By Joe Pulizzi published November 26, 2014

25 Content Marketing Truths

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As Thanksgiving in the United States is upon us once again, I’d like to take time to thank all those companies who strive to make their customers and prospects more intelligent through the use of great content.

But first … a personal story.

Most people don’t know this, but I grew up around a funeral home. My grandfather, Leo Groff, was an entrepreneur who ran the largest funeral home in Sandusky, Ohio (my hometown). While my friends were out playing basketball or pick-up baseball games, I was hanging around the funeral home watching my grandfather and my uncle work (this was not as bad as you are probably imagining). Actually, my grandfather was one of the main reasons I wanted to start my own business.

By the time I was in my teens, my grandfather was around the funeral home mostly to stay busy, while my uncle ran the business. While I did some odd jobs around the funeral home, my main job was to take my grandpa to lunch and listen to his stories.

One story in particular resonated with me. During the Depression, many of my grandfather’s customers didn’t have the money to pay for a funeral. Loved ones would come to my grandpa, telling him that they had no money, but still wanted a proper burial for their deceased. So, my grandfather would do the embalming and funeral services in exchange for rings, lockets, bracelets, and trinkets of all kinds.

A few years before my grandfather passed away, he showed me this old box, which had to be well over 50 years old. In the box were the rings, lockets, bracelets, and trinkets that paid for those funerals. When I saw this, I asked why he didn’t sell them for money or give them back. He said, and I’ll never forget this, “Back in those days, pride was all some people had. They had nothing but needed something. They were able to keep their pride by giving me these pieces of jewelry. So I couldn’t give them back. I also couldn’t sell them because each of these pieces is a reminder of a small thing that I could do that made a huge impact in someone’s life.”

Why did I tell you this? Because I learned two things from my grandfather:

1) Helping others is everything.

2) Amazing storytelling gets you most places in life.

That’s how I feel about the art and science of content marketing. Sure, we aren’t saving the world here as content marketers, but I believe we can do well for people and our companies at the same time by honing the practice.

During this special time of the year, thanks to those organizations that work so hard to create value outside of the products and services they offer.

And, thanks to all those organizations around the world that believe in, and practice, the following content marketing truths:

1. The content is more important than the offer.

2. A customer relationship doesn’t end with the payment.

3. Printed marketing doesn’t stop with the full-page advertisement.

4. “Being the content” is more important than “surrounding the content.”

5. Interruption isn’t valued, but usefulness is.

6. Internal marketing always takes precedence over external marketing.

7. Focusing on what the customer wants is more important than what you have to sell.

8. The competition can copy everything you have except your brand. The way you communicate is the differentiator (the only one).

9. Communicating directly with customers should be your first, and best, choice.

10. Marketers are already publishers (most just don’t understand this yet).

11. Today’s traditional publishers are scared of marketers.

12. Without content, community is improbable, if not impossible.

13. The marketing brochure should be stricken from all strategic marketing plans.

14. Lead generation is only one small part of the marketing picture.

15. Hiring an editor is not a want, but a must for most organizations.

16. No matter the medium or the provider, someone is always selling something (yes, even media companies).

17. Building your content ship on rented land is always a bad investment.

18. Ninety percent of all corporate websites talk about how great the company or product is and forget about the customer’s informational needs.

19. Ninety percent of all corporate websites are horrible.

20. In the next five to seven years, the majority of content in which consumers engage will be corporate media.

21. Buyers are in control; the traditional sales process has changed, and relevant content lets organizations into the buying process.

22. The Chief Content Officer is the CMO of the future.

23. Culture eats strategy for breakfast. This means that for content marketing to be effective, we need to change the culture first.

24. The most effective content marketers document their plan and refer to it often.

25. Customers want to be inspired. Be the inspiration!

Thank you to those companies that get the value of content marketing. Did I miss anything? If so, add it below.

Want to learn more about storytelling from Leo Groff’s grandson? Get Epic Content Marketing: How to Tell a Different Story, Break through the Clutter, & Win More Customers by Marketing Less by Joe Pulizzi.

Image courtesy of Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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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