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 February 22, 2008

You Are What the Web Says You Are: Reality and Social Media Reality

This guest blog I wrote for the ASBPE (The American Society of Business Publication Editors) National blog may be of interest to freelance writers and journalists, but also relevant to marketers and publishers as well. The point is that, regardless of if you think social media and social networking is too much hype and not enough substance, there is a perception that goes with social media involvement.

Those that are actively involved in social media immediately have an impression of those people that aren’t. Right or wrong, the reality is there. My position is that NOT being involved in social media, as a writer, a business, or a marketer, could significantly hurt a customer’s or prospect’s perception of that individual or organization.

Here is my take below from how I evaluate freelance writers. Whatever your position, you may want to look at your own social media persona and envision how you may be perceived.

“1. First I check their website. If they have no website, that’s a problem.

2. Then I check to see if they have a blog. A freelance writer without a blog makes no sense to me. It is the ultimate promotional tool for a qualified writer, yet I find that most writers don’t have one. (For those without a lot of money to spend on a
website, use the blog as your website. It costs nothing.) And yes, even those of you with steady gigs should have blogs.

3. Then I check their LinkedIn profile. How many contacts to they have? (Fifty should be a minimum.) This shows me that they really know how to network, which can help with sources for any story. In reality, 100 contacts is probably the minimum.

4. If they pass the first three tests, that’s a great sign. For other references, I Google their name to see if anything interesting comes up. Facebook, StumbleUpon, Digg profiles all help. Those tell me that this person has a clear understanding of the benefits of social media, and knows how to use it.

This whole process takes all of five minutes … five minutes well spent. It helps me figure out who I should really talk to, whose work I should evaluate. Fewer than 5% of all the writers I come in contact with pass these four tests. Those are the ones I’m interested in working with.  They understand networking, social media, the value of writing as a form of marketing, and that the way you get new business in the writing world has forever changed. You are what the web says you are — and you have almost 100% control over that message. Very powerful.”

To subscribe to more quality content like this post, receive the email update or get the RSS feed!

By joepulizzi published February 19, 2008

Finding a Custom Publisher Just Got a Whole Lot Easier: Custom Publishing Industry Gets Behind Junta42 Match

We are proud to announce that Junta42 has partnered with three elite organizations around the launch of our new content marketing matching product Junta42 Match.  The Custom Publishing Council, American Business Media, and BtoB Magazine have all formed strategic alliances with Junta42 Match, announced formally Wednesday.

Please read the entire release here for all the details. For a brief 2 minute video on why Junta42 was created and how it will work, check out this video.

The core issue is that content marketing is becoming more important to businesses around the world, yet it’s challenging, and sometimes even cost- or culture-prohibitive, to create strategic content programs internally. If a marketer decides to search for a content or publishing partner, it’s very difficult to find the right one.  Most of the time, marketers rely on referrals, search engines, or an RFP blast to locate the perfect provider. Any of these strategies might take days, weeks, even months to find the right match. Worse yet, they might call on their agency to provide a content solution, who may or may not have the relevant content or product qualifications to do the job.

On the flip side, new business opportunities are still the driver of long-term custom publisher profitability. Yet, the process for finding qualified leads for custom publishers hasn’t changed in years, and is far behind many industries that have leveraged the internet to create a buyer/seller marketplace.

Thus, Junta42 Match was born.  The service will be an audited directory of custom publishing providers, and will give marketing and association professionals the ability to match their project (a custom magazine, newsletter, content Web site, video series, enewsletter, custom event, etc.) to the exact qualifications of a custom publisher or content agency. Matching services will be conducted online, allowing for ease and anonymity.

Junta42 Match will be free for buyers (those looking for expert content help). Sellers—including custom publishers, traditional publishers with custom divisions, advertising and digital agencies, direct marketers, pr firms, etc.—will be charged an annual or monthly listing fee. All content providers will be offered a free trial.

The service will be open to publishers on March 9, 2008 (launching in time for the Custom Content Conference), and will be available to marketing professionals for matches by mid-May.

We’ve already received a flurry of positive feedback, but I’m more interested in getting actual feedback once the service is launched.  We believe we are addressing a real need here.  Hopefully you agree.

By joepulizzi published

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.

To subscribe to more quality content like this post, receive the email update or get the RSS feed!

