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 his latest book Epic Content Marketing (McGraw-Hill). 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.

By joepulizzi published April 22, 2015

Do Larger Brands Really Have It Easier With Content Marketing? [New Research]

2015_ER_Cover_1A few weeks ago, an article on our blog generated a small debate in the comments. The article, by Neil Patel, shared eight content marketing innovations from the world’s best brands. Most of the companies featured were large, which led to a conversation about whether big companies have an advantage over small ones because they have bigger content marketing budgets.

However, our most recent research, B2B Enterprise Content Marketing 2015: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America, sponsored by Marketo, shows that large companies are often more challenged when it comes to content marketing. This makes perfect sense because the content marketing process is so much more complex for large enterprises with multiple divisions and product lines. Among the findings:Continue Reading

By joepulizzi published April 18, 2015

This Week in Content Marketing: LinkedIn Moves for Content Dominance

LinkedIn-Content-Dominance-Podcast-CoverPNR: This Old Marketing with Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose can be found on both iTunes and Stitcher.

In this week’s episode, Robert and I discuss LinkedIn’s purchase of Lynda.com and what it means for LinkedIn and the content marketing industry. We also ponder the difference between content and advertising and ask if it really matters. We answer a listener question about measuring the impact of content programs. In addition, Robert and I explore the failure of social media as a community-building tool and discuss an alternative for brands that can be more effective but also harder to implement. Rants and raves include Walt Disney’s visionary mindset and how content marketing could save the world. We wrap up the show with a #ThisOldMarketing example of the week from Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom.Continue Reading

By joepulizzi published April 11, 2015

This Week in Content Marketing: Like It or Not, Advertising Is Booming

advertising-booming-podcast-coverPNR: This Old Marketing with Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose can be found on both iTunes and Stitcher.

In this week’s episode, Robert and I discuss one author’s slightly skewed definition of content marketing and debate what it really is. We also share a video where two agency executives urge marketers to stay calm in the wake of Google’s mobile-friendly search update, and we share our thoughts on what marketers should do to prepare. We also ponder if all social media is really just advertising and how publishers can benefit from revenue stacks. Rants and raves include Mad Men  and the wildly exaggerated (again) death of publishing. We wrap up the show with a #ThisOldMarketing  example from Robert Half.Continue Reading

By joepulizzi published April 4, 2015

This Week in Content Marketing: Facebook Moves for Total Internet Domination

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PNR: This Old Marketing with Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose can be found on both iTunes and Stitcher.

In this week’s episode, Robert and I discuss the movement by major publishers to create content “inside” Facebook’s walls. Does this mean that the future of the web could be dominated by Facebook?  In addition, we debate whether content blindness is actually a growing problem as Ad Age claims, review a research study that says digital natives actually prefer print, and ponder if Airbnb could become the next powerhouse of local travel information. Rants and raves include a TechCrunch article about a start-up that claims to be the salvation of content marketing, and the bad habit of executives using me-centered pronouns. We wrap up the show with a #ThisOldMarketing example from Pepsodent and Bob Hope.Continue Reading

By joepulizzi published April 2, 2015

Keys to the Intelligent Content Kingdom: 5 Conference Takeaways

“Managing content is hard. We tried it at Google & decided to focus on easier stuff, like self-driving cars.”

This tweet from Rebecca Lieb, attributed to an “ex-Googler,” was shared by Cleve Gibbon during his keynote talk the first day of this year’s Intelligent Content Conference (ICC) last week. The laughter in the room confirmed that many content pros identify with this summary of the complexity (and frustration) of trying to manage content.

Ex-GooglerTweet

This slide in Cleve Gibbon’s ICC keynote presentation set off laughter throughout the audience.

Every person I talked with at this year’s event is struggling to keep pace with the amount of content being created at work. Many sessions and hallway conversations touched on this challenge.

Good news – and many ideas – came from this year’s event. Of course, we’ll be talking about intelligent content and the complexities of managing all of this in the weeks and months to come on the Intelligent Content blog. For weekly updates, subscribe to our newsletter.

For conference highlights, read on.

The keys to the kingdom

Before I share my top five key takeaways from the Intelligent Content Conference, I would like to acknowledge the literal keys that I was privileged to take away: a set of giant wooden keys that Ann Rockley presented to me onstage as we kicked off Day One.

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Ann Rockley presenting me with the keys to the Intelligent Content kingdom on the ICC stage as we kicked off Day One.

Ann had labeled each key with a large laminated card. (All those years in technical documentation were not wasted on Ann.) She read the labels out loud for the audience: “structurally rich,” “semantically categorized,” “automatically adaptable.” We all recognized these as elements of her well-known definition of intelligent content. What a memorable way to mark the passing of the conference’s ownership from the Rockley Group to the Content Marketing Institute.

Ann keys

The keys to the Intelligent Content kingdom include these three elements of intelligent content as defined by Ann Rockley: “structurally rich,” “semantically categorized,” “automatically adaptable.” For the complete definition, including three elements not identified here, see What Is Intelligent Content?

