It’s the first CMO Show for 2018 and we’re asking, is content marketing dead? The godfather of the discipline, Joe Pulizzi, offers his insights for your business in 2018.
For digital marketers, the big news story of 2017 was Isentia’s axing of King Content after paying nearly $38 million for the brand in 2015. The big question on everybody’s lips is whether or not the move was a harbinger for the demise of content marketing all together.
According to entrepreneur, author, podcaster and founder of the Content Marketing Institute, Joe Pulizzi, that’s simply not the case. The bubble burst and the fad is over, so who is left standing?
“Those companies that really invested in it. They had a strategy. They integrated throughout their entire organisation. They committed to it. They focused on the needs of their audiences and not what they wanted to sell. Those companies are really successful,” Joe says.
“There’ll always be some organisations that aren’t going to get it and that’s fine,” he says.
“If you look at the budget spent on advertising versus the budget spent on content marketing, you’re talking about the size of the sun with advertising, and Pluto for content marketing.”
The value of content marketing according to Joe is building a loyal audience that will invest in you, no matter what you’re selling.
“We have to understand that when you build an audience you could do more than just sell your own products and services. You’ve got to realise that in two to three, four years you might not be selling those products and services. You might be selling something else.”
“If you are a really good storyteller you’re going to continue to deliver those quality stories, those quality experiences over a long period of time so that you don’t have to sell. The selling happens automatically because they love you for it.”
Tune in to this episode of The CMO Show to find out why content marketing is not only alive, but on the rise.
- What We Know about Marketing Is What’s Holding Us Back
- Content marketing isn’t dead, it’s just no longer the cool kid on the block
- Content Marketing Isn’t A Campaign: An Interview With Joe Pulizzi
The CMO Show production team
Got an idea for an upcoming episode or want to be a guest on The CMO Show? We’d love to hear from you: email@example.com.
Hosts: Mark Jones and Nicole Manktelow
Guest: Joe Pulizzi
MJ: You’re on the CMO Show, my name is Mark Jones.
NM: I’m Nicole Manktelow.
MJ: We have a great episode for you today. Our very special guest is Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute.
NM: The godfather of content marketing we might add.
MJ: I know right? the man who barely needs an introduction, but we’re going to give it to you anyway.
NM: Because that’s what we do, right?
MJ: That’s right.
MJ: Actually, before we get to that, I think the broad concept of content marketing and what it is and where it’s going and what the future is.
NM: Look, there’s some controversy recently, but I must assure you that the reports of its demise… What’s that quote?
MJ: Greatly exaggerated.
MJ: So, that’s part of my interest and how is it growing and changing and where’s it going to? There certainly have been lots of conversations, actually I would say this a recurring theme over the last two or three years. Cause at the very beginning it was, “What is content marketing?” And then it was, “That won’t amount to anything.” And then it became, “Oh, that’s interesting!” That’s the new hotness.
NM: How long will it last?
MJ: Well, that’s right. And then, the sort of as the success of it has grown, so too have the naysayers.
NM: It’s always that way though. People look at something and wait, “Oh, is it a bubble? Then, it must burst.”
NM: Look, Joe wrote the book and several of them in fact.
MJ: Yeah, that’s right. He was one of the people who in the early days recognised that what we in the media business used to call custom publishing, had a life beyond the media companies. And, that that brands could become publishers.
NM: Oh, and do it well.
MJ: I know!
NM: You know, it’s a small insight. In retrospect, you kind of go, “Well, duh! That’s pretty obvious.” And now, Joe built this into an enormous industry.and into a massive industry event, Content Marketing World.
MJ: Yeah, so together with Robert Rose, whose also at the Content Marketing Institute and at the Content Marketing World. We’ve had Robert Rose on the show before. And, the two of them also run a podcast, but those two have really built up the whole business around content marketing. I think for a whole sector, which is really quite powerful.
MJ: This is the first time we’ve had him on the CMO Show. But, you and I of course know him.
NM: And, the amount of orange this man wears is astounding.
