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 31, 2009

Eight Tips for the Twitter Beginner

I’ve been traveling non-stop recently – from California to New York to Florida to Europe and back.  Everywhere I go, I ask people about their Twitter usage. Not surprisingly, I see about 10% or less usage across the board (not including the online marketing audiences, which have generally been north of 50%+ usage).

I’ve read a lot of really good Twitter posts recently, including the Ultimate Guide to Everything Twitter to How Huge Brands Are Using Twitter to 101 Ways to Be Rocked by Twitter.  All good and useful. Yet, I still get questioned from most marketing executives who truly believe Twitter is a waste of time. About a year ago, I agreed with them.  Now, Twitter is one of the most important business tools I use and drives more than 10% of our total website traffic.

So, here are just some baby steps that you usually don’t learn until you are well into your Twitter career (struggling to figure out how to use it).  Hopefully these will be helpful.

  1. Don’t ever answer the question “What are you doing?” No one cares that you are drinking coffee and just finished dinner.  Answer the question with something that is always informative or helpful. This could be a link to a great article or a video that caught your attention.  If you want to tell people that you love a particular song, link to the song (now that’s helpful). Better yet, continually link to helpful content that your customers need for their careers.From a business standpoint, if you focus on a particular subject, you’ll gain a core following quickly.  For example, 90% of my tweets focus on some aspect of content, marketing or publishing.  If those interest you, you can follow me @juntajoe.
  2. If you are using Twitter on the Twitter website you probably don’t get all the hype. What you need is a Twitter management system like Tweetdeck or Tweetgrid. That way, you can not only “listen” when people are talking about you, but you can also search on keyword phrases or follow hash tags (#contentstrategy) that are important to you. I prefer Tweetdeck.
  3. If you have a blog or article RSS feed, use Twitterfeed to automatically “tweet” your post or article. I’ve talked to dozens of people who were using tinyurl.com and manually doing this process until they found Twitterfeed. Once that’s done, use the Twitter Facebook app to automatically update your Facebook status through Twitter.
  4. Be democratic. Don’t just push out your own content all day long. Push
    out interesting and relevant stories that aren’t yours (possibly even
    your competition). You’ll be viewed as a much more credible source if
    you are seen as a market servant, instead of just a traffic hog.
  5. Complete your profile. I’m so surprised at the number of people that don’t even complete their name in their Twitter profile.  You’ll get less followers without a name.
  6. Don’t use Auto Direct Message. Only use direct messaging for personal notes.  Auto DM’s are way too impersonal and salesy for any social media, including Twitter. Don’t believe me? Read this post by Robert Scoble.
  7. Lethal generosityRead this blog post by Shel Israel on the concept of lethal generosity in social media. Give until it hurts and you will gain followers quickly.  Just like our content marketing…relevant, valuable information creates fans out of customers and prospects.  It works on Twitter as well.
  8. Shhh…listen! Remember, Twitter’s most important function is as a listening device (also called “listening post”).  Whether it’s you, or your social media staffer, someone in your organization should be listening to what’s being said about you, your brand, and your industry.

If you haven’t already, it’s time to take this tool seriously.

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By joepulizzi published March 30, 2009

The Future of News

Nine minutes of time well spent if you are interested in the future of news.  This report by CBS investigator Jeff Greenfield covers the downfall of newspapers, how consumer behavior is changing, and a few of the solutions for the newspaper industry (including a micropayment model).

What's most interesting to me is how many non-media companies are beginning to report on their industries similar to the way a newspaper covers a community now.  There may be a couple ideas in here on what your team of content strategists can do to position your company as a more trusted resource.

You'll also note in this video the changing of the competitive set for newspapers.  What they don't mention is that many of our information outlets are starting to come from corporate blogs and news sites.

Watch CBS Videos Online

By joepulizzi published March 27, 2009

New Get Content Get Customers Out Soon

Excited to show you the new cover for the revised and updated paperback version of Get Content Get Customers (Turn Prospects Into Buyers with Content Marketing), which will be available in bookstores on May 22nd.

Thanks to David Meerman Scott for providing the cover quote, and Paul Gillin for writing an outstanding forward.

For those of you not familiar with the book, here’s more on the initial version, which was self-published. Since then, McGraw-Hill (our current publishers) purchased the rights to the book and, tada, the book you see to your right. Content marketing in action.

And, by the way, the paperback does include new case studies and has a few expanded pages on social media content marketing.

