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.

By joepulizzi published October 16, 2008

15 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Custom Magazine

Almost every company in the world has some kind of customized magazine or newsletter. According to the Custom Publishing Council, there are more than 100,000 custom publications in the United States alone. Sadly, many companies don’t leverage their custom magazine to the fullest extent, while most don’t understand the distribution options available.

Especially in these tougher economic times, custom magazines, along with all marketing, is going to be even more scrutinized, so it’s important to leverage everything you can out of the content. If your magazine content is truly valuable, make sure it’s not being wasted by just delivering it in print and losing it forever (believe it or not, many companies and associations do that).

For the basic custom magazine project, here are some ways to get the most “bang for your buck” out of your content, and create multiple avenues for qualified prospects and customers to reach you:

  1. Record audio and video of interviews for the magazine or newsletter for later repurposing. Most interviews are completed for the purpose of getting the magazine article, but content opportunities are everywhere.  Train your editorial team to make the most of their interviews.
  2. Develop a news release schedule before the magazine comes out. Target three or four key topics that affect your customers and the industry (based on the magazine content). The release link should take them to the magazine subscription or digital magazine subscription page. An incentive could be a free subscription to the print magazine or newsletter.
  3. Discuss the magazine on your corporate blog. Get your editor to post some of the key findings/issues. If you don’t have a corporate blog, create one on your magazine microsite (only if it makes sense and you can sustain it).
  4. Sent out news releases through a keyword-optimized service such as PRWeb.
  5. Post videos of interviews to YouTube and other targeted video portals specific to your industry. Upload audio to microsites. Research podcast directories that may be relevant to your industry. Look into creating a podcast RSS feed.
  6. Send digital magazine version to the international audience or domestic audience you didn’t want to spend printing and postage on (or possibly a secondary customer target).
  7. Make sure all articles have their own HTML pages on your microsite. Be sure each article has social media capabilities such as letting people add it to Facebook, Digg, or StumbleUpon, to name a few.
  8. Be sure to Stumble! noteworthy articles and choose the proper category for the article. Say, for example, the article goes best in agriculture; those people who have tagged agriculture as a keyword may see your article when they use StumbleUpon.
  9. If you have a Twitter account, run the RSS feed for your magazine articles through a service such as TwitterFox.
  10. Provide something remarkable and different on your microsite for download. This does two things: 1) continues the conversation with your current customers, or 2) gives you information on prospects so you can begin a conversation with them. Something remarkable may be a free eBook about the 10 trends in your industry, or a free white paper on a new, cutting-edge technology. Keep the sales pitch out. Seek only to educate at this point.
  11. Use pay-per-click, targeting specific keywords to drive people to your downloadable content offering. Your primary strategy should be organic results and inbound marketing, but a highly targeted pay-per-click campaign on long-tail keywords should be an option.
  12. Be sure to make RSS feeds available for your web content.
  13. Continue the news release program, pushing the audience to the videos, an eBook, or key articles. Remember, news releases aren’t for getting press; they are for building key links and for helping bloggers and influencers find your site. Industry bloggers can be key to your magazine effort.
  14. Upload articles to key vertical and social bookmarking sites such as SmallBusinessBrief.com for small business, Sphinn for SEO/SEM, Junta42 for content marketing, or Digg.com for wider exposure.
  15. And if you are really on the cutting edge, create a Facebook fan page or group around your magazine or your company and promote within that vehicle. Invite your key customers to join the Facebook group. Personally, I prefer the Facebook group we created over the fan page.  It seems to offer more opportunities for true interaction.

There is more that you can do, but this gives you an idea of how you should be marketing your relevant and valuable content. Think of it this way: How much valuable content have you or your organization created that has only been seen by one group of people—or worse yet, not engaged with at all? Marketing problem, not content problem.

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By joepulizzi published October 10, 2008

What You Need to Know about Content Marketing

Just read this article by Steve Tobak on bnet entitled “What You Need to Know about Branding.” Very cool article and worth checking out.  In the article, Steve contends that there are five key points that every manager needs to know about branding, and IMO he is dead on.

As I was reading the final three points, I wanted to take out the word “branding” and replace it with “content marketing.” And so I did.  See below.

Content marketing strategy is not a one-off; it’s a component of your overall corporate strategy. Hopefully that begins with some sort of strategic planning process that defines your company’s vision, goals, and key strategies. Content marketing strategy is integrated and aligned with those.

