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 December 18, 2007

Microsoft Uses Content to Attract Small Businesses

Say what you want about Microsoft, you’ve got to love their strategy to create relationships and sell products to small businesses. They are doing many things right, and a few things wrong that need to be corrected…let’s review.

I received an email with this link promoting Microsoft Office Live Basics for Small Businesses.  Live Basics enables businesses to reserve a domain name, create and update a web site, and create a centralized email hub for up to 25 email accounts (this part competes directly with Google Apps for small businesses, which I use).

It’s not the product that necessarily caught my attention – it was the content on the site.  There are two key areas to focus on: Articles and Tips and Community and Blogs. The site has over 250 articles and blog posts dedicated to small business solutions, many focused on small business online tools, tricks and techniques. Most articles are written by professional freelancers, which Microsoft is probably paying for (good move).

On the home page of the Microsoft Live Small Business site they promote an eBook from Startup Nation on the 11 ways to Create a Successful Web Site. Kudos to Microsoft for partnering with a recognized small business name such as Startup Nation. The eBook is free, but sign up is required. By giving up some information, you’ll also receive a subscription to their Microsoft Advisor eNewsletter. Microsoft is employing the basic “free on free” technique of giving you something large for free (eBook), then getting something regular for free (the eNewsletter), in exchange for your email address.

Microsoft has the process down and is doing most things right when it comes to delivering content to target customers. That said, here are a few things Microsoft should look at to improve the site:

  1. Why all the advertising? As I was reading the content I just couldn’t understand all the advertising (usually from Sprint or MasterCard). There are obvious reasons for Microsoft to have advertising on the site, but I believe that it goes against the higher purpose of the website…to get small business owners engaged in the site, familiar with Microsoft small business services, and ultimately, sign up for a service or content product. TAKEAWAY – Ditch the advertising…it’s distracting and interruptive. Getting rid of it will help keep your customers focused on what they truly need, small business solutions.
  2. No sample of eNewsletter? I really wanted to see a sample of the eNewsletter before I gave them my personal information. TAKEAWAY – Add a sample to give people a taste…you’ll see higher conversion if the content is good.
  3. No comments? With today’s technology, it is almost expected to have comment capabilities set up on articles. TAKEAWAY – Add comment capabilities to articles to create a more vibrant and interactive community.
  4. The Blog is a servant to the articles? The blog postings rarely offer a new take on small business solutions. It seems to exist to promote key Microsoft articles or give technical public service announcements. I’m not quite sure of the purpose. TAKEAWAY – Create a team of dedicated small-business experts as bloggers that create new insight into the challenges of small business.

Overall takeaway – Microsoft is doing some great things with online content marketing, but even the biggest and best companies in the world don’t have the content process entirely figured out.

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By joepulizzi published December 16, 2007

Blog Carnival – The Best of Content Marketing #3

Here is edition #3 on the best content from the web about content marketing and custom publishing. Anything that will help you create better content for your business, in whatever form, will be included here on a regular basis.  Not sure what content marketing is?  Click here for the Ultimate Definition of Content Marketing.

40 Online Marketing Methods by Hans De Keulenaer from the Web Business Marketing Blog.  He took our 42 Ways to Attract and Retain Customers to the next level.

Kenton Newby presents a five-minute video on Automatically Finding Ideas for New Website Content.  Interesting take and service he discusses.

Kathleen Gage writes a nice piece called “Is Blogging Necessary?” on her Street Smarts Marketing blog. Most companies don’t understand the opportunities that present themselves with a blog.  Kathleen reviews the basics.

Mark Riffey presents Reach out. Regularly. Or they’ll forget about you. posted at Business is Personal.

Nice post by Bud Caddell from Imagination Publishing called Web Metrics, Are You Missing the Engagement Mark?

My Creative Team presents 11 Ways to Promote Your Website.

Newt Barrett from ContentMarketingToday covers 3 More Reasons Marketers Must Become Publishers.

Content Marketers: Don’t Overlook the Basics from Pete at Relevant and Valued.

And here are some recent videos to check out that relate to branded content and content marketing:

Tiger Trap from Buick
Dr. Pepper’s Cherry Chocolate Rain (I can’t get this song out of my head).

…and a few microsites…

Dell Star Power
BMW XPLOR
Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty

For more, check out more Microsite examples at Junta42.

