By Joe Pulizzi published July 18, 2012

5 Critical Content Marketing Tactics to Consider Now

Change has been on my mind a lot recently.

Often times good, but almost always painful, CMI is going through some positive change right now.  We’ve had the privilege of working with Jay Baer (part of our content marketing consulting group) and his team to help shore up our overall strategy.  Normally, this type of audit is what we help larger organizations with, but we (the CMI staff) all agreed it was important to get an outside perspective on something so critical to our business.

As part of the audit and setting new goals, we are focusing a number of key areas where we want to improve.  Here are five key content marketing tactics that are really standing out for us, and possibly for you as well.

Review, Edit and Re-position Print Content for the Web

Traditionally, our practice for print content marketing has been to repurpose the content, barring some design changes, as is on the website (see CCO Magazine here). Unfortunately, this has led to under-performing content.  What we’ve clearly found is that content that is fit for print is often times not fit for the web.

To combat this, we are working on a number of initiatives, including:

  • Planning for multiple-purpose usage of a printed article at the beginning of the planning stages, not after the article is written.
  • Making decisions that some print content isn’t suitable for the .com site.
  • Creating a process of heavy editing to turn print-oriented content into content that will be better engaged with online and on mobile devices.
  • Developing a total content process that integrates all content marketing under one person, regardless of channel distribution.

Identify Best Converting Content

We’ve been monitoring our best performing content, in terms of share-ability and analytics, for years now. We’ve suspected for some time that our most popular content is not necessarily our best performing content (in terms of the goals for the page).  Through our most recent audit, we now know this to be true.

We’re taking steps to track every piece of content individually and mark the goal upfront as to the particular call to action we want.  Once we set that process in place, we can now determine what content performs the best to drive the business in the right direction.

Navigation Should Mirror Goal Weight

In general, our site navigation for both Content Marketing Institute and Content Marketing World has been what we “thought” made the most sense.  Unfortunately, we didn’t clearly run the site navigation through our goal set for the site, as well as for each individual type of content we create.

This means we need to adjust our site strategy with the following:

  • Create a site navigation that completely syncs with the goals for the site.
  • Begin looking at each page as it’s own and not blindly attaching a general sidebar to all pages and blog posts.  This means we will start developing dozens (if not more) content templates for our content.

Not Just Photos, but Shareable Design

I’m sure we are not alone on this, but often our editorial team comes to the “choosing of the obigatory image” last when creating blog content.  That means that many times we are not satisfied with the image, which in turn does not drive our share-ability goals for Facebook or Pinterest.

This is a longer-term process issue, but we are looking into the creation of our own art and design, moving away from stock art altogether if we can.  Our best performing posts are often ones where some people share because of the textual content, and others share for the design.  By developing a piece of content without a strong design component, we are missing out on number of social media opportunities.  Stay tuned for more on this one.

More Bricks, Fewer Feathers

I’m completely stealing this one from Jay, who uses this analogy all the time.  

There are two types of content: feathers (passing/common) and bricks (lasting/uncommon). We have lots of feathers, but not enough bricks.

Our content team is now tasked with baking more bricks.

  • Repackaging multiple feathers into bricks.
  • Analyzing current content opportunities (events, webinars, etc.) for possible brick creation.
  • Taking a look at old bricks to update into new and improved bricks.

Would love to get your take on these or any content marketing strategies that you are struggling with at the present time.  Please let me know.

Author: Joe Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi is the Founder of Content Marketing Institute, a UBM company, the leading education and training organization for content marketing, which includes the largest in-person content marketing event in the world, Content Marketing World. Joe is the winner of the 2014 John Caldwell Lifetime Achievement Award from the Content Council. Joe’s the author of five books, including his latest, Killing Marketing. His third book, Epic Content Marketing was named one of “Five Must Read Business Books of 2013” by Fortune Magazine. If you ever see Joe in person, he’ll be wearing orange. Follow him on Twitter @JoePulizzi.

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  • jaybaer

    Thanks Joe. For the record, Bricks and Feathers is from Chris Sietsema on our team. The original post about it (with infographic!) is here:

    • Joe Pulizzi

      Thanks Jay…please pass my thanks on to Chris!

  • Beth M. Wood

    Very interesting, as we’re going through some of these changes as well.  Specifically the last two.
    Not Just Photos… We’ve decided very recently to use fewer stock images and create more of our own images and icons that speak to our brand.  I have no idea what the impact will be (if any), but it certainly feels right to us.
    And More Bricks, Less Feathers… for us, I think I would reword it to say No more feathers than bricks, or something to that effect (by the way, the word geek in me feels compelled to tell you that you might mean to say “fewer” feathers, as “less” implies a quantity that must be measured, as opposed to “fewer” which is a number that can be counted…Geez, you probably didn’t want a grammar lesson, did you?). A very clever turn of phrase!
    Great post – confirms the direction of my own thoughts ; )

    • Joe Pulizzi

      Thanks Beth…made the change!

  • NenadSenic

    Hey Joe.

    This is great. Just last week I had a meeting with a global client and I talked about most of these points. And I kind of opened their eyes that this whole thing ain’t easy. Obviously, I’ve really learned a lot from you guys, so I got to the point when we even think alike. 🙂

    I’d add, if I can be so blunt and direct, I’ve personally had troubles lately with your page navigation, layout. It can be just the case of me, but I’m confused whenever I get to CMI site, have to concentrate to know where and how to find quickly and easily, especially the latest posts.

    Cheers, N.

    • Joe Pulizzi

      Hi  Nenad…thanks for the feedback.  You are not alone.  As CMI has grown our site navigation has become more complex.  Our goal over the next 90 days is to simplify everything to focus on what’s most important.  Hopefully you see a major difference very soon.

      Keep the feedback coming.

  • Ayaz

    Hi Joe!

    Great post and great compile list and certainly having used great image that combines with your topic help increase your visitors and that will be the more like blog post and that’s why I considered using images appropriate to my blog post topic. 

  • ldklippert

    Hey Joe thanks for sharing these insights.


  • Roger C. Parker

    Hi, Joe:
    Engaging and interesting.

    I especially applaud your “less stock art” approach, and the new emphasis on “sharable design,” often unique, text-based storytelling graphics.

    My main takeaway was the (Jay Baer credited) dichotomy between feathers (passing/common) and bricks (lasting/uncommon) content. Nicely put.

  • mariawilliams672

    great post and thanks for sharing it… i feel that the last two are started to be applied already today 

  • Nick Stamoulis

    The quality of the the written content is important, but it also needs to look good.  If the layout or design isn’t user friendly or attractive or the images are boring or unrelated, it may not capture the attention of target audience members.  

  • David

    Probably the content marketing strategy is, and always was, to produce bricks every time.  Unfortunately, some hoped-for bricks are feathers – or feathers in disguise.  I think data or case studies, when shared appropriately, can help improve theoretical content.  I’m interested to hear more about strategies you recommend for “baking more bricks”.

  • Ann Smarty

    Excellent article.  If I had to pick out one aspect that I liked the best, I couldn’t because the whole article was full of helpful advice.  But, I do have to say that the advice to move beyond the stock photography into shareable design and content makes sense.  We are different in the ways that we interpret what our senses take in, so it makes sense that some people will connect with the text and some with the graphics and the best advice is to allow a connection point on both.