MJ: I know right? He is an ambassador for the word that doesn’t rhyme. [Laughs] But, that’s an aside. the Content Marketing Institute recently released some research on content marketing in Australia. And, that comes out every year and so, that’s been an interesting conversation point. And, looking at the number of marketers in Australia that are building an audience is up and that’s the headline thing. So, we unpack why content marketers, why marketers and comms people are really focused on what it means to build an audience, which by the way is the media business. That’s what we do.
MJ: I know right! But he did a book called, “Killing Marketing.” And, the reason I raise that is that like every book you need a great idea and, his idea of course is bringing together all of the streams of thought around content marketing being a profit centre. So, it’s not just an expense line in your business, but content marketing can become a business like a media business that makes money.
NM: Oh, wow.
MJ: I know right?
NM: Blow me down.
MJ: I know, like, just what? So, how marketing’s changing from being an expense line to a profit line, that’s a really interesting thing.
NM: Isn’t this at the heart of your industry? This is at the heart of why everyone is listening to us right now.
NM: Okay. Let’s go for it.
MJ: We’ve laid the table. Now it’s time to dig in. Let’s hear from Joe Pulizzi.
Mark Jones: If you’ve got a question you’d like us to answer on the show, just tweet us @CMOShow or use the hashtag #TheCMOShow. We’d love to hear from you.
MJ: Our very special guest today is the king of Cleveland, the orange one of Ohio, the godfather of content marketing, the one and only Joe Pulizzi. How are you?
JP: I don’t know about that introduction but I guess I’ll take it. I’m doing fantastic. Look thanks for having me.
MJ: That’s all right. I couldn’t resist a shout out to your own show and your good friend Robert Rose so take that as you may. But it’s great to have you on the show. The reason that we wanted to speak to you of course is some recent research about content marketing in Australia and we’ll get to that in a minute but I actually want to begin at the end and Joe what’s going on? You’re actually hanging up the proverbial headphones…
JP: Oh jeez.
MJ: What’s going on? You’re leaving.
JP: Yeah you know. December 31st will be my last official day as part of the Content Marketing Institute and it was something that I was planning for a long time, been planning with the family. Starting January 1st I’m doing a 30 day internet free sabbatical so I’m going to go off of social and off of email and then in February I’m taking a trip to Sicily with my father who’s never been there before to go see his family. I’ve got a couple of other family trips and then I’m just going to see where the current takes me. I have an opportunity that a lot of people don’t get where I can actually get up in the morning and just be with my family and my kids just have a few more years before they go into university. So I’m going to lean into that and I don’t want to say make up for all the time that I’ve been on the road and travelling and building the business and you know how that goes.
But I’m going to take some time off and then we’ll see. I’m committing for sure for three months off and so the good – Robert Rose who’s been taking over a lot of my stuff at Content Marketing Institute – he’s doing my newsletters now and he’s taken over a lot of my writing and the team is just fantastic. They’ve got everything under control. It’s given me this opportunity to take a step back and do something that most people don’t get to do.
MJ: That’s awesome. Well at a personal level fantastic, well done and I think many of us aspire to that kind of break as it were.
NM: Yes, half your luck.
MJ: I know, right? I’ve got to say I read some commentary which said that people were surprised. I think when Content Marketing Institute was acquired it’s quite natural that people say well give them a couple of years and that’ll be that so I wasn’t actually all that surprised. I’m interested more – it actually feels almost like an exit interview but it’s not really. Just describe the journey for us because I was just mucking around at the beginning there but you have been one of the people responsible for bringing content marketing as a concept, as an idea, from obscurity into…
NM: Well it’s a whole industry.
MJ: Well that’s right. I think of it actually as a leading segment in what we think of as marketing. Just describe that journey for you.
JP: Well I started in publishing in 2000 and I was lucky enough to fall into their custom media department which we would call content marketing services today. So it was a large business to business company, one of the largest in North America at the time. I learned about this thing called custom publishing, custom media and I was infatuated because of the fact that you could actually deliver valuable information to your customers and build your business that way instead of just doing the hard sell. Because most of the company at the time it was – and media where I work I mean it was all about selling booze for trade shows and selling advertising in magazines and then onto digital display.
