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'Elevate Others to Grow Your Business [Book Review of Michael Stelzner's ' from Kim Gusta Marketing's blog

Elevate Others to Grow Your Business [Book Review of Michael Stelzner's

Category:  Book Reviews  Content Strategy  Content Marketing  


Elevate Others to Grow Your Business

We’ve got it all wrong about content.

It’s not about selling. It’s about helping.

Michael Stelzner, author of the new book Launch: How to Quickly Propel Your Business Beyond the Competition, says we need to create generous content that helps our audience –without expecting anything in return.

You’re likely thinking “How do I get my VP of Sales to believethat?” Give him (or her) this sobering statistic:  fewer than one in three people trust marketing messages according to Edelman Digital’s annual survey of trust. Ugh.

You could call Mike Stelzner a generosity marketing guru. With little knowledge of social media, he built SocialMediaExaminer.com, the top small business blog in the word according to Technorati, to 80,000 subscribers in 18 months. I watched the meteoric rise of SocialMediaExaminer.com and can attest that Mike knows how to engage readers and keep them coming back for more.

In Launch, Stelzner details the strategies that “launched” SocialMediaExaminer.com’s meteoric growth like a rocket ship. Many of his ideas are applicable to high tech marketing, including his key strategy: the “Elevation Principle.” 

The Elevation Principle formula is:

Great Content + Other People – Marketing Messages = Growth. In other words, helpful content focused on other people, but minus the marketing messages, creates growth. Or “How can we help you?” versus “What can we sell you?”

Here are some key-takeaways from Launch for technology marketers:

Strategically use primary and nuclear fuel. Stelzner defines primary fuel as regularly produced content that meets the needs of your reader base. It includes valuable articles, blog posts, expert interviews, reviews, and more. It gives people a reason to keep coming back to you.

The six types of primary fuel Stelzner finds most effective are: 
• How-to articles
• Expert interviews
• Reviews (book, product, etc.)
• Case studies
• News stories
• Contrarian stories (articles with an opposing view to a popular topic such as “The Dark Side of Desktop Virtualization”)

Nuclear fuel is content with a lasting impact on significant numbers of your ideal reader base. This type of content is more work to create, but has a viral effect in drawing people to you. Nuclear fuel should supplement your primary fuel strategy and should be launched 3-4 times per year.

Examples of nuclear fuel Stelzner finds effective include:
• Research reports based on surveys (I can vouch for this strategy; it’s a great one for generating press and exposure.)
• White papers
• Top 10 contests
• Free online events, such as webcasts, especially those featuring an industry expert

Give away your content. Although it may seem counterintuitive to your VP of Sales, giving away truly valuable content will draw people to you, because you’ll develop relationships. When, and if, the time comes that your audience needs the services or products you offer, they’ll already know, like, and trust you so a purchasing decision is quicker and easier.

Do great things for people outside your business. As Stelzner says, “Give to others – constantly–and your business will quickly grow.”

This is where Launch really shines –  Stelzner gives great ideas on using content to build relationships with industry experts and Fire starters (a.k.a. the REALLY big gurus – think Guy Kawasaki or Seth Godin). The goal is to spotlight them while generating interesting content for your audience - not only do you give experts exposure but you build key relationships. Tactics include interviewing them for your blog, creating a case study of their business, building a webinar series around them, or reviewing their products or services.

“Cage” Your Marketing Messages. It’s a sad truth - our jaded buyers are very good at ignoring us.

To combat this, Stelzner advocates limiting or “caging” promotional marketing messages. SocialMediaExaminer.com, for example, promotes its online summits about half the year and for the other half doesn’t promote anything. While I support this strategy, it would be challenging to convince your CEO that your company should take a hiatus from promotional messages. Perhaps the take-away lesson for corporate marketers is to deliberately soften your promotional messaging and limit it as much as possible while leading with generous, helpful content.

Recommended Reading for Building Your Online Presence

I recommend Launch if you’re looking for lots of practical ideas to increase your online presence. Many are truly innovative and can help propel you past your competition. And Mike’s details on how to implement these ideas are comprehensive and useful.

Read a free sample chapter of Launch and other details about the book. (Note: The Launch website has great content — give it a careful study as you might find good ideas you can utilize.)

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