Content Marketing Secrets from Joe Pulizzi

Photo provided by Joe Pulizzi
Photo provided by Joe Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi is the best-selling author of Content Inc., Killing Marketing, and Epic Content Marketing, which Fortune Magazine named a “must-read business book.” He is the founder of digital content news site The Tilt and the Content Marketing Institute, which he sold in 2016, and the host of the Content Inc podcast and This Old Marketing with Robert Rose.

In this episode of the Earned Media Podcast, Joe talks about the difference between enterprise marketers and content entrepreneurs, B2B content marketing, running a content marketing agency, the sustainability of the online influencer business, NFTs in loyalty marketing, crypto creator coins, and making indispensable content.

Content Marketing Institute vs Tilt

The Content Marketing Institute is for enterprise marketers. But his latest endeavor, The Tilt, is an email newsletter for content creators who want to become content entrepreneurs. Enterprise marketers start with a product or service. Content entrepreneurs start by building an audience first. “It is a completely backwards model from what we’re used to, which is, ‘Oh, I’m gonna start a company; oh, let’s go out and actually create a product,’” says Joe. “Now, we’re actually going out and saying, ‘Okay, let’s build that audience. And then once we build that loyal audience, we can sell them whatever we want.’”

He identified two critical mistakes content creators make. For starters, they don’t have a content tilt, an area or field of true differentiation to set them apart from their competitors. “As a content creator, I have to say, to cut through all that clutter, I have to become the leading informational expert or entertainment provider for a particular niche,” Joe explains. “So you have to start small, you can always go larger, but you have to start really, really, really small. And most people don’t do that.”

The second major issue is consistency. Delivering consistently to an audience over an extended period of time helps you become a leading expert in your area of focus. But if you’re not differentiated, consistency isn’t enough. “Let’s really focus on different audience sectors, figure out what those audience desires are and their pain points, what keeps them up at night, what they’re challenged with, and let’s talk to those challenges over time. And then we’ll have something that we can build on.”

B2B Content Marketing Rubric

Joe says taking B2B content marketing seriously means becoming an online influencer. One example is electronics distributor Arrow Electronics: With over 3 million opt-in subscribers across 53 different publications, they are also the largest B2B media company in their industry. “The most innovative companies in the world are actually thinking a little bit bigger and saying, ‘Wow, I might not have to just sell our customers one thing, I could monetize our customers in seven, eight different ways,’” shares Joe. “I don’t think that a lot of marketers are thinking big enough.”

After years of talking to successful content marketers and content entrepreneurs, Joe figured out two key points about how they become successful.

The first involves disproving the notion that content marketers need to be on every platform and channel where their customers hang out. “What we found out with really successful content marketers and content entrepreneurs is that they focus on one platform, and they become great at it,” says Joe. “They’re the best podcaster in their industry, the best blogger, the best writer, the best event producer, the best Facebook group, best YouTuber, best Twitch streamer — whatever that is, they become the best.”

The second is that successful content marketers don’t pour all of their time and energy into just content creation. Instead, most of that goes into content promotion. In fact, Joe recommends allocating 25% of a given budget into content creation, and putting the remaining 75% into promotion. “What’s the use of you creating all of this content if nobody’s going to engage in it?” This is where influencers come in; integrating the right influencers on specific social platforms is an effective way to boost your content promotion.

That said, Joe doesn’t think that creating content for a social network is a sustainable business opportunity. “Let’s say you build a million subscribers on YouTube. Whose subscribers are those? They’re not yours, they’re YouTube’s. YouTube’s letting you borrow them,” Joe explains. “You’re building your platform on rented land.”

Content Marketing Tips: Getting the Content Creation Right

Joe has a few quick tips for getting your content marketing right. First, don’t be afraid to outsource. “If you have the [content marketing] expertise inside [your company], great. If you don’t, go ahead and outsource it. If you don’t like to do a certain task, absolutely outsource it.”

Joe also recommends keeping it simple, especially for businesses without a large marketing team. Whether it’s a weekly email update or daily Instagram posts, do whatever you feel can best help your customers with their needs. “You don’t have to be on LinkedIn, on Twitter, on Clubhouse, on Facebook… You can just pick one, and be great at it and just deliver value for a long period of time. That’s how we’re seeing small businesses succeed.”

To listen to my full interview with Joe about making your content indispensable, Bitcoin and NFTs, what to ask a content marketer to determine if they’re a good fit for your business, tools that small businesses should have in their content marketing stack, and more.

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