Nothing wrong with those things. I don’t have anything against advertising. But I grew up in communication. That’s what I studied in university and I was like wow this is fantastic and does this really work? Can you deliver valuable information and create these new experiences for customers and actually move the needle? Then I had the opportunity to take over the department there and grew that as a publishing agency until 2007. Honestly Mark I thought this thing was going to be big. I really did. I’m like this practice area that we’re calling custom publishing for the most part or customer media in Europe it’s been around for hundreds of years but nobody’s really talking about it and now that we’ve got Google and we’ve got social media. There’s companies that actually have to be creating their own content. They have to tell their own stories and most of them do a horrible job of it.
There’s an opening. There’s an opportunity here. By the way companies still do a horrible job of it but then we can talk about that as well. I’m like well this could be something and left Penton to start a business in 2007 and through a couple of pivots became Content Marketing Institute in 2010. At that time we were getting so many requests for advisory and consulting and training and I’m like wow this is a real need. This is bigger than I thought it was going to be. Then in 2011 we launched Content Marketing World and in the same year Chief Content Officer magazine and the website took off thankfully because I’m broken as an employee, nobody wants to hire me anymore. Once you become an entrepreneur it’s very hard to get hired by somebody so I was glad it worked out because there was a moment in 2009 I didn’t think we were going to make it.
2010/2011 really saw the tide turn when budgets opened back up after the great recession and here we are today and I would say that content marketing is an important part of the entire marketing mix today. I think that every company has to look at it and as you know that wasn’t the case back 10 years ago. So I was just happy to be along for the ride. Great timing. There’s been a lot of my friends and colleagues that have been around a lot longer and are a lot smarter than I was and I think that we just said okay we’re going to call it content marketing. That sounds right. I think it’s better than any of the other terms that are out there and it took off.
It took off in Australia as well and I’m just happy that’s the case because frankly regardless of anything that happened with me personally the best part about it is, is that I really do believe that this is an important way that we can communicate with our customers and we can create better customers…
JP: …by excelling at the art and science of content marketing and that’s what’s exciting about it and we’re still in the beginning stages of this. But I really do see that it’s a game changer for a lot of companies that truly embrace it, truly commit to it and that’s what the most exciting thing for me is.
MJ: So let’s dive into one of the enduring criticisms of content marketing. So you’ve kind of seen this full circle now but one of the recurring criticisms is that people either say it’s going away or has gone away and particularly in the context of King Content down here in Australia even as recently as a couple of months ago I wrote a rebuttal to people saying look in the wash-up of this whole thing we’re seeing the demise of content marketing. I know you’ve spoken about this and I know it’s been a hobbyhorse…
MJ: In fact I think it’s a shared hobbyhorse from my point of view. But let’s just go just with the agency itself this was an agency that was content marketing agency of the year in 2012 at your own event. These guys you know personally. They were responsible for bringing content marketing with you. As I understand the story they sort of inspired you to bring the content marketing world to Sydney right?
JP: Yeah, absolutely!
JP: Craig and team were very important.
MJ: Yeah, that’s right. So these are a big part of the tribe as it were. What was that experience like for you watching a high profile organisation go through what it went through and how do you think that’s actually reflected on the perception of content marketing?
JP: Well I think the important thing to realise in this is that what happened with King Content has nothing to do with content marketing. Has nothing to do with oh my God because this happened to King Content and Isentia had made some business decisions around what they wanted to do with that organisation and the founders of that company left, were gone.
JP: Oh my God that means that content marketing’s in trouble. Two different – very, very different things. What you’re talking about is they had a very successful exit. I don’t really know what the terms of that were but all I know is that the founders left and Isentia for a lot of the good work that they do I don’t know if they really had a good handle on the content marketing services that they were about to offer – maybe you could say that business deal went south. It worked obviously very well for the King Content folks. Not so well for the Isentia folks.
