Media Is the New Marketing: Seven Steps From Start to Millions
The past two years have been a true test of businesses’ ability to thrive in a world of uncertainty. The ones with the best content and digital marketing strategy were the ones that came out on top.
Watch our webinar on demand to hear from content marketing guru Joe Pulizzi, founder of The Tilt and Content Marketing Institute and author of the Amazon #1 marketing bestseller Content Inc.
Joe will walk through the seven steps any business (with any budget) can use to build a digital audience that leads to multiple forms of revenue.
Learn how you can:
- Identify the intersection of your expertise and your future customer’s needs
- Determine how to “tilt” your sweet spot to find a place where little or no competition exists
- Establish your No. 1 channel for disseminating content
- Use social media and SEO to convert one-time visitors into long-term subscribers
- Grow your business by expanding into multiple delivery channels
- Monetize your product or service for ultimate business success
- Understand how to sell your content asset for millions or build the business into a large enterprise
Meet the speakers:
Joe Pulizzi, Founder, The Tilt
Joe Pulizzi is the bestselling author of seven content marketing books including his latest, Content Inc. He has founded four companies, including the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), and his newest venture, The Tilt. His podcast series, This Old Marketing with Robert Rose, has generated millions of downloads from more than 150 countries. He is also the author of The Random Newsletter, delivered to thousands every two weeks. His Foundation, The Orange Effect, delivers speech therapy and technology services to children in 35 states. Follow him on Twitter @JoePulizzi.
Dave Cardiel, Head of Marketing, Parse.ly and WordPress VIP
Dave’s spent the last two decades building high-performing revenue marketing teams and installing demand gen engines at both startup and enterprise organizations. As a musician, a dachshund lover, and an avid concert-goer, Dave’s all about delivering creative prospect and customer experiences as well as content that’s episodic in nature that moves the revenue needle for a brand. He’s currently building a high-performing marketing team that applies key ABM strategies across Parse.ly and WordPress VIP. Dave has a BBA in Marketing from Texas Tech University and an MBA from Southwest Texas State University.
Good afternoon everyone. Welcome to today’s Webcast, Media is the New Marketing Seven Steps from Start to Millions. My name is David Cardiel. I run marketing for both Parse.ly and WordPress VIP, and I’m happy to have everyone on board here for our event. Before we get started, a couple of things I just want to walk you through, we are in the GoToWebinar platform. We will be taking your questions throughout. Joe, our speaker today will be on, I’ll introduce him in just a second, is here and ready to answer your questions, so feel free to use that little widget, we’ll be answering them. We’re also live tweeting today using the hashtag content strategy, so our social media folks are on hand to answer questions there.
They’ll also be tweeting out some content as we go through it, but let’s get started. Again, Media is the New Marketing Seven Steps from Start to Millions. We’re excited to welcome in, Joe Pulizzi, founder of The Tilt. Joe is a bestselling author of seven content marketing books, including his latest Content Inc. He has founded four companies including the Content Marketing Institute or CMI and his newest venture, The Tilt, his podcast series, This Old Marketing with Robert Rose has generated millions of downloads from over 150 countries. He is also the author of Random Newsletter delivered to thousands every two weeks. His foundation, the Orange Effect delivers speech therapy and technology services to children in over 35 states. Joe, that’s an impressive resume. We’re excited to have you on today.
Thank you, David. I appreciate it. I enjoy talking about this stuff, so we’re going to have some time. I like what you said. We definitely want to take some questions, so we will spend some time. I’m going to plan on presenting for 35, 40 minutes, something like that, and then we’ll get to all of your questions as we go. Let’s see. Good. We always like it when the slides work. So you did all the introduction here. I’m known as the content marketing guy. Now, I’m on the other side helping content creators. I love anybody trying to build an audience and how we monetize that audience, and that’s what we’re going to talk about today. So I know in the audience, we’ve got media companies, we’ve got marketers at different size organizations, but I like to start with this and then, I’ll get into what I’m going to talk about.
I always want everyone to level set and think that what if we stopped all the content we’re producing, would our customers even notice? Would our audience notice? Are we making that big of an impact? And I’m sure you media companies out there are like, “Oh, this is our business,” but I don’t know about the marketers on the brand side. Do you think about this? What if you stopped your email newsletters and all your tweets and your Facebook posts and LinkedIn and God help us all, TikTok. What if we stopped doing those things? I want everyone to be a little bit more considerate about what we’re doing from content because if we want to break through and build an audience, we literally have to be as we move forward.
And I’ve been … David and I were talking before we started. I’ve been doing this for 22 years now, a full head of heroin I started, believe it or not. What I’ve learned is that organizations create more content than anything else we do. So we need to take better care of what we’re doing with all that content. I believe there is a model, and I’ve been studying this for the past couple of decades on the models that work to build a loyal audience, and that’s what we’re going to talk about today. I’m going to go through these seven steps some quicker than others. Some of these will be reviewed for you, some of it might be new, but I’m hoping that there’s one thing today that you look for that you can take and you can integrate into your organization, into your marketing and in your content creation and then, in your business model and then how you report for your return on investment.
I love this model called the Content Inc. model because it’s the model that’s been used by the leading media companies and the best content marketing examples on the planet. You look at Financial Times, you look at New York Times, you look at Red Bull Media House on the content marketing side or Arrow Electronics or Informa on the big media side or Disney. This is the model that they’ve used, and because they’ve gotten so big and so successful, sometimes we forget how they actually started to build an audience and then monetize that audience and become the media companies are today. So we have to take a step back and really look at the strategy. So even with all the social media and all the new stuff that we’ve seen, the model has not really changed all that much.
So I’m going to go through each step, each of the seven steps. The beginning hopefully will be reviewed because you have your strategies done, but I think it’s important because a lot of these things I’ve found out that people just aren’t doing. And these are the basic building blocks when you look at building an audience that knows, likes and trust you that you can monetize. So every one of us starts with a sweet spot and this is to every audience. So as we do this, I want you to think about the audience that you’re trying to target, that specific audience, the customer that you want, let’s say, and we try to figure out what stories we’re going to tell. So we start with, “Okay, what’s the expertise that skill or knowledge area on one side and on the other side, what is our audience’s desire? What keeps them up at night?”
