So, what exactly does content-first mean?

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A lot of things, as Joe Pulizzi describes in the latest episode of Marketing Smarts. It means you should develop a content mission statement. It means you should spend less time on creation and more on promotion.

But whatever you do, don't start and then just... stop.

"When somebody says, 'Why do [content] programs fail?' I always say because they stop. Don't call it a campaign. If you call your content creation any part of a campaign, it's not content marketing, it's something else.... When you say it's a campaign, that means at some point you are going to stop."

And if you stop for too long, your audience drifts away. It's true of media, it's true of artistic endeavors, and it's definitely true of content marketing. People forget.

"I'm like, you were doing so well," Joe laments. "We were just getting to a point where we were learning the needs and the wants of our audience, you were just getting down to a point where you were telling good stories, you just figured out the processes, and then... blah."

Content marketing takes patience, above all, Joe says. He insists, "If you don't have the patience built in, the internal communications built in so that you can offer yourself air cover to give yourself the time... go do the campaigns, go buy advertising, go do other stuff."

You should also probably focus on a few channels instead of spreading yourself too thin. Kill some things, he says. 

"The average B2B enterprise creates and distributes content on 13 to 16 different platforms. You have Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs, podcasts, webinars, and research reports. I can tell you that just creates a lot of mediocrity."

And content-first means epic, not mediocre.

Listen to the entire show from the link above, or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode.

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Full Transcript: The Mechanics of Running a Content-First B2B Marketing Department

George B. Thomas: Are you running a content-first B2B marketing department? Are you creating content or are you creating epic content? In today's conversation with Joe Pulizzi, we're talking about the mechanics of starting and running a shop that is a content-first B2B marketing department, and we're talking about epic content. I talk to Joe about what keeps him up at night pertaining to content marketing. He talks about patience, consistency, process to a clear path. We talk about success and hurdles, and of course, we get the words of wisdom along the way.

To say this is a great interview is an understatement, but it is a great interview. If you're ready to learn more about the power of your publishing and promotion process and all sorts of good stuff from the man, the myth, the legend, Joe Pulizzi himself around content-first B2B marketing departments, now is the time. Let's get into the good stuff.

Listeners, do I have a treat for you. I am super excited to be here and talk about the mechanics of starting and running a content-first B2B marketing department. That's at least the title that you clicked on. Who knows where this conversation is actually going to go? I do know that we're going to talk about epic content, because I love me some content and I love to be epic.

Joe, how are you doing today?

Joe Pulizzi: George, it's great to chat with you. I think we need to bring our expectations down a little bit. You're setting this up that it's going to be amazing. We hope it is, but we don't know yet. You and I are going to have a chat about all things content. The love of my life for the last 25 years besides my wife and family has been living in this content marketing world, so I'm happy to chat with you about it.

George: I'm super excited. I love learning and I love bringing education to the masses. Joe, today is actually kind of a special day. I have watched your journey for the last 10+ years since I entered the content marketing / HubSpot ecosystem. To be able to have this conversation and ask you questions specific to content marketing is pretty dang amazing. Because you've seen a lot, let's just start with what keeps you up at night with marketers and content marketing.

Joe: So many places to start. I guess it's important to talk about why a content marketing program fails first, because people will get into the weeds and try to figure this out. Most of the time it fails because it stops. I want to talk about that because if you're going to go in this direction, you have to be patient. That means a whole lot of other things besides content marketing.

If you're the content marketing champion in your B2B marketing organization, you have to set up processes to make sure you clear the path, clear the road so that you have the time to build a loyal audience, to create a community, to put in the processes and people so that you're creating valuable, compelling, and relevant information on a consistent basis. I want to say that because people always want to know the secret. They're like, "What is it, Joe?" I say you have to find your content tilt, where is your differentiation area, very important, you have to pick your platform, very important, you have to put at least as much marketing into your content as the content process, all true. But when somebody says, "Why do programs fail?" I always say because they stop.

Generally, I'll see some really good programs go out there, and then they get to the 9-month mark, the 12-month mark, the 15-month mark, and they stop. They go on to the next campaign. First of all, don't call it a campaign. If you call your content creation any part of a campaign, it's not content marketing, it's something else. There's nothing wrong with it. When you say it's a campaign, that means at some point you are going to stop. Just like, thankfully, a political campaign stops at some point. That's important.

