March 14, 2014
Two years ago, I interviewed Joe Pulizzi, the godfather of content marketing, for a piece I was writing for Conversionplanet, a digital content marketing publisher I helped launch. We discussed the keys to effective content marketing, and as the entire publishing industry is seemingly “going native,” I decided to dig up the piece. Our conclusions are evergreen, and I hope content marketing newcomers will consider these pointers before moving forward.
Content Marketing Institute Founder Joe Pulizzi’s long-time passion for the industry stems from a belief that companies’ marketing can be truly valuable to their consumers. “We are trying to get brands to think they can market towards a higher purpose—the needs of their customers,” he explains.
These days, most marketers understand the importance of content. “Companies are starting to look and feel more like publishing houses,” says Pulizzi. “Lately, there are hardly any differences between brands and publishing companies, except in how they make their money.”
But not all content is created equal. “There’s a separation between companies doing content just because they feel like they have to, and people who are really filling a void,” he cautions. And readers can tell the difference. To help ensure you create content your customers will truly trust and value, follow Pulizzi’s five tips.
1. Focus on a “core customer pain point”
Identify your audience’s problem, then try to solve it with quality information. “Think about what keeps your customers up at night. That is probably the core of your story platform. That pain point will be what you address in your content. Your first step is to figure out the interaction between your business’ purpose and your customers’ pain point,” says Pulizzi.
2. Do a content audit
“Right now, it is a real nightmare between email, PR, blogs, social media… everyone is doing content, and everyone wants to own the process. Companies are even bringing in former managing editors to be their chief content offices to manage that complex process,” he explains.
After you understand which facets of your organization are producing content, consider the type of materials they are creating. “Most of the content you are doing is probably about yourself and your customers don’t care,” cautions Pulizzi. “Most companies have plenty of literature for right before someone is going to make a buying decision. They provide comparisons, explain benefits and features, etc., but they have no content for the messy middle. You need more content there! And once someone becomes a customer, how do you move them into the up-sell/cross-sell/brand evangelist phase? Make sure you are using the right content for all the different parts of the buying cycle.”
3. Create your buying persona
This is particularly important if you have different people creating content. Pulizzi stresses the importance of the Chief Story Teller role. “In smaller companies, it may be the CEO, in larger organizations a VP or CMO, but regardless—the Chief Story Teller is critical for every sized company.”
4. Don’t become too channel focused
Pulizzi acknowledges the pressure many feel to utilize every single available platform, from Pinterest to Twitter, but brand managers should focus on quality, not quantity. “Ask yourself, what positive measure will this channel have? Everyone is so focused on channels when they should be thinking, ‘What can I be the best in the world at?’”
5. Consider outsourcing
“I am a big believer in outsourcing. More than 50 percent of companies we surveyed will outsource some portion of their content marketing process. There are some very talented people out there that you are not going to hire on staff, but who could give you really good insight. Any company that is not looking at outsourcing as an option is missing out,” he explains.
For the latest content marketing news, check out http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/
By Jacqueline Lisk