So you start with what is that knowledge that really sets you apart and think about that, right? What do you do really, really well and then what … and a lot of times we start with content by focusing on our products first, which is a mistake if you want to build an audience. So we want to make sure we focus on those needs. So first, best thing is, and if you haven’t done this for a while, it’s really good exercise, to go through and really as an organization, unless you’re an individual content creator, then you do it for yourself, what are your knowledge areas that set you apart? Do you have engineers in your organization? Do you have brand marketers that know something more than others?
What are your special skills that sets you apart as an organization? Then, spend some real time on the audience’s pain points, because this is where a lot of it breaks down and you do want to list, you want to set those listening posts out there. That’s the best part about why we have social media today is making sure that we connect with our audience and figure out what’s their pain points, what’s keeping them up at night, what are some things that we can do informationally that we tend to think that we can do with our product and service, but in this case, we’re going to do it through a podcast, through a blog, through an email newsletter, through a YouTube series, whatever the case is. I love this, so just a quick example, this is Indium Manufacturing. They manufacture industrial soldering equipment.
10 years ago they started a blog, basically 27 engineers who know more than anyone else on industrial soldering equipment, started this blog. They hired a content editor to edit that information and then, created this blog from one engineer to another. Very simply, what is their sweet spot? Well, they have the expertise. They understand complex soldering processes. And on the right side they understand, “Okay, well our customers need education on soldering,” brings it all together, that’s the sweet spot, that’s step one. Most organizations stop there. Most brands that I deal with for the last decade, most of the organizations that I’ve dealt with are large brands, billion dollar plus brands. They generally stop at the sweet spot and then they go and create that content.
They don’t go into the content tilt. This is the most important thing. This is where everything breaks down. So if you were bored with the first one, this is where I need you to pay attention because we can always go back and change and adjust our content tilt, and we should. Let me give you an example, so let’s say you go to your favorite search engine, whatever that is, you type into cloud computing. What you’ll find are examples from AWS and Oracle and Microsoft and Salesforce and IBM and a host of others that have billion dollar budgets, and you’ll realize that it’s all the same information folks, you could take one and put it on the … I could take it with AWS and I could put it on to Oracle and it would be the exact same thing.
I’m not making fun. I mean, basically this is corporate marketing, corporate content marketing. It’s how it happens. We need this information, let’s get it up there. We don’t think about how ours should be different. The story that we’re telling should be different. So we’ve got to get away from this identical content. And that’s where we come up with the concept called Content Tilt. I started using this tilt term about 10 years ago and it came to me when I was watching The Matrix. So if you remember the scene where Neo goes in and he’s about ready … Keanu Reeve’s character, he’s about ready to meet the Oracle and there’s a little boy in there in the waiting room that’s bending spoons and the little boy keeps bending spoons and Neo sits down next to the boy and doesn’t understand how that’s happening.
And the boy says, “There is no spoon,” basically saying, “Hey Neo, you may be the chosen one, but you need to take a different perspective of what’s going on.” And Neo tilts his head, that’s where the tilt comes from and the spoon bends a little bit. So what we have to do is we have to take our sweet spot, we have to tilt our heads at it and look at it from some kind of a different angle. So if you believe there’s an overwhelming amount of content, there is, it’s tough to cut through all that clutter. It absolutely is. It has been ever since the dawn of the printing press. So we need to find an area of little to no competition that we can actually break through all that clutter and build an audience that knows, likes and trust us.
This is really, really important. There’s lots of different things that we can do to make that happen, but I want you to think about, if you look at your content area to the audience you’re trying to build, and you look at it and if you ask the question, are you the leading informational expert to that group of people in that topic? If the answer is no, your content tilt probably isn’t focused enough. You probably don’t have one, you’re not going to cut through the clutter, you’re going to have audience building issues. Let me give you an example of how this is done. So Ann Reardon is known today as the baking queen of Sydney Australia. She’s a stay at home mom. She wants to start a food blog. There’s a thousand other food blogs out there at the time, even in 2011, but she starts one.
She gets 100 YouTube subscribers in January of 2012. She’s elated. She think this is the greatest thing ever. Today, she’s got four plus YouTube subscriber, she’s a multimillionaire. She’s doing really well under this brand How to Cook That. So think about this, how does Ann Reardon with no resources, with no marketing budget, with basically nothing, how does she build an audience of that many subscribers when so many companies around her were struggling trying to do the same thing? Well, she would do things like this. She would take a perfect replica of a Nikon camera and create all the working parts of it and do it in different pieces of chocolate or she’d take a Fanta bottle and if you slice that open, you’ve got a multiple layer of cake and she would go step by step on how to do that, or my favorite, I love Snickers bars. She’d say, “If you wanted a five pound Snickers bar, how do we make that happen?”
And of course, she go step by step through how to do that. Well, so Anne’s sweet spot, she was a food scientist, she is a dietician, so she understands that knowledge area. Her audience wanted step-by-step food recipes, but if she just went general and went up against the tasties of the world, she’d never break through. She said, my differentiation area, my content tilt is we’re going to create impossible dessert creations. And she focused on impossible food and dessert creations and went down there with that topic area and then she became the multimillionaire that she is today. So we have to do something like that with every category that we have that we’re focusing on a new audience, and the first thing to do is build a content mission statement that really unearths the tilt. So if you have a mission statement, great. Now is the time to go through it, and make sure it’s right.
If you don’t have a mission statement for your particular audience and your platform strategy, this is a great time to get one because you need one. So your content mission statement, I’m going to use an example from Digital Photography School, if you go to their About Us page, you’ll see, “Oh, welcome to DPS, a website with simple tips to help digital camera owners get the most out of their cameras.” There’s three parts to this. So three parts to every mission statement. One, who’s the core target audience? Digital camera owners. Two, what are we going to deliver? Simple tips. It’s not long form content. This is probably numbered or bulleted lists in some way, in textual form. What is the outcome for the audience? The most important thing is the outcome, helping them to get the most out of their cameras.