When you say campaign, you are telling your team that this is going to stop at some moment. Unfortunately, in B2B companies, especially B2B tech companies and B2B manufacturers, they get the new CMO, new marketing director, new strategy, trying something else, and then they stop the podcast, the blog, the newsletter, the event, the research project, the webinar series. I'm like you were doing so well, we were just getting to a point where we were learning the needs and the wants of our audience, you were just getting down to a point where you were telling good stories, you just figured out the processes, and then blah.

That's when I go and I'm talking to people about like what Arrow Electronics is doing. Fortune 120 company, big B2B electronics distributor. They've been doing this for a long time, they have 50+ brands, most of them purchased. They've been able to do this, and they've been sticking with it five, six, seven years. Everybody talks about Red Bull Media House. Amazing, right? You have to remember they started in 2005; it's been going on for 18 years. It took them two years just to get a regular magazine out the door, it started with a magazine called Red Bulletin.

Anyway, George, I'm going on, but I want to throw that out there because that's the number one thing. If you don't have the patience built in, the internal communications built in so that you can offer yourself air cover to give yourself the time, go do the campaigns, go buy advertising, go do other stuff, go interrupt, don't do content marketing.

George: I love this. I love that the first thing was they don't have the patience, it's not in place. You even mentioned the word consistency. When you think about the word consistency and content marketing, talk me through the power of that mindset alone.

Joe: When you said that, it reminded me, you remember the show Cheers, I'm sure. We're of that age that we watched Cheers. A very easy way to think about it is you have to be Norm Peterson. Norm Peterson comes into the bar every day at Cheers in Boston and he does two things. He comes in at the same time every day, and when he does, he's interesting.

This is not rocket science. What's your thing? Is it a podcast? Okay. You're going to deliver that podcast at the same time on the same day of the week, forever. You might change things, you might get data, you might tweak things. You might decide that your e-newsletter is better sent at 3:00 PM Eastern Time than at 8:00. Those are little things that we tweak based on the data we get, but we are delivering on a consistent basis over a long period of time, learning what we can. When we do, we are interesting.

I had a conversation with a B2B marketer yesterday, and we were talking about the newsletter. We were talking about open rates and whatever, and they said, "We're really happy, our open rate is 8%." I'm like, you are spamming people. By the way, 8% is high for a lot of the ones we look at. Sometimes you get somebody that says 3% to 5%. I said, "What are you doing?" They're like, "We're doing our blog, and we're putting a nice abstract, and we do three or four of those, and we send it out every week." Great. You're sending it out consistently. But let me ask you this. Is it really interesting? Are you delivering something unique? Do you have a differentiative position and point of view that no one else in your industry is doing?

I would say ask yourself the question, are you the leading informational expert in your industry niche? This is a tough question for B2B marketers because you're just doing your job, you're getting leads, you're looking at the funnel, you're doing all the things. You have to be a little bit audacious about it and say if we do this, we are going to deliver the best newsletter to this group of civil engineers in the Northeast part of the United States than anyone else out there, we are going to be the leading media company, if you will.

It's all about finding not only that content tilt, that differentiation, that point of view, where you can break through all that clutter. It's about doing it consistently. As you know, I've been in publishing for over 20 years. We always did three-year plans. Why do we do three-year plans? I hate to say this, but it's true. It's because it takes a long time to build a loyal audience. You see the one-percenters that have that overnight success.

Look at MrBeast, maybe the number one content creator in the world. He started creating videos in 2012; he was 12 or 13 years old when he did it. It took him four years just to get a consistent theme. He had 30,000 subscribers in 2016. Hit a million in 2017, after four to five years of consistently delivering just on one platform, just on YouTube over that time.

Simplify your process, and then do it consistently. I can't stress that enough.

George: I love this so much. In that part, you said show up and be interesting. I thought to myself, interesting, maybe we ask ourselves are we being epic. Are we being epic in that newsletter? Are we being epic in the way that we're serving our audience?

Also, I want to tie back to something else you said in the first segment. We quit right before we are about to hit success. I even jotted a note down that success comes when the community shows up. What I want to know is if there is something you've seen where if they would have just held on another three months, or another five months? Is there a way to understand that you're starting to percolate that community, you're starting to get to that point where you're going to see success, and a way that marketers can think about this is the bridge the gap time, we have to hunker down and keep on rolling?

