By Joe Pulizzi published November 24, 2011

42 Content Marketing Commandments

42 CommandmentsAt the end of 2009, I published 30 content marketing truths that I have taped above my desk. I then revised the list and republished it last Thanksgiving, as this list is something that I am grateful for because it is a constant reminder for me to stay focused.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving in the U.S., and to give my own thanks for all that I have learned this year, I’ve added some new content marketing commandments and truisms that I’d like to share with you. 

  1. The content is more important than the offer.
  2. A customer relationship doesn’t end with the payment.
  3. Printed marketing doesn’t stop with the full-page advertisement.
  4. “Being the content” is more important than “surrounding the content.”
  5. Interruption isn’t valued, but engagement is.
  6. A blog can be, and should be, a core part of communicating with and marketing to your customers.
  7. Internal marketing always takes precedence over external marketing.
  8. A brand is a relationship, not a tag line.
  9. Focusing on what the customer wants is more important than what you have to sell.
  10. The competition can copy everything you have, except your brand. Communications is the differentiator.
  11. A news release isn’t meant to be picked up by the press, but rather to help customers find your great content on the web.
  12. Communicating directly with customers is the best choice.
  13. Marketers can and should be publishers.
  14. Today’s traditional publishers are scared of marketers.
  15. Without content, community is improbable, if not impossible.
  16. The marketing brochure should be stricken from all strategic marketing plans.
  17. Content without design doesn’t look appetizing (or deliver on marketing goals).
  18. Lead generation is only one small part of the marketing picture.
  19. Hiring an editor is not a want, but a must, for all organizations.
  20. No matter the medium or the provider, someone is always selling something.
  21. The long tail of search engine optimization is driven by consistent content on your corporate blog or website.
  22. 90 percent of all corporate websites talk about how great the company or product is and forget about the customer.
  23. 90 percent of all corporate websites are terrible.
  24. In the next few years, the majority of content consumers engage in will be corporate media (if it is not already).
  25. Buyers are in control, the traditional sales process has changed, and relevant content lets organizations into the buying process.
  26. Long-form branded content can be created anywhere your customers work, live, or play.
  27. The Chief Content Officer is the CMO of the future.
  28. Customers want to be inspired. Be the inspiration!
  29. There is no one right way to do content marketing. Be willing to experiment.
  30. In-person events continue to be one of the best ways to connect with your audience.
  31. Never overlook the power of simplicity.
  32. Content marketing success in your organization means having the right process.
  33. Marketers need to start understanding the difference between content marketing and inbound marketing.
  34. The content marketing community is made up of some of the most helpful and inspiring people. Reach out and partner!
  35. There are no shortcuts to great content marketing; it takes a lot of elbow grease.
  36. When in doubt, always add an image to your content.
  37. Don’t rely too much on Google to bring traffic to your site.
  38. Content curation is important, but it is not a strategy. To be the trusted expert in your industry, you must create your own content.
  39. Don’t wait for perfection.  Great content doesn’t have to be perfect.  It will never be perfect.
  40. Outsource effectively or be effectively outsourced.
  41. If you don’t have scaling problems with your content, you aren’t moving fast enough.
  42. Before you create your content masterpiece, figure out how you are going to market it first.

What is your favorite? Do you have any other content marketing truths? Share them in the comments below.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Author: Joe Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi considers himself the poster boy for content marketing. Founder of the Content Marketing Institute , Joe evangelizes content marketing around the world through keynotes, articles, tweets and his books, including best-selling Epic Content Marketing (McGraw-Hill) and the new book, Content Inc. Check out Joe's two podcasts. If you want to get on his good side, send him something orange. For more on Joe, check out his personal site or follow him on Twitter @JoePulizzi.

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  • Chris Bradley

    Nice post Joe, I particularly like number 10. It really highlights the importance of authenticity and great content  as a differentiator.

  • Anonymous

    Well done, Joe – a virtual feast on this Thanksgiving morning!

    What’s of particular interest is how many times “Customer/Consumer/Buyer” is mentioned – certainly the key pillar of Content Marketing.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  • JohnMcLean

    Thanks for sharing these…I’m definitely gonna virtually cut & paste this list and keep it close it hand over the next year!

    Big Love!

    John McLean
    Austin, TX

  • Red Rocket Media

    Number 38 is my favourite – To be the trusted expert in your industry, you must create your own content. Curation is very useful for your readers but creation is thought-leading and inspiring.

    Great list BTW!

  • Rachel

    trust yourself and balance the feedback you get on your content. if you get too many cooks involved, the message gets lost and it loses its energy.

  • globalcopywrite

    Hi Joe,

    The one that resonates for me today is Number 15: Without content, community is improbable, if not impossible.

    I keep saying there’s no such thing as a social media strategy. You need a content strategy and then you’ll have something to talk about.

    • Joe Pulizzi

      Love it….so, so true.

  • Cmwannabe

    “A brand is a relationship, not a tag line.” This is very true and some companies don’t even have that kind of realization. If they do, it’s only lip service at times.

  • Louis Eksteen

    At our brand content agency Twisted Toast: Digital Media Architects (, we live by: “All brands are content brands™”.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Joe,

    #39 is great advice to me personally – I need to hear that from time to time
    #28 is another one. Inspiration is what people want, but not always easy to deliver.

    Thanks for the Thanksgiving tribute. 

  • Orville Morales

    #16The marketing brochure should be stricken from all strategic marketing plans.

    I see the static website as the marketing brochure. If it does not have a live blog that is frequently updated, than why spend a couple thousand on a website? Just use google site or weebly and thats it!   I try to encourage my clients add some life to their website by adding a blog, sharing options and to engage in conversations on social media.   This is a great list! 

  • Christina Gilman

    Number 22 and Number 23 – I totally agree.  And I particularly like #28  I also just wrote a blog post about content marketing if you would like to check it out

  • Mick Dickinson

    No 38 — Amen. It’s so easy to share along good content that, for some, it becomes the default position. Yes, it can be part of the mix. But you have to think deeply to create valuable new content, an activity that appears to be challenging for many.

  • Amanda Maksymiw (@amandamaks)

    Great post Joe.  My favorite is number 29!  You have to be willing to experiment and willing to fail.

  • Ken Stadden

    Joe, my favorite is #19. I recently did a blog post on it, and my favorite Irishman, Gerry McGovern, has been pounding away at that very idea for years. How do we get business owners and even some marketing executives– many of whom no doubt recall English composition classes with fear and loathing– to value professional content creation?

  • Dianne

    Wow! Today is my first day on the site and this was my first read. I can’t wait to see what other tidbits of gold I pick up along the way. What a great post. I’ve been blogging for about three years, with no real strategy or true direction other than to educate, create content and make links. I’m in learning how to be a great content marketer mode. I want to get very specific and very purposeful with my content. Looking forward to learning and soaking it all in! I beleive I may have just found a bunch of new friends.

    Such a great post…it’s really going to help me stay focused. THANKS!