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Talking Content Marketing – Interview With Brian Clark

Mitch Joel_the id group_content marketingThe ‘Talking Content Marketing‘ journey continues with an interview with Brian Clark.

Brian is the founder and CEO of Copyblogger Media, and provide tools and training that help people build audiences that build their businesses.

Our interview looks at the what businesses need to focus on to build an audience and his discomfort with the word ‘marketing.’

Six questions, six answers, lets sit down with that cup of coffee…

What was the principal behind Copyblogger in 2006 and the role it now plays in 2014?

Initially, the goal was twofold: One, I wanted to convince those interested in commercial blogging to sell something other than advertising. Two, given that I had previously used what we now call content marketing to build a law practice and two real estate brokerages, it wasn’t about “making money online,” it was how modern marketing worked, period.

Now that content marketing has become a more mainstream thing, we’re more about the “how” than the “why,” although, “how” was always important. Mostly we’re trying to get across the point that we’re all publishers and media producers now, then you need to take a professional media approach to the content you create.

Has the creation and growth of your audience been built on the principals of being committed? being present? being disciplined? caring for an audience?

Caring, first and foremost. Trying every way you can think of to get across the same fundamentals so as to help the most amount of people possible. I think commitment, discipline, and being present all flow from giving enough of a damn in the first place.

Is the success of a content mindset down to a business understanding their marketplace and the role they serve within it?

I think it comes down to understanding the prospect’s problems and desires, and playing a role beyond what’s expected of them. No one expects a Realtor to produce a digital magazine, or a local wine shop to have a YouTube show, but that’s what works. Media over old-style marketing.

Are too many companies focused on what content they think their audience should be consuming, rather than finding their own voice?

Unfortunately, I think many companies are focused on neither. On one hand, their “content” doubles as poor press release material, and yet their voice is generic and watered-down to the point of dreariness. Great content is focused on the problems and desires of the prospect — what do they need to know to do business with you? And that same content goes from dry information to engaging media when there’s personality and point of view — so that those you resonate with love you, as opposed to everyone being bored.

You’ve highlighted (in the New Rainmaker article in January) your discomfort with the word ‘marketing’ and real focus on ‘media’. Is this the new mindset for businesses to differentiate?

You know, I believe so. We live in a world of undifferentiated products and services. Anything can be manufactured in China, any service or business model replicated. And even when we think we have a winning difference in a feature, studies show that your prospects don’t see the difference.

So how do we stand out? How do we provide an experience that’s unique? It’s in the marketing that we do, which in the realm of content means the media we produce. And that’s why every business needs to embrace their own human perspective and unique positioning. You’re never going to appeal to everyone, so don’t try. But if you appeal strongly to some who happily spread the word, you’ll be way ahead of your competition.

Chris Brogan mentioned in a recent Vocus Webinar last week that his blog is for Google, his newsletter is for humans. Do you agree of the split between writing for people and robots?

In the sense that publicly available content is crawlable and indexable by search engines and newsletter content often isn’t, yes. Otherwise, last time I checked, it’s humans who use search engines, not robots.

You’re always writing for people. Artful SEO copy has always been undetectable as “optimized,” and with the advent of the Hummingbird update and natural language queries, things are even more easily congruent. You still have to tweak your on-page copy to help Google out, but if you understand the language of your audience in the first place, you should be pretty close on your first draft.


Huge thanks to Brian for his time and response. To take a trip into the space that Brian occupies:

Brian on Twitter: click here

Copyblogger: click here 

New Rainmaker (you’ll love this): click here

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