Joe: I can share stats with you because we talk to our audience of content creators. I've been doing B2B content marketing forever, but I have a little project right now called The Tilt. We focus on what we call content entrepreneurs. These are content creators trying to make it, trying to do their thing.

When we ask them how long it takes them to build what we call a minimum viable audience, that is how do I build an audience that I can monetize. If you're a B2B marketer, you're thinking, "How long does it take me to do this content marketing thing to where I can generate…" I always say are you doing sales, savings, or sunshine? Are you trying to generate sales, product sales from your content, are you trying to save money off of other things that you're doing, maybe it's less expensive than advertising or PR, and then sunshine, are you creating better customers, more loyal customers, higher yield on the sales? If you're trying to figure out your metrics for content marketing, it's sales, savings, or sunshine.

When we talk to these content creators, it basically takes 17 or 18 months of consistent delivery on one channel in order to build that minimum viable audience. I can tell you that's probably pretty good. That's the average. I've seen people like John Lee Dumas from Entrepreneurs on Fire get there in about 12 months. That's about the shortest amount of time where he is actually living his dream, built the audience, got it done, right time, right place, the whole thing works. For me, it took almost three years. We started in 2007. I didn't think we were going to make it until about 2010. That's all we were doing.

If you're thinking about it as a B2B marketer, how do you grease the skids, if you will? I would say you do a couple of things.

First of all, you focus on one platform. You have to kill some things. I'm sorry, but you have to. If you look at Content Marketing Institute research, you'll find that the average B2B enterprise creates and distributes content on 13 to 16 different platforms. You have Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs, podcasts, webinars, and research reports. I can tell you that just creates a lot of mediocrity.

When we go into companies and talk to them, we're saying let's look at the back half of that, what are some things that we can kill, because you're not getting a big budget. You're not getting a new budget this year to do these things. Let's kill some of these things and move to some things that are doing well. That's generally one or two platforms. It's an e-newsletter, it's a podcast, to one persona.

I know you have multiple personas, but this is one at a time, so focus on one persona and one platform, and you consistently deliver that for your 15, 18, 20 months, whatever the case is. Then to make it all work, you have to market the content. This is what almost all B2B marketers forget. Content creation is one very small part. I would say if you're looking at 100% of content creation time, 25% should be spent on your processes and people for content creation, and about 75% is on marketing and promoting that content, activating that content.

It's the same thing when we exhibit at tradeshows. I do events, as you know. I do events for a living, and we have some going on right now. People are like, "I'm just going to put a booth there in the corner." How are you letting people know you're there? What things are you doing? Do you have a contest? Do you have somebody there? Are you doing a giveaway? All those things are more important than just getting the space.

So, what are you doing? Are you paying for SEO? Are you commenting and activating on things like LinkedIn and Twitter? Really important. A lot of people don't do that. Activation in those channels is really important. Are you doing partnerships with nine competitive partners? Are you bringing in content creators that are already targeting your audience? Are you looking at purchasing some of those content creators to help integrate? Like HubSpot has done really well with The Hustle, and you have Salesforce that's done really well with CMO Club. These things are all happening.

That would be my advice. One-and-a-half years, generally, until you're going to get that minimum viable audience, and that means a heck of a lot of marketing. Create the content, treat it as a product, and then you have all the things that go along with it. Where's my PR, where's my advertising, where's my SEO, where's my other promotion, where's my partnerships? Those will all go into getting that content out there. Then you will see some success.

George: So good. Marketing Smarts listeners, I hope you have your finger on the rewind button, because that officially is the first rewind spot. The three Ss in there that you need to just jot down and ask yourself probably about 17 questions for each of those Ss that would impact your business is just amazing.

Joe, when you said the word mediocrity, and I thought about all my B2B marketing brethren and sisters, we all feel like we need to be on every platform, my brain went to are you spreading your peanut butter too thin that you're just making a crappy sandwich. How can we focus in on the places that truly give us the success and the staying power to be there?

Then I love that you brought John Lee Dumas up and just how fast his ability to do what he did was. It was a daily podcast. It wasn't weekly, it wasn't two times a month, it wasn't whenever we thought about publishing. It was a daily podcast, consistently showing up, being interesting, creating that content that people give two craps about. So much good stuff in that section.

