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.

By joepulizzi published August 13, 2009

What if? (no one cares and why you need to be a publisher)

What if? (questions posed to a marketing professional)

What if your customers saw your company as the industry thought leader?

What if they signed up for your enewsletters and white papers because they were interested in what you had to say, and thought it could positively impact their businesses?

What if traditional media called you for interviews, or bloggers wanted Q&As from people in your organization…not just a few times, but consistently?

What if you didn’t need salespeople to make cold calls anymore?

What if your customers spread your content to prospects for you – essentially becoming your marketing distribution arm?

No, this is not fantasy land.  This can happen.  Maybe it’s already happening.

How you ask?

By consistently delivering the most important, most valuable, most necessary information to your customers.

No one cares about your products, your services, your blog,  or your website.  They care about themselves…how to be happier, more successful, how to sleep better, how to get a raise, a job or some peace of mind.

What are those things for your customers? What do they really care about?

Once you get around the idea that they really don’t want to hear about you, what will you tell them?

The marketing fantasy is happening for those that take on this task. I’ve seen it happen to Brian Clark, Shama Kabani, Hubspot and countless others.

They are true publishers.  Sure, they have products and services, and are very successful.  But they are first and foremost publishing machines that focus on their readers’ (customers’) needs and wants. They are building marketing assets (not advertising).

Most marketing professionals know this is possible, and want to go this direction, but more than not stay true to the past for a variety of reasons.

The new media company is not a media company…it’s you. The sooner you accept that and begin publishing, the sooner you can be part of the fantasy.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

By joepulizzi published July 24, 2009

The Ultimate Guide to Creating an eBook – The eBook eBook

Wanted to pass on an outstanding eBook from Jonathan Kranz on the what, how and why for developing an eBook. 

First off, this is a great example of how to do an eBook: inviting design, easy-to-follow organization, great examples, and a readable, natural voice.

Second, if you are considering an eBook as part of your marketing plans, this is a must read.  Below is the embed, but you can download the complete version from Jonathan here. The best part is, Jonathan is eating his own dog food by not requiring any registration in advance of getting the eBook (way to go Jonathan!).

The eBook eBook 11 Point Checklist

  1. Find an exciting subject that really means something to your customers
  2. Identify subject matter experts and other sources of precious information
  3. Frame the subject on terms favorable to your business
  4. Use conflict to create dramatic interest
  5. Organize your content for easier writing and reading
  6. Pick the best approach for packaging your expertise
  7. Create callouts and sidebars that stimulate interest
  8. Craft an inviting introduction that lures readers inside
  9. Lead readers to the next step of engagement with your business
  10. Design your ebook to complement your ideas
  11. Plan to promote your ebook for maximum market impact

Another relevant article – why giving away your eBook for free can help you generate print sales.

By joepulizzi published July 8, 2009

The Decline of Advertising and the Rise of Content Spending

Just read through a very interesting post from Brian Solis on Forrester’s Five-Year Media Spending Forecast. From the results, this quote from Forrester’s Shar VanBoskirk is worth some discussion:

“The most interesting takeaway from the research is that overall advertising budgets will decline.  Yep.  With dollars moving out of traditional media toward less expensive and more efficient interactive tools, marketers will actually need less money to accomplish their current advertising goals.”

Takeaways here…

  • Five years is a long time.  Twitter isn’t even that old.  Take these with a grain of salt.
  • Anyone who doesn’t think that advertising budgets will decline should try a new career.
  • Yes, online efforts are cheaper, and social media is essentially free…but what’s not being said here is a lot.

Where’s Content?

Let’s look at a few of the biggest projected growth areas, social media and search marketing.

  • I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, social media doesn’t work without relevant, valuable and consistent content. Success in social media relies on a web content strategy that works for the brand and especially for the brand’s advocates. Although social media distribution is essentially free (Twitter, posting on YouTube), the content planning, resource allocation and then creation is not. That’s where the money is going.  Take Hubspot for example.  The distribution of their content is very cost effective (blog, online TV series, community site for example), but the planning time, knowledge, resources and coordination cost plenty.  Worth it…absolutely, but inexpensive…no. Content usually shows up in another line item on a budget, which may be the problem. No one ever knows how much the content really costs. I know some executives that think that the content magically appears every week at the end of a rainbow.
  • Then comes search marketing. Showing up in search results means you need great content. Getting results from pay-per-click usually means you need a great content offer. Either way, without content, search doesn’t work.

