Joe Pulizzi is the founder and CEO of the Content Marketing Institute and the author of Content Inc.: How Entrepreneurs Use Content to Build Massive Audiences and Create Radically Successful Businesses. In this episode, Joe gives a recap of Content Marketing World and offers game-changing tips for health IT marketers to implement a powerful content marketing program in any size of organization.
Jared also has two new “hot minute” segments where he has 60 seconds to describe a marketing concept and tell why it matters to health IT marketers.
Air Date: September 23, 2015
Guest: Joe Pulizzi, founder and CEO of the Content Marketing Institute, author of Content Inc.: How Entrepreneurs Use Content to Build Massive Audiences and Create Radically Successful Businesses
|1:25||Thoughts from hosting #kareochat Twitter chat on healthcare podcasting
Find list of favorite podcasts here
|4:22||Introducing new segment – Hot Minutes|
|6:17||Hot Minute #1: #WeAreNotWaiting|
|8:09||Hot Minute #2: Airstrip Apple Watch App Sense4baby|
|10:08||Introduction of Cari McLean and HIMSS|
|12:16||What is the current state of HIT social media – what platforms and approaches are trending?|
|15:56||Social media video trends – shrinking attention spans|
|19:25||Is Facebook useful for B2B/health IT?|
|21:32||Google+ (adios), Periscope (jury’s still out), Instagram (fun, but does it tie to our core business objectives?)|
|25:14||Tips for health IT to stand out in social media (hint: be human and use emotion!)|
|27:29||Bonus question 1: What’s the best book you’ve read lately?|
|29:01||#IHeartHIT Campaign – Making health IT “human”|
|36:54||Tools and work hacks|
|43:59||Bonus question 2: If you could join a music group or band for a day, who would it be?|
In case you missed them, here are Joe’s 6 steps to building a Content Inc. business:
- Sweet Spot — Mixing a knowledge area or skill with a passion area
- Content Tilt — Looking at the traditional content niche defined as slightly off-center, to create a true differentiation area
- Building the Base — Consistent publishing in one core channel
- Harvesting Audience — Converting the publishing activity to the asset of subscribers
- Diversification — At the proper time, expanding the publishing process to additional channels
- Monetization — Monetizing the audience through the selection of products or services that will be the source of revenue and profit for the business
Joe Pulizzi is founder of Content Marketing Institute, the leading education and training organization for content marketing, which includes the largest in-person content marketing event in the world, Content Marketing World. Joe is the winner of the 2014 John Caldwell Lifetime Achievement Award from the Content Council. Joe’s fourth book Content Inc. was just released. His third book, Epic Content Marketing was named one of “Five Must Read Business Books of 2013” by Fortune Magazine. You can find Joe on Twitter @JoePulizzi. If you ever see Joe in person, he’ll be wearing orange.
Connect with Joe on Twitter.
Podcast home page and archive
Leave a review on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/health-it-marketer-podcast/id1033025131?mt=2
Share your comments here or on Twitter using #HITMarketerPodcast.
Jared Johnson: Hello, again, and welcome to the Health IT Marketer podcasts, the podcast for the heartbeat of healthcare. I’m your host, Jared Johnson of Ultera Digital. I’m coming to you again from the desert beauty of Phoenix, Arizona.
Thanks for being on board today and thanks for your contribution to moving healthcare forward. This, this very program that you are listening to at this very moment is the first and only podcast dedicated specifically to the health IT marketing community. Welcome aboard, come on in, the water’s fine.
And most importantly are you wondering if Phoenix, Arizona is truly a desert beauty? I myself before living here often had that question and I have the answer for you. You can simply Google this if you’ve never seen or heard of this. Google this term, Mexican bird of paradise. That’s right, Mexican bird of paradise.
Look that up and you tell me that with having those all around I can look out the window from where I am standing this very moment and see a Mexican bird of paradise. In fact, more than one. In fact, they are all over the desert beauty of Phoenix, Arizona. So you look that up and you tell me if you saw those colors all over the place. All times of year they bloom throughout the year and you let me know if this is not indeed a desert beauty.
My thought for the day before I get to our new segment that I debuted in last week’s episode. We have two new hot minute segments for today, which I’m thrilled to share with you and I’m even more delighted, tickled. No, there’s not really a word to describe how excited I am to have our guest this week, so I will save as much time as possible for our interview with our guest today. Our two quick hot minutes here actually both have to do a bit with the topic today of content marketing.
So with that I’m going to turn to our two hot minutes for the day. Again, this is a new segment that we just started last week on the program. The idea is this, I attempt to answer two things within 60 seconds. At the end of that 60 seconds a lovely little sound effect will go off and I have upgraded it since our last program, so let’s give this a shot, let’s see how it sounds.
So the classic alarm. I think it’s actually titled Alarm on the iPhone. Anyway, that very inevitable alarm will go off at the end of the 60 seconds and that will be the end of my chance to explain to you two things. First, what is this concept or thing that I’m talking about? And second, why should a health IT marketer care about it?
So today, I’m going to have two concepts for my two hot minutes that actually sound quite a like that are a bit different in their application. The first one is Minimum Viable Product or MVP for short. Minimum Viable Product, and it comes from Ryan Holiday’s book “Growth Hacker Marketing.”
