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 1, 2008

Wordle Discovers Your Content Niche

Brian Massey reminded me about Wordle, which generates a “word cloud” from the text of your blog, website or bookmarked links.

It’s interesting to see the types of words that become the focus on my writing.  My keywords include:


Using that in a sentence…

Social media marketing using custom content/information over the Internet to drive business and customers.

Yeah, I can live with that…

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By joepulizzi published September 30, 2008

Heck with the Recession; Companies Are Investing in Content Marketing

Luckily, I was on the golf course yesterday instead of catching the news about the blood bath on Wall Street. Upon coming back to the office, I looked at my stock portfolio.  Ouch…a sea of deep red.

It’s already been a challenging year for most companies, and it seems that we have yet to turn the corner. Especially until we figure out where the financial industry is headed.

That said, small, medium and large companies continue to pour money into their content marketing. Although I rarely promote our service, Junta42 Match, on this blog, it’s worth using as an example of what is going on in the marketing world.Continue Reading

By joepulizzi published September 26, 2008

Six Key Considerations for Your Social Media Strategy

I just finished a speech at the Online Marketing Summit in San Diego where I discussed the trend of “marketers as publishers” for about an hour.  Great group, excellent questions. During the speech, we discussed social media applications like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn (among others).

I spoke at an OMS event six months ago, and the number of people using these three social networking applications have easily doubled (as measured by a raising of hands) over that time. Social media is literally part of a marketer’s life today. With that, most of the audience is still confused on a social media direction.

Throughout the event, the biggest questions revolved around issues like “Should we do a blog?” – “How do we create ROI from Facebook?” – “What resources should we allocate to a social media effort?”

All good questions, and the answers are different depending on your target audience and goals.  Overall, here are some key considerations to a social media strategy that were discussed throughout the day.

1. As a marketing professional, use social media yourself before you make any decisions. Whether it’s a blog or a Facebook account, there is no way you can make an educated decision about their place in a marketing program unless you have some idea of how they are used. So, whether or not you are going to do anything in social media, you must first be a user to properly direct your company’s social media strategy in the future.

2. Forget about ROI. Social media (when you get there) will be a cost of doing business. Defining ROI with your social media strategy is much easier for a smaller company. You can track people you’ve met through the blog or Twitter and began a business relationship. For larger companies, social media activities are mandatory for getting involved in your customer and prospect conversations. Treat it as just part of having a business. Your customers are talking about you. As a company, you just need to make a decision about whether you want to be part of that conversation or not.

3. Assign a Reputation Manager. Since customers are talking about your brand, someone needs to be a champion for listening to that conversation using tools such as Google Alerts, Boardreader and Technorati – or dig even deeper with these reputation management tools.

4. Focus on the audience. Don’t let social media scare you. These are just tools to help you communicate with your customers and prospects. Keep the focus on your customers’ informational needs and you’ll head in the right direction.

5. Don’t make up marketing objectives to fit social media. Don’t try to force objectives into online tools that just don’t fit. As with all marketing tactics, there are marketing objectives behind each one. Keep your fundamentals in place, and then decide if social media can help you get there.

6. Honesty and transparency is required. No brands can hide anymore, so don’t try. Just accept it and move on. We have no control over our brands – they are in our customers’ hands. All we can do is be a part of the conversation and shape it best we can. Once you throw your hat in the social media ring, be completely honest – or get burned.

By joepulizzi published September 23, 2008

Does the Internet Democratize or Commoditize Content?

I received a very thoughtful rebuke from Stanford Erickson of my recent article in Folio magazine called "Is the Media Iceberg Melting?" In this article, I discuss why the media landscape has changed and where the opportunities lie for the successful media companies of the future. In it, I discuss how the Internet (and Google) have created new opportunities for corporations to communicate directly with end-users instead of through traditional media outlets.

After our email conversation, I asked Stanford if he wanted to follow up on his comments with a guest blog post.  Below is that post.  What say you?

Praising Print and Disparaging the Internet

The Latin poet Quintus Horatius Flaccus, or Horace (for short), who lived during the transition between B.C. and A.D., wrote that all writing (and all media for that matter) needs to be a combination of “dulce and utile.”  Building on that thought, I believe all writing, publications and other media require an appropriate ratio of dulce and utile.  For example, B2B publications, columns and writing about business in general require more utile than dulce. General news and interest publications probably need more dulce than utile. The most successful writers and editors have a knack of getting this ratio just right for their audience.