What I’ve just pointed out may seem obvious to some, but I see this over and over again first hand. Small, medium and even large companies look to “alternative” online strategies and discount the cost of the content.

Actual client: “I want to create an ongoing content series, most likely a blog, that we can integrate into a social media campaign. We need a content plan and need to outsource the editorial.  Also looking for integration into social media (Twitter and other stuff like that) and monitoring of our objectives (more traffic) . Budget is about $5k.” Yikes! (This example is from a $500 million dollar company)

Spend on the Right Content Initiatives

Okay, so what should you do with this?  First off, stop thinking about content marketing or content strategy as the end deliverable. The content process is not just the video series, the enewsletter or the custom magazine. It’s the entire content strategy process, including (shout out to Kristina Halvorson from Brain Traffic on guidance here):

  • The Content Audit. Before you usher in more content noise, it’s worth it to figure out what you have said. Anyone about to spend significant investment in content creation should develop a content benchmark first.
  • The Content Plan. Who’s the audience?; What are their informational needs?; What are the success metrics of the content plan?; Who owns the plan?; What are the best content tactics?; How will we execute those tactics?;
  • Content Maintenance. Once we create the content, how do we keep it fresh, updated, and continually monitor our customers’ informational needs so that we succeed with the content plan?
  • Content Marketing. How are we distributing our valuable, relevant content so that we deliver on our success metrics?

So, the morale of the story is, take all that money you are saving by not advertising, and make sure you put it into the right content buckets. Yes, social media may be free, but succeeding in social media and your web content strategy is not.

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By joepulizzi published July 7, 2009

Why You Need a Branded Content Tool of Your Own

I love branded content tools and applications.

If you aren’t thinking about creating one, you need to be…now!

What is a branded content tool? Simply put, it’s an online application that comes from a brand (i.e., Kraft) that solves a very simple problem or is incredibly helpful.  Most times, it’s free as well.

Why create a branded content tool/app? Similar to content marketing, where a company delivers valuable, relevant and compelling information in order to position that company as a trusted expert, a branded tool uses data content to do the same thing.

What are some branded content application examples?
Here are a few of my favorites.

  • Website Grader from Hubspot. Free and easy-to-use tool that measures how well a website is doing in terms of search engine optimization. Website grader has been so successful for Hubspot (over 1 million websites to date), that they launched a number of other graders, including my new favorite, the Gobbledygook grader.
  • The Webbed-O-Meter from Webbed Marketing. Free tool to analyze your “buzz” effect over 16 different social media sources.
  • iFood Assistant from Kraft. Recipes on the go via your iPhone.
  • Personal Budget Planner from Easy-to-use online tool that helps you create a financial budget.
  • Nike Plus from Nike. Track your running and training. Also, check out the Perfect Shoe Finder from Nike.  Very cool.

How to start? Think of this…what’s something very simple, and very helpful you could be providing to your customers for free, that ultimately positions you as an expert related to the products/services you sell.  The alignment of those two things could make for a killer app.

Some odd examples? If I’m a printer, I’d create a “design your own magazine cover” tool. If I’m an air-conditioning repair shop, I’d create an automated check up tool that emails key dates to tune-up the air conditioner. If I’m a dentist, I’d develop a teeth simulator that shows what happens to teeth if you eat certain foods for sustained periods.  You get the point.

What helpful tool should you be developing that your competition hasn’t thought of…yet?

Relevant Resources:

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By joepulizzi published June 18, 2009

Create these 10 Media Channels for Your Content Marketing Strategy

Had the pleasure of presenting “Please Stop Talking about Yourself” at the Web Content Conference 2009 in Chicago this week.  As usual, I was discussing the importance of brands creating their own media channels, and putting their publishing hats on in place of traditional marketing practices.  You can catch the PowerPoint presentation on creating media channels here, but for the PowerPoint averse, here are the top 10.

