Joe Pulizzi: Godfather of Content Marketing
Engaging and growing an audience is key to brand building and business success.
Joe Pulizzi swears by his approach of building an audience and once that audience knows, likes, and trusts a brand, then they can be monetized. Known in the digital marketing industry as the Godfather of Content Marketing, he founded the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), an industry leader in the education and practical training of content marketing. He has since sold the company which hosts the world’s largest in-person marketing event, Content Marketing World, every year in Cleveland, Ohio. The event draws people across all industries to network and learn new methods and tactics for growing and monetizing an engaged audience in the digital world.
Big Dream Goes Big Time
Before Pulizzi became a major marketing heavyweight, he was just a simple person with a big dream. He had a vision of what internet marketing would be like before it became the world’s biggest platform for marketing and selling products and services. He is known for popularizing the term “content marketing” as far back as 2001, which means growing an engaged organic audience. With his belief in its results, he founded his first marketing company in 2007 which he later named in 2010, Content Marketing Institute.
A year later in 2011, Pulizzi started his first content marketing meeting, hoping that other industry leaders and company heads would attend and listen to what he had to say. He foresaw content marketing would evolve into a major factor in online sales and had hoped at least 100 people would show up. To his surprise, more than 600 business leaders and marketing gurus attended that first meeting. Since then, he saw a rise in attendees year after year until selling the company in 2016.
Known as a digital marketing legend, Pulizzi drew thousands of people who listened to him speak in person and on his podcasts This Old Marketing and Content Inc. Although the podcasts are no longer active, listeners can still garner valuable tips from his old podcasts. He says that people from all spectrums of business have a hard time engaging with their audiences and monetizing them. They know him as the go-to guy to find answers. Companies have paid thousands for Pulizzi to speak at their events and coach on how to grow their brands online.
When asked by Ben Hindman, co-founder and CEO of Splash Media, how to succeed in building an online audience while at the 2017 Marketo Summit, Pulizzi said, “If you want to be the leading expert in your industry, you need to be the leading online destination, you need the leading event, and you still need print.” While print media to many may seem archaic, he says it’s still valuable in terms of content marketing, “Print is tough because it’s harder to monetize but readership is still alive and well.”
An Accomplished Author
Aside from his public speaking engagements and entrepreneurial roles, he is also an accomplished author. His book Epic Content Marketing was named one of the Five Must Read Business Books of the Year by Fortune magazine. His fourth publication, Content Inc., teaches business owners to build a healthy organic audience from the bottom up and has been a bestseller in the direct marketing category since September of 2015. He is also responsible for co-authoring Get Content Get Customers and Managing Content Marketing which have both succeeded in their categories. His most recent collaboration with Robert Rose, Killing Marketing, was published in 2017.
The Orange Effect
Considered a family man with strong family values, Pulizzi decided to step away from his busy full-time career and dedicate more time to his personal life. After leaving his position at CMI in 2016, he devoted more of his time to his non-profit organization, Orange Effect Foundation (OEF). The organization was formed to ensure children with speech disorders receive the therapy and equipment they needed, especially low- and no-income families. He and his wife, Pam, started the foundation in 2014 after their son was diagnosed with autism. Because of the help their son received early in his diagnosis, he was able to develop into a fully independent young man.
Pulizzi’s gratitude and experience with getting the help he needed for his son, compelled him to extend the same hand to others, helping families whose children are in need of medical attention and care. His wife is the executive director of the organization and proudly stands alongside him in their cause. Families request funding by applying on the OEF website. Every quarter, board members gather to review applications, and once vetted, the applicants receive a grant to pay for their medical expenses and treatment. To date, the organization has supplied grants to 127 children in 26 states.
Today, Pulizzi still continues to fulfill his passion for the foundation while dedicating his free time to speak at marketing events and hold media interviews. His message for new businesses remains the same since the beginning of his journey. He advises startups to grow their brand and build their audience organically by spending half their time and resources on creating content and the other half on promoting that content to target audiences. He finds it vital to put effort into creating a solid content marketing strategy along with the actual content.
He also recommends being very patient, and never sell to an audience until there is a substantial number of followers who are engaged with the content. He did not attempt selling anything to his target audience until he reached 10,000 email subscribers. According to Pulizzi, that’s how to maximize income through the power of content marketing.