live sketch of Joe Pulizzi's keynote at Content Marketing World 2019
PHOTO: Kingman Ink

My week at Content Marketing World began at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, where Content Marketing Institute hosted the conference’s kick-off party. I saw attendees perform on real sets, watched a video tribute to Dick Clark and American Bandstand and saw exhibits of the Hall’s 2019 inductees.

Content Marketing World Welcome

Stephanie Stahl, general manager, Content Marketing Institute, officially kicked off the conference Wednesday morning. Stahl paid tribute to those affected by Hurricane Dorian in the Southeast of the United States and welcomed the many international visitors to the conference, as well as residents of 49 states. The only state not represented? Alaska. Stahl’s welcome was followed by a short talk from Robert Rose, chief strategy advisor, Content Marketing Institute.

7 Laws of Content Marketing

Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute delivered the opening keynote, titled “MKTG 2030.” Pulizzi’s presentation focused on how marketers can remain relevant and useful in the years ahead. Pulizzi structured his talk around “7 Laws,” which I cover here.

1: The Law of They Have No Clue What You’re Doing

Having worked with content teams for years, one thing Pulizzi learned is this: content initiatives rarely get shut down due to poor performance. Instead, the executives who provide the funding for content marketing don’t understand what it is.

Pulizzi urged all content marketers to sell internally, all the time. Identify the people who control the budget and include them in your education and selling. Sometimes, it’s not your boss, but a second-level manager or someone in the C-suite. As experienced marketers, we need to turn the tables — and market ourselves.

Personal connection: When I led content marketing for a software company, I shared articles, posts, presentations, infographics (and results!) not only with my direct manager, but also with our CEO.

Related Article: Bridging the Marketing-Sales Gap With Content Marketing Strategies

2: The Law of Self-Sustainment

Pulizzi gave examples of two brands. First was Buzzfeed, which built a successful media business and is now aiming for $260 million in product sales from its Tasty brand. The second example was Cleveland Clinic, which complemented its core business of healthcare with the “Health Essentials” website, a revenue generator with sponsorship, research, advertising and syndication.

Pulizzi wants marketers to remain focused on hitting our core goals; however, he urges us all to think about driving revenue from multiple product lines.

Personal connection: None yet, but I’m thinking about applying this to my consulting business.

3: The Failed Start-up Law

Pulizzi mentioned the sports and pop culture site Grantland. ESPN owned and operated it, but shut it down in 2015. Why, Pulizzi, asked, didn’t a sporting apparel brand acquire it? The purchase price would likely have been modest and the acquiring company would benefit from existing content, writers and an audience.

It’s far wiser and less risky to acquire an existing audience than to build it from scratch yourself, said Pulizzi. As an example, Pulizzi noted that hardware maker Raspberry Pi recently acquired two magazines from Dennis Publishing.

Personal connection: None yet, but I see this happen with meetup groups. As one announces its pending closure, another meetup group may simply merge that group into its own.

Related Article: Content Marketing Strategy, Done Right

4: The Law of Ryan Seacrest

Pulizzi urged marketers to do one thing really well. Content Marketing Institute spent 27 months focused solely on creating a world-class content marketing blog. It was only after they established a sizeable audience that they launched a magazine, conference and other businesses.

The Ryan Seacrest analogy is this: Seacrest is seemingly everywhere, from morning talk shows to radio broadcasts to American Idol. According to Pulizzi, “We all can’t be Ryan Seacrest. Place heavy bets on winners and start killing off what’s not working.”

Personal connection: When I started out in content marketing, I focused on two things: our blog and our webinars. It was only after we found success in those two programs that we tried other things.

5: The Law of the Content One Night Stand

A lot of B2B sales and marketing works like this, according to Pulizzi: run marketing programs to attract leads, then convert leads to opportunities and sales. When a sale happens, throw a party! And then move on to the next sale, leaving your customer in the lurch.

In other words: a one night stand.

Instead, said Pulizzi, aim to get married to your customers. Don’t have a party only to leave them. Think less about campaigns and more about ongoing content experiences that inspire and delight.

Personal connection: Food for thought here. One thing to consider is forging stronger collaboration between marketing and customer success teams, so that marketing can stay connected with customers.

Related Article: What 4 Content Marketers Learned from 4 Content Marketing Experiments

6: The Law of Cyprus

In 2013, depositors bailed out the Bank of Cyprus, losing 47.5% of their savings. Pulizzi used this news item as an analogy to the major social platforms, noting that marketers need to prepare for the end of social media as we know it.

As a result of algorithm changes, the banning of state-run accounts (Twitter) and the social platforms’ own interest in developing original content, it will become near impossible for our content to be seen on social media.

Social media is rented land, while an email list is your own land. Use the rented land while you still can and build owned assets like email lists.

Personal connection: Close to two years ago, I started a personal newsletter.

7: The Marketing Pushover Law

Pulizzi thinks that marketers are too nice. How does he measure that? By counting how many times we say “yes.” If we’ve done the work and have a documented content strategy, Pulizzi said, then we’re in a position to say “no.” We just need the conviction to do so.

Pulizzi did one exercise with the audience. His slide read, “Can you launch a video to go along with the podcast?”

After reading the question out loud, Pulizzi, asked the audience to respond with a loud “No!”

Personal connection: I confess to being yes-oriented. Thanks for the advice, Joe.

Note: Content Marketing World is offering CMSWire readers a discount on the post-show videos available for purchase. Visit https://www.contentmarketingworld.com/registration/ for details. Code CMSWIRE200 saves $200 off the video package.