Announcer: 00:00 On this episode of EDGE of the Web.
Joe Pulizzi: 00:04 What you’re trying to do is build an audience by delivering valuable, relevant, compelling information over a period of time to a very targeted customer. When I say valuable information, I mean something differentiated, something truly valuable, not the same things your customers are talking about, we call it a content tilt, you know it from content inc, I call it a content tilt. Looking at an area differently and actually delivering value and communicating it in a different way.
Announcer: 00:31 Your weekly digital marketing trends with industry trend-setting guests. You’re listening and watching EDGE of the Web, winners of Best Podcast from the Content Marketing Institute for 2017. Here at CR, at edgeofthewebradio.com. Now, here’s your host, Erin Sparks.
Erin Sparks: 00:53 Most people know him as the founder of the Content Marketing Institute, and content marketing world, he’s written and co-written five content marketing books, probably best known for Content Inc, that’s sitting on my shelf over there, or Epic Content Marketing, he also co-authored a book in 2017 with Robert Ross entitled Killing Marketing and how Innovative Businesses are turning marketing cost into profit. Welcome to the shoe, Joe.
Joe Pulizzi: 01:20 Erin, thanks so much for having me, I appreciate it.
Erin Sparks: 01:23 More than welcome, more than welcome man. Thanks for hanging on for the news there. You also have co-founded a nonprofit that funds speech therapy for autistic children called Orange Effect Foundation.
Joe Pulizzi: 01:38 That’s right, yeah. My oldest was on the autism spectrum, and he’s 18 years old now, it’s hard to believe, and in 2007 we wanted to start giving back a little bit, and we found out that there are a lot of families out there that weren’t able to afford basic speech therapy services that are so critical, especially early intervention. So we started the Orange Effect Foundation in 2014, and that’s all we do, we fundraise to try to help families who can’t afford speech therapy to get the speech therapy services for their kids.
Erin Sparks: 02:11 That is awesome, and we certainly appreciate that type of give-back to society. We’re certainly going to have all the links to the foundation on our show now. So is that where the orange came from?
Joe Pulizzi: 02:24 No, you want the quick backstory on the orange?
Erin Sparks: 02:26 Yeah, I want to hear it.
Joe Pulizzi: 02:27 Quick backstory on the orange. So I started what became Content Marketing Institute in 2007, and our colors were orange and Grey. So I’m like, hey, I’m a business owner, I want to do this the right way, I’m going to start representing the brand. So I start wearing orange shirts, wherever I did speaking, my photo on my website, on my blog, whatever the case was. And I got a speaking gig, this was right about the time my first book came out, Get Content Get Customers, I got a speaking gig in Brussels, Belgium. Never been to Europe before, got called in, did my speech, and they said, “Well before you go on stage, Joe, we want you to wear a black tux because that’s the theme for the event.” And I said, “I’ll wear a monkey suit if you want me to. You’re paying me to be here, what do you want me to wear? I’ll wear it.” So I go up, I wear the black tux, do my speech, I get down offstage, and I had three people, kid you not come up to me and say, “Why aren’t you wearing orange?”
Erin Sparks: 03:18 Huh.
Joe Pulizzi: 03:18 And I said, “What? I don’t get it?” They said, “Every time we’ve seen a picture of you, it’s been orange.” And I said, “Oh my gosh, this might be an opportunity, maybe I should start leaning into this whole orange thing.” So I totally went off the deep end with the orange and everything became orange, and if you go into my closet you literally can’t find anything that’s not orange, content marketing world, I usually have an orange suit going onstage. So yeah, I’ve been all in.
Erin Sparks: 03:43 That’s awesome. I was scrolling through some pictures, man. You do it well, man, there’s some nice shiny orange ties, it’s all over the place.
Joe Pulizzi: 03:51 I really did, see I don’t have any quantitative information on this but I really do believe it helped the business. Especially when people come to content marketing world, I would say half the people are wearing orange because they’re part of the community. So I’m like hey, this is great, I’m glad it worked out.
Erin Sparks: 04:09 Fantastic, fantastic. Well we certainly appreciate that leaning into the brand, and the so called marketing you got going on there. You’ve been going through a heck of a lot of speaking engagements, talking about content marketing and teaching us about content marketing and the challenges that are in that. So can you give us a little bit about your backstory and your role at Content Marketing Institute over a series of years there?
