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How to Build Your Community with Content Marketing for Events

We know that if somebody engages in three different pieces of consistent content from us they’re off the charts more likely to come to our big event.” – Joe Pulizzi, Founder, Content Marketing World

Events of any shape and size, from workshops to festivals, conferences to wine tastings have one thing in common – they sell access to a unique experience.

Whether it’s learning, listening or chatting, at the centre of every event is great content.

Joe_Pulizzi

Yet so many event organisers don’t utilise their amazing content to grow their audience, build loyalty and drive future attendance.

It’s such a huge missed opportunity!

That’s why we had to chat with the ‘Godfather of content marketing’ Joe Pulizzi.

Joe is the founder of the Content Marketing Institute and best-selling author of Epic Content Marketing. He also presides over a growing conference and events empire including the world’s largest content marketing event, Content Marketing World.

In this 40-minute podcast, he offers some fantastic advice for anyone who wants to better utilise their event’s content to grow a fan base and build your community, including how to create a plan for growing your followers and turning them into attendees with content marketing.

This is a must listen/read for anyone interested in understanding how to build your community with content marketing for events.

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What you’ll learn:

  • What is content marketing?
  • Why you don’t need big budgets for good content marketing
  • How long it takes to see results from content marketing
  • What’s the minimum amount of content you need to start with
  • The power of podcasting
  • How content marketing has made Content Marketing World so successful
  • How to use your event’s content for year-round marketing
  • The missing piece for event content marketing: a solid distribution strategy
  • Examples of small budget content marketing done really well
  • The key to content marketing success: find a unique angle
  • What to expect from Content Inc.
  • Where to learn more about content marketing for events
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Here’s the full transcript:

Intro

MARK: [0:00] Hi. I’m Mark Walker from Eventbrite. Welcome to our latest expert interviews podcast on essential business skills.

For those of you unfamiliar with Eventbrite, we are a self-service ticketing platform and live experiences marketplace.

It’s my pleasure to be joined today by one of the founders and fathers of content marketing, and successful entrepreneur: Joe Pulizzi. Joe, thank you for joining us.

JOE: Mark it’s fantastic to be here, thanks for having me.

MARK: [00:26] Alright, wonderful. So for anyone not familiar with what you do you are the founder of the growing media empire that is Content Marketing Institute, you are also the author of the best-selling marketing book Epic Content Marketing. I know you do a lot of key note speaking around the world, and also you’re a very successful event organiser, with your series of events. Does that kind of cover the main elements there?

JOE: Yeah. I like to run on occasion and play golf if I can, but other than that I think you’ve got it, [1:00] I mean I’ve spent the last – jeez, how long has it been – over 15 years now in the industry, most recently since 2007 with Content Marketing Institute. But yeah, my whole goal is just to continue to evangelise the practice of content marketing, get more people to think about using it properly and then hopefully we’re doing the right thing and changing people’s lives in the process.

MARK: Alright, that’s fantastic. So that’s kind of your mission and that one of the things that I absolutely love about Content Marketing Institute, it’s clearly a mission-driven company.

[1:36] So just for anyone who’s listening who maybe isn’t familiar with the term content marketing yet, what is it – how do you define it, how is it different to regular marketing?

What is content marketing?

JOE: So yeah, I’ll give you a couple of different definitions. So the formal definition is you’re an organisation and you’re going to create valuable and compelling and relevant content on a consistent basis in order to attract and entertain customers, or create some type of behaviour change. [2:00] This is different in the fact that in the past – let’s say we were doing traditional public relations or traditional advertising and we were renting other people’s channels to get some kind of attention, with content marketing you’re really looking at your own channels, your own blogs, your own podcasts, your own magazines, your own webinars, your own events, in order to position yourself as the leading expert around the particular niche.

