‘Godfather of Content Marketing’ Joe Pulizzi on Reaching Customers
If you are a marketer, chances are you know his bestselling books Killing Marketing, Content Inc. and Epic Content Marketing, which was named a “Must-Read Business Book” by Fortune.
If you’re a content marketer, you know him as the ‘Godfather of Content Marketing’ and the founder of the Content Marketing Institute (CMI). In 2014, he received the Content Council’s “Lifetime Achievement Award.” His latest book, The Will to Die, is his debut novel.
We caught up with Joe Pulizzi in anticipation of his March 3 visit to the Bay Area sponsored by Treasure Data. Joe will speak on How to Think About Content Marketing for The Next 10 Years at the Content Marketing Meetup in San Mateo. Register here to join us.
Treasure Data: You’ve written five books on content marketing. How has content marketing evolved since you first started defining this discipline? Where do you think it’s going?
Joe: When I first started in the content marketing industry, no one knew what it was. That was in 2000. Then, in 2011, it started to take off. People were buzzing about it. Everyone wanted to do it—but didn’t know how. So for the next five years we were evangelizing the practice—making sure people knew what it was, and how they could use it.
Then, sadly, a TON of companies were doing it, but in the wrong way. Not delivering consistently. Not truly delivering value. Not building an audience. Not integrating it with their marketing. Today, it’s all about getting down the basics. Creating a real CM strategy as part of the overall marketing strategy. Stopping the many things that aren’t working and focusing on being great at a few things in one or two channels.
I believe the most innovative companies will all have sound content marketing strategies, building audiences by delivering content that would stand up to ANY competitor, media or not, and driving multiple lines of revenue from it. Sadly, most companies won’t invest in it or be patient enough, and they will continue just advertising (which is fine) or go out of business.
Treasure Data: What do you wish all content marketers would do? And what do you wish they would stop doing?
Joe: I wish content marketers would do an analysis of ALL the content they are creating and figure out what to stop doing. Most of our content audits recommend stopping things, not starting them. Most companies are creating too much irrelevant content that is doing nothing for the business or the audience.
Treasure Data: What makes for good B2B storytelling?
Joe: Focus on a very specific audience. Be aware of the value you bring to the conversation as a brand. Understand the needs and necessary outcomes of that audience. Know that most decisions are made through the heart, and not the mind.
Treasure Data: Are there formats that you prefer or find more effective than others—blogs, books, infographics, video, podcasts?
Joe: There is no one right or wrong way, but my current preference is podcasting. Even though it’s blown up, there are still only 2 million podcasts. That’s nothing if you think about the number of companies creating blogs or videos or anything else. It’s also an affordable option (creation wise), so any company can start one.
Treasure Data: In the constantly changing world of marketing, what skills should content marketers master?
Joe: Please understand the business model behind content marketing. The value of creating a trusting audience and how, ultimately, the business can profit multiple ways from that relationship (not just sales of new products or services).
Treasure Data: What books shaped you as a writer and a marketer?
Joe: Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein. I guess I secretly always wanted to write a book that made an impact on the world like that…and covered so many important issues.
On Writing by Stephen King should be read by EVERY marketer and writer. It was so helpful.
IMC by Don and Heidi Schultz was the first real marketing book I dove into, and is pretty much still 100 percent relevant today. I actually just recommended it recently.
Treasure Data: You recently released The Will to Die, which is your debut novel. Was writing fiction something you always wanted to do? Did your background in content marketing shape your approach to writing this story? If so, how?
Joe: I didn’t see myself writing fiction until 2018. I wanted to write a book that my wife would actually read. Lucky for me, she liked it, so I decided to publish it. I’m blessed that it’s getting solid reviews.
The best thing content marketing taught me about writing fiction was to focus on the audience. I knew exactly who I was writing for at all times, and what I wanted the outcome to be. That makes it a ton easier. (It’s still REALLY hard to write fiction, though).
How Do You Market to Your Audience?
As Joe points out, knowing your audience or target market is the real key to any type of persuasion, sales, and conversions. And to get that knowledge, many top marketers—at companies as diverse as Subaru, Wish, and Shiseido—are using customer data platforms (CDPs) to improve marketing ROI. Find out if a CDP is right for your business, and learn how to choose one for your organization.
Meetup with Joe
Join Joe on Tuesday, March 3 in San Mateo for How to Think About Content Marketing for The Next 10 Years. Registration is free, but space is limited.
Joe Pulizzi is an author, podcaster, marketing speaker & entrepreneur. He has founded three companies, including the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), and has launched dozens of events, including Content Marketing World. His podcast series, This Old Marketing with CMI’s Robert Rose, has generated millions of downloads from over 150 countries. He is also the author of The Random Newsletter, delivered to thousands every two weeks. His Foundation, The Orange Effect, delivers speech therapy and technology services to children in over 25 states. You can follow Joe on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.