If so, you’ll likely come up with an idea for a product or service and then create a business plan detailing how you intend to bring it to market.
Sounds like a winning way to go, right?
Well, while that route is well trod, it’s not necessarily your truest path to success.
The odds are long that you’ll accomplish your goal. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, most new businesses fail within their first five years.
There has to be a better way. If you follow the advice of Joe Pulizzi, a man who built a multi-million dollar business from scratch, that way is called Content Inc.
First things first: Build an audience
The Content Inc. method boils down to a basic concept: Don’t start off by selling a new product or service. Instead, your first step is to build an avid following by offering valuable and useful content in an area where you have knowledge and expertise. You can deliver the content in varied formats including blog, video, podcast, ebook and newsletter. Whatever mode you choose, content and audience must come first.
Developing a faithful following gives you credibility, as well as insight into what product or service makes the most sense for you to sell.
This audience-centric content-first approach is a winning formula for many savvy start-ups. It can work for you too, if you follow the steps detailed in Pulizzi’s latest book, Content, Inc.: How Entrepreneurs Use Content to Build Massive Audiences and Create Radically Successful Businesses.
A how-to-do-it guide from a guy who done it
Founder of the Content Marketing Institute, Pulizzi walks the talk. Content marketing is red-hot these days, but when Pulizzi started his business the term was barely a blip on the Google search engine.
CMI is now a multi-million dollar enterprise. Pulizzi built his empire using the Content Inc. method and his book is a how-to primer on how you too can build a business by following his strategy for success.
Six steps to success
The Content Inc. method breaks down into six phases. Here’s the short skinny:
The sweet spot: The area of focus for your content and business
Content tilt: Your point of differentiation
Building a base: Choose a primary channel to promote your content
Harvesting audience: Build a loyal audience of subscribers via email and other channels
Diversification: Leverage your audience and expand your reach via additional content platforms
Monetization: Generate revenue
The book delves deep to offer a full understanding of all that’s involved. The how and why of each step is explained in meticulous detail to enable to you to truly envision how it all works.
An insiders view
Pulizzi shares his own experiences — both the good and the bad. He’s incredibly generous in going behind the curtain of CMI, sharing its internal policies, guidelines, strategies, team structure and more.
Other real-world examples tell the stories of start-ups with a range of sweet spots including beauty products, urban chicken farming, quilting, photography, video games, home design and social media marketing. Collectively these case studies show how the Content Inc. model can work for many types of businesses.
Practical actionable insights
Each chapter provides copious tips on how to keep your content train running. Worksheets and action items help you plot a personal plan.
A wellspring inspiration, Pulizzi provides persistent encouragement. Yet he makes no pretensions about this being a get-rich-quick scheme. Content Inc. presents a nose-to-the-grindstone method that requires hard work to your turn your passion into a business.
This is as a complete guide as any you’ll find on how to create a successful business built on the foundation of content marketing. It’s also a shining example of Content Inc. in action. As Pulizzi notes, “For all four of my books, including this one, a lot of the material, ideas, and content originated from existing blog posts.”
For start-ups and more
Content Inc. is targeted to start-ups and stalled businesses. However, even if you’ve got a business that’s doing OK, you can still glean ideas on how to achieve even greater success through content marketing.
Now, I don’t believe you’re automatically doomed to fail if you take the traditional route for starting a business. The model has its merits. But it’s not only way to go, and Content Inc. offers a viable alternative, especially if you have limited financial resources.