And by the way, a simple tip, if you have an SEO list of keywords that you create content for and you say, “Okay, there’s the topic and here’s the keyword phrase, you should also add audience outcome.” What is in it for that audience? What do you want them to do? How are you going to help them live a better life or get a better job? You want to list that and you want to make sure your content creator knows what that is and you want to share this with your team as often as you possibly can to make this thing happen. So there’s other things that we can do on how to differentiate this as you go through. One might be audience, so I really love niching down as much as you can. So let’s say you’re a B2B company and your audience is plant managers.
Well, that’s very broad topic. Again, maybe you want to reach all those people, but from a content standpoint, it’s very hard to become the leading expert to that broad of an audience. So maybe you niche it down and say, “Okay, not plant managers, but managers of companies of 10,000 or more that outsource to India and China.” I’m just throwing that out there. Just an idea, but the more you can niche … so go down the chain and keep niching your audience and again, your audience of your content is not necessarily your audience that you’re going to sell stuff to. You want to start smaller. You probably will have multiple content brands instead of just once. If you have one blog … I share this example, so this is back a few years ago, I was working with a very large technology company that had one blog.
They created content like six posts a day. They were creating so much content and so much frequency, and I talked to the content marketing director about it and she said, “We’re having trouble building an audience. Nobody is subscribing. It’s really all over the place.” And I said, well, how many audiences are you targeting with your blog? She said, 18, and I said, “Well, I’ve identified your problem,” which wasn’t that … you can’t be the leading expert of the world. I one, caught that initiative to 18 audiences. You’re up against media companies, individual content entrepreneurs that are going to beat you every day on that. So we’ve got to focus and we want to probably create 10 or 12 different things at some point, but not initially.
And I’ll get to that later. Maybe you positioned the story differently. This worked really, really well for us. So we just called the category something different. I was telling David this before the show. I mean, I got into the content marketing industry in 2000, started dabbling around with the term in 2001. I thought that was going to be the term, even though custom publishing and custom media where the majority phrases used, and I’ve used a tool like Google Trends in the upper right-hand corner of your screen, and I’d say, “Okay, custom publishing is sorted on a downtrend.” There’s an opportunity for something else to break through. And I’m like, “I think it’s content marketing.” So in 2007, we went all in with that.
About 22 months later we started … it became the main term. 2010, 2011, everything changed because when the lexicon changed around content marketing, we were the beneficiaries of that. The same thing happened with HubSpot, the marketing automation company in inbound marketing. They went all in with inbound in 2006, 2007, I think as we were going with content marketing. Really good strategy or maybe it’s platform, right? We saw over the rush to people figuring out clubhouse, being first movers. We’ve seen social media superstars like Hassan move over into Twitch. There weren’t a lot of political pundits on Twitch. He went over there, he made a name for himself and moved there. So I like to say, I talked with … it was a couple of years ago, heating and ventilation company there.
Everybody was doing Facebook groups and YouTube, but nobody was doing podcasts, so maybe there’s an opportunity there. So you can differentiate by platform via first mover there. So just a couple of ideas to think about. So that’s all strategy. We haven’t created any content yet. Now, we’re getting into, where are we going to tell these stories? What makes the most sense? And that is the base. We talked about media companies at the beginning. If you look, I’m a historian of media companies. I love figuring out how they … time started by focusing on one platform only. Even Red Bull Media House. Everybody thinks, “Oh, Red Bull Media House, they’ve got all this IP and photographs and videos.” You know how they started? They started by sending a print magazine directly to Formula One racetracks.
Red Bulletin, became the Red Bulletin, two million subscribers worldwide and now, they’re Red Bull Media House. What’s more valuable? Red Bull or Red Bull Media House? I don’t know. Red Bull is a media company that just happens to sell energy drinks, but it started with one thing. New York Times newspaper, Huffington posts, one blog to one audience. Ted talks 18 minute in-person talks. Even with all the things we’ve got going on today, focusing on one place that the story is told to start with and where you’re going to build an audience is really, really important. So the biggest problem that companies are having outside of not having that content tilt is they diversify way too quickly.
We almost diversify immediately because we want to do all the things. We think, “Oh, we’re going to do a podcast. We’re going to do a video series and we’re going to produce original content on Twitter and LinkedIn and Facebook and Instagram and Clubhouse and TikTok.” No, you’re not. You know what you’re going to do? You’re going to create mediocre content. It’s not going to work. So this is what happens in organizations. I don’t care what your budget is in an organization. We only have a limited amount of what I call content energy. So we have so many things we can focus on at one time. So this is what most companies do, right? They say, I’m going to take that … I don’t know why everything is chocolate. I must be hungry.
So chocolate … break that chocolate bar up. We only get one chocolate bar and I’m going to put a little bit to a blog and we’re going to have an okay podcast and so-so research and a horrible E-newsletter and mediocre social media. And we’re not going to make it to that remarkable line or great line, and we have to, in order to build an audience because it’s too competitive out there. It is not easy to break through. So what we really want to do is something like this. By the way, that’s the exact same number of chocolate bits and I move them over and put them on top of each other, but this is what I want to see. I want you to have the most remarkable E-newsletter and the best podcast to your audience in your industry possible. That’s what we want to start with.
And that’s what the greatest media companies have done. If you look what a Home Made Simple from Procter and Gamble did 10, 12 years ago, they focused on an amazing blog and an E-newsletter and that was it. Now, they’ve got television shows, new platforms, they have their own products and services, branded Home Made Simple. Now they’ve diversified, but they started by just doing one or two things really, really well. Jykse Bank in Scandinavia, same thing. They’re a bank and they were like, “Well, how can we build an audience as a bank?” They decided to do a television program and that’s all they did. So they created a television station and now they’re one of the number one resources for financial news in Scandinavia. So that’s the kinds of things I want you to think about.
Here’s the formula, when you start, which might mean if you really need to get there, you might need to kill some things that you’re doing. I know, God forbid, marketers, we got to be everywhere our customers are at, right? No, that’s not true. Maybe you can decide to be at certain places just using customer service or feedback or learning. You don’t have to publish on every one of those platforms. What’s your well-defined target audience? Figure out that differentiation. Then, you have one main content type. Is it audio, video, textual plus image? Then, where is that story going to be told? You can use social media channels to help build that audience and get them going to where that story is told, but if you start telling an original story on all these different platforms, it is not going to work.