Of course as we’ve seen with social media and search, what’s wonderful about what’s happening with content marketing is that if you want to be found on the internet in some way, or if you want to continue to grow relationships with your current customers, there’s no better way to do that than to deliver amazing value through content that is separate from the product and service that you offer. And that’s where a lot of people get confused with content marketing, and they think oh I could tell stories about my products and services – that’s not content marketing. [3:00]

Content marketing is really similar to what you would think a traditional media company would do or, if you’re a b2b company you’d think oh okay – look at the trade publisher that’s doing a magazine, an event, a web portal of some kind – that’s what brands are starting to do and the difference is that instead of monetising that through paid content or through advertising like media companies do, we try to sell more products and services at the end of the day. Build trust through our content, build an audience ongoing and then if we do it right those people trust us more and will buy more from us in the future.

MARK: Alright, that’s a brilliant overview there. So we’re talking about some of the key words to pull out of that: authority, trust, ownership – you know, these are some of the key elements of doing good content marketing.

Why you don’t need big budgets for good content marketing

[3:51] Now you’ve talked about kind of looking at it in the same way as a traditional media company might do so, so that’s a big shift in mindset, and obviously big media companies have lots of resources there to produce all this original content. [4:00] In your opinion is content marketing something that any company can aspire to do; does it have to be expensive?

JOE: No actually I mean I think if you really look at it, it could be the least expensive from an investment standpoint. Now it still takes time and resources, so it just depends on how you look at it.

But it’s interesting, so for my new book – it’s called Content Inc. which will be out in September – we interviewed about 20 to 25 very, very small entrepreneurs, small businesses who didn’t have… You know, basically two pounds in their name – what are they going to do, how will they do this? – they figured it out and they said look, we’re going to focus on a particular content niche – very targeted – we’re going to focus on a very particular audience, and then you basically create content in a one platform over time and that makes all the difference.

[5:00] So yes, we hear about the red bulls of the world and we hear about Procter & Gamble and what they’re doing, and of course companies like Starbucks and whatnot. But the most exciting examples to me are the small businesses who literally own a content area just by delivering value through content over a long period of time.

MARK: [5:18] Right, so you don’t have to have a big budget but you do have to commit, right? You do have to commit some time and resources to doing it right? It just doesn’t have to be a tonne of money behind it?

JOE: Well actually it’s funny Mark, that’s why I think it’s easier – like people will disagree with me on this – everybody always makes the excuse oh we don’t have the budget, we don’t have the money, we don’t have the funds to get first-rate content or whatever but honestly, it’s easier for a smaller business because larger businesses have a really hard time committing to the process. Look at the time it takes to be successful in building an audience through a content niche; it takes generally about a year and a half to do that. [6:00] Large businesses are not patient enough and not committed enough to do that. Most of their programs are around campaigns. They might do a nine month campaign, a twelve month campaign, they don’t commit to it long enough, and because they don’t commit to it long enough they don’t see the long term success. Smaller businesses can afford to be a little bit more patient and usually are more patient with it, and they end up being more successful.

That’s why I love it; it’s so democratic, content marketing, because really if you focus, if you have a good solid plan and you commit to it you can be successful, regardless of your size.

How long it takes to see results from content marketing

MARK: [6:39] Fantastic. So, you spoke there a little bit about campaigns and patience – you know it’s great if small businesses have maybe that little bit more time to be patient and start to see the impacting returns on their investment in content marketing, but how long do they have to wait? [7:00] Now I know the answer may be, you know, how long’s a piece of string but in general can you expect to start to see some kind of returns on content marketing in a six month window, in a 12 month window? Is there any kind of ballpark there for our listeners?

JOE: My answer is that it depends, and then I’ll give you the real answer. So you never know: I’ve seen companies that in the first couple months have started to see higher quality leads come in through the system, they’ve been building a subscriber base, and I’ve also seen that sometimes it takes two years or more depending on what the program is.

In general we feel pretty confident that in a six month time period you’ll see some change; you’ll see some people start to talk about your content, they’ll share your content; you’ll see more people subscribe to whatever your content offer would be; you’ll see a little bit of behaviour change in some of the people that are engaging with your content, versus those that don’t. [8:00] So I think you have to have at least a six month time period where you have little to no expectations at all. I really think that once you get to that year mark, that’s when you really start to see the impact.

