Make your content marketing EPIC: Q&A with Joe Pulizzi

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joe-opening-day2jpg-19990db2da32cebfContent marketing is nothing new. But the evolution of communication and marketing channels (such as social and mobile) have made it an increasingly important (if not mandatory) part of the marketing plans for companies of all shapes and sizes, due to its ability to drive long-term brand, sales and customer loyalty value at a fraction of the cost of traditional media & brand advertising.

Joe Pulizzi lives in Cleveland, loves his Browns, and is one of the most important & influential people driving the content marketing movement today. His annual Content Marketing World conference has become the place to be if you’re serious about content marketing, and he just published his third book, Epic Content Marketing, which covers tons of new ground that will help both beginner and experienced content marketers up their game.

I had an opportunity last week to catch up with Joe in between book tour stops to talk about why people still struggle with content marketing, why it works and where it’s going.

In an era of blog posts, email newsletters and social media, why is a long-form book format still important? Why did you write this?
Just because we have all these new channels and tactics doesn’t mean that the old ones don’t work. I actually think there may be more opportunity in printed media now than just a few years ago. So many brands have gone 100% digital that now you can really stand out with print books and print magazines.

Yes, we get more of our information today through headlines and tweets, but most buyers still engage in long-form storytelling when they want to be entertained or inspired. If long-form is not some part of your content marketing strategy, it’s very challenging to become a true thought leader.

All that aside, I believe there are three pillars for every brand that are musts as a foundation for content marketing – a leading blog, a book, and a strategy for public speaking.

What in your opinion are some of the primary reasons why some companies fail at content marketing?
There are many…the big ones are 1) they talk about themselves too much, 2) they go too wide with their content marketing strategy and don’t focus on becoming a clear go-to resource in a smaller niche, 3) they lack any kind of consistency and (the biggest one) 4) most brands have no documented content marketing strategy. How do we know where the ship is going without a plan? And we wonder why there is so much horrible content out there.

Talk a little about the importance of patience in content marketing execution. It’s not exactly direct response, is it?
If your timeline isn’t at least six months, go buy paid advertising. Actually, I think 18-24 months sets the right expectation for a timeline, although if you are doing it right, you’ll see results before then. Content is a promise to our customers. It takes a while to build on that promise. In publishing, the average media brand has a three-year outlook. Publishers know patience is key to creating a long-term relationship with subscribers. Yes, it takes time, but you are building an asset…and that can’t be build overnight. Be patient.

We talk to a lot of companies that claim their product, service or industry is too boring, to commodity-driven to make content marketing work. What’s your response to this?
Your product probably is too boring…but the problems that your product solves are not. This is where so many brand marketers go wrong. They start the content marketing process with their product or industry, when we first need to start with our buying.

What are their pain points? What’s keeping them up at night? What’s not being talked about that would truly help them live better lives or get better jobs? Think like a publisher or journalist and take your sales hat off for five minutes.

I grew up in the manufacturing and engineering side. Talk about boring products and services. With every company we’ve worked with, we’ve ALWAYS found amazing stories to tell. Need guidance? Look at what the leading trade publishers are doing in your industry . That is probably the type of content you need to be putting out.

We also hear from many companies that tell us that their audience will never engage with their content. Can you give an example of an industry or company you’ve seen where this was initially the case, but smart strategy & execution worked anyway?

Take OpenView Venture Partners, a Venture Capital company targeting early stage technology companies. Who would want to get regular content from a VC? Nobody. But Scott Maxwell, the CEO, realized that he had so much expertise in his employees that was only getting shared with a few companies. What if that expertise could be shared with all entrepreneurs?

In just a few years, OpenView has build up their content platform, OpenView Labs to over 20,000 regular subscribers and over 1,000 pieces of audio and video content. They have their own podcasting and video studio, and they’ve done it with a very small budget. Why did it work…regular, consistent publishing focusing on critical issues that entrepreneurs looking for funding needed to know. They basically gave away all the information that their competition was not sharing. They were simply answering all their customers’ questions. What a novel idea!

Twelve months from now, what will we be talking about that’s not on our content marketing radar today?

Couple things – first, there will be an increased flurry of M&A in the content marketing technology space. Second, most brand marketers, although actively employing content marketing tactics, will still lack any kind of cohesive strategy.

Joe Pulizzi is founder of Content Marketing Institute, 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’s third book, Epic Content Marketing: How to Tell a Different Story, Break through the Clutter, and Win More Customers by Marketing Less takes business owners and marketers A-to-Z toward creating a content marketing strategy that works to grow the business. You can find Joe on Twitter @JoePulizzi. If you ever see Joe in person, he’ll be wearing orange.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Matt Heinz
Prolific author and nationally recognized, award-winning blogger, Matt Heinz is President and Founder of Heinz Marketing with 20 years of marketing, business development and sales experience from a variety of organizations and industries. He is a dynamic speaker, memorable not only for his keen insight and humor, but his actionable and motivating takeaways.Matt’s career focuses on consistently delivering measurable results with greater sales, revenue growth, product success and customer loyalty.

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