In fact, I had many key takeaways during the conference – too many to count. Here are my top five:

  • Treat content as a product, not a project.
  • Work backward from the experience you want customers to have.
  • Structure content – and teams – for intelligent outcomes.
  • Instigate change or follow fast (yes, you!).
  • Think big; start small.

Let me tell you some of the things I heard that relate to each of these.

Treat content as a product, not a project

Product, project: Does it matter which way we think of our content?  It sure does.

Several presenters, including Cleve Gibbon, stressed that content is a product that needs to be managed throughout its life cycle. It should not be a project that is completed and considered done.

Another speaker who touched on this was Mark Fries, Principal Strategic Marketing Manager at BMC Software. “You’re not launching a website,” he said. “You’re launching a hypothesis. You’re never done testing assumptions about what users need.”

In ongoing work with ISITE Design based in Portland, Oregon, Mark and his team are focusing on the most important sections of the site from a revenue point of view and optimizing them based on the ways users are interacting with the content. BMC Software has already seen a 67% increase in marketing-sourced pipeline for BMC.com, and that has paid for the project many times over.

Similarly, Ardath Albee talked about how companies need to stop thinking about content as a campaign with a beginning and an end – and start telling stories that create a progression throughout the buying cycle. She said,

“The reason I talk about the continuum approach is that this is an ongoing conversation, an ongoing story-building exercise to help educate people about everything they need to know to make that decision to buy, hopefully from you. It’s about getting your expertise in the room, not about three touches and a sales call.

“A one-off piece of content is not helping companies … Good topics have longevity, and people don’t master them overnight. If you really develop your content well and you’re telling the story that people need to know, then it’s valid for a long time until that story changes.”

Work backward from the experience you want customers to have

Another key theme that surfaced in many of the sessions relates to customer experience. Scott Abel shared this stat: Three-quarters of brands think they care for customers, but only 36 percent of customers actually feel cared for.

Robert Rose added this: Only 23% of customers feel that they have a relationship with a brand (and that’s from any brand). “Are you wondering if your customers are in that 23%?” Robert asked. “They’re not.”

Are you providing the kind of experience that makes your customer want to be a part of your brand? And do you do this at every touchpoint: at the right place and right time and on the right device?

Cleve Gibbon stressed that we need to start with the experiences we want our customers to have and work backward from that. Content (and technology) decisions flow from that.

Here are some points from other ICC speakers who reinforced this theme of the importance of customers’ experience of content.

  • Over-optimization leads to sameness (Todd Wheatland). When business content is too much of the same thing, it’s easy to ignore. The brain responds to and remembers change. (Carmen Simon)
  • Build a few remarkable experiences. You’ll never scale to be in every channel. Don’t let the term omnichannel fool you – you don’t have to be everywhere. In fact, you can’t be everywhere. You do have to be where your customers are. (Robert Rose)
  • Creating more content doesn’t mean we can get content down more channels; you actually get less, because you can’t manage it. (Cleve Gibbon)
  • What’s the 10% of your content you want people to remember? Focus on that 10%, and make sure that it’s a memorable experience. (Carmen Simon)

Structure content – and teams – for intelligent outcomes

If there was one word that rang through the Hyatt at the conference, it would be structure.

On the one hand, content needs to be structured. This is a foundational element of the  intelligent content definition. In essence, content chunks cannot be tied to any format. As Rahel Bailie mentioned in one of her sessions, only when you have structured, unformatted content can you begin to prepare your content for the future.

In fact, the term future-proofing came up several times in the context of structure.

Cleve Gibbon – citing a Joe Gollner blog post published a few days earlier – pointed out that in order to lead to intelligent outcomes, structured content needs to have three qualities:

  • It must be raw. It has to be independent of formatting so that it can be used in any number of types of output.
  • It must be self-describing. It needs metadata labels so that computers know what to do with it to serve the business objectives.
  • It must be modular. Each component of the overall structure stands alone so that it can be mixed and matched in various ways.

Cleve slide—raw etc

This slide from Cleve’s ICC keynote talk identifies three qualities that structured content must have to qualify as potentially intelligent. It must be raw, self-describing, and modular.

Just as content needs to be structured strategically, so, too, do content teams. This question came up a number of times: How are you going to organize people to get all of the work done, especially with challenges and responsibilities that cross departments?

Instigate change or follow fast (yes, you!)

If you work for a mid-size or large organization, you have no doubt been frustrated with how tough it can be to make progress. Is too much of your time spent justifying what you need to do instead of doing it?

Instigating change is a challenge, but we must take it on.

Noz Urbina reinforced this point: “If content is not properly positioned in the organization then you can’t solve the people, process, and technology problems.”

As I mentioned in my closing remarks, I see a palpable shift: We can make change happen now more than ever because there is so much disruption. This is a new opportunity in the last six to 12 months for many. Now is the ideal time to do something new – or, as Robert Rose mentioned, to quickly follow someone who is doing something new. Revolutions happen when one person leads and when the first person stands up and follows and encourages others to do the same. Robert shared a three-minute video that demonstrated the importance of both change instigators and “first followers.”

Our organizations depend on us to be change leaders – and first followers.