I'm staying off the beaten path thus far, for almost the entire episode. I do want to get back into what if it's somebody's day one here in a minute, because they might be like, "Content marketing, what, why? I don't even understand. I'm just going to do ads, spray and pray." Trust me, there still are those people.

But I want to dive one layer deeper before we get into that question. You talked about once you have the content and you publish it, the promotion of it. A lot of folks, I think their promotion of their content is lackluster because they share it, and that's it. Talk me through when you see companies that are doing this right and they're creating an epic promotion, use it over again and again, get the most juice for the squeeze. What does that look like?

Joe: First of all, let's get back to the most important thing. You even mentioned the why. Why are we doing this? Nobody should just say, "I'm going to do content marketing because Joe and George said we have to do content marketing." You have an objective. You have a problem. Then your hypothesis may be to actually fix this thing with content.

Let's go ahead and look at that problem. What is your key objective? You want to look at it that way. I would make sure that if you are going forward, you write down, "here are my problems." You might say advertising fixes this, partnership fixes this, or whatever the case is.

Let's put it this way. You're a B2B marketer, you have the same exact business model as every other B2B company out there, including media companies. Let's take the leading media company in your niche. You have the same. You're both trying to build a loyal audience. The difference is with a B2B marketer that has products and services to sell, you're looking at I want to sell products and services, create more loyal customers, or create better yield on those customers. The media company in your industry is trying to do the same thing, they're just creating revenue through conferences, through sponsorship and advertising, through affiliate programs, through premium pieces of content like books.

That's where we think we need to do things differently than a media company. No. You already are a media company. That's already your business model. You choose to be ignorant and say that's not, but that's why so many B2B marketers are losing out because you just woke up one day and realized, "Oh my god, I need to understand publishing as much as marketing." Nobody told us we had to do that 20 years ago, it just happened. Now, as a marketer, more of our jobs have become being a publisher. What are you going to do about it? You better learn how to become a publisher.

Part of that, as we mentioned a little bit, is understanding acquisitions. This is really important because we're starting to really see this. When I started in B2B publishing, I had to do P&Ls. I would say here's my P&L, here's my budget for the next year. There's two ways that we had to show growth for the next year. One was organically and one was through acquisition. That means we're going to grow this newsletter, this magazine, we're going to sell all these things we already have in-house, that's organic growth. Then I'm going to say I feel that there's a newsletter out there, there's an event out there, there's a podcast out there that we could strategically purchase and bring into our fold. That is a publishing mentality.

If I was to say what's the number one skill set that marketers need to learn going forward, it would be learning the art of acquisition because you're going to see this happen like crazy. I spend all my days here in the creator economy. There are 200,000,000+ content creators all over the place that are doing this full-time, doing a better job than B2B marketers.

So, there is an opportunity for B2B marketers. You might have some money that you could purchase. We did research at The Tilt, 20% of these content creators are looking to sell. They've already done the hard work, they've already built an audience, they already are targeting your customers. Do you want to take the 18 months or 24 months and invest that internally, or do you have some cash? Some of these deals are five figures. Sometimes they just want to stay on and become an employee. You can go after that and target that.

That's why I would say every B2B marketer should have your cheat sheet of who should be looking at to purchase, what blog, what podcast, what newsletter, because we're all competing against each other. You need to look at it organically, which we usually are, or we need to look at it through acquisition. That's what I would look at. Are there some things organically that we can kill, and move over to the stuff that we're doing okay to make that exceptional, and not mediocre? Then on the other side, from an acquisition standpoint, are we seriously looking at that?

I know it sounds weird talking about this. This is so important. We've already talked about HubSpot and Salesforce are doing this, and Arrow Electronics. Who is the largest media company in the B2B electronics space? It's not a media company, it's Arrow Electronics. They own 50 brands, about 3,000,000 opt-in subscribers. This is where we are going. If you don't start to look at that, you're going to be left behind as a marketer. I would start taking this seriously right now that your growth forward is both organic and through acquisition, because who knew that you were going to be a publisher.