I mean I grew up in publishing and we launched [Inaudible: 8:12] media in the States, we launched many, many different publishing properties and media properties and we used to do three year plans. And the reason why we did three year plans was because we knew that it took about three years to really gain a loyal audience that we could monetise against. Now we live in this world of social media where everybody’s so impatient and we think that we should get immediate results. I always say look, if you need immediate results tomorrow for your business or you can’t survive, you know, do advertising; do direct mail. You know, do something with an offer that you can show immediate returns. If you’re looking for a long term asset to build, that can continue to grow over time, that you can put less in over time and still see a maximal amount of return, really look at it as an asset for the organisation, then content marketing’s your best bet. [9:00]

I mean I really think you could dominate an industry through content marketing and I don’t think you can do that through advertising and renting other people’s property. So it’s just a little bit different type of mentality and approach and honestly Mark, a lot of companies aren’t used to doing it, they don’t like that kind of approach because nobody wants to be told it’s going to take 12 months to see results; we might get fired – you know, if you’re a marketing director you might say I don’t have enough time.

If you set expectations correctly with your executive team you can show enough results up to that point to then get you to the next level of budgeting, and then really start to see results after that, you know, nine, 12, 15 month time period.

MARK: [9:42] Right, and that chimes with my personal experience here at Eventbrite. So I joined just over a year ago to launch the content marketing side of the business here in the UK and you know, there was some early traction so you know, you could see it building up after a three month period which was great to get some early positive feedback but then it really kicked up another gear after about six months, [10:00] and to be honest it’s the last couple of months, so you know, that 10 to 12 month time frame where we’ve just seen our audience ramp up significantly. So certainly that six to 12 month window is something that I’ve experienced you know, for our listeners that are interested in another real world example there.

JOE: No it’s an excellent example. I think the issue is that most people, they get to the six to 12 month mark, haven’t been delivering consistently, and haven’t been setting that expectation of really quality content that’s going to impact somebody’s life, so they never even know – they’ll never get to the results because they don’t consistently deliver. That’s why most content marketing fails because it either stops or it’s completely inconsistent and you don’t set any expectations to build a relationship around that.

What’s the minimum amount of content you need to start with

MARK: Right. [11:00] Now consistency is incredibly important; you know we’re very consistent, we publish on average two articles every day, again that’s ramped up after the first six, seven months when we started to see a return, we were able to invest in creating more content. But we actually started out just three posts a week, but consistently. Do you think there’s a minimum commitment that a company with limited resources can start their content marketing – can they do as little as one post a week, as long as it’s consistent; does it need to be more than that; what’s your take on that?

JOE: There’s no rhyme or reason, I’ve seen it be successful in a million different ways. The most important thing is that you commit to something on a consistent basis, even if that’s monthly.

Let’s just saying you’re doing a podcast and you say okay, I can commit to it once a month and you’re going to do it on the first Monday of every month and that’s the deal: fine, that’s great. You’ve got that going. Now, it’s going to take a much longer time to get legs under you because it’s hard for people to set an appointment with your content with only once a month. [12:00] If you’re really serious about it, if you do something once a week then I think you’ve actually got something. So you’ve got to have at least a monthly newsletter subscription so that people can sign up to something. Or a weekly offering of some kind: I would say at minimum if you’re going to start, I would do once a week and be pretty comfortable with that, and you just never want to go less content. So whatever the minimum you can do right now start there and then you can ramp up for that but never start with like three a day and then go to once a week – that’s the worst thing you could do. I’d rather go and ramp up the other way.

The power of podcasting

MARK: Yeah, that’s some great advice. You talked there about podcasting and doing a podcast maybe once a month – this is a podcast, I know you guys at Content Marketing Institute are going pretty big on podcasting as well, it’s a real buzzword this year, it seems to have hit inflection point. [13:00] Tell us a bit about the power of podcasts; why do you think podcasts are effective ways of content marketing – because I think it’s really applicable, particularly to our audience who are event organisers who, you know if they’re running conferences or trade shows, they have access to experts in their industries that they can interview. So I think they could really get behind podcasting. So it would be great to get your opinion on why you think it’s a great format.

