Not many marketers can claim as many writing credits as Erik Deckers: author, playwright, humor columnist, radio theater writer, blogger, and content marketer, to name a few...
Owner and president of Pro Blog Service, a content marketing agency in Indianapolis, Erik is a sought-after speaker on blogging, social media, personal branding, and crisis communication. He also co-wrote No Bullsh*t Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing and The Owned Media Doctrine.
I invited Erik to Marketing Smarts to discuss lessons that content marketers can take from novelists, the role video plays in content marketing and why writing is still the cornerstone of your promotional efforts. Erik also gives me the scoop on his forthcoming book, Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself (third edition).
Here are just a few highlights from our conversation:
Don't just create video content—create good video content for situations where text isn't enough to get your point across (10:36): "My big complaint about video is the fact that I can read 3-4 times faster than a normal person can speak. We all can (it's not just me.) We speak at a rate of 100-150 words a minute, and most people read 300-500 words a minute, so if you speak a three-minute video, I could read that in a minute, so it's going to be more efficient.
"A lot of people are creating that talking-head video of them just staring at their phone speaking for 3 minutes or 5 minutes—or, worse, 10 minutes—instead of just writing it down. I think it takes more time to write it, but I think the audience member can get through it. So if we could get away from that kind of video, we could get into more of that demonstration video, that explainer video that shows how to do things.
"For example, I changed the A/C filter in my car by watching a video on it. It was a 10-minute video, but I would not have understood it just by reading the article, I needed that visual element to it. That's where video really becomes important. It's a visual element to support what's being said in an article or a speech, rather than just the person giving the speech."
To enhance your content marketing, you have to know your "MacGuffin" (20:34): "[It] comes back to that novel-writing technique.... Things like how to use story structure in your articles, especially case studies. Things like the Hero's Journey and the Freytag Pyramid and the Fichtean Curve. All of these different story structures that playwrights and novelists rely on. There are ways to incorporate that type of structure into content marketing work.
"Or to identify a 'through line,' which is sort of that running theme that runs through an entire story or an entire series of stories. Or learn what a MacGuffin is—the object that the people in the movie care about that the audience does not care about, like the Death Star plans or The One Ring or the Maltese Falcon.... The One Ring could be a ham sandwich for all we care as viewers, it just has to be thrown into the fire whatever it is. Companies have MacGuffins. I have one client that makes high-end travel luggage, and that's the Macguffin because our readers don't really care about luggage, they care about being able to travel with the luggage, so all of our articles are about business travel, how to do it quickly and easily and efficiently and within budget.... So the luggage is the MacGuffin."
Erik 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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Music credit: Noam Weinstein.
Erik Deckers, owner and president of Pro Blog Service and author of the several books, including his latest book