Joe Pulizzi in his article “Is the Media Iceberg Melting?,” which appeared in the August issue of Folio, raised many interesting points of how media companies are failing because Google and other search engines are “democratizing” content. By “democratizing”, he means they are providing useful information without the need of an expensive media platform, such as Forbes, The New York Times or The Economist.  He also notes that businesses, by hiring former journalists, are going directly to their customers with useful information via the Internet.

I take issue with this somewhat.  First, yes anyone with access to the Internet has access to an audience.  But more than “democratizing” information, to a greater degree, this is  “commoditizing” information.  And if a major purpose of providing the information is to monetize it, the commoditization  of  information on the Internet undermines that purpose.  All of us who believe in “brands” contend that greater value usually is attributable to brands more than commodities.  By this I mean, when you read The Washington Post, for example, your mindset already is prepared to accept credibility to a degree. And money usually blooms in credible soil.

This segues into my overall skepticism of Pulizzi’s premise that there is a great deal of monetary effectiveness from media-type information on the Internet. At one point in my career I was a member of Knight-Ridder’s advisory group to its New Media Center. Both Knight-Ridder and the New Media Center are now defunct.  Knight-Ridder put tons of time and money into the Media Center to help transition its printed products to be viable via the Web.  We found that there are two major problems with the Web, from a print media point of view. The writing style useful to newspapers and magazines is too clunky for the Internet.  Also, the Web provides information largely in a vertical format. We humans have been used to obtaining written information horizontally. The changeover from effectively digesting information vertically rather than horizontally, most pundits believe. is generational. I think if is more like several generations.

In addition, we humans have short-term memories.  Therefore when we read something on the computer and then scroll down or mouse over, we usually cannot remember what we read.  Whereas if we are reading a horizontal newspaper or magazine, we can easily flip back to recall what we read.  Printed publications have the advantage of being much more efficient in imparting salient information that needs to be digested, analyzed and reread.

The Internet is a wonderful aggregator of information. It helps create communities of like-thinkers. But its short-attention span and physical and mental restrictive modality does not necessarily lend itself  to the pursuit of thoughtful and effective communication for which advertisers are willing to pay.

Stanford Erickson
Media Integration Consultants
Annapolis, Md.

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By joepulizzi published September 21, 2008

2008 Custom Publishing Award Winners from MIN

Below are MIN’s 2008 Integrated Marketing Award winners in the custom publishing categories.  Congratulations to the winners.  For the complete list of custom publishing nominees, check out this list.

Custom Publishing Project
Meredith Integrated Marketing for DIRECTV ACCESS, December 2007
United Business Media LLC and CA for Smart Enterprise Magazine

Customized Web Site/Microsite
Advanstar Communications for Modern Medicine
PEOPLE for Toyota Celebrity Central Program

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By joepulizzi published September 18, 2008

Google’s Sam Sebastian on B-to-B Content Strategy

I had the pleasure of seeing Sam Sebastian speak at the recent ABM/FIPP conference in New York. Sebastian is director of b-to-b and local markets for Google, and provided some interesting luncheon comments for the international group of publishers.

Here is a link to Sam’s PowerPoint presentation, with thanks to ABM.

Sebastian started the presentation by discussing what is important to b-to-b marketers during this current economic downturn. According to Sebastian, 66% of marketers interviewed by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) in 2008 indicated that their marketing plans have been impacted and are changing as a result of the current economy. His solution to this was three points: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 September 11, 2008

Traditional Media Bad, Custom Content Good

Anyone in marketing must be sick of hearing about how bad it’s getting with in the media world. Brands across the board are slashing their media spend, at least according to a recent Reuters’ article.

In the article, the prediction is made that 2009 could be as bad, or possibly even worse than in 2008 for traditional media spending. In general, we are most likely looking at flat spending for 2009.

