Finding Business Success Through Content Marketing | Joe Pulizzi | AQ’s Blog & Grill

Finding Business Success Through Content Marketing | Joe Pulizzi | AQ’s Blog & Grill

Hi everybody and welcome to AQ’s Blog & Grill. Today we have the godfather of content marketing with us, Joe Pulizzi, and
Joe, I’m serious, this guy has set up the Content Marketing Institute. He lives, if
you can believe it, in Cleveland, Ohio and are there still any sports teams in Cleveland, Joe? Oh, the basketball guys right LeBron something or other yeah. But
football no. Pro football left Cleveland twenty years ago and never came back. But in any case Joe is an author. He’s an entrepreneur. He is a really smart guy
and we’re really pleased to have Joe here today. He’s just finished a new book,
a new bestseller called “Content Inc.” Thanks for joining us Joe. It’s great to be here and
you’re right about, you know, I’m a Browns season ticket holder so I can
vouch for the fact that I go there every Sunday and I haven’t seen a team play for quite a while. But we always hope for next year. Absolutely. Now Joe you had kind of an
interesting start into the whole content marketing field. You were working as an
executive at a publishing company, with two children and you decided that you were going to open your own business without a product. That’s
exactly right, yeah. I spent my first seven years at a company called Penton Media, largest independent business-to-business publisher, and I ran the custom media or content marketing unit so we would help big business-to-business
brands understand how to tell better stories through magazines, newsletters,
webinars, and then into social media and whatnot. But I always had this itch
that I wanted to start my own business and you know launched the business in 2007 – and good timing economically by the way. Yeah, the first couple years, I gotta tell you,
were tough, as you would probably imagine. But basically the first two
years all we were doing was building an audience. We were targeting enterprise
marketers who had an interest in content and how to distribute that content, social media search and whatnot. And I was blogging every day trying to
build an audience to that. And we didn’t have a product that was working until we
got to about 10,000 e-mail subscribers and then it all changed as we decided
to start launching our products based on what our audience’s needs were. And so
this whole business model evolved where hey, we might have something here where if you actually build an audience and you understand them better than anyone else
and they know, like and trust you then you can start to launch products and services against
that. And of course that’s what “Content Inc.” the new book is about. We’ve got dozens and dozens of case studies from all across the world that talk about the same thing.
Yeah and you’ve been named for several years by “Inc. Magazine” and
“Entrepreneur Magazine” as being one of the fastest-growing media companies in
North America. Yeah, you know it’s interesting ever since the first couple
years, as you noted, it was a little tough with the Great Recession but you know once we
came out of that in 2010, you know content marketing really became a thing. Maybe
we had a little bit to do with that. But it’s just amazing how many of these
marketers wanted to get together so we put on events. They needed more training
so we had training. And in our magazine we do all kinds of things like a media company
would do. And it’s been, you know, obviously it’s worked out fairly well. But it’s
amazing. I guess the whole point is once you build an audience that knows, likes and
trusts you, I firmly believe that you can actually sell them whatever you want. Because they do trust you. Obviously you don’t want to hurt that trust. You want to launch things that make sense to them and what they ask for, but we just kept going
back to our audience and they just keep telling us here’s what we need. And we
kept launching those products and services for them. That’s excellent. Now
in one of your first chapters you mention, it is in the first chapter, you
mention reading Stephen Covey and Napoleon Hill and that it was a very
positive kind of influence on you. Can you share why those two guys in
particular were important to you? Well, you know, Stephen Covey, “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill, Grant Cardone and “The 10X Rule”, for me as an entrepreneur
those three books were super important because it got me to formulate my daily
practice of actually writing down all my goals in
particular areas like what are my career goals, family goals, philanthropic goals. Writing those down actually in a notebook and I have it right over here, and then reviewing those on a daily basis. And the important point about the first chapter of the book is this whole thing
about building an audience and having a successful business is not going to
work for you unless you have your goals straight and what’s important in your
life. So that’s why I put that as the first chapter in the book because I want
people to read this and say look what’s what’s your passion? What’s important to
you? Let’s focus on that first and then we’ll get into the business stuff. Yeah. Good stuff. I’ve just recently read
the book. I really enjoyed it and it is great how you did engineer a journey through right til the last chapter. I was learning stuff as I went along and I’m pretty
much a know-it-all. Anybody disagree with that? I don’t hear anybody. No? Alright. What’s interesting about that is that we just went to all these
successful businesses out there that did build an audience first and we
said well how did they become these multimillionaires? How did they become really successful businesses? And we just reverse-engineered it. You say engineer, we reverse-engineered it and we said they all followed the same six steps and I think that’s what was interesting because most of us
start out as this happy accident, I mean even with me. It was a happy accident. But did we really know what we were doing? We had an idea but we didn’t have a model to follow. Now we have a model to follow because they all did the same six steps. And I think that’s what’s so great about it. And you emphasize those six steps throughout the book and I think that’s another really valuable
thing because now I can go back and look at a specific section that I feel I need
some help with. Now where I could use some help and maybe some of our viewers
could use some help is on the content tilt and making yourself different and differentiated. Can you explain a little bit about that process?