I really believe that anyone passionate about a topic should write a book.  If that’s you, check out this post I wrote a while back – “10 Keys to Writing a Book when You Have No Time to Write a Book.

To pre-order the paperback version, click here.

By joepulizzi published March 26, 2009

Social Media Marketing Industry Report

Social_media_report
An excellent report from Michael Stelzner on the state of social media marketing today.  Michael received responses from over 900 marketers, and compiled this report that shows trends on social media in general, usage of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and others.

Download the report here.

A couple key statistics:

  • 72% of marketers have either just started or have only been using social media for a few months.
  • 64% of marketers spend five hours or more per week using social media.
  • Advanced users of social media (more than two years) spend over 20 hours per week using social media (wow!).
  • 50% of marketers state that social media generates qualified leads.

Great stuff Michael.  Thanks!

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By joepulizzi published March 25, 2009

When BBC (Bad Branded Content) Strikes

I was on a Continental Airlines flight yesterday and starting leafing through their in-flight magazine, Continental. I may be the one person out there that actually seeks out and reads advertorials (ad placement in the form of content).

That’s when I came to an advertorial from Valenti International, the upscale professional matchmaking service. First off, I have nothing against Valenti, but this was one of the best examples I’ve seen in a while of bad branded content.

Here is the first two sentences of the Valenti’s advertorial story Ending the Endless Search.

Irene Valenti, the founder of professional matchmaking service Valenti International, is overflowing with insight about the ways of the world. A visionary and creative thinker, she is blessed with an amazing intuition that led her to found Valenti International nearly two decades ago.

To be honest, I stopped reading at that point. Unless the reader was Valenti’s parents or husband, I’m not sure why you would read much further. This is the kind of branded content that gives branded content a bad name.

The lesson: all content, even paid advertorial, needs to focus on the needs and wants of the reader in order to be effective. It’s that simple.

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By joepulizzi published March 24, 2009

Tear Your Content Walls Down – Why Gated Content Might Not Make Sense

So much amazing information to share from the Branded Content Conference in Miami – but one key point I wanted to share now was from David Meerman Scott’s presentation on World Wide Rave.

David shared some key statistics on white papers. Almost all brands create and distribute white papers – those 8 to 20 page downloadable pdf’s that are now staples in most marketing programs.

Many, dare I say, most brands (including my own company) “gate” their white papers.  To “gate” a white paper means you put an information requirement in front of the content in exchange for getting access to the white paper.  This could be as simple as an email address, or as complicated as purchasing information.

Here’s the point David made.  According to his statistics, a white paper or eBook will be downloaded 20x and up to 50x more WITHOUT a gate in front of it.

Please go back and read the last sentence again.

What is your objective?

Most people gate their content for lead or customer management purposes.  This means they want the prospect’s information in order to sell them something, or they want more information about the customer in order to sell to them more precisely. Makes sense, right?

This is a solid marketing objective, but is it the “best” objective, or even the “right” objective?

Shouldn’t our goal with the creation of branded content be to spread our ideas? Doesn’t it make more sense from a marketing perspective to have fifty people engage in our content instead of one?

And here is a key point that David made clear.  Who are the customers you have that will actively share your content? Bloggers. What customers do you have that usually DO NOT download gated content? Bloggers.

So, not only are we limiting the people that will get access to our content, we are cutting off those customers that will actively share it with their audiences.

The Possibilities

Let’s say you received 1,000 leads via your white paper download.  From David’s numbers, let’s even take a more conservative 10x more downloads if we remove the gate.  This would give us 10,000 downloads with no lead data. Of all those people, let’s say that 1% would share this/blog this with their audiences (with a VERY conservative audience of 100 people, although most blogs get much more).

With those numbers, the total possible content reach for gated content would be 2,000 people.  Non-gated content would be 20,000 people.

And take this note to heart – I haven’t seen one piece of branded content “go viral” and massively spread that was gated.  If you have, please let me know.  What’s more important to you?…lead information on the few, or the opportunity to spread your brand to decision-makers who you are not talking with right now.

There are times and places to get customer information. Is that time or place in front of the content you want shared actively?

I have a pretty good feeling that I’ll be removing the “gates” to our content very soon.  How about you?

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By joepulizzi published March 19, 2009

Change is coming faster than you think

If you have told yourself recently that new media marketing will not affect your industry or your business significantly because of FILL IN THE BLANK, then watch this video.