For those of you who are not familiar with it, Ryan Holiday wrote this book in 2014. And having recently gone through it from cover to cover, finally, I’ve comprehended parts of it. I’ve heard it, quoted all over the place and to finally have gone through it cover to cover recently is pretty unbelievable and it is a game changer for sure. So this concept of Minimum Viable Product is the first one I want to do on our hot minute today, so our timer begins now.
Okay. So Minimum Viable Product or MVP, it’s basically an early version of your product. It allows you to collect meaningful data about your customers quickly and with little effort and it flies in the face of the thought of traditional marketers who think that the product has to be completely perfect to ship it at all and to get it in front of anybody.
So the idea is that early feedback will allow you to first off, understand who your customers are, figure out what their needs are and design a product that really will blow their minds, and realize that those are product decisions as well as marketing decisions. They’re not one or the other.
So the reason why this would be important to a health IT marketer is simply this, how often are we thinking that our product or our innovation that the idea is great but we’re not sure how to implement it, and so we’re taking so long because of regulatory or compliance concerns that we are just not getting them out the door and by then our entire industry has been disrupted. Can we go for an MVP and get that feedback that we need?
And with that the timer is up. That is the introduction to Minimum Viable Product, the growth hacker concept from “Growth Hacker Marketing.” And our second one here we’ll get right into it. Sounds very similar so you want to pay attention to understand what the difference is.
This is Minimum Viable Audience. The first one is the Minimum Viable Product, this is Minimum Viable Audience. This comes from Brian Clark who is a CEO of Copyblogger Media. It also happens to be part of the foreword to the book “Content Inc.” by Joe Pulizzi who happens to be our guest on the program today. So I felt it very appropriate for this to be our hot minute leading into our interview with Mr. Joe Pulizzi momentarily. So we will start our timer on Minimum Viable Audience now.
All right. In MVA or a Minimum Viable Audience, this is the point where our audience starts growing itself through social sharing and word of mouth. An MVA has to do with the audience and the following that you’re attempting to build by creating all the content that your organization is putting out there. This is what you want, you want to grow your audience first and then build your product around what you’ve learned from that audience.
So your MVA is the essential, the moment when the audience starts growing itself. When they’re sharing things and you’re able to get the feedback from them that helps you tweak your product or service that your audience actually wants to buy.
So an MVA is a key concept to your content marketing program. It’s a little backwards in what traditional marketers think. So for the health IT marketer it is very simple and we might not necessarily be in the habit of it as much as other industries, but it’s key. Build that audience and know exactly how big it needs to be to start being able to get feedback from that audience.
All right. Look at that. We are out of time again on our hot minute here. I hope you enjoy that segment of the program. Again, let me know what you think about that segment, if that’s long enough to help you understand the concept, or if you need a little bit more time, or if it’s just one of those things that needs to go.
I’m hoping you’ll be part of my Minimum Viable Audience and provide some feedback on that segment. You can do it so in a couple of different ways on Twitter at the #HITmarketerPodcast or at my handle Ultera Digital. A third way would actually be just to tweet me directly which I look at those 24/7 so I can get right back to you, that’s Jared Piano. It’s at J-A-R-E-D P-I-A-N-O, @JaredPiano.
All right. We are delighted. More than delighted. We’re very thrilled and honored to have with us our guest today on the program, the one, the only, Mr. Joe Pulizzi who is the founder of Content Marketing Institute, which is the leading education and training organization for content marketing. It includes the largest in person content marketing event in the world, Content Marketing World, which just wrapped up this past week, so I’m sure we’ll get some insights there.
Joe is the winner of the 2014 John Caldwell Lifetime Achievement Award from the Content Council. His most recent book “Content Inc.” just released on September 8th and besides that Joe is just a wonderful human being to speak with. He not only writes one of the most influential content marketing blogs in the world, but he also writes a column for entrepreneur.com and LinkedIn.
So you have most likely heard, read and been involved with, engaged with some content that Joe has created. And if you ever meet him in person, I’m told he’s always wearing orange. So Joe, welcome to the program.
Joe Pulizzi: And you can’t see me right now, Jared, but I’m wearing orange right now. Because I don’t have any other clothes that aren’t orange of some kind. So thanks for having me on, I appreciate it. This will be fun.
Jared Johnson: I do, I believe it. I can imagine the orange there. I’ve noticed a trend there. And is that something that just happened by circumstance? I don’t know if that’s just a favorite. Is that a sports affiliation there, the color orange?
Joe Pulizzi: Well, the company, the original company colors were orange and gray and I started to, just because I thought it was the right thing to do, wear orange button downs as I was doing my speaking. And I got a call from, actually an email correspondence from somebody in Brussels, this is about a year after I went into business.
And they said, “Joe, we’ve been reading your blog, we’d like you to come over and do a keynote presentation. The only issue is we need you to wear this black tux.” And I said, “Sure, I’ll wear whatever you want me to. You’re paying for me to come over to Brussels. I’ve never been there. I’d love to come.”
So I went over. I did the speaking gig. Did wear the black tux with the silver tie. I got off stage and I had three people, I kid you not, in Brussels, who I’ve never met before ask me why I wasn’t wearing orange and I was like, it totally floored me. And then I realized that every picture that had been taken over the last year of me speaking, I had the orange shirt. And just because I was trying to be supportive and I said, “This might be like a good business thing. This might be a good branding thing.”