Or maybe it did work well and they decided to make some decisions and say we’re going to keep those content marketing services in the UK and in Australia and Melbourne and Sydney where it’s working well and we’re going to kill off some of these other offices where it’s not working well. That sounds like a very sound business decision for me. I don’t know all the details. You probably know more than I do. What I took offence to in the marketing media in Australia they’re like just another example of content marketing not working and I can’t put the two and two together. All around the world every day you see an agency going out of business, an advertising agency going out of business, you see media companies making decisions about killing off certain brands.
They don’t say advertising is dead. But this one thing happens and we almost have to come to the defence of the practice because it didn’t seem to work at least the optics were for one media company that bought an agency. So I don’t know. I mean I’m sure there’s all kinds of scuttlebutt going on in Australia about what happened and what didn’t happen. What I read into it is they made a business decision, hopefully that’ll work out for them and has no bearing at all on the practice of content marketing and that’s all I wanted to get out there. I’m assuming you’ve – I mean I read your piece on it. I mean you’re like let’s get back to the business…
MJ: Can we just get on with it? Yes.
JP: …of helping companies tell stories right?
MJ: Yes. I think it was interesting that – It was somewhere in around 2005 where you said “this is going to get weird.” It was almost like a prophetic kind of thing and talking about the Gartner Hype Cycle where we’re coming off the hype. We’re going to go through the trough of disillusionment and there’s going to be winners and losers right? So that was two years ago but the interesting thing is with the speed of change and technology just how long that conversation has continued as in the weirdness right? Have you been surprised by that as just how long it’s taken to kind of sort through the mess?
JP: You know what’s interesting? When I did that speech I mean we were considering selling Content Marketing Institute at the time. I’m coming out and saying “times are good right now. But we’re going to hit some really, really tough winds here.”
JP: I don’t want to say that I’m a prophet by any means but you could see it happening.
JP: You could see it in our conversations with clients. You had from 2011 to let’s say 2014…
JP: …you had companies that were throwing money at content marketing without an understanding of what they wanted to do with it. What the goals were. They had no documented strategy regarding it. They were doing a lot of campaigns around content. Oh we’ve got to get found in Google. We’ve got to throw a lot of content on Twitter and LinkedIn and…
JP: ….Facebook and they weren’t talking about building audiences. They were talking about this is the next new thing. This was the fad. You could see that we were reaching bubble status. So what happened is we did hit that and we have to come back to reality to where those companies – and that’s where you just mentioned the haves and have nots. Those companies that really invested in it. They had a strategy. They integrated throughout their entire organisation. They committed to it. They focused on the needs of their audiences and not what they wanted to sell. Those companies are really successful. We talk about hundreds of case studies on the Content Marketing Institute site all the time.
JP: At the same time you know the ones that didn’t work, the ones that are focused on short term, that are thinking that they can get something to go viral…
JP: …if they throw enough distribution at it even though it’s not very good content and now I think we’re at that point now where all right you’re going to have the haves and have nots. There’s a lot of organisations right now that – they’re going to say they tried content marketing, it didn’t work for me. Well that’s fine. It didn’t work for you because you never had a strategy around it and you never really gave it a solid chance but that’s fine. You can go advertise and you can go interrupt people while your competition is going out there building audiences and really making a difference in their customer’s lives…
JP: …which is fine. Not everybody has to do content marketing. But I really do think the most innovative companies do and will.
MJ: Did you have a sense that everybody eventually would kind of get it?
JP: I don’t think we have to have everyone get it. I think what we have to do is those people that are open to it, that want to make some change happen we have to be ready to train them and help them in their journey. There’s some organisations that aren’t going to get it and that’s fine. I mean if you look at the budget spent on advertising versus the budget spent on content marketing you’re talking about the size of the sun with advertising and Pluto for content marketing. It’s not even a planet. That’s how big it is. It’s so small that I mean the big media companies and the media buyers are just brushing us away.
Well it’s not always going to be that case but that’s what it is right now so most companies don’t get it. I mean are they dabbling with it? Sure. They’re going to say yes you go have you little pet content marketing project. You go do your little digital magazine or you go do your podcast. They’re little pet projects in big companies. That’s fine. But what I’d love to see is you have some real high growth, innovative, creative companies that are saying this is a better way to communicate. If we do this right this can be a competitive advantage. So I don’t need to have everyone get it.