Related Articles:

By joepulizzi published February 15, 2008

Q&A with Content Marketing Company Eat Media

I recently had the opportunity to interview Ian Alexander from Eat Media, a content marketing company with offices in New York and Florida.  Ian, a co-founder, serves as Vice President, Content Management, and launched the company with Britta Alexander who services as President, Editorial Management. Here are the highlights.

Joe Pulizzi, Junta42: Ian, can you briefly describe how you got started in this business and what Eat Media does?

Ian Alexander, Eat Media: We got into content marketing because we recognized a need. I came from the dot-com world where teams would spend months cutting co-branding deals and business partnerships that involved collateral or websites full of words, yet the content was always being done at the last minute. I finally asked one of the marketing directors why they didn’t bring in freelancer writers early on. He said, ”It’s too much work to manage writers and I thought I’d have the time to write it before the launch, but I didn’t.” The light bulb went off right then—marketing departments don’t have time to manage writers, especially when the writing goes beyond your typical marketing collateral and into the less familiar zone of editorial. My partner comes from an advertising and publishing background so the editorial aspect was second nature to her. We both had a number of consistent freelance clients and when a company approached us to manage their corporate magazine, the business was launched.

Eat Media is a content management house that acts as a Managing Editor for companies with editorial-style online and print needs. We create editorial calendars, hire the writers, edit the stories and work with print and web design teams to translate words to photo-filled pages. In some cases, we work with our clients’ writers, and in other cases, we bring in our own. In short, we make content happen and align it with our client’s other marketing initiatives.

Junta42: What have you seen as the most significant changes going on in the industry that has enabled more organizations to use your services?

Eat Media: Three things. First, I think the pressure placed on marketing teams to deliver results across so many mediums has stretched organizations thin, and in some cases, taken them away from their core competencies. Direct mail, social networking, corporate websites, corporate blogs, straight advertising, co-branding deals, trade show tchockies and the transition from internal printed newsletters to corporate magazines—that’s a lot to manage. And there are two sides to it, the Biz-Dev side and the Marketing side, so you have the rush to deliver the product or service and you have the opportunity to position your brand, but if any piece of your content is poorly written, it chips away at your company’s credibility.

We enter into the mix and say, “You guys work on the deal—we’ll make sure the message gets delivered.” That message might be in a corporate magazine or online interviews with industry experts. In our experience, the ideas are there, they just need execution and polish.

Second, the concept of outsourcing went from an over-hyped/under-performing fad to a viable source of savings in both time and money. We can step into a meeting today and say to a business, “I can create more quality content for your business in a greater quantity than you can because that’s all we focus on.” I think businesses understand outsourcing and react more favorably to it than, say, five years ago.

Third, it’s about the reality of being Googled forever. As a company, you are going to be Googled from here on out. So very simply, whatever content your produce for your company is what gets returned during a search. It can be informative, smart and trust-building or unclear, self-promoting and transparent.

Junta42: Content marketing isn’t easy to understand.  Many marketers are just getting the hang of it.  How do you communicate the benefit of your services so that marketers understand why they should hire you?

Eat Media: First off, I always tell prospective clients, “You could do what we do, the question is do you want to do it, and what else could you be doing with that time?” When we are communicating the benefits of our content marketing services to a client, we want them to look at Eat Media as an extension of their marketing team, and as a way for their company to execute more quickly and thoroughly on content. Once you add up the time it takes to find the writers, write the assignment briefs, line up interviews, respond to questions, maintain style guides, not to mention a round or two of substantive editing, getting sign-off from stakeholders and working with the design team on art direction and execution, it becomes very apparent that it would be more efficient to have us manage their corporate content.

Junta42: How do you think your business model will change in the future?

Eat Media: Internally, we talk about this a lot. I think you have to because the landscape changes so quickly. I believe that we will become more of a “content agency” as we move forward. More and more clients are looking to us to find writers who specialize in very specific areas, from foreign exchange markets to single parenting or large enterprise software solutions for organic farmers. I think content will become more specialized and less lifestyle/business/entertainment focused because clients are trying to brand themselves into smaller and more defined segments than ever before. In the future, we’ll probably have to focus on SEO more than we do now because content has to be held accountable for meeting goals. I also think the demand for us to manage design as well as content will increase—we are already seeing that with some clients.

Junta42: Do you think that marketers are starting to “get” that they need to distribute valuable and ongoing information to their customers and prospects?

Eat Media: I think the early adopters hear the call loud and clear that content equals trust and trust equal sales. The Sisyphus factor is how much content does it take to get the top of the hill, how much is it going to cost and what is the ROI.