Ahava Leibtag pointed out that the way you successfully instigate change is to tie it to business outcomes. “Executives care about one thing: Are the numbers at the bottom of the spreadsheet round and green? Start with the money. Find something that is hurting the bottom line. Fix that.”

Think big; start small

Many speakers agreed – we need to think big and start small. Examples:

  • In the health care roundtable, Ann Rockley said, “Start at a single point. Find the biggest pain point, and address that first.”
  • Cleve Gibbon reminded us that we need to get in there and get our hands dirty.
  • Rahel Anne Bailie suggested that we think about the ideal scenario and plan for it in a scaled-back way.
  • Mark Fries and Guy Bourgault talked about focusing on those sections of a website where conversion happens and optimizing them first. This is how they were able to have the biggest impact.

Robert Rose and Carla Johnson’s new book, Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing – which rolled off the presses just in time for conference-goers to pick up a copy at the book table – puts it this way:

“If we aren’t willing to start someplace and begin to experiment, we risk being left behind. New ideas, new platforms, and new media all matter. It’s not about grabbing the ship with both hands and trying as hard as we can to turn it. It’s about placing little bets and learning. It’s about trying little experiments and seeing what happens.” (p. 297)

takeaways_ICC_graphic

Conclusion

Obviously at any conference, the takeaways can’t be summed up in a list of five or even five hundred. Did you attend the Intelligent Content Conference? If so, what were your key takeaways? If not, plan to join us at ICC next year!

A thanks to our editorial “ears on the ground”: Marcia Riefer Johnston, Karen Ronning-Hall, Carmen Hill, and Michele Linn. 

Title image courtesy of Joseph Kalinowski, Content Marketing Institute

By joepulizzi published March 28, 2015

This Week in Content Marketing: The Third Era of the Internet Has Begun

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PNR: This Old Marketing with Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose can be found on both iTunes and Stitcher.

In this week’s episode, Robert and I discuss AOL co-founder Steve Case’s take on the third era of the Internet (yes, this is such a thing). We also ponder whether or not LEGO went off the rails with its “beauty tips for girls” section in the LEGO Club magazine, and explore PR’s role in content marketing. Next, we critique a set of predictions on the future of consumer behavior and advertising and finish up this week’s news with a look at revenue models for podcasts.  Rants and raves include Starbucks’ awkward response to criticism of its “Race Together” campaign and IDG’s clever method of affiliate marketing. We wrap up the show with a #ThisOldMarketing example from Backcountry.

Continue Reading

By joepulizzi published March 25, 2015

Research: Technology Marketers Align Around Lead Gen

Technology-research-CoverOf all the segments of content marketers we’ve studied over the last year, technology marketers are the most focused on lead generation as a goal for content marketing. While tech marketers were the group most focused on lead generation last year as well, the percentage has increased from 86% in 2014 to 91% this year.

It’s also notable that the tech marketers are shifting away a bit from brand awareness (which does not generate leads) as a primary goal, and more toward getting measurable results (using leads as one measure).Continue Reading

By joepulizzi published March 21, 2015

This Week in Content Marketing: Starbucks Announces Next Move as Media Company

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PNR: This Old Marketing with Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose can be found on both iTunes and Stitcher.

In this week’s very special rant episode, Robert and I discuss Starbucks’ move into publishing with its hiring of a prominent Washington Post editor. We wonder if Nokia’s decision to launch a content marketing “campaign” with Wired magazine is a good idea, and ponder whether native advertising is an attractive new revenue stream for publishers – or if it’s making a deal with the devil. Finally, we question the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s (IAB) skewed view of the future of branded content. Raves include discussion of a valuable new formula to measure the impact of content marketing, and why podcasting needs to be evangelized to help it grow faster. We wrap up the show with a #ThisOldMarketing example from Public Accountant magazine.Continue Reading

By joepulizzi published March 14, 2015

This Week in Content Marketing: Is Google+ Finally Dead? Well, Not Really

PNR: This Old Marketing with Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose can be found on both iTunes and Stitcher.

In this week’s episode, Robert and I ponder whether Google+ is really dead or if it will continue to live in some other form. Next, we discuss Google’s planned evolution of its search algorithm to focus more on facts and less on links, and why The New York Times is going Hollywood with native advertising. We also question a research study’s claim that PR is the new content marketing.  Rants and raves include why marketers can’t measure, and how to get your long-form articles to go viral. We wrap up the show with two #ThisOldMarketing examples from RCA Records and Kellogg’s.Continue Reading

By joepulizzi published March 7, 2015

This Week in Content Marketing: The Media Industry Is Desperately Confused

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PNR: This Old Marketing with Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose can be found on both iTunes and Stitcher.

In this week’s episode (dubbed the “beautiful episode”), Robert and I discuss Uber’s new magazine launch to drivers as well as a thought-provoking article about the negativity surrounding ghostwriting. In addition, we discuss the confusion in the media landscape, how bad native advertising can get, and how Dove’s #SpeakBeautiful Twitter campaign is actually rather ugly. Raves include airline safety that has been transformed into compelling content and headlines that rock. We wrap up the show with a #ThisOldMarketing example from Lands’ End’s Apostrophe e-magazine.Continue Reading