NM: You just need a few.
JP: I mean the content marketing – yes. I mean but you’re in a content marketing world. Those are the true believers.
JP: All we have to do is cater to the true believers and they by my opinion have an advantage over the rest of the people that are still stuck in interruptive marketing.
NM: Yes. But they also have to go back and communicate back at home base to the people who think that these guys are just running the little pet projects. So to that end how do you help people who are running these small projects? Maybe that door is just cracked open a little bit. They’re dabbling because that’s all that their companies have allowed them to do.
NM: Even if you have a traditional marketing base I don’t think you can get change going that fast in a lot of big companies. So what’s the trick?
JP: It’s a great point. There’s no trick. But what you have to do is think strategically about the practice. So generally even in the situation we just talked about, you’ve got a pet project, somebody says “hey let’s try this, let’s do a podcast. Let’s do it around this content niche and let’s target this audience” and they go. Well that’s not enough. That’s not a good enough case. You actually have to make a business case for why. What’s the mission? What is the audience? Where’s what I call in my book Content Inc – what’s the content tilt? Where do you actually have a competitive advantage to talk about an issue that can break through all that clutter?
Most organisations they don’t think about those things so what we want them to – that’s what Robert Rose and I teach in the master classes is let’s map this out strategically and maybe you start with just this one little thing. But if you map it out strategically and you have goals set to it then you know how to build that measurement case. So you start there. You could actually build that case around it and then with that you need to do a lot of education internally. If in a company like that – let’s say you’re in a big company with a decent sized budget and you try some content marketing. At the same time you have to plan an internal marketing project for the project.
You have to make sure that you’re communicating ongoing with everyone so that they know what the heck is going on so that you actually have a story to tell internally so that they start to come along with you for the ride. Most organisations don’t do that.
NM: It sounds like it should be mandatory.
MJ: I think again this gets back to the high level strategy. Those who are I guess in what we call the C suite right what’s the big picture vision? Some of our clients for example who are multinationals that have been working in this space for a while when you have that permission from on high, you know, life’s a lot easier because then you’ve got budgets opened up for strategy, for documenting it, for connecting it. What I’ve seen actually and I wanted to get your thoughts on this was the biggest change in the last decade in marketing has been the shift from which 50 – I don’t know which 50 per cent of my marketing works through to I want what I call both 50.
I want 100 per cent of my marketing to work because there’s no excuse that you can’t measure it or tap it into any aspect of our performance as a business. That’s kind of a mentality and it works to a greater or lesser degree depending on the tools that you use and how you do measurement. But what’s your thought on the pressure that that expectation has put on marketers today?
JP: I don’t think the pressure’s any different from the way it’s always been. I mean you’re trying to measure an art and we have a lot of data today and the problem that I’m seeing is moving from oh we have so much data, we’re throwing this up – I know this happened just a few months ago. There was somebody that was trying to talk about how their content platform was working and they were sending their Google analytics report to the chief marketing officer. I said “what are you doing that for?” Your chief marketing officer doesn’t care about your traffic.
JP: They shouldn’t even care about your conversions. What they probably want to know depending on what your goal is they want to know sales, pipeline, conversion, whatever. What project are you looking at? Or if it’s a loyalty project we want to know how are we creating better customers? Are we creating better yield? Are we focusing on those things? So in a lot of cases to answer your question the marketer is becoming a strategic part of the organisation but we’re still treating it as a tactic. So what I really want you to do is become strategic. Build the business model. Understand. Get the information so you know how you can tie this to revenue, to some KPI that the CEO or the CFO cares about. That’s I think the big disconnect because we’re in our world of oh we’ve got shares and likes and web traffic and we’ve got our own KPIs and if you take those KPIs and you show them to the CEO in most cases they don’t care.
JP: So you have to change your KPIs so that there’s something that the CEO, the CFO or the CMO really care about that they’re tied to. If you do that and you’re working on those goals they will really start to care about content marketing.
MJ: That’s right.
JP: Because those projects are solving their biggest pain point.
MJ: Well it’s the business outcomes.
