CMI’s Joe Pulizzi, Content Marketing Process – Audiences First

As I stood next to my fellow Tampa Bay AMA members and watched Joe Pulizzi write “Be Epic” in my newly published Content Inc. book, I thought… how appropriate.  Pulizzi, one of the world’s leading experts on content marketing presented at The University of Tampa’s Vaughn Center, framed by Tampa Bay and the Downtown Tampa skyline.  It was a memorable event shared by 200+ Tampa Bay marketers, many proudly wearing CMI’s ORANGE brand color.

Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute, which was recognized as the fastest growing business media company in 2014 by Inc. Magazine had just shared CMI’s content marketing process. He empowered Tampa Bay marketers to craft content that speaks uniquely to audiences and encourages marketers to “not rush” the process.  He emphasized that once loyalty is built with audiences, marketers can monetize their investment and eventually diversify profit streams. If you missed this event read on to glean some insights of CMI’s content marketing process:

Develop a Broad Content Perspective

In order to develop content that is relevant to audiences, it’s essential for marketers to gain a broad, comprehensive perspective of the vast content landscape and the strategies that are driving individual company successes.  Pulizzi  presented a Channel Explosion chart, which illustrated the staggering growth of channels over the past 25 years, from eight channels in 1990 to hundreds today.  Within this content landscape, content is developed to target audiences by media companies, as well as influencers equally.  Content spans from John Deere’s Furrow Magazine– which has catered to the needs of farmers since 1895 – to Ann Reardan, a content new-comer known as the Baking Queen of Sydney Australia who blogs about her over-the-top baking feats.  By having a broad content perspective, marketers can identify different content strategies inside and outside their category to see more accurately who they are in the mix.

Accept the Content Marketing “Road Ahead”

As a marketer, it’s important to set realistic expectations for team members and clients in terms of content marketing. It’s essential to embrace the reality of what lies ahead.  Success in the content marketing world does not happen overnight. Twelve to eighteen months is a realistic window to start gauging results and achievement in this marketing channel that only has a 30% success rate because many content providers are trying to do too much, too soon.  When evaluating content efforts, it’s best to focus on channels that offer the greatest potential returns.  Pulizzi shared that organic reach of Facebook isn’t what it used to be and that marketers can’t control social media platforms.  He noted that marketing content with social media is the equivalent of “building your home on rented land” because providers change algorithms to maximize THEIR PROFIT – not yours – so it’s best to focus on “owned” audiences like their Brand’s E-mail subscribers.

Work the CMI Content Marketing Process

The key to the CMI’s content marketing process is focusing on one audience at a time and having the patience to wait for the results.

Here is a topline summary of the steps of CMI’s content marketing process:

  1. DEVELOP THE SWEET SPOT: Content marketers must align their unique competency and what they are passionate about with their targeted audience. Pulizzi described the “sweet spot” as the solution to a consumer’s pain point or tapping into their passion. He gave John Deere’s Furrow Magazine as a time-tested example. Farmers will always want to know how to make their farms more productive, and the Furrow Magazine is seen an invaluable source of information on doing so. The key is that Deere focuses on helping farmers and not selling their products, which casts them in a light of advisor and partner instead of one of many farm equipment vendors.
  2. TILT YOUR CONTENT: Now take your content and give it a unique tilt within the content universe so your content will stand out. Pulizzi gave the example of a pet supplier who tailored their content to pet owners who travel with their pets. Ever try to give your dog a drink in the car? There’s a way to do it without making a mess.
  3. BUILD YOUR BASE: Choose your primary channel (blog, podcast, YouTube) and consistently provide content to your audience. *Remember you will not be switching it for the duration of the content marketing effort (12-18 months). Post the same day and time every week, and keep your word count the same as well. Consistency is the key in building an audience.
  4. HARVEST YOUR AUDIENCE: It’s all about building a loyal subscriber database. Focus on getting one-time visitors to return, and drive conversions to long-term subscribers via SEO and Social Media.
  5. DIVERSIFY: Build your business by expanding content efforts outside your primary channel, move from blogs to books to speaking engagements, but slowly and carefully.
  6. MONETIZE: Once your audience is built, content marketers can now promote products or services. Pulizzi shared how both Red Bull and Starbucks have generated diversified revenue streams from content marketing. For more details consult Joe’s book Content Inc. that was given out to AMA Tampa Bay members free of charge at the event, or order a copy from your favorite bookseller.

Re-evaluating your Content?

If you are currently writing content and questioning whether you are tracking with CMI’s content marketing approach, Pulizzi recommends that you, “Put it all out on a table. Ask the tough questions.  Are you consistent? Is your content unique and tailored specifically to your audience?”  He asserted that marketers should start from the beginning, looking at where their audience is hanging out on the web, who are their influencers and how you can tell a unique story that others will want to read and engage with.

Tampa Bay AMA would like to thank Joe Pulizzi for coming to Tampa for our August event, the great turnout of our members and guests, and the lovely venue provided by The University of Tampa College of Business.

Check the AMA Tampa Bay web site regularly for upcoming Keynote Luncheon, Workshop, SIG and Networking Events to help you “BE EPIC” in your passion for marketing. See you all soon!

Kathleen Rogers is a freelance writer for the local community newspaper, The Osprey Observer.  She has written a variety of blogs for the Tampa Bay AMA volunteer communications team over the last two years.  She enjoys writing research-driven content and interviews.