Change is happening faster every second. What changes will you make?

By joepulizzi published

Why would you buy advertising?

M&M
It's an honest question, and was the major discussion in an interview I had today with Lauri Sihvonen, a reporter from Markkinointi&Mainonta (a publication dedicated to marketing and communication professionals in Finland) at the Ateljee bar in Helsinki.

Lauri's magazine is a mostly paid subscription publication, but they also drive revenues through online and print sponsorship. His advertisers are trying to target M&M readers to sell their products and services. Let's say that over the next few years, his advertisers were able to collect the information they needed about the M&M readers they wanted to target, and combined it into their own customer database.

Here is the question I asked Lauri: If that was the case, why would someone advertise?

Let's really think about this. In general, companies advertise to:

  • Reach New Customers.
  • Remain With Prospects Through the Buying Process.
  • Because Your Competition is Advertising.
  • Because it Pays Off Over a Long Period.
  • Generate Store/Site Traffic.
  • Make More Sales.
  • Because There is Always Business to Generate.
  • Keep a Healthy Positive Image.
  • Maintain Employee Morale.

I'm sure there are others, but those are the biggies.

But as companies gather the information they need about their customers and prospects, the need to advertise is almost eliminated. If a brand has similar assets to a media property, why wouldn't they just go direct (through content marketing), rather than go through a distributor?

Neither of us had an answer to the question – why advertise? New markets? Possibly. New Product? Could, but why if you already can communicate directly. Credibility? Maybe, but a brand that provides quality relevant and valuable information can quickly develop a relationship with customers/readers. Site Traffic? Content works best.

All that, and it's still an interruptive media choice (not permission marketing), and is almost always the most expensive choice….and…there are more free distribution choices available than ever before (just in case brands don't have the databases they need).

It's Not Just Print

And, as we all know, the move away from advertising has been happening for a while.

Advertising is projected to be down 13% this year. Could be more.

Advertising Age itself just announced that it was cutting its number of issues from 50 to 43 or 44 this year due to the drop in advertising. “It’s pretty horrible,” said editor Jonah Bloom. “If a publication loses 50 or 60 percent versus last year, that’s half your revenue that disappeared! A great quote from someone I was talking to the other day said I’m just kind of hoping if I can get to 15 or 20 percent down, I’ll be somewhere in the middle of the pack. You know what I mean? It’s pretty serious. In our case, we feel like we’ve built a number of non-print-ad-related revenue streams.”

One problem with the online strategy Jonah – online advertising is less expensive and may be better option for marketers than print, but it is less effective each year since 2004, as click-through rates continue to decline.

It's advertising in general that's the problem…all forms. Brands are going direct, both because they can and they have to in order to stay relevant with customers.

So this was Lauri's final question…"If that's the trend, and advertising will never come back, what are media companies to do?"

My answer: If the company is built upon sponsorship revenue, find a new business model, and quickly. Most media brands have excellent credibility, a great database, industry expertise and some have the best journalists. Those assets are a great place to start to offer products and services that are not sponsorship based.

In many markets in the very near future, the look of a non-media brand and a media brand, in terms of their general activities, will be nearly identical. Everyone is a publisher and media companies need to provide products and services to survive.

What say you?

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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 March 12, 2009

10 Commandments for Custom Magazine Failure

This topic was created for two reasons.

First, I’ll be giving this presentation in Helsinki, Finland next week for their 2009 Customer Magazines Symposium.

Second, I was inspired by the book, The Ten Commandments for Business Failure, written by former Coca-Cola CEO Donald Keough (good book by the way). After reading, I thought it would be interesting to look at custom magazines in this way.

So here’s the quick overview. To be sure, if you follow any of these commandments, your custom magazine will be an utter failure.

The Ten Commandments for Custom Magazine Failure

Commandment #1
Keep Thinking Like a Marketer

Some custom magazines are often positioned as glorified sales brochures – lots of company news, case studies that tell how great the company is, and advertorial type informational pieces. For a custom magazine to work, brands need to remove the “sales speak” and start to think like a publisher – with the #1 goal of providing valuable and relevant content to the reader.

David Tokheim from Six Apart put this nice roundup together about thinking like a publisher, including:

  • Give them something to talk about
  • Listen
  • Foster relationships through social currency
  • Align with influencers to create something remarkable

If you cannot take your sales hat off and communicate like a publisher would, your custom magazine is bound for failure.