NM: Yeah. I still haven’t worked out quite how to equate a Facebook like with a sale and I appreciate that it’s a great indicator of contact with your customers and building a fan base and all of that sort of thing. But I just cannot understand how we stick a dollar value on that. Am I missing something?
JP: No, it’s a great point. You know what’s amazing to me? Ask most people why they have a Facebook page.
NM: What’s the answer?
JP: Ninety-nine per cent of the time they don’t know. They might say something about engagement, whatever that means for them. But they don’t know. I mean even in looking at the Australian research we put together in content marketing because we asked some social media questions there’s a heavy reliance on social media as organic distribution and that’s going away.
JP: If we ever had it. It’s fool’s good.
JP: So they’re so focused on social media distribution I’m figuring in 12 to 18 months we’ll go to zero organic distribution on Facebook for brands.
MJ: We’ve certainly been seeing that. So just on the Australian research then tell us more about the social side of things. Are we – is that ostensibly now becoming a paid advertising platform?
JP: Absolutely, yes. It’s absolutely pay to play and there’s nothing wrong with that by the way. I know a lot of organisations, a lot of the big brands we work with that are having success on LinkedIn paid, having success on Facebook paid. That’s fine. But if your goal is to build an audience on rented land you’re kidding yourself. You should get a different job…
JP: …if you’re focusing on that. It’s not going to work.
JP: Then here’s the thing is even if it does work and you start to build an organic following on let’s say Facebook Facebook is going to cut that off from you because they’re going to say well I can’t give that company access anymore. You’re going to have to pay for it – although very hard to do today. Facebook is in the business of making money and they’re not going to give any of that away for free.
MJ: So in the research one of the headline stats was 85 per cent of Australian respondents agree that their organisation is focused on building an audience versus 69 per cent last year. To me this is just media business right? I mean that’s what media companies do and Google wants us to become media companies in a sense as brand storytellers. I think in that context though what do you think building an audience actually means to most brands? How do they think about it? They might say they want to build an audience but do they have kind of the right idea?
JP: Well it’s a good start. That’s what I would say. I don’t want to be too cynical about it. But I think that if you believe – if you truly believe that part of your content marketing approach means understanding and building audiences then you’re in a really good position. If you say that you want to build an audience then you should say okay well we’ve got compelling information to deliver to a specific audience and we believe that if we build a loyal relationship with that audience we’ll be able to see a behaviour change. That’s what that means to me. Does that mean it to the people filling out the survey? I don’t know.
It probably doesn’t because most of the people that completed the survey aren’t measuring anything about their programs and most of them still don’t have any kind of documented strategy. So all I’m saying is this is really early days…
JP: A lot of dabbling going on, a lot of experimentation and I’m not putting it down because that’s the way – it’s everywhere around the world. Everybody’s sort of dabbling in it. You have some that are really doing well, 10 per cent, 15 per cent that are sophisticated that get it, they’ve been doing this for three to five years and you’ve got a whole big group that say “yes I sort of get it and I’m sort of doing better than I did last year but we’re really not seeing results” because they’re still in this campaign mentality. They’re still not delivering truly essential content. They’re really not taking care of their email channel.
That was another concern that I had is I think it was less than 50 per cent deliver regular email newsletters to their audience. I’m baffled by that. I’m baffled by the number that most of them are using email but most of them aren’t sending regular and valuable pieces of information via email. That’s a problem. So all this says is a really good report, we’re seeing more success than last year, fantastic. We’ve still got a long, long way to go which is why the three of us have to do our jobs and continue to train people.
JP: Because we’re not there yet and we won’t be there for quite a while which is fine. That’s just the way it is. I mean we’re dealing with a long history of marketing through advertising. There wasn’t much else and now there’s other things to think about and moving that big ship happens slowly.
MJ: I think it might be a nice segue into your new book, Killing Marketing and this idea that content marketing or content driven programs can become a profit centre like Red Bull Media House for example is one of the famous things. It’s a really fascinating trend that’s emerged in the idea that marketing actually can ostensibly become like a media company as we were saying. There is also an inbuilt sort of tension here where people say “well what business are you in” and I’m sort of really fond of that question because you might be – for example you might be a business that auctions – an auction company, auctions cars or whatever. But you’re actually in the events business.
