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 July 7, 2009

Why You Need a Branded Content Tool of Your Own

I love branded content tools and applications.

If you aren’t thinking about creating one, you need to be…now!

What is a branded content tool? Simply put, it’s an online application that comes from a brand (i.e., Kraft) that solves a very simple problem or is incredibly helpful.  Most times, it’s free as well.

Why create a branded content tool/app? Similar to content marketing, where a company delivers valuable, relevant and compelling information in order to position that company as a trusted expert, a branded tool uses data content to do the same thing.

What are some branded content application examples?
Here are a few of my favorites.

  • Website Grader from Hubspot. Free and easy-to-use tool that measures how well a website is doing in terms of search engine optimization. Website grader has been so successful for Hubspot (over 1 million websites to date), that they launched a number of other graders, including my new favorite, the Gobbledygook grader.
  • The Webbed-O-Meter from Webbed Marketing. Free tool to analyze your “buzz” effect over 16 different social media sources.
  • iFood Assistant from Kraft. Recipes on the go via your iPhone.
  • Personal Budget Planner from Mint.com. Easy-to-use online tool that helps you create a financial budget.
  • Nike Plus from Nike. Track your running and training. Also, check out the Perfect Shoe Finder from Nike.  Very cool.

How to start? Think of this…what’s something very simple, and very helpful you could be providing to your customers for free, that ultimately positions you as an expert related to the products/services you sell.  The alignment of those two things could make for a killer app.

Some odd examples? If I’m a printer, I’d create a “design your own magazine cover” tool. If I’m an air-conditioning repair shop, I’d create an automated check up tool that emails key dates to tune-up the air conditioner. If I’m a dentist, I’d develop a teeth simulator that shows what happens to teeth if you eat certain foods for sustained periods.  You get the point.

What helpful tool should you be developing that your competition hasn’t thought of…yet?

Relevant Resources:

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By joepulizzi published June 18, 2009

Create these 10 Media Channels for Your Content Marketing Strategy

Had the pleasure of presenting “Please Stop Talking about Yourself” at the Web Content Conference 2009 in Chicago this week.  As usual, I was discussing the importance of brands creating their own media channels, and putting their publishing hats on in place of traditional marketing practices.  You can catch the PowerPoint presentation on creating media channels here, but for the PowerPoint averse, here are the top 10.

  1. Create an online media site. Examples – HomeMadeSimple.com and BeingGirl.com from P&G; Out-Law.com from the UK law-firm Pinsent Masons (we also talk about Out-Law as a full case study in Get Content Get Customers).
  2. An educational enewsletter (not to be mistaken for the “sales happy” enewsletter). Godfrey gives us a great example from the b2b marketing side.
  3. A slideshare channel. Why not create your own presentation channel at slideshare? Trendsspotting provides a perfect example of this in action.
  4. The free web app. Hubspot’s website grader is a classic.
  5. The Twitter tips channel. Collect the best information on the web and distribute through Twitter.  Be the expert content resource for your industry.
  6. A Facebook movement. Fan pages are fine, but provide something of relevance that your customer base can dig into.  Shama Hyder does a great job with her ACT blueprint page.
  7. Raid traditional media. If you are not looking at media properties in your industry to purchase or partner with, you are not being a smart marketer.
  8. The mobile helper. Kraft’s iFood assistant could change the way people cook.
  9. A digital magazine. Yes, even with all the social media rage, there is still a place for digital magazine. Betty Crocker creates targeted digital mags for consumers of all food specialties.  Check out this one on birthday parties.
  10. The video microsite. Can’t do a post like this without mentioning willitblend.com, perhaps the greatest ROI ever on a video storytelling series.

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By joepulizzi published May 8, 2009

10 Steps to Personal Branding Success

I was invited by the great teams at Advancement and DATAForge to  talk about personal branding success and wanted to share the presentation.

There are some excellent personal branding specialists that I follow (thanks Dan Schawbel), but the presentation below was based mostly on what I feel has made me successful.

What I emphasized to the group was that you don’t have to do all ten steps to be successful.  The most important part is that you pick the steps you can commit to and consistently execute those steps.

