Joe Pulizzi’s book, Content Inc., always reminds me of a session at Content Marketing World 2014. Buddy Scalera was interviewing Pulizzi. He was telling us how he made the decision to leave his job and start his own company. He explained his thought process, challenges, and how that led him to create Content Marketing Institute.
It was one of the best sessions of the conference until one attendee raised her hand. She complained that Pulizzi wasn’t sticking to the title of the session, How to Create a Dominant Media Brand. So, Pulizzi switched to listing out the specific steps to build your brand. It was good information, but many of us wanted to more about his personal journey. Plus, we understood how it related to building his brand. Luckily, he continued to share his story in blog posts, podcasts, and his book, Content Inc.
In it, Pulizzi lays out the steps to create a successful business by using content to build your audience. You do that before you even have a product. While the book offers entrepreneurial examples, corporations can follow the same process to build a content strategy.
Start by Documenting Your Goals
Before going over the Content Inc. approach, Pulizzi reminds us that we must first document our goals. You need to review them regularly. He preaches this practice often. The annual research by CMI and MarketingProfs shows that the most successful content marketers perform these two actions.
Documenting your goals makes them real. Pulizzi quoted Doug Kessler at Content Marketing World 2015, “If you don’t write it down, it doesn’t exist.” Reviewing them often keeps you focused on achieving what you set out to do.
Building Your Audience
How can you start a company with no product or service? That seems like a logical question. But, so is “How can you create a successful product or service if you don’t know what your customers need?”
Build your audience by focusing on their pain points. Use this information to form the solution that only you can offer. You’ll be able to create the product they need if you understand your customers better than anyone else.
Start by building one audience. Become the trusted expert to solve their problems. Once you’re successful with this group, then expand to another audience and repeat.
6 Steps to the Content Inc. Approach
Pulizzi spends the majority of the book describing the six steps to the Content Inc. approach:
- The Sweet Spot: This is the subject matter in which you have plenty of knowledge or skill, as well as passion. The knowledge gives us expertise, while passion drives us to be successful.
- The Content Tilt: The content tilt is how you differentiate from your competitors. I love the example of Claus Pilgaard. He discusses the taste of chili peppers while everyone else is talking about how hot they are.
- Building the Base: Choose one platform and become the industry leader on that channel before expanding to other channels. It may take years, but the best media brands all started with one channel that they dominated. Your best bet is to choose a channel that you own.
- Harvesting Audience: Your goal is always to grow an audience. You want to build your email audience because that becomes an asset that you own. Social media audiences are good, but the platforms own those lists and can restrict your access anytime.
- Diversification: This is when your audience is growing and you’re ready to expand into new channels. Pulizzi describes the “three and three model” that he finds most successful. The first “three” are for building a personal brand: a blog, a book and speaking. The second “three” are for business: digital, print and in-person events.
- Monetization: This might be the holy grail of the process. Now that you’ve established your expertise and built your audience, you can start to charge. Pulizzi offers many examples of ways to monetize your content.
This is Not a “Get Rich Quick” Approach
If you’ve been reading Pulizzi’s blogs or listening to his This Old Marketing or Content Inc. podcasts, then you already know that this is not a fast approach. On average, it takes 15-17 months to monetize a content marketing program. You need to stick to your strategy, especially when it’s taking longer than you want to prove your success.
For those of you applying this strategy in a corporation, you’ll have to fight even harder. Your CEO might grow impatient and want to change up the program to spur results … or end it altogether. This is one reason that you review your documented strategy often. It will help keep you focused, and remind you to stay the course toward your end goal.
Who Should Read Content Inc.?
Like Epic Content Marketing, Content Inc. is a must-read for anyone looking to create a content marketing strategy. Pulizzi presents the steps in a manageable way while offering examples and exercises to get you started. I won’t call it “easy” because that would be misleading. But, this is about as straightforward as you can get for building a business or a new business approach.
What books do you find inspiring and helpful? Tell us in the comments below. Thanks for reading. If you like this post, please share it with your friends.
Note: This post originally appeared on the PR 20/20 blog.