Junta42: What are the biggest obstacles to selling your services?

Eat Media: I’d say the biggest obstacle we come up against is whether or not a company should hire us or bring in a full-time editor. The benefit to working with us is we’re a company, not just one person, and we come with backgrounds in advertising, marketing, high-tech and publishing. We’ve been professional writers and editors, and to hire us means capitalizing on all that experience, not to mention our network of writers and their experience. Also, when you look at employee turnover, bringing someone in-house isn’t necessarily going to have the long-term benefits you’re hoping for. Once we’re brought into a project, our clients begin to regard us as part of their team. There’s a high level of trust, and a couple of them really just want to be “cc’d” at this point. Plus, we’re not going to take up office space playing Snood while we search for the perfect adjective. But still, sometimes clients opt for the full-time employee. We’re hoping to get a call from them in a year or so…

Junta42: Do you consider yourself a custom publisher?

Eat Media: No, I don’t really care for the terminology. I’m not sure what it means—are you a publisher? Are you a printer? And what’s the “custom” part? Isn’t all quality publishing “custom?”

We call what we provide “managed corporate content,” although “managing editors for hire” is quicker and seems to resonate best. Our first focus is on the quality of the content: How relevant are these stories to your readers? What quality sources can we line up for the writer to interview? What’s the best way to tell this story—what format? Of course, if we think your magazine or website needs to be redesigned, we’ll let you know, and we’ll work with a design team to make that happen. But for us, the content always comes first. Anybody can make words look pretty on a page, but if there’s no substance, if your readers aren’t going to resonate with the material and be inspired to act in some way, then it’s a waste of dollars, time and trees.

Junta42: If you could change anything in your customers, what would it be?

Eat Media: Obliterating all forms of gobbledygook marketing speak. Readers don’t like to read it, and we don’t like writing it.

Junta42: How do you see your services evolving over the next five years?  Where will Eat Media be?

Eat Media: I see us offering more services in-house or through close partnerships in the areas of print and web design, video, audio and SEO to more fully support a client’s content marketing plan.

Junta42: Is there anything else – What’s the bottom line?

Eat Media: Every marketing team should be allotted two exclamation points a year total. Use ‘em or lose ‘em.

Joe’s commentary – What’s interesting about Ian’s story is that the idea of managed corporate content, which used to be so foreign, is now a necessity in organizations. Smart companies are understanding that they need focus and expertise for all their content initiatives.  It’s too important for content to be an afterthought to a marketing program.

I’m not sure I agree with Ian that marketers could do what Eat Media does, but it’s an excellent way to approach the sale. Thanks to Ian for taking the time.

To subscribe to more quality content like this post, receive the email update or get the RSS  feed!

By joepulizzi published February 14, 2008

Content Gone Awry

- by guest blogger Michael Buller.

 

Michael is one of the leading thinkers in the content marketing industry, and I asked him to submit a post for the Junta42 blog. He was gracious enough to accept. I’m sure you’ll agree, Michael knows his stuff. – Joe Pulizzi

I like Honda cars. That’s why I bought one last year. An Odyssey to be specific. It was brand new, slate grey, and ready to go. My wife, two sons and I had entered the minivan phase of our lives.

None of this should mean anything to you, unless you know me personally, or were the dealer who sold me the minivan. If you were the latter, it’d give you a good bit of inference data upon which you could draw, which you think would be helpful if you were, say, sending me an e-newsletter called Under Our Hood.

For the first three months that I received the newsletter, I did what I suspect the majority of readers did: I hit delete as soon as it popped up in my inbox. Finally, when the January issue hit, I opened it. And I was excited… but only in that I had finally found the perfect example of content gone awry. Forget the very unfriendly design—the first thing you see is the masthead, complete with more than 25 car logos. Ugh! My first reaction is: ah, I know what’s most important to this dealer – not ticking off any of the brands he sells.

Then as I scrolled through this newsletter from my car dealer, I found, interspersed with some stories about new cars articles on “Festive Football Eats!” and “Clementines in Ginger Syrup” and a review of “Charlie Wilson’s War.”  Huh? What does this have to do with my Odyssey? Or Honda’s? Or any car, truck or minivan for that matter?