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By joepulizzi published December 14, 2007

Custom Content Conference: Finally, A Conference for Content Marketing

It’s been a long wait, but there is finally a conference dedicated to excellence in corporate content. The Custom Publishing Council is putting on the premier conference dedicated to custom publishing and content marketing. The conference takes place from March 9-11, 2008 at the Marriott in New Orleans.

We all know it, but most marketers can’t see it yet.  They have the power to create conversations and relationships directly with their customers.  No middle-men or distributors required. Organizations have the power to create great content through multiple formats that truly make a difference in their customers’ lives. That’s what this conference is all about. If you are at all interested in learning how to create more valuable content for your customers, and learn how to market it through the most effective formats – attend this conference.

Executives from Six Apart, Brand Keys, GlaxoSmithKline and the Advertising Research Foundation (among others) will be presenting their content expertise at the event.  Junta42 is proud to be a Gold Sponsor for the event.

I truly believe that this will not only be a valuable event, but is important to the future of our industry. Content marketing has come a long way, but let’s face it, there is still a lot of horrible marketing going on out there.  Those marketers need help…but we can all do our part. Register by January 1, 2008 and receive $100 off the fee ($595 total)!

By joepulizzi published December 10, 2007

Is Data-Driven Content the Next Killer Marketing App?

More and more, I’ve been running into businesses that are using Internet data to drive their content marketing efforts. What this means is that instead of an organization creating content for their websites in the form of text, audio or video, they are generating content by extracting information (data) accessible on the web.

Two excellent examples of this are Webbed Marketing and Hubspot. Webbed Marketing, an internet marketing company, created a very interesting tool on their website called the Webbed-O-Meter. The Webbed-O-Meter measures the amount of buzz your website is getting in the blogosphere by pulling in content from Yahoo! SiteExplorer,
Wikipedia,
Technorati,
NewsPad (PRWeb),
Feedster,
IceRocket,
Del.icio.us,
Digg,
Google,
and Google Groups.

Junta42 scored a not-too-pleasant 17.8 out of 100. According to the Webbed-O-Meter:

“A small hive, but a start. There are a handful of folks online that are Buzzing about this site. Interested in creating more Buzz? Contact Webbed Marketing and let us help you get people talking.”

Regardless of the score, I love the concept, and the idea of attracting customers by offering a unique data formula set that creates unique content.

Internet Marketing Software company, Hubspot, has created a similar type of data-driven tool called the Website Grader. Website Grader pulls information from around the web to generate a report that measures your website against all others graded with the service. Here are Junta42′s results for Website Grader:

“A website grade of 91 for www.junta42.com means that of the thousands of websites that have previously been submitted to the tool, our algorithm has calculated that this site scores higher than 91% of them in terms of its marketing effectiveness.  The algorithm uses a proprietary blend of over a dozen different variables, including search engine data, website structure, approximate traffic, site performance, and others.”

I’ve personally used Website Grader for about six months, both for myself and for clients. It’s an incredibly helpful tool. Hubspot collects an email address every time you do the report (so they can send you a link to the final report). Since Hubspot has had my email they’ve notified me of their periodic educational webcasts. I’ve attended a few (which were both excellent), and have recently looked into purchasing their software package.

Now that’s what I call content marketing.

I don’t know if data-driven content will ultimately be the killer app, but it is definitely something that organizations need to consider as part of their total online content marketing and custom publishing program.

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By joepulizzi published December 7, 2007

myFord Magazine Special Issue Spells Disaster

Last week I received a special issue of myFORD (myFordmag.com), Ford Motor’s owner magazine, entitled “New Directions”. First off, I’ve owned a variety of Fords over the past few decades, and they’ve all treated me well. But frankly, I’m not really sure what they are trying to do with the latest issue of their custom magazine. If the goal is “sell, sell, sell…feature, feature, feature” then they are doing a good job. myFORD has never been an elite lifestyle magazine (actually, it’s always been pretty poor), but this one may take the cake.

There is no need to go into great detail on what’s wrong with myFord magazine. It takes just one analysis.