And then, when you do, you got to be like Norm at Cheers, right? You got to show up on time every time. And when you do, you got to be interesting. If you miss one time in your timing … and this is where, just do a general audit of anyone’s YouTube channel and you’ll see that it’s all over the place. One video one week and two the next week and then none for a while, and you’re not going to build an audience that way, right? You have to deliver amazing content on a consistent basis, and if you miss one time, just think about it for those people who are older. You used to get a newspaper. When that newspaper didn’t come in the morning, what happens? Where do I get my news? I got to find somewhere else and maybe you don’t go back and then you cancel the subscription.
It’s exactly what happens with our content as we go. This worked really well for us, when we launched Content Marketing Institute, first 22 months, all we were doing was blog content, blog and E-newsletter. We built our minimum viable audience, got to that point and then, we basically just one blog post today for the last 11 years, it’s worked really, really well over 250,000 subscribers and they’ve done a great job. My wife and I exited that business in ’16. Still involved with that, but they’ve been incredible, but that’s … focus on less is more. We think it’s more. No, no, no. More is not more. Less is more, less content. And then, we get into audience building and what I’m going to say about this is be careful of rented channels.
So this is Caterpillar’s Facebook page or do I call it their meta page? I’m assuming it’s still Facebook. So they have 1.8 million people that like this. Well, who does that 1.8 million people belong to? Well, those are Facebooks, right? Caterpillar doesn’t have control over that. So we have to create strategies to get more control over our marketing business and move that to owned properties as much as possible, and this is the amazing thing and you’ve seen this happen for the last two years. You’ve seen this amazing movement into email and the companies, especially the media companies that focused on segmented email lists, they’re the ones that have won this whole battle as we go.
So what we want to do is we have this whole thing about owned versus rented land, rented down at the bottom … we don’t control our supply chain at the bottom of these and that’s fine. So we have to move that up the hierarchy. So if we build our audience on YouTube, or again, YouTube can change the algorithm, they can change the rules at any time. It’s their prerogative. Google is a private company. They can do whatever they want, but we want to move up to print subscribers where we get that first party data email newsletter or own controlled membership site. That’s what we want to look at. So again, if you build your audience on Instagram or built it on TikTok or whatever the case is, you have to have a strategy to move that audience at some point because we never know what’s going to happen.
That’s why we love blogs and we love email newsletter and we love our own media site. So really quick example. Somebody again, doesn’t have a big budget, but we all need to do these things. Charlotte Labee, she has a site around right Brain Balance. She had 50,000, 80,000 Instagram followers. She got concerned that she couldn’t build the business that way. What does she do? She turns that into 50,000 email subscribers. Her department grows from two to 19 multimillionaire. Everything works out, so again, there’s nothing wrong with starting with your base on a social platform, but then we want to move that into things that we can control. That first party data is critical to making the world go round.
And that means you need a remarkable newsletter. Do you have a remarkable newsletter? Are your open … I mean not open rates are suspect now, especially with what Apple is doing with their privacy and iOS, but if you’re not north of 15%, 20% open rate, you probably got a problem. So you want to see 25, 30, 35%. You really want to see having a newsletter that is indispensable, that is the one that gets through all the spam and you know you all have one. Everybody says, “Oh no, no, you get all the kinds of spam in email. That’s not the way to go,” but we all have those one or two or three email newsletters, they get through all the clutter. That’s what you need to be. Buzzfeed here has done an amazing job. Buzzfeed, I would’ve pegged them for death in 2015, ’16, ’17 because all of their audiences were on other people’s platforms, other people’s property.
So then they said, “Oh, we’ve got to change that. The board got together, so we’ve got to focus on email.” And now, they have over 50 different email newsletters. They’ve completely changed their strategy. Now they’re selling multimillions of dollars in products and services. It’s amazing that model and what’s happened and how that’s turned around. My friend John Lee Dumas has Entrepreneurs on Fire Podcast. Again, hundreds of thousands of people listen to that, but the problem is, I can’t control that. Who controls the gateways to that? Spotify, Apple, this is a problem. So what he does is we want to make sure we take that audience and move that into some kind of, one of a kind regular email newsletter that people would normally get from anywhere else so we can be the leading informational providers.
Now of course, then you build your audience. You want to get to the revenue side as quickly as you possibly can and here’s where … some of you on this call are media professionals and some of you are marketing professionals. You all have the same model when it comes to content. That’s why I love this. So it doesn’t matter. Media marketing, media is marketing, it’s the whole title of this presentation is. Once you build a loyal audience, you can generate revenue 10 different ways. Every company. Now, I could make a case that you can do that through cryptocurrency, NFTs and social tokens, but we can save that for another day. So the six direct and then, you have the four indirect, and I’m going to quickly go through some of these so you can kind of see.
So once you build that audience, a non-competitive partner can absolutely advertise in something, a banner or a button, a sponsored webinar like something we’re on now. We had a magazine at the CMI called Chief Content Officer. We sold advertising to partners that way. All conferences and events. Obviously, you’ve got a company like Salesforce. One of the biggest events on the planet every year is Dreamforce. They could sell that thing for a billion dollars if they wanted to. It’s amazing what they’ve been able to do. They generate a profit from that event or a premium content like you might have a book or an ebook or an audiobook that you can give away and generate revenue or maybe it’s donations like you’ve got sites like Wikipedia or Mother Jones.
They’ve got such missions that people want to give to them on a regular basis or affiliate marketing. We talked about John Lee Dumas. He generates thousands and thousands of dollars every month through affiliate marketing that he puts in his podcast or in his email newsletter. Then, you’ve got subscriptions. You’re seeing at all the rage. You’ve got subtext subscriptions. This is in this case, Copyblogger Pro subscription. You package it all together. You’re seeing a lot of companies do this today. So those are the six revenue generating, direct revenue generating. Then of course, you’ve got traditional content marketing revenue. We talked about Indium. The number one lead generation source for Indium is their blog, on their website from one engineer to another.