Joe Pulizzi: 04:38 Yeah. I mean, I started [inaudible 00:04:40] and I’ve been in this industry now for 20 years, and I started back at a media publishing company called Pet Media in the year 2000. And I had the opportunity to work in their custom media department, which is basically content marketing services for large B2B brands. And it was probably around 2005, 2006 and Penton had actually pretty close relationship to Google at the time, and as I was meeting more with the Google folks and looking at what we were doing in publishing and actually doing a lot of publishing in magazine form for our customers, I said, this thing, as the internet continues to take off, as more people rely on search, and then as Facebook and then later in 2006, 2007, you had Twitter come out.
I was like, companies are going to have to learn how to tell their own story. They’re going to have to really learn how to create their own content, do it effectively, in order to just compete with everything else out there. And that’s why in 2007 I left Penton and I said I really did believe that content marketing was going to be the next big wave for marketing. And left in 2007, in 2010 we became Content Marketing Institute, founded that organization with my wife. 2011, our first event, Content Marketing World, was in Cleveland, Ohio. And Erin, realistically we had a small room in the Renaissance Hotel in Cleveland, Ohio, for about 100 to a 150 people, we’re like, I don’t even know if we can get 100 people to Cleveland, Ohio for Content Marketing World. And we were lucky enough, we got 660 that year, and now nine years later, the event’s 4000 people from 70 countries or how many ever are there now [crosstalk 00:06:17]-
Erin Sparks: 06:17 Yeah, it is huge.
Joe Pulizzi: 06:18 … really been amazing to see this happening. And granted, content marketing is still rather small compared to advertising. But we’re making progress and just trying to teach people how to build an audience and how to communicate effectively with their customers instead of just always focusing on this is what I have to sell, look at me interruption, you do it the right way.
Erin Sparks: 06:40 That’s a great story, because you literally have 10s of thousands watching Content Marketing Institute and content marketing world when that event comes around. You just had that here, mid September, early part of September, right?
Joe Pulizzi: 06:53 We just had the early September and yeah, I mean, my whole talk and we talked about it in the beginning of your show here is, how do we think more long term when we’re up against the pressure internally of cell now, and I was trying to instill on the audience and I still do it that you have to fight that battle, that if you’re going to do for example, if you have lets say a six month outlook, and you’re like, Okay, I want to try this content marketing thing, Joe, what can I expect in six months? I always tell people don’t expect anything. Actually, if your timeline is six months, don’t do content marketing, go interrupt people, go buy advertising, go do something else. Content Marketing is not going to work. I always like to… minimum 12 months I like to say 18 months, I mean, if you’re looking at the history of Content Marketing Institute and how we were successful, it was about that 22-23 month level where we really started to get found in search, we really started to build an audience, our email newsletter was really starting to roll with that time but if you want to look at it at nine to 12 months, we have been out of business.
Patience was the only thing that kept us going, and if you look at any successful content marketing example out there, it’s all about patience, there’s no overnight successes in this business. The overnight successes happened after the first content marketing initiative. Like, Oh, there it is. But yeah, so I’m just trying out there trying to get people to think long term and to think about building an asset and not selling a customer.
Erin Sparks: 08:24 And you’re talking into a space that clearly does need some education, for those that are listening to this show that don’t have a clear bead on the differences between content marketing and advertising. And I know you’ve been down this road way many times, but let’s have that clarity, let’s have that clarity right out the door.
Joe Pulizzi: 08:46 Yeah, so if you just look at the basic definition of what content marketing is, what you’re trying to do is build an audience by delivering valuable relevant compelling information over a period of time to a very targeted customer.
When I say valuable information, I mean something differentiated, something truly valuable not the same things your customers are talking about, fine we call it a content tilt you know from content Inc I call it a content tilt, looking at an area differently and actually delivering value and communicating in a different way, but very simply looking at it is what we’re trying to do is build an audience and that might be a print subscriber audience that might be an email newsletter audience, something where your customers actually want to get the information you’re delivering. It’s very, very important, your marketing is something they actually want, they actually request it, you want your customers, your audience you want them relying on you on a daily basis to help them do their jobs better and live their lives better. Those are the types of content marketing initiatives you’re looking at.
So you might look at, New York Times or BuzzFeed or a Huffington Post. Well, those things are traditional or social media, media companies, if you will, but those are the types of things that any company can build. And we call that a content brand. And all you want to do is you want to deliver relevant and consistent content to a very targeted audience. And you think Erin that was easy, that’d be easy to do?
