Content Marketing Interview with Joe Pulizzi

March 31st, 2010 • By:  • Expert Interviews

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In last weeks expert interview, I spoke with Simon Kelly at Story Worldwide and when asked who everyone should be following he responded that among a couple of others, we should all be following Joe Pulizzi whom is a relatively well known speaker, author and content marketing evangelist dedicated to helping companies grow profits by creating content.

Joe speaks around the country about "Content as the Future of Marketing" to both marketing and publishing groups. Joe is also co-author of Get Content. Get Customers (with Newt Barrett), a hands-on book about how any small, medium or large business can attract and grow customers by smart usage of content (released Summer, 2008). Luckily, Joe, the founder of Junta42 was already Junta 42scheduled for the interview this week. His insights on the future of content strategy and marketing are below. 

Elise Redlin-Cook: I’d like to start by asking a general question or two..  We have always heard that content is king, but content strategy and development are truly gaining traction now.  What do you see happening over the next 2 or 3 years with respect to content strategies?
 
Joe Pulizzi: I believe that companies are starting to understand that they need to think more like publishers.  That means, instead of just focusing on content that is all about the brand, 25 x 25 twitter iconwe must focus most of our content energies on information that solves our customers’ pain points and challenges. That all comes back to content strategy.  
 
We are seeing it more and more – companies like Kodak, IBM and even small businesses are focusing on their brand story.  Content strategy now has a seat at the table, and becomes a crucial part of the entire marketing strategy.
 
25 x 25 twitter iconI’ve always believed this…advertising is a luxury.  Content is survival.  With buckets of content developed every day, our content better be the best, which means we better have an understanding of our content niche, the informational needs of our customers, when success happens and how to integrate content into the traditional marketing process.
 
Elise: When coming up with a content strategy, where do you go for inspiration?
 
Joe: That’s easy…my customers.  I use my listening posts via Twitter, Facebook, Google and a few other sites, but still love calling my customers to find out their pain points.  That’s where a lot of businesses go wrong.  When they talk to customers, they usually get in selling mode when they should be in asking mode.
 
Elise:  What are some of the best ways to maximize content curation and engagement with the audience? (voting/commenting/etc)
There are so many, but the best advice is to hang out where your customers are at.  Listen first, then get involved.  You’ll notice the best bloggers in the world seem everywhere at once.  That’s because they’ve identified the key places where they need to be involved.  
 
Elise: How can you integrate content across multiple channels when many brands are currently operating as silos around one product or channel?

Joe: It’s not easy.  I’ve seen the best cases work where one silo does what they can to integrate what they actually have control over.  Once that works, then that best practice can be shared across the rest of the country.
 
That aside, 25 x 25 twitter iconmost content marketing fails because the executives don’t believe in the strategy.  Get the executives on board as soon as possible…the rest is easy compared to that.
 
Elise: What team should own a brand’s content and social media strategy? Should it be Marketing, PR, Customer Service, Legal, or other?  Why?
 
Joe: It honestly doesn’t matter as long as that group has control over the brand story…but I believe it should be marketing.  The CMO should also be the chief content officer.  Marketing is responsible for maintaining and growing the business.  Customer service listens.  PR helps with the storytelling process.  Legal keeps us out trouble.  But marketing should drive it.
 
Elise: Is there an applicable methodology to creating viral content, or does it just happen?
 
Joe: Viral content happens with the consistent creation of valuable, relevant and compelling content.  I’ve rarely seen something go viral that was planned that way.  In most cases, first you have to build the base, consistently over time.  Then you hit a point where it may go viral.  Consistency is the key.
 
Elise: What affect does industry and niche have on a content strategy?
 
Joe: Industry doesn’t bother me, but niche is key.  When breaking out your content strategy, the more niche you can go the more successful you can be.  Better to have 5 niche strategies focused on particular customer segments than one trying to be all things to all people.  Won’t work.
 
Elise: Facebook seems to be growing to be almost as large or important as Google.  Is there a recommended content strategy for Facebook?

Joe: Depends.  Are your customers there and willing to engage with you?  Having a Facebook presence is a must.  But leveraging it as part of your content strategy?  That’s for each brand to figure out.  There are thousands of niche social media sites…just because Facebook is the biggest doesn’t mean that we should focus our content energy there.
 
Elise: So, weigh in… Is there such a thing as a “social media expert/guru?” If so, would they better be described as “content strategist” since Content is what often drives Social Media?
 
Joe: All I can say to this is that it’s almost impossible to be successful in social media without a content strategy.  Focus on whether you have something important to say before you insert yourself into the social media conversation. 
 
Elise: Since we are an SEO agency focused on building great links for clients, what have you found to be the most successful content strategy for gaining backlinks? Why?

Joe: On a tactical level, research is the best.  The content marketing research reports we’ve produced (like this one http://www.junta42.com/resources/content-marketing-spending-2010.aspx) have always been incredibly successful when it comes to link building.  25 x 25 twitter iconDevelop content that people truly need and the links take care of themselves.
 
Elise: What are the ethics in using something controversial to create buzz/links?

Joe: If it’s important for your customers to hear, then by all means talk about it.  If you are just saying something to get noticed, that usually backfires.
 
Elise: Who are the three people (or companies, organizations, etc.) that everyone should be following?

Joe: The three blogging sites where your customers are hanging out at and having conversations about your industry and your brand.

 
Elise: What would you tell a senior in college who will be graduating this Spring with a degree in journalism and really had their heart set on writing for a newspaper someday?

Joe: Wonderful.  Find a niche, be the leading expert in that niche, and watch things happen.  I would just say this…look for other revenue sources besides advertising to drive your business model.
 
Elise: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

Joe: Honestly, I love Cleveland, Ohio, where I live right now.  We are the ultimate underdog.  It truly is a beautiful place to live if you can make it through the winters.  No rush hour traffic, great neighborhoods, amazing springs and falls. The great part about being in the marketing/media business today is that you can live anywhere and be successful.
 
Elise: That’s really interesting. I’m actually from outside of Cleveland myself, but don’t miss that weather one bit! So, what was it that lead you to create Z squared media?
 
Joe: I thought I could make a greater impact on the world if I wasn’t working for someone else. Judging by the feedback I’ve received from Junta42 and the book, I think it’s working.
 
What did you enjoy most about our interview with Joe from Junta42? Anything you agree/disagree with?

 

Elise Redlin

Elise is the Content & Marketing Manager at Vertical Measures, an internet marketing company in sunny Arizona providing services ranging from content marketing, to social media marketing, link building, and advanced SEO. She’s fully immersed herself into the world of content marketing and content strategy and is the managing editor of this blog. +Elise Redlin

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