Content Marketing Mania – Q&A with Joe Pulizzi

I was lucky enough to catch up with Joe Pulizzi, author, speaker and founder of the Content Marketing Institute and known to many as @juntajoe  to talk all things content marketing.  Here are a few of Joe’s answers to some of my burning questions about content marketing today.

Q: Can you define content marketing? It is a term used by so many and has changed meaning along the way- let’s hear how you define it.

A: Content marketing is the creation of valuable, compelling and relevant content, developed consistently, to create a positive customer action. If it doesn’t maintain or change a behavior, it’s just content. To be content marketing, it has to help drive the business in some way.

Check out the definition from CMI

Q: How was content marketing evolved in the last few years in your opinion?

A: Just a few years ago, there were only a few channels available where consumers could get their information. Today, consumers are in complete control, with almost unlimited access to get the information they want to make the right buying decision. That means that brands need more than just advertising to survive…they need to develop valuable, relevant and compelling information on a consistent basis to get and keep attention (just like a media company does). Content marketing has been around for hundreds of years, but now brands are finally starting to take it seriously. If you trying to build a relationship with consumers, one in which they value you for more than just your products or services, great content is the next best thing.

Over the past few years, marketers have stopped asking “why” content marketing and are actively organizing their marketing around storytelling. Enterprise brands are in the long-term process of figuring out how they can think and act like media companies, but instead of selling advertising or content, they are trying to sell more products and/or services.

Q: What do you think is driving this evolution?

A: See above…consumers are in complete control. Since that’s the case, a little more advertising isn’t going to cut it. If we want to cut through the clutter and move our customers through the buying process, we need to develop best of breed content…not just better than the competition, but better than anything out there that can truly be useful for our customers and help solve their pain points.

Q: What makes for good content? Can anyone create it?

A: Anyone can create content, but not many brands can develop truly great content. Most brands are really good at talking about themselves, but not so great at talking about their customers’ pain points.

The #1 rule for effective content marketing is this – realize that your customers don’t care about our products, our services or anything about us in general…they care about themselves. So, we need to make sure our content is helpful and interesting, and sometimes even entertaining. That starts with a clear idea of the who (your customers) and the what (what keeps them up at night) and the why (why will this content help the customer…and will helping the customer in this way lead to positive actions on behalf of the company). Then we can decide what kind of stories we need to be telling and the where (what channels make the most sense for our content – where are our customers hanging out). It’s basically acting like a publisher, but instead of selling more ads or paid content, we are selling products and services at the end of the day (attracting or retaining customers).

Sadly, more companies don’t succeed at content marketing because they lack a true content strategy.

Q: How can marketers improve upon their “content creation” skills?

A: Hire great storytellers. Most marketers are not very good storytellers, so hire people who can come in and work with the experts in and around your company to help develop a sound content strategy.

Also, talk to the front lines…sales, customer service, etc. They hear customer problems all day, and you can solve them immediately and ongoing.

Q: Can you describe an effective content blueprint?

A: Well, Robert Rose and I did that in Managing Content Marketing ( Understand the who. Understand the buyer’s journey. Understand your content gaps. Develop Your Strategy. Fill the gaps with content. Determine the key channels. Have a clear focus on what success looks like.

Q: Does content drive thought-leadership or vice-versa?

A: If I under the question right, most likely both. Thought leadership is impossible without amazing and interesting content.

Q: Which B2B marketers are doing an excellent job in developing content?

A: Almost all the marketing automation companies get it…they get it because great content drives their product. I love what Kelly Services is doing. SAS and their editorial model is amazing. Openview Venture Partners employee blog is first rate. IBM and their research projects are the best of the best.

Q: What are you most looking forward to for Content Marketing World 2013?

A: I’m excited to hear Jonathan Mildenhall talk about how Coca-Cola is shifting their marketing from creative excellence to content excellence. Outside of that, the lineup will be the best ever. We are working through speaker submissions and our “want” list now…I don’t think there has ever been a group of content experts on the planet in one place like we’ll have at CMWorld 2013. Very exciting indeed.

Q: Any predictions for 2013 as it relates to marketing and content?

A: Over the past few years, we’ve seen a few examples of brands buying media companies (i.e., Google buying Zagat). In 2013, you will see a major move in this area. When organizations honestly look at their content marketing strategy, senior executives will start asking the eternal “build it or buy it” question. That means that many media brands that have excellent readership and audience will start being approached by brands working to target those audiences…not for advertising opportunities, but to purchase the media company entirely.

If that’s not enough, here’s 100 more.

Visit Content Marketing Insitute today and start to follow Joe on Twitter. You can learn a lot – he is pretty awesome!

Author: Erika Goldwater @erikawg Director of Marketing, ANNUITAS

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