I invited David to Marketing Smarts to talk about the continued relevance of traditional publishing, books as the ultimate content marketing, and the different types of custom content that work well for brands.
Here are just a few highlights from our conversation:
To create effective content (like the Dummies books), help your audience overcome frustrating challenges (02:22): "[The Dummies series] came about as a protest. It was a protest against people arriving at work one Monday morning and, where there had been a typewriter, there was now a computer. And the computer came with a giant, 800-page manual that was completely impenetrable. So the series was set up as 'we can help you deal with this thing that's just appeared on your desk that's come with awful instruction. We're the ones you need to get you through this problem that you've got.' It started in computing, so DOS for Dummies was the very first book that was ever published. It went from there into business, health, self-help, sports, all areas of technology, to the extremely broad content brand we are today."
Make your content "a necessity" for your audience (even if some necessities are more necessary than others) (03:11): "We like to think that just about everything that we publish is solving a problem for somebody, so some things might be a work necessity, some things might be a pleasure necessity. But even something like golf... Nobody could argue that you have to play golf; it's not a necessity. However, if you're into golf, it's probably a necessity to figure out the rules and correct that swing, so everything that we do is born out of necessity and trying to fix somebody else's problem."
You can deliver complex, B2B content in a fun, simple way (15:09): "[Dummies works] with organizations to help them to engage with their authors in a way that their audiences or potential audiences understand. That is the Dummies way of communicating. I am going to make this message that might be difficult, complicated, or hard ... easy and straightforward by communicating with you under the Dummies brand. Content is delivered in ways that are very chunked and easy to digest. A little bit of fun. Definitely some jokes in there. A little bit lighthearted. Companies have worked with us to use the Dummies brand to deliver their content in a variety of ways. The main one is through books and e-books, and they tend to use the e-books as part of a wider content campaign. Print books they often use at events or product launches to bring people in and then deliver that initial piece of information about 'what is this product and why is it right for you?'"
David and I talked about much more, so be sure to listen to the entire show, which you can do above, or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode!
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Show opener music credit: Noam Weinstein.
David Palmer, marketing director at Wiley, where he oversees Dummies B2B and the For Dummies, Business, and Education product lines for Wiley's Professional Development division. Follow the Dummies series on Twitter.