It doesn’t, of course and that’s my point. This is the most common mistake among content marketers. Take good content, just because it’s good content, and find someone you can send it to – whether they want it or not. I’m all for recipes about clementines in ginger syrup, but just not from my car dealer. Sure, it’s picked up from a reliable and credible source in epicurious.com, but still, this is a newsletter from my car dealer.

It all comes back to one of the pillars of content, if you’re going to engage in content marketing, make sure it’s targeted and relevant. If not, you’re just adding noise to an already loud room.

Think of everything he could have done. If he’s going to syndicate copy from other sites, how about articles on safe driving? Or keeping kids entertained on long rides? I bought a minivan, after all! Or sales on roof racks, portable DVD players, HD radios? The opportunities are endless: content on getting good gas mileage, little tips buried in the owner’s manual, specials from the service department. How about a link to the service department to set up an appointment? Sure the stories on the other cool cars in the dealership are fun, but I dismissed them. It’s the credibility rule: If you bury credible content in a sea of useless and irrelevant copy, your credible copy is guilty by association and readers will ignore not just the fluff, but the important stuff, too.

If you’re going to engage in a meaningful dialogue with your customers, treat them with care. Feed them content that’s targeted, fresh and relevant. It’s what separates content marketing from spam.

Michael Buller is Vice President/General Manager of Customer Publishing for The Pohly company, a diversified marketing and publishing services company specializing in engagement marketing and customer communications.

To subscribe to more quality content like this post, receive the email update or get the RSS feed!

By joepulizzi published February 13, 2008

Business Down, Internal Communications Up: 4 Survival Steps

Ram Charan’s Fortune article entitled Managing Your Business in a Downturn does something that most business articles overlook – the art of internal marketing. “Communicate intensively” is Ram’s second point of five for how to manage your way through a recession.

Think about your own situations. In tough times, does management ratchet up its communications…more town halls, more emails? I’ve worked for a number of CEOs, and there was only one that ever altered his (and the company’s) communication habits to keep employees at a fully informed level. Employee perceptions run wild in down times and should be proactively managed.

Ram states, “Get information from where the customer action is, and get it to the operating people – fast. Companies should do so routinely, of course.  But they don’t. It’s counterintuitive but true that when the economy slows down, the pace of decision-making has to speed up, because you can’t put off the tough choices anymore.”

Here are some ideas that any company should consider when managing in a downturn.

  1. Company Intranet – Company Intranets can be created for a song with products such as vBulletin, phpbb, or even something like Facebook. Employees want to communicate with each other. Sometimes they just need a mechanism to do it.
  2. CEO Blog/Email – Whether it’s in a blog format or email format, if the CEO is not communicating significant information at least every two weeks, you’re going to have problems. Easiest method may be to set up an internal blog and integrate it with your company Intranet. In a down time, if the CEO is not communicating, employees will assume the worst, even if everything indicates otherwise. And most importantly – be honest and don’t sugar coat the information. Your people deserve better.
  3. Town Hall Meetings – In-person meetings still count for something and are perhaps the most effective tactic during downturns. Set your schedule for regular meetings at each office (especially sales offices). If you run a small department, increase the frequency of your meetings. As Ram states, decisions have to be made at a much faster rate when the business is in crisis mode. Make sure the communication lines are open so those decisions can happen.
  4. Internal Webcast – This might be my favorite. Go out and get one of your customers to speak to the company. With a small company, this can be done in person. With a larger company, do an internal webinar or webcast. Nothing helps employees more than to hear what is going on in the marketplace than from the customers themselves. Side benefit – this usually strengthens customer relationships as well.

Although the above activities should be a mainstay in a company, they are ever so important during a business downturn. An investment in any one of these on a consistent basis is an investment in your employees and your company.  Good Luck!

To subscribe to more quality content like this post, receive the email update or get the RSS feed!

Related Articles:

By joepulizzi published February 11, 2008

42 Ways to Custom Publish; Includes Examples

Well, we’ve been working on a follow up to my blog posting from a few months ago, 42 Content Building Ways to Attract and Retain Customers. Part II of this is 42 Ways to Distribute Your Content, which pretty much covers all the big ones, from custom magazines to social media. The difference this time is that we’ve included at least one real example for each (with apologies to article marketing and variable enewsletters).

Check it out and let me know what you think.

By joepulizzi published February 7, 2008

P&G Does it Again with Beinggirl.com – 4x More Effective Than Traditional Media

New to this site? Get the RSS feed and enjoy!

