Our special guest for episode 328 of the award-winning EDGE of the Web podcast was Joe Pulizzi, Founder of the Content Marketing Institute. Host Erin Sparks spoke with him about the role of long-term content marketing for those who want to break free from the obsession with short-term results in favor of truly building a loyal audience over time. Here’s what we learned:
Joe Pulizzi: His Background and Experience
Joe Pulizzi is known by most as the founder of the Content Marketing Institute, as well as the Content Marketing World Conference and Expo, he’s written or co-written five content marketing books such as Content Inc.: How Entrepreneurs Use Content to Build Massive Audiences and Create Radically Successful Businesses, and also Epic Content Marketing: How to Tell a Different Story, Break Through the Clutter, and Win More Customers by Marketing Less. He also co-authored a book in 2017 with Robert Ross entitled Killing Marketing: How Innovative Businesses are Turning Marketing Cost into Profit. Joe also started a non-profit called the Orange Effect Foundation that helps families with autistic children pay for speech therapy services, which is a critical early intervention for kids on the autism spectrum.
Joe is also known for wearing orange every single day. When he started the Content Marketing Institute in 2007, the company colors were orange and gray so he decided to truly represent the company all the time and everywhere he went and has kept on wearing orange ever since.
Joe has been in the content marketing industry for 20 years. He started out at Penton Media back in 2000 could tell early on those companies who wanted to be successful on the internet needed to learn how to tell their own stories and create their own content. This only became more important as the social media platforms started launching in the 2000s. Joe left Penton to start the Content Marketing Institute. At the very first Content Marketing World event in Cleveland, Joe was nervous about whether even 100 people would show up. They got 660 attendees. And the annual conference sees an attendance of 4,000 people from 70 countries. And yet content marketing as an industry is still very small compared to advertising. His focus now when speaking is to try to get the industry to think more long-term.
Shifting the Timeframe from Short-Term to Long-Term
People new to content marketing will inevitably ask Joe what they can expect from it in six months. Joe answers that by saying don’t expect anything in six months! If you’re working with a six-month horizon for a campaign, don’t even bother with content marketing. Go do your short-term interruption marketing campaigns (paid advertising).
A good content marketing campaign has an absolute minimum timeframe of 12-18 months. Joe’s early experiences consistently showed that the results only started rolling in at around the 22-24 months mark. Content marketing is about patience. Content marketing is about building an asset (an audience). It is not about selling to customers. And you don’t build an asset overnight.
Defining the Terms and the Differences
Content marketing is about building an audience by delivering valuable, relevant, compelling information over a period of time to a very targeted customer. What does Joe mean by valuable? He means something differentiated, something truly valuable and not the same things your customers are talking about. Joe calls this a content tilt, which means looking at an area differently and actually delivering value with the goal of building an audience.
When your customers see this content, they actually want to get more of the information you’re delivering. The key to content marketing is that your marketing is something people actually want. They actually request it, and they rely on you and your content on a daily basis to help them do their jobs better and live their lives better. Those are the kinds of content marketing initiatives you should be looking at. It’s about delivering relevant, consistent content.
The key difference between content marketing and advertising has to do with the timeframe. When you put money into ads, you need to see a return on that investment. This is why marketers end up being so focused on short-term results. But the short-term is not the focus of content marketing, which has to be focused on the long-term. You’re building something with content marketing, piece by piece, like a brick house. Take a blog, for example. Each article is a brick, and you keep adding those bricks until you have a solid foundation, and then a patio, and then a living room, bathroom, bedroom, and on and on. It all works together.
With the Content Marketing Institute, by way of example, the goal of building up the content wasn’t immediately focused on “selling” them to come to Content Marketing World or to buy a book by Joe Pulizzi. The goals was to get them to see the content as so valuable that they want to subscribe to that content, such as an eNewsletter. The goal was to get people to become regular audience members of CMI community. The most valuable asset you build with content marketing is that database of subscribers. And when the time is right you monetize that database.
Connect with Joe Pulizzi, Founder of the Content Marketing Institute
Orange Effect Foundation: http://theorangeeffect.org
Twitter: @JoePulizzi (https://twitter.com/joepulizzi)
Instagram: @joepulizza (https://www.instagram.com/joepulizzi)
CMI Twitter: @CMIContent (https://twitter.com/CMIContent)
CMI Website: https://contentmarketinginstitute.com
CMI FB: @ContentMarketingInstitute (https://www.facebook.com/ContentMarketingInstitute)
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