George: It's so interesting. My mind is going a couple of different directions and I have to unpack a little bit of this as I listen to you. In the very beginning, we talked about how you don't reach your success until the community shows up. In that last segment, we talked about the mindset of a publisher for marketers because it's about acquisition. I immediately went to when you acquire things, you actually acquire the people who are paying attention to it, you're building a larger community, you're streamlining the ability to have the success that you were originally looking for in the first place.

That leads me to something that is actually on the fringe or side of what I would say most people think about when they talk about content marketing. In a minute, I'm going to circle back and just ask you when Joe Pulizzi says content marketing, what does he really mean? Because it's somebody's day one. How important is community in today's day and age around the content and problems that we're trying to solve with the content we're creating?

Joe: I think it's becoming more and more important. If I had to go back to when I wrote Content Inc. in 2015, I talk about building an audience, and I still think that's the first thing you do. You figure out what is my content tilt, what's my differentiation area, what's the platform I'm going to build on so that I can go out and build this audience, and then once I build this audience, then I monetize it. There's the general formula for doing this. Then you take it one step further. How do I take that audience, find my superfans, the people that really love what we're doing with our brand, and develop that into a community?

That's why I love Web 3.0. I know Web 3.0 is in a bear market right now and we can talk about whatever we want to, but I've learned first-hand, we have our own private NFT community of about 60 content creators. The fact that we can create scarce assets and they can purchase and own them, and then we can be part of this community, I've never seen something more powerful. You want to talk about brand ambassadors? Take that times 10, and that's the community that I think we've been able to build. That's community.

When you think about content marketing, yeah, the pinnacle is building an audience, but then from that audience, you figure out your superfans. Those are the ones that buy everything you do, that don't question everything, that share all the stuff. You want to cultivate that. That doesn't mean everyone in your audience is going to be part of your community. It's never going to happen, but you're going to have those 100.

Kevin Kelley has talked about the 1,000. Who are your 1,000 fans? Legion talks about the 100 superfans. I think that's what we want to go at first. Who are the 100? Especially if you're a B2B company, keep it small. Who are those people that you're going to that you share a little bit of that insider information?

But you can't get to community until you first deliver consistent value over a long period of time, and then they self-select, because you don't know who those people are right now.

To your second point, let's go back to the basics of content marketing. Content marketing is a strategy, it's a philosophy, if you will. You're going to, as a B2B organization, create valuable, relevant, compelling information on a consistent basis to a targeted audience to see some kind of positive behavioral change. That's it. Really, you should start with that first. I want to see a behavioral change, and I'm going to choose to employ content marketing strategies to get there. That's part of it.

When you go into your marketing role and you have all sorts of problems—a lead gen problem, a sales enablement problem, all these issues—you're going to say, "What are the tools that I have at my disposal to fix that?" Content marketing is an option, just like public relations used to be an option. I guess it's still an option, maybe not as important as it used to be, it's a different kind of PR. You just sort of say, "I need a new marketing automation tool," that might fix something. There are lots of different things we have to fix with it, but I love content marketing, just to look at it first, because you can build an asset with that, and you can't with any other thing that we're talking about.

When I say build an asset, let's say you want to start an email newsletter, you want to create the email newsletter for your B2B niche. You develop 10,000 opt-in audience members that get that every Friday. Then from that you've built a nice little community as well, maybe that's on Discord or Telegram, or maybe it's an NFT private community. You've created something that you can monetize in multiple ways. What does that mean? You could sell new products to those people. You could sell new services to those people.

Maybe they're already current customers, and you just want them to buy more things. Just like John Deere created The Furrow Magazine. Why did John Deere create The Furrow Magazine? Because they wanted farmers to keep buying their stuff, it was a loyalty play. Maybe it's because you find out that people who sign up for your newsletter buy more stuff at a higher yield, so they become your best customers.

Okay. Now get this. Like we talked about before, you're a publisher, you have this publishing mindset. Maybe you bring in noncompetitive partners to buy sponsorships so that newsletter pays for itself. I know it's not a B2B example, but I'm here in Cleveland, and Cleveland Clinic has a blog called Health Essentials. It makes money. They don't outlay any expenses for all of the 30-some people that are associated with that program. They drive patients to the hospital, that's what they want, but they sell consulting services, they sell sponsorships, they create content, they have syndication partnerships that bring in revenue that offset all the costs and more, whereas marketing now becomes a profit center.

