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, Managing Content Marketing and Get Content Get Customers. Joe's latest book is Epic Content Marketing (McGraw-Hill). 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 7, 2008

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

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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.

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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.

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By joepulizzi published February 1, 2008

Microsite Scorecard: BT’s Bigger Thinking, Toyota’s Why Not? and Siemens’ Answers

I had some time to review the latest print magazine issue of Fortune and managed to find a few new microsites to take a look at.  Here are the ones that peaked my interest.

  • BT Global Services. www.biggerthinking.com.  This video rich microsite focuses everything on thinking outside of the box and innovation. This has a strong focus on global issues, with their video series featuring a number of outside experts from the states and internationally. Excellent production value. I’m impressed by the lack of sales material on the site (other than the logo, which I believe works in this situation).  It seems that they are really trying to get leaders thinking about these key global and political issues.
  • The “Is the World Flat?” series is a must watch. Looks like they are working hard at trying to build a discussion, and getting some decent responses. They need to provide more interactive content to really get this going, as right now it’s pretty much just a bulletin board. Perhaps adding comments to particular videos and articles would help. It also looks like they aren’t quite getting the traffic they would expect. An expert blog could really get this site moving. Grade: A-

  • Toyota’s Why Not? toyota.com/whynot. Focuses on their commercial “Harmony” and its making. In both the making and the actual video, Toyota is clearly promoting responsible environmental manufacturing. Both the commercial and the “making of” presents the case well. The site also includes brief case studies focusing on responsible manufacturing, hybrid technology and green operations (with links to other Toyota sites). These are a bit hard to navigate as you have to use the scroll bar they provide.I think there is an opportunity here to take the videos they’ve created and integrate them together like a traditional media site would. That, and some additional articles on these key issues from industry experts, and you’ve really got something here. Overall, it’s a great start. Grade: B+
  • Siemens Answers for Life. www.seimens.com/answers. There is a lot of really good information here, but there are some organizational issues. First, the site loaded way to slow on my hi-speed connection. Then, the questions shot up too fast to see what the answers pertained to. Okay, it may be just me…so I’ll move along.  Once I got passed all that, I realized that this site is separated into three parts: life, the environment and industry. When I went to the industry site, the article highlighted key words with robust information for each one – links to articles and videos. Unfortunately, much of this content just links to pdf articles, probably from their custom magazine. They lose a lot of interaction here. I also signed up to something called “Siemens Answers”, but I’m still not sure exactly what it will be.  Can’t wait for the surprise.All in all, there is potential here, but they really need to organize it for web use. Can the pdfs and go with html. Also, I’d make it clearer that there are three vertical sections of this site, so people can quickly go where they need to. Remove a bit of the Siemens pitch, and you may have something special.  Grade: C-

One big conclusion here…notice how these companies are still organizing these sites more like commercials and big, in-your-face graphics.  If they would take a minute and come at this from the perspective of a publisher, would the results be different?

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By joepulizzi published January 30, 2008

The Accessible CEO – Myth or Today’s Marketing Reality

“Perhaps the biggest change the new marketing brings is the easiest to overlook, mostly because it’s so obvious. Every
organization now has the ability (and probably the responsibility) to deal directly with the world. With customers, with prospects and with those impacted by their actions. No middlemen.”

- Seth Godin from Meatball Sundae

Are You Accessible?

Some of the most important things about marketing today are the small, minute details. You know, those ones you don’t think about all that often. One of those “little” issues is accessibility and openness with customers.

I received an email today from TypePad’s new CEO about some changes he wanted to bring to my attention (I use TypePad for this blog). It was a nice letter, but it was the end that received my full attention:

“Tell Us What You Need

We’d love to hear what you think is most important for TypePad’s future…

Keep an eye on the TypePad team’s efforts this year — we’ll have a lot of big news to share with you!

Best regards,

Chris

Christopher J. Alden

Chairman & CEO
Six Apart, Ltd.”

(Note that I didn’t include the whole ending.)  The takeaway…here is the most powerful person at this business insisting that he be emailed directly with feedback about the company.  I don’t know about you, but this makes a profound impact on me. How many times have you tried to get in touch with ANYBODY at an organization you do business with, especially the CEO.

The Key for Your Business

  • How available are you to your customers?
  • Can your customers email you and your key officers directly?
  • If they can, do your officers actually respond or do they have someone else reply?