  1. Create an online media site. Examples – and from P&G; from the UK law-firm Pinsent Masons (we also talk about Out-Law as a full case study in Get Content Get Customers).
  2. An educational enewsletter (not to be mistaken for the “sales happy” enewsletter). Godfrey gives us a great example from the b2b marketing side.
  3. A slideshare channel. Why not create your own presentation channel at slideshare? Trendsspotting provides a perfect example of this in action.
  4. The free web app. Hubspot’s website grader is a classic.
  5. The Twitter tips channel. Collect the best information on the web and distribute through Twitter.  Be the expert content resource for your industry.
  6. A Facebook movement. Fan pages are fine, but provide something of relevance that your customer base can dig into.  Shama Hyder does a great job with her ACT blueprint page.
  7. Raid traditional media. If you are not looking at media properties in your industry to purchase or partner with, you are not being a smart marketer.
  8. The mobile helper. Kraft’s iFood assistant could change the way people cook.
  9. A digital magazine. Yes, even with all the social media rage, there is still a place for digital magazine. Betty Crocker creates targeted digital mags for consumers of all food specialties.  Check out this one on birthday parties.
  10. The video microsite. Can’t do a post like this without mentioning, perhaps the greatest ROI ever on a video storytelling series.

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By joepulizzi published May 8, 2009

10 Steps to Personal Branding Success

I was invited by the great teams at Advancement and DATAForge to  talk about personal branding success and wanted to share the presentation.

There are some excellent personal branding specialists that I follow (thanks Dan Schawbel), but the presentation below was based mostly on what I feel has made me successful.

What I emphasized to the group was that you don’t have to do all ten steps to be successful.  The most important part is that you pick the steps you can commit to and consistently execute those steps.

10 Steps to Personal Branding Success

  1. Update Your Online Profiles Now. LinkedIn, Facebook, and your Google profile are the most important. If you don’t have it already, buy your domain name. As a standard practice, all business cards you collect should be sent invitiations via LinkedIn. Finally, hire a professional to take your picture.
  2. Start a Blog/Get Involved in the Conversation. I use WordPress and TypePad for my blogs, and you can be up and running with either in a short period of time. Follow and comment on the top 10 – 20 blogs where your customers are hanging out. Answer questions on LinkedIn Answers and Yahoo! Answers. Follow your name, brands and keywords at Google Alerts. Find and get active in a Google Group that makes sense.
  3. Write a Book. Okay, this is a tough one. If a book is out of the question, start with an eBook. If you can do it though, start here (writing a book when you have no time to write a book).
  4. Create and Distribute Content of Interest to Your Customers. Develop a permission-based newsletter and consistent white papers/ebooks that will help your target group and position you as the industry expert. Share presentations on Slideshare. Use Twitter to distribute helpful information in your expertise area (here are eight Twitter steps to follow). Give away the “secret sauce”.
  5. Write for Everyone (no matter how small). Yes, it’s great writing for media sites such as AdWeek or Chief Marketer, but if you are asked to write for someone…anyone, do it. Even the smallest blog site can influence someone that you may not have had an opportunity to reach.
  6. Pick 2-3 Key Associations and Get Active. Once you do, always go to cocktail receptions, get on the committees/boards, and don’t commit to anything unless you can do it well.
  7. Speak, Speak, Speak. Once you start doing the first six points, you’ll start getting asked to speak at events. Remember, sometimes small, intimate events can spread your content farther than large events (so don’t dismiss them).
  8. Always Be Helpful (even if you feel like you are wasting your time). You will start to get many people coming to ask you for help and advice. That’s great! Sometimes you can’t help everyone yourself, but you can point them in the right direction.  Follow up with everyone.
  9. Pay Attention to Google. You are who Google says you are. If you can’t be found in Google either at all or for the right things, you won’t be found. It’s that simple.
  10. Get Behind a Charity/Cause. Hopefully, you are already doing this, but building your personal brand has to be about more than just you.  Pick one charity to get behind and make something happen for the better.

