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Why I Love Chris Koch

October 12, 2010 2 Comments

I’ve been following Chris Koch, blogger & B2B IT marketing strategist, for about a year and I read his weekly blog about 80% of the time—something I can’t say about many professional blogs that I follow. Koch writes for the Information Technology Services Marketing Association (ITSMA) as a paid intellectual in residence—and of course does a whole lot of evangelizing through his blog, related ITSMA publications and speaking events.

Here’s the thing about Chris (surely we are on a first-name basis after professing my love): he’s attracted thousands of loyal blog followers using a format that would make most marketers sweat.

Chris’s posts are usually over 1,000 words. (I am constantly reminding clients to keep their content short for terminally distracted readers.) He also uses blander than bland design for his blog, with few graphics of any kinds in his posts.

How is it that a long-winded, visually limp blog has captured the attention of so many (according to Koch, he has 300 people signing up for his blog every week)? Why is Chris Koch a content demi-god even while he breaks so many long-held rules?

Why is Chris Koch a True Thought Leader:

(1) As we say up here in Massachusetts, Chris Koch is wicked smart. But more than that, he is also very passionate about the topics he covers. This combination of uber-smarts and passion is toughest to find—and any organization that places a strategic focus on content marketing must identify and find ways to channel their smart + passionate experts. Whether content marketing is relegated to the marketing department or outsourced to a 3rd party, you still must make sure that the content is tightly tethered to your subject matter evangelists. Without smart, passionate SMEs, your content will not ring true and will be unlikely to achieve the desired echo-effect in social media circles.

(2) Koch doesn’t mind being controversial, such as when he weighed in on the uproar sparked by Forrester’s decision to ban personal blogs by Forrester analysts. Controversy is a tougher sell for organizations trying to build a following (after all, who wants to alienate a prospect). The important thing is this: content marketers must be willing to wrestle with their subject matter, seek out new information through rigorous research and intellectual curiosity, and then have a disciplined process to bring ideas forward. If you are too comfortable with what you are saying, chances are good that many others have said the very same thing before you (read: boring). See one of Koch’s blog entries deals with this subject (in 1,600 words… youch!): Thought Leadership Is Dead. Long Live Idea Marketing.

(3) Koch’s pedigree as a journalist (former Editor at CIO Magazine) is evident in the way he thoughtfully analyzes topics, methodically unpacks solutions, and engages his smart & influential readers. Want to know why journalists make first-rate content marketers? I blogged about this very topic for the Content Marketing Institute a few months ago.

(4) Koch’s writing style is smart with a touch of irreverence. Who says things like, “Trying and failing to dislodge the IT hairball?” Smart, after all, can sound boorish if a writer is wooden and pretentious. I can’t really articulate what separates boorish smart from engaging smart, but talking about IT hairballs has something to do with it.

What do you think? Who are your favorite thought leaders and why? Can you think of any other content rebels who are different—but very successful—at their craft?