JOE: Sure, absolutely. I think there are a couple of reasons: first of all just from the production side, it’s fairly easy, you get a high quality microphone and you can use Skype or whatever recording devices you want to and literally spend not that much money every month and you can do a podcast. You can get it distributed and everything’s fine. So from the production standpoint it’s relatively inexpensive – fantastic, that’s wonderful.

From a consumption standpoint, as you said, we’ve really seen the tipping point in consumption: whether that’s the serial podcasts that everybody’s gotten behind, [14:00] or the fact that now I think this is the key: now you can actually download a podcast as simple as you ever could before – whether it’s your Smartphone device, now you’ve got it hooked up to your car – it’s so easy to do that. I mean I remember being back in the early 2000s when podcasts were just getting started – it was really difficult to subscribe to a podcast.

Now since Apple specifically put it – you know, the front of the IOS now, you go to the device and you can literally see your podcast right there. That made a huge difference, it’s right in front of all these consumers right away. And just to your point about just getting the raw content, you literally could do interviews and you don’t have to podcast them out. Like you and I could be talking right now and you might say look, we’re going to cut this up into different pieces and we’re going to use it as the audio; we’re going to use it as part of a visual presentation and use some of the content; we’re not just using it as an interview we’re going to do a blog post on it, or a whitepaper or a report. [15:00]

So just getting the raw content in itself, that’s an amazing step one. But the fact that so many more people are open to listening to podcasts and audio content, it’s just amazing to me, and the last thing I’ll say Mark is just the fact that so you know, we’ve been doing [15:25 – Robert Rose?] and I have been doing our podcast [Inaudible: 15:27] for – let’s see, we’re on episode 73 or 74, something like that, so almost a year and a half now. And the fact that people listen for 45-50 minutes – I mean these are true believers.

I mean if you get somebody’s – I mean just think, everybody’s talking about oh if I can get the time on site for a minute and a half or two minutes, or if I can get them to look at a video on Facebook for 20 seconds… we’re all jumping up and down and feeling successful. But man, you can get somebody for 30 minutes, 45 minutes – depending on how long your podcast is – and they will listen to you, you can’t buy that kind of attention. [16:00] That’s amazing and you won’t see that in any other medium, but audio is so personal to people, and what we’ve seen in our business is these are the true believers; these are the evangelists; these are the ones that are going to share about your brand, they’re going to talk about you; they’re going to sign up for everything you have. So if you think of a hierarchy of doing certain content activities, and you might have blogging at the base of that, and you have ebooks and whitepapers and email subscription, if you’re looking for something for true believers or for loyalty attention, podcasts might be your best bet.

How content marketing has made Content Marketing World so successful

MARK: Alright, that’s a pretty good answer to why podcasts are a powerful medium – this year but obviously they’ve been around for a little while and will probably continue to be an important factor. So you know, kind of launching into that question – I referenced events for pretty much the first time, but obviously our audience of listeners are – they’re a diverse bunch but primarily they’re interested in organising events or they run events in some capacity. [17:00]

So you’ve built up a really successful series of events under the Content Marketing Institute brand: can you tell us a little bit about how you apply the principles of content marketing to make those events as successful as they’ve become?

JOE: Sure, thank you. Yeah, I love being an event producer – it’s one of my favourite things. I absolutely love producing events and it’s sort of the cornerstone of our entire [Inaudible: 17:34] strategies. So we do all the content marketing that we do, whether it’s the blog posts, the podcasts, the email newsletters, the ebooks, the reports, the webinars, and even in the smaller events they all lead up to hopefully getting people to attend our larger events.

You know I’ve spoken at a number of events about events for conference producers – probably your audience Mark, [18:00] and I think the difference in what we do and what other organisations seem to do is we market 365 dates a year not about the event, we target the informational needs of our audience. So I mean of course there’s a – you know whether you’re a six month window or a nine month window out from your big event, you know there’s different things you do: you start talking about the venue, the new speakers and all that stuff, and we do that, just like every other event.

