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Content marketing: History and how-to from Joe Pulizzi

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Joe Pulizzi at the 2014 Widen Summit

Last month at the annual Widen User Summit, we were lucky to have content marketing evangelist Joe Pulizzi as a keynote speaker. Pulizzi is founder of the Content Marketing Institute and author of three books, including the recent “Epic Content Marketing”. Having Pulizzi at the summit was part of showing how digital asset management is a key part of marketing technology.

His talk, “The Evolution of Content: 5 Elements to Consider”, launched with a short history on content marketing, delved in the importance of documenting a strategy, and covered five elements you should consider in crafting your content marketing strategy.

Content marketing, explained Pulizzi, started long before the digital age. He invoked comedian George Carlin, saying, “People hoard stuff. We get so much stuff, we need houses to put stuff in. We’re just collecting stuff”.

Digital content parallels the hoarding of material “stuff”. The internet provided a place for unlimited information. With the rise of social media, marketers and sales teams had more places for their stuff.

In the ecosphere of so much stuff, though, it’s easy for your content to get lost. That’s where content marketing comes in, as a way to get your content to the people who want it.

Pulizzi defines content marketing as creating valuable, relevant, compelling information on a consistent basis in order to maintain or change some kind of behavior. In his opinion, most organizations fail in content marketing because they need consistency. Consistency can be multiple times a day or week; it’s up to you and your company. 

Even with the best content, you need strategy. According to Pulizzi, the best content marketers 

  1. Have a documented content marketing strategy,
  2. Post consistently,
  3. Look at metrics not web traffic, and
  4. Spend money on content.

The details of documenting strategy take us right into the five elements of a content marketing strategy. Here they are.

Sales, Savings, Sunshine. Why would you do a content marketing program? What is driving your content marketing when it comes to attracting and retaining customers? For every channel that you publish on, know your need: Are you looking to drive sales, save money by changing up an advertising model, or to make customers happy? “Create a why for each channel,” says Pulizzi. “Put a big WHY question mark at the top and list all the places you are creating content for. I want you to come up with the business reason about why.”
Create a content marketing mission statement. Every media company has an editorial statement, and as companies become publishers, it’s something that marketing teams need to think about. The heart of it is identifying how you can be of value to your audience. When you put your mission statement together, be specific about who your audience is, what kind of useful information you will deliver, and what the outcome is for each audience. 
Don’t build your content ship on rented land. Pulizzi cited that whatever you publish on Facebook is seen by less than 5% of your followers. This makes Facebook “rented land”. Instead of putting your killer content into someone else’s land, focus on the digital real estate you own like websites and blog. Subscribers, he says, are the holy grail of content marketing.
Leverage influencers to build an audience. According to Pulizzi, building a relationship with influencers is as easy as 4:1:1. What does that mean? It’s a breakdown for twitter posts. Six posts a day, one is a sales pitch, one is native content, and four are sharing other people’s tweets. Specifically, your influencers. You want their audience to be your audience, and building a relationship with them is a way to make their audience yours. At some point, they retweet your native content and your audience grows. Pulizzi swears by the 4:1:1 ratio. Let us know in the comments if you’ve tried it or have other tips for building an audience.
Open up your wallet! It might be time to look at your advertising budget and think about where you can use it differently. As businesses become media companies themselves, some are buying media companies and using the platform to promote their own content.

Pulizzi gave the audience a lot to think about it and gave explicit instructions on how to build your strategy. Have you tried any of these or have anything to add? Let us know in the comments!

For slides and video from Pulizzi's presentation, visit the User Summit archives.

Topics: Widen Summit, Marketing

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