Content marketing…is about using certain tools to achieve strategic and operating goals. For example, content marketing can be used to position similar or the same products in different market segments, typically at different pricing levels. That means changing perception without changing the product -a neat trick.

There are a myriad of decisions and tradeoffs involved in developing the right content marketing strategy for a company and its products and services. There is method to the madness. For example, a product line’s goals, market requirements, and value proposition will lead to a unique content marketing strategy. At least it should.

Key points:

  1. Content marketing must be based on the company’s organizational goals, of which are based on fulfilling a customer need.
  2. Each company brand and product line could/should have a different content and informational strategy.
  3. Each company brand’s content marketing strategy is different because each product usually has different customer segments.  All customer groupings have their own informational needs, so the company must have different informational products and tactics as well.

Creating relevant, compelling and consisting content that works takes planning and investment. It’s much more challenging to develop content that creates a connection and fosters engagement than placing a TV spot or an ad (which is one of the reasons why more companies aren’t doing it more). It also can create an asset that has a much longer shelf life.

More companies are starting to realize this. As they do, it will even be more difficult to cut through the clutter. I have the feeling that we’ll look back on content marketing now with nostalgia as the good old days…when it was pretty easy to get content delivered and noticed by customers. Tomorrow we’ll have to be better…our customers deserve it.

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By joepulizzi published October 8, 2008

The Trickle Out of Traditional Media into Content Marketing Turns to Flood Starting Now

I have been hesitant to push this concept too much, but the evidence is just too vast to ignore anymore.  Those of you who are readers of this blog know that I’ve been talking about the push into content marketing from traditional media for years.

It’s not like that’s any big revelation.  We’ve been seeing traditional print and now even online display revenues take a beating at media companies. Layoffs and restructuring abound (even at Gawker and MySpace). Technology and consumer behavior has changed the landscape entirely and a new business model has emerged.Continue Reading

By joepulizzi published September 15, 2008

Six Strategies for Keeping Content Fresh

I’m a content guy.  I’m not a landscaper or outdoors man. I’ve tried a few times, but the results haven’t been pretty. That said, the cherry blossom tree in our front yard needed some major cleanup. There were many branches that were dead and the tree looked like it was getting choked to death. So, up the tree I went (btw, the picture on the right was taken by my five-year old son, Adam…not bad, huh?).

About five minutes after this picture was taken, I was doing my thing about 15 feet above the ground. Just then a 60-mile-an-hour wind gust came along (really, no kidding). I wouldn’t say that my life flashed before my eyes, but it did scare the crap out of me (While I was screaming for help, my wife was on the ground laughing uncontrollably).Continue Reading

By joepulizzi published June 29, 2008

113 Expert and Best Business Quotes of All-Time

I found this listing of expert and best business quotes in a presentation from Razorleaf’s Paul Gimbel at SolidWorks World 2008. (Razorleaf is one of the leaders in engineering and manufacturing process management.)

There are some gems in here for this must print out page!  Thanks to Paul for sharing his best business quotes of all-time.Continue Reading

By joepulizzi published May 22, 2008

10 Keys to Writing a Book when You Have Absolutely No Time to Write a Book

Well, after nine months of hard labor, I received the pre-press version of my book (with co-author Newt Barrett) delivered UPS yesterday. The book is entitled Get Content. Get Customers.How to use content marketing to deliver relevant, valuable, and compelling information that turns prospects into buyers (and is pictured here to the right).  Since we have just completed the book and while it was fresh in my mind, I thought I would offer some of the key steps we took to turn this little idea into a publishing reality. The book is now available for sale from the website at www.getcontentgetcustomers.com.

So here goes…my ten key steps to writing and publishing a book when you have absolutely no time to write or publish a book.

  1. Find a Co-Author. This may not seem like a sound strategy to most, but finding another body takes 50% of the workload from you. When Newt and I first spoke about the book last summer, we were actually both in the process of starting our own individual books. As our conversation continued, it seemed obvious that our topics were so similar that it might make sense to team up.A couple notes if you decide to go this direction. First, pick someone who has a vested interest in your customer base or industry, but is not competitive. Newt and I are both entrepreneurs and own marketing consultancies, but the type of work we do is different enough that there were no competitive issues. Second, make sure you trust that person with your life. Newt and I worked together at Penton Media, Inc. for years and were friends, so no issue there. But, even with that, we created a thorough partnership agreement through my attorney. Even family members split sometimes, so we wanted to make sure that if some issue arose that we differed on, the agreement spelled out a solution.

