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Joe Pulizzi is a leading author, speaker and strategist for content marketing. Joe is first and foremost a content marketing evangelist, and founded the Content Marketing Institute (a division of Z Squared Media, a 2012 Inc 500 Company), which includes the largest in-person content marketing event, Content Marketing World, as well as Chief Content Officer magazine, the leading magazine for content marketers. Joe is co-author of Get Content Get Customers (McGraw-Hill), recognized as THE handbook for content marketing, as well as Managing Content Marketing: The Real-World Guide for Creating Passionate Subscribers to Your Brand.
Joe travels around North America and Europe talking to marketers and business owners about how they are indeed publishers, and what they need to do about it. He also writes one of the most popular content marketing blogs in the world and is overly passionate about the color orange.
Question: “Content marketing” has become one of those buzzwords that everyone talks about but very few people actually understand. How do you define content marketing?
Content marketing is the creation of valuable, compelling and relevant content, developed consistently, to create a positive customer action. If it doesn’t maintain or change a behavior, it’s just content. To be content marketing, it has to help drive the business in some way.
So basically, instead of talking about your products and services, which most people don’t care about, you clearly define your target audience – aka, your reader – and develop useful information to them on a consistent basis. Over time, you position yourself as a true expert resource. And when customers are ready to buy, they buy from you.
Question: What is the biggest content marketing mistake made by small and medium-sized businesses?
No plan. So many SMBs just start creating all kinds of content for blogs, social media and more without a clear idea of who they are writing for and what their story should be. Most SMBs still talk about themselves, which means they don’t understand how to create and develop a relationship with customers through content. If you develop a plan, and find your content marketing mission statement, like a publisher would, then you are half way there.
The second biggest mistake is short-term thinking. Content marketing is a marathon and not a sprint. Content is a promise to customers. In order to build trust, you have to consistently do it over and over until you ARE the expert.
Question: What are some of the most successful content marketing strategies you’ve seen?
So many. I love what Citrix did with workshifting. They named an industry – which is that a small business can function everywhere – and developed content on how to solve the pain points of those kinds of professionals. This is called a platform strategy. American Express Open Forum did the same thing.
Our company, the Content Marketing Institute, built relationships with influencers over years. 95% of the content on our site comes from those influencers, who then share out posts to their network, which drives more traffic back to our site. In two years, we were able to grow to more than 100,000 unique visitors per month and a multi-million dollar business. I’m telling you this example because we spent less than $50,000 making this happen. Any SMB can do this if they have patience and vision.
Question: The use of images in content marketing exploded in 2012 with the emergence of platforms like Pinterest and Instagram, while Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin became more focused on imagery. How do you see content marketing evolving in 2013?
Most organizations don’t need to be convinced about content marketing anymore. What they really want is a process and a framework for making it happen. I think, in 2013, more companies will start to evolve their content factories and integrate what they are doing with the rest of the organization, especially PR, sales and social media.
My big prediction is that SMBs, where it makes sense, will start to look at bloggers and media platforms to purchase. In other words, they’ll look at buying versus building. There’s a lot of opportunity in this area right now, in almost every industry.
Question: In 2013, mobile web browsing is expected to overtake desktop web browsing. What can content marketers do to make their content better suited to the mobile lifestyle?
This is easy. Make sure your website has a responsive design – meaning that the design adjusts to the smartphone or tablet format automatically. If SMBs did just that one thing in 2013, it would be huge. Most SMBs don’t do this out of simple ignorance. There is no excuse not to make this happen.
I just read a stat that approximately 50% of all e-newsletter content on Black Friday was opened on a mobile device. We are getting to a point where consumers expect their mobile content to be completely readable on a smartphone. It’s the one device they have with them all day long as well. So be sure your email communications reads well on smartphones. Using a reputable email delivery service will help with that.
If your website renders as the desktop site and not a mobile-ready site, you can pretty much kiss that customer goodbye. Consumers have no patience to pinch and zoom or navigate a website on a smartphone today. Consumers expect more today because we are not competing against our industry competitors. We are competing against Google and Amazon.
Readers, what content marketing strategies are working or not working for you?