Erin Sparks: 10:17 It is the most difficult thing in marketing to do, that’s why there’s so many challenges, that’s why there’s so much pushback. And on top of that, what we are talking about we are in a fast food mentality as a nation, as a social media nation that are looking for constant communication, constant new things to look at. That’s why advertising has really eclipsed the thought of what true marketing is. And that’s what’s really gotten into the minds of some of the sea level decision makers, is that they run ads and then they generate that ROI and they have that very, very narrow focus on return as opposed to investing long term to an audience that’s going to create a loyalty, an entire foundational group that will champion your brand as opposed to a fickle audience that will just fly at any particular new light that’s shining on them, right?
Joe Pulizzi: 11:21 You’re right, like, it’s a good point you make with advertising, if you are doing some kind of an advertising campaign, you need to get results from that campaign. You’re putting out that money, you need to see a return. But let’s just say that you’re building a blog, and you have your own content brand associated with that. Well, every blog posts that you create is just like a brick in the house that you’re trying to build. And you create another brick and another brick and soon you’ve got a front patio and then you’re going to build the living room and then you’re going to build a bathroom and a bedroom, and it all works together. And actually, I mean, this is and you know this because you’re in this business, but Content Marketing Institute I wrote a blog post called what is content marketing. And if you type in what is content marketing? I would probably come up in the top five.
That thing today still gets 1000 people a day going to that one article that we created, now almost 13 years ago, now that is what we called asset now, and then, but for content marketing, we want to take you to the next level, because yes, we’ve got the wonderful search engine optimization part of that, but then we go to that and really what we want to do is we don’t want to sell them to go to content marketing world right away, we don’t want to sell them into buying Joe Pulizzi’s book, what we want to do is we want to sign them up to our E-newsletter, because we want them to become a regular audience member and part of the community of Content Marketing Institute. And then you’ve really built the most valuable asset of all, which is that database that customer data or audience database, and then you can start to monetize in multiple ways not only selling the products and services you just sell, but you can monetize directly, but direct revenue just like any other media company would.
Erin Sparks: 13:04 But you have to keep on being useful and valuable to that audience, and we can’t sell that short is that it’s a commitment as opposed to advertising which is very narrow and short run from a yield standpoint. And yeah, really don’t get to experiment nearly as much with what you’re actually saying to your audience. So it could be considered an outcropping of good marketing but honestly, advertising lays central in so many businesses that they don’t even start to appreciate what audience they can reach. So one of your recent presentations OMR, you went through a number of different platforms that as marketers we all embrace, you’ve got print, blog, E-newsletters, you’ve got podcasts, right? Events, whitepapers, webcasts, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, there’s so many different channels. We’re supposed to be on all those platforms, right?
Joe Pulizzi: 14:06 No, not at all.
Erin Sparks: 14:08 Wait a minute.
Joe Pulizzi: 14:09 No, you don’t. And that’s the problem, right? Because as any size business, you get overwhelmed. You’re like, Oh my goodness, I have to do. Let’s say you’re in engineering and you want to talk about mechanical engineering insights for your engineering audience. Okay. Well, now I have to create the white paper, I got to do the E-book, I got to create the podcast, I got to create the mini magazine, I’ve got to be on Twitter and do the Facebook thing and Instagram thing and oh my god, what’s TikTok? I got to be on that. It’s literally overwhelming, but if you go back and I’m a historian of marketing, especially content marketing, if you go back and look at all the brands that have created real platforms and real audiences, whether it’s a media company or non media company, and you find out how do they do that? They focused on one type of initiative, one content type and one platform.
So first of all content type, is it textual? Is it audio? Is it visual in some way? So then platform textual would go with your blog or website, audio would go with your podcast, iTunes type initiative, visual would go with Instagram or YouTube. You have to pick one of those things, and be the best at it and do that consistently deriving valuable information for nine to 12 months plus, so you can build an audience on that platform, because we only have so much energy. There’s only so much that you can do and every initiative I’ve ever been a part of, whether it’s in media or content marketing, any company that started out doing, oh, we’re going to launch a podcast, a video series and a blog at the same time. I’m saying, “Well, you’re going to fail.”
I’ve been in so many meetings Erin, where I’m like, I’ll help you and I wish the best for you, but this is not going to work, there’s no way it’s going to work. Why don’t you be great at one thing instead of being a mediocre at five, because being mediocre gets you nothing today.
Erin Sparks: 16:15 So many different divergent paths [inaudible 00:16:20], starting from, all gets down to a better understanding for that decision maker for that sea level, I keep on going back to that, because that cheap marketing officer is probably put upon to be in those channels because they’re being pressured that hey, we hear this about podcast, we have to do this, don’t we? So they’re given the marching orders to do that, and then the different marketers in the office are now challenged to do that. Is there a better buy in now for businesses understanding content marketing, or is it still so misunderstood that it really sits at… The fate of true good content marketing sits at the marketer that’s giving these orders. Is that the case?