And then I went off the deep end, Jared, in orange. And now everything is orange and the event is orange. We have an orange snack table at Content Marketing World, it’s crazy. People actually recognize me through the color and I usually get about once every other week somebody will send me some kind of orange tchotchke in the mail. People get to think about you for something other than what you’re known for and it’s orange, I’ll take it all day long.
Jared Johnson: Very interesting. Yeah. I always wondered that. I knew the orange affiliation. And I always wondered, it was one of those inquiring minds want to know. Excellent. Well, Joe, I know you just recently in the past week basically just wrapped up Content Marketing World and before we get into a little bit more about the book, because I do want to ask you a couple of questions about “Content Inc.” and about the premise behind it, and just the thought of creating an audience first.
But before we get into that, I wondered if there were some . . . what your takeaways were in a nutshell from Content Marketing World itself. I understand there was kind of a theme of content marketing in a crossroads. Could you give us a little insight there to just how the event went?
Joe Pulizzi: The event went great. Thank you for asking. We had 3,500 marketers from 53 countries this year. They all came to Cleveland, Ohio. So we were so super excited about that and it’s interesting. Content marketing is at a certain maturity level now than I think it was for the last year, last couple of years for sure. And in my opening keynote I talked about the Gartner Hype Cycle and where content marketing is as a discipline in the Hype Cycle.
So if you’re not familiar with it, the first part of the Hype Cycle is the technology trigger. The internet came along, we can now all publish and consumers have access, 24/7 access to all this content. And content marketing even though it has been around 100 years, it was sort of reborn because now brands could communicate directly with their audience.
And then you have this peak of inflated expectations and that’s where content marking has been for the past few years where it’s hot, it’s a buzzword, everybody wants to do it. And some people are doing it wrong, few people are doing it right. And then now we’re in this downward trend or the path, I think it’s called the path of disillusionment.
But we’re going down into an area where a lot of people have tried content marketing and they haven’t been successful with it because they either haven’t had a documented strategy, or they haven’t been executing it right, or most probably both and like, “Okay, what do we do with all that?” And so a lot of people say, “I’ve tried it. It doesn’t work.”
I mean, in my opening keynote I brought up all these blog posts that say, “Content marketing is dead. Content marketing is a myth. Content marketing is mathematically impossible to do.” I mean, all of the stuff that we were throwing up on the screen.
And I said, now, here is where the work begins. It is right now 2015-2016, is where you will begin to see the greatest failures of our time when it comes to content marketing and you will also begin to see the greatest successes of our time. If for those that actually document their strategy, they understand it, they had focus on their niche, they can actually be the leading information expert in the world on something. They focus on building an audience overtime, and they follow the models that we’ve been talking about in Content Marketing Institute.
I think that those people will survive, it just takes patience. It doesn’t take this campaign mentality, which I think almost every company has. It’s like, “Oh, I’m going to start pushing out content. I’m going to do over this period of time. I’m going to throw a little bit over here, a little bit over there.” A lot of the event talked about how [inaudible 00:14:07] platform. How do you focus on a long-term horizon instead of this short term, we want to get as many leads in as possible, which I think is the wrong approach to take for most businesses.
I think if you take the longer approach and you really focus on the niche where you can add value outside of the products and services that you offer, that’s critical, Jared. It’s like really thinking about, how do we add value in our communications outside of the products and services that we offer? Content marketing, I think is the greatest investment that you can make because you’re actually building an asset over time instead of an expense like marketing is mostly an expense.
So that’s the whole thing kind of where we’re at. It’s sort of a different level of maturity. There are a lot more sessions on strategy and metrics and how we really can accomplish this thing in an organization that may be political and have a certain culture that maybe worked for traditional marketing but not for content marketing.
So I’m really happy with where we’re at, believe it or not, even though I see these posts every day now about content marketing not working. But now I know if we look at that Gartner Hype Cycle, I know exactly where we’re at and I know here’s where the work is going to happen. And then we’re going to come out of this better than where we are right now because people would realize that it’s not easy to do.
It does take a strategy. It should be integrated with the rest of your marketing. You really do have to focus on your audience as the hero of the story instead of you the product or the brand being the hero of the story, and then I think you’ve got something.
Jared Johnson: Amazing and I imagine the disillusionment, is that the term we were using? I can see how that would be a function of the maturity of how many marketers are attempting this now, now that they’ve finally understood that there’s some value to it. I wonder if we could dive in a little bit more when you focused on explaining value outside of your products or services.
Can you tell us a little bit more about that and what’s the emphasis? For those who haven’t really gotten that far down this road of content marketing, what’s the difference there? So they’re not just dressing up their marketing or their sales collateral as content, right? I mean, is that where we’re going?
Joe Pulizzi: Yeah. So basically for those that are not familiar with content marketing, it’s the idea of I’m going to create valuable, compelling, and relevant content on a consistent basis to a targeted audience to achieve some profitable action.
A very simple way to look at it is, is that you’re doing everything a media company has done where you’re delivering consistent content through a particular platform just like the Huffington Post or just like ESPN or The New York Times. But instead of monetizing that advertising or paid content like most media companies do, you’re trying to sell more products and services at the end of the day, or you’re trying to create happier customers, or keep those customers longer, or keep those customers buying more.
So if you think about that process, in order to make that happen, in order to build an audience on a particular platform, you can’t talk about your products and services because nobody cares about your products and services except for you. And except for your customers that are a very, very small portion of the buying cycle.
