Analyze channels, goals, provide real information

by Kristi Ward

Joe Pulizzi
Joe Pulizzi

When a guru shares his top secrets, it’s best to listen, take notes and get all the information you can.

So when content marketing guru Joe Pulizzi shared his “Five Essentials to Epic Content Marketing for Business,” I listened attentively and scribbled furiously.

Afterwards, I clicked through his information-rich website, located his presentation on Slideshare and watched his speech in webinar form on YouTube in order to fill in the blanks and deliver this article about his June presentation to Lake Communicators and the Willoughby Western Lake County Chamber of Commerce.

The marketing communications professionals, chamber members and business owners in attendance also came in search of answers.

We all want our blog posts, e-zines, white papers, posts, pins and tweets to reach our audiences and produce meaningful, measurable results.

Thankfully, Pulizzi showed us how to pull the myriad of content and social media pieces/parts together into well-oiled content marketing machines that get results.

Why use content?

The “content” in content marketing is closely related to what you sell, but is used to educate people so that they know, like and trust you enough to buy from you.

Pulizzi shared a troubling fact: 90 percent of us use content marketing, but only 38 percent of us are finding success.

Only 38 percent?  The fact that only four out of 10 respondents find success with content marketing truly frustrates him.

So what are the successful 38 percent doing differently?

Effective content marketers (the 38 percent crowd) do two things:

Also, effective content marketers spend money on content marketing (and plan to spend more on content marketing within the next 12 months).

Here are Joe Pulizzi’s essentials for epic content marketing:

Epic Essential #1 – Get a plan. Write it down.

Pulizzi called it a documented content marketing strategy, which pushes us to get clear about why we’re doing content marketing. This plan also forces us to set up the proper goals for content marketing. He says our content should create sales, savings and sunshine.

Good content marketing goals:

Don’t get sidetracked by cute kitten videos. Constantly ask yourself, “Why are we doing this content marketing piece?” Your content marketing and social media should be driving sales, saving money or creating relationships.

Next, create a “why” for each channel

Why are you using Facebook? Pinterest? Twitter?  What is the business purpose of each activity?

Pulizzi advised us to put the business objective behind each channel, platform and activity. If you don’t know your business objective in using a certain channel, you shouldn’t be using it.

The average company utilizes between 13 and 15 channels or activities, so this exercise could take a while to complete. Pulizzi says you may need to cut some activities out so you can be focused and more impactful with your content marketing.

Epic Essential #2 – Create a Content Marketing Mission Statement (Think like the media)

What do media companies do with their content?

They certainly don’t think like salespeople when it comes to content. They think like editors.

When it comes to your organization’s content marketing, Pulizzi says you, too, should think like the media and begin with a solid editorial mission statement.

Start with these questions:

  1. Who is your core target audience? – Write with them in mind
  1. What will be delivered? – The content should be useful, relevant and helpful to this core audience
  1. What is the overall outcome or goal?

As you develop your content marketing pieces, don’t fall into the trap of trying to sell. Always think of your content marketing mission statement, making sure every piece is useful, helpful and/or relevant to your core target audience.

Pulizzi shared a case in point. Procter & Gamble created Homemade Simple to share organizational home tips and recipes. Their content marketing mission statement is “to enable women to have more quality time with their families.”

Pulizzi says we won’t find six-hour recipes at Homemade Simple because that wouldn’t fit with their content marketing mission statement. Homemade Simple provides tips and information that help women have more time with family, not more time in the kitchen.

He added that Homemade Simple has 5 million subscribers. They aren’t directly selling products in this forum. They focus on the audience, just like a media company. The products sell themselves through the content: tips, recipes and articles.

Epic Essential #3 — Don’t Build Your Content on Rented Land

Even though we spend time and money building our followers on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, we don’t own these contacts and we don’t have control over what content they see from us.

This is one of Pulizzi’s favorite essentials to talk about. He passionately encouraged us to not build the majority of our online presences on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ and other platforms.