Joe Pulizzi: 17:10 It’s still, Erin it’s still completely understood, and it’s a big problem, and that’s why when I talked to content marketing world that was my first point. Was we have to sell this internally, because what we’re finding is most content marketing programs get cut not because of lack of results, they get cut because somebody holding the purse strings to the budget doesn’t understand what they’re doing. That is a huge, huge issue.
So if you work for a small business, this may not be as relevant to you, but if you work in a marketing department that has, let’s say, more than 10 or 15 people, you’ll really get this. Somebody won’t understand why you’re just focusing on let’s say that podcast only right now, or that blog only or that Instagram program only plus an E-newsletter, because those things happen later. So the education has to happen, and I’m a real big proponent of sending regular updates to the sea level about what you’re doing and why. Because you have to teach them with just this is media one on one, you build your platform on doing one thing really well, you build your audience there, and then you diversify.
So look at New York Times, they have the newspaper, and then they diversified out into E newsletters and events, and then they [inaudible 00:18:28] the social and they’ve done that. BuzzFeed was basically just a blog, in one area, and then they/… once they built that audience, then they went and diversified out and did all those things. Huffington Post was just one blog, and now they’re hundreds of different blogs. But it’s hard for us to think that way because we almost think that media company or that content marketing, great example just happened the way it is, oh, it’s Content Marketing Institute, you say, “Oh they do the blog and they do online training and they do the podcast and they do all these E-books and webinars and the event.” Well, we started and for the first 22 months, all we did was the blog. We had a blog and an E-newsletter, and then once we… we call it a minimum viable audience, just like a minimum viable product to a starter person.
Minimum viable audience, get your number, what is it? 5000? For us it was 10,000, we wanted 10,000 email newsletter subscribers. Then we launched the magazine Chief Content Officer, then another year later we launched the event content marketing world, then two years after that we launched this old marketing the podcast, that’s how you launch media when it comes to a content marketing program, instead of what you’re saying, or what I’m saying is let’s do it all, which is fine, but if you do that, make sure in six months you’re looking for another job or you’ve got some other possibilities available, because you’re not going to last very long.
Erin Sparks: 19:48 No, and the buzz, pun intended, has really been this omni channel concept, right? Now, omni channel cannot, like you’re saying survive without a destination audience to reach, and you have to grow them in one space and then diversify, you cannot just decide to flood the channels with everything and expect that investment to pay off. Now, I’m going to come back to the CEO, because I really want to arm marketers with some key things to say, when the CEO wants to do a podcast. Now, we’re shooting ourselves in the foot, because we actually develop podcast for company, but they shouldn’t always do it. And there’s so many reasons why they shouldn’t, can you give our listeners some choice things to be able to communicate delicately on why that CEO should not do a podcast?
Joe Pulizzi: 20:48 Oh, jeez, how much time do you have? I mean, we can go on forever, I can give you all kinds of [inaudible 00:20:53]. Let’s just get down to the basics, we have to talk about why we’re doing this in the first place, it starts with the audience. Who is the audience? Now, and a lot of companies use target a lot of different customer groups. So if you say our audience is for electrical engineers and mechanical engineers and wind engineer, whatever other engineers I’m like, Okay, stop right there, you’re going to fail. You have to have something to one group that is very specific interest or informational needs. So start there. So that’s the first level, who is that audience?
The second is, why are we doing this in the first place? Are you doing this because you want to sell product? Are you doing this because your CEO has some ego complex and you want to, I don’t know what the reason is, you have to make sure you get that down, you have a very specific mission, then you have to have an actual editorial mission, what we call a content marketing mission, so what is that piece of information or that ongoing information that you’re going to give that’s different than anything else out there? This is easier said than done, Erin. You actually have to talk about something different. When we would go and we would do, even when I was at Penton and I put work with companies for their content marketing programs, we would look at their mission statement and the content they were creating, and it was exactly like what their competitors were doing. You could look at the blog of one of the manufacturers we are working with and then bring up their main competitor, and you would see no difference that actually we tricked the CEO sometimes because they couldn’t figure out which one was theirs, and which one was their competitor.
Erin Sparks: 22:28 Oh my gosh.
Joe Pulizzi: 22:29 This is a big problem, so you want to get this all we call this, a documented content marketing strategy is very important, if you’re the marketing person, you need to do this. And I don’t know if the CEO has to see this, but the CMO for sure needs to know what you’re doing, what the CEO has to see is what probably more like a channel strategy, wants to see what we’re doing and why we’re doing it in each channel, so let’s just say Instagram, Instagram, we’re there as a customer service channel. We’re just there to listen and comment, which by the way is fantastic if you were just on Instagram to listen and comment, because we know a lot of companies that are on Instagram just doing stupid things they shouldn’t be doing anyways.