Which is my ultimate belief, that if you do all of this really well, you become a full-fledged marketer/publisher, understanding content marketing, and now your marketing pays for itself. You will never get denied budget because you're creating your own budget. I know people think that's pie-in-the-sky, but it's not, it's happening. HubSpot has been doing it. You've seen Salesforce doing it. You've seen Arrow Electronics doing it. We're talking about these companies. You absolutely can make this happen.

George: Marketing Smarts listeners, I hope you were paying attention, because that was a road of gold nuggets of things that you should be thinking about, examples that you can use, things that you can do. It was so good.

Joe, I have a couple of closing questions that I want to get to, but let's take a couple minutes and talk about, as we alluded in the title, I've referenced it a couple times in the way that I asked questions, Epic Content Marketing, the new book. Why now, what's the reason, what are we fixing? If I go to your last segment, you said I see a problem in the world, I'm going to create content around it. By the way, ladies and gentlemen, hopefully you're creating content that leads to lessons, insights, and beliefs, because that's how you're going to make an impact in the world. Joe, why this piece of content for the world right now, why Epic Content?

Joe: I first wrote Epic Content Marketing in 2013, and it was great, it did really well. It sort of became the content marketing textbook. Normally, I would think that's done, we solved those issues, and that's great. Then I realized that all the tools have changed, the processes in many ways have changed.

We talked about all kinds of new issues that weren't there 10 years ago. There were not a lot of acquisitions going on, so that's a whole thing. AI, how can we not mention ChatGPT and AI content? We had to talk about that and integrate that into the process. Web 3.0, brand new, that wasn't a thing before. As B2B marketers, we have to understand that and how that goes into our content marketing process. Then there's this whole creator economy thing that if you're a B2B marketer and you're not leveraging parts of the creators and influencers in the creator economy, you're at a loss, you're behind the curve.

That's where my good friend Brian Piper came to me and said, "Joe, we really should update this." I said, "Good. You help me with it, we'll do it together." We were just going to give it a refresh, to be honest, then we started going through it and it was like we're going to have to rewrite the whole thing.

It is still the textbook for content marketing. If you want to create a content marketing strategy, soup to nuts, it will teach you how to do that. It will also say here's where the market is going, here's what you need to learn, and here's the resources to help get you there. Epic Content Marketing comes out in March and we're really proud of it. I think it's one of those books that if you needed to convince somebody this is why we have to do this, or you needed to teach somebody this is how we do this, that's what Epic Content Marketing is for.

George: Ladies and gentlemen, just go get the book. Two questions as we land the plane. People are going to get in their own way, they're going to run into potholes and hurdles as they go down this content marketing and try to create interest and be interesting around education, entertainment, and whatever it is that they're trying to do with this. What are some hurdles that you've seen along the way that you would warn people as you do this, stop doing this, or start doing that?

Joe: I think a big one, of course, as we've talked about, is patience. I think the other one, and this might be the most important thing, you have to set the right expectations internally and you have to send the right things to the right people. For example, let's say you're doing the thing and you're measuring some of this with social mentions and website traffic. Don't send that on to your CMO. Don't send that on to your VP of marketing. They should not get those things. They care about what we talked about before: sales, savings, sunshine.

Until you can create the answer for that hypothesis, you want to leave that alone. What you want to do at that point is the people that are responsible for your budget, don't send them all these little metrics things. Start talking about who is doing it right. That's the great thing about Epic Content Marketing, we have 20 really solid B2B case studies in that book. You want to share those case studies with the people that are making buying decisions. What I've seen is a lot of budgets opened up because of fear of missing out.

If we don't have them in Epic, I would go directly to your competitive set. What are your competitors doing? Go do some Google searches, go check out their podcasts, go check out the partnerships they're doing. That is the best way to get budget, because you go back and say, "Look what our competitors are doing. We need to be doing," not the same thing, we're not ripping off a Coke versus Pepsi thing. We're looking at we need to be doing this because they're taking the share of voice in our marketplace, they're delivering something of value and they're positioning themselves as thought leaders. When you position yourself as a thought leader, it's much easier to sell a product, and I don't think a lot of people get that.