Yes, we should continue to build our digital foot print with social media, but we must realize that these platforms can change the rules overnight.

This happened with Starbucks. They spent millions of dollars building up 36 million followers/likes on Facebook. Since Facebook changed its sharing algorithm, less than two percent will see their organic posts!  Facebook owns these connections, not Starbucks.

The main takeaways here:

Easier Metrics with Subscribers

Once you have a solid list of email subscribers, you’ll have a quick way to determine ROI on your content marketing. You can learn the difference between those who subscribe to your content and those who don’t. Joe says it’s as easy as comparing your email subscription list to your customer list. Do the subscribers buy more? Stay on your site longer?

Epic Essential #4 — Leverage Influencers, then Build an Audience

15-17 months. That’s the time it takes for the average company to build a content marketing audience.

A way to expedite this process is to involve fellow influencers in your field.

Pulizzi recommends that we create an influencer hit list, which is a listing of where your customers are hanging out on the web when they aren’t on your site.  You can glean this information from Clout, Google alerts or through Twitter hashtags. These influencers could be on media sites or association sites. They could also be your competitors.

Next, build relationships with these influencers to build your own subscriber list.

Pulizzi suggests using the 4-1-1 Formula for Tweets from Andrew Davis’ book Brandscaping.

For every six tweets you send out, use the 411 formula:

Pulizzi recommends following this 4-1-1 tweet formula for months at a time. This will get you on your influencer’s radar. Share their content. Mention them in tweets. They will certainly take notice and begin to mention you in their tweets and retweet your content, giving you more exposure to your target audience.

The next step to build relationships with influencers?

Pulizzi says to bake influencers into your content. Mention top influencers in your own downloadable materials. Include links to their content and website. Then let them know when you release that material or content. Chances are, they will share your material with their list. Again, this will give you more exposure to your target audience.

More ideas:

Epic Essential #5 — Open Up Your Wallet

Buy vs. build.

If you want to build your audience, it will take time and patience. Consider though, that your ideal audience may already be built and ready for purchase.

Pulizzi used the example of the failing JPG Magazine with 300,000 subscribers. Nobody wanted to buy the publication because it was too difficult to secure advertising. So a camera product company purchased JPG Magazine with the intention of using the subscriber list as a content marketing tool.  They continue to publish JPG Magazine with the same useful, relevant content. Now, they have a powerful vehicle to drive ideal customers to their photography products.

In closing, Joe Pulizzi’s Key Takeaways for Epic Content Marketing:

  1. Set your goals for sales, savings and sunshine
  2. Why are you using each channel?
  3. Focus on the reader’s outcome
  4. Don’t build your content ship on rented land
  5. Create a content marketing mission statement
  6. Focus on subscribers as a key metric
  7. Build an influencer list to build audience
  8. Bake influencers into your content
  9. Create an engine to get and keep subscribers
  10. Consider buying!

For more Content Marketing information, visit the following links:

Check out Joe Pulizzi’s website:

Watch Joe Pulizzi’s presentation (webinar) at this YouTube link:

Visit Joe Pulizzi on Slideshare at

See Joe Pulizzi in person and learn hands-on content marketing on Sep 8-11 at Content Marketing World, in Cleveland, OH.

About Joe Pulizzi: Joe Pulizzi began using the term “content marketing” back in 2001. He’s the founder of the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), the leading content marketing educational resource for enterprise brands, recognized as the fastest growing business media company by Inc. Magazine in 2013. CMI is responsible for producing Content Marketing World, the largest content marketing event in the world, as well as the leading content marketing magazine, Chief Content Officer. CMI also offers strategic consulting for enterprise brands such as AT&T, Petco, LinkedIn, SAP and many others. Joe is the winner of the 2014 John Caldwell Lifetime Achievement Award from the Content Council.

Joe not only writes one of the most influential content marketing blogs in the world, he writes a column for and LinkedIn. You can listen to his podcast, “This Old Marketing” and find him on Twitter @JoePulizzi. If you ever meet him in person, he’ll be wearing orange.

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