Or you might say, oh, Twitter, Twitter, what we’re trying to do is we’re trying to build followers because ultimately we want to get a bunch of engagement, and we’re trying to drive them back to our blog which ultimately leads to our E-newsletter. Great, I love that, I can totally follow that funnel or whatever you want to call it.
So I would give your CEO that channel strategy and what you’re going to do and what you’re not going to do, because if you have that early, and then they say, “Hey, let’s do a podcast, you can say, huh, our channel’s strategy that doesn’t quite fit with what we’re doing, and I’ll tell you why, and if you want to do it, it’s going to take away from XYZ. So I would be, I think what a lot of marketers do when they’re putting this together, they try not to tell their CEO things, and just nothing is asked. But in today’s day and age, especially with a CEO having all social media right at their disposal, you need to get out in front of this.
So I would at least every couple of weeks get an update out to the sea level, that may include the CFO, definitely the CMO, those people that really need to understand this, and get this information to them and tell them what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. And I think it’ll really work out for you long term.
Erin Sparks: 24:28 We here at the shop use the ghost concept of goal objective strategy and tactic, and that’s what you’re saying right there is that define that goal, create the objectives that are measurable, and as soon as you’re putting that all together with this strategies and tactics then you don’t have that many channel jumpers or you don’t have the CEO carpet bombing the entire marketing department because they want to do this, this, this, because they’ve got FOMO working against them 24/7, because they bought into that series of objectives earlier on.
So reinforcing that, because we all know CEOs do get distracted, right? Reinforcing that again and again and again, keeps them bought into what you’re doing, and that ensures a longevity of the campaign, right?
Joe Pulizzi: 25:15 That’s right. The most important content marketing program is your internal content marketing program, and that goes to your executives and other employees. So if I was to say, if you were, let’s say you’re listening to this and you’re really not doing content marketing, maybe you’ve got some SEO strategies and whatnot, I would say the first thing you’d want to do is create something teaching your employees and your higher ups about marketing, about what you’re doing, and that will open up the opportunity for you to the most important thing in this is to say no, because the CEO is going to ask you to do something and you have to have the ammunition and you have to be communicating along the way, so when you say no, you have all this backup of all this communication and education internally than you’ve been doing because you’re going to have to say no a lot.
Erin Sparks: 26:03 You got to, because-
Joe Pulizzi: 26:05 There’s so many things out there, so many channels to your point and you’re like, we can’t do them all really well, so we have to say no to these things, so we can be great at one or two things.
Erin Sparks: 26:14 And it’s going to rob the efficacy of what you’re trying to do and what you’re trying to grow, I mean, the want to get into all the spaces it’s going to nullify whatever you’re doing. So we’re talking in the space right now that marketers have to own what they’re championing, and they have to defend it, because it just like if you have an open calendar, and if you haven’t planned your calendar, time gets robbed from us each and every day, right? You have to own that channel and be willing, I mean, sometimes you don’t want to die on that hill, obviously, but at the same time, marketers all have to understand the value of the long term investment and they got to be able to be empowered to challenge the non-educated in the room, it could very well be the CMO.
One of the things that is a constant challenge and it’s hard to defend is how they measure the success, how you measure success of content marketing, because at any given moment, right? You’re going to be up against well, how many clicks do we have? How many engagements do we have? How did this turn into money for me and for that marketer to defend that, can you give some key points on how to measure success of that content marketing initiative?
Joe Pulizzi: 27:36 Yes, absolutely, and I want to go big picture to start with, because it’s really important how you talk about it. What you really want to know is how do your customers behave differently, because of this program? Because really, what we’re looking at is behavior. Granted, you can throw all the vanity metrics in the world at somebody, you can look at rankings, you can look at search engine shares, you can look at click through, and those are all very… those could be very, very important, but long term what I want to do and what I want to see as a CEO is what’s different? What’s different with my customer, because we are communicating this way? I’ll give you an example of it.
So TD Ameritrade created a magazine called Think Money Magazine, it started in print now it’s in print and digital. For years and years they didn’t know exactly what… So you subscribe to this magazine, it was for traders, people that traded a lot, financial people that traded a lot. And so those were their customers, and what they found out it took them two years to get the data, what they found out is those people who read that magazine and subscribed to that magazine traded five times as much as those customers that didn’t. So when I get that, I can take that back to the CEO and say, “Isn’t this the most amazing yield for a customer you can ever imagine? And it’s because we’re delivering them.” By the way, when you see the magazine, it’s awesome, because they don’t talk about their products and services, they really do educate the customer on trading techniques. And you say, “This is the type of customer we’re creating, because we’re delivering them amazing value on an ongoing basis.” So that’s what I want people to think of.
