conference more like festivals because you get a collection of the best speakers at one time in one place. Think of Content Marketing World as Woodstock, only they’re able to do it bigger and better every year. Instead of Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Janis Joplin and Joe Cocker, we have Joe Pulizzi, Jay Baer, Ann Handley and Scott Stratten. As a result, people come to Cleveland from all over…more than 50 countries this year!
  • We dress for the occasion: Heavy metal shows are a sea of jeans (how Aerosmith’s Blue Army got its name), rock T-shirts, and maybe a little leather. Even now that many of us our older (a little…), we have our concert gear.

    For Content Marketing World, there’s just one word: orange. Thanks to Joe Pulizzi’s love of all things orange, we all don our favorite orange items…all the way down to our shoes in some cases. I always wonder what the average Clevelander thinks when they see so many people wearing orange for 2-3 days in September, especially when it doesn’t say “Cleveland Browns” on it anywhere.
Well, there it is. We, content marketers, are our own community. An incredibly strong, supportive fraternity that is doing great things. One worthy of a name. The Orange Army? That seems a little too easy. CM Heads? It rhymes…kind of. What do you think? We need something that will stick and, just like the term “content marketing,” will define and unify who we are! I can’t wait to hear your suggestions! Tell us below.

Related Articles:
3 Foo Fighters Experiences that Marketers Should Strive For
Marketing and Branding the Sammy Hagar Way
When Rock Music and Content Marketing Collide
What Can Keith Richards Teach You About Marketing Influencers?

Image Sources: BenThereDoneThath via Flickr (license CC 2.0)
Keami Hepburn via Flickr (license CC 2.0)
SunriserJay via Flickr (license CC 2.0)