So what do we need to do then? We need to focus on their pain points at all times. And that’s very hard for a lot of sales and marketing professionals to do because if you say, “Hey, we’re going to market but you’re not going to talk about your products and services.” They’re like, “Are you kidding me?”
Especially if you have a sales driven culture, like I work with a lot of manufacturing organizations and when you say, “No, we’re not going to put the logo here and we’re not going to shove in this promotional message that your product is so awesome or place this product.”
They’re like, “What? But we have to do that because we have to sell, they have to know.” I said, “No, we’re trying to build a long term relationship with these people. The more you start talking about your products and services, the less they’re going to care about it and you’re not going to build that loyal audience over time.” It’s really hard for companies that aren’t used to doing this to think about it.
If you come from a publishing background it makes perfect sense because that’s the way publishing has been done for the last 200 years. But marketing has not been done that way. We’ve been focusing for the last 50 years on, “We’ve got this great product or service. We’re going to dress it up and make it look all shiny and awesome, and we’re going to try to distract as many people as we can and hopefully they’ll buy more of it, and then we’ll rinse and repeat.” That’s the way marketing has been done for the last 50 years.
But now we’ve got this new, different, even though it’s not new, content marketing is a hundred plus years old. But this new way of looking at it for most organizations, that you and every piece of your communication that you send to your customers you’re driving value without talking about your products and services. Then you build your relationship, which it takes a long time to build a loyal relationship with a subscriber.
Then you can look at, what’s the difference between that subscriber and somebody that doesn’t engage in my content? Do they buy more? Do they stay longer? Do they talk more favorably about our company? That’s where I think the greater ROI is for content marketing.
Because as you build a subscriber base, let’s say an email subscriber base, you can start to easily tell after time, just take some time to do this and the data that you have, what do they do differently? And usually it’s positive, usually they do stay longer, they do talk more, they do close faster, they do buy more, whatever the case it is. And that’s sort of the [inaudible 00:19:13] to content marketing.
And that’s the problem, Jared, is right now most content marketing is still, well, what people say is content marketing, is still product and service focused and it’s never ever, ever going to work. And I just hope everyone listening to this realizes and they’re all going to say, “I’ve been doing content marketing. We’ve got all these blog posts that we’re putting up. And maybe we’re doing a podcast and maybe we’re doing videos.” But I think if you really took an honest look at it, you’re probably just doing brochures.
Jared Johnson: Very nice. I think that that comes right down to what people think of what does content actually mean. What does content marketing actually have to do with. And maybe that’s a good place to kind of bring in the premise behind the book behind Content Inc.
So this is one of these books, I just couldn’t personally, I’m going to babble here for a minute, but I was super excited for the book so pre-ordered it. And I am literally, I am a little more halfway through. I got it shipped out, the day it came out last week. I’m on Step 4. I’m on the harvesting audience.
Joe Pulizzi: Oh, there you go. That’s a good . . .
Jared Johnson: It’s great. These are all the things I’ve been wanting to share with folks, myself and it explains things so well. Maybe explain to us a little bit, those who aren’t familiar with the concept of the book. First, what it’s all about? What the six steps are, but also kind of how you came about to writing the book itself on this topic.
Joe Pulizzi: Sure. First, thank you, Jared. I really appreciate it. The second thing is, I wanted to tell selfishly, I wanted to tell the story of Content Marketing Institute. I wanted to tell the story that literally [inaudible 00:20:50] starting a business and we created an audience, we developed the loyal audience over time, and then monetized that audience once we built this loyal audience.
And then I said, well, I can’t just write a book on that because I’d just be talking about myself. We just talked about this. Nobody cares about me. Nobody cares about what I’m doing. They care about themselves. So how do I make this relevant for everyone else?
And I said, well, let’s see if maybe I’m not alone. Maybe there are other case studies from around the world that people that were going out, they were building an audience through a content first approach, and then they monetized it second once they build the audience.
And I started to go out and interviewed these amazing people that we talk about in the book like Brian Clark from Copyblogger, and Marcus Sheridan from River Pools and Spas, and Ann Reardon from How to Cook That. I found out that, “Oh, my gosh. They’re doing the same thing.” And as we were doing these interviews, Jared, we started to reverse engineer the models as we got the story and we realized that everyone follows the six steps.
They don’t all do it in the same time line, but everyone follows the six steps and we said, oh, we can create this what we call the “Content Inc.” model now. And we can go out and we can tell an organization that’s interested in doing this, building an audience first and then monetizing it however they want to by selling more products, or even through advertising, or events, whatever your monetization strategy is.
We can actually reverse engineer it and we can save people time and they don’t have to go through all the mistakes that everyone in the book did. Because what we found out in the book is most of them were happy accidents. Most of them just sort of fell into it and figured it out. And through trial and error and a lot of failure actually figured out how to do this.
Well, now we realized that, “Hey, you can replicate this model. This is something you can actually do.” And it’s what we at Content Marketing Institute, we’ve got probably over 50 case studies all in all in the book that talked about this and there are the six steps. So I’ll quickly go through the six steps and then we can chat about it a little bit. But we realized the six steps are, first is the sweet spot.
So the first thing is, what’s the intersection between something that you or your organization is super passionate about, or maybe it’s a customer pain point area? And then the other side is, what are you skilled at? What is that area that you have authority to communicate on? What’s that area that you have authority to create content around? That’s the sweet spot. Everybody does the sweet spot. It’s not that hard to do although we have exercises in the book to do it.
