Interview: 11 Questions for Joe Pulizzi (Content Marketing Institute)

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It may go down in the history books as the defining word of the past year or as its polar opposite, but one thing seems clear at this point. In spite of early naysayers, Content Marketing has become a genuine force in the German-speaking SEO landscape. A recent survey conducted by linkbird on the question “How important is Content Marketing to SEO?” yielded results which confirm Content Marketing as a firm fixture in digital marketing and that this discipline will in future be pursued further in the queried companies. This is a development that will not surprise one Content Marketer in particular.

Joe Pulizzi Content Marketing Institute linkbird Interview

For there is probably no other as committed to the topic of Content Marketing quite like Joe Pulizzi, who prefers to refer to himself as the Content Marketing Evangelist. The founder of the renowned Content Marketing Institute has traveled the world, preaching his own particular philosophy on Content Marketing, and also organizes Content Marketing World, an annual conference dedicated to the topic which in scope and reach is unmatched.

These are credentials impressive enough for linkbird to take the release of his latest book Epic Content Marketing as an opportunity to throw some question towards Joe Pulizzi on his increasingly exciting area of expertise.

linkbird: Hi Joe! Thanks for taking the time to answer a couple of questions on the buzz topic of Content Marketing. Let’s start right away with the first question…
Joe Pulizzi Epic Content Marketing
Q: In the first chapter of your book Epic Content Marketing, you list a number of synonyms for content marketing. Many German SEOs are fed up with hearing the term. Why do you think the term you began using in 2001 is still valid today?

Joe Pulizzi: Only one reason…brand marketers are using that term. Content marketing is the term that resonates with marketers creating and distributing content and that’s why we use it. That’s also probably why a number of SEO companies have adopted the term as well. I don’t care what they call it, as long as they do it. The fact that we are all talking the same language makes education and training A LOT easier.
Q: With your latest book Epic Content Marketing you are completing a trilogy of sorts on how-to books about Content Marketing. How has the field of Content Marketing evolved since parts one (Get Content, Get Customers) and two (Managing Content Marketing), do you think?

Joe Pulizzi: I like the trilogy thought, especially since we used a Star Wars theme for the latest book. Hopefully Epic Content Marketing is more like Empire Strikes Back than the Phantom Menace.
Q: How do you define Epic Content Marketing and how does one achieve epic quality in content marketing for online channels that many believe to be fleeting?

Joe Pulizzi: We outline six principles for Epic Content Marketing in the book:

  1. Our content must fill a need.
  2. We must be consistent with our content (and not campaign driven).
  3. We need to communicate like human beings.
  4. Don’t be vanilla. Take a stance with your content.
  5. Remove sales material from your content.
  6. Your goal should be best of breed.

We are fighting for attention with 13,000 other marketing messages a day. Our content must be Epic to cut through that clutter.
Q: What, do you think, is the biggest challenge in building a successful Content Marketing strategy? And how does one guarantee its longevity?

Joe Pulizzi: Probably culture. Content marketing is a muscle that most brands are not used to using. We’ve been communicating the same for so long…it’s challenging to change our ways. Outside of that, most brands have no documented content marketing strategy. Can you believe that? Most companies have no idea where the ship is heading with their content marketing. It’s a real problem.

linkbird umfrage content marketing im seo
Q: linkbird recently released the results of survey conducted among 500+ experts in SEO on the question, How important is Content Marketing to SEO (see here the results: How would you answer to this question?

Joe Pulizzi: You can’t game the system anymore. To get found in search, we need our content to be interesting, helpful and sharable. We don’t have a choice anymore. Before you set out SEO goals, you better have a content marketing strategy.
Q: Does Content Marketing work for every kind of business? Are there certain limitations to the method? We cannot all be the next Red Bull, right?

Joe Pulizzi: I believe it can, and that the opportunities are greater for small businesses to cover content niches ignored by larger brands. The only limitations are time and focus. Heck, our company (CMI) do very well for just about all searches around “content marketing” and we had a very small budget. My advice would be to focus on your specific audience and the specific content niche and become the leading informational provider in that niche. Consistency is key.
Q: You call yourself the “Content Marketing Evangelist”. Why do you think does Content Marketing still require preaching?

Joe Pulizzi: We’ve only just begun. We are still in early adoption phase with content marketing, even though the industry has been around for a long time. I’m happy to hang up my “evangelist” title when the work is done.
Q: You travel all around the globe talking to marketers and business owners. How do you think Content Marketing is progressing in the different countries you have visited?

Joe Pulizzi: For print content marketing, the UK and Germany have always been leaders. For digital, the US stood out for years. Today, many countries in Europe and countries in Asia Pacific are still a bit behind, but catching up fast. Remember, there are no technology barriers, so any barriers that exist to doing this are cultural and process related.
Q: You are advocating that businesses can “win more customers by marketing less” and by investing more in compelling stories. What kind of stories, do you think, succeed and are beneficial to businesses? Could you give us a perfect example?

Joe Pulizzi: Here’s 20 examples that I love: But there are no silver bullet strategies. You could be truly useful like John Deere is with The Furrow or Adobe is with You could be interesting like Coca-Cola is trying to be with Coca-Cola Journey. You could do Research like Google with ZMOT, or be thought provoking like Google Insights. Or you could be funny and entertaining like Smosh. Following the six principles will get you there.
Q: In your book, you draw inspiration from a myriad of sources, not only from the field of marketing, but also from political leaders, films, TV etc. Where do you think Content Marketers should draw their key inspiration from for their content?

Joe Pulizzi: Talk to customers. Marketers should be talking to at least five customers per month. It’s eye opening. Most marketers actually don’t talk to customers. It’s sad actually.
Q: Do you think Content Marketing has an expiration date? Could a new and different marketing style one day usurp the position it has now?

Joe Pulizzi: Sure, anything is possible. But honestly, I don’t know of any other way to communicate with customers today. How do you get their attention? It’s not be interrupting them more. How do we make our customers care? How do we get their attention? Anyone up for a good story?

Thanks for the enlightening and inspiring interview, Joe!
Content Marketing in SEO Study

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Asokan Nirmalarajah

Asokan Nirmalarajah

Dr. Asokan Nirmalarajah heads the Inbound Marketing team at linkbird, a software company for SEO management and content marketing. He has written numerous articles on SEO, linkbuilding, content marketing and inbound marketing. His passions are film, tv, literature and his wife.

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