That’s basically where they put all their money and marketing is on that blog, and when you type in anything about industrial manufacturing equipment on NDM and soldering, then NDM comes up. If you look at services, at CMI, we never had to go and market our consulting services because people would come through the blog and we would get those leads that way from a services standpoint. Maybe your goal is to create more loyal customers. You want customers to stay customers, and that’s why John Deere created The Furrow Magazine, now still in digital and print from 1895, still going strong today. It’s amazing. They send it out. That content is not about John Deere technology, but they’re trying to help farmers become better farmers, more profitable, the latest tools, technology.
They would talk about that, not John Deere products and services. It worked very well for them since it’s still going on today. Then, you’ve got something like how do I create better customers? So I love this example, digital and print publication from TD Ameritrade thinkMoney Magazine. It took them a couple years to get this data, so you have to be very patient as you do this, but it goes out to traders and they found out that traders that subscribe and read this publication trade five times more than those that don’t. I mean that’s the type of … I mean, 500% ROI, you cannot do better than that. So we can create an environment where customers and audience knows … they know, like and trust us and they end up wanting to buy more stuff from us. And here’s the issue. If you say, “Joe, I like this content marketing thing, it’s great, but I’ve got six to nine months.” I would say, don’t do any of this, please.
Go interrupt people. Go buy advertising. There’s nothing wrong with it. You can go buy advertising, SEM, social ads, it’s all good, but you’ve got to extract value out of that right away. Content marketing is a marathon. It’s not a sprint. It takes a long time. It takes generally about 18 months to build an audience to get to a point that you can monetize it. Some of the monetization happens early nine months. We did a study at thetilt.com you can find at thetilt.com/research. It’s basically for content creator, it’s nine months to first dollar, 18 months until we hire somebody on the team and 26 months until we’re financially sustainable. So these are the types of things that we’re seeing. That’s what they do full time. That’s our expectations and what they need to be on the brand side and the media side as well.
I mean, I grew up in business to business media and that’s why we did three year plans. It takes about three years to get things going. I wish it was faster. Sometimes you can go viral, whatever that means, but it takes some time. Then last two, then we’ll get to Q and A diversification. So we built that base, we built that audience hopefully on owned platform, something we can control, first party data. We’re trying all kinds of monetization strategies. I like a new monetization strategy every six to nine months. Now, we’re really into major diversification mode. So here’s a good brand example from Sony, Alpha Universe. Again, targeting people that love photography. So there was an instructional site around photography. They started with the blog, built the audience around the blog. Then they built, they said, “Okay, great, we built that audience, now we’re going to diversify it into a podcast.”
Launched the podcast then. Then, they went and did events onsite into small photography stores. So they have tutorials like you’d see at Apple Stores. And then, they did their own paid training on this stuff called Alpha Sessions. So this is how they … all different types of revenue, they want more camera sales, that’s what they’re in it for, but at the same time, they’re also generating profit off of their training because it’s that good. So these are the types of things that we want to do from a diversification standpoint. Here’s maybe one of the biggest opportunities, if you have any kind of budget right now, some of these are five figure deals, but buying diversification … we’re seeing two, three deals a week right now with brands buying content creators, podcasts, other properties like that.
You saw probably the HubSpot deal for the Hustle. It was reported at around 27 million dollars. HubSpot paid 27 million dollars for a 1.5 million circulation of entrepreneurs. What a deal that was. I wish I have been in on that. So these are the types of deals we’re starting to see. Before we launched The Tilt, we bought a site, we bought a domain that had a lot of content, that was well indexed and we paid five figures for that deal. So there’s a lot of different ways that you can go about doing this. And what I would do and what I have right now is I want you to make your wishlist. So where’s your audience hanging out? Who are your competitors? Maybe some YouTubers, TikTokers, podcasters, newsletter providers, whatever.
And I want you to make that list, make a list of five to 10 and start figuring out what your strategy is going to be. How do you have some kind of a relationship with these people? How can you help these people. Reach out to them? Then, you can figure out, sometimes there’s a partnership deal. You can do a consortium of content together and sometimes you might actually be able to buy … actually one of my good friends just sold his podcast to a small tech company for five figures. Everyone is happy. So if you don’t have patience but you have money, then maybe you want to go out and buy a deal, and if you want more information about that, we can talk about it in the Q and A. Then, the last thing is, what are you doing here?
And if you’re a media company or a content creator, you’re thinking about selling possibly. And if you are just a regular marketing brand that has a marketing department and you’re doing content marketing, you’re thinking about maybe going big. I love this example from Arrow Electronics. Arrow is a Fortune 119 company, about 25 billion dollars in revenue. They’re in the electronics distribution business. They wanted to be a Red Bull Media House. And they’re like, “How do we get there? What do we need to do?” Through some organic but mostly acquisition. They went on, purchased all these brands that you see in front of you. And if you said, who’s the largest media company and the B2B electronics industry, I would say it’s not a traditional media company, right?
It’s Arrow Electronics, over three million subscribers through all these content brands. And that’s what we’re seeing, right? Our perception is that some people are media companies and some people are product and service companies, but that’s not the truth. It’s media is marketing today, especially when it comes to content creation. We’re all doing the same thing. We all have the same opportunities for revenue generation as we go. We all want to be the Red Bull Media House, right? You could package up Red Bull Media House and sell it for a billion dollars to somebody. It’s amazing what they’ve been able to do. If you haven’t been to Red Bull Media House site in a while, I would troll around and see all the different deals that they’re doing.
It’s kind of amazing, the things that they’re doing right now, and that’s the possibility for all of us to get to that point as we go. So my recommendation to you is … and if you’re on this, you’re already doing a lot of this, but I would make the choice how serious you’re going to be. So there’s no dabbling. You can’t just … when I started in this thing in the mid 2000s, you could dabble at a blog and be okay. You could do a little bit on Facebook and be fine. You can’t today unless you’re delivering consistently, you focus on one or two platforms that you can be amazing at, which means you probably have to make a decision to get off some platforms to free up some of that resource. So these are the four things that I would recommend that you do right now.
If you’re thinking about improving your program, one is maybe focus more specifically on who your audiences needs to be. Think about your content tilt. How can you truly differentiate your message and your story? Do that by your content category, your audience, the platform, something to differentiate in some way. Really take another look at your editorial, your content mission statement. You should have one for each of your content plans and each of your audiences that you go out. I started at Pet Media and B2B publishing in 2000 and when we started, I believe we had 46 different websites targeting media properties, targeting 46 audiences, and we had 46 content mission statements or editorial mission statements.
