Zappos is FULL of Content

Everyone out there has heard the Zappos story by now and it is one that we have always loved since they practice what we preach.

Last week, I was in Las Vegas to speak at Blogworld Expo and several of us took a side trip over to Zappos for one of their famous tours. The long and short of it is that it lives up to the hype and I’m so glad that I got to experience it first hand to see that everything you’ve read is 100% true.

I wanted to share some of the simple things related to content that caught my eye while on the tour.

This is the Zappos Blog Bus and the team that manage the Zappos family of blogs sit here. Just like every other employee we encountered, they were overly friendly and having a great time doing what they do. How can you not have fun when your cubicles have been transformed into a VW Bus?

Zappos Tour - Blog Bus

I wish I had a picture of my face as we turned a corner and our guide said “and this is where our Content Team sits.” As you can see they break them out into Coordinators and Detailers and even have a digital picture frame that showcases all kinds of content that they make. Again, it isn’t about having the slickest and prettiest content. It is about having content that matters to you and the company!

Zappos Tour - Content Department

Finally, with every single person that goes through the tour they make sure that you leave feeling like royalty. For the price of a simple point and shoot camera and some props they take a photo of you and post it to the web for everyone to see. This is not only fun, but it is smart because of course everyone is going to go back out and look for their photo and share it with the world just like I’m doing here.

Content is one of those things that must become an integrated part of your company philosophy. It isn’t a short term play. It isn’t a long term project. Rather, it is something that you need to make part of day-to-day business activities because the more you make it part of who you are like Zappos has done, the more successful it will be for you.

Thank you Zappos for being such a great host!

Author Crack Ups

After months locked away in our offices writing the book we finally got out to attend the Inbound Marketing Summit 2010 at Gillette Stadium.

In a moment of stress relieving laughter the very talented Derek Wilmot captured this photo of Ann & C.C.

We thought you’d enjoy it.

Chris Brogan Talks Content

If I didn’t know any better, I would have thought someone slipped a copy of Content Rules to our friend Chris Brogan early based on this video he posted earlier this week.

In the video he is talking about his approach to building new business across his channels and as you watch you’ll notice that a variety of content is at the core of his ecosystem. He discusses his use of his newsletter, webinars and a mix of free and paid content to attract new customers.

Of course, as much as I loved this video, it reminds me of the old Disney animator videos. I kept waiting for him to flip the page back and forth with a dollar sign or something.

Way to go Chris and thanks for confirming what we are trying to tell people.

What Does Storytelling Have to Do with Business?

A few weeks ago I gave a presentation at ExactTarget’s user conference called Content Rules: What Stories, Blogs, Video & More Should Be Doing for You (and Your Clients).

The upshot was how content (like stories, blogs, videos, and so on) should be a cornerstone of any brand’s marketing, and I talked to an audience for the first time about some of the concepts C.C. and I explore further in our book. (Which was cool, by the way.)

The following day, a panel of marketers representing companies of all stripes—from the long-established (Kodak) to the hip upstart (Threadless), and a few in between (Virgin America, Benchmark Brands) offered up their take on trends in marketing and business, like: What’s the role of a marketer in an organization? How have social media and technology altered the evolution of that role? And how do you get your customers (and would-be customers) to engage with your brand and the products you sell?

One of the major themes that emerged there was (surprise!)… Content! And specifically, what stories, blogs, video and more should be doing… Yeah. Like I said.

It was gratifying to hear some of the same themes I talked about the day before reinforced by the CMOs of some pretty smart companies. I’d like to think it was just because they all attended by presentation the previous day (ha!), but the truth is that producing great content is something so many companies are increasingly embracing; I loved the panel’s comments around the idea of “storytelling” as a cornerstone of what they’re doing to market online.

So what does storytelling have to do with business?

“Storytelling” is one of those works that I always find impossibly squishy in a business context. For me, it always conjures up more performance art than industry.

But the idea of storytelling as it applies to business isn’t about spinning a yarn or fairytale. Rather, it’s about how your business (or its products or services) exist in the real world: how people use your products—how they add value to people’s lives, ease their troubles, help shoulder their burdens, and meet their needs. Think in those terms when producing customer stories, case studies, or client narratives—so that people can relate to them. In that way, your content is not about “storytelling,” it’s about telling a true story well. Read the rest of this entry »

Page Proofs Are In

Yesterday started out just like any other day.

I woke up, helped get the kids ready for school and sat on the couch to enjoy some coffee while watching CNN Morning and The Today Show. Once both kids were on the bus, I went to my office and began the work day.

When Roxie (my trusty lab sidekick) started barking, I knew someone was at the door. She loves to announce to the whole house whenever a package is being delivered or a rabbit runs across the front yard. I answered the door and Mr. UPS handed me a package from Wiley. When I opened it up this is what I found.

