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 upcoming 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 August 8, 2008

GM Ad Agencies…Is the Money Coming Back?

General Motors has asked its team of advertising agencies to take a 20% cut in fees this year and next. This article in the Wall Street Journal yesterday is just the start of more to come.

And guess what? Even though GM may cite economic and business model reasons for the marketing cutbacks, the money may not come back to the agencies…ever again. At least not like it was.

But now it’s front and center and things will never be the same. My article in Folio: this week talked about what’s happening with media companies adjusting to this change. Ad agencies are also seeing their business models begin to crumble. Of course, this is nothing new.

Scary part is, ad agencies and media companies, for the most part, are looking for the next great tool or next great piece of measurement that will make everything okay again.

Blinders On
One quick stroll down the exhibit row at Digital Hollywood in San Jose yesterday is all the proof one needs. Apps providers talking to Agencies about the next big thing. Tools companies talking to other tools companies about creating amazing new technology that will continually interrupt consumers, whether they like it or not.

The world wide web is all about the democratization of content that hands the power to the consumer. At the same time, literally hundreds of companies are creating "helpful" tools that brands can use to "control" their message and brand, and try to regain the power.

News to all of us: the power is gone and will never come back. Why do we keep trying to take the mass media model from years ago (that worked very well by the way) and try to place the same methodology to the web?  Can’t be done.

What To Do
Nobody likes being the bearer of bad news. The point of all this is that, all evidence aside, this may be the greatest opportunity that agencies and media companies have ever seen. For those that choose to accept it.

In order to be relevant with consumers, brands need to be part of the conversation. The only way to be part of this conversation is to bring something valuable to the table. Think about your one-on-one conversations. Why would you talk to someone that has nothing valuable to say?

Information is the key. Brands must provide valuable information to their customer segments in order to create and sustain long-term, loyal relationships. Advertising of the past will be replaced by information in the future.

They need help doing it.

Media companies are best positioned for this because they understand the value of targeted, editorial content (regardless of channel). Ad agencies can fill this role as well, but the culture shock may be too much for them to handle.

Some media companies and agencies are starting to get this. They will be the new marketing leadership. Many won’t. It will be fun and sad to watch all at the same time.  Hang on!

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By joepulizzi published August 7, 2008

Is the Media Iceberg Melting?

Media companies are going through a major transformation, with the majority looking at the viability of their core business models. I touched on this in the most recent issue of Folio: magazine (check out the entire article here).

This excerpt puts the situation in perspective:

Corporations need content in order to survive, and all the trends show that this direction is only going to accelerate. If the iceberg
hasn’t melted, it’s on the verge of cracking.Continue Reading

By joepulizzi published August 5, 2008

Outsourced Custom Publishing Second-Fastest Industry Segment

According to the latest research from private equity firm Veronis Suhler Stevenson (VSS), outsourced custom publishing is the second-fastest growing area of marketing spend, behind only word-of-mouth marketing. The full research states that outsourced custom publishing grew an average of 16.5% from 2002-2007 to an estimated $5.46 billion.

The combination of outsourced custom publishing and branded entertainment is valued at $27.76 billion according to VSS, which is substantially less than recent studies from the Custom Publishing Council and ContentWise, which estimates the total spending of custom content in the range of $48 to $55 billion.

Frankly, determining an accurate number for the custom content/content marketing industry is almost impossible, since organizational budgets usually do not break out custom as a separate line item.  Nonetheless, VSS takes an apples-to-apples comparison each year, and the growth rate number should be trusted.

What does this mean?  This means one of two things – either companies are spending more on custom publishing as a whole (which they are) or they are outsourcing more and doing less internally.  My take is that both are happening simultaneously.

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By joepulizzi published

MIN Announces 2008 Integrated Marketing Awards

Here are the finalists of the custom categories for the 2008 MIN Integrated Marketing Awards.  See the full list here.