So, I would create that regular, consistent, maybe it's every other week, maybe it's every month, send something, a nice little care package of here's what's going on in content marketing, or you could just say marketing, but it's content marketing. Then create your metrics chart. You want to make sure that you go every day and figure out what you're looking at. My number one thing is subscribers. Podcast listeners, podcast downloads, email subscribers, that's my number one, how am I driving that.

The third thing that I would really focus on, especially if you're new, whatever you do to whatever audience, you want what we call a content marketing mission statement. Whatever your thing is, the podcast, the email newsletter, you want an editorial mission statement, a content marketing mission statement, which says who am I targeting, what am I going to deliver, and what is the outcome for the audience. Are you trying to help them get a better job, live a better life, what are you trying to teach them? There's nothing in that mission statement about you selling more widgets. This is all about focusing on them.

You take that mission statement and you share it with your team. Before you create any new content, you run it by the litmus test of that mission. You're going to get the CMO coming down, "I want this type of content," or, "Let's go to this tradeshow and interview this people," or all kinds of crazy ideas. Fine, we like ideas, but you have to run it through that litmus test and say, "I'm sorry, it doesn't fit our mission statement. We have our promise to our readers, to our audience, to our community that we're going to deliver value, and this won't do it."

That's how you can shut that down, because strategy is about saying no. You're going to want to say a lot more no than yes. You're going to say one big yes to the newsletter, to the podcast, to the webinar series, to the event, to the research project, big yes, and then a lot of no along the way, but the content marketing mission statement will keep you focused.

George: I feel like we just got a whole bunch of wisdom, but I'm still going to ask my last question. You've been on an amazing, fantastic, epic journey around content marketing. It has been so fun to watch where you started and where you've gotten, just the things that have happened. Along the way, we tend to get wisdom as we go through this journey. For you, it could be around content marketing, or it could just be life in general. What are some words of wisdom that you would want to leave the Marketing Smarts listeners as they head back to their regular life?

Joe: I have all kinds of useless wisdom that you can find under the back of a sugar packet, probably. Career-wise, I've been blessed to be successful. I've had two exits of companies. I love starting new things; I love creating those things.

What has helped me the most is probably my goal setting process. I have six goal areas that I look at consistently. I have a book that I do career goals, financial wealth goals, philanthropic goals, physical goals, spiritual goals, and family goals. I have those six listed, and I have one or two things under each one that I'm trying to accomplish that I'm currently working on.

I'll give you an example. Under physical goals, I have I'm going to run a marathon. I'm going to run my first marathon in April. What do marathoners do? I build on what are the habits that marathoners have to do to run the marathon. I run four times a week, I have my whole thing set up so that I can be a marathoner in April.

Do that with everything. Do that with your career as a marketer. Do that with when you want to retire, how much money you want to have, how you're going to get there. You create habits based on the goals. Review them, if you can, first thing in the morning and before you go to sleep at night. That has been a game changer for me. Probably a lot of the success that we've had as a family, my wife and I as a couple, as business partners together, is because we set goals. We don't just say they're pie-in-the-sky goals. We say how do we activate those goals?

I'm a big believer in Warren Buffett, have about five or six goals. If you have any more than that at one time, it's just too much. Like we talked about, keep it simple. Don't overcook it. That would be my recommendation. If you are a human being, do that. You don't just want it in one area. We want to make sure we keep life interesting. Create multiple different areas of life that you want to improve upon, and then take it from there.

George: Marketing Smarts listeners, did you take lots of notes? I have to ask, what is your one thing, your number one execution opportunity after this podcast episode? Make sure you reach out and let us know in my inbox or on Twitter using the hashtag #MPB2B.

I also have to ask are you a free member of the MarketingProfs community yet? If not, head over to You won't regret the additional B2B marketing education that you'll be adding to your life.

We'd like it if you could leave us a rating or review on your favorite podcast app, but we'd love it if you would share this episode with a coworker or friend. Until we meet in the next episode of the Marketing Smarts Podcast where we talk with John Jantsch about the power and importance of a B2B referral generation program, I hope you do just a couple of things. One, reach out and let us know what conversation you'd like to listen in on next. Two, focus on getting 1% better at your craft each and every day. Finally, remember to be a happy, helpful, humble B2B marketing human. We'll see you in the next episode of the Marketing Smarts Podcast.

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