By Joe Pulizzi published September 14, 2009

Six Steps to Content Marketing Execution Success

Just finished this last post on content strategy before content marketing, then saw this perfect post from Seth Godin. It really puts what we are trying to accomplish with content marketing in perspective.

Seth maps out six specific steps when it comes to success. Let’s take these steps and relate them to our content marketing efforts.

  1. Attitude
  2. Approach
  3. Goals
  4. Strategy
  5. Tactics
  6. Execution

Note that Seth puts execution last. Many marketers focus on the execution of the marketing program first, without looking at the previous five points (hard to believe, I know).

Step 1: Attitude

I call this secret sauce. What is the intersection between your expertise and the informational needs of your audience (your customers)? Those content areas become the core for your content marketing program (and your business).

Your secret sauce should be very relevant to your product and service offerings.  After all, you are in this to sell more of something, so be sure that is in the plan.

Step 2: Approach

In the approach section, think about listening posts. In step 1, you really took some time to figure out how you can truly be an educational resource. In step 2, you ask the questions and listen to find out the real pain points of your audience. This is where social media tools come in so handy. Use Twitter Search, Google Alerts and other social media tools to listen to what your customers are struggling with. 

This will help define the story you are trying to tell. Ask yourself this: “If you don’t understand what your customers are struggling with, then how can you solve their problems?” It’s a simple question, but it’s the core of our entire marketing plan. Good editors dig deep to understand. You have to as well.

Step 3: Goals

Notice that we first have to find out what our customers’ information needs are first, and what our informational expertise can be in relation to our product/service offerings, before we move onto goals.

Remember, you can’t have strategy without goals.

Step 4: Strategy

Now you can put together your content strategy once you have your goals, approach (listening posts) and attitude (secret sauce) in place.

Step 5: Tactics

Now pick the most effective tactics based on what the first four steps tell you. Note that many marketers go to tactics that sound right first, without going through the first four steps. 

“Wow, an ebook is a great idea.” 

“We should do a custom magazine.”

“Why don’t we have a blog?”

Don’t go here until you understand why these tactics are a good or bad idea.

Step 6: Execution

Then we actually execute the plan. Execution is extremely important, but meaningless without the first five steps. Think of it this way – a perfectly executed dive at the wrong event on the wrong day is just a waste of perfectly good water.

As Seth says: “If the top of the hierarchy is messed up, no amount of brilliant tactics or execution is going to help you at all.”


Author: Joe Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi is the Founder of Content Marketing Institute, a UBM company, the leading education and training organization for content marketing, which includes the largest in-person content marketing event in the world, Content Marketing World. Joe is the winner of the 2014 John Caldwell Lifetime Achievement Award from the Content Council. Joe’s the author of five books, including his latest, Killing Marketing. His third book, Epic Content Marketing was named one of “Five Must Read Business Books of 2013” by Fortune Magazine. If you ever see Joe in person, he’ll be wearing orange. Follow him on Twitter @JoePulizzi.

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  • http://www.nvinc.com adams

    It’s a good Article.

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    6 Steps to Content Marketing Success: How to Listen to What People Want

    I’ve been talking to retired friends who want to start a little online business. I ran across two excellent posts this week that tie into this topic nicely, one by Joe Pulizzi of Junta 42 Blog, and other by Seth…

  • http://www.superiorpromos.com Promotional Products

    Nicely done, this is some information that can be very useful for me as I launch my campaign.

  • http://www.bronsonharrington.com Bronson

    Thanks for this post filled with great advice, definitelty one to add to the reference section of my content marketing bookmarks.
    I have to agree that all to often people start building stuff without having a good enough reson why, I have been guilty of it in the past as well.
    Solid planning is often the difference between failure and success, a little planning goes a long way.

  • Tom French

    In a B2C environment, if the informational needs of your audience are perceived to be more information about the brand, how do you differentiate content marketing from other brand communications? My initial thoughts are to differentiate the platforms used; currently I have seen many examples of social media (namely Facebook and Twitter) mix what I consider to be content marketing, with other selling messages (albeit sometimes in separate posts). Do consumers then perceive content marketing on that platform as content marketing? Should alternative platforms be considered such as fan sites, and on these make content marketing king; usual in page links to Facebook, etc still acceptable, but losing the selling messages makes for a more engaging user experience, whilst still retaining the ability to explore buying options after a few clicks (avoiding a convoluted user journey doing this is a challenge in itself!). What’s more if an entire platform is dedicated to content marketing, measuring it’s effectiveness via tracking has less margin for assumptions/error, which could help gain insight into the best content to use. I would be grateful to hear others thoughts on this.