But most people stop there, they don’t go to Step 2, which is the most critical in my opinion, and that’s the content tilt. The content tilt is, where can I find an area of little to no competition around my sweet spot? I can actually be the leading informational expert in the world. And like you have to go super, super niche.
Like, Ann Reardon, I talked about her a little bit in the book or on the content tilt portion of the book where she wanted to start a baking blog. Well, there’s a thousand baking blogs. How is she going to cut through the clutter? And just like, everyone I think probably, Jared, in your industry where they say, “Hey, we’re just going to talk about these particular issues or these electronic issues, or these IT issues” that your competitors and everyone else is already talking about.
We need to find a content tilt that differentiates us. Ann Reardon found, “Hey, what if I create these really super impossible baking ideas?” And that’s what she did. They were like, “How do I take five pounds of Snickers bars and put them into a cake?” She has a great example where you actually slice into a chocolate cake and it’s a perfect replica of the Instagram logo, which went completely viral.
But those are the types of things that you figure out like, “What is that content tilt?” Like our content tilt in Content Marketing Institute was, we renamed the industry. We actually said, “No, it’s content marketing. We’re going to call it something different. We’re going to position it really, really differently so people see it as differently.” And we attracted people that way even though it was called custom publishing for decades and decades. And we just said, “Okay, we’re going to rename it because this makes more sense.”
So you find your content tilt. So the number one sweet spot, content tilt, that’s your strategy. Then you get into doing the work. So we haven’t even created a piece of content yet. The first thing is we wanted to find the strategy. Step 3 is building the base. You already know this because you went through this portion. I love this part because it’s a super complex formula that I joke about. I’m solely kidding when I say this, but it’s one content platform, one content type consistently deliver content overtime.
So one content type. Is it textual? Is it video is? Is it audio? One content platform. Is it my blog or website? Is it YouTube or is it iTunes? I consistently deliver every day, every week. It’s consistently every Friday, eNewsletter, whatever the case is. Over time every single case study that we talked about in the book did that same thing. And that is contrary to what most businesses do out there today especially in B2B because they create content all over the place.
Like, I’m going to do a little bit of video. Let’s do a little bit of YouTube. I’m going to do a little bit on Twitter. I’m going to do a little bit on LinkedIn. Little bit on Facebook. Maybe I’ll try some podcasts. They’re jack of all trades, master of none. That does not work. You have to focus and build your base on the one platform with one core content type.
And then, to get to the part that you’re on, then you harvest the audience. Then you’re trying to build your audience and the number one way to do that is through email subscribers. And we talked about that over and over about leveraging social media as much as you can, but you have to have this feeling that when you wake up in the morning everyday that you might not have access to those connections tomorrow. Because you don’t own those, you don’t control anything about those.
YouTube controls them, or Facebook controls them, or Twitter or LinkedIn. They could deny you access tomorrow and they’d have every right to do that because it’s their platform.
So we want to use those social media channels in every way we can, but we want to drive email subscription so that we can get their name, get their information, and then have some direct connection with those people.
Once we build that audience, we go to Step 5 and that’s diversification. So in all the really good case studies that we talked about in the book, they started with that one platform. They have a great YouTube series or great iTunes series. And then once they build that audience then they go and they launch a book. They go and launch an event series. They go and launch maybe another podcast channel or YouTube channel. Or they do what we did where we said, okay, we have the blog. The blog was our main platform at Content Marketing Institute.
Then we launched to Chief Content Officer Magazine, then we launched Content Marketing World Event. Then we launched This Old Marketing podcast. So you have to first build the loyal audience on one platform then you diversify.
And then Step 6, the all important, saving it for last, monetization. And basically it’s this one question, Jared, and you already know this, it’s how do we tell the difference between what subscribers do and what nonsubscribers versus non subscribers? So do they buy more? Do they [inaudible 00:27:43] talked about all of this? That’s the key in looking at that. And in every one of the case studies, everybody does it differently.
Copyblogger Media, they sell online products. Content Marketing Institute, we do events. That’s our main revenue generating standpoint. Ann Reardon, she does sponsorship in merchandising. So does Matthew Patrick from Game Theory and his YouTube platform.
Marcus Sheridan, Marcus Sheridan sold more fiberglass pools and now he’s manufacturing those pools because it’s such a large global brand from his blog. He wanted to take more advantage of it, then just this small regional area in Maryland and Virginia. He started to manufacturer those and get into the manufacturing business.
So those are the six steps, Jared. We talk about them. We lay them all out in the book. And I really think that this is great for somebody who’s actually starting a business. You can actually build your business model on top of it. But also for somebody that if you’re in a company that already is selling some kind of products and services, you can actually do this within your company and start this “Content Inc.” approach and build this loyal audience. Then you just have to hold off selling.
Selling is going to kill. You try to sell too fast to this audience, you’re going to kill them. They’re going to run off and go somewhere else because they can. They have a choice. So you have to figure out how you can keep their attention for a long period of time. Get them to know, like, and trust you more, and then you’ll see the benefits of selling more or whatever your monetization strategy is.
Jared Johnson: Thanks for outlining those steps because I think it’s so important to show the progress of, the order that they happen in and to dive down and just identify a few of those key points. One of those being if we had a moment to dive into this part just a little bit more, about building the base. When you’re talking about how to establish that and maybe we talk about an established company for a moment.