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By joepulizzi published April 14, 2009

Three Things Now! – Content Marketing, Listening and Social Media

I gave this presentation last week at the Esource Utility Marketing Conference in Phoenix, AZ.

Here are a couple key takeaways from the presentation above.

We Have Come Full Circle
Centuries ago, the information world as we knew it was shaped by many voices. Thousands of newspapers and pamphlets from across North America was how people become informed through media.

Then came big newspapers, big television, big radio.  We went from many voices to few voices.

Today, there are more voices than ever before (we have come full circle and are back to the beginning).

What that means as marketers is that we need to adjust where we place our attention and budget. 70% of marketing dollars still goes toward "bigger, placed media". Knowing how media has changed, does this still make sense? Probably not.

Marketing Today is Publishing

For our marketing to succeed, we, as marketers, need to understand what successful publishing is. The majority of our marketing spend needs to be dedicated to the creation of consistent valuable and relevant information to our customer segments.

But even that's not good enough? We need to develop this information in ways that can easily be spread.

I've never had anyone send me a print ad, or forward me an online display advertisement. But I've had many forward an interesting article, video, or piece of branded software.

If your content is something that your customers are willing to share, you've unlocked the secret of engagement.

Be the Trusted Expert in "Something
Being a provider of some product or service is not good enough today. You need to be the trusted expert of something. Figuring out what that "something" is for your customers will ensure that you actually have long-lasting relationships with your customers.

Social Media Should Be about Listening FIRST

If you aren't using social media tools such as blogs, Twitter and Facebook to listen, forget about distribution. Never has there been greater opportunity to talk one-on-one with your customers. Don't screw that up by shoving content down their throats before you really understand what their pain points are.

My Four Rules to Twitter

  1. Never answer the question "What are you Doing?" Who cares? No one.  Focus on what your customers' informational needs are. Answer that.
  2. Assign Ownership. Make someone responsible. This should be someone's job.
  3. Be Democratic. Don't be so presumptuous to think that only your organization creates and distributes great content. Nothing will make you the trusted expert faster than to distribute the best content from anywhere you can find it…even from your competitor.
  4. Be Human. People do business with people today, not companies. With Twitter, there is no other option.

Content and Social Media – Follow These Steps!

  1. Understand who your customer is and where the pain points are.
  2. Develop consistent, relevant content in multiple channels.
  3. Let go of all control. Let your idea spread.
  4. People share your ideas, link to your content.
  5. Content is found through social media and search engines.
  6. Customers start relying on you for your expertise (relationship!)
  7. You are the trusted solutions provider in your industry.

Thanks to the great folks at Esource for putting together an unforgettable event.

<p>Slide 51</p>

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By joepulizzi published March 17, 2009

Five Content Marketing Books You Need to Read

Over the past month, I've had a large amount of flying time to Europe and back. That means it's been the perfect time to catch up on my reading.

Below are books that I've read and taken something significant away.  I believe they can help you too (these are in no particular order).

#1 – Content Rich by Jon Wuebben

I recently had the chance to chat with Jon, and subsequently read his book. Here's my take: if SEO copywriting and content creation is important to your business (it should if it's not), this is a must read. Jon knows this stuff and will show you step by step how to do it. This will change the way you think about online content.

Best for: Anyone trying to increase conversions from search engines.

#2 – World Wide Rave by David Meerman Scott

You won't find a bigger fan than me of David's previous book, The New Rules of Marketing and PR. WW Rave is as good, if not better. If you are not a believer in the content marketing revolution, you will be after reading this book. It's a game changer. The examples are priceless. Need executive buy-in? Buy them this book.

Best for: Decision-makers that don't understand how the Internet has changed the game. Opportunity is now.