10 Steps to Personal Branding Success

  1. Update Your Online Profiles Now. LinkedIn, Facebook, and your Google profile are the most important. If you don’t have it already, buy your domain name. As a standard practice, all business cards you collect should be sent invitiations via LinkedIn. Finally, hire a professional to take your picture.
  2. Start a Blog/Get Involved in the Conversation. I use WordPress and TypePad for my blogs, and you can be up and running with either in a short period of time. Follow and comment on the top 10 – 20 blogs where your customers are hanging out. Answer questions on LinkedIn Answers and Yahoo! Answers. Follow your name, brands and keywords at Google Alerts. Find and get active in a Google Group that makes sense.
  3. Write a Book. Okay, this is a tough one. If a book is out of the question, start with an eBook. If you can do it though, start here (writing a book when you have no time to write a book).
  4. Create and Distribute Content of Interest to Your Customers. Develop a permission-based newsletter and consistent white papers/ebooks that will help your target group and position you as the industry expert. Share presentations on Slideshare. Use Twitter to distribute helpful information in your expertise area (here are eight Twitter steps to follow). Give away the “secret sauce”.
  5. Write for Everyone (no matter how small). Yes, it’s great writing for media sites such as AdWeek or Chief Marketer, but if you are asked to write for someone…anyone, do it. Even the smallest blog site can influence someone that you may not have had an opportunity to reach.
  6. Pick 2-3 Key Associations and Get Active. Once you do, always go to cocktail receptions, get on the committees/boards, and don’t commit to anything unless you can do it well.
  7. Speak, Speak, Speak. Once you start doing the first six points, you’ll start getting asked to speak at events. Remember, sometimes small, intimate events can spread your content farther than large events (so don’t dismiss them).
  8. Always Be Helpful (even if you feel like you are wasting your time). You will start to get many people coming to ask you for help and advice. That’s great! Sometimes you can’t help everyone yourself, but you can point them in the right direction.  Follow up with everyone.
  9. Pay Attention to Google. You are who Google says you are. If you can’t be found in Google either at all or for the right things, you won’t be found. It’s that simple.
  10. Get Behind a Charity/Cause. Hopefully, you are already doing this, but building your personal brand has to be about more than just you.  Pick one charity to get behind and make something happen for the better.

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By joepulizzi published April 14, 2009

Three Things Now! – Content Marketing, Listening and Social Media

I gave this presentation last week at the Esource Utility Marketing Conference in Phoenix, AZ.

Here are a couple key takeaways from the presentation above.

We Have Come Full Circle
Centuries ago, the information world as we knew it was shaped by many voices. Thousands of newspapers and pamphlets from across North America was how people become informed through media.

Then came big newspapers, big television, big radio.  We went from many voices to few voices.

Today, there are more voices than ever before (we have come full circle and are back to the beginning).

What that means as marketers is that we need to adjust where we place our attention and budget. 70% of marketing dollars still goes toward "bigger, placed media". Knowing how media has changed, does this still make sense? Probably not.

Marketing Today is Publishing

For our marketing to succeed, we, as marketers, need to understand what successful publishing is. The majority of our marketing spend needs to be dedicated to the creation of consistent valuable and relevant information to our customer segments.

But even that's not good enough? We need to develop this information in ways that can easily be spread.

I've never had anyone send me a print ad, or forward me an online display advertisement. But I've had many forward an interesting article, video, or piece of branded software.

If your content is something that your customers are willing to share, you've unlocked the secret of engagement.

Be the Trusted Expert in "Something
"
Being a provider of some product or service is not good enough today. You need to be the trusted expert of something. Figuring out what that "something" is for your customers will ensure that you actually have long-lasting relationships with your customers.

Social Media Should Be about Listening FIRST

If you aren't using social media tools such as blogs, Twitter and Facebook to listen, forget about distribution. Never has there been greater opportunity to talk one-on-one with your customers. Don't screw that up by shoving content down their throats before you really understand what their pain points are.

My Four Rules to Twitter

  1. Never answer the question "What are you Doing?" Who cares? No one.  Focus on what your customers' informational needs are. Answer that.
  2. Assign Ownership. Make someone responsible. This should be someone's job.
  3. Be Democratic. Don't be so presumptuous to think that only your organization creates and distributes great content. Nothing will make you the trusted expert faster than to distribute the best content from anywhere you can find it…even from your competitor.
  4. Be Human. People do business with people today, not companies. With Twitter, there is no other option.

Content and Social Media – Follow These Steps!

  1. Understand who your customer is and where the pain points are.
  2. Develop consistent, relevant content in multiple channels.
  3. Let go of all control. Let your idea spread.
  4. People share your ideas, link to your content.
  5. Content is found through social media and search engines.
  6. Customers start relying on you for your expertise (relationship!)
  7. You are the trusted solutions provider in your industry.

Thanks to the great folks at Esource for putting together an unforgettable event.

<p>Slide 51</p>

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By joepulizzi published March 17, 2009

Five Content Marketing Books You Need to Read

Over the past month, I've had a large amount of flying time to Europe and back. That means it's been the perfect time to catch up on my reading.