I know for health IT companies for instance a lot of them . . . so the company has been around but there’s a lot of innovation going on right now. So there are a lot of companies coming up with a new mobile friendly way or software as a service way to, for instance, to pay medical bills. To communicate between the doctor and provider and the patient.
So there are a lot of different ways to do that. So there are all these emerging companies. The company has been around, but maybe they’re finding a new way to do things and they do have, it seems like more of an established marketing track, maybe a traditional marketing track.
So we do have a lot of folks who’s recognizing the importance of content, but maybe not necessarily the way that you’ve just described in terms of building that audience and not just dressing up, how you mentioned earlier.
Are there some points in particular about how to build that base when they’ve got a team of some size going already? So they essentially have a sweet spot identified. They do have content. They’ve gone through the content tilt itself. When they get to that stage they’re starting to recognize that they need to do more with what they’ve already done. Are there any keys there for an audience like that?
Joe Pulizzi: Well, the one thing is in a lot of companies like the ones you’re describing is they have multiple buyers and influencers in the process. And you’ve got to remember that when you do this, so if you have your sweet spot, you got your content tilt, you have to focus to one audience for starters.
I mean, if you look at the greatest media examples of all time like think of Huffington Post. Everybody thinks, “Oh, Huffington Post, they have 250 different blogs with all these different audiences.” Well, they started with one. They started with one and they perfected that one and they built a really strong audience, and then they launched two, and then they launched number three.
So you’ve got to think about it that way. So anybody listening to this is, if you’re targeting multiple audiences at the same time as you’re building your base, you’re not going to be relevant enough. Somebody else is going to undercut you because you can’t be relevant to more than one audience. So find that one audience and talk to them.
Now, if you’re like a regular company. I mean, we just did our content marketing benchmark research like we do every year. And the average B2B or B2C company, they leverage between 13 and 15 different content tactics like, eBooks and white papers, and videos, and podcasts and on and on and on. That’s a lot.
Now, in my opinion, you are probably spreading yourself way too thin and you’re not focusing on how can we really build a content brand or how can we really build a content platform so that people actually want to go to the website on an ongoing basis. You can’t be everywhere. So make some choices.
And I would probably recommend, the best thing I can say is, how can you cut some things out that you’re doing so you can focus on things that are really going to work well? So you could say, “Hey, I’m going to be on . . . ” The average company is on six social platforms. They’re dabbling all over the place. Maybe it makes sense for you to say, “Let’s do three and let’s get rid of these other three that aren’t working very well for us.”
And then when you’re looking at building the base, you have to really figure out what is going to be . . . like you have to think like a media company. We’re going to do a bunch of white papers over here. We’re going to do a bunch of webinars over here. They’re going to say, “What is that thing? We are going to create one piece of amazing content per day. It’s going to be on the blog and were going to distribute that this way.” Or “We’re going to do an every other day podcast. Or let’s say, a weekly podcast on this.”
This is similar to what you’re doing, Jared. It’s like, “Hey, I’m going to do this every week and it’s going to be distributed at this time and it’s going to be focused on this really amazing thing, and we’re going to build that base and start to build those subscriber’s overtime.”
Or maybe it’s a YouTube channel. Instead of just saying, “Yeah, I’m just going to throw up these three customer testimonial videos.” Or we’re going to do it whenever we get a good video we’ll put it on YouTube. We’re going to say, “No, every week we’re going to do this and this is going to be the show.” And we’re going to start building an audience towards those people.
So I would say the hardest thing to do, the most effective thing is making the choice, which makes the most sense. And it is a choice. It’s a hard choice you have to make. I mean, what makes the most sense to tell the stories you want to tell? Is it textual? Maybe it’s textual so it’s a blog? Is it something you can give to me?
You’ve got really good experts in your organization that have a face for radio, right? Maybe you want to do a podcast of some kind. Maybe you have things that are truly visual or it’s educational. So maybe that lends to more of a video or YouTube strategy of some kind.
So I would look at those things and I would focus. It doesn’t mean you can’t do the other things. But I’m telling you, if you don’t focus and you don’t make choices, you’re not going to build an audience over time.
Jared Johnson: Oh, that’s good. I hope I could broadcast the last couple minutes to every health IT marketer around the world because what a great thought there.
Joe Pulizzi: Well, you were into it, right? Everybody is a dabbler. Everybody doesn’t want to miss out. We want to be all things to all people. And I always say this, if you create content for everybody, you actually create content for nobody. So nobody’s going to get that.
So what I see the effectiveness rate for content marketing right now in B2B companies is 30%. And these 70% are feeling like they’re failing right now and that is because we’re not making the right choices. We’re not documenting the strategy. We’re all over the place and it’s a big waste of time.
So I would say if you’re doing that, you might as well just go advertise. Don’t waste your time and just dabbling around, or having a campaign mentality, or just trying something for six months. You really have to commit to it. And I get it. I work with a lot of these big companies, B2B side, enterprise, or IT companies.
They go in there and they have this campaign cycle that they’re on. They have these ideas of what it could be. And they want results right away. “We want more leads and more sales right away.” And you just have to tell them and I have to go in, znd now at least we’re at a point where they’ll listen to me, and I can go in and say, “Look, if your time horizon is six months, go to do something else. Don’t do content marketing.” You have to have at least a 12 month time horizon because it takes awhile to build a loyal audience.