#3 – HVAC Spells Wealth by Ron Smith

As some of you know, I've done a bit of work in HVAC (Heating Ventilating and Air Conditioning) publishing and marketing in my day. Through my travels I've had the opportunity to meet and work with Ron. Okay, Ron's book is not really about content marketing. But it IS one of the most practical small business operations, sales and marketing books I've ever read. Ron's examples are geared toward consumer service businesses, but the tips are priceless. Ron includes dozens of what he calls "1%ers" (small changes that when added up are game changers). I started making a list of them.  I'll share in a future post.  Great stuff. Get the book.

Best for: Owners and executives that need to focus more time on customers, and less time on internal politics. The process detail in invaluable.

#4 – The Zen of Social Media Marketing by Shama Hyder

Shama was kind enough to let me preview a copy of this eBook before she released it. What I truly love about this book revolves around "the art of giving." Social media is about giving of your expertise in a way that helps your ideas spread. If you are a social media novice or a self-proclaimed social media guru, you will take some points away that will help your business. No doubt about it. Good for any sized business. Includes concrete best practices for Twitter and Facebook.

Best for: Businesses unsure about how to proceed into social media.

#5 – Personality Not Included by Rohit Bhargava

I didn't start using the term "authenticity" until after I read this book. Today's marketing environment means that brands needs to stand for something, and back that up with ideas and content that are meaningful to customers. We don't have a choice anymore.  Rohit's examples are worth the price of admission.

Best for: Marketing executives trying to grasp the integration between new and traditional marketing. Those trying to find a connection with customers.

Also (warning…sales plug), I have to mention our book, Get Content Get Customers as well (revised paperback to be released in May). I've seen this book in action with both businesses and media companies, and I can guarantee that it will make a difference in your business if you implement these steps.

Finally, I haven't read it yet, but I'm intrigued by John Blossom's Content Nation. That's the next one on my list.

Any others that I should add to my content marketing reading list?

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By joepulizzi published January 14, 2009

Content Marketing: The Present and Future of Public Relations?

I gave a luncheon presentation entitled Content Marketing: The Present and Future of PR? yesterday for my new friends at Cincinnati PRSA.

(Note: Some of the images look a bit distorted in slideshare).

Here’s the high level overview:

  • Many traditional media properties are struggling to survive. For example, I had a conversation with Forrester research last week who stated the likelihood of 1/2 of all US newspapers to stop production in two years.
  • If these traditional media properties that PR used to get their message out are going away, what is PR to do? In any particular industry, who is helping to tell the story (companies, bloggers, etc.)?
  • Since PR professionals understand the value of, and how to develop a story, they are placed perfectly to be in the middle of the organizational content engine.
  • If PR’s role is to help manage the information from an organization to its “public”, doesn’t
    that include the creation of targeted story-telling initiatives like
    custom magazines, enewsletters, blogs, white papers, etc.?
  • Many PR professional already do many of these things, but are they “owning” the production of content within an organization that is targeted to customers and prospects?
  • Is this PR’s realm, or is it the realm of the marketer/corporation communications, the advertising agency, the custom publisher, or even the traditional publisher. Each of these group owners would say yes. But PR may have the advantage because they understand the value of the story.
  • The challenge is that the content distribution process has completely flipped on its head. Can PR professionals understand that they need to start communicating directly with customers and prospects, and not go through traditional media channels, to tell the story?

It was exciting to talk to many of the members after the presentation about how they believe they have now found their new career path, or how they can take their organization to the next level with content marketing. Makes driving through two hours of snow well worth the effort.

Here are some other helpful resources, based on the presentation:

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By joepulizzi published December 21, 2008

42+ Social Media and Content Marketing Predictions for 2009

Some people hate them, but I’m a sucker for prediction articles. The switch over to the next calendar year always provides the perfect scenario to decide what the fate of marketing will be.

We reached out to the Junta42 community, as well as the Junta42 Top 42 bloggers, to get their take on what the new year would hold for content marketing and social media.  As you will see, lots of opportunity amidst great uncertainty. Just the way we like it.

Thanks to those who contributed. Some truly outstanding expertise (and frankly, free consulting from some of the best). If you don’t agree or would like to add yours, please do – and pass this along to any marketing folk you know.Continue Reading