The difference is that I want to get those people that could attend our event, I will need them as subscribers and signed-up so that I can deliver amazing content to them every day or every week, so that I can keep us on their radar – not talking about attend the event, but continue to solve their challenges to be the informational source for them to get a better job, to live a better life; whatever the aspirational goal is for that individual person. And if we do that we know that we’ve got a better opportunity for them to attend the event and like just a stat which sort of maybe tells the tale of what we do here. [19:00] We know that if somebody engages in three different pieces of consistent content from us they’re off the charts more likely to come to our big event.

So if we can get them signed up for our magazine [Inaudible: 19:12] our webinars that we do on a monthly basis, our blog, our email newsletter, if we can get them signed up for three of those things we can almost put it in the book that somebody – either that person or somebody from that organisation is going to come to our big event, generating revenue for us.

So that’s kind of the way we think about it; we’re like the octopus and we want to wrap – you know we’ve got eight legs of content let’s say, we want to wrap our perspective attendees in content love, if you will, and if we do that we know that we’re going to hit all our financial goals.

MARK: Alright, that’s great – I’ve got a great image there of an octopus of content love.

JOE: That’s really the way we think about it. We talk about it around here, it’s like how much can we wrap our customers in amazing content and information so that when they get to the time to go to Content Marketing World or Intelligent Content Conference, [20:00] or one of our other events, it’s a no-brainer for them. Of course they are because we’ve been delivering so much value to them, they want to take the next step in that journey for them.

MARK: You guys should have greeters at Content Marketing World dressed in giant octopus of love costumes.

JOE: If they were orange we could probably get away with it. You know our colour is orange and even at our events we have tables of just orange snacks and orange drinks. So we go over and beyond silly when it comes to the orange brand. So I think we would get away with that if they were orange octopus I guess. I don’t think the marketing team would like that but… We’ll see.

MARK: Yeah, we’re very familiar with events full of orange; of course it’s our logo and our colour as well, so very familiar with that. [21:00] So going back to events and content marketing I think they just go together hand-in-hand, right? So content marketing’s fantastic to build a consistent, loyal audience which at some point will likely want to attend your events, so there’s a real [ROI? – 21:12] there. But equally at an event you create fantastic content which can then be shared and used to feed that community for another year.

How to use your event’s content for year-round marketing

So what’s your strategy for taking the content produced at Content Marketing World, and your other events and then feeding that back into the community over the course of the year?

JOE: I think the first thing is that we have contributors and speakers that we want to contribute all year long. I don’t just want one amazing speaker and they do a key note or a breakout session at the event and that’s it. I want six months, nine months before and then ongoing for ever if they’re really good, I want to keep them in front of our audience and part of our community. [22:00]

So we might get them a podcast and then we’re going to take that podcast and put that into a blog post on the site. They may contribute a post later in the year and then they might contribute information to our ebook. So we’re going to integrate that speaker into everything we do. So that’s the first thing.

The second thing is let’s just look at the content created from the event. There’s so much content – we have a year’s worth of content that we could have just from the event, right? We have so much – I don’t know how many sessions we’re going to have this year – 140? 150 sessions? – we’ve got people that are in their live blogging, we have blogs after the fact that we’re creating, we’re doing interviews after each of the events. Now we do sell – so this is a question from a lot of producers – we sell a post-event package of content – so do we. It’s a different package, so we sell our video on demand package where if you want to add that to your overall conference package or you want to buy it separately you know they can do that and that’s fine, [23:00] but that’s the straight content from the sessions video and audio content. But we can still use all that content and promote all year long.

For example, you know we had Kevin Spacey as our closing key note this year – so that’s great, you got to see them live but then what else do we do with that? Well we, along with that, we had an interview in our magazine [Inaudible: 23:30] that’s great, that also went up online in the blog, so that’s another piece of content. Then we took his 35 minute presentation and we boiled that into a 5 minute highlight, and that thing has been spread all over the web in able to promote the event. Now it doesn’t say come to Content Marketing World, you just know it’s from Content Marketing World and then people are like oh, what’s this – it’s interesting and it’s just Kevin Spacey talking about story telling. [24:00] It’s an amazing piece of really valuable content but it’s a promotional tool for us as well.

