These may seem obvious and common sense, but all to often the obvious and common sense are missing in action. Following the MAP IT checklist eliminates a lot of guesswork and has the great advantage of helping to distinguish company assets that may have been overlooked.
What vertical markets is your client targeting — retail, healthcare, finance, insurance, non-profit, etc.?
Does your client currently have content marketing assets such as white papers, video, infographics, case studies or native ads? If not, can we help them create and distribute assets?
What products will the client be focusing on during the current budget cycle? Who are the product managers? Who controls budget? What information can the client share on these products?
Key initiatives, goals, new product releases, key business news, budget focus.
Who is the desired target of your client’s marketing message — C-level management, marketing, IT, HR? Do we have access to those titles within the vertical markets we serve?
To misquote Mark Twain “The reports of the death of music have been greatly exaggerated.”
For 20 years – long before the iPod came along – there has been a meme circulating on the Internet that ‘music is dead’. Yet music is not just surviving – it is thriving.
• True – HOW we listen to and absorb music has radically changed.
• True – HOW artists make money out of their music has radically changed.
• True – the music INDUSTRY is dead – but that’s not a bad thing … they got in the way.
• True – if you don’t pay attention, you will assume that music has hit a low because your music sources will be defined by the ‘bubble’ of ‘what you like’ or ‘what you hear through radio and TV stations owned by corporations’. Oh, and what you hear through websites – increasingly owned by those same corporations.
But … the fact is that we are living in a golden age of massive creativity with people creating and publishing their work directly to their audience. Music of all genres is cutting through the clutter to be listened and claimed. But we – the audience – have to work harder to find it. And we, the audience, have to recognize that to create something like music takes someone’s time, creativity and skill, and it cannot be free.
Now here’s an exercise: Let’s replace ‘music’ in those statements above with publishing equivalents. True – HOW we listen to and absorb news has radically changed. True – HOW writers make money out of their writings and opinion has radically changed. True– … well, you get the idea. And – just like music – if you are paying attention, there is a plethora of solid news, opinions, and columns on all kinds of topics imaginable to be found by the discerning reader.
Publishing is not dead – it is just redefining itself. But ‘Big Publishing’ for the most part is behaving like ‘Big Music.’ Both are attempting to hang on to the model that they know and love because it created so much money for them – not necessarily the creators. ‘Big Music’ continues to drive shows such as ‘The X Factor’, ‘American Idol’ and ‘The Voice’ – all essentially seeking to keep ‘Big Music’ in control. And the audience laps it up.
Big Publishing, Big Mistakes? Looking into the publishing camp, the story is not that different. Publishers are experimenting with pay-walls to ensure their content is not ‘given away’, cluttering their websites with adverts to help pay for their empires and a host of other tricks that simply make readers go away. This because they seem to confuse what theythink they are about with what we think they are about. But that’s another subject.
I am a keen follower of Ben Thompson of Stratechery fame and one of his recent blog posts, Publishers and the Smiling Curve, prompted my own thoughts relating to how publishers’ current business models are too often positioned at the bottom of the value chain. Switching the power from a broadcast/blitz/blast communication style of the traditional media industry to a more considered, engaged, conversational style that embraces dialog that consumers prefer, is where publishers can drive value at the edges. But that is hard.
Ben has since followed up with another blog post surmising that there are two prime business models on the Internet.
1. You can try to make a little money from a lot of people.
2. You can try to make a lot of money from a few people.
Bottom line … Publishers have to think differently about their business and their relationships with their audiences. Connected customers are powering a seismic shift in business models and as long as traditional media operates in a linear model of value creation acting like gatekeepers they will be left behind by networks that connect the right content to the right user.
Which brings me to ‘Niche Publishing’. Any business that wants to pursue ‘true differentiation’ needs to establish a product that, in the mind of the consumer, is markedly and undeniably different. Niches don’t scale; they go deep. ‘All you can eat’ strategies are ultimately suited for content that is broadly appealing. For anything with a limited but intensely interested audience, they are nothing but a bad idea. A way to limit your audience and the amount of money to be made.
