So, what exactly does content-first mean? A lot of things, as Joe Pulizzi explains in this episode of the Marketing Smarts Live Show.

It means you should develop a content mission statement. It means you should spend less time on creation and more on promotion. And much more...

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: "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 13-16 different platforms. You have Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs, podcasts, webinars, and research reports. I can tell you that just creates a lot of mediocrity."

Watch the episode for more valuable insights and tips:

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Episode Details, Guest Information, and Referenced Links

Episode No. 41

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Full Transcript | Marketing Smarts Live Show Episode 41 | The Mechanics of Running a Content-First B2B Marketing Department

This rough transcript is machine-generated. It's been only minimally edited by humans.

George B. Thomas: So what exactly does content-first mean? A lot of things. As my guest Joe Pulizzi on the Marketing Smarts podcast put it, 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.

I love when Joe said this in our original episode: when somebody says why do content programs fail? He always says, because they stop. Don't call it a campaign. If you call your content creation any part of a campaign, that's not content marketing, it's something else. When you say it, it's a campaign, that means at some point you're going to stop. And you shouldn't stop; if you stop for too long, well, the sad news is your audience drifts away. It's true of media, it's true of artistic endeavors, and it's definitely true of content marketing people.

Today, I'm super excited to bring you episode 41 of The Marketing Smarts Live Show. This week's topic is all about the mechanics of running a content-first B2B marketing department.

So if you're ready to get your learn on buckle up and get ready to rock and roll. I'm George B. Thomas, speaker, trainer, catalyst, and the host of this hear show, the Marketing Smarts Live show, as well as the Marketing Smarts podcast, found on your favorite podcast app.

Our guest clips today are brought to you by none other, the man, the myth, the legend, Mr. Joe Pulizzi. Joe is one of the world's top content marketing authorities. He has founded three companies, including the Content Marketing Institute, and launched dozens of events, including Content Marketing World. He is the bestselling author of seven, count them, seven books, including Content Inc. And Epic Content Marketing, which was named a must read business book by Fortune Magazine. And I'm proud to call him a friend. Yes, that is right. I would call Joe a friend. Now remember, the clips of Joe Pulizzi today are pulled from the full Marketing Smarts podcast episode.

And if you wanna listen to the full interview with Joe and myself, make sure to tune in to the Marketing Smarts podcast. Link to the full show will be in the description below after the live show ends. Now in this episode, again, I'm talking with Joe Pulizzi about the mechanics of running a content-first B2B marketing department. For the first piece of today's conversation, I asked Joe what content marketing is in his mind and why it's essential. Now, I need you to listen as Joe talks about how content marketing is actually a starting point and how it leads to community fans and even super fans. Let's be honest, it's Joe Pulizzi here. The nuggets of useful information in this clip are fire. So enjoy.

Joe Pulizzi: I think it's becoming more and more important. And 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 that's the first thing you do. You figure out, okay, what is my content tilt? Uh, okay, what's my differentiation area? What's the platform I'm gonna build on so that I can go out and build this audience? And then once I build this audience, then I monetize it so that there's a general formula for doing this. But then you take it one step further as how do I take that audience, find my super fans, the people that really love what we're doing with our brand, and how do you develop that into a community? That's where the opportunity is; that's why I love Web three and I know Web three is in a bear market right now, and we can talk about whatever we want to, but I've learned firsthand we have our own, NFT private community of about 60 content creators and the fact that we can create scarce assets and then they can actually purchase and own them and 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. So when you think about content marketing, you're like, oh yeah, we, the pinnacle is building an audience, but then from that audience you figure out your super fans, those are the ones that buy everything you do that don't question everything, that share all the stuff, and you wanna 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 gonna have those 100. Kevin Kelly's talked about the thousand, you know, who's your thousand fans? Lee Jen talks about the hundred super fans, and I think that's what we want to go at first.

Who are the hundred? Especially for a B2B company, keep it small. And who are those people that you're going to, that you share a little bit of that insider information, but it starts, you can't get to community until you first deliver consistent value over long period of time, and then they self-select. Cuz you don't know who among those people are right for you. Now to your second point, let's just go back to the basics of content marketing. So 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 for what purpose? To see some kind of positive behavioral change.

That's it. You should start with that first: I wanna see a behavioral change and I'm going to choose to employ content marketing strategies to get there.