MJ: It’s an interesting mind shift for CEOs and leaders to go through to say well in the Red Bull example we sell soft drink but we’re also in the media business. It’s a really – it’s a cognitive dissonance that I think we haven’t really unpacked yet and got our heads around. So what’s the best way to approach that from a leadership perspective?
JP: I think that answering the business that you’re in and being honest with it is the best place that you could start and if you’re honest with it, it makes you look at marketing differently. A good example is Red Bull. Is Red Bull in the soft drink business? I would argue they’re in a particular kind of experience business and they monetise that through selling soft drinks that don’t taste very good and cost more than any other soft drink and it’s fine.
NM: You’ll probably never sleep after them.
JP: Yes. I mean let’s be honest, it’s not the greatest product on the planet but they do some of the greatest branding and marketing that’s out there. Now let’s look at Amazon. What business was Amazon in? Is Amazon an online bookstore? That online bookstore is going to be the largest enterprise business, AWS, fairly soon and so they’ll probably have the largest consumer revenue business and the largest business to business revenue business in the next five years. It’s a bookstore. Well why was Amazon able to do this? Because they didn’t say that we’re in the bookstore business. They said let’s give our audiences a great experience, let’s understand them better than anyone else and we’ll see what they want to buy. That’s all killing marketing is.
If you understand your audience better than anyone else which is what we can do through content marketing, understand their needs and pain points and you build an audience with them you just listen. What are they willing to buy?
JP: Well that’s the thing is who are we competing against today? We’re competing with the companies that have the greatest relationships and create the best experiences with their customers. What’s one really good way to do that? Through content. So that’s where my take is is that all companies are going to have the same business model and you just decide how you want to monetise it and that’s what we talk about in Killing Marketing. There’s 10 different ways to do it. There’s five that we would consider media revenue ways, traditional media revenues like advertising and sponsorship and events.
Then you’ve got five content marketing ways. You’d sell more products and services. You would create higher yield, better retention with your customers if it’s a loyalty initiative. But you just make a decision on your business model. So that’s what we’re trying to do is be more strategic as marketers because that’s where the future business model is coming from, from marketing. So that’s my take. We don’t all have to be Red Bull but we have to understand that when you build an audience you could do more than just sell your own products and services. You’ve got to realise that in two to three, four years you might not be selling those products and services. You might be selling something else.
So back to your question, what business are you in? If I’m in the business of building a loyal and trusted audience I diversify. I take the risk off of my current product and service offerings because I can sell so many other things to them than just the thing that maybe in three years they won’t buy.
MJ: And it’s also a lesson in cat videos by the way. They can take you a long way. They can take you a long way.
JP: Exactly. Absolutely. Don’t downplay a good cat video.
MJ: The future of marketing itself is changing and I firmly believe that one of the things we’ve got to get better at is being storytellers because brands tell a story like Tesla through their product as well as the way that they talk about that product. Can you give a sense of where you think things will go perhaps in that context or something else that you’re passionate about?
JP: You’re going to have the haves and have nots. You’re going to have the companies that really understand how to tell quality stories on a consistent basis. They don’t focus on extracting value too soon. So generally if you look at most content marketing that’s out there to your point they’re creating stories and ultimately there’s the thing on the side where they’re trying to sell something. They’ve got the used car salesman thing going on. They’re doing that because really quickly they want to convert you into some buyer, into something for them.
If you are a really good storyteller you’re going to continue to deliver those quality stories, those quality experiences over a long period of time so that you don’t have to sell. The selling happens automatically because they love you for it.
JP: That’s where the Red Bulls of the world are. That’s where the Arrow Electronics of the world are. That’s where some divisions of Procter and Gamble are. Those types of companies really understand quality storytelling. There’s a lot of companies that don’t get it. So there’s the opportunity in marketing. Marketing is the future business model for the most part I think for the organisation. If we start thinking strategically about it this is the best time in the world to be a marketer. I’m excited about the future of marketing.