So step 2 and you picked out a good one because that’s the most important
area. And it’s the whole idea of I’m creating all this content but am I telling a
different story? And I just did a workshop for a bunch of small businesses. There were about 50 of them in the room and I said look let’s just stop right here. You’re all creating e-mail
newsletters. You’re all doing social media. You’re creating all kinds of content. Are
you really telling a differentiated story? None of them were. They actually admitted to me. No, we’re
not. We’re creating content that’s just like everything else out there and that’s 99%
of businesses out there. You’re never going to cut through the clutter. So
the idea with the content tilt is how do I give myself a fighter’s chance to
actually break through all that clutter out there and tell something that’s
really, really different? How am I looking at that content in a different way? And
that means a couple different things. First of all really focusing on the core
audience. If you’re creating content for more than one audience at a time you’re not going to be successful. It’s not going to work. You’re going to be
irrelevant because you’ve got to water it down to make it relevant for everyone. And then what is that content niche that you’re focusing on and I like to look at it
this way: Are you really focusing on an area where you could be the leading
informational expert in the world in that particular content niche? If not, you’ve got a problem. So if you said let’s say pet supplies, for example. Let’s say I’m a pet supplies company, I’m going to do a blog on pet supplies. I’m gonna say well I think some
little companies like Petco and PetSmart with billion-dollar budgets are going to not give you a chance to break through the clutter. What if you were a
pet supplies company that targeted pet owners, specifically dog owners, who like to travel with their pets in recreational vehicles in an area like say southeast Florida. You’re going to say “Is that niche?” I’m going to say no that’s right. That’s what we have to do
to focus on that because if you go broad you’ll never be able to break
through. You have to go really small to go big. And I guess that leads somewhat back to your job at the publisher which was the custom publishing which has the flavor
of narrowcasting to a very specific group who actually think it’s relevant
to them. We can’t afford not to be super targeted with our information today.
As you know, every day how many blogs? Probably since we’ve been
talking there’s probably a thousand million blog posts that are out there,
another ten million videos. I don’t know how many. It’s crazy. So how are we going to cut through all that clutter? You’d better really focus on what the audience’s pain points are, what’s keeping them up at night and you have to solve that better than anyone else and because there’s all this going on, you’ve really got to get focused and I think that’s where most large businesses or small
businesses they just try to go broad and they think oh, okay, I don’t want to leave myself out of opportunities and I want to create a bigger audience, but you can’t dominate any area because it’s just so watered down it’ll never work. Now, Chapter 17 is on social media
integration and you chose a quote which I think certainly resonated with me and I think other people who want to really do good content marketing and
that is a quote from Simon Mainwaring who is the “We First” branding guy and you say
social media is not about the exploitation of technology but service
to the community which to me just seems so important and then you go on to talk
about it in seventeen so what was your inspiration there? Well that quote really sums up the entire chapter well because in that chapter we talk about how can you serve your audience? I mean basically you want to be a
utility. You want to be useful. It’s never about you. So we’ve talked about in one of the exercises in the book about this 411 mentality and that means let’s say
that you’re posting something on Twitter. So for every six tweets that you send
out 411, one can be something about your products and services, one can be your content, your blog post,
your amazing podcast, whatever the case is. And then of the four of those that’s four people’s information that you’re sharing, that you’re actually building a community, that they’re sharing something relevant to your
audience, but you’re really being inclusive. And that’s how you build these
relationships, these networks that really work well. And I think if you’re just sharing stuff
that’s from you all the time or you’re talking about your products and services,
it’s not gonna work. Nobody cares. Nobody cares about our stuff. They only care
about themselves so you better be solving those pain points in everything you do. Yeah, what’s the old line that the people are tuned into the most popular radio
station in the world which is WIIFM – What’s in it for me? Which doesn’t make them selfish or self-centred. It just makes them self-enlightened. And they know how much time they have. That’s everything, right? I mean that’s
why most content breaks down that we send out as
businessess because we want to share our stuff about our products and services but because consumers can ignore us at will, you have to create something they care about. So if it’s
about your products and services they don’t care about, you’re going to be ignored. Okay so Joe what’s the difference in your mind between social media and content marketing. Is there a split between those things? Are they together? Social media, don’t get me wrong, can be great. You can set up listening posts there. It’s great for
