MORE than 580,000 businesses were started in the UK last year – and many of them sounded and looked the same.

That’s the view of Mark Masters, whose first book sets down his thoughts about the way businesses need to change the way they speak to the public.

The Content Revolution argues that too many businesses are relying on 20th century ways of communicating.

“The majority of companies are just talking about themselves because that’s the way we’ve always done it,” he says of most marketing.

“They’re from a world where we have to talk about a product and how good it is. The majority of us are still using the 20th century approach of broadcasting to shout louder than anybody else.”

Mr Masters runs the ID Group, a content marketing consultancy based at Poole’s Ashley Cross.

He is convinced that old ways of thinking about marketing, corporate branding and even the internet are no longer relevant.

“The majority of businesses are still pushing products,” he says.

“What this book is talking about is how we need to become a lot more emotional and build relationships.”

His business really came together “the moment I stopped trying to be everybody’s mate and decided to stand for something”, he says.

The book begins with a fable that likens traditional marketing to a long-ago land when the population was divided into “the rulers” and “everyone else”. It then explores the new marketing landscape.

The chapters that follow deal with developing a voice for your business and creating content that involves people – as well as some specific tools to reap rewards.

Mr Masters sees plenty of common practices that strike him as ineffective. “I do believe we should stop spending our money on Google. I believe we should stop building our house on rented land,” he says.

Just as networking in the real world can be spoiled when someone uses it for blatant salesmanship, Mr Masters says shouting about your greatness online turns people off.

“I don’t believe in building an audience of strangers – for instance a direct mail campaign,” he says.

“I try to equip companies to build their own communities. We don’t need to go out and be everything to everybody but let’s get out there and mean something to someone.”

One way he builds relationships is by providing a lot of content for free. He blogs regularly and produces a successful podcast, in which he and fellow professional Ian Rhodes discuss ways to build a brand.

The podcast, Marketing Homebrew, gets around 1,000 downloads a month via iTunes and the Stitcher app and is among the top 200 corporate podcasts on iTunes.

Mr Masters keeps to a demanding schedule of writing and recording, even taking part in the podcast while on holiday.

He also sells places at a paid-for event, Once Upon a Time, which happens quarterly in Boscombe’s Shelley Theatre. Each session features him interviewing, on stage, a succession of representatives from successful brands such as River Cottage, Piddle Brewery, Ted Baker and Saltrock.

Mr Masters, 40, is happy to speak about his own business failures as well as his successes.

He grew up in Poole, going to Henry Harbin Secondary School before moving to Poole Grammar for A-levels.

After a spell working in London, he returned to set up the ID Group in 2007 – but it nearly went under four years later when a key customer was unable to pay its bills.

“We had a really tough period in 2011-12,” he says.

It looked as though the business might go under, but he pushed through the bad spell. “What we did was pay more attention to our other customers,” he says.

“I didn’t go out and say ‘I’ve got to get another 10 customers to make up for this’. We gave our attention to the customers we had.”

He adds: “I have that element of experience to share. Failing has given me the right to talk openly about it. It was a really successful learning tool.”

The Content Revolution comes with a foreword by Robert Rose, chief strategy officer of the Content Marketing Institute. As with other projects, Mr Masters harnessed the “power of asking”, he says.

Although some in the world of social media marketing say that text is dead and video has taken over, Mr Masters doesn’t take that view.

“The written word now is stronger than it’s ever been,” he said.

“It’s easier to reach people – but it’s even harder to reach people at the same time. I’m all about building an audience, a niche audience of the people that matter.”

Some people told him that a printed book was not the place to lay out his ideas, he concedes, but he felt it was an important platform.

“I wanted to do something that was a serious piece but was done as a traditional book – because it’s a brand that will never die.”