Make Marketing Moves: Joe Pulizzi’s Top Tips for Brand Growth and Engagement

Joe Pulizzi is a content marketing legend with over 20 years of experience in the industry. As the founder of Content Marketing Institute, Joe has been teaching brands for more than 14 years about what it takes to craft content that breaks through the noise.

Content marketing can be defined by gathering stakeholders together to answer a series of questions, Joe says, “How do we create valuable, relevant, and compelling information on a consistent basis and deliver it to our customers to maintain or change behavior?”

At The Photoshelter Summit for Brands, he walked through 7 uncommon, but highly effective tips for adapting your content marketing strategy for 2021 and beyond. Throughout the presentation, he challenged us to not only reconsider our strategies and tactics, but to also consider the impact our efforts have on customers.

“What kind of lasting impression can you make on your customers? Maybe you need to rethink some of the content you’re creating and distributing.” – Joe Pulizzi

Below, Joe breaks down his 7 key steps for rethinking content marketing to ensure you make a lasting impression on your customers, beginning with something he calls the content tilt.

1. Revisit your content tilt

What exactly is your content tilt? It’s the area of little to no competition that gives you a chance to break through. In other words, it’s your sweet spot. It’s crucial to find this sweet spot and build your content mission around it. “You all are coming at your content mission from a sweet spot which is your brand expertise. And you mix that with what your audience’s wants or needs are, and that intersection is your sweet spot,” says Joe.

Your sweet spot is the intersection of audience wants/needs and your brand expertise

Joe explains that marketers must find or define the area of differentiation in order to provide value and cut through the clutter of competitor content. Establishing your content tilt and honing in on the sweet spot will give your brand the upper hand.

Finding the sweet spot also means rediscovering your audience targets. According to Joe, “you can never go too niche in your target.”

To get specific, he shared a few business examples. Instead of identifying your target broadly as “plant managers,” try focusing on “plant managers at companies of 10,000 people who outsource parts to India and China.” Or, consider changing your target from “SF 49ers fans” to “SF 49ers fans who travel from other states/countries to see in person games.” This simple shift in precision and clarity can help focus your content efforts, resulting in significantly increased audience engagement.

2. Prepare multiple lines of revenue

Joe’s second step is to take time as a marketing department to think through multiple lines of revenue. “Think about your marketing department as a profit center,” he said, and consider the other ways you might be able to engage and connect with your audience.

For example, BuzzFeed has a housewares section on their Tasty brand shop. Because BuzzFeed has such a dedicated following, they have been able to expand into multiple lines of revenue to connect with their customers.

“That’s what happens when you build a loyal audience, you can drive new opportunities for revenue.” – Joe Pulizzi

3. Do one great thing

Instead of stretching your time, resources, and people across multiple projects, focus on doing one great thing first. “The greatest media companies of all time started on one platform,” says Joe.

His favorite example is Red Bull Media House. They started with a small Formula 1 magazine, The Red Bulletin, which was handed out at races, and that resonated extremely well. Over time, the magazine grew into the massive production company that we know today.

According to Joe, you don’t want to spread your content energy across too many platforms because you’ll just be “throwing content at the wall” and it’s hardly going to stick. Instead, he recommends that you find one platform and “first be great, then diversify.”

4. Reimagine your enewsletter

Joe highlights the importance of rethinking your enewsletter and ensuring it’s a valuable resource for your audience.

“Enewsletters have never been more important than they are right now.” – Joe Pulizzi

Check out this scale of Joe’s subscriber hierarchy:

Hierarchy of audience subscribers in descending order of importance: Email, Print, Medium, Twitter, LinkedIn, Itunes, Snapchat, Pinterest, YouTube, Facebook/Instagram

According to Joe, email subscribers are the most important segment of your audience because it’s a one-on-one interaction that brands can directly control. So, what are the steps to ensure your newsletter is the best it can be? Make sure it’s consistent, valuable, and exclusive. Make the most of this personal connection and steer your audience in precisely the direction you want. Our pro tip? Always add a call to action — whether that’s further reading, following your brand on social media, or booking time with your team to connect directly.

5. Steal talent

Make talent management your business. You need to seek out and hire the right people to help your team excel. Take time to find them and contact them directly. Joe recommends looking for top freelancers who create content that grabs your attention. You never know, they just might be looking for a new project. You can also consider media partnerships as a way to bring talented people into your circle.

6. Steal audience

Turn heads with your traffic-worthy content. By creating valuable and authentic content, you can continue to build and grow your audience.For example, at Content Marketing Institute, Joe and his team worked to publish a quarterly ranking of top content marketing blogs, and were able to drive an incredible amount of traffic and engagement to their own site through these efforts.

7. Prepare now for the asset sale

Joe’s final (and his favorite) tip is about preparing for the future. In anticipation of a major market mixup, it’s time to prepare for the asset sale. He explains how in publishing, “launching something new is the last thing you want to do. You actually look to see if you can buy a property first. Marketers don’t do this.”

Now is your chance to get ahead of the curve. “If you want to learn something new and be on top of your game, learn about the intricacies of M&A specifically in your industry,” says Joe. Get ready now and make moves before it’s too late:

“You want to knock on the door before the ‘for sale’ sign goes up.” – Joe Pulizzi

Put together a list of interesting opportunities you see for growth. Look at these and determine their target audience, their number of email subscribers, their revenue and sources, and then identify a key contact. By building a relationship with these key contacts, you’ll be ready to make a move if the property ever goes up for sale.

Let’s take a final look at all 7 steps:

Joe’s 7 tips: Revisit your content tilt, plan for multiple lines of revenue, do one great thing, reimagine your newsletter, steal talent, steal audience, prepare now for the asset sale

Want to take a deeper dive into these tips? Watch our entire conversation with Joe below to learn more about the changes your marketing team can make to increase audience growth and engagement.

All of these insightful tips come from Joe’s book, Corona Marketing, which you can download for free and start adapting your content strategy today.


Want to learn more about adapting your workflow and creative strategy to meet new challenges? Check out recent sessions from 20/21 Vision: The Workflow Summit.

Make Marketing Moves: Joe Pulizzi’s Top Tips for Brand Growth and Engagement is written by John Seibels for

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