Commandment #2
Talk about Yourself A Lot! – Sell, Sell, Sell

If you mention your company or brands more than a few times on each printed page, you’re in trouble. In one test of a recent corporate magazine, we found up to 19 mentions of the company’s brand and products on just ONE PAGE. How valuable could that be?

One of the cores of content marketing is that you can actually sell more in the long run by selling less (best case, not at all) in your content. Custom magazines are no different.


Commandment #3
Keep Doing the Same Thing

The majority of custom magazines still use this formula:

  • Create glossy custom magazine
  • Mail magazine to targeted customers or ship to distribution locations
  • Upload content to website/microsite and/or create digital magazine replica
  • Repeat in three months

A custom magazine today cannot just be a custom magazine.  Here is what the custom magazine of the present and the future looks like.

  • Record interviews (video/audio) for later repurposing.
  • Develop a news release schedule pre- and post- issue release.
  • Discuss upcoming issue on your magazine blog (editor). Set up RSS feeds.
  • Post video interviews via YouTube or Vimeo. Embed in your blog post.
  • Print and mail/ship your magazine.
  • Send digital replica version to international audience or online subscribers.
  • Upload content onto magazine website. Be sure content is sharable via social media (Facebook, Digg, StumbleUpon)
  • Provide a “remarkable” download on magazine site (eBook, white paper, etc.). Here’s an example.
  • Continue to provide relevant content on magazine website – articles, blog posts.
  • Use Pay-Per-Click, targeted specific keywords to drive people to your online magazine or download (in addition to the SEO magic of consistent, compelling content.
  • Continue news release program (plan for at least one, best for two per month).
  • “Listen” to who’s talking about what online (more to come on this).
  • Upload articles to key vertical and social bookmarking sites.
  • Other social media – Facebook group, LinkedIn group, etc.

Commandment #4
Wait for Better Timing to Expand

There has never been a better time for marketers to leverage publishing tools than right now. The rules of the game have changed.

  • If you create and develop consistent and relevant content to your customers, buyers will engage in it as credible, just as they have traditional expert media content. This is happening now!
  • Check your databases.  Do you have customer information and permissions to communicate directly with your customers and prospects? You most likely do.
  • Traditional media is losing journalistic talent. Hire some!
  • There are no technology barriers.

Commandment #5
Don’t Leverage Free Online Tools

If you want your custom magazine to fail, don’t use:

Usage – Finding new stories, new distribution channels, listening to customers prospects, speaking one-on-one with customers, becoming a part of the conversation in your marketplace, developing real relationships with customers and prospects.

Commandment #6
Create Multiple Marketing Objectives

Many marketers want to accomplish the following with their custom magazine:

  • Customer Retention
  • Lead Generation
  • Thought Leadership
  • Lower Customer Service Costs
  • Open New Markets
  • Inspire Former Decision Makers
  • Magazine to Pay for Itself
  • Solve World Hunger

That’s a recipe for failure.  Too many goals = lack of focus. To succeed, focus on one key goal.

Commandment #7
Ignore Traditional Media in Your Market

Five out of every 10 magazines and newspapers will go out of business, scale down their frequency or move entirely to the Web,” predicts Andy Cohn, vice president and group publisher, Fader Media.

The opportunity? Do what camera manufacturer Adorama did with JPG magazine and invest in traditional media outlets. Brilliant move.

Any struggling media properties in your market?  Buy them.

Commandment #8
You Don’t Need a Content Audit

If you want your custom magazine to fail, don’t develop processes to extract the best content from inside your organization.  Don’t do a content audit.

The future of a custom magazine is about developing a content strategy that makes sense so you can actually “be the publisher”.

Commandment #9
Let the Customer Figure Out the Action Step

If you don’t have a call-to-action (some additional piece of content or valuable information) on almost every page, you’ll start to have problems. Custom magazines are about creating or maintaining a behavior change, but you have to have an understanding of what you actually want your customer to do.

Commandment #10
Disregard the LEGO Principle

If you want your custom magazine to fail, don’t pay any attention to LEGO magazine.  Starting out as your basic custom magazine in the 80s, this top-tier magazine has spread into an email newsletter, branded music, in-person events, a social network, variable versions (LEGO Club Jr., Brickmaster), spin-offs (Bionicle magazine), and even an on-demand TV Channel.

To ensure that your magazine will not be successful, don’t pay attention to what LEGO is doing.

What did we miss?

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