    The final point to the co-author arrangement is that we both had expertise in different areas, which really helped.  Newt was much better than I at interviewing and case studies, while I was a bit more proficient on the industry and research behind branded content and custom publishing (which we call content marketing). Once we completed the table of contents, we could both work on our areas independently, hit key dates, and continue to always more forward.

  2. Keep and Adhere to a Production Schedule. To be honest, our goal was to release the book in March of 2008. Didn’t happen. But we were always true to our production schedule. Even though we kept moving the dates back, the important part was that we kept dates. As you may be aware, most people that start writing a book never finish it.  Part of the reason may be that there are no hard dates to keep their eye on. I have a big white board in my office with the key book dates written in blue marker. Every morning I would see those dates.  Makes a difference.
  3. Before You Start, Create the Table of Contents. Creating the table of contents for your book is like your business plan.  Understand full well that the original table of contents you create will look nothing like what you end up with, but you need the TOC in order to start and finish the book. I believe we had four or five significantly different TOCs by the time we finished. We even reworked the entire order of the book after our initial reviewers gave their feedback.Here’s the real importance of the table of contents: if you just start writing, how will you know if you are making progress.  If you write 100 pages, is that almost all of the book or 25% of the book? How do you know when to stop and move to the next section? Seems obvious, but I know quite a few people that just started to write with no idea where they were going.  Needless to say, those people still have not completed their book, and they most likely never will.
  4. Work the Financials and Publishing Plan from the Beginning. Newt and I had the budget complete, and were well into finalizing the self-publishing details with our partner, Lightning Source, within the first month. We received quotes for the design, the copy writing, knew what our break even point would be, and both agreed to the financial terms. But more than anything, it made the process real and manageable. Writing a book is such a labor-intensive project, that you need as many tangible things as possible to keep you going.
  5. Find a Review Team and a Great Copywriter.  The book draft was sent to two people, Mike Azzara and David Drickhamer. They were simply fantastic.  Their feedback uncovered some key gaps in our methodology.  We were able to develop a much better book with their honest expert opinion. Also, our copy writer, Lisa Murton Beets, is one of the best. She really brought it all together. So don’t think that you can write a book completely sheltered from the outside world. Find a team of reviewers and a copy writer that you can trust. Makes all the difference in the world.
  6. Expert reviewers help you qualify and pitch the book…use them. We approached a number of marketing and publishing experts in the field for book reviews. This does two things. First, you’ll know if you have a bad book if they don’t want to give you a review. Fortunately, all but one of our reviewers made the date in time for publishing. The team included the father of integrated marketing Don Schultz, bestselling author David Meerman Scott, digital expert and author Rohit Bhargava, Mr. Magazine Samir Husni, leading marketing blogger Greg Verdino, post-advertising expert Simon Kelly, and the copyblogger himself, Brian Clark. Second, the “praise for” section of your book is a wonderful way to market the product. I don’t know about you, but I almost always read the testimonials before purchasing a book.  They’re priceless. We were overwhelmed with their reviews, and will be leveraging them for our marketing efforts.
  7. Develop a System to Write during Off-Hours. If you have a real job and are not a full-time author, writing during the day is almost impossible.  Most of my writing was done between 10pm and 2am. Find what time suits you best, but probably not during regular work hours.
  8. Tell People You Are Writing a Book.  This keeps you honest. Tell as many people as you can. They will start to ask you how the book is going (especially to see if you are one of those people who never finish a book). Use this as motivation to actually complete your book. There’s nothing better than showing a copy of your book to friends when many of them never thought you could do it. Ha.
  9. Determine a Core Selling Strategy (If You Can) Before You Start Writing. Part of our strategy was to sell bulk copies to custom publishers and other organizations who would benefit from giving the book to their customers. Upfront bulk sales to other businesses may be a lot easier for you than selling individual copies.  Using both would be the ultimate goal, but if one falls through you have the other. Minimizes risk.  Find a strategy that makes sense to you so you can get off the ground running. Doing it from the start gives you a good focus on who your core audience should be.
  10. Stop Somewhere and Realize that Perfection Is Unattainable. We could have kept writing the book forever if we wanted to.  At some point, you have to draw a line in the sand and publish it.  As soon as you finish it there will be some new research, some new story, or some new perspective that you should have covered.Don’t worry about it…just use it for your next book. 🙂
  11. BONUS ADDITION – From Rohit Bhargava in Comments – Start Blogging First. “The benefit of being a blogger before writing a book is that my writing was “in shape” when I started my book. As a result, I feel like I was able to write much faster and make my points much more quickly. For anyone considering writing a book, I would highly suggest starting to blog at the very least so that you can start to flex your writing muscles in a consistent way. And you get the side benefit of starting to build your platform online too.”

