5 Epic Content Marketing Tips from Joe Pulizzi
What makes an outstanding presentation? One that pushes you to think from a new perspectives? One without an endless string of snooze-worthy PowerPoint slides?
Perhaps gaining actionable items to implement and grow your business?
Nope, you guessed wrong.
According to the self-proclaimed poster boy of content marketing, Joe Pulizzi, a great presentation is one you go into with low expectations. For instance, if you expect to go home with one actionable item, but instead go home with two (i.e. it exceeds your expectations).
As marketers and business owners, you’ve probably attended your fair share of unfortunate presentations. As an avid public speaker, Pulizzi’s goal is the make sure this is not the case. Last week I found myself slurping down a lukewarm cup of coffee in the cozy wine cellar of the well-known Boston steak house, Mooo. Surrounded by an intimate group of Boston marketers, I listened to Pulizzi’s insight on creating and distributing outstanding content. Pulizzi is the founder of the Content Marketing Institute and author of Epic Content Marketing. With over 58,000 followers on Twitter, Joe is clearly doing something right. I pushed my coffee aside and attentively listened as he reviewed the five elements to consider in regards to epic content.
So let’s recap and unravel these content marketing tips that Pulizzi decided to share.
Content Marketing Tip #1: Sales, Savings and Sunshine
Sunshine, huh? Pulizzi said that sunshine stands for happy customers - now you’re speaking my language!
Pulizzi emphasized the importance of setting content goals, while not forgetting about the “why?” For example, why are we advertising on Facebook? Who on this channel are we looking to go after? What stage of the funnel are they in? How can we convince them to convert? Or how can we retain our current customers? Asking these critical questions, setting goals, and implementing a content strategy are essential steps in creating effective content in Pulizzi’s mind.
Pulizzi ran through a few real-world examples. My favorite was Copyblogger, a company which I hadn’t heard of prior but has apparently built their business on content, with 90% of their revenue coming from their blog subscribers. This is pretty impressive, and poking around their site, I can see why. Their blog is attractive, well-written with personality and straightforward language, and there are attractive call-to-actions to subscribe to the blog in some essential parts of their website. So how do they make money exactly? Copyblogger makes money by selling an online marketing platform, so they are essentially a B2B software company, not unlike us here at WordStream. But how is Copyblogger relevant to Pulizzi’s element?
Well, they set out with the goal of capturing blog subscribers, working them down the funnel, and converting them into leads, and clearly their content has been quite successful in doing so.
Content Marketing Tip #2: Create a Marketing Mission Statement
Thanks for the mind-blowing insight Joe...of course you need a mission statement. This content marketing tip stuck out as a bit obvious, but Pulizzi did hit on some crucial parts of what this statement needs to include.
The most important thing is your audience! Pulizzi told us about a humorous time when a customer told him she has 18 personas…really? 18? That is way too many! Your audience needs to be summed up by one or two short descriptions. Who are you targeting? Mothers? Entrepreneurs? Architects? Beer-bellied fraternity bros? Whoever it is, figure it out and incorporate them right into your mission statement so your audience knows that you are talking to them.
Your mission statement should also address what will be delivered to your audience, and what the outcome will be. Most important, your mission statement should serve as a guideline to direct all content.
Let’s dissect the following mission statements to see how they incorporate Pulizzi’s principles:
Home Made Simple:
"Enabling women to have more quality time with their family."
- Audience? Women
- What will be delivered? Quick and easy recipes, parenting tips, party ideas, crafts etc.
- What’s the outcome? Strengthening the family bond through quality time
"Welcome to Inc.com, the place where entrepreneurs and business owners can find useful information, advice, insights, resources and inspiration for running and growing their businesses."
- Audience? Entrepreneurs and business owners
- What will be delivered? Useful information, advice, insights, resources and inspiration
- What’s the outcome? Running and growing their businesses
Personally, I think Inc’s mission statement is strong, but could be simplified. What is important to note is that this statement does not highlight what Inc. or Home Made Simple are selling, but instead focuses on what each company stands for. Your company's mission statement should be on every content creator’s mind when writing, but also shared and embraced throughout the entire company (we already know this though, right?).
Content Marketing Tip #3: Don’t Build a Content Ship on Rented Land
This Pulizzi point is really focused on subscribers as the most important means of evaluating if your strategy is working or not.
Pulizzi has found this to be the most important metric to analyze, and is baffled by why people hone in on traffic to the site over these loyal content consumers. In reality, even if your traffic to the site is high, it does not mean those visitors are returning anytime soon. A large chunk of them likely took an accidental turn off the wrong exit (think about how many sites you visit and never return to), but subscribers are the people you can actually communicate directly with and influence.