Niche publishing is growing and profitable. But the question is where does niche publishing go next?
As I often say, the world of the future is not about the brand – it is about us – the customers, the people, the individuals. And as an individual, do I really want to receive lots of different emails, alerts, magazines, newspapers, zines – each one uniquely focused on an interest of mine? Of course not. I am my own system of record. I need to receive communications that are managed, controlled, and orchestrated so that I receive the right content at the right time without overloading me.
Bottom line, ‘Extreme Publishing’ is the future and allows for reliable and consistent content to be sent to me at the right time, to the right place, with the right …. based on my behavior, preferences, device, context … and anything else I (not the publisher) consider to be relevant.
That is what a connected customer communication platform is all about. It is a long journey, but just as Lao Tzu said “every journey starts with a single step”. My question for you is how many steps have you taken?
Be sure to check out NewsCred’s fantastic Power of Visual Storytellingwhite paper is interactive both on web browsers and tablets, where you can click, tap, and swipe your way to become an content marketing maven.
Great examples of content design and marketing from the perspective of the user. Relevance and subscriber delight go hand in hand when content and design serve the reader.
According to KJ Wakefield & L Mangiaforte in a NewsCred blog, with companies globally spending an estimated $135 billion on content marketing in 2014, staying ahead of the curve is essential financially and strategically. To help visualize what content will look and act like in the near future, the authors collected the voices of marketing thought-leaders to tell us what they see for 2015.
There were a lot of digital marketing changes in 2014, as marketers focused on providing valuable content to their consumers, and making it accessible on every platform, including mobile, says the report. Digital marketing predictions for 2015 by “those in the know,” are severely summarized here.
Companies will make content a key component of culture. Rebecca Lieb of the Altimeter Group calls this “developing an enterprise-wide culture of content.” Content creation shouldn’t just be a task for the marketing team, but external and internal communications to get input from all teams. User-generated content won’t only be relegated to the realm of social media.
“Soon, many of the top media sites in the world will be brand-owned,” says Doug Kessler of B2B agency Velocity. As the percentage of media sites owned by brands increases, so too will marketing budgets for content, leading to continuously higher quality
“… indy media that doesn’t take native ads will rise again.” Kessler predicts. Content sites that don’t accept native will eventually strike out, likely gaining enormous followings and alternative ad revenue for themselves in the process
Storytelling will topple other marketing silos, emerging as the ultimate audience-reaching tactic. NewsCred’s Head of Strategy Michael Brenner says, “… content, data and technology will emerge as the only way for brands to reach consumers through storytelling… “
Brands will need to tap into their human nature and tell funny, engaging, and emotional stories if they want to survive, notes Brenner. That’s good news for consumers and content marketers alike, there are fewer things worse than lifeless content.
Daniel Burstein, director of editorial content at MECLABS, says, “… in the same way that marketing automation, email marketing, analytics, software, etc. are all converging into one end-to-end marketing platform (usually in the cloud), companies and content creators will converge as well. More brands will become publishers, more publishers will become marketing agencies, and more marketing agencies will become brands….”