There are 17 separate content sections in the magazine (mini-features, sidebars, etc.). Of the 17 areas, Ford is mentioned in the title or first sentence of 14 of them. What this means is that the magazine has nothing to do with customers…it’s all about Ford.  Just take a look:

“…Ford Focus is a sporty car with serious smarts…”
“…at Ford, hydrogen fuels are starting to hit full speed…”
“…Ford has received more 5-star crash ratings than any other…”
“…the Ford Personal Safety System responds in milliseconds…”
“…Ford is continually improving its vehicles…”

I’ll stop there. I’m sure you are wondering what they did in the other three sections that did not mention Ford in the title or first line? One mentions the Focus (a Ford Brand), one mentions the Escape (another Ford Brand), and the last one is a short sidebar on “What Five Star Means”. Wow, no mention of Ford…until the 4th sentence (and the big Ford Taurus Trophy next to it).Continue Reading

By joepulizzi published December 5, 2007

How Poor Marketing Kills Great Content

I was reading some excellent articles on the web that brought me back to a key issue faced by most marketers today – the marketing of content.

Look at it this way…the majority of companies (yes, including media companies) that have been creating quality content for years never had to worry about marketing their content. They had targeted databases and targeted direct mail lists and knew exactly where their prospects and customers are at all times. Marketing time and resources had always been used for brand advertising, sales initiatives, event marketing, direct marketing, etc., not to market the content. But today, since the average company spends almost a quarter of their marketing spend on content (according to the Custom Publishing Council), how can a company put so many resources behind something and not market it effective? Well, it’s happening a lot.  If that’s your situation, this is a must read.

MediaWeek’s recent feature on “Is Social Media Killing the Campaign Microsite?” brought attention to the fact that the microsite (or content web portal…content microsite) might be going the way of the 30-second spot. The author, Brian Morrissey, states that “the growth of social media is causing marketers to realize they cannot expect consumers to always seek them out.”

Social media is just one aspect to this issue. Ever-changing buyer behavior and expectations are another. Regardless of the reasons, custom publishing content cannot be marketed the way it was in the past.

Let’s take a look at the traditional custom publishing or content marketing campaign:

  1. Create glossy 32+ page magazine.
  2. Mail magazine to targeted list of customers and prospects.
  3. Upload content to the magazine microsite just before the print copies are delivered.
  4. Repeat process in 3 months.

I may be simplifying this just a bit, but this is how 99% of the custom projects are produced. This is so five years ago.

It’s Not All About You

I’ve been keeping up with the postings from the folks at PandemicBlog recently and picked up on this review of an article by Kevin Nalts on best practices for using viral videos.  Kevin, one of THE experts in viral marketing with video, posted in the comments and they struck me as something so simple, but something most content marketers haven’t realized yet. Kevin says…

“Would you go to Hersheys.com to watch funny videos? Probably not. Would you watch Hershey-sponsored videos via YouTube? Much better chance.  It’s based on when pharmaceutical marketers wanted their brand site to be the “ultimate destination for people who have condition x.” Puleez-just go syndicate or advertise on WebMD.”

This is true for not just video, but all your content that can be “webified”. Heck, I’m a huge fan of the microsite. The microsite is not dead, it’s simply just one way out of many that you need to connect and communicate with your customers.

There are no glass ceilings or content gates or, God forbid, concerns over where your content ends up. Don’t be blind that, no matter how you promote your content, that people will just come and engage with your content.

Less Content, More Marketing

This is essentially the key, and there is no better example to this than in blogging.  Successful blogging, to most people,  is about frequency. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Said best by Eric Kintz at the mpdailyfix, blogging is not about “how often” but about how the blogger participates in the community. The same can be said for all of your web-based content. However you or your company are involved in physical communities in your industry, you need to double those efforts on the web.

I’ve had actual conversations with three industry experts this week about their web content (two marketers, one media professional). Each of them couldn’t figure out why they weren’t getting more traffic. Outside of the basic SEO fixes, the majority of it came down to poor marketing, not poor content. When I asked, “How are you marketing your content?” it was like I asked them if they were the missing gunman on the grassy knoll. And please, there is more to marketing your website than a little SEO and pay-per-click.

Here’s the Point: Before you create any more “great content“, figure out how you are going to market it FIRST.

A More Fitting Example

Let’s end where we started, with the traditional custom magazine example. For the basic quarterly magazine project, here is one way to look at how to actually get the most “bang for your buck” out of your content, and truly create multiple avenues for qualified prospects and customers to reach you.