So when you build, and you just have to dig into the numbers, so when I look at Content Marketing Institute, we did the same thing. When we found out that those people who subscribe to Chief Content Officer magazine, we found that they were way more likely to go to content marketing world, are way more likely to talk to their boss about coming to content marketing world. Well, that’s really, really important, the problem is I can’t get that data in nine months. So that’s why all the internal selling has to go there first now, then you can get to some things that get the self sustainment, which I love today. If you look at what Cleveland Clinic is doing, the hospital network.
In 2016 they started direct revenue channels, and today they almost pay for the entire program through advertising, through different sponsorship opportunities, they’ve got certain search engine companies that pay them money to create content for them.
Erin Sparks: 30:19 Those who will not be named.
Joe Pulizzi: 30:20 Yeah, those that will not be named, but they’re generating direct revenue, so they’re able to go and do two things, one, through their program, which is called health essentials, they’re able to say, we are actually driving patient volume, we are changing behavior, we can show it because here’s the subscribers, here’s who clicks on it, here’s what they do, took them a long time to get there. And then they can also say, and we’re paying for ourselves, that’s a very mature program, and I think a lot of people can go there, but it just takes a while to get there. So that goes back to your goal, what’s that ultimate goal? What’s that behavior you want to see? And then how can you show that through the different data that you’re going to capture and that’s the challenge, you have to know up front that, that’s what you want to show, so in 2016, Cleveland Clinic had started to capture that data, and Ameritrade can start to capture that data so that you can show this is how people’s behavior is changing.
Erin Sparks: 31:12 So, that’s a very good example of how a mission can actually create different user behavior here. The fact of the matter is, that’s the model of the mature business, to be able to actually understand that the user behavior change is derivative of what you’re putting into the marketplace, and it has to be different, and you have to be a utility, for lack of better description for the user base to be able to differentiate yourself from different organizations. All the while, you can still make course corrections in that channel, you have to you just can’t go blindly in there and just say we’re just going to keep on moving content, those course corrections are dictated by metrics, you can absolutely see that, but at the head end of all this is not the return on investment, it is the change in behavior and for a company to know how they’re going to be able to affect that. Do most companies ever come to a level of maturity? I guess that’s my question.
Joe Pulizzi: 32:21 I mean, we’re getting there, but the problem is, is that the the practice itself is still so, even though it’s been around hundreds of years, it’s still so new to most companies. We’ve I mean, in the last, let’s say, the last 20 years, most companies have just gotten serious about this, and they’re starting to do this. So I what I would recommend for the marketing team to do is if you get together as your weekly meetings, which hopefully you do, you look at all those metrics that you’re talking about, that’s great advice, but you also review the mission. What’s that mission that we’re trying to deliver for the audience and that mission is not you selling more products and services, that mission has to be the content mission, we’re trying to help them get better jobs, live better lives, whatever the case is.
That’s why when you’re doing the Okay, here’s the article we’re going to write, here’s the search engine keywords we’re focusing on, [inaudible 00:33:13] also listed in that? What’s the audience outcome? What do you want that audience to achieve? And that’s so that when the content writer gets that they really know I mean, that’s what we’re trying to teach, you’re teaching right now. And if you go on a monthly basis and you start to review all those things, then you’ll start to say, Oh, this is working, this is not, and you’ll start to see the term because what happens is when you get started, and you get a lot of emails from sales, and sales department we got to talk more about our products and services, we got to link to these here. They’ll start to see that the content is not performing as well, you have to have that data, or you’re not going to make it.
Erin Sparks: 33:53 That’s right. And in the digital space we have that data, but you have to plan for it and anticipate that, got to know what to measure? You can’t scramble for that data after your challenge, you have to be prepared for that, and that’s what we’re talking about. For marketers is that you have to move the mission you have, again, it can’t just be from marketing, it has to come from the top down, this is what we’re trying to create, but at the same time, you got to be able to defend the channel and defend what you’re doing with the data, so, plan for that. So briefly, boy, I wish I had more time with you here.
I’d love to have you come back around and champion this message, because it truly is dang important that we give the marketers the ability to educate upstream, because it’s anemic, the talk there, it really is. But you give in your presentation that you’re talking… that you’ve been moving here for the past year or so, six steps of content marketing, and I’m not going to be doing it any justice, but can you briefly go through the six steps in a couple key ways, just to give us some information there.