Once you have your subscriber base do some analysis to find what is so different between those who subscribe and those who don’t. For example, subscribers to thinkMoney trade 5X more than their other customers. Getting the right content to the right people is key!
Content Marketing Tip #4: Leverage Influencers That Build an Audience
This was my favorite Pulizzi point, and something that WordStream founder Larry Kim has drilled into my head time and time again.
Think of your influencers as the people, blogs, and sites where you target consumers are hanging out. What you need to do is jump in and steal that audience from these influencers and competitors. This sounds a bit scary, right? Well, there are several ways to get your content in front of your target audience without looking like a jerk.
Follow these steps to expand your content reach:
- Create an influencer hit list: Pulizzi provided this tip, and it makes sense. You need to know who you are targeting in order to be successful. For example, if you are selling running gear you would ideally want to be picked up by Active.com or RunnersWorld. Put yourself in the shoes of your target buyer and think about where they likely consume content online. Still struggling to build your list? Check out LittleBird, software that helps locate the people and content that matter most to your business.
- Utilize social media to build relationships with influencers: The great thing about social networks like Twitter and Facebook is that virtually everyone who is anyone is on them (including your audience and influencers).
Make online friends with some of your top industry influencers by tweeting out their content, liking their stuff, telling them how great they are, basically just some good, old schmoozing. If you do it enough they will eventually notice, likely follow you, and hopefully notice your awesome content and link out to it or incorporate it into their own content. This will lead to their audience finding you, and becoming a customer (in an ideal world)!
Here’s an example below of an article WordStream’s Customer Success Manager, Erin Sagin, tweeted linking to an influencer who guest blogged for Unbounce where a lot of our current customers (and future customers, we hope) hang out. solid advice, especially tip #4! Common #PPC Mistakes That Are Sending Crappy Leads to Your Landing Page http://t.co/YeRe3hGewD by @ebkendo— Erin Sagin (@erinsagin) October 6, 2014
- Bake influencers into your content: According to Kapost Content Marketing Manager, Liz O’Neill, for media publishers to succeed, “they need not only to produce great content, but cultivate a community of influencers.”
Do you see what I did there? I quoted someone who has the potential to share the love back. I can now tweet the article to Liz notifying her that she is quoted in my blog post. The likely output will be her retweeting the article to her followers (assuming many are marketers desperate for ideas to expand their reach - cough, cough, PPC → WordStream Advisor). The path might not be that direct, but it is an easy way to spread your content to a relevant audience.
Content Marketing Tip #5: Open Up Your Wallet
Alright Pulizzi, not all of us are rolling in dough. But, being in the paid search industry, I have to agree that throwing down some greenbacks is important when it comes to reaching your audience. The world (especially the web) is cluttered with content and marketers can no longer rely on just well-written blog posts or SEO best practices.
Let’s use Facebook as an example. I can still remember the day when building a presence on Facebook just required creating a company page, posting on a regular basis, and promoting through your site or other channels to gain followers. Now, if you are not paying Facebook to advertise, the likelihood of someone stumbling upon your page is pretty much non-existent. Even if you are paying your reach can be fairly limited. Pulizzi highlighted the importance of distribution, which he stated should be 50% of your content marketing strategy.
So where should you spend your money? This of course depends on where your audience is hanging out, but here are a few place to start:
- Google AdWords: I’d be willing to wager that your audience searches on Google like the rest of the world, so getting started with paid search is probably a good idea. The issue is staying relevant and targeting your industry niche. Make sure to do your research and actually learn PPC, or you may as well toss your budget into a dumpster. Check out WordStream’s PPC University to get started.
- Social media: Each platform is different. For example, Pinterest might not be the best option for an accounting firm, but it would probably knock it out of the park for a cooking or home decor magazine. Check out Social Media Examiner’s resource guide to determine where to start.
- Bing: Shockingly enough, Bing Ads are responsible for approximately 30% of search engine share, according to recent comScore data (this includes searches through Microsoft and Yahoo sites). There are several advantages to advertising on Bing, including typically less competition and therefore less spend, but I always recommend creating a strong account structure in AdWords and running a few successful campaigns before hoping on the Bing bandwagon. Bing is not going to work for every industry, but it can work wonders and is worth trying if you need to widen your reach.
At the end of Pulizzi’s presentation, I felt like he did an above adequate job of sharing some helpful marketing wisdom in just an hour, but I hope expanding on his points and adding a touch of my opinion and recommendations will help you push your content marketing to the next level.
Have you tried any of these content marketing tips? What are your thoughts on Joe Pulizzi’s 5 Elements? What distribution (paid or unpaid) have you found most successful?