Then before you have a content meeting, you want to make sure you put that in front of all your content creators and you want to look at that and say, this is right. And what’s great about that, if you have the CEO or a CMO or somebody come to you and say, “Hey, would you do a piece of content on this or I want to do a book on this, or I want to do a video on this.” You have to use your mission statement as a litmus test and say, “Hey, this either does fit or this does not fit. It doesn’t target our audience, not our goal,” whatever the case might be. Again, my biggest recommendation whenever I’ve gone in and do content audits, everybody expects me and say, “Oh Joe, you’re the content marketing guy. What cool content activity are you going to recommend that we do?” And I always recommend, “Look, you’re doing too much stuff.”
“You’ve created a mountain of me and content. Less is more. Let’s kill some things. Do an analysis. Do a basic content audit of what you’re doing and the things that aren’t making an impact on your business or your audience, I would absolutely stop doing those things. Use those as listening channels then and move those over, those resources over to somewhere that you can truly be remarkable.” So this is where you can find me. I’m @JoePulizzi everywhere on social media, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, all those things. I’m really only publishing to add Twitter and LinkedIn., so I eat my own dog food here. Then, the research that I talked about is the tilt.com research. The Tilt is a two time a week email newsletter.
That’s our base is an email newsletter and we focus on all of these content creation tips twice a week. So if you like that kind of thing, you could sign up. We have our own Discord community as well, and I’m happy to take questions on this if you have them. We have our own community token, creator coin, social token, whatever you want to call it. It’s Tilt Coin on the rally.io network, if you want to check that out as well. So basically we have created our own mini economy where you can use our own cryptocurrency to buy certain things and training and whatnot. So we’re having a good time experimenting with that. And there’s the book that all this comes from as well, Content Inc. David, I think that’s it, and I hope we have some questions and I’m happy to take them.
Yeah, no, that was great. Great, Joe. A lot of content covered. A lot of ground there. Yes, so just another plug for some of the assets, the outlets that you just mentioned there that you put out there. Folks, as you get your content strategies up and running, you’re thinking about the last year, you’re thinking about what you want to do next year, just got a lot of great tips there for the audience. So yeah, definitely great stuff to dive into. I’m going to start here sort of at a base level because you’re touching on it there at the end there where you’re talking about before, you wanted to leave the audience, you’re talking about getting very specific with the audience. I want to be truly different, and so forth, on some of the steps there.
I’m going to start there for a minute, because we get this question a lot in our webinars is I’m a small organization, small team, limited resources. Where do I start? I’m here to kind of absorb some information. Where should I start? I wonder if we can start there and build up to some of the other more complex questions.
Yeah, the trap that a lot of small businesses get into is they start with their product and service and then the content revolves around that, which by the way, you need product and service content, you need blocking and tackling. You need that at some point in the buyer’s journey, which is fine, but if you want to build an audience, anything about your product and service is obviously not going to build a loyal audience. So I would start with the audience. Who do you want your audience to be? So what’s the initiative? And you start with a high hypothesis. We believe that if we focus on delivering this certain type of information, whatever that content niche is to this audience, and we build that content mission statement that we can do what? So what’s the hypothesis?
Because as you know, you’ve got to sell it up to your chief marketing officer. What are we trying to do? Are we trying to create more loyal customers, more valuable customers? I’ll give you a really good example, and this worked for us at Content Marketing Institute. I wanted to know who our most valuable customers were at Content Marketing Institute. I want to know who were the ones that spent the most that kept coming back over and over again. What were their behaviors? And it took us almost two years to really figure it out and go into the data and look at our marketing automation and look at all the content we have on our website. We finally found out that those people that spent the most money every year with us were subscribed to at least three different things.
That was their behavior, and what I was shocked at, it didn’t matter what three. They were going to the Twitter chat. They were subscribed to the blog and they got the magazine, or they subscribed to our research, they went to our monthly webinars and they went to content marketing world, whatever it was. It was just three things. So that’s where we talked about, and I talk about this in the book a little bit about becoming the octopus and wrapping your content arms around your customer with love. The more of those … and that’s why diversification is the key, because you might think, “Oh, well, I’ll just stick with the base.” The one platform to the one … but that’s why we then need to diversify because it usually then accomplishes the hypothesis of creating the better customers, more loyal customers, or maybe it’s a new product or service that you’re not in.
So you’re selling new products or services. So you have to make the case that people that know, like and trust you and engage in your content on a regular basis make some X behavior change. They either maintain or change your behavior. So this is marketing. We’re not just doing it for fun. We’re not just doing it because somebody says we have to have a Facebook group and we have to have content on there. We actually want to make change happen. So go through that hypothesis, and if I’m a small company, that’s what I do, and you do it with one audience to one channel, and you start there. That’s where … I love the small business examples because they have to make the choice of my … like my friend Wally Koval, who created a site called Accidentally Wes Anderson.
He’s got a million followers on Instagram, but in order to create those million followers on Instagram, he had to sacrifice Twitter. He’s not on Twitter. For marketers to hear this in media, you’re like, “What? It’s not on …” No, it’s not on Twitter. You don’t have to be everywhere. Your customers are at online. It’s okay today. Choose only the ones that you can be remarkable in and use the other ones as listing post.
I love that. I love that, and that’s not easy thing to do. As a marketer, I know it myself. That’s not an easy thing to do.
I know, because we want to do all the things.
Yeah, you want to be everywhere all the time. I love this next question. I’m going to ask you just straight up how it was asked here is. You’re reviving my faith in email newsletters, especially. Most of what I’ve done has been branding exercises only no expectations for lead gen, commerce or loyalty. How do you cut through that attitude of there’s no … again, expectations really sent forward. You’re sending for the sake of sending. How do you break through that sort of noise?