Joe Pulizzi: 35:05 I’ll go through it briefly with just the highlights. The most important part at the beginning part of the six steps is to make sure you find that content tilt, you have to have something that’s truly differentiated. When you find that content tilt that you’re targeting that specific audience, then we want to figure out which platform are we going to deliver it on, we talked about that, is it one content type and one platform, so focus on that. Then you want to do that very consistently over time, and what I’d like to see is if you’re going to use all those social media channels which is fine to use, I have nothing against social media, what I really want to do is see you turn those into email newsletter subscribers, where you have some control over it.
So when you get to that level, then you get to lecture level five is diversification. Once you build that audience, let’s say you have those 5,000, 10,000 email subscribers, you’re focused on one platform then you can start diversifying. So if you started with a blog, you could say, well, now we can launch that podcast, and now we can launch that mini magazine, because proof shows us when you get to that level, you’ve created a better customer, you’ve created better audience member, because you can reach them different ways, you just can’t do it all at once.
And then the all glorious sixth level, which we touched on a little bit, is you can actually do direct monetization. Which we talked about in the Cleveland Clinic example where they’re focused on their marketing goal first, but then they can start to subsidize against that, create their own revenue channels, and that’s the very most mature part.
So really, let’s go back to the beginning and say, are you creating something truly different? Are you doing some something on a consistent basis and are you focused on being great at one channel instead of spreading yourself so [inaudible 00:36:48].
Erin Sparks: 36:48 One channel first and do the best there, don’t let FOMO lead you all different places, because you’re going to kill what you’re trying to grow at the beginning.
Thank you for going through that very, very quickly, I really do appreciate it. You do also regularly state that content marketing is not a campaign, can you expand that briefly as well?
Joe Pulizzi: 37:15 Well, campaigns, as we know, most political campaigns thankfully end. Content marketing campaign means that your content marketing program will end, it never ends. As you said, Erin, it iterates, you’re always flexible, you change it, but you never end it. If you go into the mentality of you’re going to do a nine to 12 month thing, and by the way, that’s what most companies are doing, they’re like, okay, we’re going to launch this video series, and we’re going to create nine months of it and we’re going to blast it out to everybody else, and then we’re going to go do something else next year. I’m like, “Who does that? Nobody does that who’s built an audience. That just does not work.” [crosstalk 00:37:59]
Erin Sparks: 37:58 You would piss the audience off, my God.
Joe Pulizzi: 38:01 Oh, but that’s what all these companies are doing, so don’t go in with that campaign mentality you want to go in with, yes, we know we want to do this year, but go with a three or five year idea of where could we be when we go out there? Think of it like your JK Rowling, and you know that there’s seven or eight books here, that’s what we’re going through, you’re going to just share the first book right now, but you know there’s much more to come.
Erin Sparks: 38:24 Even if you don’t know what you’re going to be saying, know that you’re going to set yourself up for those stages of commitment. That’s the toughest thing to be able to persuade upper management to put in that type of funding for that long of a period of time. So it’s always an uphill battle, but we have to march with intentionality to get to those plateaus of good audience and good content, right?
Joe Pulizzi: 38:54 That’s right. That’s right. And you’ll get there, when you get there in 18 months or so it’ll absolutely be worth it, and that’s why we have to do the upfront work, to make sure we get to that point.
Erin Sparks: 39:04 It’s not a campaign people, it’s a passion, you got to grab all of it and dive in. Well, again Joe, I’m not doing us Justice, you certainly have a great wealth of information, and we really appreciate what you’ve done with content marketing world, especially the books that you’ve been putting out, they’re fantastic books, understanding what marketing truly is. And you’ve started back up a podcast with Robert Rose, right?
Joe Pulizzi: 39:31 Started back, yeah, all kinds of crazy things, started back up the podcast, This Old Marketing, which is we’re in Episode 218 now, and I just finished my first novel, it’s called The Will to Die, it’ll be out in December of 2019, so anybody that likes a good thriller, The will to Die got to count.
Erin Sparks: 39:51 Sweet, oh, we’re going to have to grab one of those, that’s awesome. My daughter and I are thriller junkies now, and we’re listening to so many crime podcasts, it’s really warping the rest of the kids to be honest with you, but-
Joe Pulizzi: 40:05 If you like that kind of thing, you will absolutely love this because the protagonist is a marketing guy, so.
Erin Sparks: 40:11 Ah, see, that is awesome.