So that's the part of it. So when you go into your marketing role and you have all sorts of problems, I got a lead gen problem, I got a sales enablement problem, I got all these issues, you're gonna figure out, you're gonna say, okay, what are the tools that I have at my disposal to fix that? Well, content marketing is an option.... I love content marketing because of the fact that 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, if you go ahead and you employ, let's say you wanna start an email newsletter, you wanna create the email newsletter for your B2B niche, and you create, let's say develop 10,000 audience members, opt-in audience members that get that every Friday. And then from that you built a nice little community off of that as well. Maybe that's on Discord or Telegram or maybe it's an NFT private community. Who knows, you've created something that you can monetize in multiple ways. So what does that mean? Oh, sell new products to those people. You could sell new services to those people. You could, maybe they're already current customers and you just want them to buy more things. Just like John Deere creates the Furrow magazine. Why did John Deere create the Furrow magazine? Because they wanted farmers to keep buying their stuff. If it's a loyalty play, uh, 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, we talked about before you're a publisher, you have this publishing mindset. Maybe you bring in non-competitive partners to buy sponsorships so that that newsletter pays for itself. I look at Cleveland Clinic, I know it's not a B2B example, but Cleveland, I'm here in Cleveland. Cleveland Clinic has a blog called Health Essentials. It makes money. They don't pay for, they don't outlay any expenses for all the 30-some people that are associated with that program because they, of course 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 this really well, you become a full-fledged marketer slash publisher, understanding concept marketing, and now your marketing pace for itself, you will never get denied budget because you're creating your own budget. And I know people think that's pie in the sky, it's not. It's happening. HubSpot's been doing it. You've seen Salesforce that they've been doing it, you've seen Aero Electronics doing it. We're talking about these companies absolutely can make this happen.

George B. Thomas: So good. Honestly, I can sit at the feet of Joe for a while and just listen to him wax poetic on content marketing. But my question for you, what was your favorite part of Joe's first section? That's right. We've got a couple more sections coming up in this live show. That was the first of great tips that you're gonna get. Put the answer to that—hat was your favorite part of that section—put that in the chat pane. Let me know on Twitter using the hashtag #mpb2band, of course tag me using @GeorgeBThomas.

We'll get back to Joe Pulizzi and his thoughts on the mechanics of running a content-first B2B marketing department. But first I have to ask, are you part of the MarketingProfs community? If not, become part of the MarketingProfs community by heading over to That's

Now it's time for one of my favorite sections, In the B2B News, where we talk about breaking B2B news or really important tips we find on the Google News tab related to you and your B2B business. This week the title is Revolutionize Your B2B Marketing with UGC: Engage Your Audience With Authentic Content by Dan Kleinman. In the world of B2B marketing, it's more important than ever for businesses to engage with their audiences authentically. And one way to achieve this is through user-generated content, or UGC, can be incredibly powerful as it allows businesses to connect with their audience in a more personal and relatable way. By tapping into the creativity of your customers and followers, you can create content that is more authentic, trustworthy. Mm-hmm. And of course, in engaging to read this article, check out the link below when the live show is over.

That's right. It's gonna be in the description. Heck, it might be in the description now, but let's return to Joe and his Marketing Smarts podcast episode.

So I had to ask Joe, why did he take the book to the next level? By the way, that really was the crux of why we wanted to interview Joe, is they already did a very important book that you might want to pay attention to. But anyway did it need a refresh? I love how Joe shared all the things that have changed in just a few short years. I hope you grab a copy of the new book, but listen in as Joe shares his wisdom and if the book is right fit or a right fit for you as a listener. Check this out.

Joe Pulizzi: Well, specifically, I mean, so I first wrote Epic Content Marketing in 2013 and it was, it was great. It did really well. It's sort became the content marketing textbook. And normally I would think, okay, that's done. We solved those issues and that's great. And then I realized that, oh my God, um, this, we've, all the tools have changed. The processes in many ways have changed, we talked about all kinds of new issues that were never there 10 years ago. There were not a lot of acquisitions going on. So that's the whole thing. Uh, ai, how can we not mention chatgpt and AI content. So we had to talk about that and integrate that into the process. Web three, brand new, that wasn't a thing before. So we have to, as B2B marketers, we have to understand that and how that goes into our content marketing process.

And 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. So that's where Brian Piper, my good friend, he came to me and says, Joe, we really should update this. And I said, good, Brian, you help me with it. We'll do it together. And we were just gonna give it a refresh, George, to be honest. Well, let's just freshen up. Let's just add it. And then we started going through it. It's like we're gonna have to rewrite the whole thing. So it has all the things about 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'll also say, here's where the market's going, here's what you need to learn and here's the resources to help get you there. So Epic Content marketing comes out in March and we're really proud of it. And uh, I think it's one of those, it's one of those books that if you needed to convince somebody like, 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 B. Thomas: And so much has changed. Are you and your content strategy keeping up with the times? I sure hope so. Maybe Joe's book will help if not. Now we'll get back to Joe Pulizzi in a few minutes. But first it's time for some dope B2B learnings from the vault of MarketingProfs articles. That's right. It's time to dig into the treasure trove of valuable information and pull out two pieces of gold to help you be a better B2B marketer.