Below are books that I've read and taken something significant away.  I believe they can help you too (these are in no particular order).

#1 – Content Rich by Jon Wuebben

I recently had the chance to chat with Jon, and subsequently read his book. Here's my take: if SEO copywriting and content creation is important to your business (it should if it's not), this is a must read. Jon knows this stuff and will show you step by step how to do it. This will change the way you think about online content.

Best for: Anyone trying to increase conversions from search engines.

#2 – World Wide Rave by David Meerman Scott

You won't find a bigger fan than me of David's previous book, The New Rules of Marketing and PR. WW Rave is as good, if not better. If you are not a believer in the content marketing revolution, you will be after reading this book. It's a game changer. The examples are priceless. Need executive buy-in? Buy them this book.

Best for: Decision-makers that don't understand how the Internet has changed the game. Opportunity is now.

#3 – HVAC Spells Wealth by Ron Smith

As some of you know, I've done a bit of work in HVAC (Heating Ventilating and Air Conditioning) publishing and marketing in my day. Through my travels I've had the opportunity to meet and work with Ron. Okay, Ron's book is not really about content marketing. But it IS one of the most practical small business operations, sales and marketing books I've ever read. Ron's examples are geared toward consumer service businesses, but the tips are priceless. Ron includes dozens of what he calls "1%ers" (small changes that when added up are game changers). I started making a list of them.  I'll share in a future post.  Great stuff. Get the book.

Best for: Owners and executives that need to focus more time on customers, and less time on internal politics. The process detail in invaluable.

#4 – The Zen of Social Media Marketing by Shama Hyder

Shama was kind enough to let me preview a copy of this eBook before she released it. What I truly love about this book revolves around "the art of giving." Social media is about giving of your expertise in a way that helps your ideas spread. If you are a social media novice or a self-proclaimed social media guru, you will take some points away that will help your business. No doubt about it. Good for any sized business. Includes concrete best practices for Twitter and Facebook.

Best for: Businesses unsure about how to proceed into social media.

#5 – Personality Not Included by Rohit Bhargava

I didn't start using the term "authenticity" until after I read this book. Today's marketing environment means that brands needs to stand for something, and back that up with ideas and content that are meaningful to customers. We don't have a choice anymore.  Rohit's examples are worth the price of admission.

Best for: Marketing executives trying to grasp the integration between new and traditional marketing. Those trying to find a connection with customers.

Also (warning…sales plug), I have to mention our book, Get Content Get Customers as well (revised paperback to be released in May). I've seen this book in action with both businesses and media companies, and I can guarantee that it will make a difference in your business if you implement these steps.

Finally, I haven't read it yet, but I'm intrigued by John Blossom's Content Nation. That's the next one on my list.

Any others that I should add to my content marketing reading list?

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By joepulizzi published January 14, 2009

Content Marketing: The Present and Future of Public Relations?

I gave a luncheon presentation entitled Content Marketing: The Present and Future of PR? yesterday for my new friends at Cincinnati PRSA.

(Note: Some of the images look a bit distorted in slideshare).

Here’s the high level overview:

  • Many traditional media properties are struggling to survive. For example, I had a conversation with Forrester research last week who stated the likelihood of 1/2 of all US newspapers to stop production in two years.
  • If these traditional media properties that PR used to get their message out are going away, what is PR to do? In any particular industry, who is helping to tell the story (companies, bloggers, etc.)?
  • Since PR professionals understand the value of, and how to develop a story, they are placed perfectly to be in the middle of the organizational content engine.
  • If PR’s role is to help manage the information from an organization to its “public”, doesn’t
    that include the creation of targeted story-telling initiatives like
    custom magazines, enewsletters, blogs, white papers, etc.?
  • Many PR professional already do many of these things, but are they “owning” the production of content within an organization that is targeted to customers and prospects?
  • Is this PR’s realm, or is it the realm of the marketer/corporation communications, the advertising agency, the custom publisher, or even the traditional publisher. Each of these group owners would say yes. But PR may have the advantage because they understand the value of the story.
  • The challenge is that the content distribution process has completely flipped on its head. Can PR professionals understand that they need to start communicating directly with customers and prospects, and not go through traditional media channels, to tell the story?

It was exciting to talk to many of the members after the presentation about how they believe they have now found their new career path, or how they can take their organization to the next level with content marketing. Makes driving through two hours of snow well worth the effort.

Here are some other helpful resources, based on the presentation:

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By joepulizzi published December 21, 2008

42+ Social Media and Content Marketing Predictions for 2009

Some people hate them, but I’m a sucker for prediction articles. The switch over to the next calendar year always provides the perfect scenario to decide what the fate of marketing will be.

