Labcast: What’s Your Content Mission?

In part one of our two-part conversation with OpenView Senior Advisor Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose of the Content Marketing Institute, the two looked at some of the challenges of getting a content strategy off the ground. Now in part two, Joe and Robert look deeper at the importance of developing the right message and discuss their new book, Managing Content Marketing.

Labcast: What’s Your Content Mission?

Miss part one? Listen here. You can also follow Joe and Robert on Twitter @juntajoe and @Robert_Rose.


Brendan Cournoyer: It seems like another theme about all this is start simple. Robert even mentioned a bunch of different things that people might look at this and be like, “Wow, SEO, we have to learn SEO now and we have to learn how to do that better. We have to learn all these different social media strategies. We have to learn all these different channels for delivering this content via newsletters, videos, all this stuff.” It’s intimidating, I think.

I think maybe one of the lessons is do one thing really well first. Figure out what that story is and the best way to tell it first. Then build from there, and I think that might be, especially for younger companies with limited resources, that might be certainly the right way to go and even for larger companies as well, as far as getting started, and really getting the ball rolling in the right direction.

Joe Pulizzi: You’re right to say that there is more shiny tools out there than ever before, but they said the same thing when print came along, and radio, and television, and movies, and all that stuff. It’s just going at a faster rate than ever before.

What we’re dealing with has not changed. We make this point at Content Marketing World. We talked about the fact that this storytelling stuff, this content marketing is something that has been going on for hundreds of years. You can probably take it back to cave paintings. How did somebody sell their wares? They told a story to do that.

It’s just somewhere along the way it got perverted a little bit where we started to focus more on just interrupting people, as Seth Godin has said, permission marketing very well for years. We forgot how to tell a compelling story, which is kind of sad. Now, because of search engine optimization, lead generation, and social media, it’s back on the map. Storytelling wins.

Yes, start small, but just understand what is the story? What’s your content mission? What are you trying to tell? How is that going to affect your business? Then focus on, realistically let’s say if you’re not doing anything, focus on a couple of tools that you feel are the best channels to go after. That could be, for a small company, obviously, a blog is probably one of the number one, because it is just a tool, nothing more than a tool, just like anything else we have talked about, but it is an easy way to get content out there that integrates really well with social media and it is great for search engines.

That is one way to look at it. Then add a couple twists to it as you are checking out what works and what doesn’t work. Could be a white papers, could be video, could be podcasts. As Andrew Davis from Tipping Point Lab says, “The most under utilized channel in the world is the podcast.” Because people are running around, they can’t watch their televisions in the car, but they can listen to a podcast.

Start with the one or two that you know and do really well, but you can’t do any of unless you figure out:  What is the story? How is this story affecting the pain points of my customers? Of course, that means it is not about you then. It is content that is going to help them, but it’s going to affect your marketing, what way?

Get out there what those results might be. Get some feedback. Start changing and it is an iterative process as you go through it, and then you get better and better. Before long, you are a content marketer.

Robert Rose: It’s amazing to me how many business will look at social media, content marketing, their blog strategy, their web strategy, whatever it is without looking at that content strategy first, without figuring out what their story is. I think the root of the overwhelming part of it is it’s not unlike walking up to somebody and saying, “Okay, I want you to stand up in front of a thousand people and talk for 30 minutes.” “Well, what should I talk about?” “Just talk.”

That’s overwhelming, and people get real scared and they get overwhelmed because they don’t know what they are about to say. When we come up with a strategy that says we need to figure out what our Facebook strategy is, we need to figure out what our Twitter strategy is, we need to figure out what our blog strategy is, without first figuring out the story, it is like standing up in front of the microphone in front of a thousand people and going, “I do not know what I’m going to talk about.”

That’s why it feels so overwhelming to many business, and that’s why I think we get the question so many times of, “What am I suppose to say?” Because they don’t know. Going and figuring out that story is such an important piece, and figuring out who I’m talking to and telling that story to is the second most important piece.

Then the channels kind of define themselves, quite frankly. You start playing around. The technology is really quite simple, and it just becomes of how much effort do we really want to put into this? Now we know exactly what we want to say. We have a really compelling message. Now it is just what channels we want to use to tell it?

Joe: I think for a small company, just to add on that, let’s say it is a startup. You are not rolling it in yet, but you know you want to do some of this content marketing stuff and tell your story. A lot of the mistakes that are made is, “Oh well, you don’t want to exclude all these people. So we are going to go broad with our message.” But that is just like you are just sitting and saying, “Oh my gosh, if I’m talking to a thousand. . .”

Let’s say there are a thousand people and there are 20 different buyer personas. Well, that’s unmanageable. You can’t create a story that is going to resonate with all those people. So go small, go niche. We have talked about this today. What can you be the world’s leading expert in? Let’s say that you’re a marketing automation company. Probably, if you are a startup, you can’t say marketing automation. But you could just say marketing automation for farmers. Whatever, but yeah, we are the leading provider of marketing automation services for the farming community.

You know what? I can create a story for that. I know exactly who I’m targeting. I know exactly what their pain point are, because you can always go broad. As you content strategy gets more complex, then you might have something in farming and then you have something in CPG, or whatever the case is.

But start smaller where you can really show your expertise, and people will then lean on you and say, “Oh, they are the expert. I’m going to go subscribe to their blog, get more information from them because I like their white paper, video, share it,” or whatever the case is.

Rob: The great joke, the only difference in a crazy person and a stand-up comedian is an audience.

Brendan: Well, on that note, I want to thank you guys again for taking the time. We really appreciate the insight. Before we let you go, I would love to give you a chance to tell the folks listening where they can go to find more from you. I believe there is a new piece of literature to discuss.

Joe: Yes, there is. It is so surprising that you brought that up, literature, even. Robert Rose and I recently wrote a book, just released, called, “Managing Content Marketing.” You can type that into Google or go to, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, or any other wonderful online location.


Joe:, pick that up. Any of those people interested in actually figuring out the process of content marketing that book will help you. Content Marketing Institute has a lot of wonderful free resources for technology companies, and the best one might be Cheap Content Officer Magazine.

Our quarterly magazine, dedicated to this whole practice of content marketing, if you would like to sign up for that, it is free. Type in Cheap Content Officer into Google, it will come right up. It should be the number one listing. Then go ahead and sign up for that. We will send it to you as soon as the next issue is out. Did we miss anything, Robert? You got anything else?

Robert: I don’t think so. No, that’s lovely.

Joe:  Okay. Very good.

Brendan: All right. Thanks very much again, guys. I hope we can do this sometime again soon.

Joe: Thanks for having us. Appreciate it.

Robert: Thank you very much.

Brendan Cournoyer
Brendan Cournoyer
Content Strategist

Brendan worked at OpenView from 2011 until 2012, where he was an editor, content manager and marketer. Currently Brendan is the Vice President of Corporate Marketing at Brainshark where he leads all corporate marketing initiatives related to content, creative, branding, events, press and analyst relations, and customer marketing.
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