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By joepulizzi published May 8, 2008

Huge Opportunities for Businesses Who Focus on their Content Strategy

I had the pleasure of guest blogging at the King Fish Media ThinkTank blog the other day. You can check out the complete post here.

This was written after I had a brief conversation with a marketer that was taking the angle of content marketing being nice “fluff” to give your clients, but not necessary to the overall marketing strategy for most companies.  Of course, I (as nice as I could) disagreed with the gentleman and cited a number of reasons why he was completely off his rocker.

The web has turned most business models completely upside down, and created huge opportunities for others to launch businesses from nothing at all. The delivery of consistent and valuable content may be the most important indicator of financial success for future businesses.

If I’m launching a business today, or looking into the overall vision of the company, I’m looking at these three aspects of the business.

  1. Customer Service Excellence
  2. Valuable, Relevant Content Strategy
  3. Helpful/Innovative Product Product

Note that I put the product itself as #3 on the list.  Products can be duplicated in almost every industry today, especially with the rise of cheaper labor overseas.  What separates one business from another is #1 and #2, which involves honest, transparent and consistent communication with customers and prospects. Cool products come and go – a relevant and consistent message is timeless. IMPORTANT NOTE: new products launch all the time and can become successful very fast just by the nature of the product. We’ve seen this happen with many web-based applications. But without a consistent content marketing strategy, competition can come in and duplicate the product quickly if the company has not clearly differentiated itself through their communications.

Medium-sized and Larger organizations with better-known brands should begin positioning their content as a product in their company (mostly so organizational management starts to take the concept seriously). This means creating R&D budgets, long-term content strategies, ongoing measurements against the content, and content growth strategies.

By doing this, an organization will make the investment necessary to truly differentiate themselves from the competition, and fend off any new competitors who simply try to copy their base products.

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By joepulizzi published March 12, 2008

Love Your Customers, Even if They Don’t Buy

My last post was five days ago.  That has been the longest stretch without blogging since I started this blog almost a year ago.  Doesn’t feel good, but I guess I had good reason. New Orleans for the Custom Content Conference (launch of Junta42 Match as well as organizing the sponsors for the event), and then speaking in NYC for the Publishing Business Conference (thanks to Marcus Grimm from Nxtbook for proving it). Not to mention digging out of 26 inches of snow to get to the Big Easy.

I have about five blog posts loaded up and ready to go, but I just saw this article I wrote in DMNews about the importance of consistent content as it relates to direct marketing.

This is probably my favorite line:

The future of marketing is not about tempting [customers] or conning [customers] into buying more; it’s about communicating a message that says, “Regardless of whether you buy from me or not, you need this information. Enjoy!”

To direct marketers, that line might be sacrilegious, but I still love it.

By joepulizzi published March 3, 2008

Where Should You Stick Your Marketing?: Educate Customers Everywhere

I was in the doctor’s office last week for a routine checkup. As I entered, the nurse escorted me to the patient room where I waited for the doctor. On the desk in the office sat a computer monitor that was streaming what looked to be a PowerPoint show. 

There were about 10 rotating messages targeted to me, the patient. One talked about checkups for colon cancer, another about weight issues, and another one was about moles (fun!).  I learned a lot and paid attention. The one slide on adult shots motivated me to ask the doctor a question, which resulted in me actually buying an additional shot…one that I would not have bought without the computer show.

The health care industry always been a trend setter when it comes to educating customers and prospects. They are in the business of healing and education.  Most hospitals either have their own newsletter/magazine, or carry the WebMD magazine. Now they are doing it again by using a computer (which has to be there for the doctors/nurses) and leveraging it to educate customers (and upsell).