We reached out to the Junta42 community, as well as the Junta42 Top 42 bloggers, to get their take on what the new year would hold for content marketing and social media.  As you will see, lots of opportunity amidst great uncertainty. Just the way we like it.

Thanks to those who contributed. Some truly outstanding expertise (and frankly, free consulting from some of the best). If you don’t agree or would like to add yours, please do – and pass this along to any marketing folk you know.Continue Reading

By joepulizzi published December 15, 2008

How Simple Gestures Can Grow Your Business

The homily at Church yesterday was about simple gestures.

It was how an anonymous person left five full lunches (sandwich, fruit and pretzels in each) on the steps of the church. The next morning those five lunches fed five people who needed food. It created five incredibly happy people and also eased the burden on the church’s “back door” program (which feeds those in need).

It was how someone years ago started putting fruit baskets together for the home-bound in the near west-side of Cleveland. Back then it created dozens of happy people who received them. Today there are over 700 elderly and home-bound individuals who eagerly look forward to those fruit baskets.

Simple gestures make a difference. Simple gestures can change the world.

Simple gestures can change your business.

The regular tips from P&G’s Home Made Simple helps the incredibly busy working mom (or dad) keep the house together and keep the kids fed. The result: more family time. Just a simple gesture from P&G. What does P&G get back? Home Made Simple is one of P&G’s most successful (and least expensive) R&D tools.

MasterCard Small Business used to be all about just making it easy for people to get a new credit card. Today, they actively develop content about how small businesses are dealing with business issues in order to be successful. Just a simple gesture from MasterCard. What does MasterCard get back? More than 50% of new card sign ups come directly from an educational article.

Hubspot developed websitegrader.com to help small businesses quickly evaluate how they can improve their websites. Just a simple gesture from Hubspot. What does Hubspot get back? Website Grade is Hubspot’s most powerful lead generator by far, and has been instrumental in their rapid growth.

Simple gestures, or the giving of time and knowledge to help your customers succeed, can change your marketing, your business, your employees and most importantly, the way your customers view your company.

By “giving gifts” to your customers, you become a trusted solutions provider. When they are ready to buy, they look to you, because you helped them. Just a simple gesture.

Simple gestures attract prospects. Continuing to provide simple gestures keep customers for a lifetime.

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By joepulizzi published November 16, 2008

Junta42 Releases New Top Blogs List – TopRank Blog Sneaks By Copyblogger

We’re excited to announce the fourth installment of the Junta42 Top 42 Content Marketing blogs. Congratulations this month goes to Lee Odden and the team from TopRank Online Marketing, whose Online Marketing Blog just squeaked by Brian Clark’s Copyblogger (which held the #1 position for the last two updates).Continue Reading

By joepulizzi published November 12, 2008

Purpose-Based Marketing, Jim Stengel and Content Marketing

I’ve seen Jim Stengel speak many times and always enjoyed it.  For the past five+ years, the global marketing chief from Procter & Gamble seemed a regular on the advertising and marketing speaking circuit.  Now we know why.

Mr. Stengel has formed his own marketing consulting company called (appropriately) Jim Stengel LLC. Stengel states in this Wall Street Journal article that “marketing is in need of a major overhaul…trust in brands is at an all-time low.”
Stengel’s “new way” of selling is called “purpose-based marketing,” which, according to the article, is “about defining what a company does – beyond making money – and how it can make its customers’ lives better.”
Although this is nothing new, it’s nice to see this picked up in the Journal, and that a well-followed and successful marketing executive is carrying the banner of what we call content marketing.
Yes, Stengel’s “purpose-based marketing” is “content marketing”.
Here is what I wrote back in January on this topic:
Content marketing is not easy because you actually have to listen to your customers and know what their challenges are. You cannot solve your marketing woes through buying advertising space. You must make a connection to your customers, and get new customers, by focusing on their true pain points and healing them with information.

In the WSJ article, Stengel discussed how Pampers found its higher purpose: helping moms develop healthy, happy babies.  From that, P&G offered parenting advice (relevant content) and recruited experts on a variety of parenting topics (yep, that’s content marketing).
The Results: the brand won market share. Pampers became not just a product, but a trusted resource through their use of content marketing.  They did it by telling a meaningful, relevant and compelling story.
Look, nothing against Mr. Stengel here, but this “new idea” has been the basis of the custom publishing (what I call content marketing) movement for over 100 years (since John Deere launched the first recognized custom publication called The Furrow in the late 1800s – and still in publication by the way – bless you John Deere).
Stengel’s book release that expands on his idea (currently titled “Packaged Good”) is currently in production.  While you wait for that one to hit bookstores, here’s the original.