And I said, “Think about the things that you pay attention to, the magazines you read, the media that you engage with.” It doesn’t happen right away. It takes time. So you’ve got to be patient.
Jared Johnson: Oh, what a good thought. Well, maybe this is a good time to actually break for a second from our strategic session here and throw a bonus question at you. So I send a couple of bonus questions. The first one being, what’s the best book that you’ve read lately? It could be fiction or nonfiction.
Joe Pulizzi: My favorite book that I’ve recently read, it’s coming out with a movie right now with Matt Damon I think in the beginning of October. It’s called “The Martian.” It’s a science fiction book. I highly, highly recommended it. I love science fiction books. My favorite book of all time, the “Stranger in a Strange Land” by Robert Heinlein. So I like to pick up a sci-fi book every once in awhile. This one is first rate. I’m just hoping that the movie doesn’t suck because I really want it to be good.
Fantastic book, I cannot recommend it enough. Super, super fast read. And really kind of the back-story to that is the author of the book started blogging. He started blogging the chapters out. He started to build an audience over time. Some of the stuff we’re talking about and as he was done with the book, basically a bunch of blog posts. He’s done with the book and everyone says, “But we want it in a book format. Can you put it in like a Kindle format?”
So he takes it. He formats it. He puts it in a Kindle format. It takes off. It was so popular because he already built this community and this audience. And then within a weeks time he sold the publishing rights to a publishing house as well as the movie rights in the same week. This stuff doesn’t happen. I mean, this is unbelievable.
It tells you the power of consistently generating content And the guy just basically did a blog, the book strategy, and it worked really, really well. So I cannot recommend it enough. The book is called “The Martian” and you can pick it up anywhere and the movie is coming out in just a couple weeks.
Jared Johnson: That sounds amazing. I have not heard the back-story. I’ve seen the trailer for the movie and that’s it. So all right, that’s on my must watch list.
Joe Pulizzi: There you go.
Jared Johnson: I’m going to see it.
Joe Pulizzi: I’ll be there opening night to see it because I love the book that much.
Jared Johnson: Nice. And Matt Damon in space suit so I’m thinking Interstellar. So I automatically, I’m interested that way too.
Joe Pulizzi: I think this one is going to be better than Interstellar. I mean, Interstellar was fine but I really think that this one is going to be better. Let’s hope so.
Jared Johnson: Absolutely, absolutely. Well, we’ll get back for a moment here on content marketing. If we get back to the couple of premises in the early chapters in the book, we focus a little bit on . . . before we even get into the sweet spot, we’re talking about that concept of building the audience first. If we get back to that for a moment.
I think most of our listeners would tend to agree that healthcare, we kind of recognize healthcare, seems to be a bit of a laggard industry. We kind of call it that as far as digital marketing goes. They’ll wait for a trend for retail, for entertainment, for other industries to kind of vet out any strategy or any tactic in marketing that they’ve heard of and let them figure it out.
And then healthcare will kind of adopt it maybe a year or two years later. Really I mean, I’m seeing this rise of content marketing in healthcare and health IT now versus maybe earlier in previous years in other industries.
Are there any particular points when getting started on this track, because it could be a large shift depending on how far down the traditional marketing route that the company has gone. So for a company in an industry that does seem to be behind in some aspects, what would you focus on first?
Where would you get started if a company is at that point and they say, “Hey, we know we do want to try this. We do believe in the value of content marketing, but we have been doing it wrong.” Or “We just haven’t been doing it enough.” What’s a good starting point?
Joe Pulizzi: The number one indicator of success, there’s two things and this is already been going for a while that has a defined budget, that has a marketing PR communications department. The one is you actually have to document your strategy in some way. It means writing it down. In most organizations they actually don’t have . . . less than 40% of organizations actually have some kind of a documented written down content marketing strategy.
What does that mean? It means that I’m figuring, who is my particular audience? What are those pain points? Ultimately what does success look like at the end of the day? Make your hypothesis. What do we think at the end of the day we’re trying to do? How are we going to tell those stories? What are those stories? What’s the best platform to tell those stories in? Go through that whole process and write it down first. Most organizations just start and say, “We’re going to start blogging. Here’s what the blog is about. Let’s do it. Let’s see what happens.”
So I want you to start and actually document that. And once you document that you need to get the team together on a regular basis and review. The most successful organizations that are doing content marketing are getting their editorial team together on a regular basis. Sometimes even daily, believe it or not. But at least weekly because the editorial calendar changes.
It evolves. Where new feedback and new information about what’s changing and what other things do we need to cover, what stories are resonating and what’s not. What’s getting found in search and what’s not. Going through those things that are really, really important.
So I would first write those down and have a real clear understanding of what success will look like. Like, what does success look like? How many subscribers do we need to get and what do we want those subscribers to do? And we’re all at hypothesis level at this point because we’re just trying to take our best guess, but we have to follow that through with this plan and a strategy.
Just like if you were starting a business, you have a business plan and a strategy. You don’t know it’s going to work that way, but we’re going to do the process and then we’re going to go in one direction. We’re going to make the hard choice and go in that direction. So that’s where I would absolutely start to go into.
And I would probably just end with this point. Let’s say a lot of companies actually have their content tilt chosen. That’s not the case for most of the companies I deal with. They aren’t creating a differentiated story. They’re not creating content. That’s unlike anything else that’s out there.
