Talking Content Marketing – Interview With CC Chapman

CC Chapman_interview_the ID Group_content marketing_bournemouth

Talking Content Marketing brings to the ongoing discussion an interview with CC Chapman.

C.C. has helped create, manage and execute online and offline maketing initiatives for start-ups and multinationals (including Coca Cola, HBO and Warner Bros.). He is the co-author of the influential Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business.

Here we talk about the role of storytelling for businesses and the approach we need to consider.

Tell Us A Bit More About Yourself And What You Stand For?

I work every day to try to make the world a better and more creative place. My business card says I’m a storyteller, explorer and humanitarian because that sums up everything I try to do. I write books, I take photos, I consult with organizations big and small to make a difference and I’m a happy father of two.

I stand for a lot of things including respectful treatment of our veterans, a creative education for every child in the world and equal human rights.

Has the world of content changed since Content Rules was published in 2010?

Content Rules. The ID Group, content marketingThe book was one of the first one on the market with a focus on content marketing.

Ann (Handley) and I made sure from day one that the book focused on the core components that are needed to make marketing interesting, relevant and beneficial to all. We knew that the tools and tactics would change, but there were clear “rules” that have been followed for years and that would never go out of date.

It is funny to watch how so many people are now selling themselves as “content marketing experts” rather than writers, photographers and marketing experts. As if there is something magically new since the term content marketing was coined.

The biggest change I can think of is the rise of mobile photography. When the book came out Instagram, VSCO and others didn’t exist yet. Sure, people were taking photos and sharing them, but our phones were no where near the level that they are now. The fact that everyone has a full production studio in their pocket these days is a big change. No one has an excuse NOT to create content for themselves now because the old arguments of not having enough budget to do something is moot.

Are businesses embracing an attitude of becoming creative storytellers or more focused on distributing content?

Most are clueless. Sorry, to be blunt, but that is how I feel.

Too often businesses focus on tactics first. They worry how they are going to get likes and shares and spend little to no time crafting a strategic story that makes sense for them. They see what others do and then try to mimic them. Whatever the latest new tool or viral video is, they want to use it even if it makes no sense.

Every day I hear something along the lines of, “Well we make/do ______ so we have no story to tell” and I always shake my head and laugh. Everyone has a story to tell and yes some are harder to find than others, but they are there. That is why you need someone who not only understands the current online world, but also has the skills to find and craft your story.

To become better storytellers should we first of all show we care (and be present) within our marketplace?

That should be rule one of business after you’ve got a solid product or service. I’m not sure it has any direct connection with becoming a better storyteller.

The best humans care about those around them and thus the best businesses will also show that they care about their customers beyond getting their money. If you can show this in your marketing AND actually do it then you are on the right track.

Ekaterina Walter stated in her interview that the ‘biggest story a company can tell is it’s purpose (the ‘why’ of their existence).’ Do you also stand by this?

Ekaterina is one of the smartest people I know and unlike the people I referenced earlier slapping a title on themselves, she is the real deal.

I agree with her that this is critical. If a company can’t tell the story of their purpose than they really need to go back to the starting gate. Every business should know their purpose and telling it is crucial.

I’m not sure if it is the biggest story though. My first answer as I thought about it would be to tell the story of your customers. I do a lot of work with nonprofits and the first story I always want to hear from them is from the people they are helping and the people who donate. I want to know why people make donations and how that money is turned around to help others.

I don’t need to hear from a business how great their product is because of course they love it. I do want to hear from people who buy from them about what they love.

Make your customers the hero of your story and you win.

Your writing has a very honest approach (take a bow ‘Doing Nothing Is Ok‘). Is this a trait we need as individuals, rather than proving to others (via our social personas) how credible/worthy we are?

There is no one best approach. Each person has to find their own voice for their content.

Growing up in New England, this is how we are. We wear our heart on our sleeve and say what we mean. That is why my content is raw, honest and open. If I tried to create it for my audience rather than myself I’d go nuts.

Too many people only put on a happy face online. All they do is share links and promote themselves or what they think they should be sharing. That works for a lot of people and many find success in it. I just couldn’t sleep with myself if I took that approach.

Figure out what works for YOU and then do it. Don’t worry what others do. Life is too short.

Content Rules highlights that ‘Good content can quickly become the soul of your brand.’ Why do businesses fail with a content approach?

Usually because they want results quicker than reality, they don’t allocate the proper resources and they forget that this is a long game that they can’t stop playing.


Huge thanks to C.C. for his time and participating in the project. To find out more from his world:

C.C. on Twitter: Click here

C.C’s site: Click here

Work with C.C.: Click here

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