42 content marketing tactics, over 50 case studies and hundreds of resources – The Content Marketing Playbook: 42 Ways to Connect with Customers is packed with lots of ideas to execute on your content strategy.
Joe Pulizzi is a leading author, speaker and strategist for content marketing. Joe, founder of client-vendor matching site Junta42, is co-author of the highly praised book Get Content Get Customers, recognized as THE handbook for content marketing. Joe writes one of the most popular content marketing blogs in the world.
Jonathan Kranz has written a huge stack of content, advertising, direct marketing, and public relations materials for consumer and B2B clients in financial services, banking, insurance, high-tech, healthcare, education, and other industries. Jonathan is also the author of Writing Copy for Dummies and The eBook eBook: How to Turn Your Expertise Into Magnetic Marketing Material.
Marketers have to create a story that customers and prospects want to listen to.
Content marketing means meeting customers on their own terms.
Ambal Balakrishnan: Joe & Jonathan, it is a great pleasure to discuss your latest eBook – The Content Marketing Playbook. Thanks for finding time out of your very busy schedule to provide your valuable insights to our readers. What prompted you to embark on creating ‘The Content Marketing Playbook’?
Joe Pulizzi: Content marketing seems to be the buzz word for 2009. There are lots of experts talking about the value of content marketing, and that’s great…but a much lesser number are actually talking about clear, concise examples. That’s why we developed the Content Marketing Playbook. A marketing professional can quickly get an idea of why and how they should use a particular tactic. Now that doesn’t mean content strategy isn’t important…it’s still paramount, but that wasn’t the purpose of this. The Playbook should be used as a great tool to brainstorm and imagine the possibilities to position your company/brand as a trusted solutions provider (through content).
Jonathan Kranz: My role in the Playbook begins with a cool social networking story. In advance of publishing The eBook eBook: How to Turn Your Expertise Into Magnetic Marketing Material, I spent a lot of time online, following bloggers, Tweeters and thought- leaders interested in content marketing. Joe, obviously, was (and is) one of the big guns in the field. When I saw that we were both scheduled to speak at a virtual online conference, I introduced myself to Joe and we arranged a phone call. Naturally, we had a lot of common interests. And when Joe happened to mention, as an aside, that he had started a kind of guidebook to content tactics, but was bogged down with work, I offered to help with the writing.
Ambal Balakrishnan: Give us the background of how you gained an interest in Content Marketing.
Joe Pulizzi: People don’t want to be interrupted, but they still want to have relationships with the brands they favor. About a decade ago I realized that the way to do this was for marketers to become their own publishers. In 2000, I started helping brands become their own publishers while at Penton Media. When I left Penton in 2007, my goal was to spread the concept of “marketers as publishers” or content marketing to the masses. Writing Get Content. Get Customers. was an important part of this process. The great part is, now there are many people consistently discussing content marketing and the benefits of this philosophy. Great things are starting to happen, and it’s only the beginning.
Jonathan Kranz: Whereas Joe came to content marketing from a media angle, I came at it, unexpectedly, from direct marketing. Several years ago, I was brought in to a lead-generation project in which the premium – or offer – was a “top ten” booklet relevant to the target market. I wrote the book, plus most of the supporting marketing materials: direct mail, print ads, email, web copy, etc. All of it focused on one thing: the value of the information in the booklet – not the product, service or brand. The results were staggering: the client had asked for 500 qualified leads; the campaign pulled in 1,200, representing (after sales) $1.2 million in new business. The key? The offer wasn’t a gimmick – like a flash drive or an iPod – but something immediately relevant to prospects’ needs. That’s what awakened me to the power of content marketing.
Ambal Balakrishnan: Please walk us through the eBook writing life-cycle. How did it evolve on its journey from concept to launch?
Jonathan Kranz: Joe came up with the idea and began with a rough outline that matched various tactics with potential examples. When I came on board, we started by reviewing our list: adding missing tactics, deleting less-promising ones, and consolidating others that were similar. Then we agreed on a standard format: a brief definition or explanation of the tactic with an annotated example of the tactic in action. This, in turn, would be complemented by short bullet lists suggesting who should (or should not) consider using the tactic, plus three key “play points” with advice about execution. Once we pulled this together in a draft, we went through a few rounds of revisions to clarify our points and examples.