That’s tough. I mean, do the basic content audit. Get together with your … some people, when they hear content audit, they think of a consulting company coming in and charging a hundred thousand dollars to do a full … I’m not talking about that kind of content audit. I’m talking about a tertiary very top level to this audience, so take your audience and to this audience, what do we do? We have this email newsletter, we have the social, we have the branding stuff and whatever. That’s fine. Well, get to what’s the purpose of your email newsletter. So maybe there’s a purpose, maybe it’s not for lead gen, maybe it’s for retention. Maybe you weren’t there when it was started, so you don’t know, so ask, because a lot of people … what’s happening, email has been around such a long time.
When I talked to content marketing director that’s in charge of email, they say, “I don’t know, we just do it. It just happens.” Bill over here runs the email and the marketing automation. It’s just happened that we take a collection of all our stories on the blog and we throw them out there. I’m like, “Okay, well, we need to do better.” So get some stats, look at it and see what can happen. If you want to get scared, you could stop sending it and probably no one would complain so that they probably wouldn’t notice, people just … so if you came out with something and said, “You know what, we better. We can do better, and if you need …” so there’s a couple of ways that I would go about it, if you’re talking to a chief marketing officer. One is do a project pilot.
Call it a pilot. You call it as an experiment because usually CMOs are like, “Oh, if it’s an experiment, we’re doing a little bit of money. It’s not a full-time commitment. We want to do this project. Here’s the hypothesis under it.” That’s fine. Now I would go that direction, and the other thing is I would show them them Morning Brew. Show them The Hustle. Show them how New York Times … show them the stock price of New York Times. Go and look at … New York Times turned around their entire business when they moved to segmented email. New York Times has something like 75 different newsletters right now. People don’t realize that they’re all segmented news. Then, they have the sell up to the digital subscription and people are like, “Oh, how did they do that?”
They didn’t do it by putting an ad in their print magazine. They did it by signing up very specific people with very specific needs, and they’ve got a 10,000 audience here and a 15,000 audience here, and those all bubble up and then, they all get the subscription and then there’s an upsell. It’s great David, because the examples are there. So just look at the examples and I would show your team the examples and say, “This is where all the innovative companies are going.” They’re going to email, which is weird to say.
That is, but it’s also interesting what you say. I love the example of just sort of doing it because run into that with organizations that I’ve taken on, which is like this newsletter thing and the whole team sort of rallies around it every month or what have you, but nobody knows why we’re doing it.
Yeah, and I would look at it as … I think when you put it into terms, every touchpoint should be an experience, is a content experience and an opportunity to deliver something unique and to deliver something that nobody else is delivering. When I get most corporate E-newsletter and even a lot of the media newsletters out there right now, it’s just like, I can get all this stuff anywhere. I can just get it from their site. I can get it from their blog. That’s why when we said at The Tilt we were going to do an email newsletter, we said, we have to make sure that this newsletter is set up where they can only get this information this way. It has to be unique to them. It has to be exclusive, be part of a club, special access, whatever you want to call it.
And that type of thing works, and that’s what you see with New York Times and Morning Brew and The Hustle and all the ones that are selling for a 100 million, 300 million dollars right now.
I want to stay on the topic of newsletters for a minute because another question in here that caught my eye that I think is interesting. Compare the value of a news story versus a blog or a newsletter in your opinion, sort of the value of it.
A news story or a-
News story. Let me read the whole comment here. Based on the webinar title, I thought you’d be comparing values of press releases and media stories versus content marketing channels.
Well, that’s an interesting question. I guess I would say, let’s take the channel out of it for a second. So the channel … I mean a content marketing channel is also a media channel. What’s PR today? Are we talking about one time press release? No, we’re talking about we want to build a relationship with a certain group of people. A lot of that has to do with regular content creation, delivered to a group of people, and hopefully there’s an outcome with that. That outcome could be audience building, that could be a content marketing example. So I would say any good marketer or PR professional, just go back to what the goal is and what you’re trying to do and figure out what platform makes the most sense.
I mean, if you’re a PR professional and you’re listening to this, I mean, can you put a … I’ll give you a really good example. I talked about this earlier today. I wrote a post, a blog post in 2007 called What is Content Marketing? So that’s 14 years ago, David. I wrote that post. That post today gets between 500 and 1000 people a day going to that post, and it’s probably generated something like three to four million dollars. One post. I’m not doing a release to somebody, I’m just doing one post that we did a really good job with SEO and we’re playing for the … if you would looked at that post after two to three years, nothing. Now, we’ve gotten to a certain point. That’s why creating a category really can make a difference.
So if you’re the PR professional and you had that idea, that’s great public relations right there. You can’t get any better than that. I mean, I don’t really look at it in terms of what are you, are you a media buyer, are you PR whatever? All I’m saying is that there’s value in building an audience and you as the media professional at a brand or not, you have to figure out what is the behavior that you’re looking for or that you find from building an audience. If you can’t find a behavior change in any way, you got a problem, right? What we found out is if we really start to understand our audience, we see, “Oh, it is better. Wow, they come to a …” if they subscribe to our newsletter, they come to the webinars. If they subscribe to the newsletter, they come to our user event.
They pay for the premium version of our software. They’re a great distributor. Whatever, you start to find that, but you have to set the hypothesis upfront.
Very good. That also brings up another one, another question that I was scanning through here, talking about the longevity of that piece there. So I want to ask this question kind of on the heels of that is how important that keyword resource is in the content marketing space, if I’m a content marketer sort of starting out, how important is that for me to get sort of up to speed on using the proper keywords in that?
Okay. SEO Is incredibly important. As important as it’s ever been. Is it competitive? Yes, of course, but that’s why using new keywords could actually be better for you. When you say search engine optimization, you got to remember you’re not just talking about text, and that’s where everybody is going today, and that’s fine. That should be your initial, for our company, we have probably 100 rolling keywords that we look at on a monthly basis. And we look at, “Okay, here’s our keyword. Here’s our content asset that we’re either created or created. Here’s our ranking. And here we were last month because we try to look at this.” At the same time, you have to look at that on YouTube. 93% of all searches right now come from one company, Google. Alphabet, number one, number two, search engine, Google and YouTube.
So you’ve got to say, “Okay, what are we doing on Google and what are we doing on YouTube?” So that’s where your YouTube strategy might not a regular series, because if you’re going to do video, you got to do it as a regular series or it might be, “Oh, in this case, this is the problem where we’re trying to get found for these 10 keywords.” Well, maybe you’re doing 10 videos for that. By the way, sometimes they’re not on your channel, maybe they’re on some … maybe I partner with you, David and say, I’m trying to do something around content marketing for enterprises. And can I do a video on your channel? And you’d say, yeah maybe or whatever. So those are the types of things that we can get that way.