So I think a lot of events do this but maybe we’re just a little bit more strategic about it. We have plans going in to get the most content out of every session and every speaker, and we just try to do that 365 days a year instead of just at the event or six months leading up to the event.

The missing piece for event content marketing: a solid distribution strategy

MARK: [24:23] Right, and you’ve got a plan for what you want to do with it after as well, right? A distribution strategy. Because I think a lot of event organisers that I know have good intentions, they even capture a lot of this content. But what they fall down on is they then get caught up in the next event, and that kind of sits and gathers dust, all the great content, and it actually never makes it out into the real world, so…

I imagine having that distribution plan for exactly what you’re going to do with it is incredibly important?

JOE: That is the most critical thing, and that’s an issue that we see with almost every conference producer. 99 percent of them out there say oh we’re going to capture all this, we’ve got video and audio and whatever, and then that content just sits there doing nothing. [25:00] It’s like oh okay, that was a big waste, but you want to think okay, we have somebody on site to photograph – what are we going to do with those photographs. So these are questions six months ahead of the event. What are we going to do with that; how are we going to use those photos into social media? Okay, specifically how are we going to use this on LinkedIn; on Facebook; on Twitter? How are we going to integrate those photos onto our blog post? What do we need to do, do we need additional rights to do that; do we need some filters; do we need a designer to take a look at those; are we going to use those as slides in the presentation?

That’s just photos. So that’s just one aspect of it, we’re not even talking about the audio content, the video content, the interviews before and after, those types of things. We’re not perfect by any means but we definitely look at it more strategically than other ones, so it’s really important for any conference producer to say whatever content we’re going to actually get our hands on and record and take in from the event we have to figure out what we’re going to do with it, [26:00] and if there’s no plan to do anything with it you might as well not even record it. Or if you’re just going to sell it, that’s fine, just sell it, but don’t do the, you know, we’re going to record content for good intentions because it never happens.

MARK: Yeah, yeah. No, absolutely, I think that’s great advice.

Examples of small budget content marketing done really well

So you namedropped earlier in this podcast a couple of companies who are well known for their content marketing; Red Bull being one, Procter & Gamble being another, but you’ve got a book coming out later this year, Content Inc. that you mentioned, and you interview other smaller businesses in that book. Can you share a couple of examples of companies who maybe don’t have the budgets – the Red Bulls and Procter & Gambles of the world, what are they doing well – why do you like their content marketing? [27:00] Just give us a flavour of what companies are doing in achievement with their content marketing for our listeners.

JOE: Sure, absolutely, happy to. I mean I’ll start with something on the marketing side we may know: so for those familiar with Copy Blogger, I’m a big fan of Brian Clark of Copy Blogger Media, and he started a blog back in the mid 2000s and didn’t monetise that blog at all for 19 months. So all he did was build the base, build the audience for 19 months through amazing blog posts about copywriting and online search engine optimisation and then has been able to monetise that and now he’ll do over 10 million dollars in revenue by selling products. He’s not a media company, he sells digital software and service products.

So it’s just interesting to see that evolution, and he’s done it the right way with no investment up front. Think about having as little investment as possible in your business; [28:00] so here’s a company that was able to do that in the marketing area, formally [SEO Mars? – 28:03] now Mars has done the same thing and [Inaudible: 28:06] You know now a 30 plus million dollar company started with just building subscribers and building an audience through the blog and then if you look outside of marketing, these are all really small entrepreneurs.