Joe Pulizzi: 40:15 Of course.
Erin Sparks: 40:16 Joe, we always finish up with our guest by asking him a couple key questions. Not that I haven’t already barrage you with them, but Lastly, what bugs you about the industry you’re in right now?
Joe Pulizzi: 40:26 I mean, we covered it, it’s the short term thinking by far, it’s the short term thinking, and all the articles… Then there’s so much negativity put on content marketing failures right now by the mainstream marketing media that just bugs me because we see media failures all the time, and I’m like, some of these companies that are experimenting with new things, let them give it a shot, but I just wish that those companies that started with such great ideas, and the strategy was right, and they fail on execution because they stopped
Erin Sparks: 40:58 And they got crucified?
Joe Pulizzi: 40:59 Yeah.
Erin Sparks: 41:00 Yeah, absolutely, yeah. The media needs to be lighten up a little bit people.
Joe Pulizzi: 41:04 Now they do what they do.
Erin Sparks: 41:06 Yes they do.
Joe Pulizzi: 41:07 They power through.
Erin Sparks: 41:10 We’re stronger because of it. Conversely, what excites you about your industry?
Joe Pulizzi: 41:16 Because no matter what budget a company has, they can build a loyal and trusting audience. And actually, I could almost make a case for somebody that has a smaller budget with more constrictions can do a better job because of it. So don’t think that if you don’t need a huge… you don’t need a Procter and Gamble or Coke Gold budget to do this really well. Look at what some of the YouTubers are doing, kids that are 16, 20 years old, that have no budget at all that are building a really loyal audience. Anybody can do this today and that’s what I love about it.
Erin Sparks: 41:52 That’s awesome, I mean literally specializing with one channel especially with small budgets, as small medium sized companies can do a lot of damage there, don’t dilute your message in the channels. Alright so wrapping up, we certainly want to promote joepulizzi.com that’s where he resides all the things Joe certainly want to also Lift up Content Marketing Institute and content marketing world. We’re going to try and be out there next year, we were awarded the podcasts of the Year in 2017, and it was a great experience to be able to be in the running with some great podcasts.
You guys are doing some fantastic awards for so many different organizations out there, so we want to circle back around and see if we can come out there and possibly do a little live casting as well, but we want to make sure that your audience finds you @joepulizzi, as well as on Facebook Joe.Pulizzi, LinkedIn Joe Pulizzi, and Instagram Joe Pulizzi got all of the Pulizzis there [crosstalk 00:42:59].
Joe Pulizzi: 42:59 You got them all.
Erin Sparks: 42:59 We got them all there. But we do want to finalize with a lift up for the the Orange Effect Foundation, a speech therapy funding, you’ve you’ve helped 180 kids in 28 states, and you’re currently funding 60 kids right now in the next few months, right?
Joe Pulizzi: 43:17 That’s correct. Yes. Well, that’s all we do, where the board does a great job looking for cases where the families just can’t afford this, and we just can’t let that happen. So we’re trying to raise as much money and if you feel something towards the cause, go to the Orange Effect out of Oregon, and we’d love to get your support so we can deliver it to families that really need it.
Erin Sparks: 43:35 Absolutely. Absolutely. Well, if there’s anything else that we can do to shed light on that, please let us know after the show, will light it up on social. Joe, thank you so much for your time today, and again, we’d love to have you back for another hour and unpack some of this, because we got to arm the marketers With this knowledge right?
Joe Pulizzi: 43:53 Anytime my friend. Thanks for the opportunity, I appreciate it.
Erin Sparks: 43:54 Thanks so much Joe. You’re more than welcome. Alright, thanks for listening to Edge of the Web radio special. Thank you to our colleagues over at Site strategic, and especially our guest Joe Pulizzi, make sure you find out all the information that we’re talking about over at edgeofthewebradio.com. That’s edgeofthewebradio.com, videos, much more insider information, all the show links and much more over there. We’ll talk to you next week. Who are we talking to next week? Jake, do you remember?
We’re actually off next week, we will not be doing anything next week. So if you’re going to tune in here, it’ll be dead silence, although we’ll probably stream for an hour without anybody at the desk, how about that? That’d be fun.
All right, so from all of us over at the EDGE of the web, thank you so much for listening, and be sure to like, review and smash that button. Now, we’re going live on a regular basis on YouTube. Jump over and join us live on a regular basis, we moved officially from Facebook to YouTube, so catch all there and ask us questions live as we broadcast. So from all of us over at EDGE of the Web, thanks so much, do not be a piece of cyber driftwood, will talk to you next week. Bye bye.