Customer expectations have shot through the roof with increases in technology. Can your business live up to the expectations?  If you can, you have a significant competitive advantage. Why? Because as we all know, most of the companies we deal with are shielded in layers, hierarchy, processes and the “that’s the way it’s always been done” vision statement. I here opportunity knocking.

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By joepulizzi published January 28, 2008

How a Small Business Can Market Like the Big Boys: 5 Steps to Success

I’ve just started doing some guest blogging over at my friends from Small Business Edge. In this first blog post I talk about what small businesses can do to even the playing field against companies with larger budgets. Here is an excerpt:

“1 – Start a Blog – There is no better way to consistently get valuable content out to customers as easily than through a blog. Look
to wordpress or Typepad for starter accounts.  Both can be integrated within your current websites.

2 – If you’ve started a blog (or once you do)…get active in the community. Find the top 20 blog sites in your industry or local area
and start commenting. Every time you comment, a link is created back to your site. This generates traffic to your site, builds on your Google Page Rank, and increases your reputation in the community.

3 – Create a regular opt-in communication piece. For many, this will be an eNewsletter, where you can highlight content from around the web and your own original content that is relevant to your customers.

4 – Develop your keyword list. I always recommend spending about 5 hours with a search engine optimization (SEO) expert to help you define your keywords.

5 – Utilize NEWS releases – Send them not to get coverage, but to expand your link building and web presence. Make sure the releases focus on the customer, not how great you are. Services like PRWeb are great.”

Check out the Small Business Edge site when you get a chance. Although not content marketing, here’s a good article on creating a print ad that works.

By joepulizzi published January 27, 2008

Fisher Investments: Writing the Book on How to Drive a Business with Content

I’ve been familiar with Fisher Investments for about three years…ever since one of my close friends decided to transfer all his investments over to their management. Since that time, I’ve been watching very closely, and have been able to watch how they market their services, which I can sum up in one word, content.

Fisher manages over $45 billion in assets for high net worth individuals and institutional investors. If you are not familiar with them, they are similar to a JP Morgan Asset Management. Over the past few years, they have been able to create a significant brand in the affluent asset management arena by investing in content-driven marketing strategies.

Here are some key points behind Fisher’s content marketing plan:

Leverage Traditional Media to Drive Free Content Giveaways
In reading the Money section of Friday’s USA Today, Fisher took out a full-page ad promoting their free “must-read” report called “The 15-Minute Retirement Plan: How to Avoid Running Out of Money When You Need It Most” (see picture for ad). The ad is very specific about what is in the report, how a customer might benefit from the report, and is also specific about the audience. At the bottom of the ad, Fisher states that they cater to those with portfolios greater than $500k.

Have you ever looked at a full-page ad for Ameritrade, Goldman Sachs or Charles Schwab? I don’t think I’ve ever seen one promote a content initiative. Fisher gets it right…if you are going to use traditional media, use it to drive interest and communication (and ultimately a conversation) through valuable and relevant content.

Use Article Marketing to Drive Your Brand
My first interaction with Fisher was through their CEO Ken Fisher and his regular column in Forbes magazine.  I’m certain Mr. Fisher gets paid for this, but he doesn’t have to. The column in Forbes positions Mr. Fisher as an authority and expert in the industry. After reading his columns, who wouldn’t want to have him or his staff working for you?

Key point: Writing great content, whether on a blog or in an article on another site, magazine or newspaper, works if it’s valuable and relevant to the reader. This tactic has certainly been a key to their success.

Write a Book
Mr. Fisher has written many books, with the last one, “The Only Three Questions That Count” being a best seller. There is simply no better business card in the world than a book for you and your company.

Many companies that launch book efforts get lost in the fantasy of having their own book, talking too much about how great they and their products are. Mr. Fisher uses real-world examples and a common-sense philosophy that truly positions him as an investing guru (yes, I read it).

Keep Customers Informed at all Times
Fisher sends out quarterly pdf reports to clients on the state of the market and their current investment outlook. They also send customers a very professional “State of the Market” DVD of Ken Fisher and his experts discussing the market and their investment strategies.

Just recently, as the market went into a downturn, they sent a special report out to customers, telling them to stay calm, and to believe in their overall philosophy. Consistent communication with customers is key to their marketing retention strategy.