Custom Publishing Project

  • Bloomingdale’s for Little Pink Book
  • Seaports Publications Group for The Port of New York and New Jersey 2008 Port Guide
  • Entertainment Weekly for Toyota Best of the Web Booklet
  • Hanley Wood Business Media for Sterling Kitchen & Bath Design Contest
  • Meredith Integrated Marketing for DIRECTV ACCESS, December 2007
  • Starcom USA and Meredith Publishing for P&G Pure Essentials
  • United Business Media and CA for Smart Enterprise Magazine

Customized Web Site/Microsite

  • Advanstar Communications for Modern Medicine
  • Brides.com for Brides.com and JCPenney: Pick it. Click it. Love it.
  • Hanley Wood Business Media – BUILDER TV
  • PEOPLE for Toyota Celebrity Central Program
  • Think Services/United Business Media for Microsoft Silverlight Program
  • Wenner Media for Men’s Journal Presents Discover Puerto Rico

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By joepulizzi published August 3, 2008

Attract and Retain Customers with Content NOW – A Complimentary White Paper

Today’s Internet-savvy buyers are hungry for content. And not just any content…valuable, relevant content that offers solutions to their problems and helps them lead successful, productive, enjoyable jobs and lives. However, they are also inundated by thousands of marketing messages every day, most of which they ignore. To get through, you need to communicate differently—you need to do more than just sell products and services. You need to provide information. Smart marketers know this and are creating strong brand relationships by providing good, authoritative, even leadership-type content.

For that very reason, Junta42 is offering this complimentary white paper entitled, “How to Attract and Retain Customers with Content NOW.

The majority of companies are set up to sell products and services, not to create valuable, relevant and compelling content on a consistent basis. To deliver content that has a chance to create long-term relationships with customers and prospects, businesses need to develop a new content mindset.  This free white paper will help you get there.

Here are just a few of the content marketing issues that are covered in this white paper:

  • Content marketing defined
  • Why companies have to “Be the Media”
  • Six reasons why you need to begin today
  • How to develop a content strategy
  • Putting the plan in motion
  • How to measure your success
  • Content + Marketing = Customers

We also include a few case studies from leading brands that are making it work today.

If you are signed in as a Junta42 member, you’ll go straight to the white paper.  If not, your name and email address will direct you to the white paper download.

Download your complimentary white paper now! For all you media types and publishers out there, make sure you check out the sister-white paper to this document – “The New Rules of Custom Publishing: Nine Strategies to Create a World-Class Content Marketing Organization.” Enjoy.

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By joepulizzi published July 28, 2008

Will Cuil’s Search Engine Dent Google’s Armor?

Interesting article from CNN Money about Anna Patterson’s group of ex-Google employees and their launch of a competing search engine called Cuil (pronounced “cool”).

Here are the key points:

  • Cuil claims to index 120 billion web pages (about 3x more than Google).
  • Cuil does not try to replicate Google’s algorithm, but takes a deep dive into the content of each site. (Key to any competitive success is not to replicate what Google does.)
  • Instead of a vertical stack of results like most other search engines, Cuil provides sometimes less/sometimes more than 10 results on each page in a more visually-appealing format (stated “more magazine-like” in the article).Continue Reading
By joepulizzi published July 27, 2008

10 Questions to Ask Before You Blog

One of the most frequent questions I receive while traveling is about blogging. The questions revolve around how to get started, what to talk about, and what software to use.

My questions back to them usually startle the person, because so many start thinking about what they want to say, other than what their target audience needs to hear. Here are a few…
1.  Who are your primary and secondary targets for your blog?

2.  What do you want to tell them?

3.  Do you understand what the key informational needs of the audience are?

4.  Are you reading other blogs on that topic, and ones targeting your customers and prospects?

5.  If you are reading, are you leaving comments that add to the online conversation on the blogs you cover?

6.  Do you have a firm grasp on the types of keywords to focus on that would be relevant to your blog?

7.  Do you follow those keywords on Technorati and Google Blog Search?  Do you have alerts set up around those keywords at Google Alerts?

8.  Can you commit to blogging at least two-to-three times per week? (consistency is key)

9.  What is your ultimate goal in starting a blog?  In one year from when you start blogging, how will your life be different?

10.  Are you looking at blogging as a challenge or something that could be fun?

Of course, I don’t ask all of these in order in fear I would scare them off, but these are the general starter questions.  These questions should be the same for individuals as well as businesses.

The majority of blogs out there don’t make it.  The worst thing you can do as a business is start a consistent dialogue with your customers and then stop. Better not to do one at all.

Remember, blogging is just a tool.  Some businesses aren’t ready to commit resources or change their culture (full transparency) to adapt to a blog.  That’s okay.  But all businesses must understand the power of blogging.  Your brand is what people read about and talk about online.  You have to decide if you want to be a part of shaping that conversation around your brand.

More Helpful Resources:

Problogger’s Blogging Tips for Beginners
10 Enterprise Blogging Trends for 2008
Business Blogging: 5 Lessons Learned and Strategies Discovered

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By joepulizzi published July 22, 2008

DIY Microsites to the Rescue – a Q&A with Genoo’s Kim Albee

I had the pleasure of chatting with Kim Albee recently about the launch of her new web-based microsite and lead nurturing system called Genoo. Genoo is an interesting concept, and really speaks to marketers about the need to not only communicate effectively and consistently with customers and prospects, but to nurture and track the conversation as well.