But you’re still going to have the majority of people that don’t get that. They’re going to be doing tactics. They’re going to be focused on all of the data you can get that’s the wrong data. They’re not going to focus on the business outcomes. They’re not going to write plans and review them on a regular basis like any strategic thinker would.
JP: Still got a lot of education to do.
MJ: Well I don’t know. I reckon you’ve got a lot of juice left in the tank. I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re doing the same thing but in a different kind of mould maybe. We’ll see how we go with that but…
JP: Just taking a break my friend.
JP: Just taking a break.
MJ: That’s the way.
NM: So the orange outfits aren’t going anywhere? They’re not going in the charity pile?
JP: No. I can’t – I don’t have any other outfits besides orange. I would be – if I gave away all the orange outfits that had something with orange in it I’d be wearing a pair of sweats and a Star Wars t-shirt.
JP: That’s basically all I’ve got.
NM: I’m sure you have an orange Star Wars t-shirt.
JP: I do. Well of course. Who doesn’t?
MJ: Well it’s been fantastic to catch up with you. Great to hear your insights and your passion and a quick taster on some of the research in the Australian market which I guess selfishly from our point of view we’re glad that it’s still kicking up in the right direction. All the best for the season ahead of you.
NM: Goodness Joe we can’t wait to see what comes out of you once you’ve had your sabbatical time and you’re recharged. I’m sure it’ll be amazing.
JP: Well you’re going to have to hold down the fort there in Australia for me so make sure – especially the media companies, the marketing media companies, in Australia that always just fly off the handle any time something happens. So I’m going to be counting on both of you to make sure when there’s oh content marketing is dead again that you come to the defence.
MJ: Well we will do our best. Thank you very much and yes thanks for your time.
NM: Yes, have a great break Joe.
JP: Wonderful. Thank you both. That was fun.
NM: Wow! That is a man who has just come off a marathon. Seriously, well earned break coming up, but I don’t think he’ll be away that long.
MJ: Well, you can’t keep an orange man down.
NM: You certainly can’t get rid of those shoes. What are you going to do, sell them on eBay?
MJ: No, you can hear it in his voice. I was not surprised that he’s taking a break when the company got bought out by UBM a little while ago. And so, that’s inevitable with founders, but his passion and fire is still there and this road has a long way to go.
NM: It certainly does and I found the most… Well, I think the really useful tidbit today. Was this comment about being focused. And so, if you’re just dabbling in something, for goodness sake, keep that view narrow, so that you can measure a result and get some reward for it.
MJ: Yeah, and we still find that, you know, that so many people want to do all of the social channels for example.
NM: Well it’s exciting, I get that once you an idea, you want to go large.
NM: But, it could also kill it off pretty quick.
MJ: Yeah, just do something really well and then, move onto the next thing.
NM: Pretty wise.
MJ: As opposed to trying to take on the universe. So, yeah, you’re right. That’s a really valuable point. To get a sense of where this is going, as an industry is quite, always of interest to me. Talking about brand storytelling and…
MJ: …companies becoming publishers.
NM: He’s very fiery. Very fiery. And, in a great way and a very positive way. This isn’t defensiveness, this is sort of to him it’s screamingly logical…
NM: That this is here to stay.
MJ: Yeah. There we go. So, that was the interview with Joe Pulizzi himself.
NM: Isn’t it exciting to start the year with somebody that well-grounded.
MJ: Absolutely! And, actually when this is coming out is when he’s on holidays.
NM: Joe, have a Pina Colada for me!
MJ: I know! So, symbolically we’re picking up the batton and forging on into 2018. So, onwards we go.
MJ: Well, thank you for listening to us on this episode and we look forward to speaking with you very soon.
NM: But, in the meantime like us, subscribe, download, do all of the things.
MJ: Absolutely! Till then.
Mark Jones (sting): Now a special thank you as always to our fabulous team, our producers: Candice Witton and Ewan Miller.
Nicole Manktelow (sting): And our engineering wizards: Jonny McNee and Daniel Marr.
Mark Jones(sting): Thanks for joining us!