According to Neil Patel, co-founder of KISSmetrics, community is going to be a big focus of marketing in 2015. “…companies are going to realize there is much more value in a community… everyone knows there’s Instagram, Facebook, etc… but not every company is building its own… ”
We’ll see clearer definitions and get a better understanding of social native ads, native display, and custom sponsorships. Tom Channick, head of communications at Sharethrough, says. As open web publishers continue to optimize their mobile websites and apps, these ads will become the primary monetization strategy by year’s end…”
Brands will stop creating stale blog posts and produce richer content experiences instead. According to Hanna Andrzejewska, marketing manager at GetResponse future content will: “…evoke emotions, express deeper empathy for each customer persona, and tell great stories with less emphasis on aggressive selling…”
Mobile-first thinking becomes a priority. According to Andrzejewska, mobile will take the lead. “Considering the fact that over 60% of emails are opened on mobile devices first and conversion rates are still in the single digit percentage ranges, there’s still massive potential for marketers to gain a deeper understanding of the mobile user’s behavior…”
In 2015, companies must fully integrate digital into their entire operation. Murray Newlands, founder of Influence People, says that to keep up: “Having a great digital strategy is no longer something that can happen in isolation. The whole company has to undergo a digital transformation…”
Brands that create content for mobile will be a hit among consumers. According to Steve Farnsworth, chief marketing officer at The Steveology Group, “… 2015 is when marketers start to grasp Flex-Media and its necessity to take advantage of ‘content in your pocket.’ That is, content that goes everywhere the user goes… “
“… Before creating an editorial calendar for your content marketing, analyze who is involved in the buying process of your product, says Farnsworth. What titles, pressures, and job responsibilities do the users, bosses, and influencers that buy your product have? Content marketers are discovering that digital assets designed specifically for those topics are rocket fuel for driving inbound sales leads… ”
Farnsworth also says that “… repurposing existing marketing and corporate communications is usually created by marketers from their point of view, and focuses on what they sell, not on what they know. This is content marketing poison. While repurposing content sounds good, more often it is like using rotted wood to build a boat…”
Entrepreneur and investor John Rampton “… SEO as a title is dying and will be dead in 2015. It will evolve into something bigger and much more important that encompasses everything marketing and analytics… ”
Marketing Speaker and Coach Jay Baer says: “… 2015 will bring decentralized content creation programs with participants across the company (not just marketing), as well as content initiatives that rely on user-generated content in expanded and highly strategic ways. The best source of content in most companies may be your employees and customers… ”
Melissa Breker, co-founder of Content Strategy Inc., says, “… we will see content as an experience. We need to think past silo-based content and use customer journeys to determine how content can create different experiences… across all content touch points… “
In a limitless world of digital goods, powerful search and recommendation engines, near-zero marginal cost of digital production, storage and distribution, niche products shall get much more market relevance. “Selling less of more” is part of what the “Long Tail” theory has been preaching.
Does it apply to the creative industries too? And how? Should digital book publishers reduce attention on blockbusters and increase focus on the Long Tail as the source of the most profitable growth? Is there a space for unlimited growth of niche ebooks?
The critical factor is not supply or demand. It’s relevance and a rewarding experience. Read more.
If you buy e-books from Amazon and want to engage in a bit of digital civil disobedience—by stripping the files’ DRM and making sure that Amazon can’t deny you access—we’re about to show you how. Yes, many parts of the Internet have known about this technique for some time now, but we feel that it bears mentioning again here.
Over the past week, the tech world has been abuzz with news that—surprise, surprise—Amazon can remotely wipe any Kindle, at any time, for effectively any reason. (The company did it before, ironically, with George Orwell’s 1984, back in 2009.)
This week’s case involves a Norwegian woman (Google Translate) named Linn Nygaard. She bought a Kindle in the United Kingdom, took it home to Norway, and bought UK e-books on the Kindle. This week, Amazon suddenly disabled her account, taking away her access to an e-book library of 40 books. That move was reversed (Google Translate) about 24 hours later, with access to her Kindle account restored.
“I have not heard anything from Amazon about this, except that I got a very strange phone [call] earlier from someone with a hidden number,” Nygaard told Norwegian broadcaster NRK. “They claimed that they worked in Amazon.co.uk and would give me a new Kindle, but they would not talk to me about my account.”
Many speculated that because she was buying content licensed for the UK from Norway, Nygaard somehow ran afoul of Amazon’s licensing deals. (For two years, my wife and I regularly bought e-books for our US-bought Amazon Kindle while we were living in Germany—I can’t believe that we just got lucky. More likely, Amazon turns a blind eye to most people who fall into this category.)
Many other websites also lamented that many digital retailers (Amazon, Apple, and plenty of others) are not selling digital goods, but rather license them. It’s a distinction many Ars readers may already understand, but it’s less apparent outside the ranks of the tech-savvy. (After all, those purchase buttons usually say BUY, not BUY A LICENSE.)