Article number one this week is How to Use Content to Build Customer Loyalty and Retention by Craig Fitzgerald and CC Chapman. Though content marketing is not a new concept, it's now more important than ever for any company looking to build relationships and drive deeper engagement with customers. Even as content creation tools and social media have simplified the process, they've also changed the business landscape. Companies now need to embrace their new role as publishers and act accordingly. Act like a publisher. Link will be in the description below.

Article number two this week is five Serious Content Marketing Mistakes That You Need to Avoid by Swati Saini. Done well, content marketing helps businesses build brand awareness, increase visibility and generate more leads, ultimately driving sales and growth. Yet many businesses struggle with their content marketing. It takes a ton of effort to create great content that provides value to audiences and delivers on your KPIs. And although you may be focused on creating quality content, inevitably some critical mistakes end up diminishing the impact you want to have to harness the full power of your B2B content and marketing. Here are five of the biggest mistakes you need to avoid. I'm not gonna tell him here, you gotta get the link, right? You wanna keep learning more? If so, check out the links in the description below after the live show to get access to both amazing MarketingProfs articles.

All right, back to Joe. Let's dive back into this conversation of the mechanics of running a content-first B2B marketing department. What should B2B marketers need to think about when providing the ROI of their content marketing strategy? And how can we get budget for more content marketing efforts? Now, I know this could be a crazy large topic, but what Joe had to share is priceless. Listen in, make sure you have the notepad and pen ready. Seriously, this one's about budget, money, all the things that you need to know.

Joe Pulizzi: Uh, I think a big one, of course, we've talked about patience. I think the other one is you have to set, maybe this is, 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. So for example, let's say you're doing the thing and you are measuring some of this with social mentions and website traffic. Don't send that on to your CMO. Don't send that out to your VP of marketing. They should not get those things.... 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.

So that's the great thing about epic content marketing. We've got, I don't know, 20 probably b2b, really good solid B2B case studies in that book. You wanna share those case studies with the people that are making decision buying decisions. Because what I've seen is a lot of budgets opened up because of fear, because of fear missing out a little FOMO there. It's like, oh, we're not doing this. Now if we don't have 'em in Epic, I would go directly to your competitive set. Who are you? 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. Cuz you go back and say, look what our competitors are doing. We need to be doing not the same thing. We're not like totally ripping off a Coke/Pepsi thing.

We're looking at, hey, we want, 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. And when you position yourself as a thought leader, it's much, much easier to sell product. And a lot of, 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 nice little care package of here's what's going on in content marketing. Or you can just say marketing, but it's content marketing. And then create your metrics chart. I mean, you want to make sure that you go every day and figure out what you're looking at. And my number one thing is subscribers: podcast subscribers, podcast listeners, podcast sound loads, email subscribers... That's my number one. Like how am I driving that?

And 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. So 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? Like are you trying to help them get a better job, live a better life? What are you trying to teach them? And there's nothing in that mission statement about you selling more widgets. This is all about focusing on them.

And you take that mission statement and you share it with your team. And before you create any new content, you run it by the litmus test of that mission because you're gonna get, CMOs gonna come down, CEO's gonna, Hey, I want this type of content, or let's go to this tradeshow and interview these people. Or all kinds of crazy ideas. Fine, we like ideas, but you gotta run it through that litmus test and say, ah, I'm sorry, it doesn't fit our mission statement. And we have a promise to our readers and our audience and our community that we're gonna deliver value and this won't do it. So that's how you can shut that down because strategy is about saying no. So you're gonna wanna say a lot more no than you are yes. You're gonna say one big yes to the newsletter, to the podcast, to the webinar series, to the event whatever, to the research project. Big. Yes. And then a lot of nos along the way. But the content marketing mission statement will keep it focused.

George B. Thomas: Ooh, did you hear that? Do you have a mission statement? Are you driving ROI to your organization? What part of that section did you jot down in your notepad? Did it have anything to do with your litmus test? Do you lean into a litmus test? Do you know when content doesn't fit the needs of your audience and their wants? Or are you just creating content for creating content sake? I could get on a soapbox right now, but I'm not going to, that's not why we're here.