Anne Reardon in Sydney, Australia, she’s built an amazing audience around her brand called How To Cook That. This is a woman who was up for night feeding, she had a small family, she didn’t know what to do, she was a former food scientist and she loved to teach, and she said well that’s my sweet spot as we call it, but you know how many cooking blogs are there? How many cooking videos are there – there’s thousands. How does she differentiate herself? So she goes out and she creates these impossible food creations. Like I don’t know if you’ve seen it but there’s one where she made a cake and you slice it open and it looks exactly like the Instagram logo. [29:00] They got millions of people viewing that video and she does things where she’s got five pounds of Snicker bars, how does she make a cake out of that? It’s like really impossible food creations, and I think she’s got – I don’t know how many millions of subscribers she has now, I know she’s had over 16 million views of her videos, and she’s been able to make an amazing growing business off of the fact that she’s just blogging and creating videos.

This is something any company could do with a Smartphone – and that’s it, and just the dedication but the difference in what Anne did and what Brian did and what Rand did is they really focused on an area, a content niche, that you could honestly say, could we be the leading expert in the world on this topic, or the leading informational entertainment resource around this topic. That’s what most organisations don’t do. [30:00] They go wide, they go broad, and with content marketing you have to go really, really small to go big, and that’s what those three examples have done and what I love about all three of those examples is none of them had any money; none of them had any resources, they just had a plan, they dedicated to the plan and now they see the fruits of their labour.

By the way there’s another 20 or 30 of those that we’ll be sharing in the book but I just love those examples because when people come, the first thing they say to me is Joe we don’t have a budget; we don’t have any money to do this, and I’m like so? Neither did I. I started Content Marketing Institute 2007; I had no money at all, I had two kids, two boys, four and two. You know, my wife was staying at home with the kids at the time. We didn’t know if we were going to make it at all and we just had a very simple plan and we executed the plan and you know, here we are.

So anyone can do that, it just takes that commitment and consistency.

MARK: [31:00] Yeah, and I think a point of differentiation as well: you mentioned that they all had something that they were doing a little bit differently at the time of launching. I think that’s key. It’s probably daunting to think about launching a blog in a world where there’s just so many these days. But actually if you create the right niche – or ‘nitch’, as you guys pronounce it in the States – you know, it creates that blue ocean that you can compete in yourself, where no one else is doing what you’re doing, you’ve just got to be really firm about why you’re different, whether it’s a different type of content format or that you’re taking a unique angle, or that you have unique experience and expertise. I think maybe that’s what puts a lot of people off, they think they’re going to be competing in an overly competitive world – and it is – but actually everyone’s got unique experience and a unique opinion.

So if you just stick to that instead of trying to copy others then that gives you a fighting chance to stand out. [32:00]

The key to content marketing success: find a unique angle

JOE: That’s it, Mark. I mean that is it. How is your story different? We call that the tilt, or the content tilt, because everybody has a sweet spot, they think oh we’re going to do our content around the sweet spot. Well you and a thousand other companies are talking about the same thing. You know we do an exercise with some of our large brands which cracks me up, it’s so funny, where Will [List? 32:23] blog posts on a whiteboard, and we’ll just get their feedback and say well what do you think of these blog posts – we tell them these are your blog posts and they’ll say oh I like this one, I don’t like this one, oh that’s a great one; I remember that one, that was awesome, and then we tell them well that’s your competitors blog post.

So think about that: if you can’t look at your content and see that it’s any different from any other content out there, you’ve got problems. You’ve got to notice that you have a different story to tell, and you have a small enough competition base to actually cut through that clutter, [33:00] you can’t go in and say oh okay, there’s a hundred other knitting blogs out there, how are we going to cut through you’ve got to really have something special to talk about that’s going to be different that you can actually honestly say yes, we can be the leader in this category if we do the work and most companies don’t do that.

What to expect from Content Inc.

MARK: [33:16] Yeah, yeah. No, it’s great advice. So we’ve referenced the upcoming book that you’ve written, Content Inc. a couple of times: can you talk a bit more about what that is going to cover, what people will learn from reading Content Inc. and how that’s different from your first book on Epic Content Marketing.