Joe with Junta42 – What does Genoo do?

Kim with Genoo – Genoo’s online marketing tools enable marketers to affordably reach target audiences fast—with fresh, relevant information. They can create niche product and expertise microsites and landing pages in record time and launch campaigns without IT involvement.

All of Genoo’s tools are integrated so once an email communication is sent, all responses are tracked, and marketers can gain insight to lead interest levels. Then, they can use that lead intelligence to tune messaging to build better connections with the leads they’re nurturing. Genoo is an online campaign execution toolbox for interactive content marketing.

Joe – Why did you decide to launch it?

Kim – I worked with a lot of marketers who had difficulty implementing lead nurturing strategies. They had lengthy wait times for IT to load content, create landing pages and provide email templates. Whenever they learned anything about their leads that necessitated tuning their messaging, they went back to the IT queue. That dependence on IT hampers marketing’s efforts to be responsive in real-time and provide the interactive marketing dialog their prospective customers expect.

I knew if we could help marketers eliminate those technical challenges, plus give them a more integrated suite of tools that helps them remove silos and get a more comprehensive view of how their communications are being received and acted upon, Genoo would deliver a high-value solution. Increasingly, marketers need to optimize campaign outcomes and quantify their contribution to revenues. Ultimately, I want Genoo to revolutionize the way online marketing gets done by eliminating the technology barriers and cost structures that hinder optimizing ongoing dialog with customers and buyers.

Joe – What changes in marketing are you seeing where the microsite will continue to be important?

Kim – That’s a tough question. Much has changed in customer expectations and in who controls the sales cycle. Marketing Sherpa has done some definitive research in this area. Two notable findings are that 80% of our customers say they found us, where companies believe the opposite is true. The other is that persistent statistic that reports 79% of marketing leads never become opportunities.

Both of those changes have big ramifications for how companies market. In the first one, because prospects identify themselves later in the buying process, they may very well think they found you. The reality is that marketing needs to provide deep content for relevant focus areas to deliver high-value information designed to meet an urgent need. Microsites enable marketers to do that with ease.

The wasted leads issue results from a lack of insight about leads and the historical tendency for marketing to rely on sales to nurture them. Marketers are being tasked to nurture leads farther through the pipeline and need to take the effort to prove to salespeople that they can be trusted to deliver sales-ready leads. This pervasive lack of trust between marketing and sales is costing companies time, money and customers. Microsites with integrated lead nurturing tools can help bridge that gap between sales and marketing by generating better leads, validating interest levels and setting sales up to close more deals.

Joe – In your opinion, why are content microsites so important?

Kim – Important question Joe, and one many marketers are asking. Microsites are becoming a critical resource for customers and buyers to focus on specific expertise needs. The time constraints of today’s business don’t allow a lot of time for browsing vast websites and trolling through lots of unneeded or general one-size-fits-all information in search of insight about urgent priorities.

The more customer-focused companies become, the bigger the need for niche areas of interest that engage and sustain the interest of leads. And that’s exactly what a microsite provides. By delivering targeted high-value information, marketing can entice leads to identify themselves earlier in the process, as well as ensure that their company stays top of mind until the lead decides to move forward.

Additionally, the ability to easily insert keywords, page titles and meta descriptions to optimize the search results for each page of a microsite is critical to being found in the first place. Microsites allow you to claim an area of expertise and go after that search result territory. The more you learn about your leads’ behavior, the better able you’ll be to tune your keyword choices to accurately reflect how your target audience is searching for their information. And, marketing can take charge of being found on the Web without need of IT support.

Joe – How hard is it to use drip marketing…and why would you?

Kim – Without integrated tools that automate nurturing programs, drip marketing can become a tedious manual task that gets pushed aside for other projects. But, with Genoo, a marketer can go out and create their email messages, load and link their content and schedule the sends based on rules they set about lead activity.

The reason drip marketing is important goes back to both staying top of mind and building credibility that inspires the trust necessary for a lead to initiate a conversation with your company. By consistently delivering high-value, relevant content the lead receives information of value and establishes that comfort level with your company. Every time you send them something relevant to their priorities, you earn another good impression that bolsters your credibility as the ideal partner to help them solve their problems. One-way, one-off scatter-shot marketing communications won’t deliver those results for marketers.

