Content Marketing: An Interview with Industry Guru Joe Pulizzi

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I met Joe Pulizzi shortly after he published his first book, Get Content Get Customers. The company I was with did a two-day workshop with him to develop a content strategy in 2009. This was in the very beginning of what would become a content marketing revolution and eventually lead to the creation of the Content Marketing Institute.

When I had the opportunity to talk to Joe about his most recent book, Content, Inc., I was looking forward to the opportunity to get reacquainted—and wasn’t disappointed. Considered by many (myself included) to be the Godfather of content marketing, his latest book connects the dots for entrepreneurs so they can use content to build an audience and subsequently a successful business. He uses case studies and success stories to dispel some of the misconceptions around the discipline and share some of the common traits of those who have successfully leveraged content creation as part of their small business marketing.

Ty Kiisel: Hi Joe, I’d like to start by asking, why did you write this book?

Joe Pulizzi: It’s the result of a personal passion. A lot has changed since the early days of content marketing. Everyone that ran social media is coming back to look again at a real media model with all the changes that make it much more difficult to build an organic audience with Facebook and Google.

Ty: What do you mean by a real media model and how has that changed things?

Joe: People who thought all they needed to do was create a lot of content and they’d be successful have discovered there’s more to it than that. Content designed for social media isn’t working anymore like it once did. It’s all about creating substantive, quality content that is consistently delivered over the year.

Ty: “Quality” is such a subjective word, what do you mean by that?

Joe: Is your content trying to solve a customer’s pain? That’s really the way to build trust. Content designed to do well on social media is too superficial. Think in terms of substantive content that will look more like a 1200-word article instead of a 350-word post designed for social media. Consistency is the most important thing. Viral happens after 10,000 pieces of content. Writing the book I found a lot of people who were doing the same things we were—they all seemed to use the same model to build quality, relevant, content that spoke to their customer’s needs.

Ty: Were there any surprises?

Joe: Most people think they need to focus on spreading around content—not true. It isn’t very complicated; it’s really very simple. Use a publishing model on one platform for a long time. It’s basically Publishing 101.

Ty: How do you determine what platform is right for you and your business?

Joe: Where do you feel the most comfortable? Is it writing? Is it video or audio? Is it images? What’s the best way to tell the story? Some stories are better told with writing and others with video or something else. Don’t feel like you have to do it all—especially in the beginning.

Ty: How does a business owner get started?

Joe: The real successful companies in the book decided to integrate a content marketing approach into their business model. The idea of sharing information that would be beneficial to potential customers has become part of the way they do business. They focus on the things that meet their audience’s needs and become de facto experts within the marketplace. Because they have this type of relationship and dialog with their customers, their customers actually tell them what works.

Ty: What if you’re a business owner that doesn’t have the ability to write or otherwise produce content; do you get a hired gun?

Joe: I don’t think so. All the entrepreneurs we talk about in the book come from different backgrounds and different experiences. The important thing is to be authentic, listen to your customers, and tell the truth. It takes practice to get good at it—most people just aren’t willing to put in the work.

Content marketing has become a great way to connect with customers on a personal level to build a relationship and establish your business as a thought leader and expert in the market. If you’d like to know what other businesses, just like yours, are doing to make that happen, there’s nobody better than Joe Pulizzi to show you the way.