Traditional media is not dead by any means. Leading brands spent good investment on the Olympics, and the political race is always a boon for traditional media in the form of TV, radio, print and online display. At the ABM/FIPP Business Media conference, in-person events are continuing overall growth, and innovative companies like Google are still looking to break into the traditional radio and print space. So, if Google is interested in it, that’s where the money is.Continue Reading

By joepulizzi published September 10, 2008

Journalism + Marketing = Content Success for UPS Compass

I had the pleasure of being at the ABM/FIPP Global Media Conference for the past few days in New York City. One of the panels was on the growth of custom media solutions, featuring Jane Ottenberg (The Magazine Group), Kirk Cheyfitz (Story Worldwide) and Michael Hofelich (Forum Corporate Publishing/Germany).

There were a lot of takeaways, but the key finding from the panel was that the future of marketing is a combination of journalism and marketing.

Kirk Cheyfitz’s presentation hit on key points for marketers…

In the advertising age, 2% conversion on any ad is considered a success.  That model is not only deteriorating, it’s simply not enough.  Our goal must be 100% engagement in the brand.

To do this, marketers must learn the best practices of journalism and execute that through their marketing programs. Journalism is the key word here.  This means hiring the best journalists in your industry to “tell the story.”

Marketers today have two choices when communicating to customers – either give them relevant, compelling information or give them a good time.  Without either one, engagement is impossible.

Kirk used an example from the UPS custom magazine/microsite Compass. Before Story took on the Compass project, they were sending up to four different magazines/newsletters to customers, each of which were disjointed, and were not driven by “true” journalistic principles.

Over the past few years those four communication vehicles transformed into Compass, a quarterly magazine to UPS business customers that include nine different versions specific to each customer segment. Story hired freelance journalists from the leading business publications in North America to help tell the UPS customer story.

The results: Over 90% actively read and benefit from the UPS case studies. But more importantly, 35% have been prompted to try a specific UPS product or service after reading the magazine. Now that’s engagement.

They key: invest in your own content.  Stop renting media…own the media, be the media.

This is not just a trend, this IS the future of marketing. Most business and consumer brands haven’t realized this yet. We are still in the first inning of this transformation.  Those that step to the plate now will be ahead of the game.

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By joepulizzi published September 4, 2008

Add Content to Your Website without Adding Content

If you are reading this, you already realize the need for great content on your website. But you also know the challenge to creating relevant, compelling and consistent web content – it’s hard.

One application you might want to consider that takes no additional content-creation time is the Google Custom Search Engine. We’ve been using Google Custom for over a year now on, and although it won’t answer any major content issues you have, it’s a valuable tool to add to your content arsenal (some call this tool “vertical search”).

Here’s How Google Custom Search Engine Works

You first need to program Google Custom into your current website or microsite.  From talking with the developers that programmed mine, it’s relatively easy. You pick the format and the brand elements. Most of it you can do without programming knowledge.

Second, you add websites that you want Google to search that will define your targeted search results. For example, if you are a welding distributor, you might want to include content from Welding Magazine or Miller Electric. You can include as many websites as you want. The goal here is to only include those sites that have the type of content you want to show your customers and web visitors.

Now, when someone types in a keyword, it will search the content from all the sites you have in your Custom Search database.

The image on the right is about 20 of the 153 websites we have as part of Junta42 Custom Search. You can see how easy it is…just type in or paste the URLs and you are done.

“No Results” Are for Losers
We initially used Google Custom because we didn’t have much content when we launched the site last summer. We launched with around 100 articles in the system, and we were afraid to have too many “no results” responses if someone typed in a long-tail keyword into our search bar.

Google Custom to the rescue. By integrating Google Custom into our search, we were assured that we would have results for any type of search, and could point our customers in the right direction, even if the content wasn’t on our site (which is always okay with us).

Now that we have more than 2,000 articles, we only use Google Custom for results that return a low amount of articles or no results. In the example to the right, I typed in “welding” as the keyword.  Since our site wouldn’t return much on welding (only one article), Google Custom results show up underneath, consistent with the look and feel of the rest of the site. We call them “Google Targeted Results.”

If you are looking for a quick and easy tool that can give your online users a better overall experience in finding the content they are looking for, you may want to give Google Custom a look.

For those of you who need a more robust solution, check out the folks at Convera, who do an outstanding job launching vertical search portals in a variety of industries. They include some excellent examples as well.

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