Joe Pulizzi left a six-figure senior publishing job in 2007 to establish a company from the ground up. Rather than starting with a product or service, he focused on building an audience first, then deciding what items and services to sell afterward.
This worked out perfectly for Joe and his crew. For the past three years, his company, the Content Marketing Institute, has been on the Inc. 500 list of America's fastest-growing private enterprises.
In this new environment we live in, he developed the book Content Inc. to show you how to utilize content marketing to expand your business.
There are six areas on which you should concentrate your efforts. Let's take a look at each one separately.
1. The Sweet Spot
The first step in developing a content marketing strategy (or starting from scratch) is to identify a content area to build your business model.
This is what Pulizzi refers to as the "sweet spot," and it's where your knowledge or talent intersects with something you're really enthusiastic about.
You can choose ability (something you're well knowledgeable about) or a skill (something that you are very proficient at). The majority of us can easily come up with a list of them.
Michelle Phan, for example, blended her passion for beauty and her ability as an artist into a Youtube channel with over a billion views.
She's also gotten a book contract and utilized her celebrity to create a $500 million cosmetic product sample company. Not bad for a company that started with a crappy webcam video of cosmetics instruction.
But, as Michelle and everyone who has established a Content Inc. firm will tell you, the second half - the passion - is what makes it all work. You'll never make it if you don't have the enthusiasm to put in the hard effort when things become tough.
The confluence of an authority area and your consumer pain concerns is an alternate sweet spot that makes sense for more established organizations. Creating material that your clients will enjoy and that meets a need will be beneficial.
This takes us to the following point: your content requires an audience, and you must know them better than they know themselves. This is the only way you'll be able to construct your message in such a manner that it connects with your audience and keeps them coming back every week.
2. The Content Tilt
Once you've decided what kind of content you want to create for your audience, you need to ensure it's unique and superior to what's already there.
This is, interestingly enough, how Readitfor.me came to be. These book briefs were created to attract marketing clients to our marketing firm. The following is a condensed version of the tale.
I had several conversations with marketing professionals about how they may utilize social media to help expand their organization roughly half a decade ago when social media for business was just starting to take off. No one really wanted to be the first person to sign a check before there were any case studies to assist pave the path.
I would see some books on the bookcases of these marketing experts while I was in these meetings, several of which I had read. When I asked them what they thought of "X notion from Y book," they gazed at me blankly for a moment before admitting that they didn't have time to actually read the book.
Then I asked whether they had ever considered signing up for a book summary service. The majority of them answered yes, but they didn't want to read some other pdf document at the end of each day.
So, we merged that consumer pain issue with a hobby of mine (reading books), a talent I possessed (rapidly reading and summarizing books - which I had picked up in law school), and lastly, a more entertaining manner of delivering the material - video.
We sent the first video we ever made (on Jack Welch's Winning) to ten individuals, who then forwarded it to twenty more, which swiftly grew to hundreds, then thousands.
When we started getting calls from venture capital companies, we recognized we had something, and we transformed it into a full-time business that currently serves thousands of consumers all over the world.
We don't mention this to boast. Rather, we want to emphasize that what you're reading right now began as a content marketing strategy that was never intended to become a stand-alone business. And now we're here. You can do it if we can do it.
3. Building the Base
It's time to go to work now that you've established a content development plan. The very first thing you'll need to think out is where you'll put your fresh thoughts.
You'll need to figure out which media you'll use to convey your story before you can make a decision. Is it going to be written, video, audio, or live? The great majority of content marketing success stories, according to Pulizzi, fit into one of the categories listed:
- Articles or blogs are acceptable options. The Content Marketing Institute's main outlet is a blog.
- Programs that send out e-newsletters. Social Media Examiner sends daily information to over 300,000 subscribers through email.
- Videos. Gary Vaynerchuk produces a massive amount of video material to expand his brand and marketing firm.
- Podcasts. Day after day, John Lee Dumas delivers a new podcast interview.
You must ask yourself two extremely essential questions before making this decision.