Promote Your Services, and Your Content on the Web Site
Although I’m not a big fan of their web site design, it’s easy to see that Fisher is a huge believer in content. Four of the six major spots on their home page is dedicated to content, including information on Fisher Investments Press, a free downloadable eBook, Fisher’s Forbes column information, and the book.

Key point: If you want to teach people about what you do, teach them what they need to know to succeed first.

Create Your Own Media Portal and Be the Content Expert in Your Industry
Probably most impressive is Fisher’s creation of Marketminder.com, a wealth of online information dedicated to financial analysis and research.  If anything positions the 50+ member research team at Fisher experts, it’s Market Minder.

Market Minder doesn’t push Fisher services at all.  They talk real business with real advice and some of the best research and opinion around. This is a strategy that ALL companies, big or small, can take from Fisher as a best practice.

It’s pretty easy to see how Fisher has created one of the best brands in the affluent investing market. The great news is that (outside the full-page ad from USA Today), any company, even a one-person shop, can take these initiatives and make them their own. Technology has enabled the barriers to entry for content creation and marketing so low that any company can afford these practical and ultra-effective marketing strategies.  Good Luck!

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By joepulizzi published January 24, 2008

Online Interruption Marketing and Why I Hate Toaster Strudel

I just finished up the audio version of Meatball Sundae by Seth Godin. Excellent listen. For some reason, this is the statement from Seth that resonated with me the most.

“The web is the single worst medium ever devised for interrupting people who don’t want to be interrupted.”

Amen brother!

Why do the best brands in the world continue to distract us? Do they not see what is going on…especially in an online environment?

Here is a quick example of why interruption marketing in an online environment is so detrimental to a brand. Over the weekend I was doing some stock research for our investment club. As usual, I was looking through the headlines of the stocks I am responsible for (Ameritrade and JAKKS Pacific, the toy company).

So, on my way to a news story on Forbes I get hit with this full-screen roadblock (a roadblock is an online ad that covers the entire screen, and usually disappears after 10 seconds or you can try skip past). Now, the roadblock has to be the ultimate in online interruption marketing. Why don’t you just chain me to a post and make me read this over and over until I cry? I’m already going to Forbes…do I have to read that Forbes has the best political news?

As Dr. Phil would say, “Joe, how did this make you feel?” Can anyone say Huffington Post?

Okay, I finally get to the article and I’m on to more research.  Now I’m at Yahoo! Finance reading up on Ameritrade. All of a sudden, I get karate-chopped by a Pillsbury Toaster Strudel ad. Worst part…I can’t read the headlines now because the Doughboy is in the way. As I move the mouse I can’t get rid of him. Down doughboy, down!

This is like a bad dream.  And tell me, why the heck is there a toaster strudel ad on my Ameritrade headlines page? Do brokers like strudel? Do investor’s of online brokerage companies treat themselves to the soft, chewy heaven that is the Toaster Strudel?

Shame on you Pillsbury, and shame on you Yahoo! for sucking Pillsbury into this.

Dr. Phil…”Joe, what does this make you want to do?” Good question, Phil. It makes me want to go to Google News and then on a diet.

This is old marketing at its best. This is a mass marketing strategy placed into a setting that has no more room for mass marketing. Let’s face it, Forbes and Yahoo! will continue to offer these ad placements as long as someone is willing to pay for them. It is up to marketers to stand up and decide that their customers deserve better.

Pillsbury can make the decision to stop distracting to get business. They can decide to be a part of the conversation, a part of the content.

It’s only a matter of time before brands like Pillsbury “get” content marketing. Until then, I’m banning Toaster Strudel from the house.

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By joepulizzi published January 21, 2008

Junta42 Announces Top 42 Content Marketing Blogs

Well, after almost six months in “beta” we’ve decided to launch the full version of Junta42. And what better way to do that than with a cool list.

This week we are premiering the Top 42 Content Marketing Blogs that features the best blogs from the net focusing on some aspect of content marketing. Some, you’ll find, are very well known, while others are definitely “up-and-comers”. Congrats to Millward Brown’s “Straight Talk with Nigel Hollis” on taking first spot on our premiere listing.

I think what I like most is that Junta42 members can vote on the ones they like the best, which generates a user rank. Members can “Hitch!” (or vote – just like Digg) for the blogs they believe are the best. The most popular blogs rise to the top. I believe at the end of the day, that’s the list that will have the most value.