And I think that you have to really go and look at it. Look at the content you’re creating. Let’s say you’re doing blogging. Look at those blogs. Look at the headlines. Look at the content. Hopefully it’s not promotional. Hopefully you’re not doing the bait and switch, and trying to create something educational and then throwing in some product and service stuff.
But you’ve got to make sure that, is it any different than what your competitors are doing? Because remember, you’re not just competing against your competitors. You’re competing against Game of Thrones. You’re competing against House of Cards. You’re competing against a lot of things. Your audience has 24 hours in a day and how are you going to get a little piece of that time?
So once you figure out all those things, then you decide what your platform of choice is. And by the way, it could be print, it could be an event series. It doesn’t have to be digital. There’s a lot of different ways that you can build your platform. I don’t want anyone to get the thought that, “We’re an innovative company. It has to be digital.” It does not have to be digital.
A lot of wonderful, wonderful amazing content marketing strategies like John Deere’s, The Furrow Magazine. And of course, The New York Times, The Washington Post, those were all created in print. Still really work today. Airbnb, one of the most innovative companies in the world just launched a print magazine. Uber, one of the most innovative companies in the world just launched a print magazine.
So you have to be a little bit agnostic when it comes to your platform because you have to figure out what’s the best way to communicate our stories ongoing and build that audience.
Jared Johnson: Any final thoughts? Anything we haven’t touched on that might be helpful for our audience today, just anything else to keep in mind that you’ve heard as you’ve been consulting with clients recently? Is there anything new that’s come up?
Joe Pulizzi: No, I think if you’re in a traditional company that is not used to marketing this way, you’re going to hit a lot of roadblocks. Because they’re not anything different, anything changed or added is usually frowned upon in most companies. And in healthcare specifically or financial and healthcare is what we found the regulated industries is very, very tough to get something new.
So what I want you to do is present this, even though you know it’s going to take time, it’s going to take 9 to 12 to 15 months to really make this thing work. You can sell it as a beta test and we call it a pilot. So just like you have a pilot for a television show that has 13 episodes.
You can pitch this to the executive team as a pilot and go say, “Hey, we’re going to try this. We know it’s going to take longer, but we’re going to do a six month pilot. Here’s what we’re trying to do and I’m going to get everybody back together in six months and I’m going to ask for a budget to keep this going. And I’m going to show you that we’re getting subscribers or we’re getting found in search.”
Whatever you need to push the buttons of your executive team to keep this going, you know you want to build a long term audience. But there’s things right away that you can start showing, social shares, website traffic, some other non-critical, not the best at metrics in the world. But with good metrics and good solids metrics that your executive team might say, “Hey, this is good enough, keep going. We’re going to keep funding this.”
So I think the pilot program is really good if you know you’re going to go back to the office and they’re going to say, “This is the stupidest idea ever.” You can go ahead and build the plan, call it a pilot, be very specific because a pilot, it’s fairly easy for somebody to fund a pilot because they don’t feel like they’re making a long term commitment.
So you can then have your time and your cushion to show the results you need to. Get back together with them in six months and ask for more budget once you really actually have some results to show.
Jared Johnson: Thanks for sharing that. And yeah, you’re right. We haven’t dipped into that part earlier, but I appreciate that. I think that will go a long way because I do think we have a lot of folks who recognize the value and now want to know, okay, where do we go? What are those potential obstacles in the way? So thanks for that.
Our last bonus question for the day is, hopefully I gave you enough time to think about this, I know I only sent it to you not very long ago. But if you could join a music group or rock band for a day, who would it be?
Joe Pulizzi: It’s interesting. That’s a great question. I think if you asked me two weeks ago, I would have said the Flaming Lips because I saw them in concert and I never saw a band have so much fun on stage. I just thought they are awesome. But we just had the Barenaked Ladies for Content Marketing World and they were just tremendous and super nice people. And I had the honor of introducing them before they came out on stage and I just think that would be one fun band.
They are just having a great time on stage. And a little bit of rap, a little bit of hip hop, a little bit of rock and roll, a little bit of pop and a little bit of everything because I like all kinds of music. So I really appreciated their show. So I would say the Barenaked Ladies.
Jared Johnson: Excellent. So you may have been saying pinch me because this doesn’t seem real. They’re one of my favorite bands. Well, thanks a lot Joe for your time. I really do appreciate it. I know our audience is going to soak this up. And do you want to tell them if they do have any questions, where to find you. What’s the best place to find you online?
Joe Pulizzi: Yeah, sure. All the stuff on the book is content-inc.com, there’s a free chapter available and I’m @JoePulizzi on Twitter. And if you reach out to me on Twitter just give me 24 hours, but I usually get back to you. But that’s the best way to pick me on the web.
Jared Johnson: Excellent. Well, thanks again for your time and thanks for being a guest on our podcast. We sure appreciate it.
Joe Pulizzi: Awesome, Jared. Thanks for all the support. I really appreciate it.
Jared Johnson: Until next time, I’m Jared Johnson and you’ve been listening to the Health IT Marketer podcast. Subscribe, tell your friends and leave a review on iTunes for us. This program is sponsored by Ultera Digital Marketing Consulting, take your marketing further. For a full archive go to HealthITMarketer.com, that’s HealthITMarketer.com.