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 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.
By joepulizzi published October 29, 2008

Writing a Book? 6 Ways to Launch Your Book Using Social Media

It’s funny…the more our society focuses on the Internet, the more niche print books you tend to see.  Sounds counter intuitive, but the Long Tail has created opportunities in book publishing that were never before imaginable.

Since we have the ability to target the slimmest of customer segments, more companies are developing content to serve those niches and drive revenues. Yes, even books. From Amazon.com to LuLu, publishing has become easier from both a production and promotion standpoint.

This was one of the reasons why Newt Barrett and I launched our book Get Content. Get Customers., which revolves around the philosophy and execution of content marketing. We believed that we could develop a content marketing book, without a major publisher, that could get traction through the use of social media and the Internet. And we were right. (Note: Last month, Newt and I sold the book rights to McGraw-Hill. The marketing of the book was the major reason we were approached with this opportunity – that, and hopefully the fact that it’s a good book had something to do with it.)

We didn’t do everything perfect, but we did a lot right, and there are others out there doing some amazing things.  Below are six social media and online keys to promoting a book for yourself or your business.

NOTE: Remember, this is not a traditional book launch.  Thinking differently is the key.

1. It Starts with Relationships

This is less of a “way” than a philosophy.  The key to your online promotion success is having lots of conversations with lots of people online. Then, those people have more conversations and presto, you have a successful book launch.

Your online relationships need to be in place before you launch your book. Trying to create a movement at the same time you are trying to find influential business colleagues is difficult at best.

Get and stay active online by using social networking and communication tools such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and FriendFeed. Each one will give you the opportunity to grow your network and find your place.

But it’s not enough to just join…you have to do two things: get active and have something to say.

Look at it like this – if you are having a one-on-one conversation with someone and all you do is talk about yourself and how wonderful you are, how long will that relationship last?  Same thing goes for anything online. The more valuable information you communicate, the more people want to hang around you.

By doing this, you will build your base of followers that will make everything else on this list possible.

2. Why a Blog is so Important

First off, the blog can be where you actually start and finish the book.  A good portion of the chapters for our book originally came from popular posts from my blog. The same goes for authors like Seth Godin or Rohit Bhargava, both of whom have used their blogs to develop and promote their books.

But, the bigger point is that you need consistent, relevant and valuable content to continually communicate to your followers/colleagues from point #1. Nothing does that better or easier than a blog. I know with 100% certainty that I couldn’t have launched the book without the blog – in terms of both creating and cultivating a following.

Content marketing works because a valuable piece of content delivered to people who want it is still the best marketing on the planet. It positions you as a trusted content resource. Once you become a trusted resource, anything from a marketing perspective is possible. Possibly no one does that better than Seth.

3. Viral Marketing and the eBook

I’m a big David Meerman Scott fan. David’s books Cashing in with Content and The New Rules of Marketing & PR both discussed how content marketing can fuel a business and a brand.

Before Launching “The New Rules”, David created an ebook entitled The New Rules of PR that has been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times. By giving away this wonderful and free piece of content, David was setting the groundwork for the explosion of his best-selling book.

Newt and I flat out stole the same concept with the release of our free eBook, Get Content. Get Customers. We gave it away for free, placed it on LuLu, and promoted it on our blogs.  We actually used much of the feedback we received about the eBook as part of the printed book. It’s almost like sending a rough draft out to the world and seeing what sticks.

It really could have been anything…an article series, a white paper, a video, etc. But we’ve found, as David has shown, that an eBook serves as a good preview of the book, and is easy enough for people to link to and pass around.

4. Don’t Wait for Your Prospects to Find You

Yes, you should have a destination site that people can visit to get your information. That could be a website or a blog. That said, you can’t expect everyone to find you by getting to YOUR site.

There are plenty of sites that you need to leverage all that great content you are creating in anticipation of your book launch.

Use sites like Digg.com, SmallBusinessBrief and Junta42 to upload links and abstracts to your content. Get active in StumbleUpon. Upload to Facebook. Promote on Twitter. Upload full articles to MarcomProfessional.com.

Of course, the sites depend on who your target is (each industry has their own targeted content sites). You may also consider creating your own Squidoo page as I have. Guest blog as much as possible at relevant sites (bloggers are always looking to do Q&A’s or guest blogs). Place articles on sites such as EzineArticles.

Also, don’t forget to get involved in other communities that can help people find you as a resource.  Those include Yahoo! Answers, LinkedIn Questions and posting reviews on Amazon.com.

The point is that you want to create as many highways into your site as possible (what Hubspot calls Inbound Marketing) and be everywhere that makes sense with your target audience. Yes, it takes time, but done right, there may be no better way to market.

5. Building a Community First

Seth Godin’s release of his latest book, Tribes, was simply amazing.

Seth created an invitation-only community site called Triiibes.com, where leaders and students could learn and be inspired (the site uses Ning.com technology). Seth called for the movement initially on his blog, which is how I found out about it.

Seth did all the right things. In exchange for putting a little skin in the game (buying the book), Seth gave you access to people who really cared about marketing.  He also made it a limited proposition, made it viral (email to a friend), and made it easy to join.

The Triiibes.com community is pretty vibrant, and I check it out when I can.

Seth built a community of fans who are all working to promote Seth’s book.  By just getting a few passionate people involved in the beginning, Seth created something bigger than the book.

Something to aspire to…

6. Leverage Others to Organize a Movement

I can’t tell you how impressed I am with Drew McLellan and Gavin Heaton. Drew and Gavin were the masterminds behind Age of Conversation 2, a book I recently co-authored with 236 others from 15 countries.

This was not a book project, this was a major social movement that Drew and Gavin worked to perfection for the second time (I wasn’t a part of the first book).

How do you get others to believe in something as much as you?  Make them a part of the process.

What does that mean for your book experience?  Whatever it is, if done right, you’ll create something that transcends the book, which is what Drew and Gavin have done.

And these six strategies just touch upon what can be done in this ever-changing online climate.  There is one constant though – none of this will work without the creation of valuable, consistent and compelling content. If you have that, you just need to find ways to get people to engage in that content. The six points above will help – go out and find more…

More reading at: 10 Keys to Writing a Book when You Have Absolutely No Time to Write a Book

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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.

Other Helpful Links

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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.

Helpful Resources

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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