JOE: Yes, Epic Content Marketing is still my favourite book that I’ve been able to put together because it’s the answer to the question how do I create a content marketing strategy. What do I do? And so great, give them that book – because I’ve had so many people asking me over the years oh go here, go there and I’m like well I better just write it. So we wrote the book, that’s great. [34:00] Content Inc. is different because it’s really more focused on entrepreneurs’ start ups and small businesses.

Now larger companies can get a lot out of it as well but what we did was as I said we just went through all these – we just looked at who are those super successful small businesses start ups that did amazing work and dominated the category in content marketing and what did they do? And we looked at each of those models and we reverse engineered it. And so what we came up with, there’s six steps, and it’s not rocket science but that’s what we go through in the book. There’s exactly six steps, and they follow an order, and this is what you do, and we go through from the sweet spot all the way through to monetisation and we just share the examples and we share the model and the framework for how to do this.

So the hope is that anyone who picks up this book can say – that are committed to it, that want to do it – they can pick up that book and execute it based on the principles of the book and they can be successful doing this. It’s a lot of what we’re talking about now. [35:00]

I love the fact that I write these books and put these together because it’s answer to a lot of questions. So to your point you’ve asked those questions, it’s like well what if you don’t have a budget, what if you’re a small business and what if you’re an individual in a start up and what if you’re not doing anything at all in content marketing? Well that’s Content Inc. So that’ll be out in September, it’s already done, it’s with the publisher and we’re just getting things wrapped up now. So hopefully I’m fairly excited about it because it tells more of our personal story at Content Marketing Institute as well about, how we did it, how we didn’t have any money or resources and we were able to build out the category of content marketing.

MARK: Yeah, I’m looking forward to it too. I’ll be one of the first to buy it when it’s out in September, Joe, definitely.

Where to learn more about content marketing for events

And in the meantime, obviously people can purchase Epic Content Marketing – where else can our listeners go to learn more about improving their content marketing or getting started with content marketing? [36:00]

JOE: Well at Content Marketing Institute we have one to two posts per day, so I mean if you’re interested in the practice area and the strategy behind what makes successful content marketing just go to Content Marketing Institute.com and as you said we do a number of events: Content Marketing World, September 8th through 11th this year in Cleveland, Ohio – that’s our big one – it’s our 50 year anniversary for that event. And then you can find out about all our other events and stuff, but I would just say if you’re looking to get started, I would just go to Content Marketing Institute, sign up for the weekly update, or if you really want to get good, the daily update, but I would say probably the weekly at minimum, and then that’ll get you set on your way and what’s great is on the site there’s a number of resources like how do I create my own content marketing strategies?, so there’s a download around that. How do I do a distribution strategy?what if I’m in a financial industry versus another one? So we’ve got all those resources available for free that you can download.

MARK: [37:00] Yeah. As a content marketer I’m on it every day so I’d highly recommend it from my personal experience. So any final words of wisdom in kind of summary – you know, if people just take away one thing from this podcast, what would it be?

JOE: Well we’ve talked about a lot of good stuff. I guess I would say that that last point that you and I talked about, about really figuring out how your story is different is the thing to focus on. I mean we’ve talked about consistency and patience and those types of things, and picking your platform – those things will come but they’re all secondary.

The primary thing is what are you trying to do; what’s your objective, and who’s the audience that you’re targeting and why would they even care at all about your message. And most of the time we just go way too broad with that opening thought and we end up creating content that’s just like everyone else in our industry – [38:00] and that’s the thing, you don’t have to do content marketing for everyone in your audience base, you could just focus on something specifically for a small portion of your audience; start with your current customers and really figure out how you can be the difference in their life on a daily or weekly basis with a content solution.

MARK: Thank you, Joe. That’s great. So just to wrap up, for anyone interested in learning more about event planning, ticketing, and registration on Eventbrite you can check out our blog Blog.Eventbrite.co.uk or our main site Eventbrite.co.uk.

Thanks again for joining us Joe, it’s been an absolute pleasure to have you on here and you’ve just imparted so much great advice. And thank you to our listeners for listening to our latest Expert Interviews podcast on essential business skills. Until next month, goodbye.

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