I recently purchased Joe Pulizzi’s book, Epic Content Marketing: How to Tell a Different Story, Break Through the Clutter, and Win More Customers By Marketing Less.
Pulizzi is the founder of the Content Marketing Institute, the leading content marketing educational resource for enterprise brands. His site, is an invaluable resource for any business looking to grow their content marketing efforts.
I haven’t yet read the first chapter but the forward of this book is quite simply the best I’ve read in awhile. It could be that my mind is so focused on content marketing now that I see it through that particular lens.
However, I feel that it is an excellent example of the tone you want to aim toward when developing your own content marketing.
Let’s break it down. First, a snippet of the Forward:
Have you heard of SAP? If you are a business professional, then you probably have heard of us. You might know that we are German-based. Maybe you even know that we sell business software that powers the financial and accounting systems of large companies. But we are much more than a German-based software company. And we are much less known to the average consumer. I bet you didn’t know that 80 percent of our customers are actually small or medium-sized businesses. Our software powers 74 percent of the world’s transaction revenue and 97 percent of the 1.8 million text messages sent every day across the globe.
Our customers distribute 78 percent of the world’s food supply, 76 percent of the world’s health and beauty products, 82 percent of the coffee and tea we drink each day, 79 percent of the chocolate, and 77 percent of the beer we drink. As you can see from the illustrative examples above, our communications challenge is solved through stories. Stories not about what we sell but stories that explain what we do for our customers. We believe that the power of stories lies in making the reader and the consumer part of the story. We believe in Epic Content Marketing.
– Pulizzi, Joe (2013-09-07). Epic Content Marketing: How to Tell a Different Story, Break through the Clutter, and Win More Customers by Marketing Less . McGraw-Hill. Kindle Edition.
A Friendlier Way
Notice how many times the writer (in this case, Michael Brenner, Vice President of Marketing and Content Strategy for SAP), uses the word “you.”
It sets the tone right off the bat. He also led with an honest question. Some businesses start their copy with “This is who we are…” and then immediately talk about themselves. But in this forward, Brenner started with “Have you heard of SAP?”
This doesn’t assume the reader has heard of them before launching into their accomplishments. It’s the equivalent of a person coming to you at a networking event and asking who you are and then when you return the gesture, begins by saying, “Well, I’m not sure if you’re familiar with us…”
It shows humility and it’s irresistible when it comes to making a connection.
Information is Power
The other reason I like the forward so much is because it gives specific numbers regarding the reach of SAP. It doesn’t just mention global brand names. Instead, it tells a story about how SAP’s clients influence the world.
Brenner understands that by telling such stories, a prospect (in this case, the reader of the book) has a better picture of their expertise. Anyone who attracts clients who are responsible for 78% of the world’s food supply obviously knows a thing or two about getting things done.
The world hungers for honesty, especially from marketers. People are tired of the hype and can check facts and stories faster than ever with a few clicks of the mouse.
This forward to a book struck me as being a good example of how a company can be honest and demonstrate humility. It makes the company sound much more appealing and approachable. Few people are attracted to the loud, obnoxious braggart at a party. The same holds true for content marketing.
I’ll be talking more about this book in the future and its ideas, but had to share these thoughts. Usually the forward to a book is something I skip over because many times, it’s an exercise either in irrelevancy or pomposity. But not this time.
This time, the forward was actually a mini-lesson on how to do content marketing right.