  1. Record audio and video of interviews for the magazine if possible for later repurposing.
  2. Begin news release schedule before the magazine comes out. Target three or four key topics that affect your customers and the industry (based on the magazine content). The release link should take them to the magazine subscription or digital magazine subscription page. Incentive could be to get a free subscription to the print magazine or newsletter.
  3. Discuss the magazine on your corporate blog. Get your editor to post some of the key findings/issues.  If you don’t have a corporate blog, create one on your magazine microsite.
  4. Sent out news releases through a keyword-optimized service such as prweb.
  5. Post videos of interviews to YouTube and other targeted video portals specific to your industry. Upload audio to microsite.  Possibly research podcast directories relevant to your industry.
  6. Print and mail glossy 32+ page magazine.
  7. Sent digital magazine version to the international audience or domestic audience you didn’t want to spend printing and postage on.
  8. Make sure all articles have their own HTML pages on your microsite. Be sure each article has social media capabilities such as letting people add to Facebook, Digg, or StumbleUpon, to name a few.
  9. Be sure to Stumble! each article and choose the proper category for the article. Say, for example, the article goes best in agriculture, those people who have tagged agriculture as a keyword may see your article when they use StumbleUpon.
  10. Provide something remarkable and different on your microsite for download. This does two things: 1) continues the conversation with your current customers, or 2) gives you the information on prospects so you can begin a conversation with them. Something remarkable may be a free eBook about the 10 trends in your industry, or free white paper on some new cutting edge technology. Keep the sales pitch out.  Education only at this point.
  11. Be sure to make RSS feeds available for your web content. I use FeedBurner.
  12. Continue the news release program pushing to the videos, or eBook, or key articles. Remember, news releases aren’t for getting press, they are for building key links and for bloggers and influencers to find your site. Industry bloggers are key to your magazine (believe it or not).
  13. Upload articles to key vertical portals such as smallbusinessbrief.com for small business, Sphinn for SEO/SEM and Junta42 for content marketing.
  14. And if you are really on the cutting edge, create a Facebook page around your magazine or your company and promote within that vehicle. Patrick Shaber provides an example of the possibilities of this, and how a customer of Pragmatic Marketing actually set one up for them. To heck with controlling your own content.

There are more, but this gives you an idea of the marketing that should be happening around your relevant and valuable content. Think of it this way…how much content have you or your organization created that you felt was so valuable but was only seen by one group of people, or possibly not engaged in at all. Marketing problem, not content problem.

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By joepulizzi published December 4, 2007

A Useful Content Marketing Checklist

Pete Shemilt from the new UK blog Relevant and Valued created an interesting content marketing checklist that is worth a look. According to Pete, who created the checklist from a combination of our eBook and information from Client Path Marketing, “The framework can be used to explore which content marketing opportunities are most relevant for your organization and business.”

What I like about this new checklist is the ability to choose the most appropriate content marketing device depending on the goal, taking a more broad term like “lead generation” and using more concrete terms such as acquire, convert, retain, grow, recruit and amplify.

Ultimately, in this new age of uncertainty for marketers, testing and experimentation is key (as Pete suggests). Possibly more helpful in the future is to take a chart like this and offer degrees of tactical importance. For example, if your goal is retention, is a print magazine more powerful than website content, or even is the combination of both more powerful than any individual tactic? Does it depend on the type of customer, or specific market? These are the questions that have no concrete answers…and until we get some hard and fast research, testing may be are only answer.


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By joepulizzi published November 29, 2007

The Big Idea Won’t Fix Your Marketing…think Small and Frequent

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The December 3rd issue of BusinessWeek featured an article about Saatchi & Saatchi CEO Kevin Roberts, and the company’s struggles to significantly grow revenue. More than anything, this article discusses the transformation that Saatchi and other large agencies are undergoing to stay relevant.

Times have clearly changed, and agencies, as well as traditional media companies, are struggling to find their way. The article states:

“For most of the 20th century the so-called creatives ruled the industry. They didn’t worry about where or how an ad ran. They didn’t analyze market niches. They were about Big Ideas that would connect a brand, emotionally, with millions of consumers. Today, you might say, the
Small Idea is ascendant. Ads are targeted at individuals or communities of consumers. That’s because the media universe is so fragmented–into blogs, social networks, television, magazines, and so on–that finding the right medium is fast becoming more important than the message itself. “

Couple of takeaways here. First, most agencies and creatives I know still search and believe in the big idea. I believe all humans do, to some extent. We believe and have faith that all our problems (and in this case, communication challenges) have one great and almighty solution. Sometimes, they do. But in media and marketing, this very rarely happens. Today, it’s never just one big idea.