And then of course, you’ve got voice or here’s where voice is going. Amazon has more open voice positions, I think I heard yesterday for hire than positions at Google that are open entirely in the company. I think there’s thousands and thousands of open positions for voice. So we’re going to start seeing, and this is going to happen real quickly in the next couple of years, but you’re not going to type your searches anymore. Everything is going to be voice. What you have to realize is the algorithms are built off of text and they haven’t moved to voice yet, and that’s where Amazon gets in and you’ve got to do it. And I’m not a voice search expert, so if I’m a marketer, I would really start looking at voice search.
So those are the three that I’m looking at right now, but I would start with rolling list of keywords, and then, how … that’s why I love a blog. Of course, we’re talking WordPress VIP. I love the value of a blog, Parse.ly. Your product works really well with textual content. So that’s why it just makes sense to have that as part of the strategy somewhere because own content. Right now, I’m scared. I’m scared as a marketing professional where you’ve got five or six tech companies that dominate everything in a creative wall of gardens. I think we’re going to move away from that with Web3. I’m hoping we move away from that because they’ve just gotten way too powerful, and it’s very tough as a marketer today when you have to live in these fiefdoms.
I mean, I love, when it was, in the early 2000s where you could create the website, do the search. Well now, you’ve got these big companies that are in the way and we’ve got to deal with them, but yes, I would have the rolling list to start with that and have somebody on your team look at that on a regular basis.
I guess this question is more just around social posting and frequency. I guess starting out a lot of these questions that’s sort of like it’s starting out kind of thing, and I’m just going to kind of maybe think it’s seasonality of things. People are kind of getting started. They’re thinking about reevaluating their content strategies and so forth. So the question just came straight out. How many posts a day would you recommend to post on social so we don’t overstatuate people’s walls?
Well, you don’t want to ever start with frequency. You want to start with consistency. So the most important thing is being consistent. Then, if you think of, “Okay, well how can we be consistent and let’s say amazing or remarkable for every one of those posts,” let’s say LinkedIn. Let’s just take LinkedIn. So if you’re going to publish content on LinkedIn, what can you do at a consistent way to that target audience that is really good stuff? Well, maybe you say we can do once every other day, once a day. Once a day, we can do a really good post. Well, then that’s what you do. If you can do remarkable content 10 times a day on Twitter and you can schedule that out and every little piece is insightful and it works and the audience likes that and they share it, well great, do that then.
That’s why I like to start with the consistency first, because you actually don’t want more content. You want to create the minimum amount of content with the maximum amount of results. So a lot of people think that means more content. It doesn’t necessarily. My friend Andy Crestodina used to have a regular blog that he would put out every couple days, and then he realized that his blog was sort of … it wasn’t special. It never broke through the clutter. It was what everybody else was covering, these tips, these smart tactics and nobody was … it wasn’t hitting his goals. He went to one post a month, but that post is like 3,500 words. So they put everything into one amazing post.
And when he does that one amazing post, everyone shares it. He said that his subscribers went up dramatically by doing the one post over the 15 in a month. So again, think about that first. I wouldn’t think about frequency because you can make a case that sometimes it’s one and sometimes it’s 10. Start with what you can do, minimally.
Last question for you, Joe, as we start to wrap things up here. State of content going into 2022, maybe one, two trends or things folks should be thinking about, or as they sort of thinking about their strategies going into next year, what are your thoughts on some of the content trends or strategies going into next year?
Yeah, not every company will have a content marketing strategy, but every innovative company will. You’re going to start seeing more Amazon’s, Apple’s Disney’s that you don’t know whether they’re a product or service company or a media company. That’s Arrow Electronics, right? Arrow electronics, they’re in the electronics distribution business, but are they a media company or are they product and service company? Well, they’re both and actually, that’s why some of the best … That’s why the Red Bull Media House, why was the Red Bull Media House successful? Because their marketing people came with publishing in their background. So the perfect content marketing person is somebody with half marketing and understands that coming from a marketing background and understands KPIs for marketing and then, understands publishing and consistency and unique storytelling and those things together are what’s really going to make it.
So I would start there and say that. I would say, you’re going to see M and A explode. I mean, it’s already exploded. 2022, it’s going to get even worse. You’re going to see product and service companies that you would never expect start buying little media companies. That’s going to start being more of the media, M and A is going to be happening outside of media. You’re going to see gaming companies, you’re going to see technology companies that are going to start to buy media because of all the things that we talked about, because HubSpot is like, “I don’t want to advertise. I want to have a direct relationship with the audience, so let’s just buy the audience.” As long as they don’t go evil on that and start to just promote, if they keep the mission of that organization, it generally works out really well like it’s worked out for Arrow Electronics.
So you’re seeing the dawn of the marketing … marketing is not an expense anymore, it’s a profit center. This is what all this thing is getting to, where you look at an Arrow Electronics and their marketing department actually throws off cash. Cleveland Clinic right now has a blog called Health Essentials. They make money off of that, so it does all the things, they want to drive more patients into the hospitals, and they do that, but at the same time, it’s profitable. So that’s what I think it’s going to happen for ’22.
Very good. Very good. Great insight there, Joe.
Hey, we’ve reached the end of it here. I want to thank you for your time. It was really great to have you on, a lot of great insights. I know I picked up on a few things. My team is slacking me here on the side. We’re like, “Oh, this is great. We should do that.” So this is really, really great and I appreciate you accepting the invite to come on, Joe. Yeah, anything else, any last thoughts you have for the audience?
No, no. Just I would say my last piece of advice is if I was going to recommend something for ’22, cut out a few things and be better at what the other things that you’re doing, and I think you’re going to hit more of your goals in ’22.
Sounds great. Sounds great. All right. Well folks, this concludes our webcast today. Again, we thank Joe for his time today. Be sure to check out some of his content here through some of his channels. A lot of great insights and yeah, this concludes our webcast for today. Everyone have a great afternoon.