Page Proofs for Content Rules

If you haven’t written a book before, this is a copy of the page proofs for Content Rules. It is the first time I’ve seen a printed copy of the entire book, as it is currently set up to go to the presses. The reality of this is amazing. To see an actual page count, the copyright notices and the US Library of Congress numbers all in print. This book is really happening.

Someone commented that I look like a child on Christmas morning and to be honest that is a bit how it felt. While the rubber bands might not be multi-colored wrapping paper, as I carefully took them off it did feel like opening the coolest present in the world.

I’ve now got to go through this and correct any final things that need to be changed. After I’m done it will go over to Ann and then back to the publishers so that you all can get your copies on time for the November 30th release date.

We’re getting very excited about this book and would love your help in making it a success. Here are some things you can do to help.

  • Pre-order a copy today from your book seller of choice.
  • Go into your local Barnes & Noble, Borders, Book A Million or other local bookstore and ask them if they will be stocking the book and encourage them to do so.
  • Help us come to your town by finding a sponsor to bring our Book Tour to where you live.
  • Encourage businesses you know to bulk order copies to give to their staff as a holiday gift.
  • Tell others about the book and your excitement for it.

I’ve got to go find a red pen to go through this stack of paper I now have on my desk taunting me. While I’ll never be a happy editor, I can’t wait to dive into this task!

Thank you to everyone for the continuous support and encouragement along the way. Ann and I both greatly appreciate it more than we can ever fully express.

Curry Lunch Inspired Video Update

Can you believe that September is already here? Where did the summer go? We spent most of ours with our computers putting the final touches on the book and we wanted to update everyone on the status of the book with this video update.

After a nice curry lunch we found a bench in the shade and recorded this for you.

Thanks again to David Meerman Scott, author of the hit new book Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead (and several other awesome books), for taking time out of his busy schedule to have lunch with us and talk about marketing for the book.

As we mention in the video, we are putting the final touches on ideas for how to schedule a book tour and yes we would love to come to your town, but we have to figure out how to make that happen. Details will be coming soon.

Until then please pre-order a copy from your preferred online bookstore and we’ll be back shortly with more great content.

Living by the Content Rules: Have Some Fun

One of the key messages of Content Rules is that creating content as a cornerstone of your marketing offers your organization an enormous and unprecedented opportunity. Among them:

To engage directly with customers (or would-be customers)

To communicate with personality, empathy and real emotion

To create value

• And also: To have a little fun

It’s tempting to dismiss that last point, maybe. Who cares if your content is fun? Does fun make the cash register ring? And, anyway, what if you’re a B2B company selling dead-serious stuff? Won’t it undermine your credibility, marginalize your message, and disrespect your products if you don’t approach your marketing with solemn gravity? Read the rest of this entry »

A Quick Update

This week we hit the very big milestone of turning in the completed manuscript so I figured it would be a good time to update everyone and to answer some questions that we’ve been getting asked over and over. Thanks to everyone for all the words of encouragement you’ve been sending lately. We appreciate each and every one of them.

Raising Awareness For The Book

Part of any good content strategy is to insure that you are not the only one creating content around whatever it is that you want to raise awareness for.

What I mean by that, is if the only people creating content about our book is ourselves, then that isn’t very successful. It is always better when people are excited enough to create the content for you in their own voices. This can often scare a brand who is use to the old days when they could control every word and visual about them. That is no longer the case.

So recently when I was having coffee with my friends Mike & Christine from Awareness and they asked if they could film a quick video interview with me about the book I said sure. As you’ll hear, there seems to be a trend of filming on busy streets when it comes to this book. *laugh*

Be sure to read the whole post that goes along with this video and learn more about all the other great content they are sharing on the Awareness Community site.

We are big fans of the team at Awareness and as a special inside scoop, there are rumors that we’ll be doing a webinar with them later this year. Shhh….it is our little secret. *grin*

Home Stretch!

C.C. and I are in the home stretch of finishing the book!

The manuscript is due July 1 July 15 Monday (!) (thank you for your patience, Shannon and Beth!), which means that this little corner of my office is where I’ve been spending all my waking hours lately.

If this photo had audio, you’d be hearing persistent, intermittent knocking on my office door. That would be my family, “Hello in there! When are you coming out?” Good thing it doesn’t; you might be more tempted to answer it than I have been. (Sorry, guys.) (Also, it would be embarrassing for me to have you witness my grouchy response.)

Anyway, I thought you’d enjoy the annotated (“Ann-otated?”) version of my writing space:

A few notes:

  • “Critical reminders from DM Scott” are Post-It notes from the first conversation I had with David about this book, last January. He said, “Write for rock bands, churches, B2B, B2C, nonprofits, entrepreneurs, consultants, individuals, and so on. Don’t limit yourself to the world you know best.” So we haven’t. Read the rest of this entry »