By Joe Pulizzi published July 6, 2013

6 Keys to Rebooting Your Content Marketing

reboot-content-marketingI just finished reading “Ctrl Alt Delete,” the new business book from Mitch Joel (Mitch was a keynote speaker at last year’s Content Marketing World, and is keynoting the Content Marketing World Financial Summit this September in Cleveland). Simply put, this is one of the best marketing, business, and motivational books I’ve read in quite some time.

Throughout the entire book, Mitch offers dozens of thoughts and ideas that have direct impact on what we do in content marketing. Here are six of the ones that made the biggest impact on me, and some of my own interpretations:

No direct relationships = no future

For a brand to truly shape its own destiny, it must lead the relationship with the consumer…

Our focus, as marketers, should be to do everything we can to communicate directly with our customers and prospects. We can no longer rely on advertising and middlemen to distribute our message. We need to ensure that our content marketing is so good that it draws customers to us… and stays so good that they never leave. Wherever you can have that type of relationship with your customers online, that’s where you need to be.

Utilitarianism marketing rules

It’s been interesting to read both Mitch’s book and Jay Baer’s new book, “Youtility,” at the same time. Why? Because both consistently hit upon the same concept — marketing as a utility for customers.

Brands will need to make their marketing more useful. Period. End of sentence.

Utility marketing is all about providing something that customers not only would want to use, but would also find so valuable that it becomes an important part of their lives. Think Nationwide’s mobile app that’s specifically built for people who’ve just been in a car accident.

The keys to utility marketing that works:

  • Thinking about the customers’ needs first, and your brand objectives second
  • Removing any and all barriers to giving out the useful information
  • Creating it, giving it out, and allowing the audience to read it without requiring anything in return
  • Making it worth talking about to others
  • Keeping it amazingly simple
  • Filling a gap — your marketing doesn’t have to be earth-shattering, just useful

Mobile first

Conventional wisdom states that we now live in a three-screen world (TV, computer and mobile). Mitch’s advice: “Stop counting screens.” Everything that people are doing right now is happening in the palms of their hands — whenever and wherever they are. Right now, there are more active mobile phones in the world than people. And what’s most amazing about all this information is that we are only at the beginning of its potential.

No matter what business you are in, look at the habits of your consumers. Most likely, your prospects and customers start and end their days with a mobile device close at hand. What if you start looking at your marketing from this perspective… before looking at anything else?

Digital-first executives

For your content marketing to be successful, you need to both use and believe in digital as the first and foremost priority. If you have members of your team who don’t truly and primarily think in terms of digital communications, you need to make drastic changes now. Yes, storytelling has been around forever, but consumers have never had as much power and choice as they do right now. Digital has made this possible. Make it a priority, not just in your business culture, but throughout all of your business processes.

Kill the content

Every brand creates content, but how many are leveraging great brand storytelling? Very few.

We need to stop producing lackluster content and start telling the greatest stories ever told. In Mitch’s words:

What’s my hope? That brands start reinvesting in great stories instead of investing in people to simply blog, tweet, and update their Facebook page.”

Take a break from the content you are creating right now and ask yourself if it will truly have the potential to make a difference in people’s lives. The great brands of tomorrow are the ones telling the best stories today.

Ask two questions

Before Mitch publishes any piece of content, he asks himself:

  1. Will this content stand the test of time?
  2. Will my children (and their children) be proud of their father (grandfather) when looking at this?

Everything (and I mean everything) will be saved online forever. We are actively creating our own history, and that of our brands.

Are you proud of the legacy you are building?

Joe Pulizzi’s latest book, “Epic Content Marketing,” will be released in September 2013. You can preorder it now on 

Cover image via Bigstock

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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  • Katherine Kotaw

    The question you saved for last is the most crucial: Are you proud of the legacy you are building? If you can’t say “yes” to this question, it’s time to unplug yourself from all devices and reboot your thinking before typing another keystroke. I once took a handgun lesson. The experience was chilling — it was so easy to pull the trigger and hit the target. When the instructor told me I was “a natural,” I put down the gun and walked away. I didn’t want the power to thoughtlessly harm or kill someone. It’s even easier to “pull the trigger” on a blog or a comment and just as impossible to retrieve a word-bullet than one made of steel.

    • Joe Pulizzi

      Hi Katherine…I think that is where the market is at right now. It’s “so” easy to publish, that often we don’t think about why we are doing it in the first place. Thanks for sharing.

  • jnthibeault

    Okay you sold me, joe. Just bought the book.

  • Scott Aughtmon

    Sounds like book I need to get!

  • Peter Odryna

    Joe, while your article is right on the money I think you’re asking too much from reality. This same post appeared hundreds of times (or more) over the past several decades imploring newspaper article authors to “produce Pulitzer Prize worthy materials”. And “Write articles you’ll be proud of.”. But reality tends to stick its ugly head into the writing process and we end up where we are now. Lousy articles, lousy content, no depth, and no follow-through.

    I’m glad you wrote the book to help the top 0.01% who will read it improve their messaging and make their grand-children proud. Can you help the other 99.99% marketing agency content writers out there that need to get their second client blog of the day written before 11am before they need to switch gears and get started on their third, and newest client blog post?

    • Joe Pulizzi

      Hi Peter, I totally get what you are saying, but you are making the point. Only a very small percentage of people are doing these kinds of things, and then only a small percentage end up dominating their industries.

      My advice…while you are working on your client stuff, start creating your own epic content for your own purposes.

      • Peter Odryna

        Well said. And that’s probably where the best authors are grown. I tweeted your article to my followers and got a lot of retweets from others. So I think you message is being heard. Nice job.

        I picked up on this article because SocialEars had noticed the post had a lot of conversation and sharing going on in social circles. And on a holiday weekend no less. Your message is being heard for sure.

        • Joe Pulizzi

          Wonderful Peter! Thanks so much.

      • Paul Chaney

        That’s precisely my challenge currently. I’m privileged to be writing for clients, but am (and have for some time) neglected building my own digital “empire,” to quote Chris Brogan. It’s something I have to get back to, but am taking time to evaluate what my brand story is and the unique value (if any) I bring to the market.

        The real dilemma isn’t merely one of quality, however, but quantity too. You have to produce great content consistently…at least that’s my belief.

        • Joe Pulizzi

          Exactly Paul…epic content is a promise to our customers. If we aren’t consistent, we break our promise.

  • Naomi Garnice

    Great thoughts to keep in mind, Joe. Thanks for sharing!

  • Kriti

    Its a great thought starter to all the businesses out there who are starting their journey to approaching marketing through the content lens..