Content Marketing Tips from Expert Joe Pulizzi by Brad Hines 8-2-13 12:00 am
Recently I talked with veteran content marketer Joe Pulizzi. Joe told me about everything from the history of content marketing, to some tips we can all adopt:
Tell me a little bit about what you do?
JP: Put best, I'm a content marketing evangelist. I help organizations tell better stories to attract and retain customers. Formally, I'm the founder of the Content Marketing Institute, which produces the largest in-person event for content marketing, Content Marketing World, and the leading publication, Chief Content Officer magazine. My latest book, Epic Content Marketing, will be released in September.
When would you say the era of content marketing began?
JP: When the first cave person had something to sell. I'm sure they told stories on cave walls, like "6 ways to kill bison with spear"...and oh by the way, I sell spears. For the record, John Deere started producing The Furrow magazine (below left) back in 1895, and still produces it today. So content marketing is well over 100 years old. I think it's funny when I talk to people that think content marketing is this brand new thing. Personally, I've been in the industry now for 15 years. (Joe Pulizzi at Content Marketing World Shown Right)
How does content marketing dovetail with permission/imbound marketing? What about with social media?
JP: Top of the funnel marketing, inbound marketing, opt-in subscriptions are all very important parts of the content marketing funnel. But to move the buyer along their journey with content, we need to focus on all the stages, especially customer retention and loyalty. Historically, content marketing has earned its stripes through retention goals (most content publications were custom print magazines). Social media have become critical distribution channels to spread our stories...but content strategy always comes before social media strategy. Many organizations get this backwards.
Content marketing has existed as early as the 19th century when John Deere launched a publication to teach farmers how to use their equipment, but when would you say we really entered the content marketing era of recent times?
JP: The turning point really came around 2007 when all the barriers to entry came down. Brands had the same access to publishing tools as publishers. Google became the starter to almost every buying decision, so brands started to notice that great information rose to the top. Journalists, who were getting sacked from their media jobs, were starting to get hired by brands. Social media exploded (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) and those channels don't work very well without compelling stories. Simply put, brands started to realize that they needed to focus on scalable, owned channels instead of putting all their money into renting (advertising). Mix all this with consumers being completely in control of the buying process, it created the perfect tonic called content marketing.
Do you have any thoughts on where content marketing is heading? What are some fads? What will have staying power? What is something new to look out for?
JP: Even though content marketing is over 100 years old and has exploded over the past few years, we are still at the very beginning stages. The storytelling muscle has atrophied from lack of use over decades of advertising focus. Most brands aren't very good at all at telling compelling stories on a consistent basis. Content is extremely silo'd in brands and most brands don't have someone accountable yet in the organization. We have a long way to go.
I don't think there is one big thing that will happen. I believe we will continue to see a maturity and responsibility around content's role as an asset in the organization. It just takes a long time for these things to happen in big brands.
What is the number one tip you recommend to anyone for their marketing strategy in general?
JP: Talk to your customers. Find out what their informational pain points are. That is one, two and three.
Given the kind of meta-nature of it, was there added pressure to have your book's content be extremely high quality? When is the book due out? Tell us about it.
JP: Every brand and every person, myself included, should focus on best of breed content. On becoming the leading expert in your informational niche. Consumers have so many choices today, why should they spend time with your content? I tried to take that seriously with my new book, Epic Content Marketing. Basically, Epic CM is a culmination of my 15 years in the business about what it takes to be an epic content marketer. I worked hard on this one to give away all the secrets (if there are any) to positioning your brand as the go-to resource for information.
Epic Content Marketing (McGraw-Hill) will be launched exclusively at Content Marketing World in Cleveland, September 9-12, but officially released on September 27th. You can pre-order now.
About the writer:Brad Hines is the president of YumDomains.com, and the founder of HungryKids.org. He is a digital marketing and social media strategist. A writer as well, he typically writes about Internet, business, and science trends. His best marketing advice is that marketing really comes down to story telling and how well you can do it. He can be followed on Twitter:Follow @BradHines