We're gonna get some words of wisdom from Joe Pulizzi here in a few minutes. But right now it's time to turn the spotlight on you, the Marketing Pro community. Yep. It's time for From the #mpb2b Community. We searched far and wide in the #mpb2buniverse to find amazing information conversation to bring to you the masses. So first, make sure you're using the hashtag and second, make sure you have fun and add value to the community along the way. Then we'll spotlight you or your crew on the show this week. It's Mary Hart on LinkedIn, content marketing manager at Locus Robotics. Author, speaker Pink T-Rex. I need to ask about that one. Mary, if you actually catch wind that we mentioned you as a spotlight pink T-Rex. Anyway, her social post goes like this, thanks to Marcus Nelson and marketing prompts for a very informative webinar just now about the true art of crafting AI prompts. So much information revealed. Love this quote, "ChatGPT is like a calculator for words." Thanks Marcus. And to George for hosting it. Yes, it was great. #ai, #aicontentcreation #mpb2b.

But you need to check out the description and click the links to check out the post and read more and learn more about what Mary was sharing. Marketing Smarts viewers, I have to ask, are you going to be next to get the spotlight? Remember community, use the hashtag #mpb2b on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter, and get the light shined on your awesomeness in the next episode or a future episode of the Marketing Smarts Live show. Pro tip, it won't hurt if you tag me in your post as well. I'm @GeorgeBThomas on LinkedIn and Twitter.

All right, let's kick it back to Joe Pulizzi and some words of wisdom around this topic of the mechanics of running a content-first (that's been the key word the entire time here) B2B marketing department. Here is what Joe Pulizzi wanted to leave us with his final words of wisdom. I think you'll enjoy them.

Joe Pulizzi: Oh shoot. Uh, I've got all kinds of useless wisdom that you can find on the back of a sugar packet probably. But I, I guess career wise I've been blessed to be successful. I've had two exits of companies. Uh, you know, I love starting new things. I love creating those things. T What's helped me the most is probably my goal-setting process. I have six goal areas that I look at consistently: career, career goals; financial wealth goals; philanthropic goals; physical goals; spiritual goals; and family goals. And 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.

So I'll give you an example. So under physical goals I have, I'm going to run a marathon. I'm gonna run my first marathon in April. Well, what do marathoners do? I then I build on what are the habits that marathoners have to do to run the marathon. So I run four times a week. I've got my whole thing set up so that I can be a marathoner in April. Do that with everything, with your career as a marketer. Do that with when you wanna retire, how much money you wanna have, how are you gonna get there. And you create habits based on the goals and you review them if you can, first thing in the morning and before you go to sleep at night.

And that has been a game changer for me and probably a lot of the success that we've had as a family, as my wife and I as a couple as business partners together, is because we set goals and then we don't just say they're pie in the sky goals. We said, how do we activate those goals? And I'm a big believer in Warren Buffet: have about five or six goals if you have any more than that at one time it's just too much. Just like we talked about, keep it simple. So don't, don't overcook it. And that would be my recommendation. If you are a human being, do that. And you don't just want it in one area. We wanna make sure we keep life interesting. Create multiple different areas of life that you wanna improve upon, and then take it from there—parts of life that you wanna improve on.

George B. Thomas: Do you have a goal setting process? Do you have a matrix that is full-life like Joe's? And did you hear this keep life interesting. So good. I love his words of wisdom so much because his goals provide a road map for how he should act and what he should do day in and day out.

Ladies and gentlemen, have you enjoyed today's journey? Let us know. Use that hashtag #mpb2b to be on whatever platform you're joining us on. It's time. That's right. Time flies when you're having fun. Head to the description below, click on the link to the full Marketing Smarts podcast with Joe Pulizzi and keep on learning more about the mechanics of running a content-first B2B marketing department.

Remember these were just a few clips of the original Marketing Smarts podcast interview. And if you got value from today's show, hit that like, and better yet, share it with a friend to keep learning more. Hit subscribe or watch additional MarketingProfs videos on your favorite social channel. Or head over to our YouTube channel if you're not there yet. Or you can go to into the original Marketing Smarts podcast episode on your favorite podcast app. Listen, I'm not judging whatever it is, it's your app. Use it. Just go. Listen. Don't forget to become part of the Marketing Cross community by heading over to And as always, remember to be a happy, helpful, humble B2B marketing human. And we'll see you on the next episode of the Marketing Smarts podcast. Not next week cuz it's gonna be Independence Day, but the week after that.

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image of George B. Thomas

George B. Thomas is a marketer, video Jedi, and HubSpot certified trainer with 25+ years of sales and marketing experience. George is owner and HubSpot Helper at He has a record-breaking 38 HubSpot sales, marketing, service, CRM, and CMS certifications. George harnesses his expertise in graphic design, Web development, video editing, social media marketing, and inbound marketing to partner with, teach, and develop solutions for companies looking to develop their businesses and increase their revenue.

LinkedIn: George B. Thomas

Twitter: @GeorgeBThomas