Look at it this way. If a heart attack victim survives and is on the road to recovery, it’s not one thing that brings her back to health. It’s many little things, accomplished and executed over many days, weeks and months. It’s eating better, exercising regularly, maintaining a more positive outlook on life, smiling more…and so on and so forth. If you did just one of these, it would be ineffective. If you did all of them, just once, that’s no good either. No “big idea” fix.

Now look at today’s marketing. If you have a customer communication challenge, is one big idea going to fix that? Not in the least. It won’t be fixed by a glam-packed 30-second spot, or print campaign or even the integrated strategy itself.

Here’s the solution for 99% of the businesses out there: It’s not one big idea but a series of small, ongoing conversations with your customers, distributed through the media your customers use. This requires intimate knowledge of your customer, and a determination to leave your customer, on each occasion, in better shape than you originally found them. Instead of one big bang, it’s one brick per day that over the course of weeks, months and years builds a house, a true brand relationship with your customer.

This is done by communicating great content to your customer that helps them become, not necessarily emotionally tied to you, but intellectually tied to your brand. Educating your customers is probably the single greatest gift you could give them.

Second point, specific to this quote: “…finding the right medium is fast becoming more important than the message itself.” I’m not sure anyone really has the answer for this, but I’d position that it’s neither. The most important is finding the right customer. The customer dictates both the medium and the message. Without the perfect concoction of both, the communication effort will fail.

To some extent we are all suckers for the big fix. Who really wants to create ongoing, educational content for customers anyhow? It’s too much work. Yes, it may be too much work, but it sure does work.


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By joepulizzi published November 27, 2007

Facebook: Ads Still Interrupt, Even if they Come with a Photo of My Sister

I was reading Danny Sullivan’s article “Forget Facebook. Search ads are the real revolution” and couldn’t get over the point that advertising, even in it’s most targeted form, is an interruption.

Just in case you haven’t heard, Facebook has been receiving some criticism over their new advertising platform. The digital content blog has a good 3 step description of the new program. In looking this over, there are a lot of opportunities for brands to get involved, but the one that is intriguing is the integration of your friend’s referrals.  Saul Hansell from the NYTimes puts it this way:Continue Reading

By joepulizzi published November 26, 2007

Association of Publishing Agencies’ Customer Publishing Awards 2007 Announced

The Association of Publishing Agencies (APA), the UK organization focused on custom publishing and content marketing, announced their annual winners of their customer publishing awards. The grand award (customer publishing solution of the year) went to Boots’ (Britain’s leading pharmacy) parenting club magazine, published by Redwood.

The APA Customer Publishing Awards are focused on effectiveness, while their Olive Awards are more focused on creativity.

Below is a listing of all the winners. Congrats to all.

Customer Publishing Solution of the Year – Parenting Club Magazine, Boots
produced by Redwood.

Most Effective Automotive Title – Today, Tomorrow, Toyota produced by Sunday.

Most Effective Finance Title – Roar, Liontrust produced by Cedar Communications.

Most Effective Travel and Leisure Title – About the
House, Royal Opera House produced by BBC Customer Publishing.

Most Effective Membership Title – Parenting Club Magazine, Boots produced by Redwood.

Most Effective Public Sector Title – Camouflage, British Army produced by Haymarket
Network.

Most Effective Internal Communication – The Job, The Metropolitan Police produced by Seven Squared.

Most Effective Business-To-Business Title – Contact, Royal Mail produced by Redwood.

Most Effective Consumer Publication
(Retail) – ASOS.com Magazine, ASOS.com produced by Seven Squared.

Most Effective Consumer Publication (Non Retail) – Sky Movies, BSkyB produced by Future Plus.

International Publication of the Year – Land Rover Onelife, Land Rover produced by
Redwood.

Specialist Communication of the Year – Food 4 Thought, British Heart Foundation produced by John Brown.

Online Publishing Solution of the Year – HondaracingF1.com, Honda Racing produced by John Brown.

Launch of the Year – A
Journal of Interest, Coutts produced by Seven Squared.

Integrated Marketing Solution of the Year – One Army, British Army Recruiting Group produced by Haymarket Network.

Designer of the Year – Tan Parmar, LIV, Volvo produced by
Redwood.

Journalist of the Year – Claire Wrathall, High Life, British Airways produced by Cedar Communications.

Editor of the Year – Zac Assemakis, Land Rover Onelife, Land Rover produced by Redwood.