Joe – Personalization is a big topic for marketing today. How does Genoo help marketers get closer that ideal?

Kim – The simple answer is intelligence. Because Genoo tracks every activity your leads undertake from opening, clicking through and visiting additional resources on your microsite, you know what they’re interested in. By segmenting and communicating with leads who share interests, marketers can maximize their ability to connect with their leads because their responsiveness is noticeable and appreciated.

When marketing communications are on target, marketers are saving their leads valuable time they’d otherwise spend searching for expertise they need to make competent decisions about how to solve problems. Genoo provides lead profiles and list management to help them easily accomplish higher levels of personalization.

Related Articles:

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By joepulizzi published July 21, 2008

The Art of the Free Sample – Content Survival Tips

Every month our investment club meets to review our portfolio, make stock purchase decisions and, hopefully, learn a little. This month our meeting was held at Whole Foods on the east side of Cleveland, Ohio. Previously, this was a Wild Oats, and it was the first time I’d visited the store since it was renamed and re-branded as a Whole Foods.

The difference was notable as soon as we walked in.  I have two words for you – Free Samples.  There was a worker at the door giving out samples of organic peaches and mango. There was another stand set up next to our meeting room area that was giving away complimentary organic coffee. It made quite an impression.  I plan on stopping back and picking up some more of those mango.

Giving away free samples to consumers has been an age-old marketing practice. The idea is to let prospects try it. If they like it, they’ll come back for more. From Crest toothpaste to the new Frosted Flakes Gold, consumer marketers with smaller-ticket items use free samples to drive their businesses.

Business-to-business marketers and high-ticket consumer marketers have a bit more difficulty giving away free samples.  “Yes sir, please try out our new forklift, no questions asked.” “Yes maam, we’ll send over your new Pontiac Vibe today.  Keep it as long as you like.” Just doesn’t work.

So what to do?

Your content is your free sample. Give your customers and prospects a taste of your brand by delivering great information to them on a consistent basis. Instead of giving them that forklift, how about a video series on green shipping practices? Instead of delivering the Pontiac, how about a custom magazine showing Pontiac owners how they can get the most out of their car and their lifestyle?

This is not rocket science, it’s survival. Interruption marketing is near-death. Consumers are tuning out more and more marketing messages. To survive, you have to be relevant. You have to provide constant value in order for your customers to pay attention…even just a bit.

There is no social media strategy without content

I was talking with a marketing consultant today, and we chatted about simplifying the idea of social media. Look at it this way. You are having a one-on-one conversation with your customer. If you are only talking about how wonderful your products and services are, how long do you think they will pay attention to you?

Social media works the same way.  You won’t be allowed into the conversation without coming to the party with something of value. This is the golden rule on social media sites, as well as your own website. How long do you think your customers will stay on your site that includes only information about your products? What would you do if you were in their shoes? Would you stay more than five seconds?

Get to know your customers informational needs. Then, provide content that solves those needs. It’s that simple. This strategy is not just something nice to do, it’s communication survival 101. Go out and create great content.

What’s your free sample?

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By joepulizzi published July 20, 2008

Using Content as the Center of Your Marketing Strategy – Don’t Miss this Event!

Interruption marketing is dying. Consumers have control over what they engage in and when. So how do you get your relevant, valuable, and compelling content out to your customer base on a consistent basis?

You turn to the Web, right?

But hold on. Are you confident about which of the myriad Web-based options are right for your content? Do you know what to plan for now so that your content is found on the Internet in the future? And what’s with this whole social media thing, anyway?

Join me for an exclusive online presentation with McMurry’s ContentWise (formerly Publications Management) discussing why content is the future of marketing and how to choose the best ways to make your content accessible for your customers, prospects, members—even the ones you don’t know about yet. You’ll learn what will generate demand and position your
organization as a thought leader now, and what will ensure that you’re still a visible force on the Web five or ten years from now. Register now!

When

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

11:30 A.M. — 12:30 P.M. Eastern
10:30 A.M. — 11:30 P.M. Central
9:30 A.M. — 10:30 A.M. Mountain
8:30 A.M. — 9:30 A.M. Pacific

Pricing

Webinar (per dial-in site):
$199 (subscribers)
$229 (non-subscribers)

Here’s What You’ll Learn

  • Reasons to integrate your content into your current website
  • Reasons to go for a standalone option instead
  • Pros and cons of the main standalone options
  • Pros and cons of implementing social media now
  • What to keep your eye on if you choose to wait
  • Which Web options are right for which goals

Looking forward to seeing you there.

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