Here’s the point: You are also in the business of education. It is your responsibility to educate your customers and prospects about not only your products, but about the industry and key issues that surround your product. By doing so on a consistent basis, with relevant and valuable content, you will sell more to these people.

And here’s your task: Find the places where your customers and prospects are, and take advantage of these locations by delivering timely and relevant information. This could be:

  • On your invoices (tip or white paper download information).
  • At your register/counter (placards, signage, additional tips, magazines, newsletters, monitors).
  • On your website. We talk about this all the time, but most marketers still only use their website to showcase the company and its products. Carve out a portion of your site to educate and inform your customers about things important to them. Do this right, and they will come to rely on you for this kind of information.
  • At trade shows (pass out industry reports, white papers, etc.).
  • On sales appointments (magazine, tip sheet, industry report, economic report, microsite to send prospects to, etc.).

These are just a few.  The point is to think of all ways in which customers come in contact with you and leverage those opportunities to help educate and engage them. Most companies lose educational opportunities through many different touch points. Make sure that you aren’t one of those companies by making a list of those touch points and deliver content marketing to them along the way.

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By joepulizzi published February 19, 2008

Why Marketers Are Reluctant to Move Away from Traditional Marketing Strategies

“The future of advertising is radically different from its past. The struggle for control of attention, creativity measurements and platforms will reshape the advertising value chain and shift the balance of power. And, as in previous disruptive cycles, the future cannot be extrapolated from the past.”

– from The End of Advertising as We Know It, IBM Global Services, 2007

Today, most companies are still using traditional marketing approaches that they may have been using since the middle of the 20th century.  There are several reasons for this:

  • Companies are set up to sell products, not to provide relevant and valuable information to customers and prospects.
  • Companies have well-worn marketing paths that are easy to follow.  Going off the beaten path into uncharted territory is intimidating.
  • Companies have strong relationships with media partners that may go back decades.  It’s not easy to break those relationships by pursuing a brand-new content marketing strategy.
  • The reduced effectiveness of traditional marketing may have occurred so slowly that no alarm bells have gone off within your organization.
  • Many companies aren’t measuring their marketing, so they aren’t even sure what is and what is not effective.
  • Many companies lack both the right people and the right processes to implement a new kind of marketing.
  • Many businesses are reluctant to abandon traditional marketing tactics for what they may believe to be unproven content marketing or new media practices.
  • Most companies lack content marketing role models from whom they can learn best practices.
  • Some companies place very little value in marketing versus other aspects of the organization (operations, product development). Little do they know, that every part of the organization is affected by (or actually is) marketing.

In order for a company to alter their mindset toward one of new media or content marketing, they need one of a few things to happen:

  • Business gets so bad that they start trying new things.
  • Voluntary or involuntary turnover creates new thinking in the organization.
  • A culture change in sparked in the organization, through an internal champion, external customer demands, or the merging of a new business culture through an actual merger or buyout.

The point is that there is great opportunity. There is opportunity for small businesses who can make these changes and adaptations faster than their larger competitive set. There is also opportunity for medium and large organizations who can make decisions based on how their customers want to engage with them, not on what they’ve done in the past.

The IBM white paper that led off this post has an interesting set of questions to ask marketing professionals that speaks directly to the drastic changes that have taken place just in the last few years.

  • Will advertisers still need a traditional agency? If so, in what capacity?
  • Will traditional programmers lose significant revenue to the Internet, mobile device providers and interactive home portals?
  • Will consumers reject outright the concept of interruption marketing in the future?
  • Will consumer receptivity vary by medium (for example, mobile devices versus home-oriented devices)?
  • Will consumers see value in advertising as a trade-off for content?
  • To what extent will advertising inventory be sold through open platforms?
  • Do advertising industry players have the customer analytics needed to better understand and reach target customers?
  • Are companies organized correctly to create, market and distribute cross-platform content?

Most everyone has an answer to the above questions – but noone knows for sure if they will be right. All we can do is see what is happening and talk to our customers. That said, the more I interact with marketing and publishing professionals, the more I realize that the old rules don’t apply anymore. What is going on right now is a revolution like nothing we’ve ever seen. The opportunity is great for those companies that buy into this.

Some companies think that the Internet is just another way to market. It’s those companies that are in trouble.

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