Procter & Gamble (P&G), once the ruler of all things traditional marketing, has done it again. They are now making an incredible impact into the land of content marketing – and finding that it works.

Beinggirl.com, sponsored and produced by Tampax (a P&G brand), is a content microsite dedicated to all things girls. Beinggirl states that:

“Being a girl is like being part of a club where everyone knows what you’re going through…at least on some level. Girls have fun. Girls have opinions. Girls have a lot of questions about stuff like PMS, dating, their bodies and even serious subjects like addiction and abuse – just about anything you can think of that has to do with being a girl.”

P&G is very transparent on the site. Any person can tell that the site sponsor is Tampax. They also have a few product sections, one of which is free samples. But the majority of the site focuses on content for girls – music, discussion, video…it’s all here. And frankly, some of the discussion makes me thankful that I have two boys and no girls.

The best part, at least from a marketing perspective – Forrester Research found that Beinggirl.com is four times as effective as a similarly priced program using traditional media. This should be no surprise to P&G, whose Home Made Simple site, dedicated to solutions for the home had between 600,000 and 1 million opt-in registrations to the site (at last count).

You don’t have to be a major media brand to create great content. And you don’t have to hide the fact that a business is sponsoring a web portal. Good, information and useful content works no matter who or where it’s from. P&G’s examples are a testament to that.

To subscribe to more quality content like this post, receive the email update or get the RSS feed!

Related Articles:

Available at Junta42

By joepulizzi published February 6, 2008

Putting the “Marketing” in Content Marketing: Six Key Principles to Content Promotion

mar·ket·ing
[mahr-ki-ting]

1. The act of buying or selling in a market (Dictionary.com)

Content marketing, taken at face value, is simple terminology for a complex process.  Content, as in creating information that meets your customers’ needs, and marketing, as in distributing and promoting it to a targeted group of people, inherently makes sense.

Go back to the definition of marketing at the top of this page. Marketing is all about behavior. It’s an action. It’s not about generating buzz, or web site traffic, or press mentions – unless those things lead to a profitable customer behavior.Continue Reading

By joepulizzi published February 4, 2008

What Can $2.7 Million Buy You in Content?

Not that we all have marketing budgets to support a 30 second ad spot during Super Bowl 42 at an average of $2.7 million, but I started to think of how much great content could be bought with that kind of money. Here are just some interesting facts about how much you can buy in content initiatives for that kind of investment.

  • A turnkey 32-page, 4-color custom print magazine delivered to 50,000 customers and prospects will run you about $1.25 to $2 per copy (depending on the amount of photography, but including original editorial). Add in about 40 cents per copy for postage, and you are talking about $125,000 for each issue, all expenses in.  For that price, you could get approximately 22 individual issues of your magazine created for the same price as a 30 second Super Bowl ad. If you had a quarterly distribution frequency, it would get you five and a half years of regular communication with your customers. The best part…all that great content can be repurposed on your website or digital magazine. Wow!
  • According to the APA, consumers spend an average of 25 minutes per issue of a custom print magazine. So, for your money, you’d get almost 10 hours of engagement per customer.
  • Into video? A high production value, two minute YouTube-type video could run you between 10 to 20k. Distribution through your website and through video sharing sites like YouTube or PhotoBucket is free. Instead of your 30 second ad, you can get between 135 and 270 video shorts. Just think of all the ways you could promote and integrate these ads into your overall marketing plan. The great part is, if the videos are relevant and interesting to your target audience, they should ultimately get watched.
  • How about a sponsored webcast? Webcasts produced in partnership with media companies typically run anywhere from $7k to $40k for b2b markets.  Let’s take the average at $15k per webcast. For your $2.7 million, you can deliver 180 webcasts to your marketplace.  At $30 per lead, that would get you 90,000 leads.
  • Maybe you are into something a little simpler, like a white paper. A turnkey, 3,000 to 5,000 word white paper with complete design could run you about $10,000. With 270 white papers, your company would be the white paper king.
  • Let’s say that one of your key initiatives is article marketing. At 500 words and $1 per word to pay an expert editor, you can get 5,400 articles written for you and your company on all sorts of educational topics.

Just something to think about the next time you are deciding to go with traditional ad placement versus a content initiative. Remember, the content you create can be leveraged to have a much longer shelf life than just traditional ad space. When you are looking to make a decision between a number of marketing initiatives, be sure to take that into account.

To subscribe to more quality content like this post, receive the email update or get the RSS feed!