research, but if you don’t have a content marketing strategy that focuses on a
particular audience that actually adds value, what are you going to put in
through the pipes of social media? Social media doesn’t work without having
something substantive to say. That’s the problem, let’s say you know when I was
around for this, 2005 to 2009, like the big heyday as social media started to grow. Everyone was focused on the pipes but nobody focused on what went into those pipes. Now they’re all coming back saying oh my gosh we actually have to have something important to say. The
pipes don’t work unless you have something in them. Good show. Well you know Gary Vaynerchuk’s been on the show and Gary said something very wise and blustery of
course which is if content is king, context is God. Well I can’t disagree with anything Gary says. It won’t do us any good. He would say it much more excited than I was and I’m sure he had his hands going up. But you’re right. Content without reaching the right person at the right time, in the right situation doesn’t make any sense at all. So that’s what we have to really focus on. That’s why if you really focus everything on building audience and really serving that audience it’s gotta be much better than
starting out with I’ve gotta sell more widgets. How do I use content to do that? Really what we have to say who’s our audience and how do we serve that audience? And then maybe if we do that really well they’ll be open to our products and services. Now you did a blog post recently on predictions for 2016 and and content
marketing. It was the CMI 40+ post. And you predicted three things
before you opened it up to the other experts. Do you remember what
those three things were that you were forecasting for 2016? Let’s see. I think
one was we are going to be more on quality and less on quantity but the other one I know for sure, I’ve forgotten the other one, is I really think there’s
going to be a trend that brands start buying media companies and blogging sites. Yes. And I really think that over the next two to five years we are all going to be surprised except for
you and I who are talking about it right now, they’re going to be surprised that all
these media companies are going to start to get bought in by non-media companies and it’s going to happen whether we like it or not. I’m not saying it’s good or bad. I’m just saying it’s going to happen. And the whole idea of native advertising is just going to become bigger. I’m not sure it’s going to become better. Well if I’m looking at native advertising and I’m a brand that might buy some, I’m looking all in. I’m saying oh
my gosh I’ve got these media companies that are opening up their gates. They’ve
never offered these things before. I mean we went from zero to 75% of publishers
offering native advertising programs in the last five years. That’s amazing. Though from that standpoint? I’m a brand? I’m going to go all in. I’m going to try to steal their audience. I’m going to try
to get as much attention as I can on those platforms and in some cases – I feel
bad about this – but in some cases those media brands are really going to get hurt
because they’re not going to look at the quality of that content. Brands don’t care about what
happens to that media company, and it’s really, really going to hurt some of
those media brands. But if I’m a B2B or B2C company I’m looking at it as yes I should look into this, and if I’m a publisher I would be very wary to give up all my credibility
and say oh yeah sure Mr. or Mrs. Company you can come in and say whatever you want on
my platform. You have to look at it the way “Wall Street Journal” and “New York Times” have. They have very strict guidelines for their native advertising and if
you don’t and you’re a media company you’re going to be in trouble. Yeah, wow. So what’s next Joe? You’ve written “Content Inc.” This is fabulous. Thank you. But what’s next? Well I do have a goal to write a book
every two years. Okay. That’s book number four. So I’ve got to write a book in 2017. It’ll probably be my first fiction novel. Wow. I’ve already started working on it. And I want to do something different from that end. But honestly my work is not
done. I travel about 120, 130 days a year and basically I’m speaking to crowds all about content marketing and because the success rate, the effectiveness rate for content marketing is still extremely low I’ve got a lot of work to do. It’s obviously not working. I’ve got to keep getting out there and talking to marketers about what they need to do a little better so
hopefully they’ll read the book and they’ll listen and whatever because I feel bad
that so many companies are doing this and they’re not finding success. I think there is a right way to do it but they’re just not getting that information yet. Well, you’re a tremendous evangelist for good content marketing so thank you and I know you
put on a great conference in Cleveland once a year – hey it’s Toronto or Cleveland. Believe it or not – Cleveland, Ohio. It will be our sixth year in Cleveland. Content Marketing World, September 6-9. We’re expecting over 4,000 this year. It gets such rave reviews and you have great speakers and really great content so I’m looking forward to attending this coming September. So Joe thank you very much for joining us today
on AQ’s Blog & Grill. Folks, listeners, viewers, get out there, buy this
book. I bought it on my Kindle and I have the hard copy because I like to write in the
margins. So Joe thanks again. Perhaps we’ll talk to you soon. Wonderful, thank you so much. I appreciate it. Please drop by and see us again at AQ’s Blog & Grill where we have more great guests coming your way. AQ’s Blog & Grill

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