Pulizzi author photo

Joe Pulizzi, author of Content Inc.

Entrepreneur Joe Pulizzi has a long track record of making a difference in the world of content marketing, from founding the Content Marketing Institute to writing four books on the subject, his is a leading voice in the conversation on content marketing strategy for businesses.

“Content Inc.” is his latest book and it just hit the shelves this month. In it, Pulizzi shares strategies to help any and every small business create marketing content on their websites, blogs, and social media accounts that is unique, impactful, and will lead to growth in your business. You can find it available for purchase online, or scroll to the bottom of this post to enter to win a free copy! Read on for the exclusive book excerpt below.

We’re also excited to let you know that Joe Pulizzi stopped by our podcast, the Bcast, to talk with our hosts Jonathan and Peter about the Content Inc. model for marketing. To hear Joe’s tips, listen to Episode 11 of the Bcast here:
You can also subscribe on iTunes.

This material is excerpted from Content Inc. by Joe Pulizzi, from the chapter titled “Understanding The Power of The Tilt”:

In the movie The Matrix, starring Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburne, Reeves’s character (Neo) is tested to see whether he is “The One.” While Neo is outside in the waiting area, a young protégé is holding up spoon after spoon, bending each one. As Neo sits beside the protégé, the young boy tells Neo that he has to look at the spoon in a different way…that the spoon actually does not exist at all.

Soon after, Neo was able to tilt his head to the side and slowly bend the spoon.

Telling a different story

Peter Thiel, cofounder of PayPal (along with Tesla founder Elon Musk) and Facebook’s first outside investor, believes that most businesses copy other businesses and thus fail. In his book “Zero to One,” Thiel tells businesses that they should “figure out something that nobody else is doing and look to create a monopoly in some area that’s been underdeveloped. Find a problem nobody else is solving.” Sadly, most companies are creating content and telling stories that are no different from anything else out there.

Just type “SEO eBook” into Google, and you’ll get over 20 million results. There are a lot of businesses talking about the same things in the same way. Jay Baer believes that most businesses simply never go through the process of finding a content niche that they can own. In an interview with Jay, he tackles this concept: It’s like, “Hey I like knitting, and I’m going to start a knitting blog.”

Really! There are 27 other knitting blogs. Why would anybody read yours? What is different? What is unique? What is interesting? Why would anyone stop reading the knitting blog that they’ve been reading for the last three years and read yours ever? And if you can’t articulate that, you need to go back to the drawing board. And most people I find who haven’t been doing this for a while just don’t go through that competitive calculus, and it’s dangerous.

There are hundreds of blogs on chili peppers that tell stories about the “heat” of the peppers. Claus Pilgaard found a way to tell a story that was radically different from that of his content competition…his messaging was around the “taste” of the peppers. Claus’s content tilt made all the difference.

Content tilting

If Content Inc. is going to work for you, your content must be different. It must fill a content hole that is not being filled by someone else.

Your content must be different. It must fill a content hole that is not being filled by someone else.

As Peter Thiel suggests, we must find a problem area that no one else is solving and exploit that area with content. This is called “content tilting.” The word tilt has two primary definitions. The first is to cause to lean, incline, slope, or slant. If we tilt a glass or a table, we get to look at it from a different perspective. Neo, in The Matrix, tilted his head and saw the spoon differently and gained knowledge because of it.

The second definition of tilt is to aim or thrust, as you would tilt a lance in a joust. With this tilt, we look at the content niche in such a way that creates the opportunity for us to attack, and lead, and ultimately own the category. While identifying the sweet spot is critical to the Content Inc. process, it’s the content tilt that will separate you from everyone else in your market area.

Andrew Davis, author of Brandscaping, calls this “the hook”—a simple twist on a familiar theme designed to entrap or ensnare your audience. Without “tilting” your content just enough to truly have a different story to tell, your content will fade into the rest of the clutter and be forgotten.

Case study: Ann Reardon

Sydney, Australia’s Ann Reardon is the “baking queen of YouTube.” In 2011, after giving birth to her third son, Ann was looking for something to do during her night feedings, so she launched a recipe site called “How to Cook That.” “I wrote a recipe post every week and made some videos to complement the website. The videos were too big to upload to my website so I uploaded them to YouTube and started embedding them onto my site.”

Before starting a family, Ann was a qualified food scientist and dietitian (her skill area). At the same time, she had a passion for teaching and working with children, so she changed careers and began working with youth in a poorer area of Western Australia.

“I absolutely loved it and have so many great memories,” shares Ann. “But our budget was extremely tight so it was during this time that I taught myself to edit videos for the youth ministry, as well as self-catering for lots of events. Over time some of the young adults asked if I could teach them how to cook. A group would come over and we’d all bake and have a great time in my kitchen.” You may be thinking that recipe blogs and “how-to” baking on YouTube are nothing new, and you’d be right. What separates Ann is her content tilt.

Ann focuses her recipes and baking on seemingly impossible creations, such as desserts with five pounds of Snickers bars and a cake that, when sliced open, is a perfect replica of an Instagram logo. View Ann Reardon’s YouTube content here.

“Many people start a YouTube channel and try to copy what has already been done but the horse has already bolted,” Ann explains. “For every single breath you take, there is eight hours of new video footage uploaded to YouTube, so I have to give viewers a good reason to come back and watch my channel.”

In January 2012, Ann saw her 100th subscriber on YouTube and was thrilled. Exactly three years later, Ann has amassed more than 1 million subscribers and receives (believe it or not) more than 3,000 comments per week. In an average month, she’ll see over 16 million views of her videos.

Along with the substantial revenues from her cut of YouTube advertising royalties, she has launched an app called “Surprise Cakes” and another app for photo sharing; and as well, she has a number of sponsored content opportunities with brands such as electrical appliance company Breville and kitchenware company World Kitchen.

Yes, Ann found her sweet spot, the combination of her knowledge of food and her passion for teaching, but it was her content tilt of seemingly impossible food creations that has made all the difference.

If you’ve feeling inspired and want more great ideas about content marketing for your business, enter to win a copy of “Content Inc.” below.

Win a Free Copy of “Content Inc.” by Joe Pulizzi

AvatarAngelique O'Rourke

Artistic + intellectual pursuits. Social justice. Actress. Model. Musician. Eugene // Portland.