The Content Formula, by Michael Brenner and Liz Bedor, is a “must read” for content marketers.
It does more than just share valuable advice on an often ignored aspect of content marketing.
It can also help content marketers enjoy greater publishing success and return on investment.
Here are three of the The Content Formula’s most important lessons.
Lesson 1: Start with a short title and a long subtitle
A short title permits the use of a large type size. This attracts the reader’s eyes and immediately communicates what the book is all about. Titles containing a few, short words are best.
This works especially well when the two words in the title are of similar length, as in The Content Formula. (Both Content and Formula contain 7 letters.)
Notice that the least important word, i.e., The is smaller than the other words in the title. This places more emphasis on the more important words.
Why subtitles matter
Subtitles are as important as titles to a book’s success.
The Content Formula, by itself, doesn’t tell enough of a story to “make the sale.” The subtitle, Calculate the ROI of Content Marketing & Never Waste Money Again provides more information. It describes the book’s approach and the benefits readers will gain from the book:
- What’s the book about? Calculating ROI (return on investment)
- Who are the intended readers? Content marketers
- How will they benefit? They’ll never waste money again
Subtitles do more than reinforce titles, of course. Subtitles provide space for inserting search engine friendly keywords and phrases. These help readers locate your book when searching online, looking for blog posts and reviews.
“Magic” words and phrases
Effective titles and subtitles do more than just communicate the facts. The best titles use emotion to reinforce facts and turn interest into desire.
Suppose the subtitle read: Calculate the ROI of Content Marketing & Save Money. The title communicates the same information, but doesn’t resonate on an emotional level.
But, substituting Never Waste Money, reinforced with Again, generates urgency for action.
Lesson 2: Choose a simple structure and be concise
The Content Formula’s structure simplifies the topic to a few steps makes it appear more manageable.
The route to “never wasting money again” involves just three steps:
- Part One: Build the Business Case
- Part Two: Find the Budget
- Part Three: Measure the Business Case
Note the comfortable “logic” to the process.
In addition, short, imperative verbs, Build, Find, and Measure, introduce each step. This “tone of voice” reflects confidence and commands respect.
Selectivity is the key to a book’s effectiveness. There’s virtue in selectivity and conciseness.
What you leave out is as important as what you include.
If you include too much information, readers may overlook your book because it appears too long and will take too much time to read.
There’s no need to communicate everything about your topic or addressing a market niche.
There’s a lifetime ahead of you to share more information. You can provide more details blogging, speaking, or during interviews. The book is your opening act; there’s more to come!
A forty dollar, 300-page book may not help you achieve your goals as well as a twenty dollar, 110-page book
The Content Formula’s most important lesson is to not just write a book, but create a tool, like a workbook. A workbook bridges the gap between information and reader action.
Many share helpful information, but few make it easy for readers to use the information. As a result, after reading the book, readers don’t pick it up again until they return it to the office bookshelf.
The Content Formula is a welcome exception. It contains tools that reinforce its message and encourage immediate action. The tools include:
- Detailed instructions. The Content Formula outlines the steps Michael Brenner followed at a leading software provider. The subdivisions within each chapter describe specific tasks for you to perform. The text that follows explains the importance of each step and the goals you hope to achieve.
- Space to take notes within each chapter. It’s one thing to read a page or two of text. The Content Formula provides space to take notes while you’re reading. Handwritten notes summarizing important points increase comprehension and retention.
- Formulas for calculating specific costs. Content marketing success involves numbers based return on investment. These numbers are necessary to justify investment and to make informed decisions. You’ll understand the true costs and benefits of Brand Awareness, Brand Health, and Conversions. Many content marketers approach these topics from a subjective point of view.
Content Formula Cheat Sheets
The Content Formula ends with a Summary that guides you as you craft your own content formula. There are there are 10 Steps and 10 Calculations. Each contains space for you to immediately take action.
The 10 Steps starts with a two-page review of The Content Formulas’s key ideas. There is a one paragraph overview of each step, often stated as a question. The next sentence or two describes its relevance and suggests a next step. For example:
- Question 4. What percentage of the traffic on your website comes from early-stage search? What percentage of the content on your website answers early-stage customer questions?
- Question 7. How big is your content subscriber list? Every subscriber to your content marketing program provides reach, engagement, and the potential to convert to real sales.
The following ten pages provides space for you to address each topic, one topic per page.
The 10 Calculations follows the same format. There is a two-page review of key questions, followed by space for calculating to address each question.
At first glance, the questions appear easy. But answering them requires the calculations introduced in earlier chapters. (Luckily, the calculations follow each question.) For example:
- Question 5. What is the Value of Our Repeat Visitors? (Website Advertising Dollars Divided by Ad-driven Traffic) times Repeat Visitors.
- Question 8. What is the Content Marketing Cost Per Lead? Content Marketing Costs divided by Content Marketing Leads.
Again, there are ten pages for you to start assemble the data needed for the calculations.
The Content Formula describes how to make better decisions based on return on investment.
It also shares engagement ideas and tools you might consider for future books or white papers.
If you’ve already read The Content Formula, share your comments below or on Amazon.