First and foremost, which medium provides you with the most possibility to reach your target audience? Some networks, such as Youtube and some new blogging sites like Medium, come with built-in audiences. Other platforms, such as hosting a blog on your website with a tool like WordPress, will need you to start from scratch with your readership.
Second, which channel allows you the greatest flexibility in how you display your material and grow your audience? The answers to the initial question have been reversed in this question. While you won't have a built-in audience if you utilize WordPress, you will have total creative power and management over your subscriber connection.
On platforms like YouTube, you have no control over your connection with your subscribers. YouTube might delete your channel at any time, denying you to connect to your audience. Although unlikely, it is feasible.
You're ready to start creating content now that you've set up your platform.
The consistency of your material will be crucial to your success. The more constant you are with your publication schedule, the better your chances of success will be. The content calendar is your best buddy here. The best way to keep on track is to plan out what you'll publish and when you'll post it.
4. Harvesting Audience
You need to find out how to start developing your audience now that you've set the platform and selected when you'll post your material.
Only one figure should matter to you in the Content Inc. model: the number of committed subscribers you have. You should strive to get subscribers on practically every channel where your material is available. Still, there is a hierarchy to which media will provide you with the greatest value.
The most crucial channel for you to use is still email. It gives you the most control, and, like it or not, it still pays off handsomely. Second place goes to print subscribers, then LinkedIn, and finally Twitter.
Facebook fans are at the bottom of the pecking order because it's difficult to get in front of your Facebook fans, even after they've liked your page.
Due to the importance of email, you should make your email subscription option visible on your website and consider using pop-ups to grab new subscribers. Ignore folks who tell you that these things irritate them and that they would "never join up to a list on a website that employed one." They are quite effective.
Another strategy to start growing your audience is to create content that is optimized for search engines.
Make sure you're focusing on the keywords in your specialty and do the necessary measures to rank effectively for them. Those actions will not be covered in this article. There are several sites available online for you to obtain the most up-to-date information.
Influencer marketing is your best choice if you're just getting started and don't have a significant budget to pay for traffic to your content. Essentially, you'll be seeking folks who already have a considerable following to share your material with them.
You'll need to take three steps to get an influencer project off the ground:
- Create a small pool of possible partners and learn more about them.
- Start reaching out to them.
- Experiment, evaluate, and refine.
There are a few options for enlisting the help of an influencer. You may get a quotation from them for an article you're working on.
You might ask them to share it once you've posted it. Second, you may propose that you develop content specifically for their target demographic. Third, you could just ask them to share something you've previously created with their audience.
We've employed this approach at Readitfor.me several times. We even had a group of influencers share multiple parts of our material over two weeks once. It's simply effective.
Now that you've had some progress with content marketing, you might want to expand into other areas.
Over the last several years, one of the most popular courses of successful content creators has been to move out from their blog, then to a book, and finally to a speaking career.
This is the same method that Tony Robbins and others have followed to get to now. The only distinction is that you'll be utilizing your blog instead of infomercials, as Tony Robbins did.
We won't go much into diversification in this overview because most of you will be utilizing content marketing to develop an existing firm rather than start one. However, if you decide to go this path, you should purchase the book and do further research.
Lastly, we've arrived at the point where all of your hard work will be rewarded - generating money.
Transforming traffic from your content into consumers of your present business is one approach to generating money with content marketing. In this instance, you should include calls-to-action in each of your content properties that lead to the conversion of visitors into customers.
Suppose you want to construct a Content Inc. company as Pulizzi did with the Content Marketing Institute. In that case, you'll need to develop new products and services to market to your audience. Here are some ideas about how to go about it:
- Organizing and charging for live events.
- Obtaining sponsorships to pay for display space in certain circumstances.
- Producing online training courses that you may sell for a fee.
- Providing corporate workshops in person.
- Finding sponsors for your podcast.
It's a completely different world out there. Nowadays, if you can create high-quality content, you can create a multimillion-dollar business.
You don't need to wait for people to pick you, secure venture capital money, or spend millions on advertising. To deliver value to your audience, you just need to put in the effort. If you do that, you could end yourself as a case study in Pulizzi's subsequent book.