Now, we’ve by no means perfected the selection criteria, but we’ve made a good start.  Here’s a full description of how we selected and ranked the blogs.  I’m quite certain we’ve left off many, so if you know of any you’d like to nominate, send us a note at add[at]junta42.com. We’ll be adding blogs and refining the process over the next few months.

Other additions to the new Junta42 include:

  • Content Marketing Resource Center
  • Video Series on the Content Marketing Revolution
  • Additional social media components, including profile image and commenting tools/notification
  • Easy-to-use “Submit a Story” function (now two steps)
  • Latest article RSS feeds and Email updates
  • and last but not least, the ability to rank all categories by most recent, most popular…and all listings by most popular weekly, monthly or all-time.

We are also excited about the launch of Junta42 Match, which will take place over the next few months. Junta42 Match will be the “eHarmony of business content”, matching businesses who need content expertise with custom publishers or content providers that match specific needs and criteria.

We’ll have plenty more to come on Match over the next few months.

Thanks to all of you who have supported us along the way.  Let’s enjoy the ride and have some fun.

The formal press release goes out this Wednesday.  Here’s a sneak peak…

By joepulizzi published January 17, 2008

Using Social Media to Deliver Premium Search Engine Rankings

Search engine and social media experts know this little fact, but surprisingly most people I talk to, including the majority of web developers and marketers, do not. That is:

  • The sheer number of available social media sites to promote your content (for a great roundup, Dosh Dosh provides one of the best).
  • That the success of social media content placement is NOT dependent on the traffic you receive from that social media site when it comes to search engine results.

Basically, I would argue that placing your content on social media sites may have more value for search engine optimization than direct traffic from a social media site.

Let’s prove the point with an example.

I recently posted this article about Seth Godin’s book tour and his take on content marketing. I then placed it on the following social media/social bookmarking sites, using the same format and language for each:

I also used one article marketing strategy, placing the post at Newt Barrett’s ContentMarketingToday site.

The Goal
My interest was to evaluate certain keywords in Google and measure their impact, looking at the blog post itself or the placement strategies.

Success #1
I wanted to start out with an obvious keyword selection, so I used “Seth Godin Content Marketing,” which was in the title of the post.  Here are the results after exactly three days:

  • Overall, dominated the first five results on the page.
  • Original blog post was first.
  • Article marketing strategy (Content Marketing Today) was second and third.
  • Small Business Brief Fourth.
  • Shoutwire Fifth.

It should be noted that in the Shoutwire example, it received no positive votes, so placement has nothing to do with popularity. Also note that Digg came up on the first page after 1 hour, but within a day was already gone. That said, this strategy may work in Digg’s case for very timely news, but not for more evergreen pieces like I tend to write. (NOTE ADDED: After submitted this post to Digg, it was #1 overall for “premium search engine rankings” after less than 30 minutes. Most likely will be gone tomorrow.)

Success #2
Okay, the first example is hardly ever typed in to Google. So let’s use one that is.  How about “Seth Godin Marketing Lessons”? Here are the results:

  • #5 placement, first page for original blog post.
  • #3 on second page for Content Marketing Today.
  • #4 on second page for Shoutwire.
  • #5 on second page for Small Business Brief.

Results: Not as dominating as the first example, but four within the top 20 results, two of which were social media sites.

Takeaways

  1. Your search engine optimization strategy should integrate the use of social media sites for key pieces of content.
  2. This strategy is even more important for timely news (i.e., Digg example).
  3. All social bookmarking sites are not created equal when it comes to this strategy (where was Mixx, Reddit, Propeller?). We’d need to test this again to see if there was a pattern.
  4. Luckily, the blog itself gets picked up well by Google, but this strategy could really be important for sites that are suffering in the search optimization department. If I had no SEO at all, I would have still had the top 4 of 10 results on the first page of Google.
  5. Titles are key: If you are targeting a particular key phrase, get it in the title…and do it in a string if possible (i.e, Seth Godin Content Marketing).
  6. Don’t mistake this for anything more than another search engine results tactic. Being involved with social media sites as a whole is an important overall marketing strategy. This has nothing to do with the value of being involved in those sites (which is a completely different topic).
  7. Individuals and businesses that create regular content through blogs and articles have an overwhelming advantage over competition that do not.

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