Ambal Balakrishnan: Who is ‘Content Marketing Playbook’ addressed towards?
Joe Pulizzi: Marketing professionals at non-media companies. We guarantee that any marketer, of any size, will get at least a couple of gold nuggets from the Playbook.
Jonathan Kranz: People tantalized by content marketing as a strategy, yet hungry for practical insights on tactics in order to execute that strategy effectively.
Ambal Balakrishnan: How is the marketing landscape different than what it was a decade back?
Joe Pulizzi: Simple answer — we went from a few, to thousands of communication vehicles over that time. Consumers have learned to ignore or block the messages they don’t want. That means that marketers have to create a story that customers and prospects want to listen to. Enter content marketing.
Jonathan Kranz: Traditional marketing methods have taken a major beating. Direct marketing response rates have plummeted and ordinary advertising has been undermined by new customer behaviors: customers don’t sit around to “see” or “hear” your messages; instead, they seek out information they want when they want it. Content marketing means meeting customers on their own terms.
Ambal Balakrishnan: You have some great case studies in ‘Content Marketing Playbook’? How did you pick these examples?
Joe Pulizzi: It’s easier than you think. Most of the case studies were provided by Junta42 certified content vendors. Since we review these projects on a regular basis (because that’s part of what Junta42 does to properly help marketers find expert content vendors), we simply had to reach out to our partners.
Ambal Balakrishnan: What are the 3 key lessons you want readers to take away from your book?
- Everyone is a publisher. If you aren’t publishing via one or many of these outlets, you are going to be in trouble.
- Don’t be afraid. The best way to find out what works is to start, get customer feedback and continue to evolve the program.
- There is no silver bullet, but there are 42 (and growing) ways to get your story out to customers…to present yourself as an expert in your industry…and to ultimately change the way you do business. What an opportunity!
- Think from your customer’s point of view. It’s what they need, not what you want, that matters.
- Experiment. Most of the 42 tactics are relatively cheap (especially compared to media buys and DM). Expand on what works, abandon what does not.
- Jump in. You’ll learn best by taking action, gathering feedback, measuring results, and making adjustments.
Ambal Balakrishnan: What one “get started on right way” change do you recommend to the reader of your ‘Content Marketing Playbook’?
Joe Pulizzi: Listen! Your customers are either talking about you, or talking about things that are important to them all over the web. Listen, then start finding a way to get yourself in the conversation.
Jonathan Kranz: Joe’s nailed it: Listen. Then listen some more.
Ambal Balakrishnan: Please recommend 3-5 resources (books, blogs).
Where to start:
- Kristina Halvorson’s Content Strategy for the Web
- Bernie Borges’ Marketing 2.0: Bridging the Gap between Seller and Buyers through Social Media Marketing
- David Meerman Scott’s New Rules of Marketing & PR
- Seth Godin’s Purple Cow
Ambal Balakrishnan: What kind of projects are you involved in when you are not writing, blogging, speaking, or consulting?
Joe Pulizzi: A few that are not ready to be released, but the big one is continuing to tweak Junta42 into a truly helpful content marketing service for marketers. Also, keeping an ear to the ground in the industry looking for opportunities (like with the Playbook) to spread the gospel of content marketing to the masses.
Jonathan Kranz: I serve on the board of directors of Notre Dame High School in Lawrence, Massachusetts. As part of the innovative Cristo Rey Network, students attend four extended school days, then spend the fifth day of the week working in a corporate/white collar environment; the money they earn helps defray the cost of tuition. This is our sixth year as a school. Despite operating in what the Boston Globe has described as the poorest city in the commonwealth, both of our graduating classes to date have achieved 100% acceptance rates to four-year colleges!
Ambal Balakrishnan: Jonathan & Joe, thanks for taking the time to discuss your eBook and sharing your insights with us.
Joe Pulizzi & Jonathan Kranz: Thanks Ambal.
Read The Content Marketing Playbook and keep it handy. You will find great ideas for every kind of marketing project you tackle. Download The Content Marketing Playbook FREE here. Get The Content Marketing Playbook’s Table of Contents here.
Over to you…
What is the one lesson from The Content Marketing Playbook you will put to use in your next Content Marketing project?