Fortunately, though, there’s an easy way to ensure you can avoid the same fate as Nygaard. By downloading a free and open-source e-book management app known as Calibre, and a corresponding plugin that cracks Amazon’s DRM encryption, you can convert any Kindle e-book into an iBook format, or pretty much any other format that you like.
We will offer this caveat, however: it’s quite possible the technique we’re about to outline violates not only Amazon’s Terms of Service, but the Digital Millennium Copyright Act as well. We are not advocating breaking the law, but we are demonstrating for non-American Kindle users how this technique can be used to safeguard against remote deletion tactics. Related laws may differ in countries around the world, so be sure to check your local situation if you’re unsure. In short, follow these instructions at your own risk.
Ex Calibre, electronica librae!
Zac West, a San Francisco-based iOS developer wrote up his instructions about a year ago. We used his directions on a Mac (although repeating the same trick on Windows is likely quite similar), and found they worked well transferring books to an iPad 3. But the program should allow you to load DRM-stripped books onto your Kindle, Nook, Nexus 7, or other device as well. Let’s dive right in:
You’ll need to download Calibre, which is available for OS X, Windows, and Linux. The software describes itself as a “free and open source e-book library management application developed by users of e-books for users of e-books.”
Then, download the DeDRM plugin and unzip it. That’s the actual piece of code that, as the name implies, cracks Amazon’s DRM scheme. Once Calibre is installed, open its Preferences (under the File menu). At the bottom of the screen, in the lower left-hand corner, click “Plugins.”
Then, “Load plugin from file,” and choose the K4MobileDRM plugin’s zip file—it’s a zipped file inside of the DeDRM zipped file you downloaded. Don’t decompress this second file.
A note for Windows users: it might also be necessary to install both Python and the PyCrypto precompiled binary in order to be able to decrypt some e-books. The easiest way to get Python for this purpose is to download and install Active Python from here, and then get the matching version of PyCrypto from here (either 2.7 or 3.3, for 32-bit or 64-bit Windows, whichever is appropriate). Thanks to forum user krimhorn for the suggestion!
Now, be sure to download Kindle for Mac (or the Windows/Linux equivalent), and connect it to your Amazon account. (If you have the app already installed, go ahead and skip this step.) Download all your e-books—open them up from “Archived Items” in the top left of the app. Once done, your “Archived Items” count will go to zero and “Downloaded Items” should show a number greater than zero.
As West notes, Kindle e-books come in the MobiPocket format, while iBooks requires ePub, so we’re going to be converting from one to the other. On a Mac, open up ~/Library/Containers/com.amazon.Kindle/Data/Library/Application Support/Kindle/My Kindle Content/.
Note: this does require the Library file found under the “username” directory. An easy way to open that folder is by holding the Option key while clicking the “Go” menu in the Finder. (On Windows, you can find the “My Kindle Content” folder under My Documents.)
Now we have to drag the .azw files (each Kindle e-book) into Calibre—why not do them all?
Converting Books: the waiting game
Next, click “Convert books” in the app’s toolbar. When the “Bulk Convert” window pops up, make sure that EPUB is selected in the upper right corner of the screen. Then click the third item on the left-hand side, “Page Setup,” and configure the output profile to whatever device you want to export to—we’re working with an iPad 3, so that’s what we chose. Similarly, choose Kindle as the input profile.
Click “OK” to begin the conversion. Depending on how many books you have, it may take a little while. Our 44 books, including some Lonely Planet travel guidebooks, took around 10 to 15 minutes. You can monitor Calibre’s progress by clicking the “Jobs” button in the lower right-hand corner.
On a Mac, Calibre defaults to creating its “Calibre Library” file under the username directory. If everything has gone correctly, you should have a bunch of sub-folders, organized by author’s name, complete with cover art and a converted file in EPUB format. Drag all of those folders directly into iTunes, which should open them all under “Books” (found in the upper left part of the app, between “Podcasts” and “Apps.”) Then, when you sync Books with your iPad, you’ll have all your Amazon e-books for your own use in iBooks, safe from Amazon’s whims.
As West himself noted, these files are for your personal use only—they’re not meant to be distributed anywhere. Enjoy!