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Michael Stelzner says content is the fuel that propels your business, but people determine where it goes.



Who’s Michael Stelzner? He’s the author of “Launch: How to Quickly Propel Your Business Beyond the Competitionand founder of Social Media Examiner. If you haven’t read the book, you should. You’ll discover and learn how to apply the “elevation principle:”

Great content plus other people, minus marketing messages, equals growth.

The principle doesn’t suggest including other people. It demands it. The formula works to propel your business when, in Stelzner’s words (and I’ll be using a lot of them here), “you shine the spotlight on other people.”

Content marketers often don’t get the giving part.

When you develop a command of content marketing you give, give again, and keep giving. Many people you give to won’t even become your customers. The concept probably strikes you as bass-ackwards. Marketers are supposed to sell, right?


Marketers, content marketers anyway, give. And what exactly do they give? They give two wonderful and timeless gifts: (1) help, and (2) recognition.

Let’s test the theory real quick. Do you like it when people offer you help? Do you like it when people recognize you? I have no further questions for this witness, your honor.

Give it away. Give it away now.

Part two of today’s lesson focuses on “who.” Who should you help and recognize? When you want content marketing to help grow your business, what types of people do you aim to help?

It just so happens, Stelzner answers this very question in his book’s first chapter, which he titled, “Rockets Don’t Fly Themselves.” (Yeah, Michael’s was a copywriter in a former life.)

Your people—Huh? Do you have people? You do. Or if you don’t, it’s time to get people—people who want to hear what you have to say; people who consume what you give away; people who like, follow, connect with, +, circle, and pin you. These people will help build your business—even though you won’t be asking this of them.


I want to tell you a story. I’ll make it fast. You know this guy Michael I keep referring to? I do. He’s a friend. No, we’re not tennis buddies and our daughters don’t go to the same schools. This time last year Michael was nothing more to me than a great author and inspiration. But then I met him at a conference. I told him how much I valued his book. I reviewed it and wrote an article about it. He noticed. He thanked me, person-to-person and socially. (Can you smell a little elevation principle happening here?) I saw him again last month. We talked about podcasting, which we have both begun doing. We talked about marketing books. He wants to help me filter ideas for my future book. He invited me to write for his site. He introduced me to his friends, his people. You getting all this? Michael has roughly a million more fans and followers than I do and he’s making his way around a room of the world’s top online marketers introducing me as a “really great writer you need to know.” I’m going to leave some parts out of the story now and wrap it up by telling you I recently shot an email to Mike asking if he’d allow me to interview him for my“Content Marketing Minds” podcast program. You know what his answer was. Okay one last thing. You know what he asked for in return? That’s right, nothing. For some crazy reason, Michael likes to help and recognize people. It seems to serve his business very well.

And now back to our list of people you should help and recognize…

Experts—In the creation and sharing of your content you should spotlight people your audience stands to gain something from. Mike Stelzner… social media expert, writer, speaker, influencer… You get it. I’m applying this lesson right here and now.

Fire starters—I plagiarized this one from page 20 of “Launch” because I don’t have a better name for it. These are the big time experts with the reach and influence that might catapult your business. I’m playing that card too. I do it every chance I get. I hope to start some fires myself and return as many favors as I’m able to. You should strive to do this too.

What’s in it for me?

Launch bookI’m still drawing from page 20 of Launch. It’s a killer book. It’s the remedy to advertising programs that backfire and the prescription for making your marketing efforts pay. So, before I put the wraps on this “it’s better to give than receive” piece, let’s get to best part: the rewards of helping and recognizing others. Here they are:

Your messages are welcomed. It’s really that simple. You’re not pitching a product. You’re offering the help your people appreciate.

You’ll learn. The connections you make will return invaluable insights that will serve your business.
Your reach expands. When you give the gift of valuable content, it gets shared. Everyone wins.

Partnerships form. More gifts, more friends, more opportunities. Remember, rockets don’t fly themselves.
Less rejection. I hope you didn’t skip my sidebar. Reciprocity is a powerful thing. When you give selflessly, you’ll find recipients give back.

You’ll stand out. Face it, not everyone’s keen on giving, helping, sharing, passing along valuable answers. Most have been conditioned to sell. Review the “minus” part of the elevation principle and enjoy the ascent.

Thanks so much for digging into my content today. I hope it helped. Feel free to leave a comment. Your opinion matters.