If you are part of the online marketing or content marketing industry you have undoubtably heard of Joe Pulizzi and his company the Content Marketing Institute (CMI). Joe has been a member of the content marketing community for over a decade, and has made it his mission to help brands create quality content and distribute that content through multiple online channels. This was my first time seeing Joe speak and he made it a great interactive experience, and was of course wearing his trademark Orange.
I enjoyed the history that Joe shared with the audience as well as his practical tactical tips that can be implemented by an organization of any size. However, I think the true takeaway is determining a way to differentiate yourself from your peers and your competition.
A Brief History of Content Marketing
Content marketing is not a new concept. In fact, one of the first slides in his presentation showed a newsletter from 1931 published by John Deere. Their print publication the “Furrow” was created as a way to educate their customers about their products and services, and provided a way to solve some of the common technology issues that they were facing. One quote from Joe that stuck out in my mind during the presentation was:
“From the days of cave men writing on the walls, brands have been creating stories to sell their product and form a connection.”
The Barriers to Entry are Gone
The issues that our content marketing forefathers faced are far different than those we face today. The barriers to entry or our ability to get in front of potential customers is no longer a hurdle. Where are we now?
- Content Acceptance: prospects and customers can accept a piece of content online within 3 seconds.
- Talent: Journalists that would have previously worked as editors or writers for major publications have now shifted to the brand side.
- Technology: We can now execute a content strategy that will not cost an extravagant amount of money to distribute. Often times the technology we use is at no charge.
Pulizzi stressed that we must do what we can to make a difference for our audience. But how can we accomplish this seemingly difficult task? Through storytelling! A well-formed story is an essential part of an online marketing strategy. If you are trying to figure out why you aren’t having much interaction, it’s probably because you don’t have compelling stories. Online tactics including search engine optimization, lead generation, and social media should al be focused around telling a compelling story to engage your audience. After all, we know that facts tell and stories sell!
One of the examples shared was that of Coca-Cola. The brand has recently released a series of videos that provide their take on the future of content marketing and more specifically the importance of storytelling.
If you’re interested you can find links to the videos below:
Six Characteristics That Separate the Good to Great Content Marketers
#1 – The focused Non-Sales Content Mission and Platform
People do not want to be constantly bombarded with sales material. If you are in a competitive industry (which lets face it most of us are) try to find a super niche way to attract your customers. Create content that is not sales focused but customer centric.
#2 – Opening up New Content/Media markets
Create content that doesn’t pitch your product but focuses on what the audience wants to know. Try experimenting with different types of content.
#3 – The Chief Storyteller
We are seeing great brands that are hiring people to tell some great storytelling. Many teams are now made up of managing editors, content producers, chief listening officers, and content creators.
#4 – Leveraging Employees in Content Creation
By encouraging they participation of your employees in content creation you can accomplish a few things. First off content creation on a regular basis will continue to educate your employees on the industry and provide them with increased exposure online as an advocate for your brand. Secondly you can eliminate the need to hire a content creation team all at once.
#5 – Removing Your Brand From the Story
Joe said that someone once told him “your story travels further the less you mention your brand.” Therefore, the more you provide quality content that is relevant to your readers the more likely they are to read and share that information.
#6 – Building the Influencer or Customer Community (a focus on referral traffic)
Search is still very relevant but we are seeing the switch to increased referral based business. If you have an influencer ripe for you on your site and they share with their network and that will in turn send even more people back to your site.
Key Takeaways: Social Media 4-1-1 From the Content Marketing Institute
Content Marketing Mix: For every 6 posts shared on Twitter or Facebook CMI follows the following formula:
- 4 shares of other influencers/company content
- 1 original piece of CMI content
- 1 sales pitch
Make It Easy to Share: Have you ever wanted to share an article and spent more time looking for the social share buttons than you did actually reading the content? Place your social sharing buttons in a visible place that makes it easier for your audience to share your content with their network.
Start Small: If you focus on creating a lot of content versus quality content it will hurt your brand. If you believe that it is more realistic to post great content once a week you will be far better off than posting mediocre content five times a week.