Joe Pulizzi has a content marketer’s view of digital history.
“First there was the website,” he told the audience during his session, “Content First, Product Second,” at Adobe Summit Tuesday. “And marketers saw this as infinite storage where they could stick their stuff and have people read it. Then came social media, another place to put all that company and product and services information.”
And they put it there. But nobody cared.
Pulizzi, the founder of the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and godfather of the discipline, pulls no punches when telling marketers what they are doing wrong.
“Ninety percent of content created in mid- and large-size enterprises is about the company,” he explained. “And despite the explosion of new and different channels, customers can ignore you at will—and they are.”
This is why, according to CMI research, content marketers are reporting a 30% success rate. “That’s because most of the content out there is brand talk and campaigns with no clear goals. Marketers still treat content like advertising,” he concluded.
In other words, brands talk too much about themselves with no strategy.
Not to be one just to criticize, Pulizzi spent the remaining 40 minutes explaining to the audience what they can do to get content marketing right.
• First, find your sweet spot: What are you an authority in that you can communicate knowledge about to your audience? What pain point can you help your customers with?
• Do the content tilt: Everyone stops at the sweet spot, Pulizzi said, so find the story that will differentiate your brand—and go for it. This can be summed up in a mission statement, which should include your core target, what you will deliver, and what the outcome will be for your audience.
• Build the base: “Your base consists of having a certain content type, a main platform, a consistent delivery schedule, and doing all this for a long period of time—12 to 18 months, at least,” Pulizzi said.
• Harvest the audience: Pulizzi is a lover of email, which he sees as important content for customers without a gate. “You start with subscribers who want your content,” he explained, “and the leads come from them rather than the other way around.” You have to have an excellent newsletter and some exchange of value for all of this to work.
• Diversification: Once you establish the audience, Pulizzi said, you can diversify “the way all media companies do.” That means, say, starting with a blog, then adding events, maybe a magazine, then consulting, etc. But don’t try to do it all at once—“a little at a time,” he advised.
• Monetization: This can include ads/sponsorships, increased product sales, more loyal customers, data, events, cost savings, etc.
In the end, Pulizzi said, “it’s all about how can we make a better customer? And no matter what, you have to create value for the audience before you can extract value.”